Chapter 1 Rain: The Hunt
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It was another beautiful day as Rain could tell, well looking through the foliage of the trees and bushes in the forest anyway. The reason why she was in this particular forest was because she has been tracking a worthy beast for the last three months. The worthy beast she had been tracking was one that would get her into the Ranger Guild, which seemed so long ago since she set out on her mission to join. Rain tracked this worthy beast from her home village through forests and over mountains. Finally, after three long months of tracking, Rain had caught up to the worthy beast she had been tracking and she was ready.

Crouching behind some trees and brush, she saw her quarry in a large clearing. When she saw the worthy beast, she instantly recognized it as a gryphon. The creature had a body of a lion with the head and wings of an eagle, a truly magnificent creature but finding one in the wild is rare. Outside of seeing pictures and reading about them, seeing one in person did not do justice to the creature's beauty. Killing this will get Rain into the Ranger Guild for sure.

Rain stood there and watched the gryphon from her hiding spot. Luckily it hasn't spotted her yet, so she was free to watch and wait for the right time to strike. While waiting, Rain started to recall the information she has read and been told about gryphons. She watched the gryphon nonchalantly walking around the clearing which appeared to enjoy the quietness of the forest. Rain remembered that gryphons were not inherently dangerous unless they are provoked or cornered.

She started easing an arrow out of her quiver as quietly as she could, so she did not spook it. Rain almost had the arrow out when she stopped. She recalled that days ago, she had read a notice that had said it was illegal to hunt and kill gryphons. Cursing under her breath, she slowly eases the arrow back into her quiver. She gave up on killing it and decided to watch the gryphon a little bit longer.

After a while, she suddenly saw a flash of light. It was odd to see a flash of light like that in the forest. It dawned on her that the sun was behind her and that flash of light was sunlight reflecting off of metal. She quickly realized that it was possible that others might have seen the gryphon and they might be hunting it as well. Rain could not let them kill the gryphon so she had to think on what to do.

She quickly drew an arrow and fired it towards the flash she saw. Thunk. The arrow hit a tree, missing the gryphon. The noise alerted the gryphon and it started looking around. Rain slowly walked out of the forest and the gryphon turned its head and looked directly at her, not moving but staring.

All of a sudden, another flash of light off of metal near its head. Drawing another arrow, she fired it at the flash, narrowly missing the gryphon's head. Thunk. Another arrow in a tree that slightly echoed through the forest. This caused the gryphon to turn its head towards the noise as a person walked out of the forest. The gryphon quickly glanced at Rain before it took flight, flying off into the distance.

Rain quickly got into a position where she could see it to determine its flight and track where it might go next. Judging by its flight, it appeared to be heading in the direction of the village of Lenet. As Rain watched the gryphon fade out of sight, she could hear the two hunters approach her, so she turned to look at them. The hunter on the right spoke up.

"And what do you think you are doing? We were hunting that gryphon!" This hunter is taller and appeared more fit compared to the one on the left.
"And who are you?" Rain asked. "The head hunter of the group?"
"Yes, I am. Who are you?"
"Don't worry about my name. I want to know why you were hunting a gryphon."

"It was my'n, now get outta my way!" This time it was the hunter on the left who spoke. "I'm a member of the Royal Hunting Squad. I was tracking that gryphon and was intent on killing it when you showed up and ruined my plans!"
"Ha, I'm glad I showed up when I did. You shouldn't go around killing gryphons for fun. You need an actual reason to kill one!" She replied.

"Yeah? Well, you shouldn't be sneaking around the forest like some kind of common criminal." the hunter on the left replied.
"Sneaking? I wasn't sneaking around. I was hunting that gryphon also and planned on killing it myself. I almost did until I recalled something I had read. I decided that it would be a bad idea, so I stopped myself."
"Oh? What was this something you had read?"

