Waltz of Flesh

Interlude 1 Three Can Keep a Secret - Part 1 of 2

A precious stone, clear as diamond, that slips through greedy, grasping, fingers.

Hundo wandered up to the Theurge cub who had found his way into the Sept of the Green, alone, a few days before. “Hey, man, I just wanted to tell you it looks like they found your pack up north.”
Lincho, the pup in question, stared at Hundo, uncomprehending. “My pack?”
“Yeah!” enthused Hundo. Catching the cub’s look, he backtracked. “Aren’t you Wendigo? Weren’t your packmates missing?”
“No, Uktena…”
“Oh. Sorry, man. But, how ’bout you go up there and find out what happened?”

Without much more ado, Lincho found himself ‘assigned’ to Androcles’ Pride, Hundo entrusting Spineripper with mentorship of Lincho while he went to the Sept of Gaia’s Hand to find out more about this Pack, the Black Hills Cousins, and what happened to them.

When the abbreviated Pack (minus Binds The Spider, who was still in the bosom of his tribe, Mooch, whose whereabouts were unknown, Feedback, who had had enough time “in Nature” to last him a while, and who was trying to locate Golden-Tail for Shera, and One-Eyed Joe, who had presumably been right behind them when they took the Moonbridge out) reached the Sept of Gaia’s Hand, home mostly to Children of Gaia and Black Furies, Jason howled their introduction. The Pack-plus-one were greeted by Audrey Gales, a homid Child of Gaia who was caring for a young man of no more than 20. Wild-eyed, wrapped in a woven blanket and cradling some kind of strong alcoholic beverage, he sat cross-legged on the ground and swayed to and fro, totally silent. Audrey explained that he was Lonato, one of the Black Hills Children Pack. He and his two packmates, Sora and Nina, were all cousins to one another and grandchildren of Cries-In-the-Wind, the Wendigo elder. The pack had come through the Sept on a hunt for a Windigo spirit that had turned to the Wyrm. A week or so later, a few members of the Sept had found Lonato wandering back toward the bawn, dazed, mute, and alone—Sora and Nina, the girls, were nowhere to be found. Audrey had been caring for him for the last few days, but was unable to get any information out of him.

At a loss for how to get information from someone who was all but catatonic, Jason turned around at the sound of laughter, and saw a Raven spirit that had lighted on the ground in the Bawn. Using his Gift, Jason addressed the Beast form that the Raven had taken.
“Brother Raven, what caused this? What do we need to understand?”
The Raven blinked, hopped, and cocked his head to one side. “Secret sins,” he cawed.
“Can you show us?” Jason asked, prepared to bargain with the bird spirit.
The Raven cawed once, loudly, and took off. The pack melted into running forms and dashed after the bird, Jason and Lincho in Lupus, Shera in Hispo.

The bird flew for nearly half a day, showing its supernatural speed and endurance, until it came to rest on a pine tree in a clearing. Catching up to it, the pack perceived a glowing rune on the ground, in the shape of a raven’s foot. At her Alpha’s command, Shera began to dig, but was in for a nasty surprise. At the smell of rotting human flesh, she all but soiled herself, overcoming the urge to flee by sheer willpower. The sight of an Ahroun whining (“He is not who he is!” would be the nearest translation to human speech), backpedaling, tail tucked firmly between her legs, ears plastered to her skull, was pitiful indeed. Investigating further, Jason found that the freshly turned earth housed the body of a girl, around the same age as Lonato, dressed in ritual Native garb, and bearing deadly wounds across her chest—claw marks that looked like they came from another Garou. Garou killing Garou was foul enough, and Shera knew in her bones that packmate had turned against packmate, and worse still, cousin against cousin. This struck too close to home. She would not go near the body again, trembling as she was, so the other two finished unearthing her.

Before Shera could account for herself, or explain her instinctual understanding of what had taken place, Raven cawed again and flew off, leading the party to another small clearing where the body of another young woman lay. She too was ritually dressed, but had died in a different way: a sizable piece of her once-beautiful face was missing, blown apart by a shotgun blast. Looking again for Raven, Jason thanked the Spirit, promising it some fresh carrion as chiminage for its help. Lincho picked up the shotgun that lay near, and presumably had killed, the second young woman while Jason investigated their surroundings further.

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