Warriors and Champions5

To Learn the Bow

While we were walking I noticed that Rayner had his hair in a ponytail. “Why do you have your hair in a ponytail? When we first met your hair was loose.”

“It is an ancient defense used by my people. In battle a warrior’s hair is loose so if an opponent gets behind you and swings at your head the hair stops the sword from cutting your head off.” I couldn’t argue against his logic and I left the subject alone.

On our way out of town Rayner gave me some food and we traveled a short distance into the woods. “Now Ray, Byron has given me the responsibility to train you to fight. We had a long discussion about what to do with you and we have decided to keep you with us in hopes that the bow you carry is indeed the legendary bow of Shroud Talon.”

“You mean the Sorceress?”

“It seems Lizeth told you some rumors. Talon is no sorceress but she is a strange woman. Most people think she is a myth or sorceress, and quite frankly she prefers people to think that and leave her alone. The only sorcery she has ever done is that to create her bow and the two set of arrows that occupy your quiver.

“She did it simply to give a person she deems worthy to change their own destiny or the destiny of the world. And that is all I will speak on the matter if she wants you to know more she will tell you herself.”

“What makes you think I have her bow?”

“When I saved you and you fainted I wanted a closer look at your bow but could not remove it from you. Talon’s bow will only answer the one chosen to use it. On to the task at hand you need to become an archer. Get your bow and try to hit that target.”

There was a target on a tree and I was handed some practice arrows. I grabbed one and drew back the arrow and was about to let it loose when I was stopped. “You are doing it wrong Ray.”

“What do you mean wrong? This is how I have seen it done on TV and in video games.”

“Whoever showed you how to shoot doesn’t understand the art and finesse archery. This is how it is done.”

Rayner put five arrows in his off-hand and shot all five arrows in less than two seconds and they all hit the target.

“That was amazing Rayner I have never before seen such speed and accuracy not even in any movie or show.”

“That was not fast or very accurate. A true archer would have been faster and all arrows would have hit the center. I prefer to use my sword that way I can look into my enemy’s eyes as I run my blade through him and watch the fear and realization form in his eyes as he knows he is about to die. It is quite satisfying watching the life disappear from their eyes.”

As he was speaking I became nauseous and sick to my stomach and could not contain it. I puked violently as he described his killing. “Please stop that kind of talk Rayner I cannot even fight someone let alone killing them,” I said breathing hard. With the thought of me killing someone I puked again.

Rayner walked up to me and looked me in the eyes then his demeanor changed. “Now I am beginning to see and understand you Ray. You don’t like confrontations because of something that happened long ago. Yes you have called it a monster and demon and you have tried to keep it contained which is why you allow yourself to suffer at the hands of someone else because you don’t want to risk your so called demon to be free.”

I had no idea how Rayner could know about Neal or why I had kept silent about his bullying not even Bobby knew about my demon and yet here a stranger just looked at me and saw something locked away in my deepest and darkest corner. “How, how did you find out about my demon and Neal? There is no way you could have known about that stuff.”

“Your eyes cannot hide anything from me. When we first met I was looking for something that wasn’t there but I am looking for something else and I have found it. If you know what to look for you can see anything.

“You possess a rare gift Ray and you have mistook it and kept it locked away because it was released uncontrollably. You have the gift of Righteous Fury that allows you to fight for the right and truth. I wager that a few times you felt that Fury rise within you but you had no idea how to release it properly it came rushing out like water rushing out after being released from a dam. These incidents left you feeling scared about what you did so you made sure that it would never happen again. So you locked it away and called your Fury a demon and you let yourself become a victim instead.”

“If I really do have a righteous fury why did I use it in the wrong fashion? I caused harm where it didn’t need to be. I became a monster, a monster that deserves to be locked up. How do I release my Righteous Fury in the correct manner?” I asked wanting to know the truth about me.

“You need to learn to become the possessor of a great power instead of a conduit of an uncontrollable power. You have a great potential hidden inside and with the right motivation it will show itself to you. I also see in you a fear that was not there earlier.”

Rayner’s eyes widened in disbelief, “Astoroth knows about you and that you are somewhere in the land. For some reason he fears you and is searching for you. What have you done to invoke his wrath?”

“I don’t know,” I stammered, “last night during my sleep I dreamed I heard him laughing and that he wanted to kill me.”

Rayner stood there pondering on what I said. “It seems that Talon did give you her bow which means that you have proven your worth to her by beating her. Someway you were able to do something that only a handful of people have done. Yes I see in your eyes that you have the potential to become a very great warrior even enough to challenge Astoroth himself.”

“I don’t believe you Rayner.” I started, “I never beat Talon before only in my game and that was chance pure luck even. I personally never have seen her only my character has done so.”

“Nevertheless Ray you have been given a great responsibility to either go up against or align yourself with Astoroth. That is why you have been given both sets of arrows, one set is meant to be used for good and the other for evil. Talon has left that choice to you and yet you have already made your choice and your dream has cemented that idea firmly in your soul. In order to see you succeed I will do all I can to train you to the fullest extent of your abilities.

