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Rebekah King Rebekah King
Recommendations: 21

LAS IV - Training


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“Why do you look at me that way?”


“I’m still trying to decide whether you’re playing games with me or not.”


“I am not the one playing games here, Sorraru, try and remember that.”


Sorraru nodded and pulled the string of the bow back into the firing position. She aimed for one of the trees about thirty metres away. The sun was out this day, a rare occurrence in this environment she had found, and she had spent most of it being trained by Lan. Trained in the art of wielding a bow. They had been going for hours, and she had yet to actually fire the thing. She wasn’t keen on the idea – just having the weapon in her hands felt wrong and scary. But also strangely natural.


Lan had observed her the entire time. He watched with his sharp eyes as she pulled the bow string back as far as her muscles were able. Though she was not particularly athletic, Lan saw the strength in her arms, her body. He saw how she could use this strength to her advantage, and also how it could work against her. At least she was not unteachable, she had taken his instruction very well to this point.


“Keep your elbow up,” He reminded her.


She obeyed immediately, and then she remembered all the other little pointers he’d given her: “Keep your shoulders square”, “Keep the fingers on the string apart”, “Imagine an arrow and look through the end of it to your target”, “Keep your arm away from the string, it’ll give you a nasty burn”. She remembered and obeyed. Lan was an experienced hunter – she would be foolish not to. Lan observed her stance a while longer. He was impressed at how her arms did not quiver much from the strain.


“I think you are ready to fire now.”


“Really?”


“You sound surprised.”


“Well, we’ve been at this a while.”


“There is no point in arming you with an arrow without you first knowing how to fire it.”


Sorraru couldn’t argue with that logic. She thought it was strange how most of what Lan said seemed very profound, but also not because it made perfect sense. He had wisdom beyond his years. He was the same age as her; this she found very difficult to believe. He even looked older, with his burly body and constantly focused expression. But when he smiled, she saw the eighteen-year-old boy. This didn’t happen often, though.


Lan pulled one of the bone arrows from the quiver and handed it to Sorraru. She stopped herself from gawking at it and loaded it into the bow, laying the point against the wood and gripping the feathered end between the two fingers on the string. Lan had made this bow as he had the arrows, from wood and argas. He’d used his bone knife to carve it. It was beautiful and looked like it had been made by the most talented crafter.


Sorraru recounted each of the pointers in her head and applied them as she held the loaded weapon. Lan couldn’t deny that he was impressed. She was handling this very well for someone who was terrified by the idea of killing something or someone. He saw her eyebrows pull together in concentration as she aimed for the centre of the tree. Her eyes turned to him, he nodded slowly in approval, and she sent the arrow flying.


She missed the tree. Only by a fraction, but were it a person, it would have been very wide. Lan knew what had caused this, and it had nothing to do with her technique. It was her fear that made her hesitate at the last second. She didn’t want to kill, so she missed. Lan said nothing as he handed her another arrow and strode towards the tree. He heard Sorraru ask him what he was doing, but gave no response. He continued walking until he stood but less than a metre from the tree’s base.


“Now fire,” He called.


Sorraru’s eyes widened and she wondered if he was mad. She did not take aim, just stood there in disbelief. Could he possibly want her to fire an arrow past him into the tree? She’d only fired one once. She would hurt him for sure.


“Fire,” Lan repeated louder.


“Are you insane?”


“Do you want to kill me?”


“No.”


“Then don’t. Fire.”


Sorraru continued to hesitate, terrified of accidentally harming him. But she knew why he was doing this. He’d seen her fear, her hesitation. He was giving her reality. So slowly, she lifted the bow back up and pulled back on the string. She took her time, aiming as precisely as she could. She wanted to close her eyes, but knew this was a bad idea, so she merely cringed as she released the arrow.


Lan felt the rush of air as the arrow soared past his neck and heard the clear thwack as it hit the wood behind him. He turned to observe her work. The arrow was lodged very neatly into the tree, leaving a decent split in the bark. He had to press his foot up against the trunk, pulling with his arm to retrieve it. He walked casually back to Sorraru who was staring at him in wonder and handed the arrow to her.


“Good.”


He went back to where he'd stood before, to Sorraru’s right and faced her as she stood with the bow lowered, still staring at him. He saw the emotion on her face – the panic that she could have killed him, and the disbelief that she hadn’t.


“Again.”


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