|Recent Post: Rise of the Dragon Archer – Chapter One
Here goes! I hope the pacing wasn’t too terrible. The most editing I have done as of right now is minor edits as I skimmed through. More editing will happen as time goes on. I hope you enjoy!
THIRTEEN YEARS AFTER BEING SENT OFF
The arrow splits right through the other arrow, hitting its mark perfectly. The first arrow splits in four, and I lift my chin in triumph, putting the bow to my side.
I finger the grip on my bow. I raise it. I strengthen my grip. I nock another silver arrow. I pull the string back. My mind makes lightspeed calculations. My azure eyes focus on the target. I let the arrow fly.
It splits right through the second arrow. Ha! All too easy.
They call me ‘The One-gloved Mystery.’ Or ‘The Boy Who Could Hit One Million Targets.’ Or ‘Winterwater’s Wonder.’
But I wish I could share my actual name. Let my cloak and hood down to show them who I actually am. Yell “Take this!” and watch them step back as they realize that I’m not who they think I am.
I tighten my hood around my face and hair. I peer out at the awestruck faces around me. Men and women. Sons and daughters. Boys and girls.
Mothers holding children.
Is that the only reason I shoot? Because I was never held like that? To prove to the world I’m not just some kid? Prove that I’m worthy of all these people who watch me, examining and concentrating on my every move, gasping in anticipation as I masterfully pull back each arrow and let it fly?
I reach down to my belt and pull out a sandwich, taking a bite and then carefully putting it back, making sure not to let my navy cloak fly away.They don’t know who’s underneath.
It’s better that way.
I examine each face around me. They’re hungry for more. They want me to shoot. I move onto another target. The crowd steps back. The snow falling from the air is enough to deter some people from shooting. But I’m powered by magic. There’s no cold here. There’s only sandwiches, bows, and deceit.
Now, I’m the one that takes a step back. The familiar excitement surges through my veins. I’m gonna make this look easy.
I always do.
I examine the target.
Ten yards away.
Thirty feet away.
The target is on a wooden pole.
The target is red and white.
The target is thirty inches in diameter.
The red center of it is two point five inches in diameter.
It’s just waiting for an arrow in the middle.
The crowd of people inhale. Some of them are shivering because they were idiotic enough to forget a warmth potion. Too bad.
I then pull my hood over my eyes. A murmur of surprise flies through the crowd.
I raise the silver bow and strengthen my grip. With my right hand, I gracefully pull an arrow out of the quiver on my back, automatically, as if it were programmed into my mind. Which, in truth, it has been, over eight years of training.
I nock the arrow and pull back the bowstring. Excitement tingles through my body.
My vision is black.
I hold the arrow in position to tease the crowd. They’re waiting.
Let’s do this.
The arrow flies through the air. Another murmur, a bigger one, flies through the crowd. Another murmur of surprise. They should know by now not to be surprised. I hit where I want on the target.
Even when I can’t see.
I know for a fact that the arrow is in the dead center of the target.
With the hood still over my eyes, I raise the bow a little more.
I nock another arrow, pull the string back, and let the arrow fly.
A murmur of surprise. But I guess this one is well-deserved.
The arrow hit exactly three inches above the middle arrow. In the white circle. Not in the center.
I smirk at their surprise and then aim slightly to the right of the central arrow.
An arrow nocked. An arrow pulled. An arrow flies exactly three inches to the right of the first arrow.
I repeat the process until there’s an arrow three inches to the left of the first and an arrow three inches below. The crowd whistles and claps. More people join the crowd, straining to see me shoot.
I pull my hood back above my eyes, but not revealing my hair. The snow is really starting to pile now. It sinks under my boots. I have to squint to see because the glare and shimmers of the whiteness is so bright. But my temperature is not affected. Potions rock.
One last showoff.
In a rush of excitement, I throw my weight backwards, backflipping with ease. In midair, I shoot an arrow and it splits through the first arrow, which is now in four. When I land, I sling my bow across my shoulder and take a bow. The crowd explodes with cheers and whistles. They chant ‘One-gloved Mystery’ over and over again.