Thinking carefully Rain replied, "If you don't know, that is entirely on you. It is not my place to tell you since you are a member of the Royal Hunting Squad after all."
"Oh, I see you know what's best and I don't?" the hunter continues.
"Enough, Sam. Lets go." The head hunter says to his hunter partner. The two hunters turned around and started heading back the way they came. The head hunter turns his head and stated "If either of us sees you again, we'll kill you."

Glancing at the fading light, Rain realized that she needed to set up camp and stay there over night as it might not be safe to travel at night in a forest she did not know. She was stuck there until the sun rose again so she set up camp, grabbed something to eat from her pack and then went to sleep.

Rain woke up at first light.

The route to Lenet will be long as she planned to stay in the forest to avoid the possibility of running into those hunters from yesterday. Rain made a quick breakfast since she was eager to get on the road. Once finished with breakfast, she packed up her campsite and started heading to the village. Unfortunately, this route will also take a while and Rain judged that she'll reach the village by midday tomorrow. Walking through the forest, Rain was treated to the sights and sounds that are common: birds singing, animals walking around, leaves blowing in the wind.

It was peaceful walking through the deep forest. Nowhere close enough to the road so there was no chance of possible bandits. The day progressed as well as Rain thought. While she was in a forest, she didn't know this one as well so she couldn't move as fast as she had hoped. However, she will still reach her destination around midday tomorrow. Thankfully there has not been any signs of any predatory type animals: bears or wolves or anything worse. Rain continued walking until the light started to fade. That night, she decided to camp out up in a tree in hopes to hide from wolves.

The night was not quiet with howling wolves, panthers roamed hunting for food. As a result, Rain did not get a lot of sleep. Waking up with the sun, she packed her makeshift sleeping location and climbed down. Continuing her trek to the village, the morning sounded different to her. Because of this, Rain was more alert and listening for the slightest sound that might come her way.

Rain will be glad when she reached the village though. A good night's rest and hot meal will do wonders for her. After a spending the night in the village, Rain planed on heading to the capital. After a few hours, Rain can barely spot the tops of a couple buildings through the trees. She was relieved that she was almost there. As Rain got closer, she could hear noises coming from the direction of the village.

Getting closer, she could see people in a clearing surrounding a creature in a net. Rain could not tell what it is from her distance, so she pulled out her spyglass to see the creature. It was a gryphon, which could have been the one that she saved the other day. While looking around she spotted the same two hunters from the other day as well. Rain looked back at the gryphon and waited for signs of movement.

It doesn't take long before she saw it move, it was still alive thankfully. Rain realized that she needs to free it from the hunters while hoping it doesn't see her as a threat as well. Using the spyglass, Rain examined the net holding the gryphon to look for a weak point to exploit. At first, she doesn't see anything she can exploit but after lingering on a certain area, she realized that she could hit it with an arrow that will cause the net to loosen and free the gryphon. The downside is that she needed to get closer.

There is a problem with Rain's plan however, because if she misses there is a good chance, she could hit the gryphon. The closer that she could get, the better chance she gets to hit her target. Rain takes off her pack and hides it, marking the location to retrieve it later. She carefully walked towards the edge of the forest. Decided that it was now or never, she started running towards the weak point in the net. Unfortunately, she was spotted by somebody. Next thing she knew was that there were more people pointing in her direction which ruined the element of her surprise. Rain had to act and now.

Dropping down into a feet first slide drawing an arrow, Rain aimed for the weak point and released the arrow. She watched the arrow as she came to a stop and got onto one knee. The arrow hit the spot she was aiming for. The net loosened enough for the gryphon to start thrashing more and attempted to break out. The people started freaking out which cause the hunters to look at the people and then the gryphon. They looked back at the people who then pointed at Rain. The head hunter turned his head in the direction the town's people were pointing.

