Email: [email protected] TOMB HUNTER The Adventures of Larra Court Episode 1 Larra’s African Adventure Chapter 4 The Escape Somewhat refreshed by the short respite Larra trotted on behind the marching warriors. The air about her seemed very close and she estimated that it was probably somewhere around four p.m. The buildup of moisture in the air reached its peak in late afternoon. The usual result was heavy cloud and quite often a violent thunderstorm.. Even now she could hear the ominous rumble of distant thunder. The warriors redoubled their pace, dragging the weeping Nancy after them and forcing the panting Larra to the limit of her endurance. Fat droplets of water began to fall all around them. Within a few seconds the few drops had increased to a deluge. Water poured from the sky as if it was coming from some gigantic faucet. The wind now howled through the forest, violently whipping the vegetation into a frenzy. Lightning flashes so numerous as to be indistinguishable one from the other lit up the thrashing foliage. The boom of thunder was deafening. The group of warriors and their captives scattered into the forest, each person seeking shelter for him or herself. Larra found herself beneath a massive tree with huge spreading roots. With her were three of the warriors. She had no idea where the rest of the party had gotten to. All of them tried to find some shelter, moving as close to the tree as possible. The rain was coming down so hard that it actually felt like small pebbles striking against Larra’s skin. Larra had experienced storms like this before, but usually from a more sheltered location. Being caught out in the open in so violent a downpour was absolutely frightening! As she huddled against the tempest, Larra noticed that no one was watching her. All of the warriors were too caught up in trying to look after themselves. Surreptitiously, she edged around the back of the tree, away from the others. There was no way that she could be heard in the tremendous cacophony of sound generated by the storm. All she had to do was get out of their line of sight. Reaching the other side of the massive tree, she ducked and scurried off into the forest as quickly as she could in her bent over position. She kept on moving as far and as fast into the forest as she could, desperately trying to put as much distant as possible between herself and her captors before the storm ended. Half an hour later Larra found herself alone in the forest. She was free, but wet and cold. Her clothes were soaked through and she felt completely helpless and bedraggled. Somehow, she needed to find some warmth and some shelter. Her mind went back to her training. It seemed so many years ago that she had been in Japan, training with Takeda sensei. She remembered how he had taught her to endure privation and suffering without complaint, forcing her to stand under a cold waterfall for hours until she learned to control her chattering teeth. But she also remembered how he had taught her some survival skills. “A warrior must be trained to survive,” he told her, “Otherwise such a warrior would be useless to his master.” To that extent he had shown her some basic techniques of woodcraft. She knew how to start a fire without matches and how to forage for food – provided she could recognize what plants were food. Of course, the forest had a myriad of non-plant lifeforms as well, but she preferred not to think that she might have to eat them. The shades of night were now beginning to fall. Larra knew that she should act quickly. “Where to find some dry wood?” she wondered. Without it she could not hope to build a fire this night. The thought of enduring a night in the forest without fire was one that held little appeal to her. With a flash of inspiration, she got down on all fours and crawled under the spreading roots of one of the great rainforest trees. The roots flared out from the trunk forming an elaborate latticework surrounding the base of the tree. It created a natural shelter that might have some dry wood beneath it. “Ah!” she cried, as her hand closed on a pile of dry leaves and twigs sheltered under the buttress roots. Quickly, she arranged the leaves and twigs into a potential heap of firewood. Scrounging among the roots she came up with some larger pieces of wood. These could be added once the fire got going. Next, she carefully selected what she thought were the two driest pieces of wood and piled small pieces of powdered bark and leaves on the larger of the two pieces. Taking the smaller piece of wood between her hands she began to rub her hands on both sides of it, while pressing the base of the stick into the larger piece. “I hope this works,” she muttered. She kept up the process for several minutes. Every now and then she checked the two pieces of wood to see if the friction between the two was having any noticeable effect. The wood felt warm, but not hot. “I need some way to make the stick rotate faster,” She thought. Then she had a flash of inspiration. “Of course!” she exclaimed. Quickly, she unbuttoned her blouse revealing her tight bodice. “I always did hate this thing,” she thought. Hastily, she undid the laces. Her high, full breasts fell loose. The cool night air caused her bare nipples to pucker. She shivered and hastily pulled the lace from her bodice, freeing the uncomfortable garment. Pulling it form beneath her shirt she tossed it into the brush. “Good riddance,” she muttered as she rebuttoned her shirt. Grabbing hold of a sapling she snapped about two feet of it off the bush. Then, taking the lace from bodice she tied it to both ends of the green stick making a crude bow. Returning to her fire-making, she looped the bowstring around her fire-making stick. Now by moving the bow she was able to make it spin much faster. Within a few seconds a curl of smoke came up from the base of the stick. She blew gently on it and was rewarded by the sight of an orange flame. Carefully she fed larger and larger pieces of wood into the fire. Five minutes later she sat before a roaring blaze. It was now quite dark. She would have to wait until morning to look for food, but in the meantime, the fire would keep her warm and keep the insects and wild animals away. It would mean that she would have to tend the fire throughout the night, but she could catnap between refuelings. Exhausted, Larra dropped off into a heavy sleep. She had not actually realized how tired she was. She did not wake to refuel the fire until light was creeping back into the forest. Shivering with the early morning cold, she got up and moved about, trying to restore her circulation. She had escaped and survived the night. Now she had to get back to Kampala.