Jan. 29. WolfSinger and Tarin encounter a young Jupani warrior interested in Tarin's tail.
(Himar) (Tarin) (WolfSinger)
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It is the third morning of the long walk and WolfSinger and Tarin have found extreme contentment in their sleeping rolls and gathered leaf mattresses, invaluable against the chill of the early daytime winds. Sunlight is just now peeking through the trees, making patterns of light and shadow over the ground. But today, it will not be Winnowei's tickles or her cold wet snout that awakens WolfSinger, but…

BlueFox skitters in from down wind. His ears all a flicker as he scans the small meadow, having already detected the small gathering. He zips over and the quick blue fox leaps over the lazy wolf.

WolfSinger zzzzzzzz::snort!:: "Hey… what the?!?

BlueFox quickly sniff sniff sniffs around, tail accidentally tickling a sleeping wolfnose.

There is no Winnowei in evidence. Perhaps she's off hunting breakfast.

BlueFox nabs a morsel of food left carelessly by Tarin's bedroll and darts into the undergrowth.

Deep brown eyes track the blue fox from the thicket, following his every move. The strangers seem to attract no notice… just the fox.

Tarin blinks awake and looks around quickly scanning his surroundings blurrily.

WolfSinger slips out of his bedroll, and sniffs around for the blue blur.

{There… the brush… great fox totem, thank you for such a gift… } O o . thinks the watcher.

The eyes disappear. Only to reappear a few moments later close to the location that the blue fox entered the thicket.

WolfSinger growls, then nudges Winnowei to wake her up.

Tarin sits up and yawwwnns with a streeeetch as he rubs his sore footpads and gathers his cloak… Wait, where is everyone?

No Winnowei around.

Her pack leans against a boulder, evidently awaiting her return, and a fire crackles freshly-built in a ring of stones.

Tarin looks about and seeing noone looks for a knife or something left carelessly about.

A small black nose reappears from behind the overgrowth.

WolfSinger sneaks up to the location of the nose and POUNCES!

BlueFox Yerfs and sidesteps the rush, and zips out into the open in panic.

Tarin watches the fox dart about and grins, "Go for it little cousin." He thinks. as he looks around the camp.

BlueFox bounces away from WolfSinger, in a zig zag pattern, vaguely toward the center of the clearing.

Not far behind the little fox a young Jupani warrior bursts from the forest in hot pursuit! The warrior is set with one goal in mind. o O {You will bring my family great honor O' great blue one… }

BlueFox reaquiring his original pursuer, changes his heading and zips straight toward the yawning Tarin, paws riccocheting over the stones and grass!

The Jupani warrior ignores the travellers and heads toward the fox… and Wolfsinger.

Tarin takes advantage of the scurry to slip a small knife into his sleeve, yipe. He smartly steps aside of the fox and watches it dart by.

BlueFox seemingly hesitates, for a moment or six, as his ears independently track the incoming wolves, to coincide with his estimated arrival on target…

BlueFox runs! Wolves to the left of him! Wolves to the right of him! Foxes in front of him! He zips between Tarin's legs and into the thicket just as Wolfsinger and the warrior close the distance…

WolfSinger says, "let him go already… he's not hurting anything."

Tarin studiously yawns ans stretches out sure to trip up the 2 wolves.

The wolf abruptly changes direction, headed straight for Tarin… He leaps… his foot catches Tarin's shoulder and he goes sprawling onto the ground shouting furiously…

Tarin thinks, "Chalk one up for the foxes. Dratted wolves."

A light splash is heard down wind, as the small blue vulpine pauses in a nearby stream to disguise his scent.

WolfSinger heads over to the Jupani to see who it is.

Tarin brushes himself off and heads to the fire for some of the warm tea that was there the night before…

The Jupani pushes himself to a sitting position. He turns to face these interfering creatures. "How DARE you!" he snarls in lupine, "You and your friends have interfered with a *untranslatable*. You have ruined my chance to bring my family and clan honor!"

Tarin, understanding not a word continues to fill his cup with a small smile.

WolfSinger says, "hey… Don't look at *ME*. young one. You're the one that decided to run through our camp!"

