Another soldier story, and more - Short Fantasy Story (Part 6)
And then we started doing practical exercises on the training ground, after all the information we had to theoretically learn. It was a real refreshment, but I didn't have any hope that I would be able to handle it practically as well as we were studying. It was all great and clear when the captain was teaching us, but I wasn't convinced we would master that skill so easily. So it was. For the first few days, we practiced with a long bow. Made of willow wood, which should be pliable and easy to use, has proven the exact opposite. It was much harder to just tilt the bow, let alone drop the arrow and hit the target thirty paces away.
Some days, one thing that was progressing was that my fingers from the string on the bow were getting less and less bloody. An effort I could never have imagined. The theory was simple, and we had gone through all the exercises of the mind several dozen times. We had to empty our minds from all the mental and physical concerns we had, to make a desolate field. And then in it we imagine a big mountain, on top of that mountain, to imagine the flames. In that flame we must leave all our worries and thoughts burning, and we must be like that mountain. With a bow and arrow in hand, that task turned out to be far more difficult than while we were practicing it in the forge. I must admit that the daily exercise that the captain forced us to do has helped us a lot in handling the bow. It wasn't until the third day that I hit the target. At first it seemed random, but after that I started to hit it more and more often. The captain had hundreds of objections, but all three of us slowly started to enter the stunt. Also, that mental exercise was coming to our minds more and more easily. I was increasingly successful in concentrating on what I needed to learn.
Captain Valer divided our practice with various types of bows and arrows into segments. We first practiced long range bows, with arrows for piercing armor for four weeks, then with short bows from the saddle for four weeks, and indefinitely. For months. The seasons were changing, but the captain said it was good. We will not always be able to fight in the open and it is necessary to master this skill in all weather conditions. War is waiting neither the right time nor the right place, he often said. So many times we spent many days, freezing from the cold rain at the training ground as the wind whipped and ice bones. Of course, as it is in soldier's blood, we always complained about that to each other, but without any conversation, we did what we were ordered to do.
As the autumn storms and rains subsided before the onset of the winter idyll, and heavy snow covered much of our training ground, it was difficult to move between buildings, let alone practice in the field. So we went back to the blacksmith shop again but this time not to theoretical exercises. The captain started telling us about making arrowheads, bodies, then what feathers were needed for what types of wood and what range. Arrowheads of all sizes and shapes, for various purposes.
Each of the three of us was given the tools, and all the supplies needed to get everything done. From the moment we started doing this, it seems like everything in my head has clicked into place. I was at home, and every part I made was perfect in my eyes, and the captain looked at them approvingly. I followed all the instructions that were given to us and I soon realized that working in the forge in combination with carpentry was an incredible pleasure. Even bigger than the one I felt at home. I think I'll have to tell the captain soon about my talents related to these skills. But for now, I need to focus on mastering these skills completely before spring arrives and enjoy it while it lasts.