Read now a part of the original legend:
Once upon a time, there was a mighty lord called Barreius. Wealthy was he, and master of many crafts, but from all things that were close to him, he treasured most his only daughter, Celenia of the Everchanging Eyes. For such was the miracle in her, that her eyes always changed; some whispered there was not only mortal blood in her veins. And she was of a silent, calm nature, yet kind to everyone, so even hardened warriors felt unsure and shy around her. Many have asked for her hand, but the Lord always declined, for it is not yet the time, or so he said.
A hundred leagues from his palace, lived lord Malchio, in his own palace, on his own lands. And he had a son, named Nevario, that was a skilled hunter above all others, for no animal would escape him if wished, though he rarely killed them. And as it happens, his heart listened to the songs and poems of the beautiful Celenia, and he decided to have a look on her, to catch a glimpse of her strange eyes, to see their magic.
And so set out, nothing but a horse did he need. And no guard did notice him, no dog has barked, such was his skill of approaching animal or man. In a great garden he has found her, and when he caught a glimpse of her eyes, he, the Hunter, was caught himself. No one would see him if he was hidden, but her green eyes have. And his heart stopped, and he knew how a trapped and helpless animal feels, though he never found greater pleasure.
She smiled in her calm way, and asked him:
“Why are you hiding amongst my flowers?”
He gathered his breath as he could, and so he answered:
“Amongst the flowers I am, to see the most beautiful flower that is, the wonderful Celenia.”
And her blue eyes smiled, and so she asked him, being a lord’s daughter:
“Then, you do know my name, but I do not know yours. Is a look all that you seek?”
The Hunter, kneeing amongst the flowers, bowed, and so he answered:
“Nevario is my name, son of lord Malchius am I, and if I may spend a few moments with you, hiding between flowers, or walking in your blessed company, I shall be the happiest man ever.”
Again did her brown eyes smile, but sadness was in her voice:
“Alas, my father is far from loving your family. The reason I do not know, but ever is he fearing your father’s armies. You should leave, lest he finds you, and becomes angry, for in anger he has no match in anyone.”
For just a little bit more time he begged her, but it was already too late. For the guards around her were ever alert. The Hunter was hidden well, their talk was not. So they caught him, and presented him to their lord. And lord Barreius put him into his deepest prison, to stay in shackles until he dies.
But there was soon alert in lord Malchios’ palace and city, for the young prince could not be found. All of his servants were questioned, until his best friend and hunting companion remembered, what songs the Hunter liked most.
And so set out lord Malchius, a great host of warriors following him. Deep was his love for his son, and his wish for final peace was threatened. For in those ancient times, a Lord was much closer to the Land than today, and did not get older, nor died of old age. But weariness was already in this lord’s soul, and he hoped to pass his crown to his son, to pass the burden, knowing the Lands will be in good hands.
Thus the army arrived, before lord Barreius’ gates. And so cried aloud lord Malchius:
“Speak to me, my noble neighbour, and tell me truthfully: Where is my son, Nevario, is he not in your palace?”
For that was a part of being a Lord in those ancient times: to never lie, nor ever break a given oath. And Barreius answered:
“Indeed he is. The Hunter preyed, on what I value most. Thus I have taken him as prey, and put into deepest prison, to stay in shackles until he dies. Have you come to take him by force, and break my law?”
Hand gripping the hilt of his sword tightly, lord Malchius cried even louder:
“The folly of youth need not be a reason for death. Return to me my only living child, and I promise to you, standing before the Land and the Heavens, my army and you being witness, that I will withdraw, and never return, and neither shall my army ever pass your borders. But if you won’t… then I swear right here, that I will lay siege to your city, until it stands in ruins, and every man, woman and child is dead, and your lands become a wasteland.”
Deadly fear crept into lord Barreius’ heart, for he knew what enemy stands before his gates, a warrior beyond measure, and a great leader of men. He accepted the terms quickly, yet the wound on his pride was too deep. He came to the prison, where Nevario lied, bound in shackles, awaiting his death. But lord Barreius was master of many crafts, and uncovered a way to keep his pride: he skinned the young man alive, and so fine was his work, that despite the terrible pains, he could be delivered to his father, living and breathing.
“You shall recieve my prey, alive as you asked for it. I have only taken one thing, that belongs a hunter: a pelt to be hanged above my fireplace, so I may rejoice when the cold winter comes. Now be gone!”
