As I started to put de pack saddle back on Mule, I realized he had a bad sore starting under his girth strap. "Guess you ave nut had a saddle on in long tim? You did nut even act as if you vere hurtink at all. You ave a big heart. I knew a mule vonce dat vould vork, end do vhatever asked, even if in pain. He vas a good and noble animal. His name vas Festus, I shall name you Festus in his honor. It is guud name." Ve still have a vays to go to get home. It vould take two days to get there ridink. But I vould just make sore vorse, end if Festus vould not complain, I vould nut know if it vas getting bad. If I keep de saddle off him, he vould be fine in a day, maybe two. If I continued to ride him who knows how long it could take to heal. If he vas hurt bad , he may balk every tim I try to put saddle on him again. Mules are smart, you are lucky to find von so trustink as Festus. To ruin dhat trust vould be a crime in my eyes. Ve still needed to keep travelink, so I had to put saddle on, vith moost of de gear but It vould help vith pain and hopefully keep sore frome gettink worse, if I did nut ride him. So it vould be a long valk. Maybe five days. I vashed sore, end put a little cooking oil on sore to eaze de pain. I adjoosted de vieght of de pack as best I could. Loosed breast strap end tighted crupper so as to move girth strap avay from sore as best I could. Festus acted as if he knew I vas tryink to help. "You know Festus, I remember vhen ve first caught up to de Black Gryphon, I ended up vith a few sore wearing in to me from de packs day had us carry in trainink, so I know you pain. I vill do my best to nut make it worse."Wiktor Kostka, the return home: Chapter Three: Training, Part 2 I kept a close eye on Festus, makink sure I did nut make de sore under his girth strap any vorse. "Festus, it almoost makes me laugh at my self. I run avay because I did nut vant somevone to tell me vhat to do. I spent mooch of next thirty five years beink told vhat to do." Vhen ve got to the camp for de Black Gryphon, it vas like small town. It had a ditch and a dirt vall al de vay around it. On top ov dirt vall vas spikes ov vood. Vhen ve pass de vall end vere inside de camp ve saw small little domed huts made of branches vith one side covered in mud. I de center of de camp vas another ditch vith a dirt vall. Dis von had a vall on top ov dirt vall made of tree trunks. We did nut go through did vall, ve slowed and stoop in a big clearing on de edge ov de ditch. As ve came to a stop me and Timothy looked at each other vith dis blank look ov nut really fear, but I em sure ve vere booth tinking," Vhat de **** ave I got myself into." Wiktor Kostka, The Return Home: Chapter Three: Training, Part 3 Sgt. Bull's vagon vas nut de only vagon dat vent to find new recruits. I counted 6 vagons. Moost ov vagons vere nut as nice as Sgt. Bull's. Sgt. Bull made us clean and service de vagon almost every tim ve shtopped. I had mooch knowledge ov vagons so I know it moost be done to keep in gud shape. And none ov us vanted to live in de stink ov dat box, so ve kept it clean. Even so it vas nut smellink ov rose garden. Dare vas 57 ov de new recruits. I soon found dat most ov dem acted as if dis vas going to be big party. I am sure none ov dem had anythink like de death ov Garth to make dis real. You could see all of de boys end young men vandering around like goats just bought at market tryink to be a herd for first time. I could pick out a few valking around vith puffed out chests. It made me think ov Garth again. A short stout man stood up on a box so he could see over de crowed. He was broad shouldered, his face seemed to be in a permanent snarl. His head vas bald, all save a patch of hair dat vas long bangs in front. And he had a long moustache. He vas nut in armor, but a coat with his left sleeve pined up so it would not flop around as he pointed vith de stub ov vhat vas left ov his arm. As he looked around in disapproval you could see that de patch ov hair in front vas vell kept to be de tuft of hair, but de back ov his head seem to ave burn scares all de vay down his neck and into his coat. He began to shout for everyvon to shut up end get together. He had dis voice dat sounded as if he vas gargling gravel, and it vas so deep dat it seemed as if it could not be coming from a man. If vas as if a god vas giving an order dat you moost obey. Our group formed up behind Sgt. Bull as he stepped forvard. De rest of de boys vere joost a mob mixed together. De short man joost shook his head as he looked at dis motley crew. He stopped as his eyes fell to Sgt. Bull. I could nut tell if de man vas pleased or mad. Wiktor Kostka, the return home: Chapter Three: Training, Part 4 De short man vas Varrent Sargent of Tennats, Darn. He vas in charge ov everytink das vas nut up to an officer. End moost officers vould do vhat he said or ask him vhat he thought. Myself, Timothy end de other boys very Tennats, vell dat is nut completely true. Ve vere in tranink end vere nut even Tennat until dat vas done. Ve all vent up von at a tim to a desk dat vas next to de Var. Sgt. ( much eaier to say dan Varrent Sargent of Tennats, Darn) Our group vent first, because ve were already in group. Each ov use vere told to leave de camp now end never come back, or to sign de book. If you could nut write your name leave your mark. Your mark had to be more dan an X, or de book vould be almost nothink boot X's. Da made a big deal aboot nut skippink a line end nut screwing up sometink as simple as your name. Ve vent around to de other side ov some vagons as quick as day could make us move. Everyvon vas yellink, even Sgt. Bull seemed to be yellink like he vas mad enough to kill us. All ov deem say how slow end stupid ve vere, and vare did day find sooch a losy groups ov peoples. We could see all our stuff from our