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Her fingers danced in a practiced motion twisting her hair into a braid from the crown of her head to the end. She tied a length of purple leather around it to hold it in place and then threw it back over her shoulder. Smiling, Morgana turned and retrieved her newest bow from the rack pushed up against the fencing on her left hand side. On cue, Kraar left the post he had been perched on and landed expertly on his mistress' shoulder. It had been a few years since she had regained her eyesight, but she had spent so much of her life using her familiar's eyes to shoot that she was sure she was more accurate when she worked with him. Kraar, frequently self-serving, silently agreed. He remained resentful of the fact she frequently insisted on switching between the two.

The bow itself had been custom made from a rich-red wood with all the properties of yew. Morgana hadn't encountered the wood before, and certainly not in a bow, but it was uncommonly beautiful. Once it had been lacquered it had adopted a lustrous shine. The craftsman who had carved it for her and cut ravens along the full length and rubbed dark polish to define the outlines. It was the first time she'd chosen a bow based on looks rather than practicality. It was time to find out how well it could shoot.

Using Kraar's eyes she glanced the length of the arena. She'd set up a series of targets of different shapes, some stationary and some with mechanisms to keep them moving. They waited patiently in a jagged formation supplying her with varying distances. Morgana collected an arrow, fletched with magpie-like feathers, from the quiver at her hip. The bow drew like a dream, strong enough that she could feel her arms working but not so stiff she had to strain. She lined up and fired at the first stationary target. Her release was followed a moment later by a triumphant thunk. Pleased, she notched a second arrow. This time she fired at a taller target, the bullseye pinned to the end of a wooden arm. As the arrow struck true the arm began to spin, bringing around the second bullseye on the other end of the arm. Quick as a flash, Morgana drew her third arrow and it thudded home as the targets completed their first full turn.

The sound of approaching footsteps crunching the gravel of the driveway behind her stopped her from nothing a fourth arrow. She turned, glancing over her shoulder at the trio advancing towards the arena gate. The guard was easy to indentify in his scarlet uniform but the woman and the otter were unfamiliar. Morgana set her bow back down in the rack and met them at the fence line.
"Afternoon, Brandon," she smiled at the guard, leaning against the gate. Kraar hopped from her shoulder onto the wooden beam and glowered at the strangers warily. Morgana glanced at him but made no comment.
"Afternoon, M'Lady," the guard replied, casting a wary look in the raven's direction, "this is um..." he paused, glancing at his strange companion with a frown and realising he'd forgotten to ask her name. He waited a moment, hoping she'd supply it. "She says she's come to ask for your help with her ren." Morgana raised a curious eyebrow as Brandon turned back to the young woman. "Miss, this is the Lady Morgana."


photo by darian wong at flickr.com






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