Chapter 2 - Birthdays and Bulls-eye's

As I approached the yard I could hear the sounds of chattering boys and laughing girls all up for their morning practice. I swung by the stables where I'd left my equipment and shouted a hello to the stableman Erik.  

"Mornin' to you too Miss Chalot, off to the archery range I see."  

"I sure am, can't start slacking if I want to keep up with the boys."  

"Them's the one's that should be worryin' Miss, no aim as deadly as yours."  

I smiled, touched, and turned to leave when he stopped me again.  

"Now wait Miss, I knew I be forgetting something, a very Happy Birthday to ye, that a new bow you got?"  

I beamed at him "Thank-you, and yes, it's an early gift from Mother, I'm dying to try it out."  

"I won't keep ye then, be sure to show 'em boys what a lady can do."  

"Don't worry Erik, I always do."  

I grinned and headed off towards the target boards passing the jousting yard and outdoor practice court on the way. Various other stable hands and people of court wished me a Happy Birthday. I smiled my thanks to them all and ran the last few feet when I saw Lily and Mira leaning against the fence. "Celia!" they yelled in unison. I laughed as I was caught up in their hugs.  

"Finally, your nineteen," Exclaimed Mira. 

Lily chimed in immediately "How does it feel, do you feel older? Wiser?"  

I laughed, "I feel just the same as I did yesterday and the day before, do I look any different?"  

"Nope, same old Cee, looking ready to kick butt as always" laughed Lily.  

"Ohh but with a nicer bow!" Mira yanked the bow from my grasp and ran her hands along it. "Beautiful, who from?"  

"My Mother, she surprised me with it this morning."  

"Well, lets see what you can do with it then" she said while holding the bow out to me. I smiled, feeling my adrenaline shoot up as I hopped over the fence and accepted my bow.  

Lily and Mira choose to run to the gate instead of jumping the fence like I had and soon joined me with their own bows in hand. We lined up each facing our own targets. I pulled back the string on my bow a few times, getting a feel for the elastic before fitting an arrow. I glanced over at Lily who nodded and counted to three.  

We loosened at the same time. Mira's arrow overshoot and flew over the target, Lily hit the second ring, and I smiled in triumph as my arrow flew straight and true into the red circle in the middle. Bulls-eye. We turned around at the sound of clapping.  

Prince Johnathan was leaning against the fence looking bored while his friends, David and Luke clapped enthusiastically. I smiled at them and they jumped over the fence to join us.  

"Impressive shot Cee," David said giving me a friendly clap on the shoulder.

Luke swept me a flamboyant bow. "I yield from now my Lady, remind me never to challenge you to archery or the men will lose what little respect for me they have," He said with a smile.  

I laughed and ruffled his hair. "You know I'd be happy to let you win if it was a matter of saving your pride," I teased.  

"I'll be calling you on that!" He said with a grin. Luke turned his attention to Mira and Lily sweeping them another grand bow. "Ladies."  

By this time John had reluctantly decided to heave himself over the fence and make his way over. I braced myself for whatever he would say determined not to let him ruin my day when David cut in.  

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