Waltz of Flesh

Stave 2 Madness of the Heart Part 1

The past comes home to roost.

Thursday October 11, 2012 – Moon Phase: Waning crescent

Arriving at the Sept of the Green, Teardrop made himself known to Hundo and to Mother Larissa, and went with Jason to see Anja, and attempt to remove the hold that her former Leech Regnant still had on her. Joe went as well, intellectual curiosity burning. Anja was glad to see Jason again, and was pleased enough to meet “Kai”, but even her Kinfolk background gave way to alarm at seeing a bird’s wing, tied to a string, produced in front of her face. Nervous, she allowed the Stargazer to use the Partridge Wing Fetish on her, but drug Jason out for some coffee as quickly and forcefully as she could. As soon as he was able, Jason returned Anja to the Silver Fang Kinfolk of the City, and left them with special instructions, as before, to watch her closely and not let her be alone for too long.

Returning to the Sept of the Green, the Pack and Stargazer petitioned Mother Larissa to open the Moon Bridge, to allow them to return to the Sept of Sweet Rock and defend it as quickly as possible. Because the defense of every Sept’s caern is important, Mother Larissa refused to open the Bridge, knowing that it would act as a beacon to bring the Wyrm’s forces to her Sept as well. The three were forced to long run, but they did take with them a promise that Mother Larissa would send what aid she could. Winded, the group arrived and howled out their greeting just in time to catch a sound, a scent, a sight out of place and a dire threat to the caern: trucks, smog, and men.

The situation at Sweet Rock had continued to deteriorate, on a micro- as well as a macro level, as Shera waited impatiently for her Pack to come. Pure Tempest remained in seclusion, the Warder and his Guardians remained on high alert, and Seeks-the-Spirals did what he could to escape Shera’s constant vigil, using his Gifts to evade her watchful eye for a couple of hours. She was not in the least amused or sympathetic to his artificially slowing her running speed and increasing his own, and doggedly stayed on his trail anyway. Aggravated at his stubbornness, she aimed to demonstrate that she could be every bit as stubborn as he, elder or not. When she caught up to him, he was at the edge of the Bawn, grumpy as was his wont since she took up “babysitting duty” at Heir-of-the-Sun’s command. The edge of the Bawn, while rarely flush with wildlife, was eerily empty and quiet.

“Do ye really think I enjoy this?” she asked, so annoyed that she tiptoed on the edge of insult. ‘He ought to be a wee bit more grateful,’ she thought. ‘After all, even if he wants to die, he would have died like a chump had it not been for me. No Glory in having someone else sneak up and choke the life out o’ ye.’ She really couldn’t understand why he seemed to despise her. ‘His Rank be damned, anyway—he’s acting more like a child than an Elder,’ she grumbled inwardly, hoping that he didn’t have some kind of Gift to read her thoughts with. Fortunately for all concerned, he didn’t so much as dignify her with a glance, let alone an answer. They squared off more like angry housecats than Garou—both sore at the other—but didn’t do much other than eyeball each other and be grumpy. Cole, of course, did so more openly than Shera—but not by much. That was going to get her killed someday, her refusal to give Rank its proper respect.

Suddenly, both of them tensed, their senses straining. Shera recognized Jason’s voice on the wind—they were here, at last! With…others?! Her joy and confusion were cut short as other sensations followed: the sound of trucks (diesels, by their rumbling), the sight of dense, smoky smog, and the scent of death hurtled toward the caern. The Wyrm’s forces had come again. Forseti and Ahroun immediately erupted into War Form, and Seeks-the-Spirals gave a Snarl of Precedence, declaring his right to the kill. The two Crinos plunged toward the invaders. As they raced onto the scene, Shera’s pack was there, with two whom she did not know, and holy war broke loose. A shotgun blast grazed Seeks-the-Spiral’s ears, and he roared as golden light poured from his wounded body—his lost arm, the scars on his chest, his torn ear were all mended and replaced by glowing, golden light. Fortunately, these replacement parts hit quite a bit harder than sunlight, and the first kill was simple and bloody.

A mottled Hispo, new to the Sept, whom Jason had announced as “Mooch”, charged one of the trucks there and slammed against it, overturning it and spilling its riders. Joe followed suit, flipping another truck in an impressive display of brawn. Wailing her Foreboding, Breaks-the-Maze-Walls grabbed another truck by its front end, masking her pain with Rage as she tore her body to overturn it in a dead lift. More of the grey men—Fomori!, she realized, as the searing spear of Rage coursed through her—were crushed beneath it, and she leapt over the upset truck to finish off any that might remain. Jason continued to Howl for assistance, communicating as much as he could about the Wyrmish threat. As Shera landed, and tore one of the survivors in half, Seeks-the-Spirals took a shotgun to the chest at point-blank range, the silver bullets tearing his body and leaving great, gaping holes. Cole was her responsibility to protect, and she was failing, despite his strength in Gaia and the presence of her Pack. Her Rage took control, and Shera was shunted into a Berserk Frenzy. Mooch was hit by a lucky shot, and as the silver bullets burned his body, his courage deserted him, and he fled the fight. Jason channeled the pure silver light of Luna through his body and shone brightly, illuminating the field of war to combat the smog that had been put up as a diversion to stunt the Garou’s sight and smell, and blinding the few enemies that had not been pinned under a 2-ton truck.

