85th Vhalar, 718
When she arrived at the field, a middle aged retired Element named Simone was giving a lesson on how to punch people if Ari'sora's guess was right. At least, the group of kids the older woman was teaching were lined up in rows, and were punching the air in front of them. So if they weren't learning how to punch people, Ari'sora really didn't know what they were doing. She didn't want to disturb the lesson, so she stood off to one side, and watched in silence.
After half a break or so, Simone dismissed the kids, and started to walk in her direction. Her hands were on her hips as she glared at her sternly.
"No, no, no. How many times do I have to tell you? I know that Rynata told you that the people who run Beacon want everyone who lives here to learn how to defend themselves. And that's true. But look at you! There's no way in hell I am going to teach a heavily pregnant girl how to fight. Especially not unarmed combat of any kind. Doing so could hurt your unborn child. And I won't take that risk even if you are willing to."
"I remember. And I don't want to risk hurting my baby either." she said hastily.
"Then why are you here, if not to ask me for a lesson?"
"I might be pregnant, but watching you teach lessons won't hurt anything will it? You yourself told me that with as little as I know about defense, just watching others fight can teach me something. Besides...when we first met, you asked me to choose a weapon I thought I might be interested in learning how to use. I have. And I was hoping...well, even if I can't do much until the baby is born, I was hoping that you might be able to teach me at least a little."
Simone nodded slowly.
"All right then. I'll give you that. Watching me teach others won't hurt anything as long as you don't participate. I'm here around late morning til late afternoon most trials. But if I catch you trying to join in on any of the lessons you watch, I won't let you come watch any more. Are we understood?"
Ari'sora nodded. Simone's stern look faded, and she grinned.
"So what weapon have you chosen? I won't promise to give you a lesson with it totrial, but if it's something you can learn about without any risk to your kid, I'll see what I can do."
"The short bow." Ari'sora said simply.
She had no intention of admitting that her choice had been made as much because she admired a character in a book she had read when she was younger than anything else. The character was a thief...but she never stole to benefit herself. She kept a close eye on the city that she lived in, and when someone stole something from someone else...especially if the victim had no means of recouping the loss of whatever had been stolen, she stepped in. The thief would pit her own skills against the other thief, and she would always be better. She would steal back the item that had been stolen, and give it back to the person who it had been stolen from originally. And she used a bow to help her do so. Mostly by tying a light rope to an arrow, and shooting it to create an escape route for herself. Or as a means to help her to break into a building.
Simone looked her up and down with a calculating eye.
"Not a bad choice." Simone admitted.
"A slip of a girl like you has no chance in a close battle unless they have a lot of skill, and speed. And right now, you don't. That doesn't mean you couldn't ever learn how to hold your own, but right now? You'd be overpowered by some of the children I've taught, never mind a big, strong man. But with a distance weapon...well, that makes the playing field more even. Strength does play a part in it in that a strong person can wield a more powerful bow. But skill is more important...and skill can be learned. Strength on the other hand, that's different. With practice, you can maximize the strength you have, but it isn't something you can learn per say. And in large part, it is a factor controlled by birth. A muscular, broad shouldered, powerfully built giant of a man is always going to be stronger than a little slip of a girl like you no matter how much you try to get stronger. That's just the way it is."
"With a bow, a tiny thing like you can be just as deadly as a giant bear of a man...as long as you work for it hard enough."
Ari'sora nodded to show that she understood.
"A bow is also a good choice for someone who isn't planning to take the path of a warrior. Bows can be used for other things beside killing people. Hunting, for example. Or scaring a wolf away from a flock of sheep. They can even be used as a means of communication."
At Ari'sora's confused look, Simone laughed.
"It's the arrows. They have fletching...feathers attached to the ends of them. If you know what you're doing, you can create a code by using patterns in those feathers. Cut them to a certain pattern, and that can mean something to someone who knows the code. Another pattern would mean something else. And so on."
Ari'sora nodded again. She couldn't help but wonder if that was something she could learn how to do some trial.
