In the far north of Sarvonia, on the frozen wastes of the Icelands Coast, death comes silently from afar. That is the creed of the Remusian warrior who carries with him the strange looking, but deadly, Remusian Bow. Created hundreds of years ago, and thought to be the forebearer of other bows, the Remusian Bow has been the bane of its enemies, while helping to bring the Remusian people to their culmination as a people.
The Remusian Bow is a masterwork of lethal beauty. It is a reflex bow which
resembles a recurve bow, not unlike others of
Sarvonia, most notably the
hob-bow, which means that the bow
curves away from the archer at the ends. But, where a recurve
bow has only the ends that curve away from the archer, a reflex bow, when
unstrung, looks like a Tharian "C". In fact, some have said that reflex bows are
bows that are strung backwards, for surely that is altogether what it appears to
be. Still, it is this "bent backward" detail that makes reflex bows, and the
Remusian Bow in particular, so deadly.
Most Remusian Bows are made in the theme of the most famous bowyer, Pagon Eeony. These bows are, by definition, composite bows which means they are made up of layers of wood, horn, and sinew, with inlays of bone (see Construction). They are roughly a ped to a ped and a fore from tip to tip (ear to ear) when strung. Most of these bows have two or more layers of lacquer in order to protect the glued layers from the moisture of the icy north. On the face of the bow (the side away from the archer) is oft painted with a stylized eye on it, representing Necteref (death) searching for a victim worthy enough to be taken.
The limbs of the bow are most oft of equal distance to the grip, creating a symmetrical shape. This helps to ensure the most efficacious propulsion of the arrow, and gives the bow an aura of deadly beauty. By having the arrow nocked in the center of the bow, it maximizes the power of the bow.
The string of the bow can be made from a variety of materials; some using wound sinew, or animal gut, or rawhide. Though, some swear that the tail hair of the Remusian oorse, the Kor'och fey Mologh, makes the best bow string. Many argue that horse hair is not as strong as other materials, but when a good string of horse hair can be studied, one finds it very strong. Whether this from the type of hair it is, or the unique way that the string is wound, then braided, is not entirely clear. In any case, horse hair strings are rare and very expensive. To help protect the string, archers will rub cold congealed wison fat onto the string, finding the fat that forms the wison's hump to be the best for this. This protects the string from fraying under the tremendous tension the bow places on it.
Along with the bow are other items that the Remusian archer needs. Arrows, of course, but quivers and bow holsters as well.
Arrows are made by most Remusian archers, and the art of fletching is taught as one learns how to handle a bow, both from early childhood. Most discriminating Remusians who wield a bow will not use arrows created by other people, preferring to trust in only their own handiwork. "From my heart. From my eye. From my hands. To my enemy" is the Remusian motto, and it is believed that an arrow created by the archer himself has been imbued with more of the warrior's heart, eye and hand than those created by another. Still, in times of war, the need for many arrows necessitates the vocation of fletcher, and arrows are created by the hundreds.
Made from allicott wood, or any available wood, these arrows have a variety of tips. Most are simply sharpened and then burned to give them some hardness. Others are made from the teeth of dark stryke sharks, while some even have metal heads, though these are rare due to the scarcity of metal. The flights are the tail feathers of indigenous birds, though Snow falcons are considered the epitome of feathered flights. They are glued to the shaft of the arrow, though in some cases, thread of horse or human hair is used. By using one's own hair as thread, wound and braided, it is felt that more of the warriors spirit is imbued into the arrow, thus making it more accurate and more lethal.
Quivers are used to carry a set amount of arrows. Though an archer in battle may have with him a hundred or more arrows with him, most of these are carried in a large leather pouch. This is not a very practical way to for most archers, however, as the arrows are slow to get at. So, like most peoples of Sarvonia, Remusian archers carry a few arrows in a quiver. Made of leather, sometimes of wood, or a combination of the two, the quiver can carry anywhere from twenty to thirty arrows. Typically equipped with a leather strap, they are worn on the hip of the archer, so that he need only reach a hand down to grab an arrow to nock into his bow. This is different than some other archers who carry it on their back. The Remusians, being obsessed with speed, find that quivers on the back slow down the process of pulling free the next arrow and getting it knocked. In the case of a mounted archer, the quiver is attached to the saddle.
The bow holster, like the quiver, is leather, wood or a combination thereof. It is a pouch-like piece of equipment, open at both ends, that the bow slips into when not being used. Like a scabbard for a sword, the holster allows the archer to pull out his weapon quickly for use. This holster is usually carried on the person's back or on a saddle.
