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Date: Setting:

03/20/2016
03/23/2016

Umbra: Center of the Caern

The center of the caern is alive with spiritual power. The Wyld surge has definitely left its mark--not just on the land or vegetation, but on the place itself. Those with long memories might realize that it has doubled in potency, returning to a state more comparable to the Wheel Renewed than the Hidden Walk. Spirits abound. Though the majority of them are Wyld in nature, there's an influx of a wide variety and type, including some associated with the Weaver. There are also a select few that the garou often associate with the Wyrm, though none here ping of taint in any way, shape or form. An innumerable number of Lunes dance in the air overhead, while the cat-tail and stair-step moss that covers the old growth forest in a near complete blanket glow a brilliant, luminescent green. Together, they illuminate the area on even the darkest of new moons. The remnant of the colossal wasp nest drapes the old caern's chasm, covering the waterfall and lake with a smooth, solid shell that nevertheless doesn't stop the sound of playful water spirits from escaping through the walls. The giant trees that fill the forest seem impossibly majestic, but not even they can compare to the single, inexplicable paragon that sits at the center. The caern tree cannot be defined--it has no species and no exact shape, and yet it is always there, making its presence felt deep in the soul. The air is charged with the power of the place. Even the most imperceptive would, standing here, feel the heart of the earth beating in its own constant and reverberating thrum. Outward, the umbral forest extends in all directions.

Cast:
Log:

The full moon is shining on the first night of spring and after the moot was held the Garou remained. Tonight, there would be a different kind of Revel. The Rite of Reawakening was in the hands of Heartsinger and she stood before the sept, calling out, ~Winter's grip on the land is at an end. Soon, life will begin returning to the earth and tonight we welcome the first breath of spring! Tonight we gather not in mourning but in celebration. It is a time to cast off the weight of the seasons before and give of ourselves so that Gaia may bloom bright.~ And onto the fire pit she cast a powder and the smoke that rises is thick and heady like wet earth. ~Breathe deep, let your body go, and cross over the Gauntlet. Tonight, we walk the Umbra.~

Little Silvertip shows up late, though whether it's fashonably late or not is up for debate. Arriving about the time Heartsinger talks about 'breathing deep', she cants her head to the side, and sniffs a few times like trying to cautiously take the scent of whatever was just thrown in. After others breath it in, she heads over to tip her head back, breathing deep of the smoke before rolling around a bit on the caern floor, like to get more of it on her. After that, she briskly walks over, and pops sideways like a salmon leaping into the water.

Copperhead is asleep in the caern's center, already in the umbra when others begin to cross over.

Snakepatcher snarls excitedly at the prospect of action, and it takes him a few tries to calm down enough to be able to breathe deep. Breathe--snarl. Start over. Breathe--yap. Start over. Breathe deep. Inhale. His ribs shake with the effort, he focuses, inhales, and he crosses over to the umbra with a bound.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew as well seems ready to be Doing Things, after the period of sitting generally inherent to the moot. There's no hesitation at all in doing exactly what Heartsinger instructs, despite likely having no idea what the powder might be or whether it's got more than strictly ritual effects; he steps over and takes about the deepest breath he can, holding it for a moment while he crosses over. Probably to concentrate, though maybe just out of habit.

The powder leaves one a bit light-headed, that sensation in the back of the mind that borders on feeling like one's in a dream. Heartsinger is there in the Umbra as the others arrive and she begins to walk with only a gesture of her head for the others to follow. She passes by Copperhead as she goes, giving a low chuffing noise down to the sleeping Metis. ~Wake up. Come.~ Then she keeps on going. Off in the near distance, in the base of one of the towering Umbral trees, there appears a doorway made of pale violet light. Heartsinger doesn't even hesitate as she walks right through it and disappears from sight.

Copperhead starts, looks around, places where she is, and says ~How did I get here?~ But that's all the theurge says before getting up and following after Heartsinger, no other questions asked.

Snakepatcher inhales again, taking in the Umbral air. ~Awake! Reawakening!~, Snakepatcher informs the awakening Copperhead as he passes by her and follows Heartsinger into the Umbral woods and through the doorway.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew exhales on the other side, looking briefly startled at the presence (and probably appearance) of Copperhead; there's a glance at the others, but since no one seems to regard the Metis as an interloper or other problem, he unhesitatingly follows the Adren to and through the luminous portal.

Little Silvertip shakes herself off once she's through to the umbra, like some invisible layer of dust had settled on her pelt in the interim. Copperhead gets a queer look, but the Uktena is off after Heartsinger once the Gaian arrives.

Once through the doorway, the Garou are... well, not where they were. They stand in a place like the heavens must be like at sunset. Clouds above and below make up the landscape and all are awash in golds and reds, yellows and creams. There is no one source of light but it seems to radiate from everywhere like a thousand candles and cast off a pleasant warmth. Even the air itself smells comforting. To each Garou it seems different - from fresh-baked cookies to clean mountain air. All bring a sense of peace and calm. Only a short distance away is an ornate gateway of pure gold, but the wrought doors are closed and bound behind the coils of a great beast. It is from nostrils as large as cars the warm air comes from. The creature looks like an oriental dragon, serpentine and vast with scales that gleam with an iridescent pearl hue. Golden horns sprout like antlers and from crest to tail runs a spinal ridge of copper proto-fur. As the Garou arrive, it raises its head to look down upon the Garou below. Curiously, Heartsinger is nowhere to be found.

Little Silvertip approaches the gate boldly - not in a way that looks so challenging to the dragon, but more in a way that suggests she sees nothing to fear. Her tail bouyant, she gives the great beast a tip of her head as she gets closer, and a friendly chuff. *Hello great lizard!* Dragon doesn't seem to translate very well into lupus.

