Upon first glance, the nature scene seemed perfectly serene with nothing out of place. It could have been a painting, really, with the soft moonlight shining down through the trees and onto the water’s calm surface. Not a sound could be heard aside from the gentle splashing of a small waterfall at the far end of the pool, even the fish that sometimes inhabited the clear water seemed to be resting somewhere else tonight.
The silence was broken by heavy footsteps approaching, and through the water’s spray the black-clad figure detected a wild animal nearing his position. The fighter had been sitting perfectly still under the cascading water for hours, and was certain that the creature hadn’t noticed him, but was still tempted to open his eyes and carefully monitor the situation. He heard the beast move forward and take a few steps into the shallow edge of the pool, it’s hoofs squishing into the mud trying to support it’s weight. Barely moving a muscle, the young man allowed himself a short breath to calm his pulse and quiet his racing thoughts. The creature sniffed the air and leaned toward the water, intent on discovering why its instinct determined there was something behind the liquid curtain. The fighter could smell the scent of fresh blood on the creature, and as it’s hot breath drew closer it caused the water to splatter on the rock next to him.
Suddenly the man lept to his feet, startling the creature. It roared at it’s unseen adversary and attempted to push past the falling water into the small cave. The mud had made maneuvering difficult, however, so when the human vaulted over it’s back and onto the shore the creature could only swing at him with a sharp horn. It turned and barreled into the night after the man, who had begun racing through the brush as soon as his feet touched solid ground. He ducked in and out of cover, using the terrain and fallen trees to gain an advantage over the bigger and faster being. No sooner had he ducked under an old log did he hear it turn to splinters behind him, so he focused all his energy on reaching the large clearing ahead.
The animal raged behind him as they both reached the edge of the woods – glancing up the man saw a firm branch that would be his saving grace coming into sight. He sprinted across the last stretch of open ground, it shook beneath him as he took one, two, then three steps up the thick tree trunk and pushed off toward the high perch. Realizing his prey was escaping, the animal jumped as well and took another swing with his sharp horns at the airborne human. The fighter’s aim was true, however, and the horn fell short of it’s mark as he pulled himself up onto the branch. He looked down and locked eyes with the creature, determined to stare at it until it walked away. The creature responded by roaring once more, than stomping the ground and running off into the woods.
"Well, that went well." thought the man, as he sat down to enjoy the cool night air. He rubbed his sore shoulder, the climb had stressed a few muscles he’d injured days before practicing aerial maneuvers. It had been a while since the fighter had trained this hard – pushing himself to stay up for days at a time in pursuit of quicker reflexes and finer focus in his various styles. The wet black clothing he wore was covered in pieces of dirt and grass, further evidence of his tireless efforts since he last paused to clean up. Part of the fun in training outdoors was getting dirty though, and he felt as if there should be no difference between raining down a fury of blows on rocks and trees instead of a practice dummy back home.
Solitude was a funny thing, it made you remember all that you had when others were around, yet provided an opportunity to do things your own way and take a break from the rest of the world. There were times when thoughts seemed louder, colors were brighter, and problems were easier to approach when the noise died down. At the same time it was always easier to have others around you for support, and those times were invaluable as life tossed a series of obstacles in the way of a clear path. Sometimes you just needed to get away though, and the resounding clarity that came with silence echoed into the loudest times of his life.
After sitting for a few minutes to allow his breathing to slow, he stood up and eyed the ground a few feet around the tree. His best bet was to leap, he figured, and was determined to get a few more exercises in before heading home the next morning. It was the perfect night to train after all – one when nothing could get in the way or disrupt him now that the animal was gone!