"You are dead! I'm going to kill you!" The head hunter yelled as he recognized Rain and started running towards her. The other hunter joins him running towards Rain. There was not enough time to run so she drew another arrow and aimed it at one of them. She chose the second, furthest one and targeted his leg. Releasing the arrow, she hit the leg and the guy fell down. Grabbing another arrow and started drawing it but realized that the guy was to close.

He reached Rain and swung down with his sword. She rolled out of the way towards him and in range of his leg. Rain took the arrow she drew and jammed it in his leg. This made him stop, yell out in pain and fall to his knees.

Dropping her bow, she unsheathed her sword and lightly pressed it to the mans neck.

"Who are you?" Rain asked in a very authoritative voice.
"My name is Duggin, the Head Hunter of Lenet." he responded.
"Why is the Head Hunter and a member of the Royal Hunting Squad hunting a gryphon?"
"We were trying to kill it." he says nearly laughing.
"Don't you know that you can't just hunt gryphons? There are rules and laws that say when its appropriate or not."

"Well... I... don't know any laws and such about that sort of thing." He huffed.
"That is interesting." Rain replied. "As the Head Hunter, you should know the laws and rules about hunting the types of creatures you'll encounter in your hunting areas. Hell, a member of the Royal Hunting Squad should know the laws and rules that pertain to every creature."
Rain looked towards the gryphon and watched as it finally broke free.

It looked at Rain in a way that conveyed a thank you. As the gryphon took off, Rain removed her sword from Duggin's neck.

"It is your lucky day. I wasn't planning on killing you, only needed to distract you long enough so the gryphon could get free." She, Duggin and Sam were too engrossed in watching the gryphon fly away. None of them saw the Royal Guards. All of a sudden Rain head somebody yelling.
"What in the hell is going on here?!

Rain, Duggin, and Sam looked in the direction where the voice came from. Everybody saw the patrol company of Royal Guards. The speaker held the rank of Captain. Sam stood up and limped up to the captain. In a raised voice, he started explaining to the captain about how Rain attacked them while pointing at her and the arrow that is still in his leg. He complained that she released the creature they were hunting while pointing at the empty net on the ground. He also explained what happened the other day in the forest clearing and how she stopped them from getting the creature they were hunting.

"What were you hunting?" The captain asked in raised voice as well. The villagers that were still in the clearing could him as well.

"Gryphon." Sam replied loudly triumphantly. Rain thought she saw the captain's eye twitch. All of a sudden, the captain hits Sam right in the gut causing Sam to drop to the ground. The captain turned and looked at his men. "Arrest this man." she watched as two guards walked up to the Captain and Sam. They picked Sam up and then placed irons on him. They walked him back to the rest of the guards. The captain walked up to the gathering of villagers. Rain couldn't hear what he asked but the villagers were pointing in her and Duggin's direction.

The captain turned and started walking up to the two of you. Rain and Duggin look at each questionably but kept quiet. The captain finally stopped in front of them. Duggin started trying to give the captain his account of what happened, but the captain shushed him almost immediately.

He looked at Rain and asked, "Young Lady, were you the one who stopped these two men from killing a gryphon?" She froze, glancing at Duggin and then back at the captain. Lying to a Royal Guard is unheard of, especially if the person you have to tell is a Captain of the Royal Guards. She knew she can't lie and started to explain what happened.

Rain started by saying that she had been tracking a worthy beast for the last three months. She didn't know what the creature was but that she was intent on killing it. When she got to the clearing in the forest south of the village, she finally noticed it was a gryphon. This comment made the captain a little angry, which she noticed. Rain quickly explained that once she realized that the creature she was tracking was indeed a gryphon, she realized that she couldn't kill it.

Rain continued to explain that she observed it for a while and then saw flashes of light off of metal in the forest opposite of her and then fired an arrow towards the flashes. This caused the gryphon to fly away, and two hunters came out of the forest into the clearing. She pointed at Duggin and Sam to indicate that they were the hunters who came out of the forest. She then explained that she just arrived and saw the gryphon in the net and shot an arrow at the net to allow the gryphon to escape. Rain stated that she only attacked the hunters to distract them. Rain mentioned that she didn't want to kill them which was why Sam had an arrow in the leg.

