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100 Arrows

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Five years away from home.
You missed it, and, when you come back, you caress the wheat in the fields, as if you could hug your lands.
Everything changed.
Darkness, misery everywhere, and no one even tried to bring back the light.
Will you tolerate this?
At first you try, unwilling to lose all the things that you dreamed while you were away.
You fought for them, you survived to come back.
But you can’t.
You sacrifice everything because you can’t stand injustice.
Goodbye dreams, farewell my home.
You give them up. Your name too.
And you become a hero.

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Always at his side.
First as a servant, then as a friend.
You have never been brave or proud. You always wanted a simple life: a warm home, food in your belly, family, friends.
Yet, you followed him to a distant land. You learned to fight because you needed to protect him.
Your Master, your friend.
He brandished a scimitar, you wielded a shield.
Because you were his shield.
You kept the danger away from him, while he fought like the hero he was.
Always in his shadow, always at his side.
You shared everything with him: even the nightmares.

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“A woman shouldn’t do this.”
How many times did you hear these words?
“It must be because she lost her mother...”
“No wonder she is still a maiden...”
Whispers behind your back, because you’re not like them.
You don’t need a man to be protected, you want to be the one who helps.
But you can’t let them see what you are able to do.
They wouldn’t understand.
A woman who’s not afraid of brandishing a sword.
A woman who’s not afraid.
The world belongs to men, and you pretend you’re one of them, covering your beauty with a mask.

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When you married her, you couldn’t believe it was true: how could she, so pretty and graceful, love a big and rough man like you?
You were happy, but it didn’t last. It was hunger that made you become a thief: you stole food so she could survive. The soldiers came for you, and you ran into the forest, dead to the world.
She believed you dead, and you never dared to go back for fear that they could punish her in your stead.
Dead to the world. Dead to her.
Now every day is a good day to die.

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Carving the wood is a slow work: the same little, careful movements repeated again and again.
You can’t hurry if you want a good result: you have to think, to look at the wood and discover the shape hidden in its grain, and then take it to the light, bit after bit.
Your father taught it to you, and his gift will stay with you forever, even if he’s dead, now.
Her heart is like a piece of wood: you look at it and see the beauty in its grain.
With patience, time, and love, you will set it free.

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You look in the mirror and you see his face. Your lost brother.
Two parts of the same heart and one is gone too soon.
In your grief, you cut you hair to find him again in a reflection.
You have his face, you took his name, and it gave you strength when they took you to a distant land.
Where is your home?
They destroyed it. There is only desert. Sand on their graves.
But your heart is not alone: you lost a family, and you found another.
Your home is here now.
With your friends.
With your love.