During the exodus the Riders must learn to hunt. Dostal takes four young men on a journey to hunt the snow elk, in which they learn the cardinal lessons of quiet, memory, willingness to wander, and ruthlessness when needed.
Back in the old days, when all the Riders who left the city still belonged to a single clan, the gods visited us often.
Among these was Dostal, a god we had only just met.
Often when Dostal showed up he would drink all of the kumis and chase around with Raven.
Then one day he would be sober. He would bolt up, hearing what no one else did. His spine would straighten. He breathed in deep, smelling the air.
And he would ask "Who's coming with me?"
The elders of all the seven families pushed their brave sons forward.
Dostal said he would only take four. This caused discord, for the families were supposed to be equal. Dostal did not care. He only took four.
This was the First Hunting Lesson: take too many, and you scare away the game.
Dostal pointed to four youths, each from a different family. This happened more than once, but I am telling you about a particular time, where first he picked golden-eyed Zenangar of the Zervusa family. Then the one who would become known as Nameforgot, from the great but doomed Shilevasa line. Next Dostal nodded to squat and muscular Stelfor, who was a Bayyasa. And finally he picked Basikan, grandson of Hyalor, from the Vashyasa, root of all our clan's families.
The other families grumbled. They asked Zerris, Dostal's favorite priest, why these had been chosen and not others. Zerris said, "They have awarness in them already. Dostal will awaken it."
Dostal led the boys north, to the ice. He did not tell them what game he sought. Then on the ridge, teh four young men, who at that time were all fast friends, saw it. A vast white elk crunched through the snow on big fat hooves.
Nameforgot was about to cry out, but Zenangar put his hand over his friend's mouth.
Dostal nodded, and they all understood the Second Lesson: when you see your prize, shut up. Awareness flowed into all of them, but into Zenangar most of all.
Stelfor was about to rush toward the animal, but Basikan stopped him. "He is strong now, and will outrun us if he sees us chasing him. We must follow until he is tired and unaware."
Dostal nodded, and they understood the Third Lesson: to catch your prize, be willing to wander. Basikan learned this more deeply than the rest.
They tracked him for days, encountering many dangers: Straw Faces, swooping cluods, and ghosts in spirit guise. Dostal guided them through all of these.
When they came upon the elk again, Basikan said it was tired and the time was right. But Nameforgot shook his head. "This is not our elk, for that one had four spots on the left haunch, and this has five."
Dostal nodded, took an arrow from his quiver, and felled the creature, revealing it as a smoking sending of the sorcerer Yenfar.
This was the Fourth Lesson: remember all you see.
The false elk left traces in the snow. Basikan wanted to follow them to find Yenfar, murderer of his mother. But Stelfor shook his head. Dostal nodded, and they all understood the Fifth Lesson: do not change your quarry midway through. Stelfor could have taken more of this lesson than the others. But he suspected another lesson, one he would prefer, still awaited.
And that was so. For when they kept on they found the real snow elk. It had fallen into a crevasse and sakkars threatened it. And with Dostal leading them all the boys fought the sakkars, Stelfor most ferociously of all.
Sakkars ate others, and were themselves not so good to eat. This was the Sixth Lesson, which everyone shared equally: know who eats what.
All four boys approacehd the elk, which cried out in fear. "Why must you slaughter me now, when I am helpless? it wailed. "Be fair, and seek other game."
Zenangar and Basikan and Nameforgot stepped back. They were hungry, but felt pity for it.
Dostal nodded, and Stelfor cut its throat. Blood reddened the snow.
And thus the Seventh Lesson flowed more into Stelfor than the others: the hunter must strike without qualm.
They were boys, so Dostal carried the whole elk back on his shoulders. Our ancestors feasted. When Dostal had drunk enough kumis, Basikan asked him: "You could have dropped that elk right away, couldn't you?"
Dostal smiled, and that was the Eighth Lesson: when you understand the first seven lessons, the time has come to teach them.