Chapter 18: Mind's Eye (1/5)

A narrow bow was gently embedded in the marble-white wall behind the portrait. It had a strange shape to it; its body was both slim and narrow in comparison to most other bows Elric was familiar with. Laid out like a fan underneath the bow were seven arrows.

Gently, Hughesin retrieved the bow and arrows from the wall to bring them back to Elric. Solemnly, he placed the arrows onto a nearby table and handed the bow over to the other to inspect.

Elric took the bow with reverent care. This bow belonged to the hero that saved the world, after all.

The body of the bow felt reminiscent of a large bird extending its wings, a shape Elric had never seen before compared to the simple single-arched self bows he was used to making. This bow had three curvatures to it, two identical curves connected in the middle by an opposing wooden curvature. It was a mystery on the reason behind a design like this. One Elric had no idea whatsoever.

Another mystery was the metal used in the bow’s construction. It had a silvery gloss to it and a mirror-like reflection all over its surface. Underneath its metallic surface, Elric could also detect a bluish energy that flowed like morning dew off a flower petal but also rippled like water. The behavior of this energy was erratic and completely impossible for Elric to predict.

As far as weight went, Elric was sure this bow was comparatively heavier than most other bows.

The upper and lower limbs of the bow, sleek and smooth, tapered off at the end and had two golden strings attached! Two bowstrings! Not even the bowstrings, it seemed, was of ordinary facture. Like light shining through a thin window, the bowstrings felt more like crystals rather than anything else. Elric was surprised to see them so taut still with the bow never being unstrung. Rather than string, this felt more like a minute strip of forged metal.

The greatest source of his interest was the area around the grip. The felt that was fastened around it had a fascinating shade of cinnabar to it—it surely belonged to a beast Elric had never heard of before. How soft would it feel to hold onto, he wondered? 

The area above the grip had a strange design of having a strange metallic protrusion extending outward. Based on its placement being level with where the arrow was usually notched on the bowstring, Elric inferred the protrusion had to be some kind of rest for the arrow.

Curious about how such an addition would work, Elric gripped the bow properly with his left hand and pinched the bowstrings with his right. He meant to try to pluck the bowstrings to test tension and instead found his fingers being unable to do so. A second and more forceful attempt was made to draw the bow, but Elric still saw no success in even moving the bowstrings a pinch.

He shook his head, this was a result to be expected. Relaxing his grip, Elric presented the bow back to Hughesin.

The duke beheld the young lady in front of him with great curiosity. Rather than hold the bow improperly like most noblewomen would oft do, she held the bow with familiarity! As a fellow master enthusiast of martial arts, Hughesin knew the tells between a greenhorn and a practiced hand. Hughesin nearly let a smirk escape his calm exterior. How amusing it was to see someone so overconfident in their own strength this way, he thought. A bow of this grade couldn’t possibly be compared to the crude longbows mercenaries used or even the standardized warbows used by trained regiments.

This bow was the King of Bows. Not even the great Paladins of the empire could draw the strings all the way back.

“Do you know how to use this bow, then?” Elric could hardly believed a human was capable of it; the tension was far too much for any human to reasonably overcome.

“In what manner do you mean by ‘use’, I wonder. Do you believe simply pulling the bowstrings back would be enough to shoot an arrow?” Hughesin smiled; it was refreshing to see someone view this bow as a physical impossibility simply because she herself couldn’t pull it.

Elric blinked. He hadn’t expected such a question—but now that he thought about it—was there even any other factor to archery than aiming and drawing? Was there another factor to consider?

“Is there a trick, then, to this bow? Or is there something different about this bow?”

“There is presently,” Hughesin replied, “no one else in this world that truly understands this bow. Not even I can boast such a claim.”

“My ancestor left behind this bow and not a word more about it. I, myself can only boast of being able to use this divine bow as one would fare with any other bow.”

The mystified expression on Fantasia’s eyes led Hughesin to further explain, “Lady Fantasia, as a powerful magus as yourself would know; magi are superior over archers. Spells can easily reach a range of five hundred paces or more—some limited only by the vision of the magi themselves. Neither range nor impact can the arrow compete against the spell. But in the past, my ancestor Tekrom was truly a hero for his mastery over this divine bow. Records spoke how this bow had divine power within it, capable of magic nullification. It is to our bitter sorrow that our ancestor never recorded the secret behind this divine power. Never were we able to recreate the wonders said by legend.”

Elric felt the gears within his mind start to turn. That was the reason behind the strong response! The Heart of Reason awakened Elric’s eyes to new sights and inadvertently awoke the bow—meaning this bow possessed a will of its own! It was calling out to Elric, refusing to let itself be adorned behind a portrait like an ornamental piece any longer! It wanted to be used again to the same heights before!

Or that was what he thought. Why would the bow call out to him that way if Elric lacked the strength to even draw the bow? What point was there in a master that couldn’t even use it as a regular bow?

Elric forced his eyes onto the bow, eager to calm his mind and look for any other detail he might’ve missed. Several seconds later and Elric found it. 

Inscribed on the upper limb portion of the bow were several runes the color of a blue sapphire. He had never seen such symbols before, but Elric somehow understood the meaning of the runes by just seeing it.

Vindrhorn. 

A bow given creation by the work of three divine beings. The Gods of Wind and War forged the bow and had it given Name by the God of Wisdom. In the Glorious Crusade, Vindrhorn was one of the three Hallows bestowed upon the humans who stood behind Godkind. Two other Hallows, the World Chariot and the Aqua Crest, were given during this time, and the three of them were collectively known as the Three Great Hallows.

The bow’s silvery light shined brighter the more light that shined on it. It even spread from its surface over to Elric, covering the magus in a cocoon of sleek silver light.

This sight was in turn met with awe by Hughesin. The phenomena happening to the one he called his love could only mean one thing—the bow left behind by his ancestor had also chosen her. 

He felt conflicted. As a man, he felt blessed that the woman he chose to love was destined for great things. As a hero’s descendant and Archpaladin, it stung his pride to think that he lacked the right to wield Vindrhorn. What qualifications did this untrained girl have over him? His self-esteem as both man and paladin found it hard to accept he was found lacking.

Yet as envious as he was, he couldn’t find it in himself to become spiteful of her. What would the world think if they heard a man like Hughesin flew into a rage after Vindrhorn chose a woman as its master over himself? There was no honor in that.

Mind abuzz with delusions and wild imaginations, Hughesin took a seat back to continue watching the sight in front of him. This was a magical sight, one Hughesin felt fortunate to witness a once-in-a-lifetime event like this.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter