– Manual of Hands and Feet

“SHIVERING ARROW

I found a lanky and rather weathered peregrine knight who was a master of this style and followed him for several days on his journey. We soon reached a kingdom in terrible repair, passing many burned out houses and hovels. My companion informed me it was ruled by a tyrant, who would levy impossible taxes and often ride out to ravage his own land, preventing the people from leaving by force, and indulging his basest vices upon them. The land was very battered and thick, leather-necked soldiers were everywhere. We could not find lodging and had to camp under some ragged trees. There, the knight informed me he had made many preparations, had spent some time meditating, and decided it was right and proper to slay this man.

I asked the knight how he planned to accomplish his quest, seeing that the warlord kept mostly to his very imposing stone keep and was guarded by fifty men, day and night. The knight cautioned me against hasty conclusions and bade me wait. I thought the fool would walk us right up the fortress gates and have us slaughtered, but to my surprise, we instead turned towards a distant mountain path. Three days of mostly silent climbing and very difficult trails, we found ourselves on a high mountain ledge, with a clear view of the poor, destitute kingdom below us, and the keep squatting like a black ogre overlooking mouth of the valley.

At this point I was still quite befuddled, but waited while the knight seemed to pace about and test the weather with his fingers and tongue. Seemingly satisfied, he boiled water, mixed some herbs, and began to pray. He had an enormous silverwood greatbow slung across his back, and only one arrow, almost the size and length of a javelin. Drinking the mixture, which smelled quite dreadful, he strung the bow, which took some effort. When the sun was almost at his zenith, he rose to his feet and bade me stand back, drawing the bow and the single, wicked looking arrow back with all his strength. I should mention here I have never seen a man look so anguished with concentration. He seemed to peer at some distant spot in the valley below, waiting for some ideal moment. I had absolutely no idea what the fool man’s goal was at the time. He stood like that for some four or five minutes, muscles straining, and it was only then that I realized he might be aiming at the keep.

When he loosed, the rush of wind that followed blew my whiskers nearly clean off my face and sent half my pack tumbling down the mountainside. I didn’t see where the shaft disappeared to. The man seemed mightily relieved and seemed to deflate somewhat. He told me the deed was done and that he would be leaving the kingdom soon. Thinking him mad, I was glad to be rid of his company.

When I returned to the valley below a few days later, I was almost immediately set upon by a peasantry almost crazy with mirth. The land was in disarray. The warlord had been slain in his keep, while he ate his luncheon. An enormous arrow had torn his head clear off his shoulders, and carried it out the window. It had traveled through three feet of stone to reach its target, as though a ballista had launched it.

It had been shot about fifteen miles.”

– Manual of Hands and Feet

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