Tarin sits down and watches the two wolves howl at each other, wondering where the large she-wuf that was guiding them went to…

WolfSinger says, "But if you want the fox, the blue fox, that bad, he went that way." He points in the direction the fox ran.

Brown eyes dart from Tarin to Wolfsinger, "You dare to blame me? I was hunting the *untranslatable*… fox. It is a most honored *untranslatable*."

Tarin nods as he is looked at, sipping is tea.

WolfSinger says, "Forgive me for not knowing the ways of your clan. I am a new arrival to this land."

WolfSinger starts to look around for signs of Winnowei.

With a few quick sniffs the wolf snarls, "His scent is gone. I dare not return to my family without a token from *untranslatable*" He points directly at Tarin, "_He_ will have to make a sacrifice for his carelessness in not moving for a Jupani!" His eyes narrow, "I claim… his tail. He is of fox, it is an acceptable replacement."

The wolf regains his footing. Now, it's even more obvious that this Jupani is young.

Tarin places his hands behind his head as he watches, tense inside but seemingly unconcerned outside…

WolfSinger says, "how can you claim what is not yours?"

Tarin gets himself an extra hot cup of tea from the kettle.

The Jupani stands proudly, "I am on a *untranslatable*, a proof of my worthiness to the great fox *untranslatable*. It is clan tradition that I find a token or I am not worthy to be a warrior… You and your friend interfered with the *untranslatable*. Therefore, you must replace the token you cost me."

The warrior looks back to the forest, "That fox, blue as the sky… he must have been sent from the great fox *untranslatable* himself!" He spins back to Wolfsinger, "I demand your friend's tail, now!"

WolfSinger says, "Now tell me, young friend. Would the honor not be that much greater if you hunt down the fox yourself?"

The Jupani smiles, "Indeed. I will willingly hunt your friend… " He walks around Wolfsinger and heads toward Tarin, raising his spear…

WolfSinger stands up, and looks down at the young warrior eye to eye.

WolfSinger says, "You touch him, and I will claim your head!"

Tarin keeps his paw behind his head, tucking his feet underneath himself…

The Jupani turns to face Wolfsinger, rather surprised, "You?" He looks at Wolfsinger, as if appraising prey. "You are no match for Jupani!"

The young warrior scowls, "Do you seek to further dishonor me by denying that which is mine by right?"

WolfSinger stands between Tarin and the warrior. "Go ahead. Try me." He grins a toothy grin.

Tarin narrows his eyes and sips the tea returning the cup by the fire and stoking the kettle.

The Jupani appears deadly serious, "This territory is under my clan… Our customs and traditions are observed here… You and your layabout friend interrupted the *untranslatable*! DO you now seek to challenge me as well?"

WolfSinger says, "strange… I seem to remember you interrupting our sleep."

The Jupani tries to hide his outrage, "You are resting in my clan's territory… I have the right of free travel here… " He points to Wolfsinger and Tarin, "You do not. You did not answer me, do you challenge my claim to your friend's tail?"

Tarin watches hoping the postering will end soon so they can be on their way to… wherever…

The wolf loses his patience and tries to walk around Wolfsinger.

WolfSinger says, "I don't think you want to do that… "

Tarin moves to top off his tea cup with the kettle.

WolfSinger says, "the tails of cursed wolves can bring BAD omens."

WolfSinger says, "besides, I don't think he'll stand there real still and willingly let you cut it off."

The Jupani pays no heed to Wolfsinger. He continues to close on Tarin. "I claim your tail, creature of fox. Will you give it willingly?" He addresses Tarin.

Tarin looks at the Wolf, the kettle still in his paw. He offers the cup, "Te?"

WolfSinger says, "oh… one other thing. he doesn't speak our language."

The warrior turns back to Wolfsinger, obviously irritated by this jaw flapping wolf, "Then you ask him."

WolfSinger smiles. "I don't speak his language, either. So if you want his tail, you're going to find some way to ask him yourself."

The wolf lowers his speartip to Tarin's tailtip, "By the right of the *untranslatable, I claim your tail in payment for your interference."

