The archery contest was set for the next day. As they rode the river ferry, basically a raft, they spoke with the ferryman. They found out about a ruin nicknamed Robber’s Roost about 10 miles north of Asternor past Ot Lake and about 4 miles south of Merdna, another trade town similar but to but smaller than either Achoran or Asternor. They were again reminded of the dragon troubles the farmers of Varidna were having on top of the plague and crop blight that they were suffering. They entered town taking note of the flags that were being flown bearing the image of brown ram’s horn pierced by an arrow with white fletching against a yellow field.
They secured rooms in the second story of a tavern which was teaming with foreigners and travelers most of who were wielding some kind of bow. They drank in the tavern instead of the beerhall (which flew the heraldry of Fertum Vorahd, the white wooly ram’s head with golden horns against a green field) as the tavern being more expensive and lacking locals (locals drink free in beerhalls) it was probably safer. Later at late afternoon they found a fletcher and commissioned a quiver of dragon-bone arrows which would be ready in 8 days. Cris was worried as their supply of raw dragon bone was running low and he had only a couple of dragon-bone arrows left. They then went and registered for the tourney at the cost of a gold piece each and gave their names to the scribe.
The next day they found themselves in an open field just outside the city-palisades between the northwest running High Road and the more southerly western running Low West Road. The contest began at mid-morning with a carnival atmosphere, exhibition empty-hand fighters, jesters/actors and gypsies were along the road presenting entertainment, selling refreshments and trinkets and running scams. The field was packed; a farmstead could be seen in the distance about 2 to 3 miles off directly to the west. A portion of the field was cordoned off for the contestants with them shooting from decently enough crafted generic longbows supplied by the promoters at varying types of targets and different phases of the competition. There were spinning targets, targets that moved and/or ducked and large hay targets at varying distances. The prize was to be revealed to the audience and the contestants by Lord Vorahd when the final two contestants faced off. It started with over 100 participants and took only till high noon to be whittled down to a handful. Both Vor and Dead-Eye made it to this phase of the game. By late afternoon only Dead-Eye and one other were left. Vorwulf’s string snapped in mid-pull thereby disqualifying him. Dead’s opponent was named Wu’ahm a Hyvalian half-dragon/human the dark brown scales over the cheeks and nose contrasted with the light human shade of the rest of his exposed face. He was clad in a yellow silk cape embroidered on the back with sea horse, polished high quality green scale-mail and yellow silk pants. He had brown leather gauntlets and polished black knee high boots. His black hair tied in a topknot.
Both men had made an impressive showing up to this point and bets were readily being made in the crowd en masse.
Bers: “I’m taking some of that action!” She shelled out 100 gp on Dead-Eye to win.
Lord Vorahd made an appearance stepping down from the stands built for him and his family next to that built for the Asternor Civil Council clad in deep green drapery. He announced the names of the two who were competing for the prized and held up a solid gold arrow of obvious superior quality which he had found on an outing and thought it interesting to offer as the prize. The crowd was awed. The contest continued into the last round.
They began shooting their last four arrows and both were hitting bull’s-eyes and even splitting their own first and second arrows with the second and third. It came to the last volley for the prize and the crowd was hushed by the palpable tension that settled onto the field. The dragon-slayer was drenched in sweat as the sun continued to beat down on his shoulders. His opponent was focused and all too dry. Dead-Eye wiped his forehead. The two knocked their last arrows, drew back their bows and shot. Dead-Eye was just off center, the Hyvalian had struck dead center splitting his third arrow (he rolled a natural 20). After the crowd dispersed around late afternoon the group went to the beerhall to drink and ask around for information on Robber’s Roost and how to get there.
They saw that Wu’ahm was there fending off a crowd of archery fans with an air of typical Hyvalian arrogance. Dead-Eye tried to congratulate him and the man just brushed him off as well. Dead-Eye shrugged and went back to the table occupied by Bers and Vor to, in Cris’ words, “get stinkin’ drunk.”
They were determined to head off north and follow the Hill Road into the part of the road called the East Bend around the Southern Hills and break form the road there. They would then cut across, still traveling north, through some farmlands and make their way over the Ot-Norian Hills finally coming at least within sight of the ruins called Robber’s Roost. They were warned away by just about everybody they had asked about it. Especially since a few “fools” had went nosing around up there recently and summarily disappeared without a trace. This only encouraged them.
To Be Continued…