Fable - Ask Luuruk-Hur, the Coming of Spring

Zeri Rekani

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Zeri missed her shot. Again!

And the small herd of Delta Zebra scattered and ran from the watering hole. Retreating away from the grassy clearing and running back among the trees.

Zeri sighed. Stood from her hiding spot among the bushes and the trees at the edge of the clearing. And started toward the watering hole to retrieve her arrow.

* * * * *​

It was a joyous time back home, in Bhathairk. The Coming of Spring, known throughout the city as Luuruk-Hur, was upon them. It heralded the end of winter and the soon-to-be arrival of the summer's warmth and vibrance. The orcs of the city did not themselves rely upon agriculture, as did the other races of Arethil, but the livestock they raised did so rely upon it for feed. What was not traded to these other races along the Bystra or Wda rivers was fed to their pigs, their chickens, their cattle, and all the rest, fattening them for the slaughter or growing them into hardy beasts of burden. So while the orcs were indeed carnivorous, they, too, had ample reason to welcome the Coming of Spring and the harvests that would follow.

Bhathairk would be awash in blues and purples. Gardens bloomed with bluebells, grape hyacinths, and crested iris flowers, and many would comb the grasslands and forests in Bhathairk's vicinity to both pick these flowers and plant the seeds of new ones. These flowers would adorn the doors of most homes within the city, and women would fashion for themselves leis of these prized symbols of spring. By tradition, the women of Bhathairk--tribesorcs as well as tribeshumans and the rest who were part of the tribe, and even those who were travelers or otherwise were not, should they participate--are only allowed to make one lei per year. To give their lei to someone was to bestow a great honor: it may show the love of a parent or sibling, a display of romantic interest or a bold proposition of marriage, a warm welcome to an esteemed traveler, acknowledgement and deep gratitude for a service rendered or favor given, and generally things of such genial character.

And before Luuruk-Hur, a Great Hunt. The culmination of the festivities was the day of the equinox, as told by the Circle of Shamans. On this day, a city-wide feast. In the weeks between the blooming of the bluebells and the grape hyacinths and the crested irises and the approach of the equinox, the excitement stirred and built within the air. But it was the day of the feast that was the true holiday, Luuruk-Hur, the day in which spring had truly begun.

It was this Hunt that Zeri had embarked upon.

* * * * *


Many tribesorcs from Bhathairk went out far and wide for the Hunt of Luuruk-Hur. South into the Reach, west into the Taagi Baara, east into the river forests and further into the Spine, and--as Zeri did--north into the rugged forests and grasslands roughly between the Ra Gnamb Sea and Gulf of Ryt. Zeri did not go this far, but settled in the Delta Camp, close to where the combined river of the Bystrza fed into the Ra Gnamb. She was in the company of some fifty tribeorcs in the camp, not all of whom were hunting but merely had come to tend to and support the camp.

The Delta Zebra, found on both this side of the Bystrza and the Steppe side, were a prized kill to make. Their meat was a delicacy, and worth much in bartering in the Great Bazaar. Zeri had gone alone, promised her Ma and her Pa that she would bring back a Delta Zebra for the Rekani family and for Bhathairk, and she had embarked on the Hunt with their blessings.

Only, in the worst spree of awful luck she had ever suffered, all her attempts had been fouled. First, by a strike of lightning, then, by the sudden appearance of a crocodilian lurker (a monster which plagued the rivers flowing from the Spine), and lastly by several instances of bad wind or just purely misjudged aim and distance. She never had this kind of trouble before! She wasn't the greatest shot with her bow, but she wasn't bad. True, she thought herself better with her spear, thrown like a javelin, but it was almost impossible to sneak up on the Delta Zebra. This small splinter group of them had broken off from the main herd that the others from the Delta Camp pursued, and Zeri knew she could get a kill of this rare and prized beast on her own, she knew it!

She just needed...oh, she didn't know. Luck? The blessing of the Spirits? Something. Maybe it was her nerves. She had never felt such anticipatory pressure like this on a hunt before. Maybe...well, maybe that was it.

* * * * *​

Zeri crouched down and picked up her arrow from its place in the grass by the watering hole. Stood up straight. Slid it back into her quiver. About her neck she wore her Luuruk-Hur lei, the necklace of blue and purple spring flowers. If only it gave her the luck she needed.

She was almost a day out from the Delta Camp. And the smaller herd was roaming farther and farther away. Bringing her kill back to Camp could be a...problem. Big problem.

And Zeri, with a hand shading her eyes, surveyed the sun. Reckoned the amount of time left in the day.
 

Um Min-Kyung

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Four days, four days since he had shipwrecked on the coast of the continent. Still not a soul to be seen, save the vast zebra herds that had been going around. Today, he would have one for it's meat. His short but extremely powerful hornbow was strung, and he had his short arrows and half tube ready for firing.

