"Good," Aster said. "Now you just need to learn how to move like that, low to the ground. Crawl, Avander. Try going forward a bit, and see how that goes."
Avander shifted his weight so that they rested on his legs again, rather than on his belly and one side, the way he had been laying before. Then he crept forward a little, awkwardly. It was immediately and glaringly obvious that he wasn't used to moving like this.
His balance was always on the verge of being a little off, and his gait was jerky, his back and hindquarters bobbing up and down as he repeatedly attempted to move in a way that was more comfortable.
He kept himself low, more or less, and to that end it wasn't a total failure.
But there was certainly a lot to work on, and Aster could see that he would need practice before he could move efficiently and effectively like this.
Well, he hadn't really expected more than that. "Hmm," Aster said. "It was alright for a first try." In practical terms, what this meant was that he needed more practice. Aster hadn’t exactly said it, but they both knew it, in the end. It wasn’t a difficult concept, but the kind of details that made its execution successful would have to be practiced to make them stick.
Taking Aster’s words as an indication that the ordeal was over, at least for the moment, Avander stood back up and shook himself off. Aster let him have a moment to recover, then decided to resume with the training.
“Alright, let’s try this again. Down... Crawl,” Aster said, stepping away from Avander to get a better look at what the drake was doing.
They practiced a little more just like this, with Avander crawling back and forth along the ground, then getting up again to stretch his legs, before laying down and starting the process all over again. But the problem of him not staying all the way down proved to be a consistent issue. After thinking about it for a while, Aster came up with a solution, and went back in the direction of the house.
When he returned, he was carrying a series of poles with him, ones that should have been at least a little familiar to Avander too.
Normally they were used for jumping, but this time around, he set them up with the height of his Sarane in mind. “There’s this human game called Limbo… You know what, never mind," Aster said. That part wasn't important to what they were doing right now. "From now on, you’re going to practice crawling under these. Ready? Down.” Avander laid himself down in front of the poles, while Aster walked around to the other side.
“Good. Let’s crawl now.”
The poles would provide immediate tactile feedback if Avander’s rump went high, and maybe even exert some force to keep Avander down until he learned to move more smoothly under a crouched position. But to make things easier on Avander at the start, Aster kept the poles a little higher than he ultimately expected Avander to go.
Avander wasn’t enthused, but he didn’t question the methods either, and subjected himself with minimal grumbling to the ordeal of crawling under the poles.
His first few attempts really didn’t go very well, but at least he knew immediately when he had messed up now. And the quick corrections did build up, slowly and over time, into steady improvements. By the end of the day, he was able to move more consistently and efficiently under the poles. By that point, he had memorized exactly how high he was allowed to go, and all the practice crawling about had also made him better at moving low in general.
They worked on it over the next couple of days, with Aster lowering the bars down a little more each day. It took some adjustment on Avander’s part each time, but not ever as much as the first day, and he seemed to gain confidence with it the more he did it, through a mix of experience, an accumulation of successes, and just a general acclimation to the process.
When it seemed that he had the movement part down, Aster decided that they were ready to move on to the next stage of the process. Avander seemed relieved for it; while the crawling hadn’t exactly been difficult once he got the hang of it, he didn’t really enjoy it either. There was something restrictive about being forced to move this way, especially with physical barriers set in place to enforce it; the sensation was almost claustrophobic.
Unfortunately for him, however, what they were moving onto would require still more crouching. But maybe making it part of a more practical application might make it feel less uncomfortable for him.
“Next, we’re going to work on your hiding skills,” Aster said. “Let’s try the copse over there to start with. You’ve got that dappled coloring, so you should be able to blend in with that kind of backdrop pretty easily.”
[Alright, but is there a point to all this?] Avander asked. There was no real heat in the comment on his part, just curiosity, and to that end Aster didn’t blame him. It wasn’t unusual to want to know why they were doing something, or what to expect going forward.
“Well, eventually I’m hoping to teach you how to hunt. But some of this stuff will be useful when you’re fighting too, if you ever get a chance to do it outside the Pit. Or maybe I should say if we’re ever forced to,” Aster amended. He’d been using the pit as a bit of a proving ground for some of the creatures he trained, getting them some combat experience in a relatively controlled setting, but the pit didn’t have certain things that might come up in an outside environment, like places to hide or an amount of sand deep enough to dig in.
