After we had secured our kinfolk and taken in Spot, Sheeba, and the Vulture Walkers, it was time for a breather. We were all finally able to work on things we had been hoping to take care of earlier. For three weeks we did not have to worry about anything hectic.
Eli spent time decorating his fetishes and channeling his ancestor Malcolm to learn to smith. He spoke with Crafty and they both agreed that a forge for the cabin area would be a good addition. The potential to craft our own weapons would be a benefit to the Sept’s offensive capabilities. Eli tried to learn Spirit Speech from Q, but he preferred that Eli get it from a Sept spirit in order to foster good relations with them. He was taken to a Lune to learn it, but also requested to learn Luna’s Armor. The Lune argued that to be given the defensive armor he would need to ensure that he might be missed if he fell in battle or otherwise. Thus, he would have to make himself as sociable as possible for the next month.
Jonathon spent a great deal of his time wandering the Umbra with the spirits rekindling relationships he had lost over the last four years. He found out during this time that all spirits had names, but chose to withhold them as a name could give the Garou or other entities power over them. Thus, a name given by a spirit showed great respect and trust for the Garou in question.
Gina dropped off a bag from Kelly since Jonathon’s movements were restricted to the Sept by Eli. She had used the bag to hold comics, but thought Jonathon might find better use for it. He decided to use the bag to make a Magpie Swag much like Eli. The ritual took an exhaustive amount of time, but in the end, he was able to perform it successfully. He earned the trust of a magpie named Black Bill who required an occasional insect be placed in the back for a month as chiminage. The ban required him to put something of importance in the bag whenever he deemed an event important in his life.
Bjorn spent some time with Gruffy who told him as a Philodox, it was his job to administer punishment for the pack. Bjorn took this time to learn the Rite of the Jackdaw, something I could see William suffering in the future. Afterwards, he spent time with the spirits learning Spirit Speech, decorating his fetishes, and enjoying time with Gina. Magnus tried to be a big brother to him, but Bjorn wasn’t interested, and it bothered me quite a bit.
William spent a good deal of the time working with Cliff to determine if any of the land was available for sale. Apparently, the area by the lodge was state-owned and could not be purchased, but over 75% of the bawn including the Sept itself could be. It cost millions of dollars, but William began the work to push it through. When he wasn’t working with Cliff, he was being berated by Mackie for not following his auspice. He was stepping on the toes of the Ragabash in the Sept by acting the way he did and it was time for him to act how he should, lest he be forced to change auspices. Finally, William worked on a song and requested Lindsey bring him a specific type of wine while ferrying notes about. None of which he told anybody about.
Miguel spent most of his time with his mother and catching up on lost time. When he wasn’t doing this, he worked with his uncle Thomas doing things I’m sure I don’t want to know about. Afterwards, he asked Leein to help him learn some gifts and she took him to the spirits to take care of this.
Agnis worked on practicing her staff fighting with Scourge of the Woods. She tried to get more information from Drona in order to do things like when the staff flew into her hands the first time she got it, but the staff was intent on keeping secrets. She also worked with Leein on developing her own variants of the minor Rites Breath of Gaia and Greet the Sun.
I decided to begin to strengthen my body for the dark times ahead. Taking on the Vulture Walkers and Sheeba might have been ludicrous to other Septs, but in my mind it was the right thing to do. Still, with the other Septs not exactly happy with us, it would be best to do as much training, both physically and spiritually, as possible.
I spent at least an hour every day doing runs, lifting logs, and whatever else I could think of to build my strength. Much of this time was spent with Agnis, as she worked on her physical training as well. We bonded very well during this time. We shared many similarities and differences at the same time from our past.
I went to visit Ryan during the first week with Eli’s approval, who also considered my emotional well-being and Ryan’s safety tantamount. The San Francisco was severely nauseating to say the least. I could barely keep my anger in check during this time. Ryan was very sweet and well-mannered as Kenith offered to have a dinner date with each other. I decided to spend some time just with Ryan rather leave the mansion for the smog-filled city.