He was on one knee, bow in hand, thumb on the string. He was unaware of the young, female orcling just across the field from him. There was a small group of Zebra right there in front of him, and he knew that he would be successful.

Inhale, draw back, exhale, release. As the short arrow shot forth he withdrew the half tube from the bow, and the short arrow embedded itself, fletching and all, into the heart of the largest beast. It fell dead instantly. Quickly drawing and nocking a normal arrow, he swifly set it loose, and felled a second beast of smaller size as it fled with the rest. Standing up he drew out lengths of leather cord and began to tie it around each beasts' fetlocks.
 
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Zeri Rekani

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Zeri only became aware of another's presence when, after having thought all of the Delta Zebra gone away into the treeline opposite her and the watering hole, she noticed in the corner of her eye after reckoning the time of day that one Zebra had fallen. No. Two. Two? When...how...did some of the other hunters come up her way? She thought they were all tracking the main herd more to the south.

Zeri turned toward the two fallen Zebras, closer to the treeline that had been opposite of her former hiding spot and her side of the watering hole, roughly where the herd had fled to. She held her bow but didn't take out another arrow from the quiver strapped to her light pack.

And toward the fallen Zebras she went, her moccasins rustling through the grass of the clearing.

"Rogash?" she called out, one of the Orcish words for hello. "Rogaaaaaaaa~sh?"

If it was one of the other hunters, maybe she could help them if they wanted it. Still, she had yet to fell one of the Zebras herself, but she could spare some time to lend a hand. Besides, she didn't want to wander too far from the Delta Camp. She'd packed enough to overnight in the wilderness if she had to, but it wouldn't be very comfortable. There was still time before the equinox and the Feast of Luuruk-Hur; she didn't need to rush just yet.

But.

It was not a tribesorc who emerged from the treeline that had been opposite to her once hiding spot. A human. Not a human of Bhathairk, either; not one who had come with the hunting party to the Delta Camp, anyway. Was there a human village around here somewhere? She didn't think so, but she wasn't entirely sure.

Zeri stopped. Eyes apprehensive. She felt a strong urge to nock an arrow, but she held off.

"Hello?" she called out, switching to Common.

Um Min-Kyung
 

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He was made aware of the orcling the moment she spoke in her own tongue, and he stopped in place. And slowly, he held his bow out to the side, string away from him, in a sign of non aggression. He scanned the area and found the young orc standing there. He approached her carefully, slowly and made sure to make it clear that he was not aggressive.

He had studied the common speech on the ship over, and he had gotten good enough to get by, with a few grammatical errors. But he knew the word "hello" without even thinking about it. It was greetings and goodbyes that he had learned first.

"Hello. My name is Um Min Kyung. What, is your, name." He said slowly, clearly not accustomed to the common speech. "I not mean you harm."

As he got closer, he noticed that she was very young, and this confused him. She actually looked younger than she was to him. She looked like she was no older than seventeen. He himself was twenty.
 
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He didn't nock an arrow and aim at her. That was good. It, well...that just went without saying. Though Weylin had. Greeted her. With a bow and arrow aimed. And that turned out to be alright. Better than alright. Still, it was preferable...better to just not be greeted with a weapon aimed at her though. Yes, that was much better.

Zeri approached as well, stepping through the swaying grass of the clearing. They met by the Delta Zebras he had felled, the one he had begun to tie his cord around the fetlocks of. She had one hand holding her bow and the other holding a strap of her pack.

And, with this new proximity, she noticed that he looked...different? Human, sure, but different. Not like the humans she had seen passing through Bhathairk, or the tribeshumans who lived there and had integrated into the tribe. She wasn't quite sure which features set him apart, but she knew in a vague way that he did have qualities which she hadn't seen before.

He introduced himself. And spoke...strangely? He spoke Common, yes, but it was as if he was unfamiliar with it. Didn't all humans speak Common? They came up with the Trade tongue, or so the story went.

"I'm Zeri Rekani," she said, smiling cordially. "Nice to meet you! Oh, I, um, I don't mean you harm either. I was out here hunting, like you."

A little nod down to the fallen Zebras.

"I was after a Delta Zebra. You...heh, you probably saw me miss my shot." An awkward and embarrassed scratching of the back of her neck with her free hand. "I-I'm normally not. So bad. I've been hunting for years and, well...I guess everyone's bound for an awful day, every now and again. Ha, ha."

She brought her hand back to the left strap of her pack.

"Are you from a village nearby here, Um? I didn't know there were any. I don't come up this way very often. Or at all. Truthfully. U-Until now, of course. You know what I mean."

