Continuing from here, this is the next stage of Pitch's "training".
Dranas stared at the small log hut, then looked around at the rest of the clearing. The hut, little more than a hovel really, sat in the middle, with a small firepit outside the hide-covered doorway. At the wood's edge he could see a smaller hut, also crafted of logs. The old druid who had agreed to be his teacher watched him. "Got a problem with the place?" he finally asked gruffly. Dranas shook his head. "It's wonderful."
He followed the old man, who still refused to give his name, around as he showed the younger elf where various things were kept. "Most food is hunted for, but I got a few supplies here. Ya'll sleep there," he indicated the spot with a jerk of his head, "An' I don' like laziness. If ya don' get up when I do, ya'll find out how much."
"Yer cat is angry," he said to Dranas as they shared dinner that night. "Ya've got a temper too, I'll bet, an' that's not helping. First thing I'm to do is find out how angry he is. Yer na gonna like it boy, but it's got to be done." He cleared his throat. "Oh, an' I don' wanna see ya shift til I tell ya different. Got that, cub?" The young elf blinked at him uncertainly. "Uh, sure."
* * *
The idea was simple. Just grab the stick and take it away from the old man. What Dranas hadn't been told was that the oldster would be trying to beat him black and blue with it. "Is this really necessary?" he asked after the third time he had nearly been knocked flying. The only answer he got was yet another jab in the ribs. Dranas of course had yet to even touch the stick, let alone been able to take it away.
He began to get angry as the "training" continued and the old man still wouldn't say a word. With the anger, however, he could feel the cat inside him trying to take over. He fought it, but after another stinging blow across his shoulders, the elf disappeared and a large black panther lunged at the old druid. He met with, not the old man, but a larger cat, this one grayish-white and covered in old scars. The gray cat overpowered the black one, savaging it until it lay still beneath him.
* * *
Dranas opened his eyes slowly, groaning in pain. He managed to sit up, slowly, and looked himself over to find several deep cuts and scratches. "Yer cat got loose," his teacher said without preamble, startling him. "I've got na magic, boy. Ya'll have to patch yerself up." He picked up the stick - that fel-cursed stick - and headed back outside. "Once yer done, get out here. We're na finished yet." Dranas was left on his pallet, blinking after him in disbelief.
* * *
Dranas stared dully at the cookpot hanging over the fire. His teacher glared at him from the other side. "Ya heard me, boy," he said gruffly. "Ya gotta hunt yer own food from now on." The younger druid hunched his shoulders, feeling resentment from the past week's abuse building up inside. He was tired, too tired and worn out to go hunting. And he was hungry. Suddenly it was too much. "No," he said, and reached for the pot.
He never saw the blow, but suddenly he was on his back, blinking up at the tree-tops in an effort to clear his darkening vision. His teacher stepped into view, face full of rage. "Control, boy!" he roared, and Dranas flinched involuntarily. "Ya gotta learn control! Or else maybe I'll bring yer brother an' sister down here for a little hunting party, eh?" Dranas stared up at him in shock. He knew exactly what he meant, and for an instant he could almost see Jahira under his claws, the life torn out of her. He flinched back from the vision, and the old man lowered his voice, though his expression remained the same. "If yer gonna control the cat, ya've got to control everything bout yerself first. Now get, ya need to eat." He reached down and hauled the youngster back to his feet, and Dranas went to get his hunting knife with no further arguments.
"Yer na taking this serious enough, cub," his teacher told him later, as Dranas roasted the duck he had managed to catch. "If ya listen an' ya learn what I'm trying to teach ya, ya can sit with a newborn babe with na worries. But if ya can' learn control, ya'll be a danger to everyone. I can' let ya loose like that. If ya don' learn control, boy, I'll kill ya." His eyes glinted in the light of the small cookfire, and Dranas shivered.