“…I suppose that’s enough for History.” Meli said, putting down her glasses. Nana put the bookmark on the volume before her and closed the lid. She looked down at the rather new looking cover of ‘History and Territories of Milandir’.
“The recent history is quite…” Nana began uneasily but with a grin.
“The history doesn’t get recorded accurately. Most of your mother’s achievements are attributed to other people to save face of major powers.” Meli warned. “The writers of history are always jealous of heroes.”
“Mmm… So truth is even more exaggerated than this…?” Nana asked, tilting her head. “Seems pretty hard to believe.”
“The Continental War of Hinterland Revival changed many things, miss. The reason why your mother was able to rise to the position of Nobility with her commoner background is because of her actions during that conflict. After all, might is almost always absolute.”
“I see… so she beat people up on her way to the top…” Nana concluded and nodded. She turned her head to the window to gaze up at the sky and sighed.
There was just one wispy cloud lazily floating across an otherwise pure blue sky. Trees in the distance swayed gently to the breeze. Meli followed Nana’s gaze for a moment. Nana grinned and then let out a laugh thinking about the content of the lesson she had received today.
“Hmm… Would you like to take a quick snack before going out?” Meli asked after a moment. Nana nodded with a smile.
“That sounds like a good idea.” Nana replied, picking up her book.
Meli walked towards the door and opened the way for Nana to walk through. Head held high and full of grace, Nana exited the room with the book firmly secured in her arms.
“Straighten your neck, miss. You’re slouching.” Meli instructed. Nana straightened her back as she walked.
“When will mother be back?” Nana asked as she put energy into her back.
“She’s only been gone two weeks. She shouldn’t be back for a good while yet.” Meli answered.
“When do you think I’ll be ready to pick up some of her work so she won’t be gone all the time? Maybe I can help with something.” Nana asked with eyes filled with hope. Meli paused, seriously considering making a promise she couldn’t keep. But her desire to not lie to Nana won out and she said the truth.
“That would require you to go out into the sea and patrol the trade routes. Even if it would decrease your mother’s workload, you’ll end up being away while she takes a break at home. I’d think that would make it more difficult to see your mother.” Meli said softly as she burst the bubble of hope rising from Nana’s heart.
“I see… I miss her, being gone all the time…” Nana sighed.
“Well, she has her duties.” Meli answered, but not without sympathy.
The rest of the walk was in silence. Few servants crossed their paths before Nana put away her book and entered the garden. Meli had a servant fetch tea as Nana took a seat on one of the lawn chairs.
“Meli?” Nana asked as she was looking out towards the lawn.
“Yes miss?” Meli answered from the side, her bunny ears drooping as she bent over respectfully.
“My mother is a commoner born and I am born Noble. Will I be expected to become like a Noble of the court, or will I be expected to become a warrior just like her?” Nana asked.
“My, what a strange question. All Nobles are warriors. They have the duty to defend their lands and their people.” Meli answered.
“You know what I mean.” Nana said back, waving her arms to dismiss meli’s statement. “I am the daughter of great Deria D’ven Zeerus. Conqueror and Terror of Milandir. I can’t imagine that I will be expected to lead a very peaceful life.” Nana explained. Meli smiled but with a hint of sadness.
“You are right. People will see you through your mother.” Meli answered in agreement.
“Then my life will be as warrior first and Noble Second.” Nana concluded. Looking up at the endlessly blue sky. The spec of cloud was nowhere to be seen.
“You are right. By fate or by machinations of man, you will be drawn to the sword and flames.” Meli replied respectfully.
“And maybe becoming stronger will help me with the nightmares” Nana whispered to herself.
“Miss, please have some tea. I will instruct the range to be set up for when you’re done. I can teach you how to do archery. It might help you keep your mind off the nightmares”
“Thank you Meli.”
Nana accepted the Tea brought by a servant girl and leaned back. The day was sweltering hot but Nana leaned back to bask in the light.
Breathe in not too much but not too little, the point just before it becomes pain.
Hold the breath, like you’re taking a dip in deep water,
Line up the body so that a line from shoulder to shoulder aligns to the target
Aim slightly above the target to compensate for the distance.
Let go of the bowstring and let the arrow fly.
A satisfying sound reverberated in the air for a moment.
“How is it?” Meli asked. She was holding onto her own bow while wearing a shorter maid outfit then usual.
“That’s… really refreshing!” Nana sighed happily. Nana gave Meli a big smile. “I think this is helpful!”
“I’m glad to hear that, miss. Now remember, your posture and your breathing will highly impact your shot, so even if you can’t aim, at least practice perfecting the form and breathing technique so that if you miss, it won’t be because of fundamentals.” Meli reminded Nana again.
“Can I try shooting more?” Nana asked eagerly, bouncing up and down on the ball of her feet in anticipation.
“Of course, Miss Nana. We are here just to give you a chance to practice. Feel free to shoot some arrows until we serve Lunch.”
“Thanks Meli!” Nana said with a quick hug of Meli’s stomach. It was the highest Nana could reach without having Meli bend over.
A servant boy removed the launched arrows from the ground or target where they had landed while Meli exchanged few more words with Nana.
“Well miss, I must be getting back inside to see what the lunch crew is doing. Hopefully not slacking because I’m out here…” Meli said unhappily.
“Go go! I’ll be fine! Go do your thing!” Nana bid Meli to go.
Once the Boy was out of the way with the arrows and Meli had returned to the Manor, Nana looked to the target once more.
Nana shifted her feet until they lined up with the target, then turned her torso so that her shoulders lined up with the target as well. Taking an arrow and nocking it, she raised it up slightly above the target as she breathed in and then slowly lowered the bow until she thought it was the correct height. Once it was in place, she held her breath and loosened her grip on the bow until only the groove between the thumb and the index finger held up the bow by the tension of the string.
When she felt ready, she let go of her string and heard the pinging noise of the vibrating bow and the arrow cutting through the air towards her target.
Nana smiled. It was her first shot within the circle.
Nana took up another arrow to practice more.
It was serene. Holding the breath and tensing then releasing the bow was meditative. Nana discovered that moment right after releasing the arrow was calming, so much so that she wasn’t experiencing flashbacks of her nightmare during the entirety of the practice session.
Her mind was silent. Instead of being drenched deep in the stench of blood and death, there was sweet smell of trees and grass. Instead of shouts and screams, there was the soft ruffle of leaves swaying in the wind. Instead of scorched and dry dearth, there was cooling moisture upon the grass she stepped on.
Nana paused to admire the smooth curvature of the bow. The toughness of the horse tendon bow string. The simplicity of the idea, and the great many generations it must have take to refine the core ideas into this bow…
With reverence to those who came before her, those who have shaped the bow over generations, she drew another arrow from the quiver and readied another shot.
Lift the bow
Aim the shot
Nana watched transfixed as the arrow swam through the air.
Another satisfactory hit.
Nana paused to think about her nightmare. This time it wasn’t the usual involuntary flashbacks. Instead, it was an intentional recollection.
She saw in her dreams a black and red sword. But never had she seen a bow in a nightmare.
“If this is Deja Vu, then perhaps learning the bow will change my fate.” She thought wistfully.
She reached back to grab another arrow but found the quiver empty. Shrugging, Nana walked up to the target to collect the used arrows off of the target.
“There you are!” Wynette complained as soon as she saw Nana. She hurried towards Nana. “Where were you?”
“I was practicing archery and lost track of time,” Nana replied calmly.
“Did… did you go to archery in THAT?” Wynette asked, pointing at Nana’s casual dress. Nana looked down at herself in reflex.
“Yes? Am I supposed to wear something else?” Nana asked innocently.
“Ugh, yes! But it’s almost lunch time so we should get you changed out of that so we can put some food in you. Also, we’ll have to get an archery outfit made for you!” Wynette quickly said with a strange glint in her eyes.
“Uhh, ok?” Nana answered cautiously. Wynette wasted no time and dragged Nana towards the bedroom.
“Here, wipe your hands on this so you don’t get your clothes dirty” Wynette said as she handed over a small face towel. Nana accepted it without a word and found it slightly warm and damp.
“It’s clean. Just get those dirt out of your hands.” Wynette said hurriedly. “If we’re late, miss Meli is going to have a fit.”
“I know, but I think she’d understand why we were late today though.” Nana guessed.
“I hope you’re right, miss.”
Nana wordlessly dressed down.
