We entered the dark, shadowy forest and walked on a well-trodden path that had many footprints stamped into it over time.
Erica was still talking, “So if you keep going straight on this trail, you’ll come to the training area, that’s where full Ringmasters train their apprentices. If you do come to live here, you would train as an apprentice. You become a full Ringmaster when you learn how to use every weapon properly, how to survive anywhere by yourself with very little food and water, and basic healing.” She added when she saw my confused look, “And when you do become a full Ringmaster, you can choose to take on an apprentice, most people do, you can get a job- depending on what you’re really good at, and you also have the choice of choosing your own weapon.
“Mason and I aren’t Ringmasters yet but since we went on the mission to retrieve you, we needed weapons. Mason got a gun and I got a bow and arrow.”
I looked at my friend with alarm, “What? You can’t be serious, isn’t that dangerous?”
Erica just laughed and said; “Yes, but I’m pretty good with the bow and arrow and Mason is the best out of all of us with the gun. Don’t worry; those who don’t know about the Ringmasters organization won’t be affected if they get hit, the bullets of all the guns, the tips of the arrows, the blades of all the swords and everything else are all made with a special type of gold. But don’t ask about it, I don’t do very well in the science part of the training. Sorry Allie, it’s like school here. We learn and study for tests so don’t think you got out of it.” She smirked at me and I heard Mason laugh behind me. I spun around to glare at him and he gave me an innocent look.
“Anyways, if you start now and work hard, you might be able to catch up to us. That would be fun wouldn’t it?” Erica didn’t wait for my answer and continued to the training area through a white garden gate surrounded by vines and bushes.
“I think some people are here so you can meet them!” She smiled at me, I sighed inwardly but put up a wide grin. “Well, lets go! I do want to know what kind of people are here.” I should at least try to enjoy it, just to be nice for Erica.
Mason gave me a look as if he knew what I was thinking and pushed open the gate. Erica skipped in and her long hair flew behind her, I followed but as I passed Mason, he grabbed my wrist and whispered to me; “She really wants you here. And, I don’t know why, but the Officials and the leader went out of their way to send the top of the class apprentices, me and Erica, and a full Ringmaster, Ms. Clark, to get you and a Reaper even came after you so think seriously when you make the decision to stay here or not.”
I looked at him in surprise; Mason had never talked very much- in school he never spoke unless someone, usually a teacher, said something to him. Even then, he would just answer with a shake or a nod of his head. I think this is the first time he actually said more than a sentence to me.
I nodded slowly and walked through the gate to catch up to Erica, who was standing in the middle of another big clearing. But instead of having wooden houses like the last one, there were targets that were different sizes and scattered all over the area, some with arrows and bullet holes imbedded into them.
Off to the left was a wooden shed that looked like it had been put through a lot. There were scratches and holes all over the shed, I glanced at Erica curiously and she said sheepishly; “Sometimes we miss the target… by a lot. The shed happens to get in the way when we miss.”
I laughed then said; “What’s in the shed anyway?”
“Targets and weapons, but the weapons aren’t dangerous, the arrows have blunt tips and the bullets for the guns are just paintballs. But they still hurt.” Someone said from behind me.
Erica and I both turned around to see a tall man with sandy colored hair holding a bow and arrow. “Well what do we have here? Someone who wants to become a Ringmaster? Well, I can help with that, I actually don’t have an apprentice.”
I shook my head and said; “Maybe, but I’m still thinking. I don’t know if I really want to stay or not.”
The man smiled at me and shrugged, “Well, if you ever change your mind, I’m always here. The name’s Derrick Hudson by the way.” He added, stretching out a hand.
“Alison Walker, but you can just call me Allie,” I responded shaking his hand.
“So Allie, how old are you anyway? You have to be a certain age to train here you know.” Derrick asked,
“I’m fifteen but I turn sixteen in a week.” I replied, “Is that ok? Erica and Mason said it was.”
Erica nodded, “Don’t worry Derrick, the Officials passed her. They said it was fine since a Reaper had already went after her.” She explained.
Derrick’s eyes widened, “Whoa, I guess you’re accepted then. Let’s go meet everyone else; they’re in the woods practicing camouflage.” He said while walking onto a path in the forest, “So Allie, how did you manage to kill the Reaper? It takes a lot to, and I’ve only seen a few in my life. And that was because they tried to attack this place.”
“No you got it wrong, I was being attacked by the Reaper but Mason was the one who came and killed it.” I corrected before any confusions occurred.
Derrick looked behind us and grinned, “Well, aren’t we the hero! Good work Mason!”
Mason smiled, “Thanks. But your gun helped a lot. Do you want it back now that the mission is over? I have it right here,” he said walking next to Derrick and taking out a gun from under his jacket.
But Derrick shook his head and said; “No, I didn’t let you borrow it, I gave it to you. It’s an old gun that I don’t need anymore so you’re doing me good by taking it. Besides, you’ll need it when you run into trouble.” Then he suddenly stopped walking and put a finger to his lips.
We all froze into a still silence, looking around cautiously. Off the the right, a bush rustled slightly. Derrick slowly notched an arrow and aimed it at the bush.
“Who’s there? Come out and don’t try anything funny, I’m armed.” He said in a loud voice.
There was a pause before leaves behind the bush crunched and a figure smoothly glided out with their hands up, “Whoa, easy there!”
Gasp! Who is this mysterious figure? Someone good or bad? Well, you’ll just have to wait to find out! Enjoy!
Read on: Chapter Ten