Despite her faith in Lord Albin’s abilities, Evadna found she was nervous as she stood by the tree with the apple balanced on her head. Fred and Donovan had counted the 40 paces with painstaking precision. Jaxon had watched the proceedings with a frown, his arms folded across his chest. Lord Albin ignored Jaxon, bandying about jibes to Fred and Donovan and giving Evadna encouragement.
“Get it over with,” Donovan said.
“Shhh,” Jaxon responded, his eyes intent on Lord Albin.
Lord Albin stood poised in position, making sure when he released the arrow, it would fly true.
Evadna couldn’t make herself close her eyes, though she was sure it’d be easier if she could. She had the brief thought that she could die today, but dismissed it. She knew Lord Albin wouldn’t miss. She was safe.
Lord Albin released the arrow, and it sang through the air before puncturing the apple on her head and driving it into the tree. It happened so fast, Evadna flinched.
With a crow of exaltation, Lord Albin shouted, “I told you! I win the bet.”
Jaxon, looking tired and relieved, ignored Lord Albin’s dance of victory.
“Evadna, are you alright?”
Evadna nodded. “Yes. I don’t know why none of you were willing to stand with the apple. You know his skill.”
Confusion clouded his face for a moment. Then, he smiled and said, “Confidence often fails when you risk losing an eye.”
Remembering her moment of doubt, Evadna conceded. “True enough.”
Fred and Donovan interrupted to shake Evadna’s hand, congratulating her for her bravery.
Lord Albin took her head between his hands, face beaming. “Tomorrow we’re taking you hunting.”
Confused, but pleased, she agreed.
They practiced archery and wrestled one another for an hour or two, then rode home. From that day on, Evadna was a part of their circle. She was not only Lord Albin’s witch, she was their witch.