Join the adventure and read The Sureshot Rises
“Hail, my good man, what are you doing in these woods?” the leader questioned in a tone that was not quite friendly but more authoritative.
Durbar pulled back the hood of his black cloak revealing his face, sharp deep blue eyes and hair which was tied back with a leather string. He quickly studied the three men who were mounted before him. The one who addressed him was the leader, Durbar guessed. The man was tall with broad shoulders but a boyish face, yet intelligent looking. He had sandy hair that fell at his collar. His eyes were wide and his face held an expression of curiosity. The other two had blank faces, eyes hiding a sense of futility and boredom. Square and cold they looked dark to Durbar. He stared into the eyes of the man who spoke to him and answered, “Hunting.”
“So are we,” beamed the leader with a wide smile.
Durbar laughed smugly. “One would never know it,” he replied.
“What is that supposed to mean?” responded the leader his smile turned to a scowl as he leaned forward in his saddle.
“You make more noise than bears mating on a bed of dried leaves, and you are dressed like performing bards, I imagine, and furthermore, you already scared off the buck that I had marked.”
The three men sat back in their saddle and stared from one to another wide-eyed. Not finding answers from his friends, one of the darker solemn men reached for his long sword but the leader raised his hand to halt him.
“Do you know who I am?” asked the leader.
“I know you are no hunter,” replied Durbar, “and I have been told that people who have to ask others if they are known, are no one of consequence.”
The leader tensed and glared at Durbar after the insults the young woodsman hurled at him. He moved in his saddle and gripped his sword. His face strained and he scowled at Durbar. “Look here, peasant. I am Prince Rothan, nephew to King Tokab, ruler of the Dirkan kingdom. My father is the Duke of Harmon, and I will not tolerate your insults.”
“Well, Prince Rotten Ham,” Durbar mocked, making play of the prince’s name. “It is a pleasure to meet you, and now will you kindly take your dogs and leave so that I may track the buck you scared off.”
With that remark, the man to Rothan’s right had heard enough. He drew his long sword, held it high, and spurred his horse, sending it charging forward. In a move that was lightning quick Durbar dropped to one knee, pulled an arrow from his quiver, and fired it at the head of the charging man. Stunned by the bowman’s quickness, he watched as the arrow flew from the man’s bow and sailed toward his head, unable to process the threat quickly enough to react. The arrow rose, caught the man’s colorful cap, and snatched it from his head. It sailed a few more yards before it fell to the ground still stuck in the cap. The man stopped his horse, looked up at his head expecting to see an arrow in his skull, and then looked back at the bowman. Durbar had already notched another arrow. The other two men looked simultaneously at the capless man, back at his cap that lay behind them, and then back to Durbar. All of them sat in their saddles, faces blank and mouths hanging open with no words.
Durbar spoke first. “Charge me again and you won’t lose only your hat.”
After a long pause, Rothan spoke up. “That was amazing woodsman. Could you do something like that again?”
Durbar swung his bow, aiming at Rothan’s head and asked, “Would you like to see me try?”
Rothan held up his hand, “No, no, I believe you, but perhaps some other test could prove to me your skill.” The prince turned to the man on his left. “Fron, take out your purse and hold it up,” he ordered.
The man began to protest, “Sir, I don’t think …”
“Just do it!” Rothan demanded.
Reluctantly the man produced a small leather purse and held it up at his side.
“Now ride back forty yards,” instructed Rothan.
The man rode back as ordered. Rothan watched and when satisfied he turned back to Durbar.
“Now,” he explained, “hit that man’s purse and its contents are yours.”
Durbar studied the small purse in the man’s fist from fifty yards. He didn’t feel as though he had to prove himself to this stranger, no matter his lineage. He felt no obligation to take his challenge, but still he drew an arrow and aimed at the man’s purse simply because he was curious. Furthermore, he wanted to deprive the man of his money, for he obviously had plenty. Rothan had bet his friend’s purse, and Durbar intended to take it.
As he aimed, Fron squirmed in his saddle. He tried to reason with the prince. “Sir, do you think this is a good idea? He might miss.”
As the words left his mouth, an arrow shot from Durbar’s bow with great speed and struck the purse just below the man’s clenched fist. The power of the shot tore the bag from his hand and sent it to the ground, arrow sticking up in the soil.
Rothan looked at the purse and turned clapping. “That was amazing, truly. You must be the best shot I have ever seen.”
Durbar blankly stared at the prince, unimpressed. “Can I have my purse now?” he asked calmly.