They had arranged, long before the seige began, that the golden arrow that formed one of the hand on the great clock tower would be their signal. Each day, she walked near the high castle walls near a copse that was well within arrow-shot. Each day, he took an arrow and shot it over the battlements for her to find.

If ever it was the golden arrow that had been loosed, things would change.

One day, just after crossing the old stone bridge and in eyeshot of the castle, she found the golden arrow in a field near the trees. It had not flown well, as it was designed to be a timepiece rather than a weapon, but the meaning was clear.

Returning to the village, she roused the people against the occupants of the keep. They had betrayed their charge, the one who they had been meant to protect, and his life was in danger. Forming a makeshift militia, they marched on the works.

The ensuing battle was brief but fierce, and left the keep in ruins with its walls crashing down. In the chaos, she was unable to find her beloved and feared that the citadel had fallen too late to spare his life. It was not until the dead were lined up for burial that she saw him, among those who had been felled by the first charge. He had died in defense of the keep, never knowing that his love had been at the head of those sacking it.

And the golden arrow? No one ever learned who had fired it, but many years later an order for the young lover’s execution was found in the files of a royal magistrate. Aware of the signal, it is likely he had one of his own men fire the fatal shot, knowing full well that the young man would likely perish in the battle to come.

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