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11/7/2020 11:47:47 PM


Gifts, Page 7: Gold

[url=]Table of Contents[/url] Finally Shadow returns to the Vestian Outpost. It has been nearly one Earth week since she last came and gave me her gift. It is not normal for her to go so long without visiting the Reef. Perhaps she was busy with the festivities of Crimson Days. This worries me. I know nothing of this human holiday. If she has come back then the celebration may already have ended. Am I too late? Can I give her my gift now if it’s over? Shadow approaches slowly, shoulders hunched and feet dragging over the metal floor. She seems anxious. Have I wounded her by not giving her a gift? The Huntress stops in front of me. Her golden eyes do not meet mine. I am worried, but if she is here then it may not be too late. “Shadow.” At the sound of her name her hands curl into fists, clutching the fabric of her cloak. Still she does not look at me. “Y-yes, Variks?” “Your Earth holiday,” I begin carefully, taking note when her whole body stiffens, “You said it is where friends must exchange gifts, yes?” Shadow’s golden eyes lock with mine for a moment, just long enough for me to see confusion in them, “Um, yeah, that’s what it is. Yeah.” With one of my undocked hands I procure her gift to me, the small Judgement banner she had made. She makes a small sound when she sees it. “You gave Variks this,” I continue, “And I thanked you for it. But I must give you something in return, yes?” Shadow blinks, processing, then suddenly becomes a whirlwind of movement. Her arms wave in front of her and her head shakes from side to side so frantically that it looks like it may fly off. “Nononononono it’s, um, it’s okay. You don’t have to get me- I just wanted to- I thought- I, um…” She trails off and becomes still again, letting out a trembling sigh, “No, you don’t need to get me anything.” I stroke my chain mask, “That is good. I was worried.” Shadow seems to sag a little, maybe feeling guilty for causing me worry. “Are you still celebrating the holiday?” I inquire casually. “No,” she replies, meek. “Is it too late for me to give you a gift?” The Huntress jolts to attention, eyes wide open. I watch as her mouth moves silently, trying to form words. I chuckle softly. She is very surprised. Eventually she finds words, “Um, no. No, it’s not too late. You- you have something for me?” “Yes, I do,” I nod, reaching for the folded cloth I have tucked safely away, “You have shown me you care for our friendship, yes. Now I must do the same.” I hold it out, carefully unfolding the cloth to reveal my gift for her. A single, golden flower rests in my palm. It is beginning to die already, but it has retained its beauty. Groks did his job well. Shadow stares in wonder, “A flower?” “Yes,” I say, “It is not as great a gift as what you have given me. Is it enough?” Shadow slowly brings her hands up to mine, delicately scooping up the cloth. The flower is cupped in her hands, held like a precious treasure. “Yeah,” she answers distractedly, “It’s enough.” “You gave me a gift of my House, of my people,” I explain, “I wished to give you a gift of your people. This flower is from Earth.” Shadow looks back up to me, “How did you-“ “It is gold. Like your eyes.” Shadow freezes like a prisoner in a cryo-cell. Her face appears to change color. I tilt my head down closer to hers, “Shadow?” “Thank you Variks!” Shadow suddenly bursts into motion again. Her arms wrap around me for a brief moment, just long enough to give me a small squeeze. In the very next moment she is gone, already dashing away at full speed. Once again I am left confused as the Huntress vanishes from sight. I will have to ask her more about the holiday to understand its strange rituals. She is a very good friend.



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