I did go on the date later, but I struggled to deal with the situation. The sensory overload was unbearable as I listened to Kenith talk about Ryan’s future. He had all sorts of plans for my son like the best schools and recreation money could buy. It seemed like a big show of money and I wasn’t sure if I cared much for the grooming. I thought about just getting Ryan back and raising him in the confines of the Sept, but I knew this would only cause legal problems for us. More troubling was the show of money and attitude from Kenith. This was not how I remembered him. Finally, the city became too much for me to bear and I faked an excuse about feeling ill and left.
After I returned, depressed and unsure of what to do about the situation, I went to speak with Spot and Sheeba. Sheeba, sadly, could not talk in any way shape or form including the Garou tongue. However, she was a natural at wolf language and Spot was teaching her how to read and write to communicate with the rest of the Sept. Spot herself was guarded which was worrying. She was eager to listen and hear about anyone or myself in the Sept really, but she kept any answers about herself very curt.
Before I began the training I arranged last week with Ryan, I spent some time with Magnus. We seemed to click and I felt much more at ease with him than with Kenith. I sort of felt the old Kenith was gone, but I shouldn’t have been surprised considering how much I’ve changed over the years. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had opened my bible. Still, Magnus wanted to take me out on a date once he got himself set up and I agreed to it. Personally, he didn’t need to set himself up and I would be more than happy to spend time with him regardless.
After all this, I began my second and third week in deep study with Ryan. Although Ryan moved quickly as he taught me about the importance of rituals and what it will mean for me to be Ritemaster, I picked up much of it quickly. When he wasn’t working on the study of rituals on the whole, I worked on learning the Rite of Summoning, a rite I had wanted to learn for some time to make things easier for the pack. I easily mastered in the two weeks with little trouble to the point Ryan remarked I was a natural for this.
Outside of the pack, lots of work and change progressed with others as well. Maria managed to get a job at the lodge legally as Thomas kept his word about his 36-hour runs. My father hadn’t been seen at the Sept yet as he was able to get moved quickly and established at a nearby Harris bank in Santa Cruz. Still, he hadn’t been to visit and I worried about him. I didn’t want to feel like we bossed him around, but were worried for his safety.
Lizzie worked with Cliff on getting internet set-up to all of the rooms in the lodge while Magnus got temporary work at a local shipyard. Ariel, Lindsey, and Cliff were all extremely busy, barely getting any time with the pack or the Sept. Cliff, in particular, worried me as he had been working so hard due to all the new kinfolk arriving. I think I’ll have to do something for all his work. Gina had been working on schooling and spent the most time at the Sept of the kinfolk.
Crafty had been in the caern the majority of the downtime. I overheard Ryan warning him of being careful of Mabe and her trickery. Spot and Crafty seemed to spend a great deal of time together, but would go quiet whenever anyone got near, causing some concern around the Sept. Both the Lion’s Vengeance and Irish Destroyers did bawn patrol often and the latter worked with the pack on any assistance they needed. Sheeba and Spot worked under Mackie and it was obvious he abused his position due to his bigoted viewpoint towards them. Not surprising, Spot has been confused by kindness, something Bone Gnawers likely don’t get very often.
After three weeks had passed, Leein and Ryan asked us to meet them at the Sept. They had been training spirits to specifically look for kin-fetch spirits like the one that was bound to me before my First Change. The elders had put the Vulture Walkers in charge of one of these hunter spirits, but have left some information out in case they betray the Sept. Because Ryan and the others, including William needed to take care of things, we would stand guard at the Sept for a week. Only one member of the pack can leave at a time to hunt in case we get hungry. Lastly, the Vulture Walkers left two early, and it concerned Ryan some.
We all gathered our things, including our fetishes in case of a fight, and headed to the Sept. The first day was rather uneventful. We took turns doing a little hunting, but things were strangely quiet.
On the second day, however, things took a turn for the worse. As we were guarding the Sept, the paper bird Eli carried came alive somewhat and tried to fly off. Jonathon offered to grab the bird and we let him retrieve it. However, after half a day of waiting, he hadn’t returned. We asked Q to locate him, but Q had been told by Jonathon not to mention his whereabouts.
