The Bow And The Bar (1,634 words)
It was still dark when the morning bell sounded. Alleria had been up an hour before that. Last night was the celebration of her coming of age, and as a reward, her teacher, Furion, had gifted her a magnificent golden bow, the Eaglehorn. It was a bow unlike any other; it produced a soft, beautiful melody each time an arrow was shot from its majestic twine. Alleria woke up extra early to practice with it. She could barely sleep the night before from the excitement. As Alleria propped herself for her next shot at the target, she felt a familiar presence creep closer. It was her dearest friend Aiushtha. "Sister! Watch as I shoot an arrow through the heart of that target," she motioned at the round-shaped piece of log several yards away. She raised the Eaglehorn and aimed accurately at the target. In a split second the arrow sliced through the air leaving gust trails behind it. In the blink of an eye the target had been displaced several more yards away, and on it was the arrow, positioned perfectly at the center. The shot was so powerful it cut through the ancient trees in the way of the shot. Alleria put down the Eaglehorn, the bow still producing a soft sound which slowly faded. "What a marvelous Powershot, sister! Outstanding work," congratulated Aiushtha, which then was followed by a tight embrace. Alleria grinned without saying a word. And at that moment, the august sun of brilliant gold rose with such perfect timing that one would think it was signaled to do so. Aiushtha and Alleria watched as the sun revealed more and more of itself, until they left for breakfast, chatting about the elegance and beauty of the Eaglehorn.
"Have you thanked Furion for that? I don't remember you ever showing your gratitude, sister," joked Aiushtha.
"I am grateful with all my heart for such a wonderful gift. One could not ask for a better gift," Alleria smiled thankfully, "Oh but sister, I had been so occupied by this fine weapon that I almost forgot that tomorrow we also celebrate your coming of age! One could only wonder what sort of reward Furion has for you!"
They merrily ate breakfast with other sisters as well as brethren and continued training with Furion soon after breakfast was over. Furion was a very strict, uncompromising, and blunt instructor, and a perfectionist to say the least, but his heart was in the right place... He was compassionate and kind outside of training and lessons. "The scourge is always in constant battle with us students, and one day you will be the ones putting yourselves in the battlefield for the safety of others in our society", said Furion in a loud voice, emphasizing the word 'you', "Always keep this in mind, young pupils." With that he dismissed the young warriors.
As the students packed their weapons and gear, Furion called up Aiushtha to enter his tent. "What could that possibly be?" asked Alleria, her eyes dazzling. She was expecting something good. Aiushtha shrugged and immediately ran to the tent and entered: "Yes master?" She asked politely. "Aiushtha. You are a brilliant student of mine, along with Alleria. Your eagerness to learn and interest in combat makes me proud to be your master." Without further adieu he pulled out some sort of spear-like weapon from his inventory of staffs and swords. Aiushtha's eyes widened with delight. "I could not wait until the celebration tomorrow," he said, almost as if this was his only time to reward her, "I wish for you to have this. the Monkey King Bar grants you perfect accuracy with every shot you make and stings any opponent that comes in contact with its tip. Together with Alleria you will dominate the battlefield with these." Aiushtha was speechless. Her eyes as well as her mouth widened for a brief moment. Furion handed the staff to her as she slowly let her hands approach it. "Th-th-thank you!" she shook with excitement. "You are very welcome dear student." She ran outside as fast as she could, unable to contain her excitement, waving the glorious staff around as if it were some prize she earned for winning a contest. Alleria was almost unable to make out anything the young enchantress blurted out. Finally Aiushtha calmed down and examined the Monkey King Bar for several minutes as Alleria sat by her side observing it as well. "Well, what are we waiting for? It's time for target practice!" exclaimed Aiushtha. Alleria agreed. Later that afternoon, outside of the sentinel base, it was Aiushtha's turn to show off to her friend. "Watch me this time," she smiled proudly. Alleria observed with interest as Aiushtha tightened and adjusted her new prized weapon elaborately and carefully. "All right, I'm set!" an excited Aiushtha yelled. "I'll be watching," assured Alleria. Aiushtha raises her green arms and the spear along with it, swinged them back, and without delay, propelled them forward. The spear swiftly flew through the air in an arc-like motion and finally ends up cutting deep into the trunk of an old hardwood. "Excellent, just excellent!" exclaimed Alleria, standing up and clapping. "Wonderfully executed!"