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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"Delta Zebra?" He asks, "is that what these striped horses are called? I did not know. And no, I am not from village nearby, my village is across the great sea. I have not been here long, four days. Where are you from? And what are you?" He asks while trying to keep it polite. "I never see green skin on man or woman."

He actually began to unstring his how, and she'd see that when unstrung, the bow wasn't straight by any means. It formed a C in the opposite direction of the bend when strung. This was a powerful bow.
 
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Zeri Rekani

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Oh. Across the great sea? And here only for four days. Wow, he was...was he even from Epressa? It had been a long while since Zeri last looked at a map from the Cartographers' Guild of Alliria; there were other landmasses out there other than Epressa and Liadain, that she knew. Was he from one of those? Maybe. Seemed like it. They were fairly close to the coast of the Ra Gnamh sea.

Zeri went over to one of the fallen Zebras and crouched and touched the animal's hide with her free hand. "Yes. Delta Zebra. They're originally from the Taagi Baara Steppes, and the Aberresai Savannah before that. The shamans say they are of a free-roaming, wandering spirit, and they cross the Delta of the Bystrza from the Steppe to here, from time to time."

She seemed to catch herself.

Laughed nervously and said, "You probably didn't understand much of that. I'm sorry. I wish I had a map to show you."

Zeri patted the hide of the Zebra and stood. His next question was one that struck her as odd--no. Not odd, not really. Unique? Unique more than odd. That felt right. She'd never been asked what she was before. It was flattering in a way, to be the first representative of a people Um had never seen before.

"And...well, I'm an orc," she grinned and hitched her shoulders up some. "Half. Half-orc, actually. Half-orc and half-elf. Do you know about elves? You probably know about elves. A-Anyway, that's were my green skin comes from. Most orcs have tusks that grow on their bottom jaw." She touched her index and middle fingers to her bottom lip to show where the tusks would be. "But I don't. Because. Half. Ha, ha. I didn't inherit my Ma's tusks, but I did inherit my Pa's ears."

She glanced, with a lingering curiosity, at his bow. That was...some design. Different even than the human-made bows she had seen in the Great Bazaar.

Finally, she said, "And I'm from Bhathairk. The Great Orc Stronghold, it's called. Have you...have you heard of Bhathairk? Where you're from?"

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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"And...well, I'm an orc," she grinned and hitched her shoulders up some. "Half. Half-orc, actually. Half-orc and half-elf. Do you know about elves? You probably know about elves. A-Anyway, that's were my green skin comes from. Most orcs have tusks that grow on their bottom jaw." She touched her index and middle fingers to her bottom lip to show where the tusks would be. "But I don't. Because. Half. Ha, ha. I didn't inherit my Ma's tusks, but I did inherit my Pa's ears."
Her explanation seemed to confuse him. But he had heard her answer and it was to be expected that he didn’t know what they called themselves in their own language. But then she said the word elf. And he had no idea what an elf was either, but they should probably save the culture shock for a place with more reference materials ready and available. Tusks was a curious thing for a humanoid to have, but he wasn’t going to point that out yet, and he’d probably be able to come up with a descriptive name for their species in his own tongue once he’s seen more of them. He, being trained as a ranger, was a good scout and mapper, which had given him a good sense of capturing realism in images, so he’d also draw one up and possibly write a quick traveler’s guide to send back home if possible, to help lessen future culture shock.

Finally, she said, "And I'm from Bhathairk. The Great Orc Stronghold, it's called. Have you...have you heard of Bhathairk? Where you're from?"
“I am from a place called 활 사람들 hwal salamdeul, place of the bow people translated directly. It is quite a long ways away. Four months worth of sailing eastward.” He knew noth of this Bhathairk, or a great orc stronghold. But it sounded like a place of adamantine strength. “Is this Bhathairk near? Perhaps I might find some lodging and information there?”
 
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"H...Hi-wa...Hwal? Hwal salam...de-u-l? Deul?"

Zeri was having a tough time trying to say it; it wasn't like the common tongue, or wasn't any word or place she'd heard before in Common. There were all sorts of dialects though--plenty she didn't know.

Place of the bow people. Translated, he said. So it wasn't Common? What language was it? Oh wow, four months worth of sailing. He was pretty far removed from the humans of Epressa, a-and probably Liadain too. So far removed that he had never heard of or seen an orc before. Maybe all this explained why he looked like a different kind of human, like how Blight orcs differed from other orcs.

His next question. Oh. He probably hadn't heard of Bhathairk before, then. Made sense, if he didn't know much or anything about orcs to begin with. She just thought he might've known something of Epressa or Liadain. He really was from far away.

"No, no it's not. It's a few days worth of travel by boat up the Bystrza River," she said, smiling as if she had something to apologize for. Then, she perked up, saying, "Hey! B-But our camp is nearby. I say our, because I'm not out here alone. There's other tribesorcs, also hunting the Delta Zebra. Have you met them? Oh, well, no, you couldn't have, since you asked about me...uh, nevermind--Ha, ha."

