Arrow and shield.
It seemed strangely still and fresh in the open glade. The blood-red glamour of a frosty sunset was fading from the sky as the daylight died away; all round the wood was populous with shadows; and over its ragged edge the moon hung pale and faint.
Estein walked down a little way, and then stopped and listened. He could hear the stream rumbling over the stones, but not another sound. Then the far-off howl of a wolf struck dismally on his ear. Twice it sounded and passed away, leaving the silence more intense, while all the time the air grew colder. All at once a dead branch snapped sharply. Estein looked round keenly, but in the dusk of the pine stems his eye could pick out nothing. For a minute everything was still, and then a twig cracked again. This time he could see plainly a man come from behind a tree and stand in the outskirts of the wood. For a minute they stood looking at each other. The man, so far as he could discern in the waning light, wore the native skin coat and cap, and seemed to hold in his hands a bow ready to shoot.
Estein quietly drew an arrow from his quiver and laid it on his bow. Just as he cast his eye down to fit the notch to the string, there was a twang from the wood; an arrow whizzed, and stuck hard in his fur cap, stopping only at the steel of his helmet.
“This archer will deem my fur is of singular proof,” he said to himself, with the flicker of a smile, as he let a shaft fly in return. He could see his foe move to one side, and heard his arrow strike a branch. Instantly the man fired again, and this time struck him on the breast, and the arrow, checked by the ring-mail beneath, hung from his wolf-skin coat.
He smiled to himself again, and thought, “Never, surely, has that bowman shot at so stout a garment. Yet he shoots hard and straight. I wish not to meet with a stronger archer, and could do well with a worse one now.” And with that he took his shield from his back.
His situation was indeed far from safe, and he had to come to some instant decision. Standing in the open against the snow, he offered a fair mark, while his opponent among the trees was hard to see and harder to hit. To try to rush so good an archer, though risky, would certainly have been his scheme, had he not strongly suspected that this one man was set as a decoy to tempt him into an ambush. His blood was up, and he vowed that run he would not at any cost; and, in fact, flight was far from easy, for behind him lay the stream, and in crossing he must expose himself.