After the moot and the joining of the Vulture Pack, most of the pack started work on trying to decipher a way into the Legendary realm to complete the bottle quest. Unfortunately, things seemed to be a standstill with no solid information from the Spirits or any of the Sept members.
After two days of investigating, Savage Heart of the Vulture Walkers came to us with a proposal from someone she knew. With her was a box of steaks from a Skin Dancer known as Stained Coat. She told us the Garou had been one of the original Skin Dancers under Samuel Haight. However, after the death of the Skinner and roaming for some time, he changed his views on the Garou Nation.
Stained Coat now worked with kinfolk trying to dissuade them from becoming a Skin Dancer. He had heard by chance of our Sept and what it did with the Vulture Walkers pack. He was offering five kinfolk to take off his hands to help teach them that the Nation isn’t as bad as it appears. He offered the steaks as a sign of good faith on his part.
Eli decided it was a good idea to at least hear what he said and Savage Heart had one of Cliff’s vans prepared for us. We began our drive to Santa Cruz when Eli spoke of getting on the quest in the bottle. I voiced my concerns about leaving the Sept right now. With the addition of the Vulture Walkers, Sheeba, the destruction of the Sept of the Stone Sea, and the general distrust for our Sept, I was worried we would be attacked after we left on the quest. I didn’t know how long the quest would take and it wasn’t a risk I cared for.
Eli noted my concerns, but was confident the Sept would be fine in our absence. As we traveled, I noticed all of the little annoyances I hadn’t seen before with the city. Humans casually trashed and polluted the planet. My senses were overloaded from it, but I still hoped people would change with some nudging to the right direction.
Arriving at the Humphrey Inn, we were greeted by a kind old lady who took us to Stained Coat. He was a very jovial and energetic person for a Skin Dancer. We ordered food and he told us about why we had come. The Kinfolk he had were non-Fianna kinfolk who wanted the Rite of the Sacred Rebirth. Stained Coat had been bluffing them for some time in the hopes they might change their minds. He had been giving them tests in order to dissuade them, but he was running out of time as per his agreement with them of one year of tasks.
He had hoped with the remaining five months we could show them compassion and love and change their hearts for the better. We asked about his success rate and he told us it was about 75%. Most of the success stories either went back to a different Sept than their home one or left the Garou Nation entirely. The other quarter of them he either changed into Skin Dancers or more ominously and implied, killed them in order to prevent bloodshed.
His only agreement with us was to treat them well and if at the end of the five months they wanted to leave, we let them go. They were also free to stay if they were happy after the five month period was up. Eli realized it was not something that could be done in a single day. It was take some time to get them integrated with our kinfolk. Stained Coat told us he would be staying in the area for five days and would give an additional five days on the Humphrey Inn in order for us to prepare. Eli decided to run it by Crafty first and then get back with Stained Coat to which he agreed.
Heading back to the Sept, we debated whether or not to let the new kinfolk interact with the Vulture Walkers as it might sway their opinion in the opposite direction Stained Coat intended. After much discussion, we decided it would be best to remain honest with them.
At the Sept, Jonathon decided to take some time in the Umbra while Eli spoke with Crafty. Crafty said it was our decision and that more kinfolk would always be a good idea. He suggested sending Lindsey and Ariel, especially her since she was a psychologist and they may have lingering emotional and mental issues from their treatment. We also addressed the concerns over leaving the Sept on a journey, but Crafty told us the Sept would hold as it did when we were dead.
With things arranged, we turned our attention to the Talen bottle. Unfortunately, Miguel seemed to have misplaced the paper and as such we spent several hours looking for it. We finally managed to secure it. We gathered up all fetishes and gear we needed and got ready to enter the Umbra. As we entered the Umbra, Agnis called for her Stag familiar, Jonathon reunited with us and told us Tick could navigate Q’s moon bridge to the realm. She only wanted secrets for the cost of secrets owed to the spirits she got the information from.
Q opened the moon bridge and we began to walk it. Along the way, Eli revealed his fear of never getting Lindsey pregnant. With the secret revealed, Tick told us that spirits may enter the realm, but are made material. Bjorn mentioned he was unsure whether he would make a good leader. Tick then revealed that in the Legendary realm, death is real.
More secrets came out as John felt bad about sleeping with a married woman. Tick revealed that time passes abnormally in the realm. A year could only last minutes or even seconds. Agnis revealed that she could use no other weapon besides her staff. Tick told us that you cannot leave until you complete the mission that is given to you upon entry. Failure means death and do not underestimate anything you encounter in the realm as it is different every time you enter.