Because of the great draw power needed to use a Remusian Bow, most Remusians use a thumb ring. This is a device worn on the right thumb to protect it from being injured when releasing the string. It is a ring that has a projecting tab that protects the fleshy part of the thumb. To use it, the Remusians have a unique way of pulling back on the string (see Fighting Style). These thumb rings can be made of numerous materials, from simple leather, rawhide, metal or bone.
The last piece of equipment is a simple carrying case. This is often a hardened rawhide case that the bow is kept in while not being used. Remusians keep their bows unstrung when not hunting or actively involved in a campaign. Due to the design of the Remusian Bow, that of being a reflex bow, to keep it strung for periods of great length would lessen the effectiveness of the weapon. The case also protects the bow from the elements; most notably, moisture, which can damage a bow by dissolving the glue and warping the limbs if the lacquer finish is not fully water proof.
A scholar by the name of Raksmahn Hinoph, Antislar of noble birth who made research of northern warfare his specialty, wrote several papers on the Remusians army, in particular, the Remusians archers. He devoted an entire work on the Remusian Bow.
Excerpt from "Variations on a Theme of Pagon Eeony", by Raksmahn Hinoph (ca. 1649):
"The Remusian Bow, though typically a functional titan, has oft been called the ugly step sister of northern weaponry. However, this has begun to change in recent years. The new class divisions in the Remusian culture have given rise to an elite that wish to show off their wealth, beginning with the Odomon Blade, but also transferring to the Remusian Bow. These weapons of death have become something of a showpiece, even more surprising because of the primitive and savage nature of those who wield it and have made it famous, or infamous, as the case may be."
Hinoph goes on to describe the variations of the Remusian Bow,
which are mostly simply cosmetic changes and do not alter the efficiency of the
weapon itself. Among these additions is the
application of many more layers of lacquer. So much so, that many bows look more
like works of art than weapons. These layers of
lacquer are painted, one atop another, so that the colour is not only brilliant,
but has a depth that draws the viewers gaze into it. To complete the artwork,
the quiver, holster and sheath are all decorated in the same fashion, creating a
perfect set. These sets have often become heirlooms, and have stopped being
functional weapons, though they still could be used as
such, but are given the same treatment as any other valuable artwork would
On the grip of some bows, a blade is attached. This blade, short and wide like a heart shape, simply slides onto the grip with a vice like attachment, and a post separates it from the bow by a few nailbreadths, so that the handler can still grip the bow by simply having the post fit between his fingers. Not only does the blade make the bow look more fearsome, it adds a little close quarter protection to the archer should an enemy get close. The blade is positioned so that the blade lies upon the same axis as the bow, thus upright and not across.
On fancier bows, the upper tip, also called the ear, often has a bone or ivory figurine carved and fitted to it. Examples of these figurines include the heads of horses, caracals, snow falcons and other creatures. In most cases, this symbol has certain connections to the owner of the bow. For instance, the compendumist, Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin has a bow with the head of a Kor'och fey Mologh, Remusian horse, on it. This is an homage to the Shialt-eck-Gorrin family estate where they raise that particular breed of horse and made their fortune selling them to the army.
Thanks to the effort that Lanrul Obeyu (292-301 a.S.) used in order to keep the
methods Pagon Eeony, and later his sons, used to construct the Remusian Bow, it
is now fairly straightforward how the process is done. Many records were kept,
first orally then later written down into a comprehensive text, "The Themes of
Bow Construction of Pagon Eeony". It was jealously guarded for many years, but
several years ago Hinoph acquired a copy, though he has never revealed how, upon
which he based his own work. Each bowyer has their own particular style and
"trade secrets", but overall the following is a detailed account of the bowyer's
First, the horn is gathered. Among Remusian bowyers, it is generally agreed that the horn from capricus is the best material, even more so if the animal in question was itself killed by a Remusian Bow. No one is sure where or why that provision was added, but discriminating bowyers swear by it. If not, then wison horn can be used, but it is viewed as inferior with not as much spring in it.
The horn is carefully cut into narrow strips. The outside curve of these strips are then marked with a small knife mark to identify it from the inner curve. In order for these curved strips to be straightened, they are then boiled in sea water for three full days. Once they are removed from the boiling water, they are soft and pliable, so are placed between two specially carved flatstones that are then tied together with wet rawhide. As the rawhide dries, it shrinks, pulling the flattened stones tighter together and flattening the horn, which is then left for a week to cool and dry.
Carteloreen bone is also needed. The shorter lower ribs are preferred to the longer upper ribs, because they have a tighter curl to them. The bone is worked and straightened in the same fashion as the horn is. Carteloreen bone is a natural choice because it will soften when boiled, unlike most land animal bone that will harden and get brittle.
In the meantime, allicott wood is gathered and a suitable piece is chosen. It is important that the grain of the wood is consistant along the length of the wood, which is shaved down to a piece of flat wood around half a palm wide at the center and tapering to the width of a finger at each end. A thin plank is what one is left with, having a thickness of less than a grain.