She grinned and blinked a few times and said, "If you need shelter for a little while, you're more than welcome. At least by me, I really can't...can't speak on behalf of the others. Hmmmm. Oh, I know!"

Zeri set her bow down on the ground and dipped her head down and took off her blue and purple lei of flowers adorned around her neck. Held it out toward Um. Gestured with a little upward jerk of her hands and arms that she wanted to bestow it about his neck, as it had been about hers.

"Welcome to Epressa, Um Min-Kyung!"

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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"No, no it's not. It's a few days worth of travel by boat up the Bystrza River," she said, smiling as if she had something to apologize for. Then, she perked up, saying, "Hey! B-But our camp is nearby. I say our, because I'm not out here alone. There's other tribesorcs, also hunting the Delta Zebra. Have you met them? Oh, well, no, you couldn't have, since you asked about me...uh, nevermind--Ha, ha."
He chuckled at the young orcling’s nervousness and her stuttering, it made her look cute. Cute in the sense of a young child doing something that forces you to smile. “A camp? Yes, I suppose it be good for me to speak more locals,” He says, his apparent and honest mistakes highlighting his lack of knowledge of the language. “Take me this camp then. I am eager to meet more of you.”

Zeri set her bow down on the ground and dipped her head down and took off her blue and purple lei of flowers adorned around her neck. Held it out toward Um. Gestured with a little upward jerk of her hands and arms that she wanted to bestow it about his neck, as it had been about hers.

"Welcome to Epressa, Um Min-Kyung!"
“Your welcome is most thoughtful.” He says kindly complying and placing the flowers over his head. “Come, Perhaps an offering of Delta Zebra will make good impression when we get there.”

So he bound the fetlocks of both Zebra with leather cord, which he then strapped across his chest and he dragged the carcasses with him as Zeri lead the way to her camp.
 
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Zeri didn't fault him for his linguistic mistakes. She knew she sounded like that when she had taken to learning Common herself--and Elvish, and Dwarvish. He'd learn, in time. What did his own language sound like, then? The name of his homeland alone sounded peculiar, and that wasn't even a full sentence.

And, after bestowing her lei of flowers about his neck, her eyes once again fell to his bow. Why was it shaped like that? Was it hard to use? Was it better than a regular bow--it had to be better than a regular bow. How hard was it to make? Maybe if...maybe if he showed her how, Zeri could make one and have a better time in hunting and killing her own Delta Zebra for her family.

Later. After they got to the camp.

"I'm sure it will! Yes, this way."

* * * * *​

The bottom rim of the sun touched the trees of the horizon and the early evening sky was awash in spectacular color as they approached the Delta Camp. The constant sound of the flowing Bystrza River was audible even before the reached the grassy clearing, for the Camp was a stone's throw from its shores. It was no war camp, so there were no field defenses, no palisade walls or such. It was a gathering of large tents--each of varying shape and construction--an assortment of campfires, and a big orcish vessel anchored in the deep of the River and several smaller landing craft moored on the shore.

The camp was half-populated, some twenty or so other tribesorcs--many were still out hunting, overnighting in the bush. Some cast glances at Um, but for those that did Zeri waved at them and called out in a friendly greeting, "Rogash!" They went about their business after these glances, cooking meat or tanning hides from kills already made.

Zeri led Um to a pitch tent vaguely in the middle of camp. Not quite tall enough for him to stand upright inside, but enough interior space for two separate bedrolls.

"So...this is my tent," she said. "It's not much, but it's bigger than what I usually carry. A-And I made it myself! Well, not...not exactly by myself--I had some help from my Ma and Pa--but mostly by myself. Are you tired, by the way? You have to be tired. Thirsty, too. You dragged those two carcasses all this way by yourself. Did you want some fresh water? I could go get you some from the river."

She again eyed his bow. Briefly. But her eyes glanced. Couldn't help it; her curiosity got the better of her, overriding her politeness.

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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The camp was a sight to see. A camp of the tall, tasked and brutish humanoids with varying shades of green skin and dark, usually unkempt hair. He found himself looking around at the tents and activities that were taking place. He himself received a few curious glances, and in response gave friendly smiles and the occasional wave. When they arrived at Zeri's tent he was surprised. He had expected a slightly larger tent for such an excursion but he also didn't know the place very well so he didn't say anything. He was impressed to hear that she had made it.

He couldn't help but chuckle at her stuttering, excited offers of hospitality. "I appreciate all of your orders, and while I would love all of that, first we must skin these carcasses while they are fresh. I can answer and ask questions while we do so, I'm certain that we both have many."
 
