2061MAR27 - Arrow's Grade 1 Initiation
Rachel Two Snakes walked slowly up the last few stairs
and headed down the hall to her apartment, stepping over
the large mutt drooling in his sleep in front of Mrs. Kreuger's
door. As she pressed her thumb to the keypad, Rachel heard
a commotion coming down the stairs and spilling out into
Ol' Chester, the big black dog, didn't even stir as a bolt
of energy in the form of a nine-year-old girl came hurtling
down the hall. "Rae! Rae - wait up!" Amanda Whitebear threw
herself at her friend, nearling knocking Rachel over with
her hug. Rachel smiled tiredly and hugged the child, watching
as Amanda's older brother approached at a more reasonable
"Hey, Rae." Rook said with a teenager's feigned disinterest.
He took her bag for her, while Rachel went into the apartment,
Amanda close behind.
"Where ya been all this time?" Amanda demanded. "We haven't
seen you in years!"
Rachel flopped down on the couch with a sigh while Rook
and Amanda made themselves at home, as good friends do.
She was happy to see the kids, though it had only been a
few weeks rather than "years" since she left. "Oh... I was
out in the country, doing some hunting."
"And you didn't take us?" Amanda huffed.
"You had school, kiddo. I'll take you out sometime
this summer, ok?"
The girl smiled. "So, what happened on your trip? Tell
us a story!" That was, after all, why they loved to visit
Rae. She always had an exciting story to tell.
Even though she wanted nothing more than to take a shower
and fall into bed, Rachel couldn't disappoint her audience.
"Well," she said, "my trip really wan't very interesting...but
Arrow, on the other hand, has been having some adventures."
The kids settled back for the story. Arrow was one of their
favorite characters. She was always having interesting adventures.
"Remember how I told you last time about Arrow joining
up with a group of magical hunters - the Lodge of the Wolf?
Well, since Arrow isn't one to waste time, about a week
after joining the group she decided it was time to begin
confronting the higher mysteries. She went out to the lodge
one morning. Frank was the only one there, so she told him
she was ready to start her initiation."
"Frank said, 'Ok, come with me.' He led her out away from
the farmhouse and they walked through the woods for some
time. After a while, they came to a clearing where they
could see a hill in the distance. Frank said 'Here's what
you have to do - you see that cave up there?' and he pointed
to the hill. Arrow has very good eyesight, so she could
see a small opening way up the side of the hill. She nodded.
'Well, you have to go in there and bring back an arrowhead.'
'An arrowhead,' she repeated, and Frank nodded. 'Got it,'
Arrow said, and Frank said 'See ya,' and headed back the
way they came."
"Arrow made her way to the base of the hill. She began
to climb up the cliff. It was quite steep, but Arrow's a
decent climber, so it wasn't too difficult, just a long
way. It took a while, but she eventually saw that she was
getting close to the opening of the cave. Suddenly, without
any warning, a huge swarm of bats came pouring out of the
mouth of the cave and flew right around her. They startled
her, and she lost her grip and went tumbling down the side
of the hill."
"Bats?!?" Amanda exclaimed, dubious. "Arrow ran away from
bats?" She didn't like the idea that the heroine of her
favorite stories, who had faced down giant lizards, swarms
of devil rats, and men with machine guns, would be at all
disturbed by a few bats.
"It's magic," Rook came to Arrow's defense. "Shhh..."
Rachel continued, "Yes, bats... there were a lot of them,
and they caught her by surprise. And Rook's probably right
- this was a magical initiation, after all, so there may
have been more to it than mere bats."
"Anyway, whatever the reason, the bats flew out and Arrow
fell down the hill. It was a rough tumble to the bottom
and afterward she didn't feel too good, so she headed back
to the lodge to rest up and heal a bit. It's hard to climb
on a sprained ankle."
"Arrow spent a few of days resting and meditating. When
her ankle felt better, she decided to take another shot
at it. She headed out again, but this time she hadn't made
it quite as high as before when she lost her grip and fell
again. A couple more days went by, and on the third try
she got up the cliff without problem. This time, when the
bats flew out she was expecting it. She held on tight and
"Arrow pulled herself up to the edge of the cave, which
led into the hill and down. After resting for a few minutes,
she started clambering down into the cave. The climb looked
easy, but as she started down she realized that everything
inside the cave was coated in a thick layer of guano."
"What's guano?" Amanda asked.
"It's bat shit." Rook informed her.
"Ew!" she made a face.
"Ew is right. The guano was slick and made the climb slippery.
What was worse, though was the smell. The cave reeked! Arrow's
eyes began to water, and before very long she was finding
it hard to breathe through the fumes. After a few more steps,
she couldn't take it any longer. She turned and left, feeling
"So, Arrow returned to the lodge in defeat once more. But
she wasn't about to give up. She knew that she could do
this. It was just a matter of perserverance. So, Arrow continued
to spend her time meditating and preparing herself for the
"Once more, Arrow set out for the hill she was now becoming
very familiar with. The climb was easy this time. She hardly
flinched when the bats flew by. After reaching the top,
she took a deep breath to calm herself, and stepped into
"Somehow, the guano didn't smell nearly as bad this time.
She didn't feel sick at all as she clambered down into the
cave. It was still slippery, but she could handle that.
Finally, Arrow reached the bottom of the cave and there
they were - a pile of arrowheads, covered in guano."
"Arrow pocketed one of the arrowheads and carefully made
her way out of the cave. The trip back to the lodge had
never been easier. She arrived at dusk, walked in and presented
the arrowhead to Frank."
"Frank looked at the arrowhead, then at her. 'Good job,'
he said, as he turned and dropped the arrowhead in the garbage.
He looked back at her. 'You didn't want that, did you? Thing's
covered in bat shit.' Arrow smiled, and shook her head."
"And that was that. Arrow was initiated."
The kids were quiet for a moment, thinking. "She didn't
keep the arrowhead?" Amanda asked.
"Nope. She didn't need it, and Frank was right - it was
"I would have kept it anyway," Amanda said, "as a souvenir."
Arrow yawned. "Yes, I expect you would have, Mandy. Now,
you've had your story, and I'm beat, so you two need to
get out of here and let me sleep." The kids stood up, and
Amanda gave Rachel a good-bye hug. "Hey, kiddo, on your
way out take one of those soybones to Chester." Amanda grabbed
a dog snack from a can on the kitchen counter, and ran out.
Rachel intercepted Rook before he could follow.
"Something wrong?" she asked. The boy just shrugged. "Do
you want to talk about it?"
Rook looked her, then shrugged again. "You're tired," he
"Doesn't matter, as long as I don't have to tell any more
He smiled a bit. "It's ok, but can I come by tomorrow?"
"Sure, I'll be here."
"See ya, then. Thanks, Rae!" He headed for the
Rachel closed the door behind him, then headed to bed for
the best night's rest since she started her ordeal. It was
good to be home.