Simone jogged over to the far edge of the field. When she returned, she had a bow in her hand. Ari'sora guessed that it must be a short bow.
"You're in luck. You chose a weapon that I can teach you a few things about even before your baby is born. Had you chosen a bladed weapon of any kind, I would have sent you away until after he or she is born. So. We'll start with the parts of a bow. Knowing what everything is will help you when it comes to actually learning how to use the weapon. It will also help you with maintaining it. Do you see this part here?" the older woman asked as she pointed at the curved wooden part of the bow.
"This is what we call the limbs of the bow. The top is the upper limb, and the bottom is the lower limb. Here in the center, you have the riser. It consists of three parts. The grip...that's where you hold it, naturally."
Ari'sora grinned as she nodded in understanding.
"Right above that, you have the bow window. And do you see that little ledge of wood above the grip?"
"That is the arrow rest. It's where the arrow sits when you are getting ready to fire it. Basically, it makes it easier for you to put an arrow to your bow. Back to the limbs now. At the very top end of the upper limb, and the bottom of the lower limb, you have what we call a nock. This is where the bowstring is attached to the limbs of the bow. Then you have this string here. We call that the bowstring."
Ari'sora had to resist the urge to stick her tongue out at Simone when she heard the smugness in her tone when she explained the last part.
"That much, I could have guessed." was all she said.
"I like you. So. Moving on. Putting an arrow to your bow is called nocking it. Watch closely as I demonstrate."
Well, at least she didn't tell me what the arrows were...
Ari'sora thought as she nodded.
Simone jogged back to the edge of the field. When she returned, she had a leather circular case that was open at the top slung over one shoulder.
"This is what we call a quiver. You carry arrows in it. And these things inside it are called arrows." she said with a grin.
Ari'sora did stick her tongue out at the older woman this time, making her laugh. Then it was time to get serious. Ari'sora watched closely as Simone took an arrow out of her quiver. She gripped it with the thumb and index finger of her right hand as she drew it out of the quiver.
"If you are left handed, you would do this with your left hand." Simone explained.
"I'm not." Ari'sora replied.
"A nocked arrow should be positioned about a quarter inch above the arrow rest on the bow handle. Some bows have a small brass band called a “nocking point” crimped onto the bowstring to mark the correct position." Simone said before going back to her demonstration.
As Ari'sora watched, the older woman held the bow parallel to the ground at waist height with her left hand. The bowstring was positioned toward her body.
"So. Arrows have four parts. The long wooden part is the shaft, the point is the head, the feathers at the end are the fletching, and at the very end of the shaft behind the fletching is a indentation where the string is supposed to fit when you put the arrow to the string. That is called the nock. When nocking an arrow, you want to lay the arrow shaft on the bow’s arrow rest. They you align the slot in the nock with the string, while making sure that the fletching feathers point up. This is so that the arrow will clear the bowstring when you fire it. Finally, pull the arrow back until the bowstring snaps into the nock of the arrow."
As Simone spoke, she demonstrated exactly how this was supposed to be done. Then she had Ari'sora try it. At first, Ari'sora fumbled the arrow, dropping it before she could even begin to try to line it up properly. But Simone encouraged her, and eventually she managed to do it right once.
"It will get easier with time. If you practice long enough, you will be able to nock an arrow correctly every time, and do it in a matter of a trill or two. But that will only come in time, and with many breaks of practice."
"Everything that is worth doing takes a lot of practice to get it right." Ari'sora said quietly.
"So it does."
Simone was about to say more, but she was interrupted when a small group of teens walked into the field carrying swords.
"Now this is a lesson I won't let you watch. Watching advanced swordwork won't do you a bit of good if you don't know the basics first. And even if you wanted to learn those, I won't teach you until after the baby is born. So off with you now. If you want to watch a basic unarmed fighting class, I'll be doing another one of those tomorrow morning."
With that, Simone turned her back on Ari'sora, and went over to greet her students. Ari'sora lingered for a few trills, then headed home.