33. Equal (Tuor, Annael, Grey-elves)
The elves were generous in teaching him what they knew, but he was still different. Only slightly unlike (he had lived with them since birth), but he felt that disparity keenly.
In his fifteenth year, on a day when the birch leaves were dry and falling, he began learning the elven longbows. His foster-father had told him repeatedly, when he was young, that his arm strength was not great enough. After weeks of failed tries and hours of practice alone, he still had not managed to hit the target with the elven bow.
Perhaps it is not meant to be, he thought dispiritedly. I am only a Man, after all.
That winter, while hunting with his foster father, they were attacked by orcs. Tuor fought like a madman: twisting and slashing and lunging. In the end, the orcs lay dead on the ground. Frowning over the loss of his bow while Annael bound an arm wound, Tuor saw a single orc slip out of the trees. With little time to react or think, he pulled free, took his foster father's bow and an arrow, and shot the beast clean through the head.
Annael turned, and smiled. "Well done, my son."
For Elvenesse. Inspired by this Anke Eissmann watercolor.