(This story was an entry for Clue #5 in the 2013 Treasure Hunt -- see the collection for related stories and images! )
”Now THAT is my son!” Boar said to the Hunt Leader, grey eyes fierce with joy as the whole tribe witnessed the shot that won the boy his first archery match. Boar was always so dour and unapproving -- never voicing praise directly to a child who craved nothing more than his father’s approval -- but when it comes to the Summer Games, the hunter would boast with unreserved pride. “My son can shoot the eye out of a sparrow from two hundred paces! He’ll whip any of you sorry old whelps -- just wait and see!”
The weight of the weapon in his hands, its constant, stiff resistance against his will as he drew the string, followed by its inevitable submission -- the bow was always a true partnership, a give-and-take compromise more reliable than friendship.
“You’re doing that all wrong!” Lightgaze squatted down next to the younger boy and took the hammerstone from his hands. “Don’t listen to that old windbag -- Strand may think he knows what he’s doing when he makes an arrowhead, but just ignore everything he taught you. Do it like I’m about to show you, or you’ll waste your flint every time... “
There were no questions, no doubts when shooting. The archer selected a target, and the archer released the arrow. There was no questioning. There was only a hit, or a miss.
It wasn’t a conversation the youth had meant to eavesdrop on -- he had simply slowed down automatically in his steps when he had heard his grandmother Stormdancer’s voice from the Dentree windows overhead... “Tumble? Be a flier like me and his mom? Doubt it. Maybe the lad will surprise us, but I don’t think he’s got it in his blood. Don’t get me wrong. I wish he’d sprout the gliding talent, but his mother didn’t feel it in him while he was in the womb, not like I felt it with her. Poor boy’s going to be a dirt-stepper all his life, same his father. Pity, isn’t it?”
Bowflight simply selected his next target. The movement of arrow from quiver to string was fluid; the pull and release of the missile as swift as directing as a send to a lover’s waiting mind. The arrow struck the painted target and reverberated from the violence of impact. Bowflight released his held breath, and let the hand holding the bow drop. The archer’s only regret when shooting was that the moments of silence and wholeness that he felt when he took each shot proved so ephemeral... and that the whispers of self-doubt would always return.