Dacior was abuzz with excitement. Dacior was hosting the Septimus games after 70 years. The Septimus games were the most prestigious and competitive games held every 10 years between the seven kingdoms of Dacior, Abristan, Prenella, Linglorn, Avagdh, Naman, and Sluti. All the games were a form of combat sports and there were 11 of them in all, including archery. Only the best of the best were chosen to represent their country in each sport. There was a peculiar rule though, that no king or prince could represent their kingdom in the games. This was a tradition that started years ago to ensure that no heir to the throne got killed in the attempt to win the games.
However, there was no rule about princesses participating in the games. This was a loophole Dia was well aware of. No one apart from Daius, Arthur, and some well-trusted servants knew about Dia’s prodigious archery skills. Dia was 16 years now. She had been practicing the art of archery for 10 years. Naturally, she wanted to be the representative of her country in archery.
The selection for the Dacior representative in archery was to be held in two days. Daius was out on a mission in a neighbouring kingdom and wasn’t returning until just before the games, so she couldn’t meet him to discuss how she could pull off becoming Dacior’s representative without revealing her identity. So she went to Arthur.
“Arthur! Psst”, she said from behind a statue to get his attention.
“Princess!”, said Arthur. “How may I be of service today?”. He guessed what she was going to say, having known her since she was a child.
“Arthur, you’ve got to help me. I need to find a way to compete at the archery selections. I know I’ll be chosen. I just know it!”
Arthur looked at the look of fierce determination that was so characteristic of the princess. He knew that she wouldn’t rest until she found a way. He also knew that she’d somehow manage to do it with or without her help.
“Princess, I’d like to help you. But you do realise that at the end of the Septimus games, whether or not you win, you will have to reveal your identity?”
“Yes, I am aware. I also know that I have no intention to lose. So when I do reveal my identity, my father and the entire kingdom will have little choice but to accept the fact that I’m an archer. Archery is more than a sport to me. It’s my way of living”.
“Very well, princess”. As you wish. Now listen carefully to what I have to say…”
Dia’s eyes widened and she broke into a wide grin at Arthur’s ingenious plan. She knew that it would work perfectly at the selections.
Two days later, at the selections, 50 participants were seen at the arena. Few of them wore hoods while some had shaven heads. One particularly scrawny one was seen too, whose face was completely covered in a maroon coloured scarf except for her eyes which glittered green in the noon sun. Princess Dia was dressed as one of the Huba tribespeople. They seldom participated in these competitions, but their attire was an accepted one in the kingdom. So no one questioned her though she did get a few side glances from a few curious archers.
Arthur had surpassed himself in how thoroughly he’d planned this. Dia was staying with family of the chieftain of the Huba tribe for the last couple of days. She was parading as the chieftain’s youngest daughter, Reba, whose physique was very similar to hers. Reba didn’t mind hiding out in her house a few days while Dia impersonated her.
Dia, participating under the name of Reba, was feeling nervous. This was the first-ever time that she was going to be showcasing her archery skills in front of other people! But she was determined to do her best and show that she was indeed worthy of representing her country. So she steeled herself as she waited for her name to be called to showcase her skills.
Every archer had to go through three rounds. The first round was to shoot the bullseye which was the simplest round. 36 archers made it round 2, including Dia. Round 2 had a moving target – a bullseye set atop a large swinging pendulum. Merely 7 archers made it through to the final round. The third round was the hardest. It needed the archers to look at a bullseye perched on a tree some 50 feet away reflected in a pond and shoot it down. This not only tested their archery skills but also their spacial skills and ability to calculate distance by merely looking at the target’s reflection.
That’s where Dia’s architectural training came in handy. Having learnt about buildings and dimensions since she was a little girl, she understood the spacial relationship between objects extremely well. While the other archers where highly skilled archers, she was not only a highly skilled archer but also a highly skilled architect. By the end of round 3, she was the last woman standing.
And thus, Reba of the Huba tribe became the representative of Dacior in the Seprimus games.