I depart the park’s archery range, feeling the potion wearing off and cold gradually coming in. Great. Just great. I have to walk home too. I didn’t bother to bring my horse today.
Some people follow me, throwing questions at me like “Who are you?” or “How’d you acquire that skill?”
I want so badly to answer their questions. When I come to shoot, I’m always bombarded with questions. I don’t know whether to love or hate it.
But when you’re a dragon tamer’s apprentice, it’s forbidden.
I quicken my pace and the few that follow me up the snowy slope give up and disappointedly go back down to the archery range, where some people are taking the arrows from the targets as souvenirs of Winterwater’s Wonder. I quickly make my way up the slope, navy cloak trailing behind me as I move. Cold tingles on my skin. The darn potion just had to wear off.
I look at the black-framed tudor houses in front of me now that I’m up the hill. They tower above me with their triangular roofs and impressive wooden frames. The houses are close together, and I hear horses’ whinnies, cracking whips, and drivers’ yells from the streets.
I peer back at the park and archery range. An impressive part-frozen ocean lies beyond. I see the docks and fishing boats in the distance. The whiteness of the sky.
The crowd has dispersed for the most part, some of which to play on the swings or play Crivolley in the few trees. The few spruce trees at the park are the only trees that you can really play Crivolley in around here. Winterwater is an urban metropolis. Despite that, pixies of blue and white fly through the air. The occasional fairy can be seen admiring their appearance in gazing globes or in water. I spot two dragon riders doing loop-de-loops in the air in the distance. People with warmth potions swim and paddle in the ocean. How I wish I could swim too. Show the people of Winterwater that ‘The Boy Who Could Hit A Million Targets’ isn’t just an archer. They don’t know the person that resides within the cloak that conceals me from the truths of this world. But sometimes, it’s fun to laugh at their ignorance.
I turn back and move through the houses quickly. The cold is really beginning to become annoying. It gnaws at my bones. A bustling street with horse-and-buggies or people struggling to pull wagons is upon me. Some people recognize me and throw acknowledging looks in my direction, only to be yelled at by the person behind them to hurry up. I examine the people in the wagons. The females wear long petticoats, bonnets, and cloaks. The men wear suits, hats, long pants, boots, and coats.
If people didn’t know Winterwater’s Wonder, I would look so outlandish to them. Like I come from Avlamora, where it’s rumored boys wear cloaks and girls have a wide variety of clothes. A smirk travels over my hidden face as I tighten my hood. If only they knew who’s inside.
I see a break in the bustling traffic and I dash across the street, trying not to be hit by a wagon. This road is traveled on so much; there’s almost no snow crunching underneath my brown leather boots. An angry driver yells at me to “Watch it, mudscraper!”
I reach the other side of the road, which is a line of bakeries, stores, and a library. With anger bubbling in me like a volcano, I yell, “Oi! Hey! Frinx you!”
He merely laughs, tilts his annoyingly pointed chin in the air, and his horse trots on at the crack of his whip. I regret retaliating immediately. I’m not supposed to. But the slur rings in my ears. Mudscraper.
“Mudscraper” is a word for an outlander, an idiot, a weirdo. If only he knew how skilled I was. He would be cowering.
People from Winterwater don’t tolerate mudscrapers easily. Wowing the people with my archery is the only way they tolerate me. But I couldn’t do that if I didn’t wear this cloak.
Some people in the area shoot me some more either acknowledging, awestruck, or malicious glares. Some little kids are trying to grab at pixies or fairies, wandering into the street, and are saved by their chiding mothers before they’re hit by a horse-and-wagon.
Realizing I’m in the doorway of a bakery, I make haste to get out of the area. I dash down the sidewalk, cold now in full effect. It gnaws at my skin, my fingers start numbing, and my nose becomes pink. Keeping my muscles warm by running and dodging pedestrians, I get out of the part of town into a less bustling residential area. More tudor houses line the roads and more pixies and fairies are found in this area. Huge mounds of snow are on the other side of the road. I slow my pace, trying not to slip on the ice or gaze up at the beautiful sun that illuminates our white world.
