A Graduation Present
Featuring Sparrow and Enoch (NPC)
Autumn, Year 759
Windborne, Gumtree Hollow
The setting sun cast long shadows across the grassy hillside. A cool, autumnal breeze swept in from the east, rustling the browning shrubbery. Windborne was so peaceful this time of year. All manner of wildlife prided themselves in full bellies, and the heat had subsided enough that the earth was no longer baking like the crust of a hot pie in an oven. Females had just begun bearing the sweet scents of rut, and stags presented their newly velvet-shed tines. The weather was spectacular! The air was dry, as the time for thunderstorms had come and gone; the wind had begun picking up with the changing seasons, carrying warm drafts to even the most distant corners of the territory; the skies were constantly clear, and vivid sapphire.
Beneath the arch of an enormous, old gumtree, two fawnlings stood, basking in the glow of late afternoon. They had spent the day working on the art of perfecting their magic, and now rested happily, reflecting on the lessons taught and munching on the savory treat beneath their feet. One was average in height and slender, with a mane long and coarse; dark in complexion and stoic in temperament. The other was slightly on the tall side, but young enough that there was still growing room; equally lanky, with a rugged mane and a golden pelt. His persona was entirely different, and he wore a smirk as he spoke to his better. “Honestly, Enoch, I don’t understand how you don’t take an interest. You could easily win over so many broads with your talent! All you’d have to do is, you know, give them a little demo,”
the younger brute said between mouthfuls of his dinner.
The bay stag sighed, finding the conversation tiresome. “I told you, Sparrow, it is simply not who I am. Now shut up about it already.”
Sparrow flattened his ears in agitation. He just didn’t understand why one wouldn’t seize all the best opportunities presented to them in life! Suddenly, the adolescent’s impatience got the better of him, and he burst out, “Good earth, you are boring! I mean really, could you be any more of a windweed, Enoch? You never explain things fully. You just stand there and tell me what to do!”
The elder male’s eyes shot up; his mouth agape. Sparrow realized the hidden dagger his words carried, and immediately felt his tail run hot with shame. Once again, his sharp tongue had lead him astray, and now he’d hurt the one creature who’d stayed in his life despite it.“Enoch, I’m—I’m so sorry!”
He said quickly, though he knew the damage was already done.
The old male was quiet for a long moment, but a smile soon found its way across his facade, and he blinked compassionately, “Watch yourself, fledgeling. If the king heard you speak like that, I’d hate to see what would come of it.”
Relief washed over the sooty-pelted youth. Of course, it didn’t take much for Sparrow to return to his old, haughty self, and he said, shortly after, “The king’s position doesn’t carry any weight around here. He’s just a figurehead. I heard Blackwood’s king has to kill in order to be inaugurated!”
Enoch chuckled, “Right, well, tell that to Morfinwë, and prepare to be exiled.”
Sparrow grinned and rolled his eyes.
The elder hesitated a moment, but parted his dark muzzle to speak again. This time, however, his tone had dropped to a far more serious note, “Sparrow, you know I will always be in your life, right? Whenever you need somebody to talk to, I’ll be there.”
Sparrow blinked, tilting his head in confusion. Why was he saying this now? Was something wrong? Was it because of what he had said before? Perhaps the bister stallion had not let it go, after all! Panic began to flood the buck’s mind, and his muscles tensed consequently.
Enoch continued, “When your parents first asked me to tutor you, I was thrilled. They were such a gifted couple—I was sure their son would be equally capable. Then, I met you, and well . . . I couldn’t stand being around you! You were the most irresponsible, and genuinely difficult student I have ever taken on!”
The grullo male’s heart sank. He had no response he could muster; he could only turn his head away, shamefully. “ . . . But, after working with you for three years, I can honestly say you have become one of my dearest friends, and you’ve surpassed even your parents in the rate of your skill mastery,”
the mentor’s smile returned, and Enoch beamed at his pupil.
Sparrow was still rather confused, however ecstatic the discussion hadn’t taken a worse turn, “Enoch, I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you are saying this for.”
The drake grunted, nodding, then gave his answer, “Well, I have accompanied you from the first week you started producing magic, all the way up to your wakening ceremony, and now I feel my training has done all it can. You must carry on without my help. Of course, this doesn’t mean we have to stop practicing, or spending time together—it just means I won’t be teaching you anything else for some time. You have to make your own way, and discover your own practice.”
Shock rippled through the bronze buck. He never imagined the day would result in this! Everything had been going so splendidly! He’d even learned the difference between creating a cold front and a warm front! There was still so much left to learn . . . how could he ever do it on his own?“Hey, don’t look so gloomy,”
Enoch piped, interrupting the youth’s thought-provoked stream of worry and turmoil. Once he had Sparrow’s attention back in the present, he went on, “I brought you something—here, think of it as a graduation present!”
Whipping around, the stag pulled something out of the rough-hewn tendrils of his tail, and held it up so that the vibrant hues of the setting sun reflected across its glimmering surface.
Sparrow’s eyes grew wide, “Oh, Enoch . . . wow!” “I know how much you love your trinkets. Well, here’s one that I added a bit of magic to: it’s a charm that will increase the air energy that flows through you, not only when you’re practicing, but in ordinary, day-to-day life. It has a nice chunk of adamite, combined with a few shards of cavansite, and the feathers of a wedge-tailed eagle. Adamite supposedly awakens the joy of your inner child,”
he paused to chuckle a little, “so I thought it suited you! It enhances playful spirit. Cavansite calms nerves and rampant emotions, and is said to open the door to truth. The feathers are symbolic of the most powerful animal to ride the skies—the eagles truly are the ultimate wind magicians.”
The new graduate swallowed his sentiment, gripping the twisted grass chain between his teeth. “May this balance out the magic within you. Most of us do not realize that these elements are found inside of us, as much as they can be located and utilized externally. In order to gain total control of such an colossal natural force, we must first learn to get a sense of how these powers are reflected in every aspect of who we are.”
Sparrow listened in awe, transfixed by the magnitude of the gift. He placed the woven band on the ground, and looked his ex-teacher straight in the eye, “Thank you, Enoch. I won’t ever forget.”
As the sun at last sank below the horizon, tinting the fields a soft lavender, the two prepared to part for the night. Sparrow turned to walk back to the main herd; the charm dangling at his hocks, tied tightly around his back right leg. As he did so, a voice called out after him through the dimness, “Hey, you little pain in the tail—at least now you don’t have to deal with me telling you what to do anymore!”
Sparrow turned to call back, but the stag was already treading in the opposite direction, disappearing over the grassy slope. A troubled sigh escaped him. Loneliness crept through every bone in his body. What was he to do, now?
Enoch’s words still rang in his head, burrowing a socket deep into his mind, as if to make room for progress. He would have to work much harder now that he had no guidance. The road ahead was surely long and toilsome, but Sparrow decided that he could not allow such a precious gift to go to waste. Breathing deeply, he started to feel calmness spreading throughout his limbs. The little anklet fueled a deep yearning for knowledge within him. And so, the buck concluded that someday he would become a stormbringer, ‘and a great one at that,’
he thought, ‘both for Enoch, and for myself.‘