After a full day had passed, Jonathon returned with a bloody bag. I was nervous to say the least, but let him speak. He told us we had made bad decisions in the past and he was quiet before. However, he had a duty to protect the pack. With that, he opened the bag and the heads of the Vulture Walkers pack rolled out. At the sight of this, Q said this was behavior unbecoming of our pack and departed from us. Needless to say, everyone was livid. I felt like cutting his head off for betraying both the Vulture Walkers pack and ours along with breaking our ban with Q. Agnis was particularly violatile and was disgusted with his behavior. Things looked as though violence might break out when we were suddenly awakened by Eli. The entire thing had been a dream.
The conversation that transpired next was one that I didn’t care. Eli had been having second thoughts about the entire deal with the Vulture Walkers. I felt like he was trying to justify reneging on his deal with the Vulture Walkers and was quite disgusted. He tried to explain he only wanted clarity, but I felt he wouldn’t have been interested in denying them membership if he only wanted clarity. Still, Agnis said the deal had been done and we would lose favor with Q for going back on our word.
With the Sept sending dreams to us, the rest of the week contained different dreams. One dream was horrible as the entire Sept had been destroyed and not even the caern remained. However, two days later, another dream was revealed to us of the Sept prospering and the Vulture Walkers pack full members. It was readily apparent that these were portents to possible futures depending on how we behave.
On the sixth night, Eli spotted the trees acting bizarrely. They were swaying in the direction of the cabin. Waking the rest of the pack up, he had Jonathon and I investigate the Umbra to see what we could find out. Heading into the Umbra, we discovered the fish spirits near the creek were leaping out of the water onto the trees. We tried calling out to Mabe, but got no response. Jonathon asked Tick what was going on and he mentioned someone being in the bawn that wasn’t supposed to be.
With this, Eli howled for a response, but got none. Things were getting a bit more tense as we prepared for battle. Eli sent Miguel to investigate. Miguel found the Vulture Walkers pack had returned with a young teenage boy, but they were missing one member, Jerrick. Miguel returned with the news and Eli went to meet them personally.
As Eli approached them, he could tell they were nervous. They were allowed on the bawn, but they knew better than to enter the caern. They told Eli they had returned from their mission. They were to use the kin-fetch locator to determine if they worked. The spirit led them to a bane which they destroyed. There, they found the young boy in the First Change. They calmed him down and got him out of the area before anyone noticed. Oddly, they deferred to our pack on what to do.
When asked about their missing member, they were somewhat ashamed to say they had to put Jerrick down. Jerrick had gone rogue and wanted to use the kin-fetch hunter to find more Garou and build an army to break the Nation. Anthony said this was wrong and Jerrick challenged for alpha to which they asked Tick who agreed. Worried that this could undo everything they had worked for, Chloe jumped on Jerrick and ripped him apart before the challenge could begin. She mentioned she would take full responsibility for her actions, but Anthony said he was the leader and he should be punished. Given their limited knowledge of the Litany, I didn’t really think punishment was a good idea, rather education instead.
Still, Eli returned to the caern and told them to wait there. He sent me to cleanse the boy as he had obvious Wyrm taint from being near the bane. I had him strip naked and took a stick from a tree in the Sept, I asked Gaia to remove the taint from the boy as a shook the stick and walked in a clockwise motion.
With that finished, we took the boy into the Sept sans clothes. His name was Jason Kennedy and he seemed oddly okay with what he had become as opposed to myself that took a great deal of time to come to terms with it. Jason spent the rest of the night with us.
The next evening, Crafty, Ryan, Leein, and William returned. Crafty told us that the kin-fetch hunter was a test for the Vulture Walkers to determine where their loyalties lie. However, they were not expecting them to actually find anything. Still, it was fortunate they did. Since we had been alternating hunting and resting for the week, Crafty told us to take some time off at the cabin, which we did.
After a few hours, Crafty returned with news. Jason was the son of Alyssa, Bitch of the Wyrm, obviously a Black Spiral Dancer. Since we had got to him early on, he didn’t have a tribe. He told us to come to the back of the cabin to speak privately.
