Ages ago,when man was still an animal new to the world,at harmony with the other beasts of the field,the Animal Spirits would sometimes walk among them,doling out gifts and blessings to those of the human tribe that showed compassion to their weaker and more helpless fellow living things. It was out of such an ecounter with three of them,that the Smiter came into existence.
It so happened once,that there lived a young man named Mafumal. The son of the ruling chief,he was known for his compassion and kindness towards everyone,regardless of their status. All of the people,from the revered shaman to the lowliest hunter,could expect nothing but sympathy and patience from him when they came to him for help with their problems. It was this enduring trait of his that had won their love and utter devotion so long ago,and there were many who hoped that his aging father would not take too long in abdicating and offering the chieftainship to his truly worthy son.
Alas,the dire day came when Wolof the Black Hearted strode ino the domain of Mafumal at the head of a large force of warriors,demanding the surrender of his people. Outraged by his insolent words,the elderly chieftain and his elders refused to do any such thing,and instead called on Wolof to leave their land,abusing him with the vilest insults imaginable in the process. Angered beyond measure,Wolof smote of all their heads with a single mighty blow of his club and bellowed into the skies like some maddened bull,declaring the people of Mafumal his abject slaves as of now.
Mafumal had been away,collecting dead wood for the fires of his people when Wolof stormed his village. Returning back shortly after noon,through the dense scrub jungle that bordered the back of his people’s encampment,he arrived just in time to see Wolof decapitiate his father and the other elders. He watched with great horror as this happened,and then with blazing rage as the Black Hearted one declared his people slaves. But there was nothing he could do. Wolof was too mighty a warrior for him to slay. There was no option but too flee into the refuge of the jungle unles he wished to become a slave himself,and so he did,till his feet hurt,all the while hating his cowardice with every step.
At last exhausted,both his body and heart drained,he came to a panting stop beside a little river and knelt down to scoop up some water with his hands. Only to stiffen as the frenzied grunting of a creature in extreme pain reached his ears. Startled,he shot a sharp look in the direction of the grunting and saw a wounded porcupine struggling to break free of the oppresive hold of the carnivorous thorny vines that had it accidently blundered into. Overwhelmed by pity for the hapless creature,he refused to simply stay idle and watch the creature get eaten alive by the hungry vines. Rushing to it,he whipped out his bone knife and cut it free. Scuttling safely out of the reach of the vines,the little beast amazed him when it spoke to him in the voice of a little child. ‘‘My humble gratitude to you,oh two legged one,for rescuing me from certain death. I am the only child of the Porcupine Spirit and he will be much pleased to meet the one who rescued his son’‘. And so did the astonished Mafumal follow it back deep into it’s underground home where it brought him before it’s sire,the Porcupine Spirit himself.
‘‘Oh,two legged one,your great kindness in rescuing my son demands reward. Such an act of compassion must not be allowed to go unrewarded. And so it was,that depsite Mafumal’s futile protastations that a reward was not neccessary,the Porcupine Spirit reached behind his back and broke off a cluster of his quills,each as long as a small spear. ‘‘So long as you remain kind to any of my little people that you see,these quills I hand over to you will never fail to peirce the toughest plating or shell. Use them wisely’‘.
Thanking the Porcupine Spirit profusely for his great generosity,Mafumal departed and continued with his trek. While pausing near a blue gum tree to scrape off some of the tasty bark,he spotted a resplendent golden eagle of truly monstrous proportions,limping forlonly in the dust some distance away,one of it’s mammoth wings held at an akward angle. Clearly the bird had injured that wing and could no longer fly. Once again,pity moved him and he approached the giant eagle slowly,taking great care to let it see that he meant it no harm. As he gently gathered the vast wing in his arms and set about setting the fractured wing bone that protuded from among the mass of dazzling feathers,the eagle wathched him silenty with the vast twin orbs of amber set in it’s head,the eyes betraying no suspicion or malice whatsoever. As Mafumal at last finished setting the sprained bone,it raised it’s radiant head and begun to adress him in a deep,powerful voice. ‘‘May you be blessed,oh featherless one,for helping me. Others less brave than you would have been intimidated by my fierce appearance,and would have refused to come to my aid,lest I attack them. Rewarded your bravery shall be,for I am no less than the Eagle Spirit who never forgets the smallest kindness done to him’‘. An with that promise lingering in his ears,Mafumal watched open mouthed as the Eagle Spirit reached with his humongous beak to pluck out a handful of feathers from the wing he had just tended,and droped them in his outstreched hands. ‘‘Cherish this seemingly humble gift well. Any weapon or tool that you around which you entwine my feathers,will be endowed with the ability to to fly straight and strike their targets true at your command. Never will they come free,no matter how violent the strike,or weak the binding between it and the weapon it guides. Never will they fail you as long as you harm not any of the great birds of prey. Take them and do that which will bring you much glory with them’‘. And having spoken thus,the Eagle Spirit soared into the sky with a slight flutter of his massive wings.
