The Tale of Trueshot
'Fffwip!' An arrow flew just right of a bullseye on a grassy field in Meridell. The Turdle running the shooting range heaved a heavy sigh and rolled his eyes as the steely-eyed blue Gelert who fired the arrow drew the string on his bow back for yet another of his numerous attempts. This was what that Gelert did all day and night, every day and night. He must have shot hundreds of arrows that day alone in his intensity.
'Fffwip! Fffwip! Fffwip!'
Delwood Stronghorn had always loved that his home was a stone's throw away from the action on the shooting range. Every year he need not even leave his living room to see who was winning the Ultimate Bullseye contests, which he loved as most Meridell-living Ixi do. But that was all before HE came.
Rayn Trueshot stood a few meters away, firing endless arrows at the target, and keeping Delwood awake with the sound. Rayn was the son of Skylar Trueshot, one of the greatest archers to ever set foot in the Ultimate Bullseye Championship.
Skylar was indeed a legend in Meridell. For years after his shocking and amazing first entry to the Championship, every time he took a shot, the whole crowd would go silent. It was like witnessing a work of art being born with each shot, and no one wanted to miss a moment of it. Everything about his marksmanship was beautiful; from the way the string would sway as it fired off the sleek arrow, to the way the arrow itself seemed to sing through the air before landing almost always in the absolute center of the target before him. Then the crowd would roar in applause and cheers as if they had just won a great battle by overseeing the enchanting archery.
Rayn had always admired his father greatly, and had practiced since he was very young at his father's side. However, last year his father finally retired from the contests. Rayn was to shoot in his place that year.
Everyone expected he would be as great as his father, easily smothering the competition. Rayn believed he could do it as well, feeling strong with his father proudly looking on nearby. Perhaps he was overconfident, or perhaps he was secretly nervous. Or maybe even he just did not have a steady hand.
Waiting for the first shot of what they believed to be their next bow-wielding hero, the audience hushed and watched apprehensively as though he were diffusing a bomb. After what seemed like years of careful aiming and care, Rayn let the shot fly. Everyone blinked in disbelief – including Rayn – trying to be sure they saw correctly where it had landed. The arrow dug itself in far to the right of the center. Each shot after, the silence that had before been so impenetrable was replaced with surprised murmurs, and then gasps as Rayn missed his mark on each shot.
Needless to say, he did not win. He didn't even come close.
Every shot was a little off in some way or other. He never made a single bullseye in the entire contest. Rayn was crushed, feeling he had let his father down and tarnished the family name of 'Trueshot,' which he was so proud of. The audience of the contest could not believe Skylar Trueshot's son could be such a fluke of a shot. They teased and taunted him, making him return to his father on the walk home with his head hung low in shame.
"Father," he muttered softly, refusing to look him in the eye, feeling unfit to do so, "I have ruined our reputation. I will never pick up a bow and arrow again. It would only be an insult to you and your legacy. My unskilled failure today had shamed our name and honor. I am so sorry to have let you down when you trained me so carefully."
His father stopped in his tracks, grabbed the boy, gently but firmly, and raised his chin to look into the deep eyes of his own father.
"Child, you did your best out there. You have done no wrong. Do not let the mocking of the villagers bring you down - they are the ones who are insulting. The only offense you make to me is saying you will not keep trying. I did not raise my son to be a quitter. As long as you keep practicing, you do your name no shame. And I know that one day, you will silence all those mocking faces with what you learn. But you can not get better if you do not keep trying. That would be the greatest let down I could ever imagine, my own son letting his dreams die." The father then released his son, still locking eyes with the awe-struck boy.
Rayn listened closely to his father’s words of wisdom. After a moment, deep in thought, he gave a determined nod to his father. "I will not stop practicing, Father! You are right. I will just keep getting better until I can live up to your name! I will not give up on what I wish to accomplish."
With that, both smiled and returned to their home triumphant despite his loss. The contest meant nothing compared to the determination he had received from his father that day. There was a new hope on the horizon, like a sun rising after days of darkness.
Ever since then, faithfully, Rayn has practiced painstakingly every day, getting a little better over time, preparing himself... Keeping his father’s words close to his heart, he practiced to keep pride in his family's name. He must have shot countless arrows for countless hours until he simply could not draw the string back any longer to continue his shooting practice.
Delwood knew this story well and had all kinds of sympathy for the boy. He had not mocked his loss that day. Quite the contrary, as he was rather inspired by the whole thing himself. He had gone outside his comfortable home seat to the shooting range to talk to Rayn, to tell him what thoughts and advice he had. After all, he lived right next to the contest, he saw everyone practice and compete. He knew a tip or two to share with the ambitious young lad, and was more than happy to do so.
But he still grunted and grumbled as he placed a pillow over his ears. As much as he admired the boy’s enthusiasm, he decided it was simply too much on the rest of the world. He was going insane by the sound of the boy's new found, epic devotion. Every day, all evening long, constantly, it was a maddening rhythm, never skipping a beat.
'Fffwip! Fffwip! Fffwip!'
Delwood had heard it so incessantly; he knew every distinct aspect of the sound. The rubbery twang of the bowstring releasing from the young blue paw, the sharp whisper of the arrowhead cutting the air out of its way like water, the muffled crunch of the arrow’s impact on the red wooden target in the distance – it was as if he could see it through the vivid sound.
Delwood hoped deeply in his heart Rayn would win this year. He knew he would be cheering, possibly loudest of all attending for young Rayn or any archer. He knew that maybe – just maybe – if the boy won, then he might have the first night of restful sleep since the last contest took place...