The sun that illuminated our world a thousand years ago. Peering down at the past Kuropia as magical beings went head-to-head in a war to tear each other apart.
I eventually reach a huge tudor mansion, towering triangular roofs adorning four magnificent floors. A newly-plowed gravel driveway stretches all the fifteen yards to the icy street. A clean white glaze of snow covers the huge yard. I see the trees of the dragon sanctuary behind the mansion. This is my home. Xalvador’s home.
I grin softly as I make my way up the driveway. Each step brings me closer to the one place I can be free.
Which is also the one place that I want to escape.
I rest my hand on the golden doorknob and push it open. I step into the entrance hall, gently closing the dark brown door behind me.
Across the room is a stone fireplace carved into the wall, orange flames illuminating the torchlit hall. Various masterfully drawn portraits of the maids and manservant, Xalvador, Xalvador’s friend Zarius, and of course me cover the stone. To my right are some coat hooks on the wall, and all but one are occupied by coats or hats. Beneath me is a wolf-skin rug dyed intricate patterns of red and brown. On the walls are portraits of Xalvador’s ancestors, many of which with scepters, swords, or staffs. They host the same slick brown hair, muscular and majestic builds, and friendly brown eyes.
I turn right and stroll through a corridor with more portraits and brown doors dotting both sides. At the end of the hallway is an intersection with two more hallways, but I head into the door at the end of the corridor, opening and closing it.
I’m now in a training room. Mannequins – some of them without heads and some of them with arrows and knives sticking out of the middles of the targets in the middle of their chests – litter the room. On the opposite side of the rectangular room, about thirty feet away, are some targets identical to the ones at the park’s archery range. Swords, knives, staffs, bostaffs, bows, and quivers hang on the white walls. But there’s a mirror on the wall to my right. I stroll over to it and gaze at my navy-cloaked form.
Right here, in this room, in this house, I can be me. I don’t have to be Winterwater’s Wonder. I don’t have to be the The Boy Who Could Hit One Million Targets. I don’t have to be the One-gloved Mystery.
I push my cloak back behind my head, letting it fall onto my back.
Long, bronze-colored hair cascades in a straight wave down my back. Five seconds ago, my facial features were shadowed, almost completely obscured from vision. Now, high cheekbones, straight bronze eyebrows, a pointed nose, and eyes as blue as a summer Avlamora sky stare back at me.
I unbutton my cloak and let it fall to the floor with a whoosh. Down goes the fabric, and the bow, and the quiver of arrows. A short-sleeved dress of the same navy blue color falls down to my knees. My brown leather belt adorns my tiny waist. In it are two throwing knives, a half-eaten sandwich, and a water bottle. Brown, tarnished leather boots travel three fourths of the way up to my shins. On my right hand, a navy silk glove travels to my elbow. I fidget with it. I’m not allowed to take it off.
Forbidden. Like social interaction.
Forbidden. Like archery in a public area as a female.
Forbidden. Like having friends outside the mansion.
Forbidden. Like my past.
Why do I have to wear the glove? Do I have a deformity? What’s underneath the silk? Part of me yearns to know. Wants to know why I washed up on the coast eight years ago at the age of five. But part of me wonders if it’s dangerous. A special power that can only be contained by the glove? The code to unlocking the door to my past?
I examine my slender yet strong and fast female body. It’s funny how people assume I’m a boy. I’m an adolescent, but if I’m hiding in my cloak, my female features don’t show. People think I’m a boy. Because boys are apparently the only ones besides females in myths that can fight.
But people are more concerned with the violence. The disappearances, murders, battles, and towns being burned to the ground. It’s a plague. People whisper of it. How the Arenia Prairie’s government has already fallen. How the Central Coniferous Forest’s government is close to anarchy.
The rumors that the evils of a thousand years ago have returned. It’s there, under hushed whispers. People wonder if the Tundra – if Winterwater – will end up like the Prairie. If they talk about it above a whisper, they might end up like their relatives from afar. Do they really think that will happen to the third most populous metropolis in all of Kuropia? King and Queen Jadesbane have a royal army of knights, a navy, and even an air force of dragon riders.
