Normally, it’s a big treat to go to the castle; and a big honor to be presented in front of the king. I hate it. I would give anything…well, except Emily…to be back in the town. I don’t want to be the crown prince; I just want to be me. And I just want to be with Emily. Why is life never like that? Why can’t it, for just once in my life, work out the way I would like it to?
Mathias hurried me through to the throne room to meet the king. But of course, he still had time to point out this tapestry or that piece of armor as we passed by them. What difference do they make? What’s the point if Emily isn’t here to enjoy them with me?
We finally to the throne room and were ushered in by a very bored-looking guard. “Ah, I see you have arrived Mathias,” Said the king when he saw us, “All right boy, today is the last free day you’ll get this week, I’ll have the maid show you you’re room so you can unpack, then you can have someone show you around if you wish.”
I nodded but said nothing. I know what I am going to do after I unpack, and let me tell you, it isn’t touring the castle. I am going to see Emily again. I don’t care what the king thinks. I can still see her chocolate eyes looking into mine with such a depth of feeling. Her eyes are so pretty!
I was woken from my reveries by the maid who was supposed to guide me to my rooms. She’s almost my age! And she gave me goggle eyes all the way up. She is acting like she’s never seen a guy before! It’s not like I am all that much to look at…am I? Well, anyways here is my room; and the creepy maid has just said a fluttery goodbye…finally! I threw my bags in a corner...all done unpacking! Now, to get out of this stupid castle and back to the town!
As I made my way down the stairway I almost ran into the maid as she passed me on the stairway. Oh, no; I really hope she lays off the goggle eyes soon because that’s going to get annoying really quickly. There was nothing I could do about it though so I just hurried past her and out into the courtyard. Now, where is the gate? As I looked around there was a beautiful garden with fruit trees, and herbs, and other edible plants. But that was not what I was looking for. The gate must be right behind the garden. So I walked through the garden, and low and behold there was the gate at the end of the garden! To the town! The guards let me through the gate, and I was off on my way to Emily’s house again.
When I got there the door was hanging open and there was no sound coming from inside. What happened? Hmm, the fire is out inside too. I entered carefully. The room was dark and quiet. Emily is usually home at this time. And if she wasn’t she wouldn’t have left the door open either! So where is she? Just then I heard a soft whimper come from Emily’s room. “Emily?” I asked, “Are you here?” All I got was another moan. What is going on? I thought as I moved to her room. I burst into the room, I nearly threw up. What have they done to my Emily! She was lying in a puddle of blood on the floor of her room. “Oh! Emily!” I quickly leaned down to take her pain. It was the best I could do right now because Mathias is still up at the castle. As I put my hand on her I felt energy flow from me to her. Then I picked her up and carried her home. My home; not the stupid castle.
When I arrived at the house I cleaned her up and then put bandages on her. Then I stayed by her until she woke up.
“Ugh, where-oh.” Dad had beaten me again. But wait, why is Luke here? Isn’t he supposed to have gone to the castle? But he is so handsome, and I am certainly not going to complain about his being here. I could just lay here in his lap forever as he strokes my hair with his sun-bronzed hands.
Then I made the mistake of opening my eyes to look into his deep, green, and beautiful ones.
“What happened? Was it your dad again!” he asked angrily. He didn't tend to get along well with dad.
“I...yeah.” I said.
“I swear, if he does this one more time…”
“Please, don’t hurt him. I love him. He really is nice when he isn’t drunk; it’s just that, well, ever since mother died…” I trailed of into tears.
“Oh, I’m so sorry Em. I-I just wish I could stop this. I can’t understand why he is always taking it out on you.” He said looking depressed.
Not knowing what to say I decided to change the subject. “So you’re back already? Or was I out for a couple of years?” I said smiling.
“Sadly, neither; I’m supposed to be using this time to tour the castle where my lessons will be taking place. But I never got a real chance to say goodbye. So I decided to come back for the day instead, to be with you.” He said.
“Oh, well uh, these are mostly only bruises; and it isn’t like every one in the village hasn’t seen them on me all the time anyways. So if you want to walk with me out to the river side…” I trailed off.