Copperhead seems to know Silvertip, and thus falls in behind her. She's the uktena athro's backup, should backup be needed. She communicates this with her body language and a gentle huffed exhale to let Silvertip know she's right behind her.

Snakepatcher looks up, down, left, right, turns about, and sees no Heartsinger about. Hm. Interesting! He turns about again, tilts his head at the doors which don't seem to have any Heartsinger gone through them already. He tilts his head the other way to regard the coils holding the doors shut, then the dragon, and stretches his forelegs and head down in a bow towards the dragon.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew pauses a couple steps through the door, looking around curiously, and sniffing the air. The dragon gets a particularly interested examination, and he strolls toward it as well, giving it a nod and a cheerful, ~Evenin'!~ Accuracy of time of day not guaranteed.

The dragon unfurls enough to lift the gigantic head with its whiskers dragging through the cloudy ground as it does so. At its throat is a large gemstone that shines with the colors of the sun, molten and brilliant. *You travel a path unknown with blind eyes but open hearts.* While it speaks in the language of spirits, all present can understand with the words vibrating in the very marrow of their bones like they were merely the strings in a giant piano. *You will have to trust in your spirits on this quest and free yourselves of the webs that bind you. To pass though this gate, you must first unlock the door in your mind. Answer me this: When you cry, She cries. When you laugh, He laughs. When you ask Them who They is, They says, "You know." Of what do I speak?*

The small wolf comes up short, head cocking to the side as she puzzles at the Dragon for a few moments. Then, maybe a bit uncharacteristically, she opines that *That's a hard one!* The Uktena tries to focus on puzzling it out, but seems a bit distractable tonight.
<OOC> Little Silvertip says "That'd be Stip. Whose name I should have put somewhere in there."

Copperhead relaxes now that it looks as if the dragon wants to ask riddles instead of eat them. Or perhaps the eating happens when you guess incorrectly? She stays silent.

Snakepatcher ponders, ~I need to think on it. Let's see. If I think of a door and of opening it, maybe it will help me find the answer...~, and he closes his eyes in an attempt to visualize a closed door, and of the door swinging open if he can but come up with the answer.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew's brow furrows at the question, and he looks around at the others as if hoping someone else finds this whole riddle thing trivial, which he probably is. Alas, no one seems to be piping up with nice confident answers. Damn. He studies the sky for a good few seconds, somehow managing not to exude smoke from the ears. He brightens suddenly, mouth opening, then closing again. Another moment, and he ventures, ~Well... I can think of maybe somethin' for the cryin' an' laughin' part. Ain't so sure if it works on the answerin'...~

The iridescent dragon watches the Garou with an air of indulgent patience, *Remember what I said. You must must open your minds. A hint then?* The serpent beast coils a bit closer around the gate as its head hangs lower and turns to regard them all out of one great luminous indigo eye. *How would know yourself without this item? It is quite important. Without it, the doorways between world would remain closed to you.*

Black-Light is last into the Umbra- not exactly surprising for the urrah. He takes in the smoke and the scene with quiet pause, one paw braced on his chin, the other on his knee. He sits and studies the beast and the gate, then rolls his shoulders. ~Your reflection?~ Black-Light guesses, his tone rumbly and distant.

Copperhead looks towards Black-Light as he offers a solution. She then looks to the dragon to see if it decides to lower its standards enough to eat a Bone Gnawer.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew brightens right back up again, at that hinting, and opens his mouth again, only to close it again and nod enthusiastically, pointing at Black-Light, when the Ragabash beats him to it. ~That's what I was thinkin'!~ he exclaims, sounding genuinely surprised he may have been guessing right, despite the support of that added clue.

The dragon considers the answer from Black-Light and then Chugs, but responds in its bone-deep voice, *You are close, but it is not quite the answer. You have been good company though, polite and willing to enjoy a game. You have more to do before the sun rises.* It uncoils itself from the golden gateway until it is a titanic backdrop for the doorway itself. *The answer is the tool itself, the mirror. You may pass, though it will take the strength of your spirit for each of you to pass through, for this is the gate of Gnosis. When you lay yourself open, the answers to all things may come.*

Snakepatcher keeps his eyes closed as he mimes opening a door with one paw. ~It could be myself, it could be someone copying me, or--~, he mumbles to himself, until he overhears Black-Light's guess. ~Or that.~

Black-Light bows his head politely, to both the dragon and his tribemate. He straightens back up again with his paws held together in front of him, fingers interlaced. ~Thank you,~ he replies in a rough whisper, without making it clear to which he is speaking.

Copperhead waits for a moment, watching the others, and then moves to go through the next portal. A little confidence has come into her step, though she still seems to be taking a lot of her cues from the garou surrounding her.

Snakepatcher opens his eyes at the dragon's response. ~Thank you for the game~, he bows towards the dragon, then paces to go through the doorway.

~Nice,~ Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew says to the Ragabash, giving him a toothy Crinos grin. Good enough is good enough; if riddles are in the same class as horseshoes and hand-grenades, he's not going to complain about that! Especially since no one will give him hand-grenades. ~An' yeah, thanks,~ he adds, the latter clearly to the dragon. He takes another breath of the great-smelling air of the area before starting toward the gate as well.

