The two men spent the next half-hour unboxing everything, the next forty-five minutes organizing everything, and the next fifteen minutes putting everything on Jeff.
Jeff admired his tuxedo-clad reflection in his closet door mirror. “Wow.”
Hildreth put his hands on his friend’s shoulders. “Are we hot or what?”
“Yeah. We’re hot.”
Hildreth patted his shoulders and took a step back. “Where’s Tsunachu?”
“Right here.” Jeff reached into the closet and pulled out a hard leather-bound case that may have been a guitar case in another lifetime. It was long and narrow with no curves at all. He laid it down on the bed and unfastened the metal flip latches: two at the top, two in the middle, and two at the bottom.
He raised the lid and pulled aside the black microfiber flat sheet, exposing the weapon hidden underneath.
Jeff removed Tsunachu with care and reverence. The memories came rushing forward, but the former hunter didn’t resist them.
He let them come.
Jeff followed Master Initskay into the weapon room. His mouth involuntarily dropped open.
But it wasn’t the sight of so many weapons, such a great variety of weapons, that caught him off guard. It was one particular weapon that caught his breath.
It was beautiful. A saber made of oak and stained a deep maroon. It called his name in unheard words. It urged him to come forward. It begged for his touch.
Master Initskay stopped him. “Not yet, Farsigh. You need to master hand to hand combat before you can even touch one of these beauties.”
It was night and Jeff couldn’t stop thinking about it. He got out of bed and ran to the weapons room. He was afraid that it was gone. Someone else had claimed it. Someone had stolen it. Someone had hidden it on him.
It wouldn’t be there.
It was there, hanging between the Bossman 550 and the ShiGeru Star Shooter.
He glanced around the room. He was alone.
Jeff was alone and the weapon was there waiting for his touch. He pulled it off the wall and ran out of the room.
Jeff swung the weapon again and again.
It sang a sweet, whistled song.
“Jeff! Tsunachu is not an ax and vampires are not trees. Come at me! I am your enemy. Come. Take me down. NOW!”
Jeff picked up his weapon. The words whispered and whistled inside his ears,”Master Initskay has been changed. Hildreth tried to stake him and failed. It’s up to you. You have to do this.”
He couldn’t remember who had said it. He couldn’t remember their voice. Just the words that they had said.
Such horrible painful truths.
Jeff put his weapon away. “I will not stain Tsunachu with Master Initskay’s blood.”
“I can’t.” He knelt before Master Shinowa. “Master, I’m sorry. I can’t do this anymore.” He doubled over and touched his forehead against the dojo’s wooden floor.
“I have agreement with you, Farsigh.”
Jeff rose to his feet. He unbuckled the scabbard around his waist and offered it to Master Shinowa.
The master shook his head. “Weapon is arm to hunter. Weapon is for you keeping not for you surrendering. Keep weapon, Farsigh. Weapon is memory to hold.” His own personal grief was clear in his eyes. “Keep Tsunachu, Farsigh.”
Jeff bowed. “Yes, Master.”
“It’s a little dusty,” Jeff said. “but it’s still beautiful.”
“I bet you can still make it sing.”
Jeff smiled. “I’m sure I can.”