His face of course immediately lit up, and he scooped me up into his powerful arms and headed out the door to the river. When we were younger, we had been exploring around the river and had stumbled on a place that nobody knew about, and it became the place we went to escape the rest of the city. Especially people like my father. I was pretty sure that that was where he was taking us, and I was perfectly happy to go there. When we finally got there he put me down and sat beside me, and I leaned my head against his well-formed chest. We sat there like that, just enjoying each other’s company knowing that it would be the last time we would have each other for a while. “I’m going to miss you,” I said after a while.
Luke turned his deep green eyes to meet mine. “I’m going to miss you too” He said in all seriousness, “As a matter of fact, I’ll miss you more.” He said with a smile breaking out on his face.
“Yeah, well I love you most! So there!” was my come back.
“No way! I’m the one who carried you here!” He said indignantly, “That aught to count for something at least!”
I let him have it. It’s just not worth it sometimes…especially not with guys they’re to thick-headed for their own good sometimes. Wait a second, maybe this is benefiting him…oh well, this is the last time we’ll have together for a while, let’s just enjoy it. “Go stand over there.” I said, pointing to a spot not far away from the river bank, it was on a slight hill, so that from my point of view, here on the ground, he would be silhouetted against the sky.
“Why?’ He asked.
“Well, so that I can memorize you of course!” I said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. So, like a good little boy, he went to the spot that I had pointed out and struck a heroic pose. After giggling a little I started to take him in. His straight black hair, which would reach to his eyes if it weren’t swept to one side, his deep, piercing eyes, his well muscled chest, his soft, yet calloused hands, his long legs, and his big feet; all in one tall but slim figure. Finally I had him all memorized. He is in my memory forever now…I hope that’s a good thing.
“Alright, my turn.” He said, patiently lifting me up and arranging me by a tree. “There, that’s just about right.” He exclaimed after about five minutes of changing the position of my back, arms, and legs. He moved back so that he could take me in and just stood there for a while.
She is beautiful! She couldn’t be more perfect! Her wavy, brown, hair running down past her shoulders, framing her beautiful face, her soft hands clasped in her lap, her legs folded in front of her, with her back relaxed against a tree. Well, maybe I lied about the “Couldn’t be more perfect part…she could do without the bruises…but other than that it was true! Come to think of it. I don’t think I have ever seen her without bruises somewhere or other…I wish I could see her, even just once, without bruises all over her face. Ah well, if wishes were fishes… I’ll just take her in as she is: her creamy complexion. Her beautiful chocolate eyes, staring into the depths of mine. Her dark brown hair tumbling down her shoulders in waves. Her small, long-fingered hands clasped in her lap. She really is beautiful! But the best part is…wait for it…she loves ME! Not some other, more handsome, kid; but me! How can a guy not like her? What’s not to like?
“There, I’m done.” I said as I moved toward her to give her a careful hug.
“Thank you so much for being here for me,” she said in a shaky voice, “I-” her voice cracked and she had to start again, “I don’t know if I could have made it without you around.”
“I love you too, you have made my life into something worth living too.” Was my reply. I know. Cliché, what can I do though? It’s true you know.
We sat there enjoying our closeness. Emily laid her head on my shoulder, and I put my arm around her to pull her close; carefully of course, due to her very recent beating. And that is the way we stayed as we watched as the sky begin to soak up the sun’s rays. As the first few stars started to show their faces; I said “Well, your dad is going to be really mad if we don’t start to head home soon.”
Emily face immediately fell, but she allowed me to pick her up. As I did she buried her face in my neck and put her arms around me, and promptly fell asleep in my arms.
When I got to her house, the door was open. Uh-oh, her father must have already gotten home, which was weird because usually he was still out drinking around this time. Maybe he had gotten to drunk all at once and had to go home and pass out. So I carefully peeked around the door, and there he was on the couch, completely awake and aware; and staring at me! Uh-oh.
“Come in boy. Emily isn’t here right now if she is who you are looking for, but I want to talk to you.” There was nothing for it, he had already seen me. So I came in with her in my arms. “Oh,” he said, “you have her; well why don’t you put her in her bed, I still want to talk to you boy.” He said. He didn’t seem drunk. Maybe he just handled his alcohol. Either way I don’t want Emily involved, so I went and put her in her bed, and tucked her in. “Sleep well darling.” I whispered.
