Chapter 126: Santino’s Survival School Part 1
“Let’s go, mommy, let’s go,” Olivia said, tugging on Serena’s arm. Oliver and Santino were already
walking ahead, and Olivia was impatient to catch up. “We’re going,” Serena said with a chuckle.
“We are falling behind!” Olivia said with a dramatic wail.
“You can go and catch up,” Serena said. She pushed Olivia forward. Olivia ran off to catch up with her
twin and uncle.
Santino had dropped by at their house for a visit. He said he had a special game planned for the kids.
Serena couldn’t say no. She wanted to see what it was that Santino had planned, and she wanted the
kids to have the chance to get out and play in the woods.
They were heading into the woods near her house. Despite not being a pack member, Santino seemed
to know his way around. He’d helped with some of the rogues, which meant traversing Night Sky
territory. “Where are you taking us, Santino?” Olivia asked. “It isn’t that much further,” he assured.
“Where are we going?” Serena asked, picking up the pace so she could catch up to her brother and her
“There’s a place nearby with a stream,” he said. “I thought it was time to teach the kids some of their
base survival skills. They do have a rich heritage of surviving in the wilds.”
Serena chuckled and nodded. It was true, most wolves learned basic survival skills from a young age.
“That sounds good to me,” Serena said. They made it to the stream. The trees parted slightly so there
was plenty of underbrush around the stream and across the forest floor. The sun was shining brightly,
and it was a good day to be out in the woods. Serena recognized the area as where she’d almost
encountered Logan in her wolf form. Santino took his backpack off. He set it down on the ground.
“Alright, kiddos, open the pack and see what is inside,” Santino said. The kids dove at the bag and
started tearing it open. Santino laughed and Serena stood beside him, looping her arm through his.
“How intense are you going to get with this?” she asked, knowing her brother could take things over the
top a lot. “Don’t worry” Santino said. “Nothing too adventurous or dangerous, at least not today,” he
assured. Serena rolled her eyes, not believing it.
“There’s just two little knives in here,” Olivia said after the twins had torn the backpack apart
“That’s right,” Santino said. “That’s all you need for my survival class. Pick which one you want, and
we’ll get started.”
Olivia picked the purple knife and Oliver was happy to have the red one. Serena raised an eyebrow at
her brother. Giving kids knives wasn’t exactly what she had in mind for a tame, safe survival day.
“Knives?” she asked, crossing her arms. “Don’t worry, they meet all the safety requirements,” Santino
teased. “They have a catch so they won’t close on anyone’s fingers, and they have a release to open.”
Santino dropped down on one knee to show the twins how the knives worked. “The blades are sharp,”
he warned. “Don’t ever touch those with your fingers. Practice opening and closing them.” While the
twins played with their knives, Santino stood beside Serena again. He reached into his pocket and
pulled out a full-sized pocket knife for her. Serena recognized it as the one her father had given to her
when he was teaching her the same survival skills. “Oh, memory lane,” she said with a chuckle. “I still
have mine too,” Santino said, pulling his out of his other pocket. Serena had carved her name into the
knife handle. Santino kept his polished and in pristine condition. Serena rolled her eyes at her brother.
“I got it,” Oliver said, holding up his knife and showing that he could open and close it safely. “Me too,
me too!” Olivia said. Not to be outdone, she stepped forward and showed Serena and Santino that she
could also work her knife. “Good,” Santino said. “Now, the first thing you need to do if you are in a
survival situation is to make fire. It will come in handy for a lot of things like warmth, cooking, sending
up smoke signals.” “Fire?” Serena asked. “Santino, your definition of ‘safe’ is really…” she trailed off
when Santino shook his head at her.
“We learned all this when we were there age,” he reminded her. Serena sighed, but she nodded.
“Okay, these are special knives with special blades,” Santino said. “I can show you how to make fire in
two different ways, one with your knives.” “That’s so cool!” Olivia said, jumping up and down. “Show us,
Uncle Santino,” Oliver chimed. Santino smirked at Serena. She rolled her 1
“Okay, first, I need the two of you to find yourself a rock. You’ll each need your own rock, and it has to
be dry and free of dirt,” Santino said. “Stay here by the stream where we can see you.” Olivia and
Oliver toddled off to find their rocks. “You want to do this too?” Santino asked.
“I’d rather watch,” Serena said with a laugh. “I remember what is was like to learn these skills from
The twins returned with their rocks and Santino inspected them. He nodded his approval.
“Okay, now you’ll need to collect a few more things,” he said. “First, I want you to find some really dry
grasses. Whole bundles of it. You’ll also need some tiny twigs and birch bark. Make sure it is dry and
off the ground. Don’t cut anything from a living tree.” He sent the twins off again. They were having a lot
of fun gathering the right supplies in the woods. “Help me build a small fire pit here, won’t you?”
Santino asked. He was at the edge of the stream, collecting rocks. Serena nodded and went to her
brother’s aid. They build a contained fire pit. Nothing big or overwhelming, but Serena didn’t want them
to light a big, dangerous fire anyway. Olivia and Oliver returned with their collected items. Santino
explained how the grass would be used as a fire starter, the birch bark would be the next level, then the
tinder – the really small twigs – would go next.
He had them go into the woods to find some dry kindling and sticks too, explaining the sizes and what
they were used for. He also showed them how to tell if the wood was wet, dry, or too green. “They’re
having a lot of fun,” Serena observed. Santino grinned at her. “Did you think they wouldn’t be?” he
asked. Serena shrugged. “No, I just forgot how much fun this kind of thing could be,” she admitted. “A
nice day with my brother and the kids, out in the woods. Feels like forever since we‘ve had a chance to
do something like this.” “I know what you mean,” Santino said. When the twins returned again, Santino
showed them how to set up their grass bundles and how to use the rock to make sparks against the
knife blade until the grasses lit. Quickly, he would toss birch bark on the smoldering grasses, then
adding the tinder, kindling and sticks. The twins were in complete awe! They clapped and laughed,
getting all excited about making fire. Serena and Santino sat back and watched as they made their own
It took a while, but soon the twins had made themselves little fires in the fire pit.
“This is so cool!” Olivia said. “I’m a fire master,” Oliver said. Santino and Serena laughed together.
“What’s next?” Olivia asked. “How do we make fire without the knife?” Santino stepped up to the fire
pit. He had a canteen of water that he used to put the fire out. He showed the twins how to safely put
out a fire in the woods by sprinkling water on it so the coals didn’t float away and cause a forest fire.
Teaching Olivia and Oliver how to make fire with two sticks was more frustrating for the twins. They
could get some smoke going, but their arms tired out quickly. Serena hoped they wouldn’t be in a
situation where they would need to light their own fires, but at least they could do it with their knives. It
would be a few more years before they had the strength and endurance to light fires with the stick
method. “Alright, you know how to make fire now. Who wants to learn how to hunt?” Santino asked.
“Me, me!” Olivia and Oliver both cried, jumping up and down with their hands raised. Serena sighed
and rolled her eyes. Of course, her brother would start with the big things first. “Alright, let’s make some
traps,” he said. “Before we go off and hunt, remember that there is plenty of water around in the woods.
You can drink running water from a stream, river, or brook, but never drink still water.” “Still water?”
“A lake, a pond, or a puddle,” he explained. “Running water is cleaner and safer to drink. Understand?”
The twins nodded their heads. “Good, let’s go hunting.”
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