As we left the vision of the Bear Claw pack, I could only ponder the lessons that I had learned from their mistakes. These lessons were unfortunately cast aside for the moment as we returned to the fight. The Drowned King was bucking harder now, thrashing about. We continued our unending fight against him as he bucked hard, casting us off him as before.
As the darkness of the Umbral tunnel became light, we found ourselves in a barren landscape. I quickly surveyed the area and then myself. I found myself a man, an eye-opening experience for sure as another pack stood around us. They looked on in confusion for a moment as I glanced at a sign that said Trinket and then down at a map.
The map had the name Stryker on it and markings for a nearby Sept. One of the men in the other pack looked at us and asked Eli what our answer was. Not sure of what was going on, but not wanting to alienate them, he agreed to whatever they wanted. After agreeing, the Garou named Stryker, asked for our keys to a pair of nearby trucks.
Before going any farther into this, Eli told them of our spiritual journey and how we arrived. He wanted to know what it was we were agreeing to. Stryker then took this opportunity to introduce our his pack as we reached into our spiritual reserves to learn anything we could about our host bodies. I learned my host was a Ragabash who had a son recently in Milwaukee and was himself the child of a Black Spiral Dancer kinfolk and a Fianna Garou. I kept this last piece of information to myself as I did not want to cause any issues.
We had been in negotiations with the Eagle’s Nest pack to borrow our trucks to save the Sept of the Red Snake where Bunyip are about to be slaughtered by Red Talons and other European Garou. Sensing this is something important in history and worth doing, we all agree to it. To our shock afterwards, it turns out our ancestors did not want to help.
I file into one of the trucks to drive while the Eagle’s Nest pack gets into the other one. We began driving towards the Sept. As we did, a pair of trucks merged behind us. The passengers were hooting and hollering and we could only assume they were heading to the Sept to kill the Bunyip. I suggested trying to take them off the road peacefully, but Eli told me to just drive faster which I did.
Thanks to our lighter truck compared to their Army surplus style truck, we were able to create a large gap between us. I then slowed down to a safer speed as the truck had become hard to control. It certainly wasn’t like my foster parents Toyota.
We finally arrived at the Sept with some time before the other trucks arrived, but all was in vain. The Red Talons had destroyed the entire Sept and were eating the bodies. Some were even tearing apart children and it infuriated me. Still, I maintained my calm as we decided there was nothing to do and the vast numbers of them made fighting with our two packs suicide.
As we began to leave, Agnis spotted two Bunyip hiding in the brush nearby, too afraid to move. We thought about grabbing them right then and there, but the Garou would likely spot us. So we chose to leave and flag down the Eagle’s Nest pack. Taking a moment to strategize, Lei Sheng of Stryker’s pack quietly suggested a suicide attack on the Red Talons and European Garou in order to buy us a distraction to grab the Garou.
Deciding it was the best course of action and all of us agreeing to it, we returned to the Sept. The Eagle’s Nest attempted to ram the Garou there, but they shifted to Crinos and a short battle ensued. As the Eagle’s Nest sacrificed themselves, we pulled up near the two Bunyip, a young girl and an old man, and motioned for them to get in.
The two Bunyip got in and I took a brief moment to heal the little girl who had been hurt. This was all that was needed for the Garou to spot us. Still, we had the lead and a much faster truck than they could catch. We managed to get away from them and I introduced myself to the little girl and she in returned said her name was Jiya. The old man was named Warri Oldsong. She seemed unusually happy considering the circumstances, but Warri said nothing, just staring blankly ahead.
We decided to return to the town of Trinket in order to get some gas and determine where we could go that would be safe for the Bunyip. Thankfully, Eli’s ancestor spoke their language and it made communicating with them a smoother affair.
At Trinket, we stopped at a gas station and found a $10 bill in the glove box with a letter. The letter mentioned pillaging the Septs of the Bunyip by someone named Augustus. He was obviously a friend of our host bodies and it drove home the extent of our ancestor’s callousness to the Bunyip. We then filled up the gas tank while William negotiated a cheaper price on some gas cans in order to have enough to take us wherever we decided.
