Delila had helped me obtain a job with a bowyer named Maglor. She had called in a favor from him. Seeing as he was one of her former clients, he was more than happy help her out in giving me work. When we arrived at his shop, he took my hands immediately in his and examined them.
“Tiny,” he said softly. “Perfect for detail. She’s a good find Delila.”
“I figured as much,” Delila replied with a purr in her voice. “Are you willing to teach her?”
“She can start tomorrow,” He smiled.
Maglor was a kind man, though very strict when it came to his craft. For the most part, I clipped feathers to the right size for the arrows that Maglor made. He showed me the perfect size and made me do it over and over and over again until I had it perfect. Maglor showed me the difference between specialty arrow shafts and common every day shafts. He also showed me how to mount the fletching to arrow with a sinew from a deer. At first, one arrow took me three or four hours. Maglor was patient, never raised his voice and always showed me how to correct mistake I had made.
“If the fletching isn’t set right,” he explained on day. “The arrow will not shoot straight or it will whistle. The only time they should whistle is when they are to become signal arrows. Also make sure the threading is tight. You don’t want the feathers to fall out.”
I followed his instructions and with in a few weeks I was able to make a half dozen arrows in an hour or two. Impressed with my speed and learning ability, Maglor taught me how to fletch the specialty arrows. I took a bit more care in binding process, they were a higher quality of wood, and expensive. I watch Maglor make arrow heads. The tiny amount of molten metal was poured into a small cast and left to cool. They were then shaped to a smooth edge and set aside to be mounted onto the arrows. The left over shavings went into make more arrowheads. Fresh metal was used on all the specialty arrows, though their shavings were often reheated and used for the common arrows.
The most interesting thing to watch was when Maglor had an order for a bow. Watching him create a beautiful bow from a staff never failed to amaze me. He would start with a stave of wood, usually Oak or Maple, and in just a few short hours he would have a longbow ready to be strung. Maglor made it look simple. There were always lengths of wood tied to something, these were bow making woods that were seasoning.
“You’ve heard the old saying a branch that doesn’t bend, breaks right?” Maglor said to me one afternoon when he was making a simple long bow.
“Yes, it means as people and things change you should change too,” I replied not looking up from the threading I was doing.
“Correct,” he said. “Do you realize that it was probably a bowyer who came up with phrase?”
“I wouldn’t put it past one,” I said with a chuckle. “It’s probably the reason that bowyer can’t use extremely dried wood. The wood would snap and you’d have nothing but kindling.”
Maglor laughed softly as he worked the string onto a bow. This process took him hours to do. Bending a bit, then letting go, sometimes taking a bit of wood off to help shape the bow better. Once it was strung, he would leave it strung to break in the wood. The next day he would take the bow outside and shoot arrows at the target. Some would fall short, others used the entire pull of the bow. Finally, when he was satisfied with it, he would rub it down with animal fat to keep it from drying out or becoming too damp.
Some time later, I was working on an order of specialty arrows. Carefully threading the sinew through the feather. This wasn’t first time I had filled this particular order, the man who ordered them always ordered them with turkey feathers and linen threading. Maglor, explained to me, that he was one of the few customers who ordered the specialty arrows frequently.
“Ahh, Waien,” Maglor said. “Good to see you.”
“Mag,” Waien replied. “Gonna need more arrows. The last batch you gave me was bloody amazin’.”
“Oh?” Maglor said curiously, casting a gaze my direction for a moment as I worked on the fletching.
“I never had an arrow fly so smooth,” Waien said. “What did ya use ta hold the feathers in place? It weren’t the usual linen thread.”
I lifted my head and then looked at what I working on. Specialty arrows with sinew instead of thread. Damn it, I though to myself.
“Deer sinew,” I said without looking back at him. “I learned that it shrinks to the shaft when it dries out and makes an even tighter grip on turkey feathers.”
“Who’s the lass?” He asked Maglor.
“My apprentice,” Maglor replied. “Lyssa, come here.”
Taking a deep breath, I slid back my chair and made my way to the front counter of the shop. Waien had bright red hair like mine, his deeply tanned skin proved that he spent too much time in the sun. He gave off a feeling of being rough and rugged but a little more refine. Waien carried himself differently from the other woodsmen that I had seen in the shop. The expression on his face was one of recognition. He knew who I was.
“So, this is the wee one who’s been workin’ on me arrows,” Waien said, smirking. His eyes had a laugh to them. “I remember you. You were at the bathhouse a few months ago. Really caught the eye for me mate.”
“Waien, this is Lyssa,” Maglor said tensely. “My apprentice.”
“Nice to meet you,” I said. I shrugged off the comment about the bathhouse. I recalled him and his mate, I also recalled him and his mate talking about me. “I apologize for the mistake I made with your arrows.”
“No, dunna worry ’bout it,” he told me. “In fact, I want ya ta continue that mistake with me arrows, and I’ll expect them ta be d’livered in three days time. All two-hundred of ’em.”
Maglor nodded grimly, knowing that I was the one who was going to fletch every single arrow.
“And next time Miss Lyssa, you’ll pay careful attention to which arrows you are working on,” Waien told me while he counted out and handed several coins to Maglor.
“Thank you, Waien,” Maglor said as Waien walked out of the shop. Then he turned to me. “Do you realized you could have cost me one of the biggest customers of this shop?”
“I… I’m sorry Maglor,” I said. “I just wasn’t paying attention, it was late when I started Waien’s arrows and didn’t even realize that I was using the sinew.”
“Well you should consider yourself extremely lucky, girl,” He told me. I honestly think I would have preferred him to scream and yell at me than continue in a his calm voice. “Because you are going to fletch every single one of those arrows. I don’t care how long you are here for. You made this mess, you fix it.”