vagon. Somevon had vent through everythink It vas joost put it in a pile spillink out ov vhat ever box or bag it had been packed in. We got vhatever ve could carry end got in line. Day passed out big bags and told us to strip naked. We den stuffed our clothes end vhatever ve could of our tinks in de bag. We took de bags to a vagon. A man took end threw our bag into back ov a vagon. At de next vagon a man everyvon called Doc had us turn around bend over, squat, valk like a duck. A small bag vas thrown at you hardly had time to catch it. In de bag vas shorts, a rope, sleeveless tunic, wool socks, and 2 small leather bags day said vere shoes. Day yelled at us to put it on end form back up in de groups dat ve came vith. Wiktor Kostka, The Return Home: Chapter Three: Training, Part 5 Ve spent de next two veeks digging trenches and building valls. After ve vere done ve vould tear down de vall and fill in de trenches. Den ve vould start all over again. Ve vould move de dirt end rocks in backpacks. De packs had hard straps dat vould bite into your shoulders. De leather bags day called shoes vere almost useless. Our bodys ached and bleed for de first veek. By de end of de secound veek we vere starting to heal and vork like ve new vhat ve vere doink. You may even hear somevon joke or laugh. Ve moost ave lost almost half ov our numbers dat first two veeks. Moost ran off in de night, and ve vould never here from deem again. A few day caught. Day vould tie deem naked to a pole and lash dem vith a vhip. Day vould throw de bag dat had vhat day came vith, on de first day, end chase dem naked out of camp Ve vere told ve vould start our training to be varriors. Ve vere give real boots. Some ov de boots vere de vons dat ve came vith. Ve vere given real backpacks, but day vere filed vith dirt and sticks. It vas about half my body vieght. I could never get my pack to fit right, my shoulders vere raw vith blisters. Ve vould run for miles every day. Ve vould be yelled at if ve all vere nut in step vith von another. In de eveninks ve vould march in groups end learn how to move around a field vith out getting in each others vay. At night ve vould return to de little domed huts dat ve sleeped in. It vas really de only tim ve could talk. De first two veeks no von talked mooch. Ve vere all scared end no von seemed to have had any idea vhat vas happaning to us. Moost ov de vons dat ran avay vere de von dat talked tough in de beginink. De next two veeks peoples started gettink mad at nut doink anytink a real varrior vould do. One boy yelled at a Sgt. Dat he vas nut going to be slave, and day should train him as a varrior as promised. De Sgt. Did not say a vord. He just slapped him hard enough to knock him down end pointed back at his place in formation. De boy got back to his spot. Our little domed huts vere just big enough to let two peoples lay down. I shared von vith Timothy. Ve became good friends. Ve vould complain to each other and help each other vere ve could. Help clean each others blisters on our backs. But ve never talked of leavink or home. I tink Timothy really had no home to go back too. I should have left. I had a gud home end gud life I could go back to. My pride kept me dere. Wiktor Kostka, The Return Home: Chapter Three: Training, Part 6 De next step in trainink vas to cut down trees and make them in to eight foot logs. We den dug hole two feet deep, ever ten feet all across de field. We den put de logs in de holes like fence posts. De field looked like an orchard of posts. We vere told ve vould finally start sword trainink. Day had each ov us go get a svitch, and gave us a reed woven shield. Ve vould practice sword and shield drills, vith de stick and pretend shield. Ve vould move as slow as ve could. De Sgt. vere alvays yellink, "You are going to fast!", and "Watch your foot work and balance!". You did not vant to be de guy who moved to fast and broke your shtick. De Sgt. vould go nuts! Ve vould do dis for hours every day for a veek. Ve still vould run and march vith our packs filled vith dirt and rocks for miles every day, but mostly ve did dis. Ve looked like group ov boy dat seemed to be pretendink to see how slow end soft ve could hit a fence post. De sargents vould valk among us tellink us to move your arm dis or dat vay, hold your elbow closer to your body, or push vith de ball ov your feet, end swink your hips. Every von vas gettink frustrated. Ve felt ve vere beink trained a dance, not to fight. De next veek day gave us vooden swords. Ve vould vork vith vood swords half de day end svitches de other half. Ve vould brink vooden sword vith us on our runs end marches. Vhen ve moved in formation it started to make more sense ov how ve vere moving to bring our veapons to bear on a battle line. De next veek ve got padded vests end vooden shields. Ve vould move at full speed vhen ve hit our posts. End ve started to spare vith de vood sword, end shield. De vood shield looked like real shield but, vas nut as heavy as a real shield, it vas strong enough for our vood swords. Ve vould take both sword end shield on our runs. Day even took half de rocks end dirt out ov our packs. Ve started to feel ve really goink to be varriors! Ve den got blunt steel swords, real shields end leather armor to put over our padding. Vhen ve vould go on run, ve no longer had pack ov rocks. Ve took a pack, but it had all our personnel gear in it. Ve vould be given a real sword to go vith our shield. Ve vere given tabards to wear vhen ever ve vere nut sparink. Day vere black vith purple trim end had a gryphon on de chest. Ve Had to vear dhem inside out. Ve vere told dat ve vere nut part ov Black Gryphon until ve finished our trainink. Only den ve could vhere de gryphon. I heard only part of trainink left, vas pikes end spears, den ve vould be real varriors, ve vould be Black Gryphon.