"You came back, did you? I thought you might." an amused voice said, startling Tei'serin out of her thoughts.
She looked up to see Kerin, the hunter who had given her a couple of lessons in the past in exchange for her tutoring her brother's kids.
"Why are you so determined to learn how to master the bow? I know you said you wanted to be able to defend yourself and your patients if you had to, but...this is Treth. Not Ne'haer, or an even more dangerous city. What, exactly do you think you're going to have to defend yourself from?"
Tei'serin hesitated. Her reasons were very personal ones. She didn't like the thought of sharing them. But Kerin was a Sev'ryn, too, so Tei'serin thought that she would probably understand.
"There are two reasons. One is that Treth or not, I have been in situations where being able to defend myself would have been very useful more than once. I was caught up in the group of fighters who went to Ne'haer back in 716, and I got dragged along with them." she began softly.
Kerin's eyes widened, and Tei'serin nodded to confirm her words.
"I didn't fight where we ended up. I was one of the healers there. But had our healing tent been attacked, I would have been helpless to defend myself, or our patients. I would have been a liability to anyone who did know how to fight...and very likely would have died. And that wasn't the last time knowing how to fight would have helped me. Treth is a very safe place to live...but I seem to have a knack of drawing trouble to myself." she said ruefully.
Kerin could only agree.
"But more importantly than even that...Moseke asked me to learn how to defend myself. There is no way in this world or any other that I will let her down." Tei'serin said solemnly, thinking about the strange world where Noth killed her.
Kerin's eyes widened even further.
"Are...are you one of her chosen?"
"I can see why you wouldn't want to disappoint her, then. I wouldn't either."
The sentiment that Kerin wouldn't ever want to disappoint Moseke chosen or not went unsaid, but was distinctly felt.
"Those are both very good reasons to want to know how to defend yourself. And knowing that, I will take these lessons a lot more seriously."
"Thank you." Tei'serin said simply.
"So. You mentioned that you were told that the maximum range of a crossbow was a hundred yards? Do you think that you can shoot that far with your bow because it is of masterwork quality?"
"Not now, no. But I hope that it will be one trial if I can learn enough." Tei'serin said hesitantly.
Kerin grinned at her.
"That was an important test for you to pass."
When Tei'serin gave her a confused look, she chuckled.
"Your own shooting ability is a bigger limiting factor than momentum is when it comes to how far you should shoot. Or can shoot for that matter. The further you are from your target, the more accurate your shot must be. So to be able to shoot a bolt any real distance, you must at least have some skill in using the crossbow."
"That makes a lot of sense. It's the same thing with my herbs, really. If I am going to use a specific herb to treat a patient, I had better know what it is used for, how potent it is, and if my patient is allergic to it, or if it has any side effects I need to worry about."
"Can't say I know anything about herbs aside from the fact that the mint I use to freshen my clothes smells nice. But it is the same thing. To use a crossbow effectively, you must know what you are doing with it. And for that end, I want you to practice loading your bow and firing it into that hay bale over there until I tell you to stop. Start now, please."
Tei'serin began at once. It was a struggle for her to manage it, but she refused to ask Kerin for help in doing it. Judging from the expression in the older woman's eyes, she wouldn't have given her any help even if she had been willing to ask.
"I don't know if fighting with a bow is all that much different than using one to hunt, so I will tell you what I have seen among the hunters I know. Perhaps it will do you some good as well."
Tei'serin nodded to show that she was listening, but did not look up from what she was doing.
"Many skilled hunters have a range of fifty yards with a crossbow. I do, and so do most of the friends I hunt with on a regular basis. My best friend's cousin brags a lot because he can shoot reliably within a sixty yard range. And he's right to be proud of his accomplishments, though I could do without all the bragging; being able to claim a sixty yard range and be a a consistent, reliable shooter in it...that is an ability that is limited to those of incredible skill."
Tei'serin finished loading her bow, and showed it to Kerin. The older woman grinned to let her know that she had loaded it the right way, and gestured towards the hay bale. Tei'serin grinned back, feeling a rush of pride at her accomplishment. Then she turned back to the task at hand. She stared at the hay bale for several long bits, trying to judge how far away it was. Then she took aim, only to hesitate, and lower her bow. She tried again to aim. This time, she decided to trust her instinct, and she squeezed the trigger that would release the bolt. The bolt flew true...and missed the hay bale completely to fall several yards beyond it. Kerin laughed.
"No one said this would be easy, Tei'serin. Now try it again."
Tei'serin simply sighed...and obeyed the order. Kerin watched her for a few trills before going back to her lecture.
"Just as your skill with a bow determines your range with it, wind will also play a factor as well. In a strong wind, there is a much greater chance of your bolt being blown off course, so it is better to shoot within a smaller range. Likewise, if the wind is blowing your scent towards your prey, it may move, or worse, bolt as you shoot. That too will affect your shot, causing you to hit outside your target, or even miss the animal entirely."
Again Tei'serin nodded while she struggled to load her bow. It was easier this time, but it still took far longer than she would have liked it to. As before, when she was finished she showed it to Kerin for approval. But this time, the older woman frowned, and shook her head.
"You didn't pull the string back straight enough. Do you see how it is misaligned?"
Tei'serin examined the string closely. She thought that she could see what Kerin meant, so she nodded.
"Try it again."
Tei'serin felt a wave of frustration rise up in her as she obeyed, but she quickly shoved it back down. Getting frustrated with herself would only make matters worse. Once again, she showed her work to her mentor. It was done correctly this time, so Kerin told her to fire it. As Tei'serin obeyed, she winced at the recoil, but didn't stagger back. Now that she knew to expect it, she could brace herself against it, but that didn't make the shock of its force any easier to take. Still...at least she could manage not to look like an idiot anymore when it hit her.
The order to try again was expected, so Tei'serin had already started when it came. This made Kerin grin at her in obvious approval. Each time she loaded and fired her bow, Tei'serin noticed that she was able to manage it a little faster than she had the time before. By the time she had done it correctly twenty five times, she was exhausted, but she had made some significant progress.
"Well, you've got a long way to go yet, Tei'serin. But you did some good work this trial. Now go get some rest, and I'll see you again in a few trials."
Tei'serin nodded, and thanked her mentor for the lesson breathlessly.