Queen of the Jungle

Chapter 2 – Jungle Masters

    “I have a special assignment for the three of you. You may starve or never come back alive, but it is necessary for warriors, like yourselves, to train yourselves in the harshest of conditions. You’ll have to endure burning, tropical heat, lack of water, and a lack of food supply. If you manage to pass, you will indeed be deemed as true high-level masters…”

    “That was our order from Shifu, you guys. Now, let’s pick up the pace!” yelled Tigress to Crane and Monkey, who were severely lagging behind in step. “Oh… Why do we have to do this?” uttered Crane, “I don’t know how anyone can survive out here.” “Stop being a baby!” Tigress scowled. “I think I’m going to like it here!” exclaimed. “And we only wonder why.” Tigress replied, sarcastically. The three Kung Fu masters entered the jungle, with little water and no food with them.

    They entered a part of the jungle where ancient ruins dating back thousands of area stood firm, with moss and vines surrounding almost all of the stone structures. Tigress then stepped onto what seemed to be a small platform. “You see.” she beamed, “Here lay the ruins of an ancient civilization, whose people actually made a living in this jungle, and managed to built all this despite all these conditions.” Crane was still not convinced. “Yeah. And how long did these guys survive here?! Probably about a year.” Monkey sided with Tigress. “I don’t think they could build this in a year.” “Then, once they finished building their structures, they definitely would have left this place, and gone back to where they came from.” Crane contiuned. Tigress’ face grew angrier. “Crane, I can tell this civilization lasted for centuries. These villagers became one with the jungle, with all its resources and climate. And that’s what we have to do as well. Understand?!” “Yes Tigress.” muttered Crane. “Then, let’s begin our training. We’ll do it right here.” Tigress declared proudly.

    With Monkey’s help, Tigress set up three wooden targets throughout the ruins. The two had chopped down several of the older trees, and carved out a target circle towards the top of the trunk. “Crane, for use to become masters at a highest possible level, we’ll have to use one of the most common techniques of Kung Fu. The Element of Stealth. This time, the targets themselves will be using stealth. You must defend yourself from them by using your instincts. But… You’ll have to do it blind.” She explained. She showed him a blindfold that she had brought with her on the journey. Crane, with a puzzled look on his face, asked, “Why do I have to wear that?” “You have to do it this way because we need to use our ears to sense our targets’ presence, not our eyes. Master Shifu has done this many times, and we must learn it ourselves.” she answered him, “And you’re up first. Good luck.” Tigress and Monkey watched from behind a bush, as Crane began his training.

    Crane stood in the middle of the ruins as the three targets approached him one at a time, courtesy of a rope being pulled by Tigress and Monkey. Crane stood silent and at the ready until the first target approached him from his right. Crane breathed deeply and sensed the forthcoming target as his ears twitched. With a quick swipe of his right wing, the first target immediately went down. Within a minute, the two remaining targets were downed swiftly and without hesitation. After the final target got knocked down, Tigress and Monkey came out from the bushes and applauded. “Well done, Crane! You did it!” exclaimed Monkey. Tigress continued, “How do you feel now?” “Thanks you guys.” Crane said, in relief, “And, actually, I feel rather empowered, if you know what I mean.” Tigress laughed, and took the blindfold off of Crane’s eyes. “Now… It’s my turn.”

    Tigress completed the task in no time all, and the same went for Monkey as well. After the testing was completed, Tigress and Crane agreed to a practice battle as they would move around the ruins, with Monkey as a witness. “This seems like a different, but better, spot for us to train together isn’t it Crane?!” she asked. “Indeed.” he replied. The two Kung Fu warriors started out with some punches and kicks, and then Crane flew in the available space, as Tigress moved quickly along the ledges of the stone structures. Each time the two managed to cross paths, a little spar would occur, and, as time passed, Crane began to move quicker and quicker. So much, in fact, that he actually managed to be in line with Tigress, step-by-step. Tigress was impressed. “You’re definitely improving yourself.” she said while smiling. “I know. And you were right about this place. When you focus on what you, yourself, are doing, then the jungle doesn’t become a distraction to you.” “Right. However…” Tigress then lunged into the air, kicking him with a swift right-footed kick to the mid-chest, “You still can’t let your opponent distract you.” she said, as Crane fell onto the ground. After she landed herself, she went over to Crane, and let out her paw. Crane lifted his left wing, and Tigress pulled him back up. “I think that should do it for the day. It’s nearly sundown.” she declared to him and Monkey exhaustingly.

    That evening, the three gathered around a fire that Tigress started, using the test targets as firewood. “That was some intense training we had today.” remarked Monkey, “So, what’s our plan for tomorrow?” Tigress smiled. “I hear there’s another landmark not that far from here. It’ll take us about an hour or two walking to get there from here.” “What is this landmark?” asked Crane. “I don’t know. It’s probably another structure built by the ancient civilization. I only wonder what fascinations this civilization had, and how could they have survived for so long in these hard conditions.” she replied. “Yes. I kind of wonder the same thing.” Monkey continued, yawning. “I think it’s time we rest for the night.” stated Tigress. She put the fire out, the three said “Good Night,” and the three went to sleep.

    The next day, they set out to the next landmark. As they ventured, Crane asked, “Do you think anyone else in this jungle right now? I mean I hope that we don’t run into an enemy, and have more to worry about.” “I doubt we will.” answered Tigress, “However, we can only assume that there might be, and we’ll just have to handle it in the proper manner when the time comes…”

To Be Continued…