12-17-17: The Trainees (Carl Jr/Ben, Bob/Wenwahir, Carl/Beregond “Bear”, Steve/Celegrin, Shawn/Gethdrevor, Mike V/Dintaure).
After 6 long weeks of intensive training and being whipped into shape, the group moves on to weapons training. Spears are the first weapon the group spends time training with and while Bear is the most proficient he suffers along with the others. Their trainers drive them hard and once they think they have a little skill they are shown that they have only begun to learn the intricacies of fighting with the spear. Celegrin it seems has some skill in treating wounds and as the training continues he gets to practice his skills on his fellow recruits.
The following week the group is introduced to fighting with a sword. While most of the group has some skill with the sword, they are far from proficient in its use. After a week of intensive practice and sparring with the sword a new element is added to their training, the environment. With the environment in play it becomes apparent that most in the group are just not suited to the sword beyond the basics without further training and practice. Bear and Din are the two who are most comfortable working with a sword.
The following week the group is set to play the part of orcs and ambush another group of men. That does not go well overall, but the group does manage to inflict a few ‘casualties’. While the recruits get soundly pummeled, the purpose is not for them to come out with a victory but to experience the way orcs, one of the enemies of Gondor fights, and how Rangers fight back.
That night the group is taken to a small hilltop and given an opportunity to relax where Corporal Galdor tells the group a tale of the Queen of Ithilien and her Rangers. Celegrin takes the time and tells a tale of his own about orcs, tragedy, and loss, and why he chose this path. People come to the Rangers for different reasons and they may or may not find the answers they are looking for, but they may also find something they were not expecting, the trust and brotherhood of their fellow Rangers.
The following week the group heads up in the forested hills to the east of their base of operations. They are forced to make their own shelters, find water, and hunt for food. They are given the basics to survive in a wilderness and then forced to use that new found knowledge. The hunt for food for some is a bit tougher than others but those who were successful provide so the group eats well.
The next night later the group is ambushed by a dozen men who take out Corporal Galdor who was on watch and capture everyone. Everyone is trussed up, hooded, and then marched off. The group is taken to an abandoned manor and placed in cages/gibbets. They are poorly fed, barely given water, kept awake for days,and tortured in various ways for information. It was a confusing and frustrating week being beaten down, constantly harassed, and told you were being sold to slavers in the next couple of days.
Din is taken out of his cage and after a round of torture, he is taken to a clean room in the manor, given a bath, clean clothes, hot food, and a warm bed to sleep in. He is seen by the others walking around and talking with the groups captors. After a few days the manacles that keep him locked to the bed is left unlocked and no one at the door but he does nothing and waits for an opportunity to arise. That night the brigand camp is attacked by the Rangers who have been training the recruits and the recruits are removed from their cages and told to run one day to the west and one day to the south where they will be ok. The Rangers stay behind to give the recruits time to flee and as the group heads east the sounds of battle continue for a short time and then it becomes quiet.
The group, being exhausted barely goes two miles before they can go no further. The make very basic shelters and pass out with Din watching over them. Movement is heard in the area as if people were moving thru the woods but no one is seen or encountered. The next day the group continues east where they see a small group of cloaked men in a clearing and the smell of meat roasting over an open fire. They initially stay quiet and away from the grove but at some point Vanwahir’s hunger overwhelms him and he heads into the clearing where he is met by their trainers Msgt Amlath, Corporal Galdor, Rangers Ingold and Maybeth. He is given food, drink, a warm blanket and a place by the fire. The rest of the group come in and are given food, drink and a place by Vanwahir at the fire.
A little while later the noise of men coming thru the woods is heard and seen, while the recruits may have had concerns, the trainers do not show any signs that this is a dangerous situation. A man calls out to Amlath and asks to come into the clearing. The groups sees the men who have just spent the last week torturing them. Soon the recruits are told that the men are part of the training program and are reservists led by Sgt Carluin, a former mercenary and inn proprietor. The past two weeks was part of the Ranger SERE training program that includes Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Evasion. The group is given a few days hard earned rest and relaxation and it also appears that their trainers are not as callous as they have been the past 8-10 weeks.