With so many things going on right now, Crafty told us he was taking us off the investigation about the Sept of the Stone Sea in spite of being requested by the spirits to do so. Hopefully, the spirits won’t be too angry about it. Instead, the Sept of the Three Waters will conduct their own investigation. This disturbed me some since the investigators could be the very people who committed the act.
Aside from this, Crafty had been in communion with Lion for some time. The dreams in the Sept were from him. He wanted to show us the possibilities that might transpire based on our actions and decisions. Lion has accepted the Vulture Walkers based on their previous quests and apparent sincerity. However, Lion wishes us to give the final quest for the pack. If they pass our test, they are officially part of the Sept.
After some debate, we decided it would be best for all of our pack ask each member one question. Their answers would determine if they could join the Sept. After gathering them up at the lodge, we had them come in one at a time and answer our questions.
The questions were highly varied, although I believe the most important questions were whether they would die for a non-pack Sept member they didn’t like if it saved the Sept and whether they felt remorse for their actions in their creation. Not only did they answer the questions in a manner we liked, they managed to sway Jonathon and William to believe in them, something they had been vehemently opposed to before. After each member answered their questions, we told each of them they were in and had them sit down and drink with us.
With the Vulture Walkers now a part of the Sept, we held our monthly moot. At the moot, Crafty had Sheeba and Jason head north to find the Tree of Voices. Once they completed this, they would be members of the Sept and Fianna proper. The Vulture Walkers pack were officially inducted into the pack with Monica taking on the Garou name “Remembers-the-Departed” and Anthony taking the Garou name “Pasthealer”. Chloe maintained the same name as before, “Savage Heart”.
Crafty told us the destruction of the Sept of the Stone Sea had definitely been by Gaian Garou. The Sept of the Raging Storm, where Rage Heart was, could be a suspect, but none of the other Septs want to risk accusing them and starting another war. Leein mentioned she wanted to know when we were going to take care of the quest with the bottle. She really wanted to hear the tale of it soon.
The rest of the moot went like they normally do. There was lots of drinking, dancing, and the usual sex for the mated couples. I spent a great deal of time with Magnus, though I didn’t do anything sexual with him yet. Thankfully, my father showed up and I apologized to him for rushing him to California, but he replied it was okay. As the moot continued, Agnis noticed a light in the distance near the lodge.
Heading towards the light, we saw a man made of feathers with several fairies surrounding him searching the area. His name was Zanatos, an Unseelie Fae. He was doing something with the light. William foolishly stuck his paw into the light and was nearly transformed into wood if it weren’t for Bjorn pulling him out.
Eli asked why he had trespassed onto our land. He was searching for the power source, which became apparent was the paper bird that Royal Ascot had given us. He knew it was nearby and asked us if we would give it to him so he could petition Royal’s court to help the Unseelie. Eli told him we weren’t interested in getting involved with his crusade. He mentioned that he would talk with Oliver Macbeth, whom we had no idea who that was. Realizing his bluff didn’t work, he left, using his glamour to conceal himself as an ordinary man with a flashlight.
Afterwards, his colorful light reappeared, then disappeared, and finally tried to reappear again. We entered the Umbra to realize it was Mabe trying to tear through the Gauntlet. She seen us and recited a poem:
“I need to be free; Curse that has imprisoned me.
Can tell you no secrets, nor tell you lies; Challenge for my guardianship and your status will rise.
Irish legends and lore; Speak of Mabe as if she were a whore.
Married to those mortals that wished to rule; Oberon betrayed me and played me for fool.
My only crime was not standing still; while man ate their dreams and never got their fill.
I am a warrior Queen of the Fairy; tormented as prisoner never again to marry.
I need three things to be set free; guardianship will be the key
Once that is acquired, we shall move on, until that time hope will still be gone.”
After she said this, she disappeared. It was apparent Crafty was both her jailer and guardian. We were beginning to worry about the secrets he was keeping from us. Still, with new members to the Sept and the redemption of the Vulture Walkers pack, I was feeling better about our chances of survival. I knew the other Septs would condemn us for taking them in, but I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do. Destroying them would have only resulted in three less Garou and we were going to need all that we could find if we were to survive the coming days.