Fourteenth Century
There was blood on the grass, lots of blood. The king's
page stood riveted with horror as he realized how much
of that blood had stained his boots. Involuntarily, his
eyes were drawn to the archer, some one hundred paces
away. As the archer deliberately drew an arrow into his
bow, the page felt as if he might throw up. The page was
a young lad, barely a teen, and could hardly be faulted
for his trepidation. The distance seemed insignificant to
the boy, for just moments before he had seen a large
soldier collapse in the same spot writhing in pain with
an arrow protruding from his thigh. It had been an
unfortunate accident, indeed, but the arrow had
inadvertently lost its fletching upon leaving the bow. The
tremendous odds against such a thing happening twice
in a tournament was no comfort to the lad. The
contestant had been disqualified, the wounded marshal
had been removed, the king had sent his page to
substitute for the marshal, and the tournament
continued as if nothing was amiss. The terrified lad
stood near the target in front of the thousands of people
who were watching the tournament. When the first
arrow hit the clout with a decisive smack, the boy
jumped and let out an unmanly squeak. Then, before he
could think, the second arrow found its mark and, as his
muddled head tried to remember the signal, the third
arrow struck, and at that moment ... the boy fainted in a

Kingdom of the Falcon
The Summer Festival was, without a doubt, the
greatest event for the peasants of the fourteenth
century. The savory smells of roasting meat hung thick
in the still air. The competing aromas of fresh breads,
pickled fish, and ale, all mingling in the lazily wafting
smoke of cook fires, served only to stimulate the sensory
barrage. In the midway there could be heard the various
sounds of amusements as vendors hawked their wares,
minstrels sang ballads, and gamblers wagered on
virtually anything. It was the fifth day of the seven-day-
long festival and the main event was the archery
contest. The majority of the people were crammed
around the fairgrounds clamoring for a chance to see
the targets and contestants. The competition had been
spectacular, and the crowd was throbbing with
It was the final round of double elimination and, as the
last two contestants stepped up to the shooting line, a
great hush fell over the crowd. The first, Miles, clad in
ceremonial armor bearing the image of the Bear, drew
his bow and sent his arrow into the fist-sized bull’s-eye.
The crowd cheered excitedly. He fitted the next arrow,
and again the crowd hushed. The second arrow whistled
the one hundred yards and stuck merely two fingers
from the first. The crowd cheered with enthusiasm.
Once again, the crowd hushed as he, with some
flamboyance, prepared and shot the third. It struck in
the bull’s-eye with its feathers almost touching the
second. The crowd cheered wildly.
Miles was accustomed to this kind of contest, as he
was the chief bowman in Lord Darrin’s army. He was the
undisputed champion of the northern province of
PenNel. He doffed his hat and bowed to the platform
where King Lohman, his lords, and other nobles
watched. Then he bowed with great panache to the
throng of peasants, and they yelled and cheered more,
some waving the miniature standard of PenNel.

William was a woodsman in the service of King
Lohman, and had never even been to a festival prior to
this event. He felt more than a little out of place among
so great a throng of people, particularly so many nobles.
He was clad in the greens and grays that were
customary to his trade, for he owned no fine garments
or festive garb. He, indeed, would not have come to this
contest but for the ‘invitation’ from the king, who also
sponsored his entry fee.
Though William was out of his element, he was an
archer, the son of Archer, and he was fully accustomed
to shooting under stress. So, he nodded to Miles and
said softly, “Fine shooting, sir. I’m honored to compete
with one of such skill.”
Then he drew his first arrow and sent it into the direct
center of the bull’s-eye. The crowd cheered tentatively,
for, until that day, William was unknown to them. His
second arrow neatly clove the first in two before the
crowd was hushed and, in startled awe, they leaned
closer. Abruptly, before they could cheer, his third arrow
split the second, making the target look like some
bizarre flower. The marshal, who was but a lad from the
king's court, promptly fainted, and there was a stunned
hush for three heartbeats, then the crowd, erupting in
cheers, chanted, “Will-yum! Will-yum! Will-yum!” The
miniature standards of PenNel were discarded and the
Bear pennants were trampled under foot as the
peasants pressed hard against the ropes. Somehow, the
guards prevailed to hold the crowd back while William
and Miles approached the king’s platform.
Miles was accorded the silver medallion, which King
Lohman held high for all to see. The cheers echoed off
the city wall like thunder as the king ceremoniously
placed the red ribbon that held the heavy medallion over
Miles’ head.
Miles smiled and bowed skillfully as he accepted his
prize, which was a quite worthy reward. However, in his
heart there was a stain of bitterness, for he had never
been beaten before. His private chagrin was intensified
by the rash promise he had made to a fair maiden back
home, that he would bring her the gold medallion as a