“Are you sure this is the correct way to do this?” Jedan stammered.
“It’s precisely how I learned.” Qiro responded, patient with Jedan despite his repeated queries on the subject. It was the fourth time he’d asked that particular question.
“So… how close do I have to get?” Jedan asked, clearly frustrated.
“Closer than you are, obviously, or have been in the past two minutes. Seems it heard you approach again. It ran off that way. Don’t forget…” Qiro chided with amused affection.
Jedan, with his wavy blonde hair and lean countenance, shrugged slightly as he turned in the direction his friend had stated, then paused.
“Where are you going, Jedan? The herb used to lure rabbits isn’t an easy one to find and you’re just going to leave the last bait sample behind?” Qiro’s remark earned him a sour glance from Jedan.
“I know, I know. You’ve told me before. Give me a chance already.” With a huff, Jedan reached down and picked up the chunk of carrot. He studied it for a moment before asking, “Which herb do you use for rabbits?”
“Why that herb in particular?” Jedan asked, not really expecting an answer and wishing he had kept his mouth shut. Going off track usually made Qiro a bit testy and this time was no different.
“Do you want a lesson in taming or herbalism?” Qiro spat, clearly trying to get the boy focused back on the task at hand. “Let’s go, Jedan. I have another lesson to teach in a couple hours.”
Jedan knew what was in store for him if he persisted in his line of questioning and so he decided on a quick nod an apology. With a grunt, Qiro waived him on and the two continued their search of their furry quarry.
No more than a half hour later, they spied another rabbit. Qiro moved in closer to Jedan, hoping to instil a bit of sense in the boy this time. “This time throw the chunk behind the hare. Your objective is to get the hare attracted to the carrot, not hit it with it. Besides, if you throw it behind, it’ll be less likely to be spooked.”
“Yes sir.” Jedan narrowed his eyes in concentration before throwing the carrot chunk about three paces from the hare.
“Now we wait.” Qiro instructed in hushed tones.
“Not too long. Look.” He pointed beyond Jedan’s shoulder to the hare. It had turned slightly at the impact of the carrot nearby but had not run off. It lifted it’s head, nose twitching in curiosity at the new scent of the nearby treat. It was not long before the hare had spotted the offering and hopped closer, inspecting it thoroughly before devouring it.
“It ate it!” Jedan whispered in excitement, “Now what?”
“Now we… I mean, you, need to see if the Eclipta has taken effect. Approach the hare carefully. Don’t give any predatory signals or act aggressively in any way or you’ll break the herb’s power. You’ll know if the herb has succeeded by it’s reaction to your presence.”
Jedan approached the hare apprehensively, unsure if it was actually going to work or not. Once within ten paces of it, something he had not been anticipating happened. The hare had moved closer to him! “Qiro look!”
The hare continued to come closer to the boy, eventually taking up a heeling position similar to that of a canine. Each movement Jedan took was mirrored by the hare.
“This is amazing, Qiro! How long does it last?”
“Not long, my young apprentice, so I suggest we get started back.” Beaming with pride and satisfaction at his student, Qiro started leading them back to town. “Everyone will be calling you the hare master soon enough.”
Jedan blushed a bit under the praise, stammering out thanks and deflections.
Qiro grinned and chuckled at his antics. Jedan turned his attention back to the hare following him, laughing in delight. He got so wrapped up in watching his new companion that he neglected to watch where he was going and ran right into Qiro.
“I’m so sorry! I guess I should pay more attention to where I am going.” Jedan stammered in embarrassment, eyes on his feet.
“Think nothing of it, my boy. I’m used to this kind of reaction by my students on their first outing. You should see the ones who managed to lure a bear.”
Jedan gave a surprised laugh, his eyes widening in amazing fascination. “So, how long is ‘not long?”
“If you are lucky, you’ll be able to lure your new hare back to it’s cage without having to feed it again. This rarely happens, however, as distance is a key factor, as well as the mount of lure you use and the type of animal you are pursuing. There are a lot of rules, Jedan, and I expect you to learn every one. Now, a sign that you are losing your hold on your animal is when it begins acting strangely, or perhaps more like it does in the wild is a better way to put it.
Brief, odd movements away from you and then back again as if it is unsure if it wishes to flee from you or not, strange sounds and cries, things like this are all signs that it is returning back to a feral state. I suggest another quick baiting if it comes to that or, if you pet is more volatile, like a bear or wolf, running for your life.” Qiro winked playfully at the last bit of advice.
“I am really enjoying this. I think I’ve found my calling.” Jedan glanced down at his new pet proudly, unable to wipe the smile from his face.
“I hope so, Jedan, because this is no trifling skill to take. It takes dedication and patience. Have I mentioned the patience you have to have?” Jedan gave Qiro a sheepish look. “You will have to work hard on that impetuous streak in you, my boy. If you think you are ready, we will begin discussing how to bond with your companion.”
Jedan nodded eagerly, a bit of apprehension in his eyes as the smile and laughter faded out into a studious expression. Satisfied, Qiro continued his lesson as he led them back to Talithis.