Fiery anger exploded in lord Malchius’ heart, but the word of a Lord is law, and without it, he is nothing. Not a single word escaped his lips, though thousand curses and insults echoed in his mind. Thus the great host marched in deadly silence back to their homes.
As a terrible fever consumes the young prince, so consumes deadly revenge his father. And so was his friend and servant once more called into the lords chambers. Calmly the lord spoke, as if his son was not about to die:
“They say you are a hunter and archer beyond measure, young one.”
Terrified was the boy, and thus he answered:
“Little of a hunter am I, o lord. But what creature your noble son ever found and appointed to me, that has my arrow stroken unerringly.”
A smile returned on the lord’s face after so many days, but it was a cruel, cold smile. Thus he commanded the servant:
“Then go in the name of my son, as he lies dying in his bed. Go to the house of lord Barreius and use your bow and arrows once again!”
The legends we came across, differ at most in this regard: what command has the Lord given and what happened then? In some he wished for the death of his enemy, in others for hers. In some the servant missed, in some he disobeyed, and still in others it was the Lord himself. But the result is always the same:
...came upon a great feast. The crafty lord Barreius fashioned a statue of wood, and pulled the living skin of his prey on it. And thus he sat next to it, and offered his guest wine and meat, and his friends laughed loudly, for they were afraid of his anger. The beautiful Celenia had such a great sorrow in her black eyes, that no one dared to speak to her.
And so they celebrated this great victory, until a deadly arrow shot through the great hall. Close it was to the laughing Lord Barreius, but not close enough. Close it was to the statue, that looked so much like the young prince, but not enough. The Arrow has but found its mark: Celenia of the Everchanging Eyes. Pierced it has her unblemished body, pierced it has her young heart. She closed her golden eyes, and calmly as she lived her life, she died. The Arrow has broken with her fall, and never was whole again.
The rest is unavoidably tragical. Lord Barreius descends into madness, and repairs the arrow that killed his only daughter. Cursing it, he sends someone to kill (or does it himself). Mortally wounding Lord Malchius, or killing his wife, war destroys both realms. All die, and as the pact with the Land is broken, chaos reigns, and no true Lord arised anymore. So are the older legends of the Arrow.
New legends, however, do exist, and the Arrow is mentioned on occassion. It is likely some assasinations are wrongly attributed to it, but the descriptions have often something in common. I have tried to ascertain the most probable look and attributes of this legendary item:
- The Arrow’s body itself is not that exceptional. Black-feathered (probably raven feathers), with an iron-head of older design, fletchers that examined probable specimens reported it to be solid work, but certainly no masterwork.
- The Arrow is always found broken, and according to the legends, it will break after each shot. While splintered, the parts fit perfectly, and it can be glued or tied together easily. I am no master of the bow, but should not this change its flight?
- The wood is deeply red from the blood it has drunken, from the tip to the breaking point. The other half, however, has a much lighter red hue.
- One of the reports I have found, claims the Arrow is exceptionally hard, harder than stone, and resisted a few attempts to break it. Cursed items are said to be so.
- If you shoot the Arrow with the intent to kill at someone, then killing it will do. Note that it does _not_ necessarily hit the intended target! As any arrow, it can miss. But if it always kills… it will wound someone, mortally.
- It always breaks after the hit.
- It is said that an innocent being always dies as a result of its use. Sometimes, the innocent being is the target, or accidently hit by it. In some cases were innocent people executed for only being suspicious, or killed in the panic after the kill. This may or may not be only a rumour, but should be considered, if anyone plans to actually use it.
- A few stories say the Arrow has a tendency get lost after the deed, and be found later by someone willing to use it. I found these stories to be untrustworthy, and the loosing and being found can be easily explained, see below.
Locating the Arrow:
To be true, the Arrow might actually not exist. Maybe it is only a legend, and nothing more. It is very possible (and I believe it), that it existed, but was destroyed, as cursed items rightfully deserve.
Barring the usual tombs, and subterrenean locations, where it could be hidden, there exist reasons to keep it secure. The Arrow is a fine (and final) political tool for those of less scruples. Even high-standing noble men would see its importance, for with a good archer, the death of an enemy is almost guaranteed, at the right moment. Plus it is better hidden to fall not into wrong hands.
My personal belief is then, that the Arrow is either destroyed, or kept safe. Should its possessor be revealed, he will surely face great problems from all the noble houses, and likely be forced to give it up, or destroy.
A treatise from Nilrias, Imperial Librarian