Jerran has decided to leave home. It wasn’t a tough decision, seeing how his father and mother are dead. He felt a kind of obligation for many years to keep the house he grew up in, but as time went by, he couldn’t keep up with the maintenance on the house, and it slowly started collapsing around him.
Given his conditions, and the deterioration of his childhood home, Jerran decided he needs to move on and begin a new life. A fresh start from an old life.
I’ve always wanted to get better at my bowmanship. I think I’ll start there.
Pulling his bow out, Jerran looks over the fine quality longbow of his father’s. Adorned with intricate filigree along its entire length, Jerran wonders what the scrollwork means, if anything. Running his fingers along the bow, it feels smooth and strong in his hands. The string, composed of some white stringy material he doesn’t recognize, has a waxy texture to it and also feels strong and flexible. Making his way towards Vandar, Jerran thinks the first thing he should do is visit someone that sells arrows. For some reason, Jerran’s father either ran out of arrows at some point or failed to resupply them.
Making his way long the streets of Vandar, Jerran spots a shop that might have what he’s looking for, seeing how it is displaying a placard of a crossed bow and arrow. Walking inside, Jerran sees that there is no one manning the front desk of the shop. Looking around nervously, Jerran eyes a narrow hallway that leads back to the back door to this shop, and it has been left open. Standing in the middle of the doorway is a young boy with his back to Jerran.
“Hello?” Jerran utters, just hoping to get the boy’s attention. Jerran notices the boy turn around and spot him, and then proceed to flee out the rear door and into the backyard. Not wanting to intrude into an area he’s probably not supposed to enter, Jerran waits in the front lobby, looking down the hallway.
The door to the backyard opens slightly and in steps a dark haired man. “You there! Come on back.” The man speaks gruffly in Jerran’s direction. Jerran follows the man’s instructions and moves back towards the back door.
“Come on out. We’re just about to get started. My name’s Callog, and I’m the owner of this bowyer shop. I take it you’re here to buy something?”
“Yes. I need some arrows if you have some for sale. My name is Jerran.” Jerran inquires.
“Of course, of course. An archer are you? Callog quips. “We were just about to test out my new bow I crafted. Care to watch for a bit?”
“Certainly.” Jerran responds politely.
Jerran notices three archery targets set up about one hundred meters away from the shop’s rear yard. One of the targets has a few arrows in it. Callog stands next to a container of arrows, he nocks one, aims, and fires at the leftmost target. A hit! This Callog fellow seems to be a pretty decent archer.
“Would you care to take a shot, Jerran?” Callog smiles, noticing Jerran’s hesitance. “Don’t be shy now. Just step up to the line, aim and fire. If you hit the target, I’ll give you a quarrel for free! How’d that be?”
Jerran looks at Callog, and grins. “I can’t very well pass up that deal.”
Jerran moves over to the container holding the arrows, reaches in and grabs one with white fletching, nocks it, aims and fires. Having never shot his father’s bow before, Jerran wasn’t sure what to expect. He’d tested the bow’s strength and flex on his way to Vandar, but that’s not the same as firing it. The arrows streaks out to the target and hits!
That was too easy, Jerran thinks.
“Got anything further away I could shoot at?” Jerran asks. “I want to test this bow’s range.”
“Well, my good sir, you’ve got the entire jungle to shoot into!” Callog muses. The shop’s backyard borders the entire jungle, with a good number of trees, vines and plants, though the area where the targets sit has been cleared of vegetation.
Jerran, unsure what to shoot, grabs another arrow and nocks it. Looking downrange, he spies an old log, a good hundred meters further past the targets. Raising his bow and aiming, Jerran fire the arrow. The arrow takes a perfect arc path to the log, striking it. Jerran looks back to Callog.
“That’s some bow you got there, Jerran. Where’d you get it?” Callog asks.
“It was my father’s bow. Why, what’s wrong?” Jerran wonders, curious about the curious look upon Callog’s face.
“Oh nothing. It’s just…I’ve made a lot of bows in my time, but I’ve yet to craft one with a range like yours. You wouldn’t by chance be interested in selling it, would you?” Callog mentions, as he hands Jerran his free quiver of arrows.