He hadn’t passed out while I was in her room…too bad. “I, I really do appreciate the time you spend with her boy. I,” his voice faltered and came again, “I really do want what is best for her, it’s just, after Joy died I’ve been too drunk. Today though, I was so horrified by what I did to her. I- I stopped. I don’t think I can keep it up though. So please, while I am not drunk, listen to me.” His voice choked up again, “Take care of my girl, because as much as I would like to, I cannot.”
What do I say to that? ‘Uh, sorry sir, I’ve been ordered up to the castle, so uh, when I can I will, but I won’t be around much anymore.’ What a joke! “Well, uh, ahem, I am very honored sir. But I was just ordered up to the castle to begin my training as the crown prince sir. I do love your daughter, and I will come and visit as often as I possibly can. But that will still be less often than I have been sir.” That is about the best I could come up with on short notice. He didn’t deserve the respect I showed him; but he was Emily’s father, so I showed it anyways.
His face went from hopeful as I said that I loved his daughter, to very sad when I mentioned I wouldn’t be able to be here all the time. “I really do want to be here though, and I do promise to come here as often as possible if not more.” I repeated, in hopes of making him feel a little better, “She knows I am leaving…has known since yesterday.” I must have made some mistake by saying that, because as I did, his face took on a look of agony as I said it. He almost cried out. “That’s why she was still in her room when I got up,” his voice was quaking at this point, “I-I saw she hadn’t prepared the pots for firing and I-I beat her. She was MOURNING!! I am such a horrible father!” What could I say to that wouldn’t be either a lie or just make it worse? I couldn’t think of anything, so I said nothing.
As he continued to mourn his stupidity I quietly left the house and trudged my miserable way up to the stupid castle. I didn’t even notice the maid stare at me this time, I just hurried into my room, shut the door, threw myself onto my bed, and cried myself to sleep.
I woke the next day to heavy pounding on my door. “LUKE!” Boomed Mathias’s voice, “GET UP!” Then more softly, “you need to start your lessons!” Ugh…it is way too early! The sun is still rising! Get up he says. “Don’t make me come in there!”
“Ok, ok I’m up! Give me a few seconds!” I said as I rolled over and closed my eyes.
“Oh no you don’t!” he said, “don’t you dare go back to sleep, now open the door this instant!” He knows me way to well.
I got out of bed, pulled my pants on, and was about to let him in when I heard a titter from the other side of the door. “Mathias! I don’t want a female audience thank you very much! I won’t open the door till whoever she is, is gone!” another titter, then footsteps as she left. I opened the door and there was Mathias. Alone thank goodness! I put on my shirt, ran my hands through my hair, and then smoothed it down. Then I followed Mathias to the kitchen for a quick breakfast.
It was huge! There was a huge open fire place in one corner, the fire already lit…I feel sorry for whoever had to get up early enough to light it. In another corner there was a big bread oven, which reminded me so much of Emily’s kiln that I had to fight back tears. The head cook, a kind-looking, slightly over weight woman with flaming red hair gave us each a fresh roll and shoed us out. We ate on the way to my first class of the day.
Mathias took me out to the courtyard. There were people practicing with weapons every where. There were archers shooting at targets, I had always wanted to do that, on another field there were people dueling with sabers. Yet another field had people fencing. I was surrounded by action, and it was somewhat confusing and new. Mathias led me up to the man who was in the middle watching it. He was huge! He must have been literally six foot six”! He had wide pair of shoulders and very well muscled chest, big, well calloused hands, and a double bladed axe stuffed into his belt. “Hello there!” He cried cheerfully as we approached, “you must be the newest recruit eh? Well, we’ll have you fighting in no time. Now, let me get a good look at you!” He started to look me up and down, his eyes deftly determining my strengths and weaknesses. “Well, you are well muscled, however, you are too slim for an axe, and any but the lighter blades. I suppose a longbow would probably suit you best. How would you like that boy? By the way you walk you seem to have enough hand-eye co-ordination for it.”
“Could I?” I asked more than eagerly, “I’ve always wanted to be an archer!”
“Longbow it is then!” he laughed good-naturedly, and led me off to the archery range to pick out a bow and arrows.
I frowned when he picked a short bow for me. “I thought I was going to learn longbow!” I said, somewhat indignantly.
“Ah, I doubt you would be able to pull one back as of yet boy, they are notoriously hard to pull back, you have to build your strength with this bow first. And this is no ordinary short bow; it’s specially made to build up enough strength for the long bow, and is therefore quite a bit harder to pull back. Most beginners start with a much easier one. This is a level five practice bow. There just so happen to be six levels before you are considered strong enough to efficiently use a long bow.” He handed me the practice bow. “Try drawing this bow.” I did, it wasn’t very hard.