The ways of the Metis are a mystery to many, but most of them seem to understand their fellow Garou better, perhaps, than those Garou understand themselves, and at least in the case of One-Eyed-Joe, he was developing a knack for knowing what his pack needed—and having it on hand (or the tip of his tongue, in some cases). Although she hadn’t explained much when she told them about “the incident”, other than a play-by-play, Shera had told her packmates that she had been tasked as Cole’s personal guardian. Seeing the light of the Berserker in her eyes, Joe knew that it was fear for Seeks-the-Spirals’ survival that was driving her—and that was something he could fix! Calling on the healing grace of Gaia to pass through his fingers, Joe laid hands on Seeks-the-Spirals, and the wounds that he had suffered in this fight were no more—even the limbs of light were made whole!

As Breaks-the-Maze-Walls finished off the last of the Fomori that were pinned beneath her truck, Seeks-the-Spirals lifted up the only one left alive by the throat and, using his connection to Fenris, channeled that being’s primal fearsomeness and glared at Breaks-the-Maze-Walls. Her Berserk was no match for the Wolf God, and she skidded to a halt, tail tucked and ears glued to her head. Choking the Fomor, the Get tried to interrogate him, but the human vessel died, unable to withstand the grip of Crinos. Joe walked up to Shera, and laid a comforting hand on her shoulder, once again using his connection to Gaia, this time to heal and calm his packmate. Being in a Berserk Frenzy was the only thing that had kept her from fleeing the fight outright in the face of Fenris, so Shera was more than a little shaken. Perhaps as long as she was there to pry his hand from his own throat, she didn’t need to “protect” him quite so hard—the Athro seemed more than capable of defending himself…but still…

About that time, Mooch came back, limping and whimpering from his wounds, and wailing in confusion. “What the hell was that? What happened?! I just don’t understand, and this shit burns! Can someone tell me what the hell’s going on?” Cole averted his gaze, unwilling to recognize someone of such lowly Tribe, Rank, and not belonging to the Sept. Shera, mortified that her Pack had brought such a pup to the caern, and making a note of it to challenge Jason about such a strange decision later—what on earth good would such a whingy, grass-green pup be in a fight?!—glared at the newcomer in desperation and hissed “For God’s sake, be QUIET!”

During the fight in the physical world, Jason and Kai had traversed the Gauntlet into the near side of the Umbra. Strange smog elementals, hoglings, populated the area. Dense foggy bodies sat atop a long, scaled metal tentacle and carried muzzles like a loudspeakers belching out polluting fog. This was some kind of Spirit Charm similar to a Flood charm, filling the entire area of the Caern grounds. The quintet of Banes continued to spew poison, leaping up with their tentacle leg and lashing like metallic whips across the furry bodies that impeded their progress. Jason tore at the support of the banes with teeth to force them to the ground for easier targets. Kai displayed his long-honed Kailindo in his Glabro form and grasped the lashes meant deter him and turned them into his own weapons momentarily. The pair finished pummelling the sludgy bodies into pulp and returned to the material world in agreement, hoping they had stopped the defilement of the air.

Stepping sideways, Teardrop and Claws-Like-Oak-Spears emerged, holding the remains of a few Smog Banes in his hand. Recognizing Cole’s Rank, he bowed his head and asked, “Honorable Elder, why would Smog Banes be here, so far from the city? I do not understand.” Whatever answer Cole gave, it was drowned out by several Howls of distress—the entire caern must have been under assault, and the Guardians outmatched, to inspire such cries. Cole turned to Shera. “You and your pack will go and assist the defense of the caern. We will go track the source of these Banes.” Uncharacteristically quiet, Shera was still defiant. “You know I cannae,” she mumbled flatly. She knew it was wrong to tell him no—possibly even suicide—but by damn, Heir-of-the-Sun’s orders had come first, and those were the ones she was going to follow. Thus trapped between the orders of two elders, she deferred to the Warder. Blinding Rage suffused Cole’s face, and he grabbed Shera by the collar, hauling her an inch from his lengthening canines. Choking back his more homicidal impulses, his voice was still deadly: “You WILL take YOUR PACK and DEFEND the CAERN, or I will tear you apart so the Wyrm won’t have to!” He tossed her aside, and turned to leave, shifting to Crinos in order to lengthen his stride, and Teardrop followed, although he did not leave Glabro form. Despite his threats, Shera was still feeling the effects of Fenris’ Visage and Mother’s Touch, and so, out-of-touch with her Rage, she was disheartened and confused, and couldn’t muster the anger that should have been there to motivate her. She stood, motionless, wavering, and unable to bring herself to either follow Cole’s orders or defy them and follow him.

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