Fighting in The Forest
A few more years have passed and many a development has taken place on the Isle of Iris. Zach is now eight years and seven months old and has more than doubled in height, he now stands at a full height of 4'8. His full head of blond hair was now even brighter and messier than before, but the joyful smile remained.
He continued to wear a brown tunic much like the one he had when he was younger, but this one was obviously much bigger and fitted the older Zach perfectly. On his feet he wore especially made black leather boots to accommodate the size of his feet.
His once perfect pale skin, was now more pink in colour and featured a slight tan in places. He has a few moles on his body and a number of scratches and scars all over his body that he had gathered over the last few years.
On his left arm, on the upper area of his arm, which his tunic's sleeve usually covers, he now bares a mark that ranges from his left bicep to his left tricep. The mark, which looks more like a tattoo, is a single colour, a shade of black that is darker than the night's sky and is in the form of a perfect circle. To one side of it is a crescent moon and seated in the heart of the circle, touching the top and four other areas of the circle, was a five star pentacle.
The mark upon Zach's arm, is the Mark of the Shanzi, it is a mark that burns itself upon the skin of a Child of Tormenta, whenever there was a strong presence of the Dark Ones, in the world. Zach received his mark just a few hours after he spoke he first word.
During the last five years, a war had started in a far off Realm, only to end after a duration of 21 months as the whole Realm under the control of the Shanzi. The Dark Ones now had their foothold on the world and were readying their attacks on the other Realms.
The sky above Iris was cloudy, but the sun was visible and able to bring some light down unto the world. Standing amongst the Nogmal trees in the forest area of Iris, was none other than Zach himself. In his right hand he gripped firmly on the single-handle, of his 30 inch long, pointed end, wooden sword.
Zach's eyelids were shut and his ears were twitching, responding to every noise that he could hear. The child was somewhat masculine in appearance and stood perfectly still, his nose and mouth drew in no air as he held his breath, not even his chest was moving, but inside his chest, his heart continued to beat, but very, very slowly.
All around him, Zach could hear the snaps of twigs, the rustling of leaves, the calls and tweets of the local birds and on his skin he could feel the soft gentle breeze of the wind.
Just then he heard the noise he was listening out for, the sound of a spring, which was followed by a wooden target emerging from the trees to Zach's left. His eyes shoot open as he runs towards the target before he leaps over it and then unleashes a volley of strikes. One strike was vertical, slicing down the spine of the target, where as the other two were both horizontal, each one hitting either side of the head.
Zach turns to his right and sees Izal flying towards him, judging by the speed the bird was flying, Zach figured he must have done something wrong. Izal was now ten feet away and he showed no signs of stopping, he was coming straight for Zach.
Moving as quickly as he could, Zach wastes no time in diving off to his right, he only just successfully dodged the raven, who went on to fly straight into the target, smashing it to bits.
Now in pain, Izal showed no desire of slowing, but instead had choose to continue to soar, flying straight for Zach, who continued to prove to be light on his feet as he leaped up onto a tree and started to climb it in his own special way. He leaped from one branch onto another and onto another before he started to jump from tree to tree.
With Izal hot on his heels, Zach was moving to the best of his abilities, leaping and running, running along the longer branches and jumping when he could run no more. His breathing was now somewhat hard and his heart was racing, pumping blood like there was no tomorrow, but because Izal kept on coming, Zach knew he must keep on going too, he had no other choice.
He knew he needed to gain some height, but first he would need to lose some, so to trick Izal, he jumped forwards only to grab hold of the thin branch he just left and swung himself back onto it, only to back-flip off and land on a lower branch of a shorter tree.
From his new position, Zach leaped to the closet tree and kicked himself up and away towards another tree, giving him some of the needed height he required before he suddenly side-flipped off the branch he just landed on and began to fall, although it was a well timed fall, which saw him land comfortably on the back of Izal who at that time was flying below Zach before he flipped off the branch.