With a flare of light from the molten pearl at the dragon's throats, the gates open. Still there is no sign of Heartsinger but the way ahead is evident. As each passes, a very minor drop of Gnosis can be felt as the gateway takes its toll. On the other side? No longer a landscape of clouds but of ice, like they stood in the heart of an icy glacial cavern. White and silver and blue and colors of those too deep and pristine to begin to name and there is the eerie sense that just past unknowable creatures move through the frozen heart. The air is thin and bitter. As the Garou arrive, a deafening trumpeting can be heard as they come face to face with a great bull mammoth. The shaggy creature shakes his heavy head and brandishes tusks larger than those seen at the Bone Arches. *Stop.* It commands. *You will come no further until you have proven yourselves worthy, for you stand at the Gate of Honor. Each of you will give of yourselves your greatest failure. Here and now, you will speak of victory over your own dishonor. Only then, when you have banished shame from your heart and embraced strength, will you pass.*

Black-Light offers something akin to a shy smile to his Tribemate, or something as close as a Crinos can come. The black beast shuffles through the portal, nearly last in line, lurking at the tails of others as he surveys the strange gate they've stepped through and what lay beyond. The mammoth's roar is enough to make him duck his ears and fade back, mulling the question over at the back of the line.

Copperhead belatedly seems to have noticed something. ~Wait,~ she says, somewhat concerned. ~We are missing one.~ Only then does she look to the incredibly loud mammoth and, switching to the spirit's tongue, offer, ears back and ringing, *Sorry. We have lost one from our group. We may need to go back and look for her.*

Snakepatcher inhales the sharp, cold air as he steps through the doorway. Perhaps not as sweet as the previous air, but the crisp sensation of winter's air is familiar to him He stops short as he sees the huge mammoth, measuring its size with his own and having to come up with new dimensions. Not being up to coming up with a new theory to explain space-time, he instead bows low to the mammoth, his head sinking on his chest. ~My greatest failure...~, he ruminates. ~I failed to detect a kin of the Dancers walking among us. My failure allowed the Dancers to steal an innocent of my kin, giving her suffering and death.~

Little Silvertip, maybe having 'pre-gamed' a little too hard, is slow to arrive behind the group. She just barely catches what Copperhead and Snakepatcher says. The Uktena athro looks confused for a moment. Are we saying what we did wrong? She asks, not so much in confusion. A few ticks later, she opines that This one is too arrogant. Left Caern alone when she shouldn't because she thought she knew best. Went into Wasp Tunnels. The Uktena's tail curls beneath her.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew stares at the massive bulk of the spirit now addressing them, until Copperhead's remark draws his attention back to the other Garou. ~Technically, ain't we missin' two?~ he asks, and glances to where the portal they came through ought to be; it'll be tricky to hunt the others down that way if it isn't. Little Silvertip coming through at least makes it half as big an issue, and then Snakepatcher's answer to the Mammoth draws his attention to the Uktena, and then back to the spirit, though he doesn't immediately give an answer of his own. He does look as though he may be thinking it over, at least.

Copperhead looks around, rather than sniffing, as she has no lupine nose and no forked snake's tongue with which to smell. She fails to determine where it is that Heartsinger disappeared to. This seems to make her nervous, but she steels herself and returns to the group so that she too can confess to a weakness. ~My weakness is that I was born of sin, weakened and less capable than if my sire and dam had not broken the First Law.~

~My greatest failure can't be boiled down to a single deed,~ Black-Light opines in his quiet voice, using his thumb-claw to pick at one of his fangs as he considers. ~But I was too closed of mind, too open of mouth, too sure I was right, too stupid to consider I might be wrong.~

The Rite continues, though shouldn't that mean Heartsinger is still alive? Hard to say, but the gate they passed through it gone. The path seems to be a one way street. The mammoth, with dark eyes reflecting back a twilight shine, regards each Garou as they speak. Some stories the bull seems to accept as the sweep of his tusks turn from them, but others he pauses with intent on. The first of which is Copperhead. *The weakness of others means nothing. You are free to make your own choices.* The mammoth sounds annoyed and stamps one heavy foot on the icy ground. *You can not blame your own shortcomings on those who made you.*

Little Silvertip eyeballs the Mammoth momentarily, like she's got something to say about /that/. But, the pleasantly 'spiritual' state of being she's in means she's distractable enough that any rejoinder isn't forthcoming because, oooh, look at the shiney thing over there.

Copperhead seems equally puzzled by the mammoth spirit's inability to see her birth as a weakness, but she tries a second time. *I spent too much time attempting to learn more about the umbra when I should have been learning more about the caern and the garou who have sworn to protect it.*

The consideration continues, and the Galliard doesn't look particularly pleased to be doing it. Still, Chugs seems to come to a decision, offering, ~When I was a cub, I got bored an' drunk an' decided I was gonna practice the whole steppin' sideways thing an' go find somethin' interestin' an' Wyrmish to kill, fuck that rules shit. Which worked out exactly how I had in mind, until the part where I damn near got one of my Septmates killed savin' my ass, 'cause she saw me goin'.~

This seems to satisfy the mammoth. *The path of Honor is one only you can walk and you will always walk it alone. That is the burden and failure is a weight you will carry until you acknowledge your failure and endure to grow beyond it. Go and turn your weakness to strength.* And with this, the mammoth steps aside and the ice gate behind opens. Then the light dies in a single rush, leaving them in a void of darkness. Several long moments pass in silence before the flicker of a trashcan fire draws the eye. Next to a dilapidated rolling fence gate and the fire sits a scrawny mongrel dog. It wears a leather collar long turned to tatters and the ID tag is tarnished and rusted. It looks up to the Garou with eyes filled with a deep, weary sorrow.

Little Silvertip ambles about, barely seeming to notice the change in scenery, nor the mogrel. Instead, she sniffs at the ground like it's the most interesting thing in the world.

Copperhead scrutinizes the creature from a distance. She asks of the others, ~The thing on its neck. Should we free it?~ She does not seem well-versed with collar technology. The young cliath metis likely did not get out much--or did not get let out much--as a cub.