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"Oh! Right. We should. Do that. Let me go and put my pack down and clear some space...inside..." Zeri said, tossing open the flap of the tent and entering as she continued to talk. She set her pack and her bow down at the foot of her bedroll, and she took off both of her fur bracers, not wanting to soil them. After that she moved a small pile of chopped firewood and her axe and her small cast iron wood-burning stove from one side of the tent to the other (the latter with a bit of struggle), careful not to disrupt or knock over the center pole of the tent.

She came out again after she secured a skinning knife and two gutting mats (clean, as she hadn't gotten her own kills yet). Stood up straight, as even she needed to duck her head slightly while inside the tent. Said, "Phew." Smiled. Added, "There. That should do it. It's not much, but now you have enough room to make yourself at home."

A brief glance up. "It might rain again tonight--that's what our camp shaman says. It did last night, a-at least around here. I hope you weren't caught out in it with no shelter. Oh! And speaking of our camp shaman, he can talk to the Spirits of Air for you and ask that they not allow for this meat to spoil. And the Spirits of Air are kind and receptive to him. It won't last forever, the blessing, but long enough for the trip back to Bhathairk for sure. Delta Zebra is a delicacy there, a-and if you were so inclined to barter it could be worth quite a lot in the Great Bazaar. The hides as well. The bones fair enough too."

She seemed to catch herself.

"Right. But I'm...I'm rambling. Sorry. I do that. Just...ha, ha...let me know if I start talking too much. Okay. Work to be done."

Zeri sat down by the smaller of the two Zebra carcasses. Made her incision across the belly.

Then, as she started scooping out the animal's guts, she asked, "So--sorry, I have to ask. How...why is your bow like that? Curved in that way? I haven't seen one like it. What does it do? Th-that's probably a strange way to say it, but...you know what I mean, right? L-Like your bow versus my bow. Would an arrow loosed from your bow fly farther? Straighter? I'm really curious."

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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He was surprised to hear that the Zebras were considered a delicacy, but again, he knew nothing, so he said nothing. He had planned to use the hides, but selling them seemed to be a good idea too. The bones probably weren't that different from the bones of most other mammals, so he'd use those for arrowheads and maybe to craft lamellar armour. He skinned the larger, slowly peeling the skin from the flesh, then proceeding to cut past the muscles and remove the innards, he separated the edible from non edible organs and began to separate the muscles and fat from the bones, saving tendons to make replacement bowstrings. Zero asked her question a third of the way through.


Then, as she started scooping out the animal's guts, she asked, "So--sorry, I have to ask. How...why is your bow like that? Curved in that way? I haven't seen one like it. What does it do? Th-that's probably a strange way to say it, but...you know what I mean, right? L-Like your bow versus my bow. Would an arrow loosed from your bow fly farther? Straighter? I'm really curious."
"I don't know, as I don't know the quality of your how. It's curved this way because that's how it's made, it has a core of water buffalo horn, with the arms mostly being yew. The string is of tendon, usually water buffalo as well. I don't know the specifics, as I'm not a bowyer, but perhaps as connections are made between you Westerners and us Easterners, maybe the trade will find its way here. But I suspect that yes, it would shoot further." He says. "Does this camp have a practice range? Perhaps we can test it."
 
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Zeri worked on loosing the hide from the muscle of the Zebra. Quick and precise cuts of her knife as needed. It was more difficult doing it without a gambrel, but not insurmountable. Mostly inconvenient, involving more adjusting of the heavy beast. Come to think of it, if Zeri did manage to get a Delta Zebra kill, would she even be able to manage dragging the whole thing back to camp herself? If it wasn't a youngling, she'd probably have to quarter it, and the remainders she didn't have the strength to carry or drag would very likely be descended upon by predators or scavengers.

I don't know, as I don't know the quality of your bow.

"Oh. Right."

She wasn't a bowyer either, and neither was her father, yet he had crafted her bow for her as a gift when she was younger. And it was the bow which had earned Zeri the tattoo on her right arm: her first kill during a hunt. It had sentimental value, her old shortbow, and she could always hold on to it as a keepsake. Store it on the wall of her room back in Bhathairk.

It was too bad Um didn't know how to craft a bow like his, but Zeri could hardly fault him for it. If trade did make it here, between Bhathairk and the place of the bow people, then Zeri could possibly barter for one. And if his bow was superior? Oh definitely! Others might cast askew glances at it, thinking it strange and unorcish and non-traditional, but Zeri would see the value.

And she was keen to find out.

She paused in stripping the hide from the beast. Looked to Um. Said earnestly, "No, there's no range, but we could improvise. You know. Go close to the treeline in the north or south or east--loose arrows at a tree. We've still got a little daylight left. I'd really like to see! Maybe...maybe try it too, if you'd let me. I-I don't want to be presumptuous though; if you don't want me to, that's okay. I can just use my bow. That's...ha, ha, that's what I have it for."