The captain seemed to listen to Rain and waited until she finished speaking before speaking up, "You have told me a long story miss... I'm sorry, I didn't get your name."

Rain noticed that he was writing in a small book, "My name is Rain."

The captain then looked at Rain with mild recognition, like he knew her from somewhere, but she had never seen the captain before or had any idea where he was from.

The captain looked back at his men and motioned them to come and get Duggin. Two guards came walking up and placed irons on him and brought him back to the rest of the guards and made him stand next to Sam. The captain looked back at Rain.

"Miss Rain, thank you for your cooperation." He replied and walked back to the guards. Once he reached them, they continued walking south. Rain realized that they are going to head to the capital to throw the hunters in jail or something. Rain glanced at Duggin with irons on his hands and shook her head. Rain headed back to where she dropped her bow and picked it up.

She then headed over to where she shot the net and retrieved her arrow, inspecting it before putting it back in her quiver. With that done, she headed back into the forest and retrieved her pack. As she walked back to her pack, her stomach growled. When she got to where her pack was, she would grab something to eat. Once Rain reached the location where she put her pack, she sat down with her back against the tree and ate the last of her dried meat and then ate some dried fruits.

After eating, Rain decided to inspect and inventory her equipment, supplies and money. Rain counted out ten good quality arrows in total out of twenty-five that she normally carried with her. Unfortunately, she was all out of dried meat with a low supply of dried fruits. Rain counted out one gold, one silver and twenty-five copper pieces. She had to shake her head in disappointment because she decided not to bring her arrow making kit since she didn't think she would have been gone for three months. Her sword and knifes are still in decent shape. Rain can get dried meat and fruits easily enough but what she lacked was money. She would need some more.

Rain finished her inventory and packed everything up. She stood up while putting her pack on her shoulders and started walking towards the village of Lenet. There should be a fletcher to get more arrows, however that will cost money. Rain realized that she would have to spend slightly more time here in Lenet then she planned. As Rain walked into the village, she noticed that the buildings were mostly made from wood with some that were two stories, but the majority of the buildings were one floor.

As Rain walked around looking for the fletcher, most of the villagers avoided her. She reasoned that it was because of what happen with Duggin, the head hunter. Rain finally found the fletcher and entered the building. Walking up to the counter and the man standing behind it and asked how much fifteen arrows would cost. The fletcher looked at her.

“Seventy-five copper.” came his harsh reply.

"Seventy-five copper? That sounds rather expensive. Can I look at them first?" Rain asked. The fletcher looked at her with suspicion but pulled out the arrows and laid them down on the counter. Rain picked up and examined the arrows he pulled out one by one. They were really bad quality with bent shafts, dull arrowheads, torn or missing fletching. She knows seventy-five coppers is way too much for this shoddy workmanship. The fletcher wasn't old or young, he appeared like a person who produced quality work.

"These are not worth seventy-five coppers. I'll make you a deal, if you agree to let me redo all of your arrows or make new ones to replace them and if you like the quality, you either give me fifteen arrows as payment or for twenty-five coppers." Rain finally spoke after examining the fifteen arrows. The fletcher looked at the arrows and then back at her.

"If you can make them better than what I have, I guess you have a deal.” the fletcher finally stated after some thought. “I have a total of seventy-five arrows right now. The hunters of Lenet bought the others I have." He placed the fifteen arrows off to the side and pulled out the rest of his arrows and placed them on the counter. Rain examined the rest and most were of the same workmanship, five were of decent quality. She placed those apart from the others and informed the fletcher that out of his seventy-five arrows, five were of decent quality. She asked where he got the arrows.

