Waltz of Flesh

Stave 2 Madness of the Heart Part 2

Thursday October 11, 2012 – Moon Phase: Waning crescent

Over his shoulder, the Elder Philodox growled, “Half Moon! Go shepherd the Kin. Keep them out of danger.” With a thought, Joe shifted down into Hispo and grunted his acknowledgement as he ran toward the Kinfolk settlement near the other edge of the Bawn.

“Jason.” Shera finally found her voice, though it was unusually quiet and small. “The lives of a couple dozen family members, or the life of the one I’m sworn to protect. How would you weigh that balance?” The smallest rope would be a lifeline for her…hopefully, there wasn’t a noose on the end of it.
“Well,” the Alpha replied, after a moment’s thought, “it’s going to be a lot easier to keep the old man safe if he only has to face threats from one or two directions, and not all of them.”
Shera nodded. “Which way?”
The Alpha raised his head, listening to the howls. “The Adren can take care of himself. The Fostern might be a little more endangered.” Shifting into Crinos, the Silver Fang and Fianna charged toward the danger. Three Hispo loped along behind them—each help sent by Mother Larissa. Mooch was looking to redeem himself after his shameful display of cowardice; Binds-the-Spider, a Lupus Uktena semi-affectionately referred to as “Zippy the Wonder Theurge”, and Feedback, who might have found the stronger presence of Gaia refreshing, had he not been forced to come to the woods to find it.

The Crinos heard the trucks before they could see them, what with the smog filling the area. Jason broadsided one truck, sending it onto the driver’s side door, while Shera lept through the windshield of the other, sending shards of glass into the cab. Feedback fell back to his natural, naked form and lopped off a shot at another driver. Feedback’s bullet whizzed by the driver’s ear, but the Fomor still pulled his gun and got off a lucky shot, blowing Shera’s skull open and exposing her brain. Mooch put on his War Form, ignoring his limitations and the part of him that hated shifting and being a werewolf more than anything, and tried his best to embrace the Beast within, and Zippy landed on top of the overturned truck, preparing to enter the cab and finish off the driver. Amazingly unfazed by the grievous injury she’d just received, Shera continued her assault and tore the driver’s throat out, and Jason finished rolling his truck onto its roof. Two tons of metal and fossil fuels collapsed the cab onto its driver.

Toes outstretched, Zippy made the transition into his Homid self: a dirty, dreadlocked brown man with a backwards t-shirt and ripped pants too short, and tended to Shera’s wounds, patching her up and leaving her but a little bruise as evidence of what had just happened to her. Jason had a hunch that a pair of Fomori didn’t really seem capable of posing a threat to other Garou calling for help. He took the small vial of quicksilver around his neck as a gate through the Gauntlet. Noticing that Jason was disappearing, Shera ran over to one of the truck’s mirrors, stepping sideways with comparative ease (and what was, for her, great luck). What awaited them there was horrid indeed, and while Shera knew somewhere in her mind what these black, lurching, spiky and jagged-mawed monstrosities were, she could not bring it to the tip of her brain. Jason was at a total loss. Ultimately, though, the only important thing is that they were lurching toward the heart of the caern, and they needed to die. The towering, gothic Scrags marched towards the northeast while the smog choked black and brown leaves from the young spirits of the trees around them fell like volcanic ash to the forest floor. Dogpiling on the one nearest to them, the pair tried to tear it apart, but it was far stronger than they had anticipated, and it called upon its foul charms to amplify the Beast within Shera. She fell prey to her natural overflow of Rage and lust for battle, becoming the Thrall of the Wyrm.

Just then, Mooch appeared, shoved through the Gauntlet from behind by Zippy, and they took a moment to assess the situation. Shera, clearly out of her mind, was to be avoided. The Alpha was leaping away from her and toward the next Bane, so the two moved to assist him in his task, Zippy melting into Hispo and Mooch retaining his War Form. Alone in the material world, Feedback debated what to do—chilling in the Umbra wasn’t really his style, and he was feeling pretty out of place here. Bare as the day he was born and armed like the last day he would live, he decided that being alone was worse than being dead.

Jason growled his intentions to his still-sane comrades: put these fuckers in Shera’s face so that she has something to slake her Rage on, and hopefully she gets ahold of herself before we have to kick her ass. The plan was beautifully executed, with all three of them coordinating their attacks, and with Feedback, as he stumbled through the Gauntlet, binding the horrible Banes with Spirit Snares and weakening them considerably, but even Shera’s battle-hardened body could not withstand all that she was taking. She stubbornly refused to die, what tiny piece of herself as was left was screaming “This is not my Fate!” as she roared back from Death’s Door for the second time, acquiring a new Battle Scar as her midsection was ripped open over and over by these Banes that Zippy called “Scrags”. Although she did not commit the foulest of acts the Wyrm could tempt her to, she also could not shake off the Thrall, and so, wounded and close to Death as she was, Zippy charged her with a headbutt that would have broken the neck of any lesser being. Still, Shera clung to life—too much a born Scot to die, even if she should have done so 3 times over.