Tarin think to himself, "Saints please let this young one listen to the Big one." He sets the cup down, not taking his eyes off the wolf's spear arm…

WolfSinger watches closely.

WolfSinger looks around for any sign of Winnowei again.

Tarin grabs the spear shaft and pushes the spear aside with his paw, the other still holding the kettle. "Nye. Treta nshe gar'nante."

Tarin's eyes lock onto the wolfs and his hackles raise.

WolfSinger says, "I think that means No.""

The Jupani seems to speak in a ritual, "I claim the tail of the fox. If anyone disputes this claim they may challenge it by a duel of cunning or of strength."

The wolf stands coldly, his eyes looking deep into Tarin's.

WolfSinger says, "duel of cunning?"

Tarin keeps a hold of the haft just behind its head, keeping the head just behind him so the wolf will have to draw back if he wishes to use it… his tail is on the opposite side of the spear, hie eyes locked with the young warrior…

WolfSinger says, "and just what might a duel of cunning be?"

The wolf nods, "A duel of wits and intelligence, a puzzle. If the challenger wins then my claim on his tail is is broken. Of course, the great fox *untranslatable* would never let one of his people fail when he has been dishonored."

WolfSinger says, "perhaps my friend can help straighten this out."

The Jupani smiles, "You are, of course, welcome to challenge me.

WolfSinger looks heavenward. "Why me?"

The Jupani fidgets impatiently, "Do you challenge me or not? Answer fast or I will answer it for you."

WolfSinger says, "fine! I accept the challenge."

The wolf smiles, "Very well. If you fail, I claim your friends tail. If you win, I leave with nothing. Shall we begin?"

WolfSinger shrugs, looking a bit annoyed. "I'm as ready as I'll ever be."

The Jupani smiles, "It's a simple riddle, nothing more."

Tarin slowly replaces the kettle in the fire to reheat it. As he keeps hold the spear haft.

WolfSinger says, "oh… so you get to choose if it's a challenge of cunning or of strength?"

The Jupani nods, "When you asked of cunning, I took that as your choice."

WolfSinger says, "did I say that? I just asked what it was. As I said, I come from very far away.I'm not used to your customs."

WolfSinger says, "Fine… give me the riddle."

The Jupani smiles widely, "I have no body but I dance, I have no hunger but I eat. I have no life but I die. What am I?

The Jupani smiles to himself. o O {Thank you O' great fox, for giving me your wisdom and guidance. Soon, I will present his friends tail to my clan in your honor.}

WolfSinger says, "hmmmm… a fire? it's flames flicker and dance, it consumes the wood, and it will die once the wood is gone."

Tarin watches, quietly.

The Jupani blinks, "What? How… did you… " He shakes his head, "*untranslatable* fox, how could he have known?" His ears droop, "Correct."

WolfSinger smiles. "perhaps one of the benefits of being older and wiser? And I am a wolf, not a fox.

The Jupani bows to Wolfsinger, "I release my claim, as stated by the rights of challenge." He retrieves his spear from Tarin and smiles, "Well then, you may continue good travellers."

WolfSinger says, "would you care to sit with us for a while?"

Tarin's hackles stay up as he watches, easing back a little and tensing a he lets the spear go…

The wolf looks back into the forest and sighs, "I cannot return to my clan until I find a token of the great *untranslatable* fox. I can not stay here much longer. My clan and family wait for my honorable return."

There is a rustling in the bushes nearby. An old Jupani shaman slowly emerges… with the blue fox seated in his arms!

The wolf sniffs the air again, "Perhaps I can find that blue fox… perhaps this has all been a part of the great fox… " His jaw drops.

WolfSinger turns to look quicly.

The young Jupani stands staring wide eyed at the shaman.

Tarin blinks and looks to the newcomer.

The grizzled wolf shakes some bits of brush from his robe. He pauses for a moment to adjust the fox in his arms, and then faces the young Jupani warrior.

BlueFox's ears flicker flicker flicker.

WolfSinger says, "I take it he's a friend of yours?"

The young warrior stands tall, trying to hide the fact that he's nervous.