<OOC> Black-Light says "Does it have a bowl, or anything like that?"
<OOC> Snakepatcher says "Is the fence gate separating us from the dog, or are we all on the same side?"
<OOC> Black-Light says "Related: If there is trash in the area, are there any cans or anything like that?"
<OOC> Heartsinger says "Same side. Can't quite describe the gate, but one of those rolling chain link sort. Dog's sitting in front. Trashcan fire. Rest of things remain dark, fire's acting like a.. spotlight sort of."
<OOC> Heartsinger says "Think a dark stage with one light on the main actor."
<OOC> Black-Light says "M'kay."

Black-Light stalks along behind the others, following in their shadows as though they were cloaks. He slinks forward when the group comes to a halt and peers at the dog, sniffing, eying the tag. ~Not everything that is owned wants to be free,~ Black-Light murmurs back. The Gnawer searches around for something, but he doesn't seem to find it. After a moment's indecision, he steps up toward the dog and takes a knee within arm's reach. With one paw, he rends the flesh on the palm of the other, cutting himself deeply enough that his cupped hand becomes a shallow dish of blood which is offered to the dog.

Snakepatcher inhales as the gate opens, to his regret. Neither clean, warm air nor clear, crisp cold air, this, and he sneezes. He stares at the fire before he notices the dog next to the fire. Hello, he offers in lupus.

The dog looks no different than the sort on a Calcutta street, yellow and rangy with a limp tail. Behind it, on the gate, is an old faded sign reading 'Willpower'. *It is lonely here, guarding the gate.* It, she, said as she looks to the Garou. The offering of Black-Light is regarded as she rises to her paws but the thin dog doesn't take more then a step towards him and extends her nose out to sniff the blood but takes little more than a halfhearted lick. *My master told me to wait, so I wait. I will always wait but it is lonely. I am lonely. I forget what it is to be happy and I want to rest but I must wait. Can you help me?* The yellow bitch raised bent ears hopefully. *Remind me what it is to be happy? Waiting can be the hardest thing, the most painful thing, but sometimes it is the right thing. A memory is what I ask, something to help me wait... but you will forget what you share forever.*

Little Silvertip lifts her head from the ground to look at the spirit. This one doesn't have enough to give away like that. Most of what she has is anger and misery. She needs what little she has to remind her why she fights the Horned Serpent. Otherwise she'd be like lonely dog too.

Snakepatcher considers the request with gravity. It is not good to forget to be happy, or to wait that long that you forget such things. Maybe we could hunt down your master, bring your master here, for you?

Black-Light waits patiently as the dog drinks, and does not seem at all offended when it doesn't take more. The Gnawer beats his wound shut on the ground, filling his cuts with dirt or grit or whatever passes for earth in the strange world of spirit. ~Most of my happiest memories are bittersweet, but... I can think of one I don't need anymore.~ He takes in a breath, then bows his head toward the dog, his paws on his knees.

Copperhead ponders the request a bit before asking the mongrel, ~What is it your master does? And is what you guard important to Gaia?~

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew considers the dog, and her request, head slightly tilted as he perhaps filters through memories that might fit the bill and which he might be willing to sacrifice. ~Wouldn't mind helpin' try to find your master,~ he agrees with Snakepatcher's idea, ~but I reckon I prolly got a memory I could give. Long's it's the happy that matters, not the why, 'cause we ain't necessarily got the same tastes. You want it spoken, or you got a better way to get it?~

*My master will return one day.* Says the mongrel who's name is coated in a stain of rust. *He has gone where I cannot follow while on the hunt deep into the darkest places, but he bid me wait and watch and so I do. When he needs me she will call.* Underneath the dog's paw then is what looks like a long staff covered in an age's worth of grime. *We have suffered much but I will be strong for him, I must be, but I am very tired.* As two offer memories the dog's tail wags hopefully. *It does not need to be much. Just a little. I only have to wait a little longer before I am called to the hunt. You do not need to speak, I will know.* Says the dog who offers her head forward as if expecting to be petted, eyes full of hope.

~Ah, the hunt. You wait for it to start~, Snakepatcher exhales, now understanding. ~The hunt is sweet. I will share my memory of a recent hunt. Spring was hinting of a return with capricious winds, and one of these winds brought to me the scent of a flock of wild turkeys. I followed the wind, staying upwind of the turkeys, and I moved ever so slowly and cautiously and they, the most canny of birds, did not sense me until too late. I sprang forward and took down the slowest to take to wing. I took my prey, and I was happy in my success. ~

*Hunting?* Copperhead repeats, that word coloring her thoughts. *I will offer you a memory of my first successful hunt, to hold you over until yours can start. It was but a young rabbit, but I was pleased to have caught it--and to have been allowed out into the sun.*

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew crouches down by the dog, and shifts down to Glabro before he reaches out to delicately stroke her head. The reason's clear enough, as he switches languages for this one. "Summer night," he murmurs to the dog, as much as his vocal chords allow a murmur, "'bout two years back, out by the lake with all my crew an' a cooler an' a truck me an' Jayce stole with a hell of a sound system, an' I was dancin' with Kiana an' I knew that wasn't all she had in mind, neither."

With each memory shared, the Garou would feel it evaporating along with a trickle of Willpower. With each memory, the dog seems to grow stronger with a healthy luminous glow to her coat. The dirt and decay fade as her collar reforms into a thick leather band and the tag shows as a bright silver-blue disc etched with the emblem of a star. After a quick and appreciative lick to Felix's hand, the dog reaches down to pluck up the staff in her jaws and reveals it to be a brilliant spear forged of silver. *Always remember the strength of your loyalty to one another and to Gaia. Even when you are alone and in the dark, look for hope and the good times of the past to keep you strong.* And in a flash the dog disappears. High above the Garou in the darkness glows a blue-white star on the heels of the recognizable constellation of Orion. The gate before them is open, awash in glittering starlight.