Now in control of the relentless bird, Zach forced him to fly back down to the ground. Izal wasn't enjoying having a passenger on this flight, especially a passenger that had taken control and was now piloting the animal like an aircraft. Zach manoeuvred the raven to make it fly out of the forest-like area and steered him into a clearing where a decent sized wooden cage sat.
In that moment Izal knew what Zach was up to, but it was too late, Zach had leaped up off the animal, which flew straight into the cage. Once his prey was inside, Zach kicked the door shut and locked it, trapping the animal.
"That fast enough for you?" Zach asks in his youthful, boyish, confident voice as he flashes a warm, kind hearted smile. The chosen language that he speaks is the Mari language that Mako taught him. His first language and the language he does most of his talking in.
Confined in the cage, Izal struggled to break free and escape, but it was no good, the wooden cage was too strong and refused to break.
"Don't struggle, you won't break this cage." Zach announces.
"Now, where's..." Zach stops himself from finishing his own question as he no longer need to ask it, he now knew the answer as he could sense and hear a presence behind. He didn't even need to see the slight movement in the trees to confirm his suspicions, but he still noticed it regardless.
Zach tightened his grip on his wooded weapon and slashed out at an arrow that shot out of the trees, aimed for none other than Zach, who's wooden sword broke the arrow in half.
"Hello Mako." Zach says as he twirls the sword in his hand before swiping at a second arrow that was fired at him.
Zach looked to the cage with the imprisoned Izal, the raven's eyes were green, so he knew the animal was up to something, something that he was talking to Izal about. Just then a third arrow was fired at the cage, heading for the locking mechanism.
"Oh no you don't!" Zach leaps towards the arrow and lets loose with a kick, his time was perfect as he hits the arrow at the right time and sends it off in another direction, giving it no other choice but to hit a Nogmal tree.
Izal flaps his wings and looks on at Zach, who is standing proudly as he wears a happy grin.
"We can do this all day. How about coming out to face me?" Zach calls out to the trees.
Mako steps out into the clearing, in his hands he is holding a Nogmal made bow, while on his back he has a quiver containing twenty two arrows.
Zach looks at the hand crafted weapon that Mako was armed with, he recognised the curves and the overall design. The bow was one that Zach himself had made upon his Master's instruction.
"I see you're using my own bow against me." Zach can't help but look at his own bow, a weapon that projects arrows powered by its elasticity.
"You're right, perhaps I should use one of your own swords instead." As Mako made his reply in Mari, he places the Nogmal bow down on the ground before he pulls out a wooden Long sword that up until that moment, had been sitting in a sheath. With a weapon in hand, Mako runs at his young student.
Zach side-steps one swing, jumps over the second swing and then ducks under the third before he started to let out a few swings of his one, which Mako successfully counted against.
"You'll have to do better than that!" Mako boasts.
Upon his Master's command, Zach unleashes a volley of swipes with his Nogmal sword once more, unleashing slashes that were diagonal, vertical and even horizontal, but being the superior swordsman that Mako is, Mako was able to shield and defend himself masterfully.
"A real target is harder to hit hey Zach." Mako mocks.
"Ah! But you forget Master..." Zach paused to leap over Mako and kick him in the back before swinging low with his sword, striking Mako's legs, causing him to collapse to the floor.
"...I'm faster than you."
Mako leaps up onto his feet and dusts himself off. "That's a good move, an appropriate use of a speed boost."
"I learned from the best." Zach brags.
"I am glad that you remember what I had told you before, sword skills are very important, but against a more skilled or powerful opponent..."
"...sword skills aren't enough, fighting skills and good timing are just as important and are vital abilities to have." Zach says, finishing his mentor's sentence.
"Very good, now remember, I don't want to see what you can do with a sword, I want to see what you can do."
Zach's grip tightens once again before he runs to his trainer, except instead of going for an attack, he jumps to the side and runs into the forest, hiding amongst the trees. He wasn't escaping or being a coward, but was actually trying out a tactic he had just devised that would win him the battle.