Silver chalice

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Located in the East Exhibit Room of the River's Rest Museum, this silver chalice has a loresong about tempering pride with common sense.

Description

The bottom of this onyx inkwell is engraved with a seal.  Clearly, the inkwell served double duty.  Written on the side of the inkwell are the words 'You could do worse.'

A tag attached to it states, "This small inkwell was the property of Kemal Jaffar.  Jaffar was originally sent to River's Rest by King Gardiel of Torre in 4241 M.E. as part of the Royal Survey and Census party.  His reasons for remaining behind in River's Rest after the others left have long been a mystery.  There is no mystery, however, about the service Jaffar provided to the people living in River's Rest.

Kemal Jaffar was the most effective 'wali' the island has ever known.  In his time he arranged marriage contracts for well over a thousand 'river rats.'  It is said Jaffar never had an unsatisfied client.  Birth records dating from 4245 M.E. show the most common name for newborn boys was Jaffar.

Loresong

Holding the chalice in your hands, a vision comes to you of a scrawny auburn-haired girl holding a bow much too big for her.  An older man watches her attempts to draw the bow with an obvious mixture of pride and amusement.  "Even I couldn't draw that bow when I was your age," the man says.  "Let me get you a smaller bow, Anka."

The girl looks up at the man and, in a serious and sober voice at odds with her age, says, "I would practice with this bow a bit longer, father.  That way when I get a smaller bow, it will seem easy.  And then I can enter the county test and win a trophy just like you."


Your song transports you to an open field on a bright, sunny afternoon.  Three youngsters stand at a line, facing a trio of archery butts in the middle of the field.  One of the three is young Anka, still scrawny but with the same sober determination.  The three hold their bows at the ready...arrows nocked, but not drawn.  Behind them is a crowd of other youngsters, some holding bows of their own and looking dejected.  Adults watch as well, trying to disguise their feelings of pride or disappointment or pity.

At the command from a uniformed marshall, the three youngsters draw their bows, take aim at the butts, and loose their arrows!  One boy's arrow narrowly misses the target.  But the arrows of the other two strike near the bullseye!

Anka, confident her arrow is nearer the center than that of her opponent, risks a look over her shoulder at her father.  She appears surprised by the look on his face...a look of resignation rather than pride.

The marshall strides to the archery butts, closely examines the two arrows in the target, then strides back.  He clears his throat and announces, "The winner by a narrow margin is his Lordship, Wilf of the House Weirlund.  Three cheers for his Lordship!"


You grip the silver chalice tighter as you feel yourself pulled back to that same sunny field.  Only two archery butts are arranged in the center of the field, and only Anka and Wilf stand at the line.  They're older now and Anka is no longer scrawny.  She's a strong young woman, plain of face, with her auburn hair drawn back severely.  The same look of sober determination marks her face.  Wilf, a handsome lad in fine, tailored apparel, glances at her out of the corner of his eye.  It's difficult to tell if the glance contains dread or fascination.  Anka's father, among the audience, notes the glance without emotion.

At the marshall's command, Anka and Wilf draw their bows and release their arrows.  The motion is smooth and effortless, as simple and as elegant as the moment an apple falls from the tree.  Both arrows strike at virtually the same moment, a single *thump* like the pulsing of a doe's heart.

Anka turns away and begins to unstrap her wrist guard as the marshall strides out to examine the results.  Wilf looks at her and a blush of shame crosses his face.  He appears about to speak when the marshall cries out, "The winner by a narrow margin is his Lordship, Wilf of the House Weirlund.  Three cheers for his Lordship!"


The chalice seems to vibrate in your hand as, once again, you're drawn back to the very same archery butts.  The sun shines as brightly as before, the grass is as green as before and the audience around the two archers is as thick as before.  The two archers, however, have changed again.  Both are now young adults.  Anka is as strong and supple as a green willow wand.  Her plain features have matured into a fine-boned face that is more handsome than beautiful, but very striking.  Wilf's face is marked now by pride and petulance.

At the command of the marshall the two archers nock their arrows and draw their bows.  But this time only Wilf releases his arrow!  Anka slowly puts her arrow back in her quiver and begins to unstring her bow.

The crowd is absolutely silent.  The marshall stands still, uncertain whether to repeat the command or go examine the only arrow to find the target.  Wilf's face has gone bloodless as he turns to look at Anka.  "Why did you not shoot?" he asks.

Anka winds up her bowstring and slips it into her pocket.  "I shot last year," she says.  "And the year before that, and the year before that, and all the years before that.  There is no need for me to shoot.  Your arrow will always be closer than mine."

Wilf draws himself up straight and stiff.  "You dare to suggest that the outcome is rigged?!" he demands.  Anka removes her wrist strap.  "I dare only to suggest that your arrow will always be closer than mine," she says.  "I am the better archer," says Wilf with wounded pride.  Anka stares at him for a long moment.  "And that, I'm sure, is why your arrow is always closer than mine."


As you resume your song to the chalice you once again feel drawn away.  This time, however, you find yourself in a small cart being driven by Anka's father.  Anka sits quietly beside him.

Her father gives her a long look and begins to speak.  Anka interrupts, saying "You don't have to tell me, father.  It was a foolish stunt.  I know that archery is about making the shot, not winning trophies.  I know that the shot is its own reward. I know that the purpose...."

"Hush," her father says.  "I was about to tell you how very proud I am of you.  You didn't have to loose that arrow, Anka.  You'd already *made* the shot.  The arrow itself would have been irrelevent.  And like every other arrow you've ever shot against Wilf, it was closer to the mark than his."

Anka looks at her father, tears forming in her eyes.  "I'm thinking of going south, father," she says.  "South to River's Rest.  I know it's dangerous, but I feel I have something to contribute.  There is a new leader there who fights against the trolls and orcs with such boldness and creativity.  I want to...."

"I know," her father says.  "I've been expecting this for weeks.  You want to test your skills where it really counts.  I won't lie to you and tell you I think you should go.  But neither will I lie to you and tell you that you shouldn't.  But if you go, you should go soon.  And you should take this with you."

Her father reaches beneath the seat of the cart and pulls out the silver chalice.  "In all the uproar, I figured nobody would notice if the trophy went missing.  And you've earned it many times over.  Think of me whenever you look on it."