Snakepatcher basks in the memory of his recent successful hunt with drool rolling down his jaw at the memory of the taste of the wild turkey. The drool dries as the Uktena is briefly confused, then struggles to remember the pleasure of it, the joy of the hunt and the delight of the results. The remembered taste of the turkey turns to ashes in his mouth. Thus less joyful, the Uktena regards the scene before him. ~The gate is open~, he announces, although the other Garou are perfectly able to see for themselves, and he advances through the gate.

Felix doesn't drool, though his brow does furrow as the memory flits away. He shakes his head slightly, as if clearing it, and straightens as the dog disappears. A glance at the others, and he shifts back up to Crinos, looking up at the stars for a moment as he follows the Uktena through the gate.

Black-Light's face fades into a somber mask, his eyes distant and dull. Only when the dog begins it's metamorphosis does he lift his head, a forced smile on his lips. He sniffs, then rises and cusps his hands together, waiting in silence for the party to proceed before following silently in their wake.

The Garou pass through starlight into a blinding white. It's a hallway of some sort, sterile and empty and plastic feeling underfoot. At the end of the hallway precisely fifty point O-three feet down (though everyone is aware of the measurement, there's no quite telling how) there's a swirling mass of birds. At a glance they look like birds anyway but they appear made of gears and wires with wings of shining chrome and eyes black and flickering with the glow of minuscule code running down their vision. The scene, which should be chaotic, is instead freakishly orderly. The birds appear to be moving in a golden spiral shape, disappearing at the smallest point only to reappear at the beginning of the spiral.

Snakepatcher paces down the hallway some ten imprecise feet, clearing the gate and giving room for others to pass through the gate. He gazes at the birds, at first mystified, then enthralled, as he attempts to follow the path of any particular bird through the pattern. His eyes follow the bird, his muzzle slowly bobbing up, left, down, right, with the bird's movement.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew stops a ways inside the gate as well, eyeing the birds, then their surroundings, and then the 'birds' again. ~Well, this is... a thing,~ he says, ~Anyone else really want a can of paint, or is that just me? ...an' when one of those disappears is it comin' back at the beginnin' or is that new ones? They all look the same to me.~ Is that racist against robot bird things?

<OOC> Heartsinger kinda sees them as creepy steampunk robins in her head.

Black-Light seems uneased by his surroundings, his fur bristling, his ears pricked. He sweeps his eyes around the corridor for it's entire length, then halts at the sight of the birds. He examines them long enough to recognize a pattern, then looks away, sniffing at the air. ~Weavery,~ he mutters, as though it weren't obvious. ~A challenge of Order?~

In one voice like the shriek of electric feedback, the birds cry out, *Knowledge!* And again, a buzzing blurt like a bad modem. *Wisdom!* And yet again, the deep thrum of a motor. *Secrets!* Oh yeah, they're Weavery all right as if that and their environment wasn't painfully obvious. The well-known feel of the web is right there, crawling at the edge of nerves. The voices of the birds call out into a sing-song jingle like an old music box, tinny and mechanical. *Bring us the forgotten, we hunger for the unknown. Bring us secrets, the mysteries sewn.*

Snakepatcher's head bobs around, around, around--he finally snaps from the movement as the song of the birds breaks his focus. ~Secrets! Knowledge!~ he echoes, then asks, ~Do you want us to tell you a secret? A tidbit of knowledge? Something forgotten?~

Another glance at their surroundings, and something puts a wicked smirk on Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew's face, though whatever the thought was, it seems to pass without any action. ~How secret a secret they gotta be, an' does it matter whose they are?~ he asks, and takes another glance around, ~Where's the gate here, anyway?~

Black-Light doesn't speak, quite likely because the other Garou have already asked the questions bobbing around in his furry head. Instead, the Gnawer skirts from edge to edge, glancing around the strange room, wary for anything weirder than code-birds.

*Speak what you will!* Screeches the birds like the grating of an ancient fax machine. *The webs hold much but we seek more. Tell us what none other knows and we will unlock the door.* And with a sudden jerk the spiral of birds dissolves and zooms down the hallway as the flock moves to encircle the Garou in a spinning vortex of chrome and steel, the clicking of beaks and scrape of metallic claws on claws.

Snakepatcher turns to one side then another, and there are birds. He looks ahead, and behind, and there are birds. He looks up, and there are birds. He refrains from looking down. ~Something only I know. That could be a big thing, or a small thing. Only I know what underwear I pulled on this morning. Would that do, or is that too small?~

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew looks side to side at the birds as well, and quite clearly only barely resists the urge to reach out and try to catch or perhaps attack one. Still, barely is enough. ~Well, I reckon no one else knows I was just thinkin' this place is too damn sterile an' it's temptin' to just hose it down an' fix that.~ A small pause. ~But that'd be rude.~ Territory of robot bird spirit deserves respect too, right?

Black-Light's eyes all but recede into his head as he thinks it over, as if he were thumbing through a rolodex of whispered things, trying to sort them out. ~Silvertip gave me the eye, once. I think she thinks I'm pretty hot,~ Black-Light offers, in a tone that offers no brag.