The Jupani youth doesn't answer. He remains silent and attentive to the shaman.

The shaman pats the fox on the head, "Ah… led me right to you he did."

WolfSinger bows politely to the Shaman.

Tarin mumbles under his breath as he closes his eyes and looks to the ground, "Saints bless, I didna have t' scald th' lad." He returns his gaze back upwards and watches the goings on rubbing his fingers from where the hot kettle handle has tried to burn…

BlueFox pushes his head into the shaman's fingers.

WolfSinger says, "Come! Join us!"

The warrior bows slightly, "Lead, sir?"

The old wolf studies the young warrior. "How goes your hunt, child?"

The wolf speaks clearly and directly, "It goes well, sir." His body posture and the twitching of his ears say otherwise, however.

The youth's eyes keep moving from the shaman to the blue fox.

BlueFox sniff sniff sniffs at the wolves cautiously.

WolfSinger smiles slightly.

The Jupani warrior tries not to fidget, "I was about to return to the hunt, sir."

Tarin watches silently…

"Ah… I would have guessed as much." The wolf continues to stroke the fox's head, hoping to keep him calm. "I came across this wonderous >untranslatable< fox in the woods, surely it must be a good omen. Or a gift from the great fox spirit himself!"

The Jupani smiles slightly, "I was hunting that fox… These people… " He waves his arm at Wolfsinger and Tarin, "Made it possible for him to escape me… Great thanks to the fox spirit that he guilded this blue fox into your arms, sir!"

The shaman's expression hardens for a moment. "Hunting? Such a gift?" He shakes his head. "Yes… indeed it was good fortune that he escaped. It is not wise to hunt gifts from the fox spirit."

The youth's ears droop, "I was trying to catch him… he would bring great honor to my clan."

The wolf shaman smiles, "But luckily, thank the spirit… he escaped."

BlueFox's left ear flickers, bumping the shaman's fingers.

The young wolf nods, "Perhaps that is why the fox spirit guided these strangers here… to insure that, I, a foolish warrior, would not harm his great gift."

BlueFox wags his tail. He seems to think that luck has nothing to do with it, but perhaps you're reading too much into a tail wag of a fox.

WolfSinger tilts his head slightly as the youth learns a lesson.

The young wolf turns to Wolfsinger and Tarin, "I… would be honored if you would come with me back to my clan… We have much to celebrate… " He looks over at the blue fox, "Such a service in protecting a gift from the fox spirit deserves our hospitality at least."

"But all is well now." The shaman removes a small talisman from around his neck. Its wooden pendant is carved into the shape of the fox totem.

The Jupani youth returns his attention to the shaman.

WolfSinger says, "perhapse when my traveling companion returns. She seems to have wandered off this morning to hunt, and has not returned yet."

He hands the pendant to the young hunter, "Here, young one. Show this to your elders… if you do not find another fox this day, then tell them of the wonderful >untranslatable< you have seen this day. This pendant is your sign for all who may doubt you."

"The great omen alone," the shaman says, "Is surely worth a thousand foxes."

The young warrior blinks in surprise, barely able to keep still. "You… honor me greatly, sir! I will indeed." He puts on the talisman, "I thank you and my clan thanks you for this honor, sir. May the great fox spirit always smile upon you… and your little blue friend."

BlueFox wiggles a bit, looking down at the ground.

The old wolf gently sets the Blue fox on the ground.

BlueFox pads over to sniff at the warrior.

BlueFox sniff sniff sniffs at WolfSinger.

WolfSinger scritches the little fox between the ears.

Tarin sips at his cold tea, as he watches, "I dunna understand these wolves."

BlueFox sniffs at Tarin.

The Jupani looks down at the little fox… dare he? He reaches down and scratches the foxes ears, "May the great fox spirit protect you from others like me, little one."

WolfSinger says, "Good luck on your hunt, young warrior!"

BlueFox licks the warrior's fingers.

The wolf shaman bows to the party and walks away… casually trying to brush the numerous little blue hairs that now cover the front of his robe.

The warrior bows, "And good luck on yours."

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GMed by Lynx

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