Waltz of Flesh

Madness of the Heart, Epilogue Part 1

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't." -Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2

13-14 October 2012 — Moon Phase: New to Waxing Crescent

The next day, there was a terribly long, uncomfortable Moot. Sylvan-Ivanovna-Sylvan informed the Garou that she was assuming control of the Caern. A look passed between Jason and Shera, and she looked at each of her packmates in turn, gathering what she believed was their agreement to quit the Sept of Sweet Rock as a pack as soon as the dead were buried. Heir-of-the-Sun, on the grounds of being a Glory hound and an unfit leader, was banished from the Caern of Sweet Rock, on pain of death. Jason huffed to himself, “As if you could get him to set foot on her Bawn again.” Shera added, “On pain of death.” It was a sick thing, seeing how she pushed out any who might rival her, regardless of what was best for the Caern. She announced that Seeks-the-Spirals would hold a position among her Council of Elders, as well as a host of other rubbishy pronouncements that no one in the Pack cared to hear.

When she had concluded, other Garou were recognized and allowed to speak if they would. No one dared, or they had nothing to say, except for Spineripper. He spoke with pride and defiance, a poem crafted from his own pure brain, a song of war honoring Heir-of-the-Sun as a titan among Garou. Thus given at least a reasonably good send-off, as he walked out of the gathering, spine erect, eye forward, Heir-of-the-Sun growled over his shoulder at Sylvan-Ivanovna-Sylvan, “Recognize your newest Fostern!” As it turns out, Elders have an easier time keeping their Rage in check, even for the most barbed, celebrated insults.

As much as Shera wanted to leave right away, and never look back, she knew that the Pack needed to plan their next move, so she suggested they go eat off the Bawn at a tiny local diner and discuss what came next. They agreed to resign the next morning, and leave directly after that. The decision made, Feedback put in his headphones and tucked into his pancakes, and Shera took the opportunity to ask the Pack, because she was probably the least politically astute member, a few questions about what had happened.
“Why would Steals-the-Kill bust up Gramps’ gang and then name him to the Council?” she asked, voice lowered to a conspiratorial tone despite her coded references. After all, they were in public, and she was afraid of breaking the Veil.
Jason answered first. “Divide and conquer. Classic tactic. Besides, she’d never win the challenge if she did it the other way around.”
Joe explained more in-depth. “She’s probably worried that Gramps might challenge her authority, and call his family to come help…and she got rid of his buddy that could probably take her in a straight fight.”
Of course, Shera knew that aid from the Sept of the Sentinel at Cole’s request (or on his behalf) was impossible in any case, but Jason and Joe didn’t seem to know that, and so Shera reasoned that Ivanovna might not know that either—and the fewer people that knew about that, the more advantage Cole might have, so for the time being, she didn’t mention what she knew, even to her Pack.
“Dirty, underhanded, bolloxed up business,” Shera growled, her face darkening. “She’s got a lot of blood on her hands.”
“But I don’t understand,” cut in Mooch, his voice a little too loud. I thought we were all one big happy family, working together. Why would she take the Caern?"
“Do NOT say that again in public.” Jason’s voice was a stern warning, and Mooch’s instinct heeded the command of his Alpha and his superior in rank.
“I’m sorry, it’s just—”
“Quiet!” Jason barked.
Mooch fell silent.
“Look around you. Can you say who here is on our side and who is an enemy spy?” Jason continued, his voice soft and low, his eyes flashing.
Mooch looked around openly, then cast his gaze at the table. “No, I guess not.”
“Then you will act, think, and speak like anyone who is not at this table is not on our side. Once you begin to learn who can and can’t be trusted, you will be able to speak more openly.”