“And to do this we will begin from the very basics. The first thing you need to learn is focus. You need to learn to focus on only three things in battle: you, your bow, and your target. Nothing else matters except those three things. Take an arrow and aim it at the target remember to focus on those three and let go of everything else. Nothing matters but those three.”

I took aim at the target and tried to focus but I just couldn’t do it. It seemed so stupid for how could I focus on just three things while a battle was ensuing around me? And how could I make sure I didn’t get flanked if I could only see what was right in front of me? I steadied my breathing and let go of my thoughts, even though it was hard to do at first, and I put my focus on me, my bow, and my target. After a few seconds of complete focus I saw something moving just outside my view. I thought it was an illusion but it came back and from both sides and my vision started to expand to see more of my environment around me.

I dropped my focus and my aim, “What was that?”

“That my lad was Battle Vision. All warriors have it but to a bowman it is vital and essential to him. For a bowman you need to focus on the target at hand but you also need to see what is going on around you. That way when you finish your current target you can switch to a new one. And with Battle Vision you can see which enemy needs to be neutralized first. Which is why having your arrows in your hand and not your quiver is essential. With your arrows in your hand you can shoot a new arrow in one swift motion and not several slow motions.

“With time you will be able to enter Battle Vision instantly and you will be able to control the pace and outcome of a battle. A skilled archer can mean victory for his side since he is dangerous from all ranges. He can kill most enemies at long and medium range and when an enemy gets close he can loose death upon his enemies in one motion. And later on I will teach you sword techniques in case you run out of arrows and need to fight enemies at close range. But remember you as an archer have no real defense besides your bow. Your defense is your offense you need to kill your enemies before they kill you.

“I want you to fire ten arrows, one at a time, and try to hit the center of the target.” I pulled back my arrow and let it fly. Not only did I miss the center I missed the target completely. “What are you doing Ray? Have you forgotten about Battle Vision already? You need to learn to apply the principles that you have already learned to the new ones that you are learning now. Try again.”

I got another arrow and pulled it back and focused on the Three again. My vision expanded again and I let it alone until I could see everything around me. I was amazed at what I could see outside my vision. I saw Rayner looking at me waiting for me to fire. I focused on me and my bow and felt a strange sensation it was almost as if I was the bow. It seemed like an extension of my body and I focused on the target and as my focus grew it almost seemed like the center of the target grew until it was all I could see. I let loose my arrow and it hit dead center and so did the other nine.

“Well done Ray you are on your way. But know the easy stuff is done and only the hard remains. You will now use your skills to shoot ten arrows all of them being in your off-hand. We will not worry about accuracy here but to get you used to shooting the true way.”

I tried to put the arrows in my hand but they all kept falling out and would not stay in place. Rayner came over and showed me how to correctly hold them by putting them in my hand. “There are different ways to hold arrows but this way is the most basic way.” Rayner explained. With that he had me let go of the arrows and had me place them in my hand so I could get a feel for myself how to do it. For hours I practiced shooting with those arrows in my hand. I kept my bow held low and never quite fully pulled the bowstring all the way.

By practicing shooting for a long period of time without breaks my hands began to blister and soon those blisters broke and my hands were dripping with blood. I tried to shoot the arrows but my bow and the arrows slipped from my hands because my hands were covered in blood and I couldn’t grip them any longer. With the clatter of noise Rayner looked at me as I was slowly reaching down to pick them up again.

I was completely taxed of all my energy and didn’t know if I could go on. I looked down at my hands to see them red with blood. I couldn’t feel any part of my body it was if I was not even my own body. But something inside me told me that I had no choice but continue my training. For if I failed this village and Lizeth would be destroyed. And I could not fail and I heard a buzzing noise in my ears. I turned and I saw Rayner speaking to me.

Rayner spoke in a serious tone, “You should probably stop and rest Ray. You have done more than any person has before.”

“I am grateful for your concern Rayner.” I said very tiredly as I was slowly gathering up my weapons and placing the arrows in my hand. “But I need to complete my training so I can defeat Astoroth. You see in my dream when he laughed I understood what that laugh meant to this land. He wanted to enslave the land and control everyone in it. He doesn’t care for anything or anyone even those most loyal to him are considered nothing to him. During my training I have learned about you and noticed how much you care for the people of Norshire. Their happiness and safety are the things you care most about them even more than your own life.

“When Lizeth talked to me she was concerned about what would happen in the future. Byron is worried about the destruction that Astoroth wants to unleash upon this people and land. And everyone is counting on me to defeat Astoroth and maintain the peace and happiness. Even Shroud Talon has placed her faith in me. So you see Rayner I cannot rest right now!” With a determination that I had never previously had I took aim at the target and let loose all ten arrows in less than five seconds and all but one hit the target. I even got two into the center. Seeing that I succeeded I succumbed to the tiredness of my body and passed out.

© 2014 RichardBBenson

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