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Bow of the Quixotic Grove


A cool Spring breeze cuts through the afternoon sunshine like a departing whisper of winter among the colorful market stalls, and touches across the freckles of a lithe Druid, browsing the tools of her trade and enjoying the day. She finds herself in front of a large claret striped stall brimming with leather work pouches, quivers, and hunting gear. A riot of ornate bows, proudly displayed, are exquisite, a bit overdone, and beyond what the coins in her pouch would afford. Amid the flashy stocks and ornately carved limbs, a solitary bow of plain wood stands out. The simple bow, lit by a small beam of sun cast through a slit in the striped awning, catches her eye. Picking up the bow, the wood is clearly finer than at first glance. A deeper hue, a more lustrous grain. It’s warm to the touch and feels a perfect fit in her hand. A slight thrum through the string, it must be the wind, but feels like.. a greeting? The more she gazes at this humble prize, the more fine, subtle details emerge. The arrow rest shaved in, just past center, to give an arrow truer flight. A small lily, carved into the top limb…was that there before? The soft, subtle perfume of the wood itself is ephermeral, yet comforting, amid the warm hay, dusty earth and rushes of the market lanes. The bowyer is busy with a clutch of pompous courtiers looking for showy weapons and gear, with heavy coin to spend. She exhales, blowing a strand of strawberry gold hair from her eyes and silently signlas to the bowyer’s assistant to try her choice at the hay bales next to the stall. A nod and a tilt of his head, is his bored response to the girl in hand-me-down leathers. Passing the courtiers, she has to dodge away from the swinging end of a scabbard and heavy velvet cape, unnoticed, as they pose for each other. The scent of money, fougere and arrogance, thick in their midst. She steps away, up to the hay bales, knocks an arrow, steadies her breath, winks at the assitant and let’s fly. The hiss and thunk of a bullseye makes the larger fellow in sienna velvet turn a dubious eye at the disruption, then a double take at the mark. A thrill of excitement and rush of need courses through her like a small ping of fate. She gazes at the bow like new destiny in her hand. The merry hum of the market place seems to fade away and there is just silence, sunshine, and a swell in her heart. Another whisper of breeze and a hum from the bowstring. An arcane atunement that happens without thinking. She steps back to the assistant, “How much?” He looks her over with a new appreciation, and reaches for the bow. She can’t bear to let it out of her grasp. An awkward tug game seems about to ensue, but she lets it go, as goosebumps dance up her arm at the thought of losing this new companion. “Huh…. no price marked. Oi! We’ve got a price on this?” He waves the bow at his master. The Bowyer curls a lip, sending his moustache bristling across his cheek. “Bah, tha’ss a practice bow for children!…. Never bothered to put a price on such a thing.” He looks down his nose at the girl, giving her a shrewd sizing up, her cheeks and ears turning an ever deeper shade of pink. “This one, eh?” All she can do is nod, her voice stuck in her throat. “If it’s this piece yer wantin’, two silver it’ll be, and not a penny more!” He says with a slight twinkle in his amber eyes. “Now pay up! or be off wih ye!” He flicks a bejeweled pinky at his assitant to collect and turns back, with a regal swing of long braids, to his gaggle of velvet shod gentlemen. Coins change hands and she knows her dinner will me a bit more meager than she’d planned. It doesn’t matter. With a practiced ease, she unstrings the bow and with a new swing in her step, practically dances back to her lodgings, keeping an eye out for stray coins in the rushes along the way. After all, today feels….. lucky, somehow. A well healed bowyer with amber eyes gazes after her, and pats the head of a giant wolf hound beside him. He speaks quietly, “Well, my friend….this is a reverent day. May she be worthy, eh? We’ll go tell Katie after…. well she probably already knows. I felt that like a bell.” His eyes go misty for a moment, as the wolf hound huffs out a breath against his hand. He inhales deeply and regains his salesman’s demeanor, turning back to the courtiers. “Gentlemen! Have we made our decisions?!”

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LA, CA. USA

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