- Precise Arrow
- A fast and true arrow shot flies forth from Sparrowthorn, riddling your enemies with barbs.
|Level 1||Level 2||Level 3|
- Killing Shot
- After slowly taking aim, Sparrowthorn launches an energetic bolt of magic that flies far and does great damage.
|Level 1||Level 2||Level 3|
The carriage jostled and bounced, and princess Caitlyn put her hand on the windowsill to steady herself. It felt as though they had jolted from smoothed track to the cobble of a city. Alone inside of the plush carriage, Caitlyn heard Bolus, the driver, call to his horses. Bolus was an obnoxious, loudmouthed, dwarfish man. His voice was harsh, and he punctuated every sentence with the filthy speech of the low-born. Only slightly less appealing to travel with was Morely, the guard that her father had insisted accompany them. That surly brute was all of the restrictive stuffiness of her court life, and none of the grace. The guard was there as much for her father's sake as hers. He had seen her grow exasperated at that life, graces and all, as she grew older, and feared what dangers her maturing independence would land her in.
Caitlyn sighed to herself. Her father had again ordered her moved northward, to a more distant manor house, farther from the advancing tides of war. They'd been at it all summer this year, and she had already been moved three times in as many months. Caitlyn was irritated, it was a stupid war. Edward of the Elk and Black Charles, brothers fighting over their dead father's lands. It was true that the Elk was elder and that Charles was raving, but to Caitlyn it was just the rich fighting the rich while the poor went on with life around them.
The carriage bounced again and then slowed. What now? She wondered, irritated, and pulled aside a velvet curtain to look out the window. They had indeed entered a city, one of modest size, even. Outside, a crowd had gathered, and the cursing driver couldn't thread the big carriage through the streets. Caitlyn opened the window and called to the driver. "What is this? Why have we stopped?" The little man swore again and leaned around to shout back at her. "It's some kind of festival, Lady. Stay in the carriage and I'll get us through this." He leapt to the ground, shouting for the people to make way. The dour-faced guard took up the reins and glared back at the princess. She was supposed to stay out of sight, so that rumors of her passage would not spread. Caitlyn didn't care, she thought the whole charade foolish.
A young man passed under her window and Caitlyn called to him. When he answered, somewhat intimidated by her fine appointment, the princess asked from her window what the commotion was. Morely barked at the boy to stay away from the carriage, but he handed her what turned out to be a garish handbill before hurriedly backing away bowing and nodding. She hated that, he was even handsome, but the boy would be too afraid to speak to her dressed as she was. Peasantry didn't mix with aristocrats.
The princess sighed and looked at the bill in her gloved hand. It was indeed a festival! There was to be a grand archery match. Archers from far and wide would be in attendance, the handbill boldly claimed. Tumblers and jugglers cavorted in illustration, gambler's dice marched around the borders of the page. "Try your luck, change your fate!" shouted the text at the bottom.
Caitlyn peered from her window into the stalls and booths beyond the crowds, it appeared as if every merchant in the kingdom had come to hawk their wares to the spectators. Indeed, thought Caitlyn, so they would. Everyone not wrapped up in that idiotic war would be here, as far from the fighting as possible. She marveled again at the milling crowd outside her window. There must be hundreds of them. She thought. A girl could get lost in a crowd like that, it would be easy. Her pulse quickened at the thought. But what then? Caitlyn was unsure. She looked from the crowds outside back to the poster in her now trembling hand, to the prize.
The prize for the archery tourney was a title, a small fortune in gold, and a manor on a wide stretch of land. Caitlyn was very familiar with bows. The hall-boy at Summerlake manor, Renard, had given her a little green one of her own one spring, and she shot it all summer long, dove-tailed arrows white streaks against the meadow green. Her mother had taken it from her when she returned home, with stern words about ladylike behavior and mixing with commoners. Something about this handbill stirred deep feelings in the princess. Though a mere drawing, it sang to her, and its song was freedom.
The carriage lurched and started to slowly inch forward again. Foulmouthed Bolus must have finally gotten the crowd to make some way for them. Princess Caitlyn's heart leapt into her throat, soon this moment would be passed. Looking once more out the window at the festival crowd slipping by, she took a breath and made her decision. Caitlyn shoved the carriage door wide, and leapt into the noonday sunlight to land in the thick of the crowd.
Morely shouted, but Caitlyn didn't look back. She dodged through the crowd, behind food stalls and in and out of market booths until, panting for breath, she ducked past a thronged dice table and into a pavilion. There, before her, were an array of doublets and pantaloons, cloaks and hats. She had hidden in a clothes merchant's tent! A wild plan began to form in her mind.