The instructor was re-thinking his assessment of my skills as he handed me a level 6 practice bow. “This one is much harder, try it out.” He said.
I took the bow expecting it to be almost as easy as the first one. I was wrong. I tried to pull the same strength as last time. I failed. I tried again, this time putting all my strength into the bow. It gave, and pulled back and I gasped. “That was hard!” was about all I could get out.
“Good, now release it,” replied my instructor. I did and it flew back so hard that it almost pulled the bow out of my hands! “Now do it again.” I pulled it back again, this time knowing what to expect, so it went much more smoothly. “You adapt well boy,” the instructor congratulated me; “Few adapt so well their first time changing practice bow levels! Now keep practicing pulling back and letting go, when I get back I’ll give you some arrows to practice shooting that target.” He said, pointing to a nearby target. When he gave my arrows, I completely missed the target. I spent the rest of the morning practicing my shooting. By the time came lunch came along I could hit the target once out of every five arrows.
After lunch Mathias took me to my math lesson. “Remember everything I have been teaching you Luke, the person I’m taking you to will not be your teacher he is only here to asses your skills; and if you are good enough then you won’t have to take this class, you’ll have some, ahem, free, time. It will likely be when you will be sent on errands to the town, but I suppose you would like that anyways.” Wow! A chance to get some time with Emily! Almost every day!
“I’ll try my very best Mathias! I’ll make you proud!” I said forcefully.
“Good, I’ve taught you everything that you should need to get past this assessment.” He replied with a smile.
The man Mathias took me to was a thin old man with thick glasses hanging from his long, wrinkled nose. He looked at me once then back to some papers he was holding. “What’s five plus two boy?” He asked.
“Seven, sir,” I said.
“Good lad!” he said and then continued to drill me with different mathematical questions, wincing when I got one wrong and congratulating me when I got one right. After about an hour he got up, stretched and declared that I knew far more than enough about math to need any more classes in it.
I nearly leaped out of my chair and danced around the room for sheer joy! “Thank you sir! You don’t know how much this means to me!” I said emphatically. He looked a little flustered as he walked out of the room. Well Luke, you have a little bit of free time now, but be sure to be back by dusk for your class in etiquette!” Mathias called as I raced out the door toward the main gate.
I keep looking at the door hoping he might come in. It won’t happen, but I can’t help but hope that maybe, just maybe, he’ll find some time to come today. I mean, I know this is his first day and all, but I just can’t help myself. I miss him so much. Even dad recognized his importance in my life. He has stayed sober all of today and yesterday! For me! I love him even if he is pretty mean when he is drunk, he can’t help himself after all. I am going to miss Luke so much! Already I’m pining for him! Look at me! It’s only around an hour or so after lunch!
I sighed and got back to the clay I was working. It was a half-formed tall clay urn for drawing water at the river. People always needed more as they constantly dropped and broke them. This one was a special order by one of the merchants’ wives. She wanted a highly decorative one. This one was going to be fancy, with clay “castles” on it and a whole war scene. But I had to make the basic urn first, so here I was at the pottery wheel making it.
BAM! The door flew open and I started. As I turned around Luke was there in the doorway. He was breathing hard, but he was there. “Luke! You came!” I can’t believe he came! Even on his first day here!
“Guess what?” he asked, “I tested out of a class, so now I have free time every day from lunch till dusk!” he was almost shouting with excitement and a huge smile was plastered on his face.
Just then my father came out of his room. “What is all this then? Ah, Luke, welcome! I see you have found time already to come see my daughter.” He laughed.
“I have tested out of a class in this period, leaving me with free time from lunch till dusk. I hope to spend at least a part of that every day here with Emily sir.” Luke replied. Since when was he polite to dad? Must be because he is sober, or maybe for me.
“I’m impressed!” Dad exclaimed and then to me, “Go have a good time with Luke, I’ll finish the urn.” Dad never offers to do work. Not for me, not for anyone; not since mom died.
“Um,” I really was speechless, “Thanks dad!” I said as I hugged him, and he hugged me back! Then I was out the door with Luke.
We went out to a tavern nearby. “How was the castle?” I asked, “Did you like it?”
