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Old 11-23-2008, 02:48 PM   #337
Firefoot
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Firefoot has been trapped in the Barrow!
The Dagger-Throwing Contest

Once the archery targets were cleared away, preparation for the dagger throwing contest began. There were to be two contests of three trials each with the first target to be set at six paces and the second target at twice that. The targets each had four zones: a center yellow circle, surrounded by black, red, then green.

The contestants lined up, and Eodwine opened the competition with a respectable throw to the inside of the red circle. The others followed with Matrim’s dagger going to the green, Wilcred and Harreld to the red, and Saeryn and Rowenna each placing their daggers into the black. No one found the yellow circle. Amongst the spectators there was some good-natured ribbing of the men for letting both ladies outscore them all.

Before the second trial could begin, however, a voice spoke up from the back of the crowd: “I should like to challenge that.” Everyone’s heads turned to see Scyld approaching the front. They regarded him with some surprise, for he had gone largely unnoticed during the day, quietly observing and not putting himself forward to compete.

“Well, this is unusual,” said Lithor, the first to recover his voice, “but I don’t see why not; it is only the first round.” There were some murmurs and nods of general agreement, but more than one eye studied Scyld appraisingly as he stepped up to the line. He took aim, and with a dull thunk his knife found the yellow circle, perhaps a knuckle’s length from the center.

The second trial proceeded with no more interruptions. Eodwine’s dagger struck near his first except now just inside the black circle. Matrim also improved, throwing his dagger to the red circle. Wilcred’s second dagger again found the red circle, but Harreld’s found the black circle, nearly hitting the yellow circle. Saeryn did not fare so well this round, hitting only the outside green ring. Rowenna, however, became the second contestant to hit the yellow, coming even slightly closer than Scyld’s first dagger. Thrown off by this, Scyld’s dagger flew wide and hit the red circle.

In the third trial, Eodwine’s dagger returned to the red circle. Matrim’s dagger hit the target at a poor angle and did not stick at all. Wilcred for the third time hit the red circle, and Harreld’s came within the border of the yellow center. Saeryn, recovering from the second round, hit the black again. Rowenna, concentrating fiercely, again hit the yellow center, winning her the competition before Scyld even threw. Irritated with himself, Scyld again missed the center target but hit the black this time, tying Harreld for second. Saeryn came in fourth, followed by Eodwine, then Wilcred, and last Matrim.

For the next round, the target was moved to twelve paces away. The distance clearly showed its toll as Eodwine, Matrim, Wilcred, and Saeryn all hit the green and Rowenna hit the red, though Harreld and Scyld both still did well, Harreld placing solidly in the black and Scyld just within the yellow. The second trial was hardly better; Matrim and Saeryn both missed the target altogether, and Eodwine’s knife did not stick. Wilcred hit the green again, though Rowenna improved to the black, and Harreld and Scyld each hit the yellow target.

In the third trial, Eodwine hit the black, while Matrim and Rowenna nailed the red. Wilcred and Saeryn both hit the green. Harreld just missed hitting the yellow target, and Scyld won the competition with his third straight dagger to the yellow. Harreld placed second, with Rowenna behind him. Eodwine took fourth now, followed by Matrim and Wilcred and finally Saeryn.

~*~*~

Scyld did not know what had gotten into him. He had made a fool of himself in the first round, challenging like that and then losing – and no less, to a woman! In fact, he had been rather mortified. He now took no joy in his second round victory; it seemed more as something that was his due, for none of the others could have relied so heavily on such a skill in their lives. Clearly in his mind’s eye he could see the scene just ere Linduial was saved, the scene where knife to knife, he and Sorn had fought. Absently he fingered the scar across his brow.

Just then Harreld approached him with his hand extended. “It was a good competition,” he said. “Well done.”

Scyld nearly replied with some surly, condescending remark, but he recalled the role that he must play here and caught himself, smiling back at Harreld and taking his hand. “I thank you. It was close.”
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