Jerran smiles. “I don’t think so. Even though, as you claim, it has a nice range to it, I value it more for the familial ties.”
“I understand.” Callog states, noticing the filigree along its length. “I doubt I’d sell it either. Anything else I can get you today?” as the two men and the boy arrive back at the front counter of the store.
“Two bow strings as well, Callog, just in case.” Jerran says.
“Certainly. Here you are. Those are three copper nuggets each.” Callog mentions, taking the money from Jerran.
Waving, Jerran departs the bowyer shop and proceeds to look for an inn for the night.
Waking after a quiet night in the inn, Jerran starts out of Vandar very early in the morning to practice with his father’s bow, so early in fact, that the light hasn’t even begun to cause the horizon to glow. Overnight guards watch him closely as he makes his way out of Vandar. After about an ten minutes of traveling, Jerran spots a clearing in the jungle. The sun now has started to work its way awake; through the trees, Jerran sees that the horizon is casting a dawning glow. Yawning, Jerran leans back against a tree, looking towards the horizon. He removes a small piece of meat and a biscuit from his pack for breakfast and starts devouring the meal. Jerran finishes, and now notices the sun is about to crest the horizon.
“Finally, it’s getting light enough to see targets.” Jerran utters simply, removing his bow from across his back.
Jerran’s vision adjusts to the increasing light levels, and he then sees something moving in the brush off to his left! Pulling his bow up and nocking an arrow, Jerran can feel his heartbeat increase, his palms get sweaty and he starts to shake slightly, not sure what he just saw. Was it just a play of light or something more? Squinting, Jerran looks intently at the location he saw the movement come from.
Suddenly, three large forms burst from the cover of the underbrush, lunging at him! Black wolves! Jerran instinctively tries to dodge off to one side, but the wolves are too quick. One knocks the bow from his grip while the other two circle right looking for an opening. Now absolutely terrified, Jerran removes his dagger from its sheath and braces the next attack.
Black furred as the night itself, the eyes of these three wolves doesn’t look natural. They blazed with an eerie yellow sheen and the wolves let loose a horrifying snarl and howl at Jerran as they maneuver around. Finally, one makes its move and lunges towards Jerran, but Jerran was ready and quicker. Striking the wolf solidly in the side with his dagger, the wolf lets out an agonizing yelp of pain and knocks Jerran down to the ground. Quickly removing his dagger from the now-corpse of the wolf, Jerran sees the other two wolves move in. Swinging wildly at the two out of sheer panic and fear from the ground, the wolves lunge in towards Jerran’s throat and strike.
Jerran’s eyes go wide, his dagger flung off to one side as one of the remaining wolves locks down its teeth upon Jerran’s throat. Then, unexpectedly, the wolf releases its death grip on Jerran and backs away. Bleeding heavily, Jerran rolls over, hands grasping at his neck and blood gushing from between his fingers. Jerran feels the life ebbing from him. Gasping, Jerran hopes it ends soon. Shockingly and without warning, one of the wolves speaks!
“You’ll make a fine replacement for Ygrarl, human.”
Unable to speak, Jerran rolls over onto his back and feels himself losing consciousness.
This is it. The ending of my life.
In the blurry haze of near-unconsciousness, Jerran sees the two remaining wolves move close to his face and then feels the chill breath of both wolves upon his face. Chills and goose bumps instantly cover his entire body, and he can feel the wound at his neck diminish and the pain of it fade away. In the remaining murky twilight of sunrise, Jerran looks to the two wolves near him and feels an instant kinship and bitter hatred for them.
“We shall call you Wolfshadow. It is your new name for a new life. Come with us. The sun is quickly rising.”
Meanwhile, a few days later….
“What do you have there, Brilk.” The furrier mentions inquisitively.
“A rare find, my good man. Check these out.” Brilk states, as he opens his pack and lays two pristine black wolf pelts upon the counter. “Found em just outside town and skinned em clean. Beautiful, aren’t they?”