Episode 21: "Ardea's white hot training method!" (part 2)
"How is everything in here?" Ardea asked as she returned to the training arena.
"Doing great!" Wendy replied before parrying a move from Rory.
"Yeah, Wendy's doing very well." Rory agreed before he blocked Wendy's next attack
[Pull!] Hinata called to Kitsune. Kitsune heaved a target into the air, which Hinata aimed an Ember at, shattering the target in an explosion of flames and clay shards.
"Can I shoot something else yet?" Brock sighed as he fired yet another shot from 70 feet away. "Or better yet, shoot with my own bow?"
"You can take a break now..." Ardea assured Brock before showing him his bow, which now had ivy inlays etched in it. "Okay, I first gave you a stronger string, so your arrows can go farther and faster. Then I tweaked the design a bit, into a recurved bow. This way it's easier to maintain, but requires a little more strength than what you had before."
"It's beautiful...." Brock smiled as he took the newly refurbished bow from Ardea and returned the practice bow he had been shooting with. "The decorations are a nice touch."
"Glad you like it." Ardea smiled before retrieving a tape dispenser. "Where do you put your hand when you're shooting?"
"Right here..." Brock replied, pointing out the place in the center of the bow where he usually held it.
Ardea said nothing, but put a piece of tape on the point Brock showed her and on his hand. "Okay...what I want you to do is take a few shots, making sure the piece of tape on your hand and the piece of tape on your bow match."
Brock nodded, and readied a shot, being careful to remember to match the tape on his hand with the one on his weapon. He tried this a few more times, with Ardea looking on all the while.
After he had taken about six shots, Ardea removed the tape from him and grabbed a deck of playing cards. "Well done...your hand position is very nice for someone that hasn't shot in a while..." she began. "Now...what I want you to do is try and hit the heart in the ace of hearts." She paused to set the card in question into a small horizontal pulley. "Since I saw you're a good shot with a still target, I'm gonna make this drill a bit harder by making the card move."
Brock swallowed hard--he had never tried hitting a moving target before. "A-any suggestions for h-hitting a moving target?"
"Easy--just keep your eyes on the target." Ardea assured him. "You're more often than not going to find moving targets in the Tower of Runes and in the other seven Gem locations, so better learn now than later." With that, she started the pulley, making the card slowly approach the target, travel past it, then approach it again. "When you can hit the heart consistently at a slow speed, I'm gonna speed it up a little." she cautioned.
Brock nodded, and readied his shot as the card approached, but his shot just barely nicked the card. Not to worry, let's just try again...
His next shot managed to make a hole in the left edge of the card.Maybe if I released my shot just before the heart arrives...
He gasped in awe when sure enough, his third shot hit the middle of the heart! "YES!!!"
"Do it again!" Ardea urged.
Brock nodded, and fired another shot into the center of the heart, making sure to time his shot just before the heart came into his line of sight. But after a while, the heart was now riddled with arrow holes. "I think we need a new ace of hearts..."
"Not a problem--I keep tons of boxes of playing cards for this kind of practice." Ardea assured him as she set a new ace of hearts into the pulley. "I've gone through plenty of aces--spades, clubs, and diamonds as well as hearts."
After adjusting the pulley's speed, she continued. "Now, try hitting the heart at a little bit faster pace."
"Got it!" Brock replied before readying another shot....
"Thank you so much for the training." Wendy smiled. "I feel like I could take on anything, whether for real or on stage!"
"Anytime!" Ardea replied. "Consider it returning the favor for saving Kitsune."
"But before you go, I have something for you..." Rory interjected, handing Wendy a blue sword sheath. "This should protect you in the Tower of Runes--I call it the Blessed White Sword!"
Brock smiled as Wendy drew the blue and white blade and tried a few moves with it. She looks like a natural--a beautiful blade for a beautiful and brave companion.
"I just hope that you two are the first ones to return from the Tower of Runes alive." Ardea smiled. "Who knows what amazing things are in there just waiting to be found?"
"Well, when we get out of there, we'll tell you all about it!" Brock replied as he and Wendy departed the Gym and into the setting sun...
TO BE CONTINUED....