Um Min-Kyung
 

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She paused in stripping the hide from the beast. Looked to Um. Said earnestly, "No, there's no range, but we could improvise. You know. Go close to the treeline in the north or south or east--loose arrows at a tree. We've still got a little daylight left. I'd really like to see! Maybe...maybe try it too, if you'd let me. I-I don't want to be presumptuous though; if you don't want me to, that's okay. I can just use my bow. That's...ha, ha, that's what I have it for."
“I’d be fine with improvising. As for trying out my bow, I’m fine with that. It has only thirty kilos of draw weight so it shouldn’t be too difficult to use for an experienced archer. If I may be permitted to see your bow in turn, I’d like to see how well it performs.”
 
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"Of course! Of course, of course!"

Zeri agreed near instantaneously to Um's request that he try out her own bow. It surely wasn't the finest specimen of elven craftsmanship, but Pa had a bowyer friend back in the Falwood who did on occasion come to see him in Bhathairk, and he had instructed Pa on all the crucial tenets.

She was almost done removing the striped hide of the beast--it would make for plentiful tough strips of leather, or be worked into a vibrant cloak perhaps, or whatever use would come of it. Quartering and stringing up the meat came next, and--if Um allowed, and she figured he would, he was generous enough--they'd have a delicious dinner once they got back from trying out one another's bows.

Afterward, Zeri would dip back inside her tent and reemerge with her bow and her small quiver of arrows. A bright, beaming smile on her face.

"I just love trying something new! You can probably tell." She laughed again, and couldn't help a little excited snort at the end.

She'd let Um lead the way out from the camp and toward the treeline wrapping around the north, south, and east ends of the grassy clearing. Zeri had seen a few thick-trunked trees during her own coming and goings around camp--excellent for target practice, a-and the Spirit of the Tree would hardly be disturbed.

Um Min-Kyung
 

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As she spoke he found himself amused by this excited yet clearly nervous young girl. Her clear interest and attempt at staying cautious and polite while barely containing her excitement and nervousness put him at ease, he knew that he had nothing to fear from her, and it also made her seem trustworthy as well as a little naive. But he had no problem with this and was quite happy to go and shoot with her for a little while.

After the meat and hides were taken care of, and she had retrieved her bow and arrows. He followed her to the edge of the camp where the trees were, and he restrung his bow, pulling the arms of the C shaped bow back to make it ready to send arrows flying at excessively high velocities. The first shot was taken straight ahead of him, during which he demonstrated even further differences in their archery. He put the arrow on the outside of the bow and drew back with his thumb, and an overdraw technique. Then he released, and the arrow whizzed forth sounding like an angry hornet.
 
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Zeri Rekani

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The camp behind them. Pockets of conversations back there too, spoken in Orcish, that Zeri could hear. A tribesorc was wondering on another camp was doing on the Steppe side of the Delta. Another was telling a manure-related joke. A third was recounting to a friend about an encounter he'd had with a Komodi foreigner in the Great Bazaar.

A span of grassland before Zeri and Um, separating them from the treeline. And Um was the first to loose an arrow. Zeri, with a single delighted chortle, could already see the power behind his bow--and he drew it with his thumb? Huh. Did Pa know any elves who did it like that, maybe?

Regardless, Zeri's turn. She held her bow straight up and down, nocked an arrow, drew back (with her index and middle finger and ring fingers, not her thumb like Um), aimed at the tree which now held Um's arrow, and loosed. She hit the same tree, but only just barely. She had loosed with no upward arc, so straight on like Um, and her arrow had fallen down through its flight and had almost hit the ground before it reached the bark of the tree.

"Oh wow," Zeri said, squinting her eyes a little. "Your arrow would've went even further, for sure."

She turned to him. Presented her bow.

"Did you want to try mine, now? M-Maybe I'm doing something wrong, or not as good as I could be doing it. Like that...thumb draw. It seems like that would hurt, though. Is that why you wear those special gloves?"

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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She turned to him. Presented her bow.

"Did you want to try mine, now? M-Maybe I'm doing something wrong, or not as good as I could be doing it. Like that...thumb draw. It seems like that would hurt, though. Is that why you wear those special gloves?"
He held up his hand saying to wait as she presented her bow, “before we switch, there is one more thing that I can do with this to improve the bow’s range, accuracy and power. And that is to use this.” He pulled out a half tube and a very short arrow. Placing the tube in his drawing hand and placing the arrow in it, he drew back, the tube being the only thing long enough to keep aligned while the bow was drawn was the tube. He released, pulling the tube back as he did, and the arrow flew straighter and further than the arrow before it. “A special technique from my home, one I’d be happy to teach you if you are interested.”

“No I’d say that your skill with a bow has nothing to do with it, but rather the bow itself. Though my bow is used by many of my countrymen, it is technically a warbow, so it’s purpose is to bypass armor. So it will inevitably be more powerful than a hunting bow.” He then swaps bows with her. “As for the method of drawing the bow, both are useful, typically the thumb draw or reverse draw are used for higher power bows because it uses more of your back.
 
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Zeri Rekani

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Zeri looked bewildered.

"But that's...why is that arrow so small?"

She couldn't help it, asking that. She'd never seen an arrow made so short--it almost looked broken to her. There were a number of tribesorcs in Bhathairk--tall and strong males--who prided themselves on using massive warbows with high draw weights and nocked with huge arrows, and Zeri just naturally went along with this manner of thinking. Bigger was better, wasn't it? Wouldn't a larger arrow fly farther and hit harder? And what was that...chute? Tube? Stick? What was that for?

Zeri watched, with her puzzled eyes and quizzical brow.

Then her jaw dropped when she saw (difficult as it was, given the speed of the little arrow) that--somehow--that tube and that half-arrow combination had made his shot sail straight as a rope pulled taut, and farther than the one he'd loosed previously.

A beaming smile overcame her and she pointed to the tube and asked, "Is that thing magic? Enchanted? How did you do that? I didn't even see that little arrow wobble! It flew like a...like a...like a hawk! Swooping down on its prey!"

A warbow. Like those ones the big tribesorcs used, but...smaller, made differently. But just as powerful, if not even more so.

They swapped bows, and Zeri--gingerly--tested out the bowstring of Um's bow. Giving it a slight pull, a pull slightly further back than that, then a full draw. It was noticeably more difficult for her than her hunting bow, but she could feel the potential rippling through her arm and her hand and the string and the wood. Wow, this probably could bypass armor!

She looked to Um again. "Can you show me? The motions behind drawing you use? When I loose a lot of arrows, it's my arms that get tired; I don't think I've ever tired my back, so I'm probably not using those muscles as much as I could."

Zeri stepped in front of him, looked over her shoulder, said, "You can guide me, it's okay. I-I don't mind--I really want to learn."

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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Then her jaw dropped when she saw (difficult as it was, given the speed of the little arrow) that--somehow--that tube and that half-arrow combination had made his shot sail straight as a rope pulled taut, and farther than the one he'd loosed previously.

A beaming smile overcame her and she pointed to the tube and asked, "Is that thing magic? Enchanted? How did you do that? I didn't e
“No it’s not magic. It can technically be labeled as cheating by some standards. Less air resistance, it ignores the archers paradox, it also has more force focused on a smaller projectile, which is what makes it fly faster, farther and pack a heavier punch, because it requires less force to get it to the same speed as a regular arrow, so with the same force as with the normal arrow, with less required energy, it flies further. Also it’s small size makes it harder to see. It’s not magic, it’s science.”

She looked to Um again. "Can you show me? The motions behind drawing you use? When I loose a lot of arrows, it's my arms that get tired; I don't think I've ever tired my back, so I'm probably not using those muscles as much as I could."

Zeri stepped in front of him, looked over her shoulder, said, "You can guide me, it's okay. I-I don't mind--I really want to learn."
“I’ll be happy to help you. The way one draws with more back than arm is by bringing the elbow up further.” He says helping her position her arm correctly, and how best to use the thumb for drawing the bow. “I also want to understand how your archery works, so if you teach me, I’ll be most grateful. Now, the archery from my home is based on an overdraw, so you pull it past your ear rather than to your cheek as I saw you do.”
 
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He really knew a lot, Um did. She overheard Pa and his bowyer friend talking about something called the "Archer's paradox" before, but they never really elaborated on it and Zeri hadn't asked; she was just happy to be getting her own bow at the time. And the smaller projectile made sense, now that Zeri was really thinking about it. Those tribesorcs with the massive warbows and huge arrows said that it was intimidating to see them coming, like a rain of fierce, wiggling snakes descending from the skies down on their enemies if loosed in a volley. But to Zeri, it seemed that something so small and fast that it was near impossible to see would be way scarier--and more effective.

"You and your people have really looked into this, huh?" Zeri said, the amazement laid bare in her tone.

I'll be happy to help you.

She allowed for Um to manipulate her arm, to show her the way it was done. The raising up of her elbow more, the technique for using her thumb rather than the grip her Pa had shown her. "Ohhhh...I see. I can feel it too. In my back, just like you said."

It made the drawing of Um's powerful bow easier than how she had been doing it, the very simple and novice way of drawing. Easy to pick up and learn, sufficient for hunting where one would only loose one, two, maybe three arrows. Tiring and taxing when going beyond this, loosing many arrows in quick succession.