Still greatly suprised by the sudden turn of events that had befallen him,he continued his wanderings. As sunset approached,he paused near a creek to spear some fat trout with the little fishing spear he had taken from a fold in his loin cloth. As he waded into the pool,he caught sight of something on the opposite side of the creek. A bloated,most loathesome to behold monitor lizard,was slinking towards a clutch of serpent eggs that had been deposited in a large hold dug into the dirt of the shore. Mafumal knew that were the female snake close to guard her brood,the lizard would have never dared to gorge himself on her unhatched young.
And his heart bled for the female snake that would return to find her nest despoiled and ravaged,her precious eggs gone. Summoning all the strength in his arm,he hurled his fishing spear at the lizard,missing it’s ugly head by only an inch. Terrified out of it’s wits,the lizard shifted it’s ponderous tail and scurried away,not desiring to further risk the ire of the guardian of the nest. As Mafumal allowed a small,satisfied smile to spread across his face, there was a loud hiss from directly behind him. Shocked almost out of his skin,he spun around to face this danger that had somehow succeeded in sneaking up on a skilled hunter like him. A vast black cobra towering above him by at least ten feet,greeted his eyes.
‘‘I saw you save my young from the lizard,oh limbed,warm blooded one. It was a most unusual,if unselfish act,given that most of of your kind fear and loathe ussss. Most unusal indeed. And yet you did it. Allow me,the Cobra Spirit to reward this most unexpected deed of kindness on your part. Do you see my right fang? Break it off with no hesitation. It will grow back. Any time you need it,give it a gentle squeeze and beads of my lethal venom will ooze down to transform even the bluntest point into the the most deadliest of all weapons’‘. His hands trembling,Mafumal did as it had instructed him to. And with that,the Cobra Spirit slid back to her nest.
That night,hope sung fiercely in his heart.Gathering together all the gifts he had received from the three Spirits,Mafumal set to work crafting a weapon that would free his people from Wolof,the Black Hearted ..
The next morning,the warriors of Wolof were somewhat taken aback when a young man wearing a strange contraption on his chest,boldly strode into the encampment they had seized and demanded that the Black Hearted face him in single combat. Was he insane? He had to be,what with that silly thing he was wearing. Who in the name of the Spirits,would adorn his chest with a flimsy casing of bark that had elongated sharp points protuding from it like a porcupine’s quills? And as if that wasn’t silly enough,every one of those points were topped with a golden feather that had been attached to them with peices of strong twine. The largest one even had a large fang of some kind dangling from it. A lunatic,this one. Still,it would be amusing to see Wolof crush his skull in.
Sneering with vicious amusement,they watched as Wolof swaggered out of his lean-to,wrathful at having been awakned from his slumber.
Howling a blood curdling war cry,Wolof charged Mafumal with his huge club,intent on beating out the brains of the crazed fool who had dared to challenge him in front of his men.
And Mafumal smiled. Barely moving his lips,he whispered his commands. Soaring with the power and grace of an eagle in flight,three of the sharp points detached themselves from their stout wooden holders that studded the bark casing Mafuamal wore,and hurtled towards Wolof,inflicting a bloody gash on the right side of his body.
And now,the men under Wolof’s command,watched with helpless horror as their fearsome chieftain was seized by violent spasms that wracked his hefty frame. Falling to his knees,Wolof begun to thrash in the dirt,stopping in his frantic struggle to live only when the blood gushed out of his eyes and mouth…..
So long as the wielder renders assitance to any injured or sick porcupines,eagles or cobras that he comes across,the Smiter will never fail him. The quills attached to it,will always penetrate the thickest of armor that is not shielded by magic,the feathers will never cease to ensure that the quills will strike their targets,and the serpent fang will never run dry of the deadly treasure it carries.
But were the wielder to ignore the plight of any of the above mentioned animals,or even worse,to indulge in slaying or tormenting them,things will go horribly wrong for him. The quills will become blunt and brittle,shattering like dust when thrown at any hard surface. And the feathers will cause the weapons they guide,to fly in the direction exactly opposite of where their target lies. As for the fang,instead of secreting venom,it will produce a substance that will rejuvante the vitality of any that it is used against.
Note:The quills are not sharp enough to slay by themselves. Used without the other components that make up the Smiter,they will only succeed in inflicting a nasty flesh wound. The true menace of this weapon lies in the potent venom that is smeared on the tip of each quill that is discharged at a foe. If the enemy has developed an immunity to the venom of snakes,or has a healer at hand to purge his bloodstream of the toxins that the Smiter has flooded it with,there is good reason to assume that he will survive his ordeal. Even a good torniquet might do the trick.