But a real fight elsewhere meant that something had gone wrong, and in theory, it ought to be a kind of last resort, worst case scenario thing. He had come here to put himself in a situation where he wasn’t very likely to be attacked or hunted down. Avander and Grunty and everyone else, they were just there to make sure that if things got hairy, Aster wouldn’t be as helpless as he could be.
Which wasn’t to say that he didn’t see them as friends and family too, but in terms of teaching them to fight, that was what he needed out of them. He was fortunate in that it hadn't come to that yet, but you never knew what might happen later.
[Hunting, huh?] said Avander. Aster wondered if he was going to complain that this was too much hassle, but instead he seemed a little intrigued. [That could be interesting. Alright, I’ll give it a shot.]
So the two of them set off for the copse. Once they got there, Aster said, “Get under cover. Give it a go.” After scoping the area out, Avander made his best attempt to hide while Aster turned around and gave him a chance to do it. The drake made quite a ruckus as he did, which was something else they’d have to work on, but that could come later. Aster didn’t want to overwhelm Avander by trying to make him do too much at once, and they weren’t in any hurry, so they could take it one step at a time.
Still, it was hard not to feel like he was playing some kind of game of hide and seek like this. And thinking about it this way made it hard for him not to laugh. Out of all the things he could be doing with a grown drake Sarane, they were essentially playing a children’s game together right now…
There was something so absurd about the idea that he couldn’t keep a straight face.
[Hey, you. I’m doing my best here, you know,] Avander complained.
“I’m not laughing at you,” Aster said, though the fact that his voice shook made his words a little less convincing. It was the truth--- mostly the truth, anyway--- but he could feel the drake’s doubt through their link.
Ah well. It didn’t hurt to have a little fun.
“Ready or not, here I come,” Aster said. He hadn’t been counting, but it sounded more or less like Avander had stopped moving, so he took that as his cue to turn around.
He’d give the drake this much credit: he was better at hiding, at least in an area that naturally suited his coloration, than he was at crawling around. Or maybe the crawling made him a bit better at the hiding too; Aster didn’t know.
But whatever it was, he found that he couldn’t immediately find Avander when he turned around, despite knowing very well what the drake looked like, and even being telepathically connected.
That was one point for Avander.
But Aster’s eyesight was pretty sharp too, and he did know Avander, and the drake hadn’t exactly been quiet while he was trying to hide either. So after a while, Aster managed to pinpoint where he was.
“Not bad,” Aster said as Avander came out from where he had been crouching in the underbrush. “Let’s try that again. See if you can do it a little quieter this time too.”
[The noise helped you find me, didn’t it?] Avander said. [You couldn’t actually see me at all.]
“I saw you eventually, but you’re right, you would’ve been harder to spot if you’d been quieter,” Aster said. No point in lying about it, and he had to give credit where credit was due, didn’t he?
“Be mindful of your surroundings. Moving quietly is going to take practice, especially when it’s all dry like this, but you’ll get it eventually,” Aster said. Summer really wasn't a forgiving season to be learning this. It wasn't much, but it was all the advice he could give on the matter. “Now, let’s try again. Get under cover, and this time, be quiet about it.”
This was easier said than done. That much became apparent as the training session wore on. Avander would be doing well, and then he would step on a leaf or a twig, and his cover would be blown. This seemed to be genuinely frustrating to him after a while, at which point Aster called a break to let them both cool off. It was starting to get hot anyway.
Eventually they resumed, and Aster gave the same command. “Get under cover, and be quiet,” he said.
Avander made his best attempt. He was actually pretty difficult to spot as long as he stayed still, the green dappled pattern covering most of his hide making him fairly difficult to spot. The paler swathe of his wings, which Aster pointed out at one point, the drake learned to minimize by tucking them closer against his body and choosing his position more strategically.
But as for moving quietly, well… He was improving, but it was a bit of an uphill battle. The foliage was dry and crisp underfoot, and he wasn’t a small creature by any means. The only real solution was to move slowly, but Aster knew that this wasn’t the cure-all they wanted, especially if Avander meant to use this on a hunt in the future, like they were planning to do. When the time came to try this on a live prey animal, he would need to change positions a little faster, or advance with more speed than he was managing right now.