Leg tendons are also needed in the production of the bow. The most sought after are those from the tarandus deer or the cloaked elk. However, like horn, if these are not available then wison replacements can be used, with the same caveat that they are inferior to the preferred items. The tendons are allowed to dry.
At this time, the grip is fashioned from a thicker piece of allicott wood. Flat on one side, it is rounded on the other, being about two palms long. It is made so that it will fit comfortably in one hand, shaped and sanded appropriately.
By this time, all the major facets of the bow have been created. Now the task of fusing them begins. The preferable glue to be used is that which is made from the swim bladders of varlihn, a fish native to the waters off the Iceland Coast. As the Varlihn is a major food source of the Remusian people, the supply of fish guts is never in question. Many of these swim bladders are soaked in water for several days, where it thickens the water as they dissolve and rot, which is then boiled down until it becomes a very thick pasty ooze.
The advantage of using this fish glue as opposed to tree resins and other types of glue, is that fish glue is very water resistant and will not dissolve in the moist conditions of the icy north. Without too much explanation, one can discern the advantages of this trait in that type of environment.
The wood is used as the core of the bow, while the horn is applied to the face of the bow, and the carteloreen bone is glued to the belly (the part of the bow closest to the archer). Again, using the flatstones, the bow is placed between them and wrapped in wet rawhide and allowed to dry. This time, the drying process is allowed to last for a month, or more in wetter weather.
In this time, the ears are fashioned, again from allicott wood. The ears are the very tips of the bow, and markedly on a different angle than the rest of the bow. Good bowyers will choose wood that comes from the base of an allicott bush, right where it branches out for the first time. It is considered the strongest type of ear. If a suitable piece cannot be found, multiple pieces can be glued together to create the desired shape, which is akin to a slightly bent elbow. It should be noted that good bowyers would never mix the two types of ears. Either a bow will have two natural ears, or it will have two glued ears. In either case, these ears are usually clost to half a fore in length. Into each ear, nocks are carved that will eventually hold the bowstring.
The tendons gathered are now crushed, which produces fine thread like filigree. This tendon filigree is then applied to the bow on the face, using the fish glue. It is allowed a week to dry, then another layer put on, and so on, until four or five layers have been added, each one drying for a week or more.
After the last layer of tendon is applied, the bow is now allowed to dry once more for a month or longer. When done, the length of the bow is now shaved on its edges so the shape goes from wide, half a palm, at the grip in the middle of the bow, to narrow at each end, maybe the width of a man's thumb.
The bow is not sanded, but allowed to stay rough. Instead, wet rawhide is stretched on each limb, the face and the belly of the bow, and allowed to dry. At the same time, the ears are attached to each end, bound with the same tendon filigree used on the face of the bow, this time wrapped around the bow rather than along it. The grip is also glued to the face of the bow, and wrapped in soft leather.
At this point, the bow is "sweated". What this means is that the entire bow is curled around, placed in a wooden frame to force it into a tightly curled position, then steamed in a small room or tent for several days. When done, it is taken from the steaming room and left to dry indoors for upwards of a year. It can then be removed from the wooden frame, where it should retain the curled shape.
After this, the bow is nearly finished. Now it is functionally usable, though not yet aesthetically finished or "cured". The bow is "cured" by applying several coats of lacquer to it, each one sanded smooth after it has dried. For the largest consumer, the Remusian army, this may mean as few as three coats of lacquer. Just enough to smooth out the roughness of the sinewed face, and keep the bow water resistant for short periods. Each coat of lacquer is allowed to dry for three days before being sanded and another coat applied.
A higher class bow will have several more layers of lacquer applied, each one also being painted on. When finished, it comes closer to a work of art than a weapon of war. But weapon of war it is, make no mistake.
As one can see, even a basic army bow can easily take a year and a quarter to create, while expensive ones can add as many as four more months to that time. It is no wonder that these bows are so valued by the people who use them and why they are so rare.
The Remusian Bow has been an integral part of the
Remusian army for hundreds of
generations. The quality of the weapon, as well as the
quality of the training has led to many scholars to say that the
Remusians are second to none in
archery effectiveness, even comparing them favourably to
elven archers. It is said that it was because
of the Remusian Bow that set the Remusians above all other
Ice Tribes and allowed them to
expand their territory as they had, to its height in 447 a.S.
Strangely, it seems that the success of the Remusian Bow is what has kept it nearly exclusively Remusian. Not being able to discern the Ice Tribe mind, it is a mystery that other Ice Tribes have not adopted the bow. Yet, it seems that the primitive Ice Tribe mind is a contrarian one, for it is asserted by these other tribes that it is precisely because of the Remusian success that the other tribes have shunned it. The bow is so hated in the hands of a Remusian, that they will not use it for their own. It should be noted that the Antislar and the Rhom-ocs have no such compulsion, and any bows picked up on the field of battle will be utilized gladly.