I pick up my cloak off the ground and button it on my chest, letting it hang over my back. This is the way that I like to wear it. Navy blue and leather brown showing in the perfect dragon-tamer outfit. No movement restricted. I smile weakly back at myself through the mirror.
I pick silver the bow and quiver off of the ground and hang them on a hook to the right of the mirror. Tracing my index finger along the body of the bow, I murmur, “You’ve done me proud,” and then I swiftly turn around and exit the room. I turn into the second corridor to find a plump, aproned, blonde-haired maid scrubbing ruthlessly at a portrait on the wall. I bound up to her with a smile.
“Heyo, Marylynn. Out of the never-ending pocket in my cloak, I fish a few silver coins. I toss them to her in the air as I walk, and she wolfishly grabs them out of the air with an ecstatic look on her face.
“Miss, you really didn’t need to do that-“ she stutters, shaking her round head. And yet she holds the coins to her chest, cherishing them.
I grab an extra rag from the soapy water bucket to her right and laugh. “Azure. Not miss. I’m not your superior or anything. We are both human beings!”
I go to her left and scrub mercilessly at a portrait of Xalvador’s great-great-great-great grandfather, but I can’t help but notice her face turn dark and mysterious for a second before she laughs.
“But you sort of are,” she persists as I scrub at a spot of dirt amusingly placed on the dude’s nose. “Xalvador hired me a long time ago, and you’re…”
I give her a square look. “I’m just as much his apprentice as I am his daughter. We both assist him in what he does, but in different ways. And…uh, if I really am your superior, I command you for the millionth time to call me Azure.”
She smiles at me and I return the favor. Moving onto the next picture, we work in silence for a few minutes before she says, “You don’t have to do this. You have better things to do, mis-Azure.”
“Nah. I don’t get many people to talk to. And it’s nice,” I reply.
A few more minutes of scrubbing before she asks me, “How’d it go today?”
It takes me a moment to decipher what she meant by ‘it,’ but then I laugh and say “Now they’re calling me The Boy Who Could Hit A Million Targets.”
Marylynn doubles over laughing. “Are you serious?”
I explode in laughter too. “Yeah, they’re big idiots.”
She clutches her gut and then examines each picture we’ve scrubbed closely. “I think they’re good. Thanks so much!”
She embraces me in a huge hug that lasts about five seconds before bounding off down the hallway with a smile on her face and an extra hop in her step, not caring that the water bucket in her hand is spilling onto the wooden floor where she travels. It doesn’t matter. Xalvador won’t be back until tomorrow night from his trip.
He’s been gone for a few weeks now, and I miss him dearly. He had went to go take care of a Tropical Lethalwing that had been terrorizing a Southern Tropics village. The plan was to catch or kill it, according to Xalvador. If he caught it, he would bring it back to the sanctuary and tame it. That would be relatively hard, however…Tropical Lethalwings are dangerous, eight point five on the hazard scale. An image of Xalvador being strangled to death by a long green tail and then having yellow venom being spit all over his body…
No. That won’t happen.
That can’t happen.
He’s better than any old Tropical Lethalwing. I push the thought out of my mind as I turn towards the opposite end of the hallway and make my way down. I hear Marylynn hum a tune very loudly as she reaches another room to clean. I can’t help but chuckle.
At this end of the hallway, I start traveling up a spiral staircase. On the second floor, I reach another corridor with portraits and brown wooden doors lining each side of it.
I stretch out a bit before reaching and opening the second door to the right. I smile at the sight of my small bedroom as I close the door.
I dash into the bedroom and collapse on the white bed in the left side of the room. I examine the familiar bedroom with its white curtains, brown closet doors, brown writing desk to my left with potion vials, journals, ink pots, and quills thrown over it; the drawings of dragons and horses plastering the white walls; and the white bed canopy above me. I grope at the goose feather pillow beneath my head and let the black chambers of sleep gently pull me into its mysterious black depths.
I hope you enjoyed!
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NOTE TO READERS: Chapter One will be rewritten until the pacing is satisfactory, hopefully this time it’s better! Phew!
Thanks for reading and buckle up for more!