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Old 09-23-2006, 09:49 AM   #6
Stormdancer of Doom
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They rode til an hour before sunset, and then Erebemlin halted the company near a wide field on the western side of the road. He bid them dismount.

Ravion's brow creased. "Erebemlin, why do we halt now?"

Erebemlin responded with a raised brow, and then turned to Mellondu. "Make camp, then string your bow."

Archery lessons. The elf had not forgotten, thought Mellondu grimly. Now to make a fool of the blacksmith in front of the entire company! There was little to do for making camp, and it was quickly done. Taitheneb and Erebemlin stood waiting off to one side. Mellondu walked warily toward them; but he was not alone. Ravion and Raefindan followed him, their bows strung as well. Raefindan fumbled a bit with his arrows.

"What shall we aim for?" Ravion asked. He doubted an elf would suggest shooting at a tree, and anyway there were few in this field.

"Your arrow will not fly today, " replied Erebemlin.

Raefindan and Mellondu exchanged puzzled glances, but Ravion stepped forward eagerly. "Tell me what to do."

Taitheneb smiled. Erebemlin stepped back; his attention was reserved, apparently, for the blacksmith. But Taitheneb strode to Ravion, and the lessons began. The three men stood in a line, Raefindan and Mellondu watching closely as Ravion made tiny adjustments to his grip, to his stance, to his shoulders and his arm.

"Choose an aimpoint. Then close your eyes, draw, and hold."

Ravion stood stock-still, eyes closed, bow drawn. Taitheneb waited, and waited, and waited, til Ravion began to tremble with the strain.

"Open your eyes."

Ravion grunted in disappointment, and Taitheneb told him to move his feet.

What this all had to do with actually hitting something, Mellondu could not yet guess, but he was grateful that Ravion had stepped forward. When Taitheneb finished with Ravion, Ravion was weary, but bemused and happy, carefully twitching certain muscles while muttering under his breath.

Raefindan's lesson begain the same way, but did not follow the same pattern; Raefindan blushed and fumbled and gritted his teeth, muttering something about wasting the elves' time.

Taitheneb smiled. "We do not count time as you do, " he said. "Choose your aimpoint. Not that far! Much closer. There. Now close your eyes." Raefindan trembled far more quickly than had Ravion. "Now open your eyes, and look!"

Raefindan spluttered. "Miles away! I'd miss by a mile!"

"Nay, no more than fifteen yards, " replied Taitheneb, his shimmering laughter falling like rain. "Move your feet, thus. Again. Close your eyes."

Mellondu glared at Erebemlin. You will mock me, he thought. You will make a fool of me.

Taitheneb finished with Raefindan, and then looked expectantly at Erebemlin. But Erebemlin did not step forward. "Mellondu, begin with Taitheneb."

How I dread this, thought Mellondu. Taitheneb's laughter was subdued, and soon subsided as the boy's fury seethed.

At least, thought Mellondu, I shall not shake as soon as the redhaired man. I am a blacksmith and thus no weakling. Perhaps I will hold my draw as long as the ranger.

As he closed his eyes, bent at the waist, and held his draw, a strange sensation tickled at the back of his mind. It took him a while to understand it. Taitheneb bade him move his feet, and he did so, and then closed his eyes again. He bent over into the draw. The wind stirred his hair, which shimmered gold in the sunset. He took a slow breath, thinking only of his aimpoint; nothing else mattered. Nothing. The aim-point shimmered before him, the only thing in the world. He could almost touch it.

"Do not let fly! Open your eyes. Let down," said Taitheneb.

Mellondu blinked; his stance was still too wide, his aimpoint off. He blinked again.

Taitheneb spoke softly. "Close your stance a little more. Shut your eyes. Draw."

He moved his right foot. He closed his eyes, breathing. He bent forward at the waist, like a ship leaning into the wind, like a deer poised to leap. He felt the eagerness of the bow, of the string, of the arrow. He drew. He held, leaning, still and strong as a tree, waiting... on his aim-point. Nothing else mattered. He knew only his aim-point.

Nothing else mattered.

"Open your eyes, " said Taitheneb.

He blinked.

"Enough, " said Erebemlin.

Mellondu slowly let down, put his arrow in his pouch, and stood, his bow still strung, gazing with clouded eyes at his aimpoint, long after the rest of them had gone back to camp.

Last edited by mark12_30; 09-23-2006 at 07:00 PM.
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