- My regular persona is that of a Gusari, and Eastern Eurpean mix of
bard/magician/shaman/merchant. I have written many stories about a
ficticious counterpart in the 13th century. This is the first based
on archery. Enjoy.
Kiyan strode into the hamlet just past the sun's zenith and
instantly knew something was wrong. He stood awhile -- reaching out
with his spirit but found no answer. His two un-haltered horses
stood patiently behind him. He told them they could graze by the
steam, and they happily complied. He had no concern for their
safety. They were Mongolian ponies trained in the ancient Scythian
way -- gentle and close in camp, but fierce in battle. Several
years before, the Gusari had met with a tribal chieftain to arrange
a truce. A cadre of twenty spearman had been assigned to ignoblely
sneak up and capture him. His steed Turgey, without command,
charged the stealthy troupes. He weaved through the double line
while ancient sickles affixed to his hind legs cut them all to the
ground. Then he reared up and knocked the commander from his
horse. Claiming the mare as his prize he calmly returned to Kiyan's
side and screamed his battle cry.
The Gusari realized what was wrong. There was no music!
No, not the tunes of instruments or lilting voice, but the music of
the earth. Kiyan held an untold secret. For him, each tree sounded
a note, each grove a cord. Flowers tinkled like elfin chimes.
Empty houses sang a different song than a happy home. A small,
tumbling steam held laughter, a stagnant pond had none. The town,
which should have been bustling with noontime activity was silent.
There was only one thing that could subdue the music -- fear.
He found the elders gathered around a small fire by the
well. They did not jump up to greet him as they had at the last
passing. They were staring out at the forest. Soon a group of
hunters appeared, their faces long, there hands empty. No game
again today! All of the animals, great and small had vanished with
the drought. Though these simple folk grew some rye and barley for
porridge and bread, the land was poor. Even the few turnips never
achieved much size. Thus they depended on their snares and prowess
with a bow to survive. Now there was only despair. The marchlands
were quickly depleted of fish and the birds could hear their
spinning arrows and quickly flee -- a difficulty shot anyway. They
feared they might have to leave their ancestral home, with no idea
of where to go.
The Gusari returned to his horse and got what he needed.
Then he motioned for the young men and girls to come with him to the
marsh. Called also were the fletcher and smithy. On a firm finger
of ground reaching out into the shallow rippling waters, he lay out
his three Flu-Flu arrows. The feathers were unusual, four broad
strips instead of three, mounted in straight lines. The iron head
was forked in two prongs and only partially sharpened. These
unique shafts had but one purpose -- to bring down birds in flight.
A flock of pigeons wheeled close and Kiyan quickly launched the Flu-
Flus. They arched high above the birds in silent, non-spinning
flight, easily mistaken for another bird. Then they came dropping
down. Two knocked the prey from the sky, stunned rather than
impaled. Instantly the youth dashed out in understanding to
retrieve the arrows and fluttering catch. Again and again the dance
was performed. Soon the girls had plucked and cleaned a basket of
fowl. Some as small as a fist, others large -- ducks, geese and
heron. Once a flight of swans had come near and the children
pranced excitedly. But the archer stood still and said, "I protect
the Angels of the Wind." To the pile was added a great hawk that
had foolishly attacked a Flu-Flu. In quiet periods the two
craftsmen had examined the arrows and were already at work in their
When the day was done the proud parade of dripping boys and
blood stained girls sang as they walked. Any number of birds were
already roasting in the coals and on spits. There would be a
feast. But Kiyan explained that later they must learn to use their
prize sparingly, cut up to be added to gruel or stew. He taught
them how to build a smoke house to prepare for the distant winter.
Then he took some women into the woods and showed them buried tubers
that they did not know. With his blade he revealed the inner bark
of a special tree that could be dried and ground to enrich their
bread -- and more.
That evening he rested against a tree, listening to music's
blend. A small child brought him a gift. The plover had a golden
crust striped with honey. Inside were three small eggs, cooked in
their shells within the roasting bird, together with fragrant
herbs. A cup of mead, a chunk of bread and contentment.
On the morrow the Gusari moved on, singing a prayer that
with the spring the game would return. A whistle had brought his
horse friends to his side. He swung up to guide the path with his
knees. He pulled out his Gusli harp and joined the call of Mother