As we prepared to leave, a large man wielding a klaive and Get of Fenris symbols on his chest asked what we are doing with the Bunyip. After some caution as to whether this could end in a fight, we answered that we were saving them. He then, unexpectedly, motioned for us to follow him. We ducked into a nearby building and he told us he could get them back to the Outback safely. We weren’t sure if it was a good idea, but there were no other safe options so we agreed to it. We offered some money and objects to help him, but he just motioned us away and told us we had done our part.
With that, I felt myself being pulled out of the host body and back into the tunnel. This time the Drowned King’s thrashing became exceptionally violent. I found myself staring up at the light and then water on my face. I realize that I’m back in my body, but it’s different. I feel taller, stronger, but I can’t see myself.
As the Drowned King surfaces, we found ourselves back at the original site of our first battle. A man with a staff could be seen running away in the distance and I wondered if it might have been Mihason or the mind mage from my Chimare. We are still tethered to the Drowned King and I found myself holding a klaive that I had no idea how I came across.
As the tethers begin to break we can see our ancestors around us from the journey. They dissolve into mist and I could feel my body grow much stronger. I sink Faith into his side as my tether breaks, shoving with the full force of my Crinos form. The dagger bites deep into him and his side explodes doing more damage than I have ever seen it do. John leaps onto the Drowned King’s shoulder and tears his arm off as William climbs the beard of the Wyrm beast. Eli tears his throat out and his eyes roll back into his head. Miguel uses the blown apart opening from my attack and hits heart, causing the Drowned King to explode into rotten, dead fishes.
We had finally done it. We returned to shore and surveyed ourselves for a moment. Our strength from the battle waned, but we were visibly different. We had aged at least five years or more. Our clothes were ruined from rot, but likely wouldn’t have fit anyway given our change from age. We took one last look at the shoreline with its vile, black water from the Drowned King’s blood and called for Quetzal.
Quetzal was shocked and ecstatic to see us once more. He could not find us when we left. Eli asks for a moon bridge to which he complies. We walked the bridge, soaking wet, hoping to still our Sept intact.
Returning to the Sept, Crafty was the first to greet us. He was naturally in shock and wondered how we came back to life. William took a moment to tell the story of our return and the defeat of the Drowned King. We asked about what had been going on. It had been five years since our deaths. The Sept gave up finding us after the first year when the Rite of the Questing Stone yielded no results.
When asked about Kyle, he pointed to the rocks where Noah’s body rested and my heart sank. I wanted to cry. We had been so consumed with everything going on around us that we couldn’t pay enough attention to Kyle. Crafty said after our death he had succumb to Harano and starved himself to death. He warned us not to speak with Ryan about it as he was still very upset by it.
All was not terrible however, as the Irish Destroyers had joined the Sept. I knew this would create more friction between the Sept of the Three Water and ourselves, but it was a welcome addition to keep the Sept safe. Crafty told us we should call a moot and discuss what has happened. Eli, Miguel and myself, however, went to see the kinfolk while the others prepared for the moot.
We were able to see how they had aged just like us into young adults. Lindsey was ecstatic to Eli and the others were grateful to see us as well. However, Bjorn and Jonathon had not made it back through the Umbral tunnel yet. I could only hope they returned as Gina was beside herself with tears at Bjorn missing. Eli tried to comfort her, but it was to no avail.
I sat the rest of the night staring at the klaive and my bible that had thankfully not been destroyed or lost. While we had returned from the dead, I still felt a horrible pain of sadness in my heart. We had lost a wonderful Septmate. Our positions were no longer secure and we would have to fight again to earn our place. It was as though we had just started again. More so however, I had lost five years of my son’s life. I wondered if he even knew who I was or remembered me. I didn’t even know if I had the heart to take him from the Tylers who would now obviously love him as their own.
I started to cry as I felt the scarring on my back and the tattoo, which I had found earlier when I looked at myself in the mirror. I wasn’t sure what to do now looking down at the klaive. I felt one of my tears drop down on the blade as I thought of a name for it. I decided to call it “Wyrmcrusher” for Kyle. I laid down and kept trying to think to myself “better things are in store for me.”