Short story 1: Perfect wood

The light breeze were moving the branches in the trees and the sound of waving leaves was making Feorn feel young again and very much alive. He was strolling casually down a familiar path. He knew these parts well, he had been hunting here on countless occasions. This was were he had felled his first boar by himself, and he had also spent many days here, waiting in the thickets for the hour of twilight when his prey came out of their holes and hiding places. This time, however, he was not hunting for game, but for material for two wooden bows. He approached all straight tree trunks that looked promising in a distance and carefully examined their potential. Mainly, he looked for yew or oak, since he had always preferred bows made of those kinds of wood. They were flexible and easy to handle, yet strong enough to make a powerful bow. Feorn made all of his own bows and arrows. He didn’t trust those made by people outside the village, and nobody in the village could match his skills.

Feorn was excited. He was going to make bows for two children in the village, a boy of thirteen and a boy of nine. These boys had always been interested in archery and hunting, and he wanted to reward their curiosity and interest by giving them some proper bows with which they could actually hit targets from a distance. He would give them some basic training and instruct them how to practice their aim. He was convinced that if they were dedicated enough, they would become good archers or hunters some day. Of course he knew that it would take a long time to become a marksman, he had spent many years before his archery and hunting skills were good enough for him to survive by his trade.

The sun was setting and it was gradually getting colder. But just before the sun disappeared below the horizon, it sent out a few last beams of light towards him. They shot out like they were directed to avoid most the trees and hit some places in particular, and he could see a single yew that now bathed in golden light. He approached it and found that this was just the tree he had been looking for. It was a fairly young tree compared to the others around here, and its trunk was straight. He produced his axe and chopped it down in a few minutes. Then he removed branches and leaves, put it on his shoulder and headed home.

It was already dark as he reached the outskirts of the village. People was inside their houses and nobody noticed him, but he was used to that. The life of a hunter was a life of solitude. And he was content. He wasn’t very sociable and he felt mostly at home under the trees accompanied by the sounds of birds and beasts.  Still, he was longing for his home right now. Age had caught up with him and the comfort of his bed was too tempting to ignore. But tomorrow, he would start working on the bows.

At first light, Feorn broke his fast and made ready to start working. He collected his tools and the bow staff. The staff was large enough for both of the bows he planned on making, and he began by cutting it into two pieces. He took one of them in his hand and said:
“I will give you to the oldest one, I think. I wonder what you will hit in his hands.”

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