A flicker of gleaming codified eyes give the sense they all turn on Black-Light in unison like dozens of tiny laser pointers all angled right on him and see through him with the precision of a high powered scanner. The beat of their wings even suggests as much, the rhythmic thump-thump-thump like the sound of an MRI machine. In a flash they're back to their swirling mass. Next! The nurse calls. Poor Reggie is left no hint as to what they consider suitably scandalous or informative.

Snakepatcher thoughtfully considers the birds' reaction to Black-Light. He then regards Chugs. ~They need something more.~ He turns back to the birds. ~I have a videotape of a Garou changing forms. The Garou doesn't know about the tape. I took it from the one who made the tape and damaged him too much for him to remember.~

Black-Light looks less than thrilled to be the object of the bird's attention, but there isn't a hell of a lot he can do about it. He just bristles and stews, forelegs tucked to his hindquarters, as if the birds might start pecking at his flank.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew narrows his eyes, watching the birds circle and scan. ~Y'all are creepy fuckers,~ he informs them conversationally, ~Lessee... there really ain't a lot of shit NO ONE else knows. An' that I'd care if they did. Ain't a secret otherwise.~ He looks upward a couple moments more, then brightens. ~Okay, one time I broke a guy's windshield an' told him this other asshole did it. First guy knows I told him that, an' second guy knows he didn't do it, but I reckon I'm the only one who knew both together.~

Both Ahroun and Galliard are scanned in turn, that same mechanically invasive 'stare' from the mechanical birds. Click. Click. The simultaneous clacks of dozens of steel beaks as each secret is given is deafening in the close quarters and echoes off the plastic hallway. The flock makes another abrupt shift with seamless transitioning. From a unified cylinder to the rings of a swirling atom. Faster and faster they fly, spinning and diving between one another until the Garou may feel they're in the center of some experimental transporter about to explode. It's not an inaccurate statement. In a singular burst of chrome colored light the entire surroundings of the Garou disappear and they are plunged into blackness and silence.

Snakepatcher pulls in on himself, even his tail tucks underneath, to avoid anything sticking out into the path of small metal things moving about. When the birds disappear so suddenly, it takes him a moment to realise he can stretch out. He attempts putting out a paw, to see if he's actually standing on anything. He inhales the air, and works in not exploding into a frenzy of action as he waits to see what he can make of this new place.

Black-Light grunts as his sight fades to white, his hands thrown up as if recoiling from a gunshot. When his vision is whole again and he sees nothing but black, the Ragabash abruptly collapses onto his rump and stays somewhat still. No need to startle another Garou by bumping into them. ~The spirits can ask for anything but sobriety,~ he rumbles.

~They might get it, but they ain't gettin' it =long=,~ Chugs more-or-less agrees, blinking against the residue of the burst of light and trying to look around. He takes a few steps in the direction he's already facing, so one hopes that invisible ground presumably keeping them up where they were stretches out at least a little further.

Maybe a minute passes by as best the mind can measure but it appears that the absence of sight isn't due to any residual flash glare. It's just dark. Impossibly so. The place seems devoid of smell as well and there's only the disorienting sense they're not just floating in space by the apparent presence of a floor of some sort. In what sounds like the far distance for lack of an echo there is a curdling, piercing scream like the sound of a young child in pain and terror.

Snakepatcher works on not flailing for whatever ground or wall or obstruction other than his fellow Garou might be around. He holds still, moving an item this way then that, and struggling to see something other than afterimages against the darkness. Then the screaming starts. ~Over there?~, he guesses, lacking any way to measure 'there'. ~I can't see you~, he informs the other Garou, and he reaches out. ~Hold on together. Let's go as a pack, and not get split up by this darkness.~

~Hold hands?~ Black-Light suggests, with only a faint bit of amusement in his tone. ~Just like in school.~ His tail wags as he rises up onto his big wolven feet, claws scraping on whatever passes for a floor in this strange, uncharted territory. He noses the closest Garou in the shoulder. ~The night is dark, and full of terrors.~

"Marco," Chugs grinds out, and steps back what he at least thinks is the way he just came, about the same amount; he gropes around to find the others, ending up with Black-Light's tail. ~Well, I got one of you,~ he says, ~Anyone got a light? Too bad my lighter ain't dedicated, I guess...~ He looks in the direction the Adren's voice last seemed to come from, ~You takin' point?~

As the Garou coordinate, the are saved the shame of having to hold hands like children during a fire drill by the sudden presence of the scream *right there*. Whatever dives in their midst oozes malevolence and incites a rush of fear and fury like the spike of adrenaline in a fight or flight situation. As it moves like a hot half-corporeal mist, the Garou would feel it collide and even pass through them and leaving the sickening feel of invasion in its wake.

Snakepatcher shifts into the crinos form and grabs hold of Black-Light's arm. ~I have someone. Whose arm have I got? Everyone holding on to someone?~, he checks out, ~Let's go that way--WHOA! Where is it? What is it?~

Black-Light makes an expression that's somewhere between pain and bemusement, but it's lost in the inky dark. THe Garou wags his tail in someone's grasp and says, ~Guess I'm everyone's buddy.~ A moment later he's shrinking away from the onslaught of primitive emotion, scrunching down to the ground, his limbs, ears, and tail tucked tight to his body to guard against an unseen menace.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew snarls and snaps at... whatever it is, as the spike of adrenaline goes through him, and it isn't necessary to see him to sense the hackles going up, or the way his grip on Black-Light's tail suddenly goes too tight, and pulls a bit as the Galliard whirls toward the direction it feels as if the thing's gone. ~FUCKER!~ he growls, taking a step after it before his hand tightens further, then consciously relaxes, along with the sound of a deep breath being slowly exhaled between clenched teeth. And then another one. The aura of pure fury around him subsides somewhat, but lingers.