The only solution was practice, practice, and more practice. The two of them came out day after day to play this game of ‘get under cover and be quiet’, which by this point was no longer a source of amusement for either of them--- not that it had ever been for Avander--- but the subject of a great deal of hard work. Sometimes they would even practice ‘be quiet’ by itself, so that Avander got used to moving quietly without having to think about hiding at the same time. It was sometimes painstaking and sometimes frustrating, but eventually Avander learned how to best distribute his weight so that he could move quietly through the brush, and what sorts of things to avoid to prevent himself from making noise as he advanced.
At this point, the drake might have been excused for thinking that they were done, but they weren’t finished with this portion of training just yet.
Once he had mastered hiding in and moving through a wooded environment, Aster took him to a different area of the property, a place where the only thing to hide in was the long grass. One strategy didn't necessarily fit with all environments, after all, and Aster wanted Avander to be able to do this under a wider variety of conditions.
“Get under cover,” Aster said.
[You want me to hide in this?] said Avander, sounding dubious.
“Give it a shot. What did you think all that crouching was for?” Aster said. He knew that it would be more of a challenge for Avander, since his natural patterning wasn’t as suited to this, but he felt that it was still possible. The grass was long enough, anyway.
It was a little difficult for Avander at first, especially with the difference in the type of cover. Here, though, his wings came in a bit handier to disguise the darker colors and patterns of his back.
And Avander found, after a while, that if he kept himself very low, he could sort of submerge himself in the grass, letting the length of it cover him when he stayed low, and be harder for Aster to spot that way.
There was one small blessing in all of this, which was that the grass was comparatively easier to move through quietly. The woods had been more of a challenge in that regard, so Avander already knew most of the relevant tricks, and didn’t have to worry about that aspect of it so much.
Now that he was getting used to all of this, Aster decided that it was time to put all these things together. Thus far, he had been letting Avander hide while his back was turned, then turning around to look for the drake when Avander seemed ready. This time he proposed something else for them to try.
Fiera Ferella: right??? i was really hoping i could find one of those pachee before the season was out.
May 26, 2020 18:51:32 GMT -6
Fanged: Oh wow that's an awesome garden find FF
May 26, 2020 18:13:26 GMT -6
Riku: Oh how perfect! I woke up wanting to post (unexpected, but yay) and saw I had a reply. <3 Meant to be.
May 26, 2020 6:40:43 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I really, really love all the updates that have come~! <3
May 24, 2020 2:12:37 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: np!!! I hope y'all like it!
May 23, 2020 13:45:06 GMT -6
Riku: What an awesome update, staff! Thanks for that! <3
May 23, 2020 12:06:52 GMT -6
Jack: All have been found!
May 23, 2020 9:53:27 GMT -6
Jack: Might want to be on the lookout for anything... odd
May 22, 2020 23:51:22 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Yeah it’s definitely a coincidence but wow did it work out well for us! XD
May 22, 2020 6:43:27 GMT -6
Silver: I'm pretty sure that was just a coincidence, but it sure feels lucky!
May 22, 2020 2:07:09 GMT -6
Riku: So did you guys make this hosting switch perfectly RIGHT before pb broke? >.< Thaz crazy. It’s a huge relief and I’m very glad we’ve come to this. <3
May 22, 2020 1:41:01 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: It’s free up to a certain number of GB, which we haven’t hit yet.
May 21, 2020 6:46:33 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Is the site that is going to be used to host all those images also the type you'd need to pay for? (definitely noticed the broken images yeah. Photobucket feels like it is standing on its last legs. X3 )
May 21, 2020 0:13:57 GMT -6
Morgan: I'm just kinda nervous about them going down before things get moved over completely. It's prolly nothing to be worried about though. :3
May 20, 2020 22:13:15 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Thank goodness we're moving out of there? XD
May 20, 2020 21:59:22 GMT -6
Renathan: Ugh, photobucket has the images broke again. x3
May 20, 2020 21:18:53 GMT -6