Then he asked about her own archery, and Zeri flushed red with embarrassment and looked down at her feet for a moment and laughed nervously. Said, "Oh. I...ha, ha, I don't have much to teach, I'm afraid--not to someone as good as you. I know the basics of using a bow, a-and I've made some good kills with mine before, b-but it's nothing special. Not like the orcish bowmen in Bhathairk."

Then she brightened up and grinned and said, "I could tell you about them though. What I know about their archery. I can't even try it because..."

Zeri held a flat hand to her forehead, dropped it quickly down to stomach level and back up, then relaxed her arm to her side again.

"...because I'm short. And not as strong. They use big bows. Big warbows. Almost as tall as they are, or even taller. I tried drawing back the bowstring on one of them once and I couldn't do it--not all the way back. Human and elven men even have trouble using those warbows my tribesorcs use. It takes a lot of strength, and it using huge arrows, but the bow is large and powerful it looses those arrows very far and fast, and...ha, ha, well not quite as straight as your bow and your technique. But the sound of the warbow makes when the arrow is loosed...like a big WUMP! Like the stomp of a great beast stepping to the earth. It's a bit much for hunting, so none of my fellow hunters out here have one, but...wow, it is something to see."

Zeri pointed at the tube Um had used. Touched it lightly with the very tip of her finger.

"What is that thing called? It's a tool I could actually use. I might be too short and weak for the warbows of the tribesorcs, but that...that thing's really something. I've never seen one used before. Could I make one of my own, do you think?"

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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moment and laughed nervously. Said, "Oh. I...ha, ha, I don't have much to teach, I'm afraid--not to someone as good as you. I know the basics of using a bow, a-and I've made some good kills with mine before, b-but it's nothing special. Not like the orcish bowmen in Bhathairk."

Then she brightened up and grinned and said, "I could tell you about them though. What I know about their archery. I can't even try it because..."

Zeri held a flat hand to her forehead, dropped it quickly down to stomach level and back up, then relaxed her arm to her side again.

"...because I'm short. And not as strong. They use big bows. Big warbows. Almost as tall as they are, or even taller. I tried drawing back the bowstring on one of them once and I couldn't do it--not all the way back. Human and elven men even have trouble using those warbows my tribesorcs use. It takes a lot of strength, and it using huge arrows, but the bow is large and powerful it looses those arrows very far and fast, and...ha, ha, well not quite as straight as your bow and your technique. But the sound of the warbow makes when the arrow is loosed...like a big WUMP! Like the stomp of a great beast stepping to the earth. It's a bit much for hunting, so none of my fellow hunters out here have one, but...wow, it is something to see."
"Hmm, sounds like it would have a few advantages, but it seems to me that it's more to show off than anything. But, psychological warfare is more effective than it's given credit for so I won't make any judgements until I've seen it. As for the how being big, it would add to the power. I wonder, if one were to make a bow that size the same way mine is made, the power behind it would be astronomical, but so too would the draw weight. Hmmm. Oh well, I'm interested in learning just as much as you are so tell me everything you can.


"What is that thing called? It's a tool I could actually use. I might be too short and weak for the warbows of the tribesorcs, but that...that thing's really something. I've never seen one used before. Could I make one of my own, do you think?"
"It is called Tong-Ah, and yes, I think that you can make one, just take some reed, split it in half, though make sure that it is noticably longer than usual arrows. Attach a string to the back end, which will tie to your fingers, and your ready to use it. I can help you make it. It also allows broken arrows to be reused, an upside I forgot to mention."
 
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It was certainly for show as much as it was for efficacy, Zeri knew. Orcish archers would pride themselves on their bows, on how long they could go loosing arrow after arrow. It was a show of strength and prowess, and caught the eye of orcish females--Zeri included. She adored watching the competitions that would be had around Bhathairk, seeing the champions of archery show their raw power and their skill. She had secret, girlish crushes on a few of them, despite them already being claimed in marriage.

"That's really all I know," she said. "But there are others around Epressa and Liadain that do things differently. I don't know very many d-details, but I know their archers and their bows are different from my fellow tribesorcs. The elves of Falwood, the Allirian Rangers, and the Steppe Nomads are a few."

And he explained the tube tool he had used. A Tong-Ah. It seemed easy enough to make. Oh! She hadn't even noticed the string at the back end. That was smart. Yes, an easy tool to make, now that she knew about it and the incredible benefits. She took a moment to give Um's bow some scrutiny, taking note of the details, and how she might be able to possibly make one of her own (through quite a lot of trial and error, and likely help from Pa's bowyer friend).

Then she asked, "May I try it? Your bow and the Tong-Ah and one of those little arrows? You can guide me again, you know, m-make sure I'm doing it right. I wouldn't want to damage anything or hurt myself or you, since you've been so gracious."

Um Min-Kyung