It wasn’t because she was busy thinking or she had nothing to say. She was getting another round of flashbacks. She did her best to ignore the flashbacks as they occur and focus on what she was doing.
“It was a mistake dressing you up in white today. So here is a dark tan dress.” Wynette said, picking out an outfit from the walk-in closet.
Nana raised her arms up so Wynette could slip on the new dress. Nana adjusted the arms as wynette worked on buttoning up the back.
“So how was archery?” Wynette asked while arranging Nana’s dress.
“It was awesome! I recommend you try it!”
“Are you sure I should?” Wynette paused to ask.
“Why not? You’re a nobleborn and you do have free time during the day.”
“Still, I am servant as well. I am not entirely sure if it is proper for me.”
“Since when did you care about proper?” Nana asked in surprise as Wynette stopped to think.
“Alright, I’ll just say the reason out loud. I wouldn’t like to try. I think it doesn’t fit me, and I don’t have all that much time between chores. I already have things I like to do in my break. I wouldn’t want to sacrifice time off of doing the things I enjoy in exchange for something that I might not even enjoy.”
“Whoa, you can really think things through.” Nana exclaimed at the part that she found most shocking.
“Only sometimes.” Wynette winked
“Oh my, we’re going to be late!” Nana announced after she noticed the time on the clock hung above the door.
“Oh crap! Let’s hurry!” Wynette hastily replied. The two girls hurried to get Nana dressed.
Nana and Wynette turned the corner and hastily opened the doors to the luncheon room. Table was already set and Meli was standing and waiting for the girls.
“Sorry we’re late!” Wynette quickly apologized as soon as she stepped into the room. “And about the dress too!”
Meli shook her head.
“We didn’t call for a seamstress yet. Don’t worry about the dress for today.”
Both girls let out a sigh of relief.
“Come, Wynette. Serve your master her lunch.” Meli beckoned Wynette over. That was when Nana noticed that Meli had been holding onto a white apron for Wynette.
“Yes ma’m.” Wynette replied as she walked up to Meli.
Wynette put on the apron and quickly tied it behind her. The two of them walked out the service door and soon emerged with the lunch menu. The aroma quickly filled the room and Nana felt herself salivate.
“Today’s lunch menu is Rou Monster beef.” Meli announced. Nana ignored the rest and focused on the slab of meat before her, like some starved beast was unleashed.
It wasn’t until halfway through that Nana caught herself and slowed down eating.
“Like Mother like daughter.” Wynette quipped and shook her head sarcastically.
“Sorry. I guess I was hungry and too relaxed today. I was caught off guard.” Nana explained, giving her excuses.
“Oh? You found something to take your mind off of your nightmares?” Wynette asked as she brought over a napkin.
“I guess so.” Nana confirmed before wiping herself off. “I wish I wasn’t such a messy eater when I disassociate.”
“What would you like to do after tea time?” Wynette asked without being able to wait until later.
“How about hide and go seek?” Nana offered with her eyes shining. Wynette grimaced.
“I’m little too old for that. Besides, you can cheat with your nose so it’s not even fair. Also, I don’t want to be responsible for you ending up becoming like your mother. How about reading up on gladiatorial results and make bets on the next fights?”
“That’s totally unfair too. You never lose and I never keep up with the news of the fighters.”
“Ok then, what neutral thing do you propose then?” Wynette asked, feeling rejected.
“Make a fort and play make believe?” Nana offered.
“Rejected. Same reason as before; I’m too old for that.”
“What about Board games, miss?”
“Ok… what about snacks? Would you like to pig out with me?” Wynette offered
“What about baking our own things?” Nana countered.
“That can work. I think that’s probably a good compromise. Except-”
“- except we have to do it tomorrow because you got chores.” Nana finished Wynette’s sentence
“No, they need to clear up kitchen space for us two. So that we don’t disturb the dinner crew in the kitchen.” Wynette cleared up Nana’s misunderstanding right away.
“Wanna do anything else meanwhile?” Nana asked before taking a bite out of the beef before her.
“Want to play music miss?” Wynette offered.
Nana grinned and nodded.
“Ok, I’ll be right back.” Wynette informed her before rushing out the door.
Nana happily continued to eat her food, which tasted even better now that she had something to look forward to.