The use of the Remusian Bow is equally shared by foot soldiers and cavalry. For the ground troops, the archers work best as a defensive unit. The archers gather in lines perpendicular to their enemy, then wait for the enemy to come rushing into firing range. To the advantage of the Remusians, Northern warfare is defined by personal glory, among human and orc tribes alike, so it takes very little to goad the enemy into charging a Remusian line. The archers then send up volley after volley of arrows raining down on the approaching army, resulting in devastating losses for the enemy.
The mounted archer came from the many Remusian wars with the Antislar, who made use of their own archers and emulated Remusian tactics of waiting for their enemies to approach. Because of the inherent superiority of the Remusian Bow, most notably in terms of range, the Remusian cavalry began having their archers ride to just outside the effective range of the Antislar archers, then ride in a perpendicular line to the enemy, all the while firing off as many arrows at the lightly armoured enemy. Once reaching the end of the enemy line, the Remusian archer would then travel back to the beginning of the line. Thus, what the enemy observed was a large line of Remusians riding in a large circle, while death rained onto them from the mounted warriors.
Against a less organized foe, such as the other Ice Tribes or the Rhom-ocs, the mounted archers can ride much closer, thus their effectiveness is greatly increased. Many battles have been decided favourably for the Remusians after the cavalry has charged the enemy and rode right through their ranks, raining death in the form of arrows into the enemy. By not loosing the arrow until the feet of the horse is off the ground, between strides, the Remusian archer is remarkably accurate even at longer range.
Fighting Style. Creation and appearance aside, the Remusian Bow functions like most other bows. One nocks an arrow onto the string, pulls the string back, then releases it in the direction one wants to shoot. That stated, there are some unique aspects that the Remusians employ.
The first is that all their bows are crafted for a right handed archer. Even those who show a natural propensity for using their left hand, they are taught to only use the bow right handed. This means holding the bow in their left hand and nocking the arrow and drawing the string with their right. The reason for this has to do with the mounted archer's style of attack. By having all archers shootiong in the same direction, it makes the tactic of all archers riding in a circle, firing at the enemy, easier to implement. It is also surmised that the Remusian psyche plays a part, as well, preferring unity over individuality.
Remusians, for the most part, use a thumb ring. This is a ring worn on the thumb with a tab that extends over the fleshy part of the digit and protects the archers thumb from the power of the bow. Many have had bloodied or blistered thumbs after firing a few arrows from these powerful weapons without protection from a thumb ring.
To properly use the thumb ring, the Remusians grip the string differently than other archers from anywhere in Sarvonia. They pull back the bow with the thumb, and so need to support this single digit. They do this by curling the pointer finger around the back of the thumb, adding support. Often, the middle finger is then used to pinch the string, though, in truth, it does little to pull back the string, and is only there to help the thumb keep the string from slipping.
For an archer used to any other type of archery, using the Remusian thumb method is both awkward, and potentially painful. If one does not do it properly, one can hurt themselves by breaking their thumb or another finger, not to mention sending an arrow in a direction not wished for. Yet, for a trained Remusian warrior, the action is second nature.
It was believed this method was devised because of the great draw weight required by the Remusian Bow. The Remusian Bow has a draw weight of 75-80 od. A common saying up north is "How do you know a Remusian archer is in the crowd? He's the one with an ogre's right arm." Done right, a Remusian can fire his bow over 3 dashes. More, he is remarkably accurate, even at such a distance.
Origin/History. The origin of the Remusian Bow is lost to the mysts of time. However, during the time after the First Orcish War, 275 aS, a bowyer named Pagon Eeony became well known for the extraordinary bows that he crafted. Eeony lived in the Rhemir region of Remusia. He taught his craft to his three sons who then continued on his work and spread the knowledge throughout Remusia. It is believed that this weapon contributed greatly to the unprecedented Remusian expansion over the next 200 years.
The orcish warbow is often described as a descendant of the Remusian Bow, as it has many of the characteristics of its human held cousin. It is surmised that scavenged bows were taken by the Losh-oc and traded for goods to their southern brethren. This is just conjecture, however, and many learned scholars doubt the validity of that claim.
Myth/Lore. There is a myth attributing the first Remusian Bow to the venerable Remusian hero, Uraghadze. It is told to young men wishing to join the ranks of the esteemed Remusian archers.
forgotten time, when the gods strode upon the land, a hero of the people,
Uraghadze Hanno-eck-Icsain, Uraghadze Ice-Hand, stood for the people. He
lead his people for many years, through both wisdom and feats of bravery