Back at the Caern, Shera mused that she was gathering quite a collection of Fetishes…Teardrinker’s spine, the Rager, the Fang Dagger, Marcus’ Jagged Spear…and…Cole’s arm. At least she could give that back to him, however belated. It would also give her the chance to make sure that he knew she was leaving and wouldn’t be such a pain in his ass anymore—particularly as the danger of him choking himself had passed, and also because the Athro to whom she’d made the promise wouldn’t be there to punish her for not keeping it. Shera also figured she ought to apologize if she’d insulted him earlier by trying to help him up.

“Gramps? I thought you should know, the Pack’s leaving for good tomorrow, and—” He held up a hand to silence her. His larynx was still punctured, so he couldn’t talk over her, but more importantly, while she might have understood that unfriendly ears were everywhere, she did not seem to know that leaving a Sept for good, especially because you dislike the rule of its Elder, wasn’t something she should discuss openly.
“I have an open challenge to her,” he rasped.
“Oh.” Shera didn’t know how to reply to that, other than to cross her fingers.
“Good night,” he said firmly.
“Yeah, g’night,” she replied, bewildered. It wasn’t until she wandered over to her Pack to collapse and sleep that she realized she was still holding the arm. Walking over to her bike at the edge of the Bawn, she locked it in with the other Fetishes, and started back toward her packmates, but, thinking better of it, she shifted into Glabro and settled with her back against a tree, keys in hand, to sleep next to her bike.
As she had started to drift off, she saw someone approaching her; Feedback settled next to her. “It’s dangerous to go alone,” he said with a foolish grin. She had no idea what was so funny, but she just nodded and drifted off.

The next day, she awoke to Jason pacing around and looking generally like a caged wolf. “We can’t leave yet,” he spat, all aggravation.
“Why? Is there a Rite of the Ceremonial Bird or some shit?” Shera demanded, impatient to be gone.
“Your Old Man and Ivanovna are duking it out, and the new Guardians say no one can leave until they’re done.”

Shera raced across the Bawn, looking for the battle, and a few members of the Pack followed, but instead she found the battle’s aftermath. Seeks-the-Spirals had apparently lost, and bore on his face a network of deep gouges. In particular, there was a two-centimeter silver gash under his brow through eyes that could no longer see. Despite their apparent uselessness they flickered wildly, and he seemed to make his way by scent and will alone. Heart breaking, Shera pointed at Jason and Mooch. “Please come with me. I need something from you.”
Mooch replied, “Of course, I’ll help, what is it?”

Shera walked up to Seeks-the-Spirals, her voice as heavy as her heart. “Gramps? You ready?” The Rite of the Winter Wolf might be the hardest thing she would live through, since she’d fought his desire to perform it for a week or more, but…she couldn’t bear to see him reduced to this.

“No, no, it’s not my time yet.” Gravelly, his voice still swelled with a note of pride and purpose. “I have had a vision from Great Bee, and I will go now, but I’ll come back to marry you. At least, I think it’s you. To marry the one I’ve been training and preparing for her destiny.”

Stunned silence reigned. At length, Shera spoke. “Can we…damn it all, I need a drink. Come on.” She looked pleadingly at her Alpha. “Jason, I know I don’t…but…please…give us a couple hours tae get it sorted out. I’ve got my phone, but until we talk again, this conversation never happened, ok?” She then shot a glare that would have cut out Mooch’s tongue of its own accord, if it were possible, and if he’d had a tail in this form, he would have tucked it. She took Cole by the arm. “Bike’s over here.”

Their voices low, the Forseti and Ahroun had a short conversation of which little could be heard, until Seeks-the-Spirals began to walk away, and Shera asked, “Weel, would ye like a RIDE to the airport?!”
“I ought to hit you for that,” growled the Athro.
Shera strode up to him, and sassed him right back. “Weel then, why didn’t ye?”
He chuckled bitterly. “Wait until tomorrow morning, we’ll go then.”
“Right.” Shera knew she wouldn’t find him tomorrow, that he would slip off that night. She shook her head. “I’d be a sad excuse for a Garou if I couldn’t track a blighter like you,” she said to herself. With that, she set off to find a stone, and make it up like Zippy showed her.

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