“It might have been wonderful…if you had been there.” He said sadly, “I think the maid fancies me though.” He said in mock seriousness.
“How dare she! You had better not encourage her! If you do I’ll never talk to you again!” I said.
“Oh, don’t worry I’m really not into her, she is kinda creepy if you ask me. Always following me, giving me goggle eyes every time I pass her in the hallway…yuck…besides, with someone like you to compete with she doesn’t stand a chance!” He said, smirking all the while. “I actually like weapons practice though. The weapons master has assigned me to the longbow!” He said brightly. I let the subject of the maid drop, but I’m not going to forget about it.
“That’s wonderful!” I exclaimed, “Haven’t you always wanted to be a bowman?”
“Yeah and now’s my chance! I’m finally gunna be a bowman Emily!” He said so excitedly that he sounded like a little kid who just got a present. At least that’s what I think a little kid getting a present would sound like, I’ve never gotten one myself, and I don’t have brothers or sisters, so I’ve never actually heard what a kid who just got a present sounds like. But yeah, I assume it’s a lot like what Luke is sounding like right now.
He looked out at the sky, “Someday, I’m going to be king here…I have no idea what I’ll do with this country, I don’t even really want to be king, I would much rather be here, never having to worry about what other people will think or say about every move I make. Here, where I can be with you all the time, instead of just for a few hours a day.” That was it. I just couldn’t help myself anymore. I moved my self closer to him then pushed my head under his arms as the first tears came. Luke got the point immediately and pulled his other arm around me to pull me closer. That was the way we stayed for quite a while, as his shirt got wetter and wetter. Eventually the tears ran dry and we just sat there, my head nestled into his shoulder, his cheek resting on top of it as he stroked my hair soothingly. The sun wasted no time in tinting the clouds shades of pink and orange.
“I have an idea!” Luke exclaimed, “Why don’t you come up to the castle with me tonight…if your dad will allow it. I think he will though, that was the first time he has ever offered to do work; I think he wants us to be together. But just to be sure, let’s go ask him.” That’s the best idea I’ve heard in a long time! Good thing he thought of it while dad isn’t drunk! Or I wouldn’t have felt right doing it.
“Really? You wouldn’t mind? Is there a place for me to sleep? Will they allow me to?” the questions kept pouring out of my mouth; I’m not sure where they all came from.
“Really, and yes is the answer to the rest.” He said, grinning from ear to ear at my enthusiasm. This will not only give us more time together, but also push back our parting time. “Come on! Let’s go tell your dad you won’t be coming back tonight.” Luke said as he pulled me to my feet.
“Alright, I’m coming, I’m coming.” I said.
“Hurry! Or I’ll be late for my next class!” Said Luke. He eventually got tired of my slower pace (it really is hard to run in a skirt you know!) he picked me up and ran with me all the way till my door. Dad was at the wheel, putting the finishing touches on the urn before letting it dry.
“Dad! Luke has invited me up to the castle for the night! May I go please?” I asked as soon as Luke had put me down. After thinking about it for a little bit dad reluctantly said that I could “Just don’t do anything you shouldn’t,” so we were off again.
Apparently Luke and I got to the castle just in time for Luke’s next class, language; bleh, I certainly don’t envy him that class.
Mathias was very surprised to see me with Luke, “Where will she sleep Luke?” he asked indignantly.
“Well, in my bed! Where else?” Was Luke’s reply.
“Then just where do you plan on sleeping? Because you know I won’t let you to sleep on the same bed…bad enough that I allow you two to sleep in the same room!” Mathias almost exploded.
Luke winced, “Well, I was going to send the maid to get some bedding and sleep on the floor, if that is ok with you.” Luke said tactfully asking for Mathias’s permission in a way he couldn’t refuse.
“Oh, alright.” Mathias gave in, “I see you have got this all thought out then. You’re going to have to sit through Luke’s lesson though Emily.” He put in as an aside to me.
“It’s ok sir, so long as Luke is there.” Was all I could think of in response; Luke squeezed my hand and smiled at me, so I must have done something right.
The class was pretty boring, so I amused myself by fluttering my eyelashes at Luke’s teacher and making him blush. Luke would push me every time I did it, but we both ended up laughing at the poor flustered teacher. Finally time came for the class to end, and we went to the dining hall for dinner.
