#1978

“Come on, Remr,” La’lua teased as the arrow went wide from its target, “I know you can do better than that!” Remr groaned and slouched after the arrow where it lay harmlessly in the grass. Seeing the barely contained laughter on La’lua’s lavender face when she returned, the darker tiefling stuck her tongue out. “There was wind,” she argued. “And the planet… rotated too quickly.” This only seemed to make the laughter harder for La’lua to fight. “Whatever!” Remr threw the arrow and bow down with all the drama of her teenage years, tail lashing with anger and embarrassment. “This is a stupid skill anyway. I don’t need a bow to study basilisks.”

“It’s a skill you’ll need if you’re going to go on to ranger school,” La’lua reminded her, retrieving the abused weapons, “or whatever it is rangers do to become rangers.” She held the bow out to Remr with a conciliatory smile. “You’re going to have to learn it eventually. And besides, you’re getting better. Just… slowly.” Remr wanted to hold onto her anger, but the other tiefling’s sweet smile made her limbs go wiggly and her heart beat with a very different emotion. With a begrudging sigh, she took back the bow and stared down at its simple, inert form. “How do you make it look so easy?” she whined, imagining how elegant and powerful the same weapon looked in her friend’s confident grip. “Magic?”

“No, not magic, silly. Some things just come naturally to some people,” La’lua deflected the compliment with her usual humility and held out the arrow. “Don’t worry, I’m going to help you train until you’re the best archer at the academy.” Remr blushed, as she always did when faced with La’lua’s unwavering positivity. She took the arrow and tapped La’lua’s purple horns with her red ones affectionately. “Well, second best,” she corrected with a wink. La’lua winked and returned the gentle bump. “You’re too kind,” she demurred. “Now, let’s try that again – I think the planet has slowed its rotation a bit.

– – –

“Fuck, Remr, that’s like the fifth arrow that’s gone wide!” From her position on top of the bloodstained altar, Tarcella aimed her own bow and landed a direct hit to the shambling mound swinging at their companions. Remr glared as the monster roared in pain. “It’s the fourth, thank you,” she called over to the halfling. “And yes, I noticed. I am also in this creepy chamber full of water and chanting ghosts.”

“Just concentrate!” Tarcella had another arrow knocked and fired by the time Remr had retrieved her final arrow from its quiver and pulled back the string. Staring down the arrow shaft, Remr breathed in through her nose and out her mouth, trying to clear her mind. She narrowed her eyes, fixing on the center of the massive plantand–

“Don’t worry, I’m going to help you train until you’re the best archer at the academy!”

–and fired wider than before. The arrow ricocheted off a stone wall and landed in the pool of murky water. Remr shook her head, rattled by the intrusion of a voice she hadn’t heard in years, and forced herself not to replay the rest of the memory. Instead, she threw down the useless bow, grabbed her ice pick, and jumped into the fray with a sudden fury that lent her speed and strength.

After the shambling mound had been reduced to piles of rotting plant matter, the party turned to follow their tracks out of the exorcised basement. As they walked, Tarcella elbowed Remr in the leg and flashed her a teasing smile. “Dude, why do you even have a bow?” she asked. Remr shrugged helplessly and returned the pirate’s smile with a self-deprecating one of her own. “Who fucking knows. I’m a ranger…?”

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