Jonathon revealed that he really wanted to keep the patch of skin he obtained from Samuel Haight even if it tainted him. Finally, Tick revealed that everything reforms in the realm is spirit, but immune to the delirium.
Twelve minutes later, we arrived at what appeared to be a massive, broken tree. A large rock blocked what appeared to be an entrance into the tree. We decided before going any farther to leave all of the spirits behind as their deaths would be permanent and this would not be wise to bring them. We would rely on our wits and skills alone.
The one wishing to undergo the mission would have to move the rock. In the end, we decided to move it together since we were all wanting to go on the mission. Pushing the rock, we found ourselves on a shoreline, a castle in the distance. Looking at ourselves, we looked the same, but our clothes and gear had been changed to appropriate attire for the apparent time period we were now in, save for those who were naked.
Heading towards the castle, we encountered a village who exalted John, calling him Finn. John convinced them to get clothes for those lacking any as we looked at the stone and straw houses. John estimated it to be around 900 AD. After interacting with the villagers, we headed into the castle where John met a woman who was his wife here. She was happy to see him and had the servants in the castle get us better clothes.
We were led to our guest rooms and clothed while everyone in the castle prepared for a banquet tonight. John was taken to his room and bathed by his wife and had custom clothes for himself.
Arriving at the banquet, we sat at a table on a platform away from the villagers. They greeted us during the affair, sometimes offering gifts as we ate. As we ate, the fae arrived, appearing wholly in their true forms. They were tiny sprites and the most impressive one of them was the fairy queen. I wondered for a second if it was Mabe.
The fairy queen offered to dance for us and John agreed. Her dance was beautiful, fluttering about in the air. So entrancing was it, that we found ourselves falling asleep. It was the best sleep I had ever had, especially considering the problems I’ve had before.
We all awoke the next morning. A messenger had arrived from Scotland. He brought a message of a giant named Angus who challenged Finn for the title of Supreme Giant. He was building a bridge of stones by throwing them into the water with his name in glyphs on the rocks. He offered to give us mercy if we abandon our name, place, and people. John told him to return a message telling Angus not to strain himself making the bridge, obviously not taking the threat seriously.
The messenger wondered about the hospitality of the Fianna to which John offered drinks for him. Before the messenger left, John inquired as to what the challenge was. It would be a fight to the death. The fairy queen offered her counsel that calling upon the Sept might look badly and suggested building a bridge to meet his.
Agreeing to it, we all banded together as a pack and a village to accomplish this task. It would take three years to build the bridge to the halfway point of Angus’ path, but we accomplished it in record time thanks to the Fae magic. Still, not a day went by that I worried about the state of our Sept back home. However, this gave me time to work on my stamina and train my body harder as we got to know all of the villagers.
We all pondered what the realm meant to each of us. I felt this was the world the Garou had hoped for, but lost. Bjorn wondered if this world would be the same to someone else who entered it. Miguel noticed the Fae used to interact with the humans as well. Agnis felt this is what Garou should be doing with the humans in the real world. John though the realm morphed to fit us. Eli realized the Garou conflict is everywhere, even near realms. Jonathon realized it might be possible for Garou and humans to interact peacefully.
After completing the task, we had a month long celebration on our success. The same messenger arrived during the celebration. It seems the cheers of our partying caught Angus’ ear that had gone off course fighting golden men and giant birds. He would arrive within three days now that he had torn down the old bridge and corrected his error. John offered hospitality to the messenger again as we debated what to do.
We spent many hours poring over ideas no matter how silly they might seem. The fairy queen suggested trickery and much of the pack agreed as a fight with Angus who was reported to be three times a man’s size by Una, John’s wife, would be suicide. Finally, Eli decided to call upon the ancestors for the story of Finn MacCumhall.
It turns out that Finn offered to fight Angus during this time, in spite of it being a death sentence. At the last moment, as Angus arrived, Una placed a blanket over Finn’s head in his Crinos form. When Angus asked where Finn was, she told he was not here and that this was her baby. Tricked into believing Finn was far larger than he, Angus left, destroying his bridge along the way.
We did this exact thing as Angus arrived and it worked perfectly. With that taken care of, we found ourselves in the Umbra outside the Sept. Only five minutes had passed according to Q and Tick. We placed the note back in the bottle and pulled it out to the see the next quest which only Jonathon could read.
“Test your glory, test your might, find a spirit who can show you right, blood of enemies you must, on this parchment prove your kill, protect your prize at all costs, or this test shall be lost.”
We pondered it for a moment before Agnis realized we would be heading to the Battleground. We would need a spirit of War to lead us to it and we would have to place the blood of our enemies on the paper and then get it back to the bottle safely. I didn’t like where this was going…