The Gift

Original post to Darkwind’s Garou Board as "Wolf Tales (13) on Friday, 05 December 2004 19:19

Revised 10.10.2021

"Ah! Come in, Pup, come in!" smiles Leader. "Do sit down." They both take a seat on the rugs in the main room and face each other.

"How goes it with you, Pup?"

The Elf blinks, surprised. "Fine, thank you, Leader."

"No, uhm, ill effects? From the, er, 'possession'?"

The Elf sighs and grinds his teeth. I'll never live it down, he thinks. But he keeps his eyes on Leader and answers evenly. "No, Leader."

Leader chuckles. "Sorry, Pup -- couldn't resist." Leader sighs with a smile. "It seems our Pack Keeper is doing well lately."

The Elf rolls his eyes. Indeed, Keeper's feet never seem to touch the floor since the evening of the Elf's return from his errands in the city. In fact, that's where Keeper is today -- in the city. And it's not difficult to guess where.

Leader hands the Elf a sheet of parchment. On it are the same strange symbols that adorn the envelope that the Elf picked up for Leader from the post office. The Elf looks at Leader with a little smile and shrugs helplessly.

Leader returns the smile and takes the letter back. "Let me translate. It says: 'My dearest Nagha. Thank you kindly for your letter -- always wonderful to hear from you, my old friend! To the subject of your enquiry, the answer is an enthusiastic yes. It would be an honor for me to welcome your understudy to my humble dojo for the training you desire for him. Please have him present himself bearing this letter and all shall be taken care of. I truly look forward to working with him and I pray that my meager efforts will be a positive force on his life's journey. Gratefully yours, Hashai-Sen.'"

Leader folds the parchment, places it back in its envelope and hands it to the Elf, who frowns as he takes it. "You mean to send me away. Have I displeased you in some way, Leader?"

The older man blinks in surprise. "On the contrary, Pup!" He leans a bit forward and stares into the Elf's eyes. "I am very pleased with you. We all are. You have grown much since coming to us. And now you are ready for this."

He leans back and his eyes take on a far-away look. "Hashai-Sen is an old friend of mine, as you heard in the letter. His dojo is in Kerei, which, as you know, is just south of Souvrael, the place of my birth. As you also know, I am a Silent Strider."

The Elf knows. Among other things, that Garou Tribe is renowned for its ability as couriers, swiftly crossing even the most inhospitable areas to reliably make their deliveries over great distances. Leader is well-travelled and that's an understatement. Of course, he cut back on those activities after creating the Pack, but it's still in his nature and the Elf believes that Leader may one day return to it.

"Anyway," continues Leader, "to make a long story short, I happened to be in the right place at the right time to save Hashai-Sen's life. I am not one to 'collect debts' but, circumstances being what they are, I find this opportunity too good to pass up."

Leader smiles as he continues, "There are two things at work here. The first is your ability with staves and polearms. I have watched you hone your skills and you've become quite remarkable with that weapon type."

The Elf drops his eyes. "I do my best, Leader."

"Indeed," replies Leader, with a nod. "Sometimes I have the impression that you prefer your elven form so that you may use the staff."

The Elf shrugs and smirks. "Can't wield a staff with paws."

"Indeed not," grins Leader. "The second thing is that Hashai-Sen's dojo specializes in the study of staves and polearms."

The Elf's eyes widen.

"And he has no equal," adds Leader. "Get the picture, Pup?"

The Elf does, as a matter of fact and he smiles like a child at Christmas. "When do I leave?"

Leader laughs. "That anxious, are you? Well, calm down -- the Pack has a few things to take care of before you go. 'Pack', I said -- and that includes YOU, Pup. And there's a Revel coming up -- you will be there! You may leave the day after."

Leader stands and the Elf does the same. "Now then, Pup, there's something you'll need to take with you." His gaze drifts to the doorway. The Elf looks that way too and sees Older Sister -- the one who always finds those "exotic" weapons and gear. She enters the room with a smile. In her arms is the wrapped thing that the Elf picked up from Taylor.

She presents it to him. "This is for you, Little Brother."

The Elf just stares. A lump forms in his throat. Then he composes himself and takes it from her gingerly. It's still wrapped in the same condition in which he'd picked it up.

"Go ahead," she smiles. "Open it!" Leader is also smiling.

Carefully, the Elf unties the strings that bind it and pushes the fabric out of the way. Revealed before him is an ebony, hardwood staff a little longer than two meters. The butt end is extra thick and looks to be made for thrusting. His eyes travel down the staff's length to the forward end, which is curved. That's odd, he thinks. Why is there a curve? He hefts it in his hands -- comfortably heavy. He moves it left and right, feels the weight. Suddenly, he swings it in full circle and grins at the satisfying >>>WHOOSH<<< it makes.

Sister and Leader smile and clap. But then they're silent and look at him expectantly. I'm missing something, he thinks.

He looks more closely at that strange curve on the front end. Then he sees what he overlooked: a seam about half a meter down from the forward tip. Could it be...? But of course! His right hand holds the staff in the middle. His left grasps the part above the seam. He yanks. Sure enough, the sheath comes off smoothly, makes that delightful metal-on-metal, scraping sound as when one draws a sword. At first, he can't see it, for the blade catches the light of the room perfectly and blinds him. The Elf turns the blade away from the angle of the light so he can see it and his breath catches.

He tries to think of how to describe it -- and finds that he needs another word for "beautiful". The blade is about half a meter long, curved and sharp on one side. Frowning, he brings the blade closer, so that he can better see something engraved on it just before it joins the shaft -- his name.

Leader and Sister continue to wait. Finally, Sisters asks, "Do you like it, Pup?"

The Elf looks at her. His mouth hangs open. He looks back at the staff and runs a finger carefully up and down the blunt edge of the blade. Slowly and softly, he replies, "It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

He smiles broadly at his sister and hugs her. "Thanks so much! Uhm ... what is it?"

"It's called 'naginata'," smiles Sister.

"Naginata," repeats the Elf. He looks at the naginata and smiles.

"And where you're going, Pup," adds Leader, "You're going to learn how to use it properly!"

The Elf isn't sure how he's going to make it through the time that remains until his departure.