Excerpt from Sureshot the Assassin: A Skeleton Returns

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While everything was going well in Stena as the young men began their officer’s training, elsewhere word of the Sureshot was getting around. In Harmon people were still discussing the new local hero and his deeds during the mock battle and the fall games. The soldiers too were talking about him, and predictions about his deeds at Fort Stena were frequently discussed. The archers were quick to tell others that they knew him better than anyone else. The man who used the Sureshot’s bow was the envy of everyone. He told the story over and over again. He told it so often that even the officers and Prince Warren heard the story.

Prince Warren did not like Durbar at all. He was in fact jealous of him because the man was a simple woodsman, who rapidly became a hero in Harmon after competing in the tournament. He even went so far as to say that he hated the man, more because his older brother Rothan loved him so much than any actual dislike for the woodsman personally.

While Warren was training at the archery range one day, he heard the story of the young bowman who shot Durbar’s blackwood bow, and he only fumed the more because of it. Durbar’s fame only increased Rothan’s popularity, and Warren hated no one more than his own brother. With the older prince still at Fort Stena, Warren grumbled quite loudly about the Sureshot; so much so that the Duke himself heard him one night while the family was eating dinner. Warren was mumbling lowly to a friend of his about how the soldiers of the garrison continued to talk about the Sureshot even when he was away at Stena, and that he wished he had never heard of the Sureshot. At first, Duke Orthan tried to ignore the whispers and mumbles, but they wore on him like the claws of a rat scampering across the floor at night, and Orthan decided to chase the rat off so he could enjoy his meal.

“Warren!” Duke Orthan shouted. “Why is it that you have been in such a poor mood lately?”

“Nothing father,” Warren replied trying to dismiss the subject, knowing that it was a bit juvenile to despise a man so much who had done nothing to hurt him personally.

“I will not tolerate your moping during our meal, tell me now what the matter is,” commanded the Duke.

“Well father, I am just growing tired of hearing about Rothan’s archer all of the time. The man that they call the Sureshot.”

“Ah yes. The man who won the archery competition last spring, and again this fall, I remember. He shot a perfect score I believe. He did well in training too I hear, yes?”

“That is correct, father.”

“What has he done now? I thought that he was at Stena.”

“He is father. But the men at the garrison are still talking about him. I heard that he let one of the other archers there use his bow and now everyone is talking about it. They even say that he named his bow something.”

“The man named his bow?” Orthan chuckled at the idea as something silly and fun.

“Yes father.”

“Well what would someone name a bow?”

“They say that he calls his bow Adar or something, whatever the name is I believe it was named after his father.”

The Duke froze in his seat. His eyes grew wide and he clutched his fork and knife. Sweat formed glistening beads on his brow and he felt a pain in his gut, as if someone had pierced him with a blade. He could hardly believe his ears. Not for many years had he heard that name, and it was one that he hoped he would never hear again. He did not want to over react, so he asked again just to be sure.

“What did you say he called it?” the Duke asked his son in a tone more focused and serious as he leaned forward to be sure and hear the answer clearly.

“Adar,” repeated Warren, unsure why his father cared. Duke Orthan continued slowly.

“Tell me again,” began the duke cautiously, “Why does he call it such a name?”

“I think they said that it was his father’s name, but they say he is dead now.”

“Adar is dead? Are you sure?”

“That’s what the men at the garrison said, father.”

The Duke squinted his eyes and concentrated hard on his next move. He knew that Durbar was now his enemy, and he immediately considered the man a spy or assassin. He could think of no other reason why Durbar would come to Harmon and join the garrison. He knew that, if he and his two sons were assassinated, as Orthan’s only other relative, Durbar alone could claim the seat in Harmon. Durbar could potentially challenge Orthan for the city without assassinating anyone and the son of his older sister. The duke was not about to allow such a thing however. He would not allow his nephew to shake his hold on the city. He knew that he must move quickly, even though Durbar was days away from Harmon.

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