"I got them from a man who was selling them off in a caravan that stopped in Lenet a couple days ago." the fletcher explained.
"Didn't you examine them before you bought them? When I first saw you, I could tell that you are somebody who likes good quality items."
"You are right.” he sighed. “I do like good quality items, and I make good quality items. The man I bought them from wouldn't let me examine the arrows beforehand. He knew they were shoddy and I couldn't even look at them. Once I paid for them, I was able to view them. He even told me that all sales are final when I tried to return them." the fletcher replied. Rain looked at him apologetically and shook her head.
"Alright, can you take me to your supplies please?" Rain asked. The fletcher looked at her and nodded.
"Come this way, please." Rain grabbed as many arrows as she could and the fletcher grabbed the rest. She followed the fletcher to the back of the building and into the workshop.

The fletcher put the arrows he was carrying on a large table. Rain placed the arrows she was carrying on the table next to the others. The five arrows that were a decent quality were left out front since they didn't need any work done to them. The rest were sorted out into different piles according to the work that was needed to be done to them. Arrows with just bent shafts were placed in one pile. Arrows that needed new fletching went into another pile. Arrows that needed the arrowheads sharpened or replaced were placed in a third pile.

Out of those piles Rain made, there were only thirty arrows in total. The rest were beyond repair and went into a fourth pile that just need to be redone. Once that was done, Rain looked at the fletcher's equipment. There was a stove against the wall with a nice flat top on it. This stove was meant for heating up arrow shafts, especially hard wood ones. There were also hand tools that help in the process of making and straightening arrow shafts. He also had arrowhead sharpening tools and tools for making and attaching fletching.

There was fletching already made and saw that there was more than enough to repair the arrows with bad fletching and then some. There was material for making arrowheads in case some broke or needed new ones, the supplies for those are higher as well. She also found premade arrow shafts and had quite a few of them as well. The fletcher must have recently restocked his supplies and hasn't been able to craft any arrows yet. Rain's next step was to start a fire in the stove, so she grabbed a couple of logs of firewood and started a fire. It will take a while for the fire and the flat top to get warm enough to use. She started by removing all fletching from the arrows that needed them removed. She also removed all of the fletching from the arrows that need to be straightened.

Rain checked the temperature of the flat top and felt that it was not hot enough yet, so she started removing the arrowheads from the shafts that needed straightened. When Rain finished with that and checked the temperature of the flat top again. Finding the temperature to be satisfactory, she placed some shafts on the stove. Rain started with sharpening arrowheads, while keeping an eye on the shafts on the stove. The work that Rain was about to do was laborious but determined to finish.

Checking the temperature on the shafts on the stove, they were getting to the correct temperature to start shaping. Picking up the tools needed to straighten the arrow shafts, she got started on the task. During this process, Rain needs to keep the shafts heated to be pliable. If the wood gets too hot it will burn. Too cold, it will be hard to straighten.

Shaping this many shafts is hard work and takes Rain a couple of hours to finish the task. However, her effort and quality of work shows. She was able to straighten all of the bent shafts and create the shafts to replace the ones that needed to be replaced. She was even able to craft another twenty-five shafts out of the extra supplies. Unfortunately, she was only able to sharpen two arrowheads before she started on the shafts. Rain started on the rest of the arrowheads. Once all of the arrowheads were sharpened, she retrieved the tools to shape arrowheads from the raw materials.

This was the harder part of arrowhead making process as shaping the arrowheads takes time. Once Rain finished with the arrowheads to her quality, a couple more hours have gone by. Lastly, Rain started with the fletching, which is not as hard as the rest of the process. All she had to do is glue the fletching on and then wait for the glue to dry. When the glue is dry, she tests the fletching to make it doesn't come off easily. Finally finished, she looked out the window and noticed it was dark outside. She stood up and grabbed a couple of the arrows she made and started for the door when it opened, the fletcher walked in.

"It's late, you should get some sleep." the fletcher stated.