Trial by Combat (Part 3)

Sword hanging off her belt in its scabbard, Sarah picked up a bow and quiver of arrows. The quiver she slung across her back, the bow she tested the tautness of its string. It seemed decent enough as far as she could tell.

“Blue flights?” A Scout Sergeant peered over her shoulder. Sarah nodded. “Take your spot ten paces from the fifth fence post.”

Sarah nodded and complied. The battle still raging nearby and the sound of swords clashing kept her from completely running out of steam. She passed two duels before reaching the fifth fence post. Counting quietly to herself Sarah began her pace forward.

“One, two, three,”

“Eight,” Mathew broke in

Sarah furrowed her brow and kept counting, “four, five, si..”

“Eleven.”

“Seven,” she growled at Mathew, “eight, nine,” she paused a moment before spinning and yelling "TEN" in Mathew’s face at the same time he said "one". She grinned as she took a step backwards and spun to face her targets.

There was more time to think in archery and yet, with the cacophony of noises around her there was a sense of urgency. Sarah reached behind and pulled an arrow from the quiver and nocked it. Right before she released the arrow two swords clashed behind her causing the shot to go low.

“Come on Boys keep them flying,” a Sergeant’s voice rang out behind her. “Arrows on the bow, arrows in the air, keep those arms in motion!”

Sarah hastily complied, nocking another arrow. This time she was ready for the distraction. Two Scouts came rolling past her wrestling on the ground. Instinctively she aimed her bow up before letting the arrow loose. She didn’t bother to watch it arch and land as the second Sergeant came marching past.

“Come on Boys keep them flying. Arrows on the bow, arrows in the air, keep those arms in motion!”

Someone suddenly slapped her butt. Without thinking Sarah pulled her arm back to elbow the offender, bow still in hand.

“Holy Tree of the Gods!” Mathew exclaimed.

Sarah whipped about to see him clutching his crotch. “Oh God, I’m sorry.”

“Forget it,” he grumbled, “just shoot your arrows, you only got two left.”

Still feeling bad Sarah turned back to her targets. She could see one arrow stuck in the ground at least ten feet away from the nearest one. Concentrating as hard as she could Sarah managed to get the next two arrows off without mishap. Then the air was filled with a melodic sound as three hunting horns were blown. Slowly activity ceased as the notes washed over those embroiled in combat.

“Gather your arrows Hopefuls and return the quivers and bows to where you got them. Then gather in the dining hall for dinner,” one of the Sergeants told them.

Sarah met Aaron out on the field gathering his arrows. They laughed together as they picked them off the ground. Not that the others Hopefuls gathering looked to have fared any better.

“At least you got one in a target,” Aaron pointed to the arrow with blue flights hanging by its tip.

“Yeah but,” she went over and blew on it, knocking the arrow off. “I don’t think it would have done much.” Picking up her last arrow they brought their quivers and bows back to the archer station.

Kirk, Reed and London joined up with them at the field's edge. Making thier way inside, still hyped on adrenaline, they chatted about where they did well, and where they had been gotten good. Unfortunately by the time they were standing next to their chairs the adrenaline had worn off. Sarah looked about and smiled slightly; they weren’t the only ones stifling yawns.

In fact the Scouts looked just as weary as the Hopefuls and Sarah wondered who had been worked harder. Right now the only thing keeping her on her feet was sheer determination. Eyes swiveled forward as the metal was struck once. The Prince stood next to his father looking as worn out as Sarah felt, making her wonder if he had been participating. Although, aside from the exhausted look upon his face, there was no other clue to indicate that he had.

“Well Hopefuls,” the King called out, “how do you feel?”

“Tired,” Sarah responded without thinking. Those near her shot her a glare.

“Hungry,” someone else shouted, apparently emboldened by her reply.

The King chuckled. “Well then let us feast and sleep so that the trials may continue on the morrow.” He struck the metal twice, his voice leading theirs in the Scout Oath.

My Life for my country and all that it’s worth.
My King and Commander rule my berth.
My faith in the Gods till I am dust.
My sergeant who leads me; in him I trust.

The King and his son left the room and everyone sat to eat.

The End

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