As the Garou remain trying to figure out their opponent, they are struck by a searing pain. It feels like they're burning from the inside out and from above them there's the sound of Whatever It Is drawing in air. All the while it screams, the sound in reverse like someone drowning underwater might utter when their lungs force them to breathe in despite every attempt not to. The feeling that follows is unmistakable, the spirit-like being draining away some of their Rage before the ground quite literally drops out from under them and sends the questers falling through space like Alice down the rabbit hole.

Snakepatcher lets the darkness, the other Garou, and all of reality know just what he thinks of the pain as he hollers, then his voice gurgles as he sinks in the feeling of inhaling unbreathable water. He finally stops belly-aching as the sinking turns literal.

Black-Light almost wheels on the paw that grips his tail out of sheer instinct, but, he's just smart enough and coherent enough to realize that maybe a chain frenzy wouldn't be a great thing- and then he's screaming for a different reason as he's tumbling through the air, quite possibly being pulled in two different directions by two 900lb monsters falling in roughly the same direction as he is.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew's scream joins the others, pain and anger in equal amounts, and he strikes with his free hand at the air above them, his grip on the poor Ragabash's tail releasing as the garou suddenly begin to fall.

Oh look! There's land! And it's rapidly coming up to meet them. The landing may not be pleasant but it feels like actual solid ground in a familiar forest and it's not as painful as anyone may have imagined. It's no more than falling off the top bunk of a bed - winding but not all that harmful if you don't land on your face. Once anyone has recovered enough to look, it appears to be the bawn with the mountains just visible through the trees.

Snakepatcher, having let go of anyone else during the fall, scrambles to his feet after landing. He looks around for anything that appears to be moving in the immediate vicinity, then as there seems to be nothing immediately attacking them, he takes the time to puzzle: ~This seems familiar.~

Black-Light's screaming begins and ends with gravity, coming to a stop just after he does. The Garou rolls around in his furry crater, snaking, shimmying his way free of any other Garou, and shakes his coat out. ~So does being sore,~ Black-Light rumbles, rubbing at his tail.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew lies on his back on the ground for a few moments after landing, taking in another couple of those breaths, his claws digging into the ground next to him as his hands curl against it. He rolls up to his feet, then, taking a look around, and another breath, this one paying attention to the air, his brow furrowed. ~Ain't those our mountains over there?~ He sounds less than certain about it; mountain-identification would probably not be listed under 'skills' on his resume. At least not beyond 'yup, that's a mountain.'

Snakepatcher begins to snap, ~No--~, then he squints. Peers. Stares. Considers. Frames the mountains with his hands. Continues what he was saying. ~Nooyuup. Our mountains. Or we're in a parallel dimension.~

It does indeed appear to be the Blue Mountains and there's the footsteps of someone approaching. Given the weight of the footfall it's big and there's the impression of something Garou sized moving through the trees and brush. Something in the air doesn't feel quite right though. It feels like home but there's something itchy on the wind. It's like allergies and just as invasive to the sinuses and carries the dull scent of iron.

Snakepatcher drops the framing motions of his claws. ~Something--~, he turns, and he suddenly cuts himself off, with a hand motion that moves on to point in the direction of whatever's coming.

Black-Light moves to stand beside his former packmate, practically shoulder to shoulder with Snakepatcher- only slightly further back. Snakepatcher is the only one of them that remains an Ahroun, after all. ~Metal man?~

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew squints at the mountains a bit more while the Ahroun frames them, until that sound and feeling float by on the air. He looks in that direction, stance shifting to something more balanced, ready to fight -- practically eager; after that last situation, surely SOMETHING oughta die.

As the Garou-like shape comes into view it is revealed to be a Garou, however despite the familiar surroundings this is not one of their septmates. Nearly all Garou know the story of the First Ronin. The First Metis. A giant even among werewolves is he with a twisted back, furless with every inch of his albino skin carved deep with glyphs that shift and move as if alive to recount the names and stories of hundreds of slain Garou. Green eyes glow with the light of balefire and as he bares his fangs and claws they gleam white hot with silver.

Snakepatcher stands his ground, shoulder to shoulder with Black-Light. He waits to determine the arrival's attitude, as he attempts not to be too distracted by the stories in the glyphs, or by the glinting of silver, or that they are not, in fact, home.

The cogs turn slow in the wake of an adrenaline rush, but they turn, clanking along after missing a few gears. ~Wait,~ he says, even as his chest rises and falls faster than a blacksmith's bellows. ~If... no, but, shit!~

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew stays by Snakepatcher as well, taking a brief sidelong glance to him as the... familiar looking creature approaches. He still seems pretty ready to be fighting something, maybe even that, but the Adren seems to have been nominated Alpha for the moment. ~I've heard stories...~ the Galliard mumurs as he watches the legendary enemy near, and the flash of light off those teeth and claws.

There's no telling if any of this is real but it sure feels real. The Wyrm's most sinister soldier lets out a bellow that shakes the ground and from deep in his throat comes a sickening green glow. The light reflects off silver teeth before a plume of greasy green fire is vomited forth like a dragon. The ground it passes over crisps and burns and bubbles and it's coming right for the three Garou.

Snakepatcher shoves to the side to avoid the green fire, as he snarls a warning at the Metis, ~You are not wanted here, in this land where I have defended Gaia so many years!~. Apparently he's accepted that this place, real or not, is real enough to be his home.