Caitlyn quietly threaded her way to the back of the tent looking for the proprietor. As she crept amongst the clothes she was surprised by a girl her own age. The other girl wore a shockingly simple green tank-top that exposed swirling purple tattoos on her shoulders and heavy bracelets of gold and amethyst at her wrists. She smiled as Caitlyn approached as though she expected her.
"You'll want to get out of those clothes, lady. If you plan to change your fate," the girl said with a giggle.
Caitlyn was astonished, how had she known? The merchant-girl laughed again and Caitlyn would have sworn that her eyes flashed purple in the tent's shade, just for a moment.
Caitlyn was left wondering while the dizzying teen skipped away and closed the tent. When the girl returned, she began to quickly strip the traveling dress from the astonished princess. Next, she offered humble traveler's canvas pants, and a ruffled shirt to hide her bosom. Finally, the girl cut the princesses' hair short with her tailor's shears, leaving only a small braid. Caitlyn laughed when she realized that her new haircut matched that of the teenager that had done it. As she looked her over, she realized that she now must look just as wild as this young girl. The clothes that Caitlyn left behind were worth half of the wares in the tent, but the runaway princess was glad to be rid of them and their onus of aristocracy.
The merchant-girl, finally finished, smiled again, and told Caitlyn to hurry, "The tourney is soon, go on! Remember, lady, your fate could be changed by a single bolt."
Caitlyn was at a loss, it had happened so fast. She was sure that Morely and Bolus searched for her, even now. She stammered, "But I don't have a bow," but again the girl before her had anticipated her needs, already holding a bow and quiver out before her.
It was a beautiful thing, long and scrolled at the ends. The grip was carved in whorls and flower patterns like those on the merchant-girl's shoulders. She looked back at the girl in wonder, but the merchant urged her to take it, insistent. As Caitlyn took the bow from the girl the length of the thing swirled for a moment with blue magic, and the string seemed to hum with power, with potential. Suddenly, Caitlyn believed what the girl had said: Her fate could change!
The mysterious merchant then pushed the disguised princess out of the pavilion and into the chaos of the crowded street. Caitlyn saw Bolus right in front of her, looking over the dice table. Determined, Caitlyn pushed past him and the foul-mouthed lout, apparently distracted by the rolling dice before him, didn't even notice her. Morely was nowhere to be seen. She was free! Caitlyn ran to the archery tourney, and registered under the name Kate.
The day went on as though one blessed. It seemed that Kate could not lose. Her speed was unmatched, each arrow from her bow flew true and straight, as if drawn to the center of the target. The rest of the festival was shouting and merriment, and at the end of it all, Caitlyn was reborn the Lady Kate of Sparrowglen. Her gamble had paid off, she had changed her fate.
Lady Kate opened her estate to the local peasantry then, and began to hold archery tourneys for all. Soon, she was known across the countryside for her strange behavior, but somehow her disguise never faded. The years passed by, and her manor grounds soon supported a small village, and later a town, known for its bowyers and archers watched over by the Lady of the Longbow. But the peace could not last forever, for the war in the South smoldered on. One day it would arrive at the borders of Sparrowglen. For Kate, that would not do.
Taking up her bow, Kate sought out her friends, some of the best archers in her village, and told them her plan. Again she would play out a gamble and see if she could shift fate. In the early dawn, they sneaked to hidden positions at the edge of the battlefield and awaited the clash of arms to come.
When bright day came, the generals and their knights rode onto the battlefield in long ordered lines. They had acted just as Kate had suspected that they would. True to their nature, their array as much about pageantry and combat tradition as about any sort of tactics. For these men, this endless fighting was all that they knew. Kate was certain that if she didn't put an end to it, the war would last forever.
Lady Kate bade her companions wait and watch as the warriors moved slowly across the field below them. Then, from across the battlefield came a flash amongst the trees, the signal. Kate followed the marching lines of men back until she saw her target. Amongst the ranks, riding upon a white charger, was a lord in dull armor, Black Charles.
Now Kate took up her bow and nocked an arrow. Her village couldn't mount an army, but Kate knew that sometimes fate could be shifted with a single bolt. The next moment seemed a lifetime. Kate waited until the wind was perfect, and the lord sat highest in his saddle. Drawing the bowstring back until it hummed, she closed her eyes and released.
Even today, no one knows who cast the bolt that slew Black Charles, but all have heard the tale of how the Long Years War was ended by a single arrow out of the bright sky. The event is commemorated yearly at the Sparrowglen grand archery tournament, where the tale is told alongside other folktales of the Lady of the Longbow. While most consider the northern tales to be myth, the people of Sparrowglen know the truth of the legend: Fate can be changed, with naught but a bolt from the blue.