Richard looked down over the scene in the main chapel and glowered. A full thirty Ushers, fully armored, fully armed, stood at the ready, surrounding Bishop Knott. The crowd was thick, there would be no way that his small band could get to the Bishop before he could be whisked away to safety, not without spreading them very thin. They would need to rely heavily on the element of surprise.

He looked around the room quickly, and devised his plan. The second floor opened out over the chapel from all sides, allowing his people to get into position, they would only need a distraction, one he was happy to provide. Once everyone was in place above the exits he untied one of the ropes used to lower the large chandelier and swung out over the assembled soldiers, letting out a war cry as he went. The soldiers turned to face him as he swung, and were met with his boot as he began to run across their helmets, continuing his swing. At the end of its arc he released the rope, flipping around and drawing his bow down on the Bishop, landing in the middle of the aisle across the room, arrow knocked, as the chandelier dropped on another batch of soldiers.

A quick glance told him that his diversion had worked, the exits were all blocked, the company had used his entrance to slide down ropes to the first floor. He had taken out a few of the guards as well, but not enough, if they had a chance to rally it would be slaughter. He needed to act quickly, hold their attention, in the hopes that Furl’s Ushers would be able to reach them in time.

“If any man moves, I loose my bow,” he shouted with as much bravado as he could muster. “Bishop Knott, you have been deposed! Will you do the correct thing and accept your defeat?”

“You believe that because the Hood points an arrow at me I am defeated?” the Bishop replied, dryly. “I do not recognize your authority, and I think you overestimate your position here. If I am harmed my men will make short work of you, and all of your people. And for your insolence the peasants of the region will be punished as well. I suggest you put down your bow and allow my guard to escort you to the dungeon.”

“Your own church demands your surrender, Knott. You must comply.”

“I rule here by divine right, I do as I wish because it is my right to do so, and I will not listen to your insolence and your lies.”

Richard could see the guard getting restless, inching toward him, and his arm was beginning to tire. If he relaxed his draw they would surely attack. He needed a new tactic. And then he realized what it must be.

“And if your own goddess were to tell you otherwise?” he asked.

Knott seemed taken aback, hesitant to answer, but the guards turned to look at him. If he were to refuse in the face of the Oracle they would turn on him regardless, and he knew it. “If there were proof of her word, yes,” was all he could reply. “A test then. You are said to be an excellent archer, Hood. You will close your eyes, I will toss my ring into the air, and you will loose your bow. If your arrow catches the ring I will step down.”

“That shot would be impossible.”

“Without the guidance of the Oracle, certainly,” Knott said, smugly. “And if the Oracle is not on your side, you will go to the cells to await execution, along with the rest of this rabble.”

“Make your throw, then,” Richard said, closing his eyes. This would be a difficult enough shot to make with them open, he would need to trust his instincts. A moment passed, and he let his arrow fly. As it left his bow he opened his eyes and watched in fascination and disbelief as the arrow’s shaft perfectly slid through the center of the ring, catching it exactly right as it fell through the air, and lodged in the wall behind the Bishop with the ring dangling from it just before the fletching.

The members of the Cheerful Company let out a resounding cry of victory, and Bishop Knott fell to his knees in awe and disbelief as his men watched on, nodding. They would provide no more resistance. The tales of that shot would be told through history, sometimes attributed to the Oracle, sometimes to the Hood’s legendary skill, but all would agree that Richard’s actions that day led to a new era of peace and prosperity in the land.


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