several throwing knives with red tassels lying on a wooden table

Result 12 – Part 7

For the next hour and a half, you take part in the archery class with Terris focusing on you, Ameronis and the other two newcomers, while the other person, who is introduced as “Sin“, focuses his attention on the regulars. You start with a warmup and then learn about the equipment. This is followed by a safety briefing and detailed instructions on correct stance and posture. You do not receive bows and training arrows until Terris is satisfied that you’ve all got the basics down. You start with target practice, while the other group focuses on improving their skills.

Remembering her complaints about the supposedly rigged arrows yesterday, you assume that these arrows are legitimate, but it’s impossible to tell seeing as you still can’t consistently hit the target. If anything, you’re doing much worse. However, Terris is happy with what you are doing so far; you can shoot the arrow, if badly, and haven’t shot anyone else, so that’s good.

Ameronis does quite well. She seems to be getting into it.

Throughout the whole session, Terris has a firm but understanding approach; she strongly accepts that you are all new to this, but expects a high standard. You find it hard to imagine that there’s ever been an accident on her watch. Meanwhile, Sin seems to be taking a more playful approach, encouraging the more advanced students to relax and be sure of their abilities, with light teasing to encourage them to do better and aim higher.

Soon the training draws to a close, and it’s time for the competition. Terris states the contest rules. Like yesterday, will be given three arrows, but instead of trying to hit the bull’s-eye, you are to hit specific sections of the colourful new board that Sin is currently setting up.

Terris calls for the newcomers to go first and with all eyes on your group, you each take turns to try and shoot at whichever coloured section Terris calls for. Though the official aim is to hit specific coloured sections, in reality, it’s treated as a win any time the arrow manages to hit the board rather than hay bales, or missing completely. Which is good, seeing as none of you manage to hit any of the correct colours that Terris calls for when she calls for them.

Your efforts are applauded though and, tired out by now, you beginners stand aside and let the regulars have a turn. They do significantly better. Terris congratulates them but warns them that their targets will be smaller next time.

They wrap things up by giving an example of what they can aim for in the future. Terris steps forward to try the challenge, but not before Sin changes the board to one much, much smaller. Terris goes first and calls for the spectators to randomly select a colour. A colour is shouted out and instantly Terris manages to hit the matching segment.

“Another!”, she calls out.

Someone else calls out a new colour and again she hits it. She fires six shots in total, hitting all of them right in the centre of each segment and within a fraction of the time it took even the best student to fire their three shots.

Sin clears the board and then takes the stage. He doesn’t do as well as Terris, complaining that the sun is in his eyes, despite it being overcast, that the bow is defective, despite it being the one that everyone else has been using, and making other such excuses. It’s the turn of the students to make comments, teasing him on how they’ll soon be better than him. He rebuffs their claims as he clears the board, stating that in a real challenge of aim, they’d never be a master like him. Archery is for chumps he says, despite being the instructor of an archery class.

The student and Terris titter, at which he pauses, looking left and right as if about to do something shifty. He reaches into his jacket, still glancing around, before pulling out a decorative throwing knife with a red tassel. He points it dramatically at them before turning and casually tossing it at the board in a swift movement; despite not stopping to aim it, it lands directly in the centre anyway.

“See now, throwing knives; that’s the sport of champions”, he declares.

“Not this again…” Terris mutters, rolling her eyes.

Sin flashes a sly grin to the group as he retrieves the knife, which he casually twirls before sheathing it.

“Come on, Terri, don’t act like you’re not impressed. You know this is the highlight of the class,” he says, giving her a playful nudge.

Terris lets out a mock exasperated sigh. “It’s the highlight of your day, Sin.”

She shakes her head with a smile, then turns her attention back to the students.

several throwing knives with red tassels lying on a wooden table
The sport of champions

(Ai-generated image produced using Stable Diffusion)

“Alright, folks, great work today. Remember, consistent practice pays off. If you newcomers are interested in joining us again, you know where to find us,” she says.

Sin, not missing a beat, chimes in.

“And remember, if archery isn’t your thing, we’ve got running, obstacle courses, a climbing challenge that’ll make you question your life choices, and a whole lot more.”

Terris, now gathering the archery equipment, gives Sin an amused side glance as he goes on.

“We’re not just about the action here though. Join us at The Warrior’s Hearth, meet the locals and kick back for lunch. I’ll be there after tidying up a bit. If you’ve got questions, want to chat, or just witness a bit more of my dazzling charm, feel free to drop by. Tea tastes better with good company, after all. But if not, we’ll see you next time!”

The courtyard starts to empty, as Sin and Terris continue to pack things away.