Before Aiushtha could thank Alleria for her cheerful words, two ghouls, very suddenly accelerated toward them, picking up great speed at a very short amount of time. Aiushtha was not prepared, but luckily Alleria had seen them and pulled out the Eaglehorn and made an extremely powerful straight shot for the two ghouls. The thick wooden arrow pierced through both ghouls at the same time. They were dead before they stumbled to the ground. "What in Elune's name was that?!" asked Aiushtha, her eyes wide from shock. "Ghouls..." said Alleria, very sure about herself. And before she could mutter another word another ghoul jumped up behind her but luckily only caught a strand of her hair. "You will pay for that you foul creature!" shouted Aiushtha as she angrily but very skillfully threw the Monkey King Bar at the creature. The shot was extremely accurate and deadly that the spear cut through the ghoul's body and still pierced deep into the ground. They had strayed too far from the base, and they did not even know it. "Let us return home sister, before more of the scourge locate us. Let's keep this experience to ourselves; we do not want to cause a stir in the entire sentinel base because of this incident." They walked home and watched the golden sun turn orangey red, and arrived to the majestic sentinel gates just in time for supper. "Where have you sisters been?" queried one of the elder brethren, Kunkka. "Aiushtha was practicing with her brand new Monkey King Bar in the woods," smiled Alleria. "Congratulations to her for earning such a great item!" Kunkka smiled back. They ate their supper happily and proceeded to their tents, pretending they were not attacked by three ghouls that day. "Good night Alleria," winked Aiushtha. "You have a good night as well, sister," Alleria bid her back.
Little did they know that ghouls had been silently stalking them home...
Furion was the last one of the sentinels to fall asleep. He sensed something, but did not think much of it. The sentinel gates were securely locked, but not watched. It was late at night and the fires from that night had already been extinguished. Furion lazily made his way to his enormous tent, and fell, exhausted like he normally was. Meanwhile, the scourge readied themselves right outside of the sentinel gates, ready to strike at the old gate that had protected the sentinels for thousands of years.
One large crash at the old gate knocked it down like it was made of parchment. The whole sentinel base was alerted, and immediately, the sentinel army was ready for an impromptu battle. They were not ready for the great numbers the scourge had most likely prepared for several months, and several of the relatively few treants the sentinel had were killed almost instantly by the massive waves of ghouls. Alleria and Aiushtha woke up knowing they had been followed, and breathed sighs of regret before entering the battlefield.
Alleria fired several Powershots from her mighty Eaglehorn and fought off a mighty portion of the scourge army, but the numbers just kept coming, giving no sign of ceasing. When she was out of arrows she ran back inside her tent to acquire more, but immediately after entering, she sees the cold dead body of her dearest acquaintance, Aiushtha, the Monkey King Bar lying next to her, drenched in her own blood. Aiushtha's torso had been torn from her fawn body, and flies had already made their way to her corpse. Instantly, Alleria's eyes involuntarily filled with tears and her heart became full of hate for the scourge. They had left her body in her tent as a mockery of their friendship. She got her arrows and went out firing senselessly at everything she saw, screaming the words "For my sister!" repeatedly. Her arrows were extremely powerful, but a lot of them were blind and fueled by rage. Most of her shots landed on trees, but whoever got hit by them was killed instantly. The Eaglehorn refused to sing its tune... Alleria gave up and fell to the ground, ready to die, but before she knew it, the sun had come up and the ghouls had retreated.
That night, the brutal massacre at the sentinel base took a thousand lives and left hundreds badly injured, including Alleria and Furion. Alleria will never forget that night; she keeps Aiushtha's Monkey King Bar and her own Eaglehorn up for display for the present generation of sentinels. The weapons are the strongest reminders of that night: the bow and the bar.