Slinging Shera’s Homid form over his shoulder, Jason returned and the group of Cliath walked to the middle of the Caern before stepping sideways, re-entering the Bawn. Grimacing at having to enter human skin once more, Zippy slowly shifted, prepared to once again give Shera the gift of life, but before he could, her eyes opened on their own. One of the battle-ragged Guardians rushed past them in a sweep to the edge of the territory. Slowly standing up, and more than a little wobbly, she grasped Jagged-Spear’s arm in a brotherly clasp as he gave her the news: the Caern totem, Great Bee, had fallen into slumber, and the Heart of the Caern had been violated. Shera panicked and tried to shift into Lupus so that she could run to someplace outside the Bawn and find a cell phone signal—Mother Larissa would have to be warned that they might use the Path Stone to cross the Moon Bridge to her caern! However, her body sharply and painfully reminded her of what it had just been through, and she was staying put, thank you very much. Just then, a mournful cry lamented the loss of all of the Kinfolk, whose corpses had been defiled and desecrated. Thoughts immediately turned to Joe, wondering for his safety, and praying to Gaia that he hadn’t also fallen into the Thrall of the Wyrm—as a Mule, slaking his unholy lusts on the fallen was his particular curse.

Looking haggard, Seeks-the-Spirals approached all the Garou, who had instinctively gathered by the Heart of the Caern. Everything was wrong…no bees could be seen. No honey flowed from the rock. “Great Bee has fallen into Slumber,” the Forseti, his voice hoarse and nearly husky, informed them. “Were it possible for ”/characters/long-mei-xiu-pure-tempest" class=“wiki-content-link”>Pure-Tempest to be beside herself, she would be. And here." With this, he approached Shera, and handed her a shed snakeskin. “I’m sure you’ll know what this means.” She clearly did, as she visibly suppressed her homicidal urges. Despite all they had done, and how hard they had fought, it seemed clear that they had been completely routed.

So much of this went beyond Mooch’s understanding, although he felt the outrage as clearly as anyone else. He lifted his voice to Seeks-the-Spirals, even though such a presumption, as a lowly Cliath and an outsider to boot, could have cost him very dearly—Mooch was likely unaware of the impropriety of his acts. “Venerable Elder, I don’t understand what it is that I am. I am trying to embrace it, but I don’t understand. I want to fight. What are we? What am I? What am I supposed to be doing? I would do anything for you, and for Gaia.” Heath admonished the Bone Gnawer, “Gaia needs all her warriors. You Bone Gnawers are the most numerous and you must stand and fight one day, instead of running like Rats.”
“Then I will fight!”

Ending the conversation with the Bone Gnawer, Cole turned his voice back to the entire gathering. “What’s more, when they violated the Heart of the Caern, they took the Pathstone.” Mooch immediately volunteered. “I’m good at stealing things, so I’m good at stealing them back. I’ll go get it. I swear to God…I swear to Gaia, I’ll get it back.”
“How would you even find it?” countered the Elder. “You don’t even know where to look.”
Zippy raised a paw hand. “Rock find rock. We find.” Weaving grasses together around a stone, Zippy called on the spirits, and they responded to his call, pointing the rock to the northeast. Zippy grinned at his very earthy approach to the Rite of the Questing Stone. “Rock find rock.” Mooch tried to press his case. “We’ll go get it, no matter what it takes.”

Cole growled, annoyed that he hadn’t thought to do that himself. There’s little an Elder dislikes more than being shown up by cubs. “Go ask the Warder. You don’t leave unless he says so.” The pack walked over to Heir-of-the-Sun, and before Jason or Shera could speak a word of introduction, Mooch made his case, asking for permission to steal back the Path Stone. The Warder pointedly ignored this brazen newcomer, and Shera dug him in the ribs, as gently as she knew how, and shushed him. “Heir-of-the-Sun, Honorable Elder, these are friends sent to us to aid in the defense of our Sept by Mother Larissa. I ask permission to present to you Mooch, Feedback, and Binds-the-Spider. They have been invaluable to us in our attempts to aid the Caern’s defense.” Jason’s innate dignity was the only thing that kept his jaw in its proper place—since when did she know how to be polite?
Heir-of-the-Sun actually snorted, but he deigned to address the Ahroun. “They are your Pack’s responsibility. Without the protection of your Pack, they will not go about the business of the Sept.”
“Understood.”
“You have until noon today, no longer. Seeks-the-Spirals is convinced that the final attack will come on the New Moon. How will you seek out the Pathstone? How will you find it?”
“The Questing Stone points to the northeast.”
“It is a fool’s errand; they left by Moon Bridge. But your Pack may go.”
“And myself, Honored Elder? May I be released from my sworn duty?”
“No. You will stay, and the Mule will stay. Claws-Like-Oak-Spears, you will take these…visitors…under your pack’s responsibility and seek this stone. You will return in triumph or in shame. Bring Honor to House Wyrmfoe and the Lodge of the Sun.”
“One could do no less.”
“Bring back our Caern’s Honor. Falcon watch you.”

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