“Well, here we are,” declared Karr at last. “Let me introduce you to the captain of my archers.” Karr led him toward one of the men who was shooting. He was tall and had massive arms. His hair was short and his face clean like most of the other men Durbar had seen. Karr stopped them before reaching the man. The bowman held his massive bow up to shoot. It was finely crafted and had metal plating at the handle and tips. Durbar had never seen a bow that had metal before and wondered what the purpose was, but let it go as decoration. The giant man pulled back on his massive bow and loosed an arrow. It flew with amazing speed and struck the target just outside the center circle, driving the entire tip of the arrow into the wood. The spectators cheered and the man held up his bow in response.
Karr was clapping lightly having seen the man shoot better. “Tarbon,” called the general, “come here. There is someone you have to meet.” Turning, bow in hand, the man came over to Karr and Durbar and saluted the general. Karr returned the salute.
“General Karr, what brings you out to the range?” the bowman asked.
“Well, this here is Durbar, the prince’s mysterious Sureshot that he has been talking about for the last few months. The prince wants us to allow him to train here before the competition. Word is that he is taking your place on his team.”
The huge man towered above Durbar by about five inches. He glared down at him with fiery blue eyes. His face was square and flat and looked to Durbar as if it had been pressed that way.
“So, this is the man Rothan thinks is better than me, eh?” he questioned in a deep voice, almost a growl.
“The prince’s opinions are his own,” answered Durbar.
“Well, what do you think?” Tarbon asked pointing a finger at Durbar’s chest.
“I know that I am better than you.”
“Ha! Ha! Ha!” the man roared leaning back, holding his belly with one hand as if to keep it from bursting open. “And how do you know that? You just met me and you have never seen me shoot.”
“I saw you just now.”
“And after just one shot you know you can beat me?”
“Well, if you are so sure, Mister Sureshot, then let’s have a little competition right now.”
Durbar was really starting to hate his new alias. “I will not decline,” he answered confidently.
“Good! General Karr would you kindly judge our shots and determine the winner?” Tarbon requested?
“Of course I will Tarbon, but are you sure you want to do this right now?” the general questioned with some apprehension in his voice.
“Why not? I want to show all of the men that I am still the best archer in Harmon.”
“As you wish.” He thought for a moment. “Let’s make this easy. Ten arrows at the one-hundred-and-fifty-foot target. Ten points for a hit in the innermost ring, eight points for the second ring and so on. The man with the most points after ten shots wins, simple. You can use your own bows but not your own arrows. I will give each of you ten arrows made here at the garrison. Do you both understand?”
Both men nodded. By this time, word of the Tarbon-Durbar match up had spread like a wildfire, and everyone in the near vicinity had gathered to watch their captain and the challenger, Sureshot, compete in a pre-competition match.
“Good. Tarbon take row three; Durbar, row four,” Karr ordered. The general called a couple of men and told them to clear the targets, get the men a ten-arrow quiver, and move everyone into the stands. As they were preparing the range, Durbar strung his bow and pulled back the string a few times to loosen it up and make sure it was secure. The range was finally set up and each man stood ready.
General Karr announced, “Okay, men, I expect that each of you will be courteous to the other while shooting. Tarbon, since this is your range, you can start.”
“It would be my pleasure, general,” snorted the captain.