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The Sureshot Excerpt: New Bow, New Challenge

Another preview as I finish up editing. Coming soon!

When he reached his forest cabin, a hawk which looked very much like the one he admired before, was perched atop Durbar’s smoke house. Durbar halted in his tracks and greeted the bird with surprise. The hawk spread his wings as if bragging to the woodsman, called to him in his shrill piercing voice, then leapt and climbed in the free air, riding the wind away. Durbar smiled. “I see you my friend,” he whispered. “Teach me to fly.”

Durbar started a fire immediately upon returning. It was already getting dark outside and he was hungry. He skinned and cleaned the rabbits he killed earlier. Slowly and mindlessly, he cooked one of them, staring into the fire. The flames leapt and danced about in the stone hearth, mesmerizing Durbar. The fire seemed alive as it danced before his eyes; its heat warmed Durbar’s face. He enjoyed the feeling the fire gave him. It helped him feel alive. He knew he needed more fire and decided that he would travel to Harmon and meet with the pretty-boy prince he found in the forest. He had no idea what he was getting into, but he was willing to find out.

The meat was finished but Durbar wasn’t hungry anymore. He went to a chest that lay at the foot of his bed. From it, he retrieved his tools. From a mount on the wall, he grabbed an unfinished bow, which he had been working on for several months. He sat down in front of the fire and continued smoothing out the edges of the nearly completed staff. The weapon was cut from a piece of blackwood; from the tree that he buried his father under. For several hours, he worked diligently on his bow adding the final touches to the magnificent weapon. Finally, he was satisfied with the piece of wood. He went back to the chest and retrieved a fine silk bowstring. Such string was hard to come by in Dirka, and Durbar traded two fine bows, three quivers, and several furs for the thin string. He strung his bow with it, took his knife, and carved “Adar” in the grip of the weapon.

“Now you will hunt again, Father,” Durbar announced, with determination in his voice, and a hint of sorrow.

Bow in hand, Durbar grabbed an arrow and stepped outside to test his weapon. The bow was five feet tall, nearly as tall as he was. The dark-colored wood made it bold in appearance. Its curve was elegant; the grip was perfect for Durbar’s large hand. He notched an arrow, held the bow down, and closed his eyes listening intently. The mountain air was cold. It nipped at his face, and the wind laughed at him as it rushed by. The sun was setting in the west, which threw a deep red glow on the trees it was slipping behind. The breeze blew through his hair. He caught the sound of an animal moving in a nearby bush. Durbar opened his eyes as he raised his bow and aimed in the direction of the creature. He saw a skunk sniffing around in a large shrub. Durbar marked it but raised his aim just high of the little beast and fired his arrow with amazing speed into the trunk of the bush above the animal. Frightened, the skunk ran off as quickly as he could and Durbar retrieved his arrow. He smiled to himself and thought, I hope you are ready, Durbar.

Woods

Woods. Not a dwarf’s favorite environment. No, they much more prefer the rock and ore of the caves deep in a mountain to the open air and engulfing darkness of woods. The river runs nearby making it difficult to hear anything else. Even the river does not comfort. Any manner of dangerous creature may emerge from its waters to strike at you. So what will it be? Hug the river and hope there is nothing dangerous, or the tree line where you know there is something dangerous? Already beasts ambushed you from its deceitful shadows. What else lurks in there? Nothing good you imagine.
It is not easy to explain, yet you are confident that indeed something is watching you. You stare intently into the depths of the woods but cannot see the beasts that stare back. You shiver thinking about what may lie so near yet entirely unseen. Another lion? Bears? Trolls? Or worse, something you have yet to encounter.

As you rest a moment and regroup, your party does what it can to try and determine the nature of the imminent threat. No one is especially comfortable in the woods however and information is difficult to come by. The dwarves are especially grumpy about it, kicking dirt and grumbling, unable to determine anything useful from the clues around them. The minotaur however notices some tracks. Multiple actually.

Studying the ground carefully around the river, Ferdinand declares that there are at least two distinguishable tracks. One set looks like they were made by a wolf, possibly multiple. The other set looks like it was made by a man, again there could be more than one. This brings up a whole new set of questions.

Are the tracks related? Was the man hunting the wolf? Or perhaps the wolf was hunting the man. Who lives in the woods? Elves? What kind of wolf was it? Most importantly however is the burning question, are any of these things still nearby and are they tracking the party? The entire group stares at the foreboding and towering trees. None of you know for sure what lies beyond. It makes you wish you were at the orc caves already. Almost.