“It’s interesting. You manage to be so good with a knife but are…questionable…when it comes to archery,” says Ameronis, diplomatically, “though I wonder if that’s even true. Are you really bad at archery, or was that just a trick?”

Sin grins in response.

“Ah, my dear, it’s not a matter of lacking skill in archery. It’s more about the thrill of a well-aimed knife. Archery feels too predictable, you know? Anyone can hit a bullseye with a bow. But this? It’s an art,” he says, unsheathing and twirling a knife between his fingers effortlessly. He looks up. “But who knows, maybe I’m just keeping the competition interesting. Can’t have Terris getting too comfortable with her position as the resident archery queen, now can we?”, he says with a wink.

“Ah, a troublemaker, are we?” says Ameronis.

She closes her eyes and nods as though this is the communally agreed-upon conclusion, and she smiles a little; surely a younger man like Sin wouldn’t reject the judgement of a refined, elder lady like herself.

You shake your head a little, though whether it’s at Ameronis or Sin, you’re not sure. Sin chuckles at Ameronis’s remark.

“Guilty as charged, m’lady. But what’s life without a bit of trouble, eh?” he responds, the mischievous spark in his eyes undiminished.

“Ugh, no!” Ameronis scrunches her face. “I’ve had enough trouble in my life, thank you very much. I’m just trying to get from A to B without having to fight for my life every step of the way.”

Sin’s grin widens. “Fair enough. We all navigate these streets in our own way. Some prefer the thrill of a good scuffle, while others aim for a quieter journey. I suppose I’ve always been drawn to the former, but I can appreciate the wisdom in choosing the latter.”

He continues with his task, glancing at you briefly.

“And what about you? What would you prefer?” Sin asks.

You tell Sin that you’re an adventurer who left home for the thrill of the road, but have had your share of troubles. You’re somewhat inclined to agree with Ameronis; being able to mind your own business without running into trouble would be nice. You’ve already faced off against two thieves since you got here and don’t go anywhere without being prepared for a fight. But then, what’s a good adventure without some peril?

Sin listens, nodding. “Seems like you’ve already had a taste of the lively side of our dear city. It’s always wise to be prepared; trouble has a way of finding those who wander these streets.”

“Any advice for avoiding said trouble?” Ameronis asks. “I assume you live here in the city?”

You remain silent as you watch Sin pack away the last of the equipment, then stand and rub his short beard thoughtfully. Several of the other students have wandered away, some towards the entrance and others towards the tea house, but a couple, like you, remain, listening to Sin.

“Yep, been in these alleys longer than I care to admit,” he says. “Avoiding trouble in Durna? Well, it’s a bit like trying to keep dry in a rainstorm – tricky but doable.”

He glances around the courtyard, the remaining students, and then back at you.

“First off, know your turf. Streets here have their own language, and it pays to understand the whispers they share. Second, don’t go announcing yourself like the main act in a theatre. Keep it low-key, ya know?” Sin smirks a bit as if recalling his own experiences. “And trust your gut. If a dark alley feels fishy, it probably is. As for allies, well, pick ’em like you pick your fruits – gotta make sure they ain’t rotten inside.”

Ameronis smiles. “Some sage advice. You sound like you’ve… experienced quite a lot. And are still in one piece. Have you ever been adventuring? Or, has all your adventuring been in these city streets?”

Sin’s smile returns at Ameronis’s words.

“Oh, I’ve got more stories than I can count. While I might not have traipsed through distant lands and ancient ruins, every cobblestone of Durna’s streets holds a tale, and I’ve left my mark on more than a few of them.”

He leans casually against the hay bales, a hint of nostalgia in his eyes.

“My adventures might not involve dragons or treasure maps, but they’re just as colourful. Locks picked, shadows slipped through, a fair share of daring escapes, that sort of thing. The city’s a playground if you know where to look.” He glances around. “So, while I may not be a knight in shining armour, I’ve danced on the edge of danger and lived to tell the tale. What about you? Any tales from your journey so far?”

“Ha! Well, I’m not sure if my antics have been as dramatic as yours, but yeah, I do have a couple of stories to tell,” Ameronis says.

She glances at you, but doesn’t directly offer the suggestion that you’re willing to share your own; she’ll leave that to you.

“I wouldn’t want to keep you though, if you’ve got more work to do.”

Sin chuckles, shaking his head. “Work? Nonsense. The lunch bell’s ringing and even warriors need to refuel, don’t they?”

He gestures towards the tea house with a casual nod.

“I was planning to grab a bite with Terris anyway. Why not join us? Tales and tea, a perfect combination. I’m sure there’s a story or two you’ve been itching to share, and I’m all ears.

You and Ameronis exchange another glance. Might as well!

“That’s the spirit!” says Sin. “Follow me, and we’ll make sure this lunch break is one to remember.”

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