A young Stormguard trainee is sent to the Seven Islands for exclusive training and earns her lifelong nickname. Read on to learn more about ‘Kyūdō’ Kestrel!
- Ornate yumi bow with rayskin same-kawa wrapped grip and blades that snap open when the string is pulled!
- Flowered blue kimono top with red sun design on the back
- Golden hakama with white leaf design
- Deerhide tomo armguard
- Long pink tabi socks with geta sandals
- Deerhide quiver tied into burgundy obi sash
- Pink camellia in her hair
ALTERNATE FATE LORE
Becoming the Kestrel
“Focus: tip of nose. Do not cross eyes. Settle energy down inside belly. No blinking.”
The porcupine archery master of Les Sept-Îles accepted one apprentice a year, for a hefty fee, from the Storm Queen’s best young students. His severe eyes were beady and dark, his nose large and round. Glorious silver quills burst out from his forehead and back, but his chest, belly and limbs were human. He sat, in his black hakama trousers and sash, on the forest floor, watching the girl who, at fifteen years old, had already affected a permanent scowl.
A raven, one hundred paces away, also watched. He always watched.
The girl gripped the bow with her left hand and set her gaze. Her breathing settled. The master circled behind.
“Embrace large tree.”
Her elbows expanded, her fingers curled around the grip just so, the root of her thumb and little finger touching.
“Fine. Raise the bow.”
The bow scooped up, the girl’s fists rising above her forehead.
“No energy in chest and shoulders.”
She pushed her left arm forward, her right elbow back in tandem… and paused. Her arms shook. She locked her jaw, held her breath and strained, but the string would pull no further. She eased the string back and let out a frustrated breath.
“The draw’s too heavy,” she complained.
“Always the draw too heavy, the wind too fast, the rabbit too unpredictable.” The master stood, plucking errant camellia petals from his quills.
“I draw my bow one hundred times every morning and one hundred times every night, as you instructed. Something is wrong with this bow.”
The master took the bow from her. “I re-strung it. Heavier draw.” He plucked a long, stiff quill from his back, fanned out his feet, breathed, drew the bow, and shot the quill through a falling camellia flower fifty paces away.
“You wanted me to fail,” said the girl, her eyes filling with frustrated tears.
The porcupine man laughed with a nasal wheeze. “You pull with chest and arms, you succeed with a lighter draw. You breathe wrong, get lazy. Blink. Fine for hitting target. Fine for big beast drinking at a stream, maybe.” He flicked her ear, bruised and swollen from string snaps, and she gasped. “You are queen’s soldier. Instrument of war. Your targets are small and quick and strike back. You must be a war bird. A kestrel.”
“I don’t want to be a kestrel,” she whispered. “I want to stay here and become a master like you. Please…” She knuckled her eyes. “Don’t make me go back to the queen.”
The master’s tiny mouth twitched. He kicked at the insides of her feet, sliding them back into position. “You are the kestrel already. The arrow exists now in the target.” He handed the bow back to her. “Again. Power in belly, in legs, in feet, in center. Not in weak arms and chest. Power from the ground is strong enough for a heavier draw.”
Her gaze extended from her nose to the grass, to the sky, to the pagoda sinking into the distant morning fog. Her belly growled. Here, somewhere, was prey fit for a war bird.
The air lifted, held her as she hovered, weightless. The whispering cool wind fluttered her feathers. Her keen eyes scanned the ground and trees and, one hundred paces away, found it: the raven.
Her elbows expanded; her fingers curled around the grip just so, the root of her thumb and little finger touching. Her energy dropped with her breath, sank into her belly, so hungry, then into her legs, her feet, the ground. The raven felt her gaze and laughed at her.
The bow scooped up, fists above her forehead. Her left wing pushed forward, her right wing expanded back in tandem. Her chest ballooned with air. The string pulled back, far back, way back, behind her ear.
The arrow sailed away. The bow spun in her grip, the string against her wing. The raven fell.
“Fine,” said the master, settling into the grass. “Again.”
Read Kestrel’s canon lore: