The beast prowled around the countryside with conceited impunity. Its roar reverberated, stabbing the hearts of the village folks with the cold steel of dread. It had laid waste to the whole realm, killing the strongest youths of the land with implacable relish. The predator left darkness and death in its destructive wake. The whole village would cease to exist if nothing happened soon.
People could not leave their houses anymore to go the farms and springs. Pests had taken over the farmland and the harvest was rotting. Poverty had started wielding a heavy hammer of devastation against the economy. The pillars that held the structure and systems of Earth-dale were crumbling.
The King knew something had to be done fast, but what? Facing the beast was out of it since He could not operate outside His castle walls in the vales where the beast reigned. He needed a weapon with range and power. As the greatest Archer in the kingdom, redemption would have been to take it out with an arrow from the rampart of His castle, alas His quiver was empty. Furthermore, he needed a special arrow to take down the monstrosity that ravaged His beloved city. However, he was in a bit of a quandary because not every arrow could go on this assignment.
In quiet contemplation, He took a walk through the palace woods; His robe, a glorious rainbow of colours. The fabric shimmered and dazzled with jeweled reflections that made the most beautiful flowers in the land pale. Foremost on His mind though was where He was going to get an arrow that would get the job done. The forest was littered with dead lifeless wood that had fallen off their parent trees. Here and there, they were being stockpiled to be used as firewood, they were good for naught else. As He passed by a bubbling stream, He happened upon a vine by its banks. Its leaves were verdant and its boughs were heavy with fruit. It was the most remarkable tree in the woodland, full of life and energy. The King instinctively knew His arrow would come from this tree that had so much life. He used His double edge sword to cut off the branch with the heaviest bunch of fruit.
He began to work on it, night and day, every hour without slumbering or sleeping. He knew the right specification the arrow needed to assume, so He kept fashioning and whittling. He designed the branch for purpose until it became a veritable weapon, sharp and deadly! Excess weight had been shorn off and the point sharpened and reinforced with steel. The instrument of war was wonderfully and beautifully made. It was such a picture of perfection that it was almost impossible to believe it was a weapon of combat. Finally it was tempered over fire to give it durability. The stewards labouring with him in the smith even thought the King was going to burn the projectile. However, The Archer knew the right temperature that would give strength and not destroy. He worked on the arrow until He felt like one with it, spirit, soul and body. The missile became an extension of Him. The stewards whispered amongst themselves that He had poured his life into it.
The feathers of an eagle were used to plume the arrow to give it direction, speed and flight. His workers wondered why. “It must not grow weary in its journey, it must fly with the soaring strength of the great bird,” He explained.
The arrow was finally ready. By this time, the monster was bolder, rampaging at the gates of the castle wanting to get in. It was consumed with its mission, to kill and destroy.
The King was enraged, He had built his domain in such a way that any spawn of evil would never be able to prevail. He could not believe the brazen nature of this fiend of hell. He climbed up to the watch tower of His palace with His ancient bow. Carefully notched the arrow and was about to draw. “Coldness will not cut it,” He thought. Some fervency would be needed. He dipped the arrow in oil and set it ablaze with a torch hanging on the concrete wall.
Minutes later, the bow thrummed and sang, and the arrow flew, exultant in its freedom. It pressed towards the mark of its calling, free of all else but to do its Master’s bidden. It existed for The Archer’s will and purpose. The thud as it struck the heart of the beast was lost in the roar of pain, agony and fury that followed. The beast trashed and lunged at the doors with unimaginable ferocity. The King smiled on His perch knowing that things were not usually as they seem. The animal was in its death throes, its final resistance before fatality choked away its last breath.
It died and Earth-dale thrived again.
The arrow was retrieved and preserved. It was bound by strings of gold to The King’s staff of office, showcased for the entire kingdoms to see. All came from wide and near bearing all kinds of dazzling treasures to gaze at the weapon that He had used to save the world and preserve posterity.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
2014 Ekpo Ezechinyere