After dinner, Luke and I went out to the cook’s garden, it was called that because everything in it was edible, not because it belonged to the cook. We found a bench there and sat down together. Luke put his arm around me and I snuggled up to him and we started to talk about all kinds of different things ranging from the class Luke just had, to good and bad times we remembered as kids. We stayed that way for a long time, till finally, with a huge yawn, we got up and Luke took me to his room. The maid had already been here and there was bedding laid out on the floor for Luke, so we both settled down and I blew out the candle and went to sleep.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! “TIME TO GET UP!” Shouted Mathias, “I don’t care how late you two stayed up last night, Luke has to be at his lessons!” Emily had managed to sleep through that, so I went to the door and before he could shout again I opened it and motioned for quiet. Mathias nodded and waited for me to get dressed. I went over to Emily, the lifetime of hurt she has endured is wiped off her face when she is asleep, making her even more beautiful. I don’t know if I have the heart to wake her up! But if I don’t she’ll not only miss breakfast, but also probably wake up while I am not there, so I should probably do it now.
“You need to wake up Em,” I said softly by her ear, “it’s time for breakfast, and I can’t just leave you here.” I started to shake her gently. Her eyes opened just a little.
“Hmmmmm?” she enquired sleepily.
“You have to get up now, it’s time for breakfast.” I said, planting a kiss on her forehead.
“Oh.” She said, “I was hoping I might get to sleep later, being with a prince and all.”
“This prince has weapons practice that he has to attend,” said Mathias, as he started off toward the kitchen.
“Ah, I see young prince Luke has brought a lady friend along!” said Sarah, the head cook, as we came in. Emily blushed profusely. “Well, I’ll let you two have something special for the occasion,” said the cook as she pulled a fresh apple pie off a window sill and gave it to us, along with two forks, “that aught to fill your empty stomachs.” I think I’m going to be pretty good friends with the head cook in times to come.
We ate the pie, and then I led Emily out to the practice area to meet my weapons instructor. “Who’s this I see?” Asked the instructor, “has the young prince brought his lady friend to see his new class?”
“Yes sir, this is Emily; Emily, this is my weapons instructor,” I said.
“You know, Luke here is far ahead of not only most beginners, but also just about everyone else his age,” the instructor whispered to Emily, “he is almost ready to use a real longbow, most people can’t draw whose until their third year of practicing! He really is an impressive specimen.”
I blushed as I heard it, but went to get my practice bow, and started shooting at the target. I actually got a bull’s eye once; both Emily and my instructor clapped. “You want to try out a long bow boy?” asked the instructor.
“Sure!” I said, maybe I would be able to use it already! Then I would be, like, the prodigy of all bowmen! When he handed me the longbow, I immediately notched an arrow onto the string, and tried to pull back. The string barely moved. I tried again. This time I succeeded in pulling back the string halfway, before having to slowly release it. Emily started to giggle. “Hey, this isn’t as easy as it looks!” I said, frowning, “if you’re so good why don’t you come over here and try to even budge the string!” And Emily, being the competitive nutcase she is, did just that; and the string didn’t move at all when she tried, no matter how hard she tried. I tried not to smile, but failed miserably. She looked at me with a pouty face, “Maybe we can do it together!” I said, to ease her defeat. Emily nodded, so I went over to her and, pressing up against her, I got in to the archer’s stance that I had learned yesterday.
Together we managed to pull the bow back all the way; even if both our hands were shaking by the end of it. My trainer hurried to us with an arrow, and he notched it into the string. I slid my hand so that my fingers rested in between Emily’s so as to synchronize our hands as they let the arrow fly. Then I showed her—quickly—how to aim. After the quick run down, I aimed and counted to three, on three we both quickly pulled our hands from the bow and watched the arrow gracefully fly through the air to embed itself exactly to where I had pointed it! I had aimed a little high, expecting it to fall a little before it hit the target, like the arrows from the other bow did. “We did it!” both Emily and I exclaimed at the exact same time.
I gave her a quick hug, then tried to pull back the longbow by myself again. This time I succeeded, but my arm was shaking so badly by the end of it that I couldn’t keep a steady aim. The fact that I could pull the longbow all the way back amazed the instructor greatly. He had me practice drawing and loosing the bow over and over until my arms turned into jelly. Then he let us off a little early saying there was nothing else I could do in the state that I was in.