What's a frightened Ragabash to do when confronted by a thing that should not be? Black-Light tries to come up with something clever, something quick, and, dancing away from the emerald fire, goes with his first thought. He jabs a clawed finger in the direction of the First Ronin and roars, ~Your shoelace is untied!~
<OOC> Black-Light says "And using Obscure the Truth. :P"

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew dives away from the gout of acid flame, and whatever else he might've had in mind, Black-Light's gambit is surprising enough to =him= to reset it. ~Oh, shit, it IS!~ he exclaims, moving further around the Metis's range. It's a pretty darn good performance, the tone of the schoolyard bully who just noticed some kid unexpectedly wet his pants.
<OOC> Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew says "With Persuasion, because."

Does a primordial Metis even know what shoes are? Even if he doesn't, the gift's sincerity plus the confirmation from Chugs seems to impress upon him that he Has shoes and they Are untied. The Ronin's jaws clamp shut with a snap over the fire and he looks down to his silver-clawed feet with a reflexive stare. Red burned skin? Check. Scars? Check. Shoes? Wait a minute... Roaring like an enraged tyrannosaur the white beast turns his focus on the Bone Gnawers fully and charges with claws bared to rend and tear. Snakepatcher? He seems to have forgotten about him.

Snakepatcher, enraged at the thought of this being on his land, hollers, ~You do not belong here!~, and rushes forward, claws ready--but he doesn't rend. Instead, with a touch, he applies his gift of Falling Touch to the Metis, as if to prove to the Metis that he does, indeed, have something untied to trip over.

Black-Light might manage a laugh, however brief, but it's cut short by the charge of the fright brigade. He throws up his arms in defense, held high and out in front of his face like something between some martial art and boxing- only for Snakepatcher to step up to the plate before the beastie even gets there!

There's a definite snirk from the Galliard, though it turns into a small yelp as the creature barrels toward them. He dodges away from Black-Light, aiming to make the Ronin need to pick a target and leave the other one free to flank. His hands are up in actually a quite similar position to his tribemate's, defense until he can spot a good opening -- or he has to get further out of the way.

The distractions serve their purpose perfectly. As Snakepatcher catches up with the First Ronin and applies the falling touch, the legendary monster goes down and collides with the earth. The albino arches back and neck in a curve worthy of the Exorcist and there's even the sound of bones creaking and grinding. Those silvered jaws open and the sound that comes out cannot be described except terror incarnate. It is so loud it transcends the limits of hearing as it shatters eardrums into bleeding pulp and leaves the Garou crippled in pain. The Metis rises and spreads claws to tear the three to pieces until a brilliant shaft of light erupts out of the earth and runs the monster clear through.

Snakepatcher howls as blood splurts out of his ears, although he no longer can hear his own howls. The pain slows him from starting a second strike at the Metis, and he staggers up, getting claws ready for action, then he blinks at the light. The light, so shining, so bright, so silent. So eerily quiet.

Black-Light gets that ringing sound in his ears just before it feels like his skull's fit to crack in two, his paws braced on either side of his skull, the Crinos on knees and elbows. Then just before the certain end- nothing. He looks up, as if confused that he hasn't been killed yet, and eyes the bright light.

Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew's expression goes agonized as the sound gets cripplingly loud, and then quite suddenly it moves to just furious, and he straightens to leap at the Ronin, teeth and claws bared -- and stops himself inelegantly as the light bursts through ground and Wyrm creature alike. ~The fuck?!~ he asks, most likely audible to no one present, still looking both ready and quite tempted to attack.
<OOC> Chugs-the-Mystery-Brew remembered Resist Pain. >_>

As the howling snarling Ronin is pinned the earth under opens, dragging him down into a living grave of dirt and insects and grass and flowers are quick to cover the creature and mute the sound. "You have done well, my children." Comes the voice of a woman that is simultaneously young and so very old, like an exhausted wizened crone inspired with the spark of vitality. Even injured the Garou hear her. "You have faced the trials laid out before you. Gnosis and the Wyld, Wisdom and the Weaver, Rage and the Wyrm - you stood together, worked together, and opened your hearts and minds without shame or fear. That was the test. To persevere, as the earth fights until it can grow once more."

For the brief moment they are given the glimpse of a matronly woman stepping free of a winter landscape. Her body is round and heavy, generous with flesh the colors of wet earth and desert sands and her hair hands long and free and the colors of the forests. Her smile lights up her face with a golden glow. To each she approaches and places a soft kiss upon their brow and the Garou are filled with that light. The pain of wounds both mental and physical are replaced by a lightness of spirit, a pure giddy rush of joy like a puppy romping through a spring meadow. There's no sense of the war. No worry or fear about the end of times. There's just the warm embrace of peace and being loved. "It's time to go back. Winter is coming to an end and it's time for the world to wake up. Open your eyes."

And the next the participants know, they're waking up in the caern. The real caern, the smell of the fire and their fellows faded as the sun is rising. Rifthealer is there sitting near them, her face calm and pleased. ~The rite was a success. It isn't for me to say what you saw was real or a dream, all that matters is what it meant to you.~ The Theurge gets up to her feet, shaking detritus from her dark coat. ~I dare say that feeling you have will carry on for a little while. Enjoy it. Peace is hard to come by.~

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23          From:  Heartsinger       At: Wed Mar 23 20:31:55 2016         
Fldr   : 0  Status: Unread 
To     : Black-Light, Chugs-Mystery-Brew, Snakepatcher, Little Silvertip, Copperhead
Subject: Rite of Reawakening Closing                                      
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 Even if you couldn't make the ending you still good the cool bits. Your +pools are full plus you get a nifty +1 bonus to each for the next lunar month. One time use sort of thing. In addition, you just feel pretty damn good and at peace for awhile. It's a nice contact high from, at least figuratively, coming close to Gaia. So go out and sniff those roses and roll in the neighbor's tulips. <3 Thanks for playing! 
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