The moot continued with Jonathon telling us how he joined the pack and how he helped us work with the spirits better, which I silently agreed with. Finally, Miguel told of how he survived a crippling wound fighting Samuel Haight. With our tales done, each one of us chose what Renown we would make permanent. I chose Wisdom because I believed it is what I exemplified the most during our trials.
The Garou only part of the ceremony was complete. Bjorn went to get the kinfolk while Kyle grabbed his guitar. This was odd for me to see since I had never thought Kyle to be the musical type of Garou. He then played a short Irish folk song while everyone gathered around, Gina taking her place next to Bjorn, which was sweet.
I could see the kinfolk were uncomfortable, as they had never participated in a moot before. Still, Ryan served us some alcohol with shot glasses and gave some to the kinfolk in red cups. Mackie then gave a speech about how he was honored to serve such a unique Sept totem and that all of us clean up our cups when we were done owing to his position as Keeper of the Land. After the toast, we drank.
Crafty went next, giving a speech about how he was proud of the Sept and that leadership is not always what you expect it to be. Kyle then played another song, the Battle of Aughrin, while Ryan thanked the spirits for their service to us.
After the song, Cliff spoke with us about how the park was now safe and the lodge will be reopened. We offered to continue to pay him back for what he did, but he told us everything was all right. He then once again made mention of winter jobs for us, which got me excited.
Lindsay then went next telling us a story of a fox and a crow her father once told her. The fox seen the crow grab a piece of cheese and fly into a tree. The fox, being hungry, chatted with the crow and use flattery to get the crow to sing to him. This caused the crow to drop the cheese. The moral of the story was do not trust flatters “you dumb fucking bitch”. Although Lindsay admits, she added the last bit of profanity to the story. We then took another drink.
Mackie then told a story of a lion and a farmer. The lion killed and ate many of the animals where the famer lived. However, once the Lion seen the farmer’s daughter, he was immediately smitten. He wanted to marry her and asked the farmer for permission. The farmer agreed only if he trimmed his claws and some of his sharp teeth. The Lion acquiesced and did so, asking for her hand in marriage. The farmer in response tried to beckon the Lion to attack, which he could not.
Mackie asked us what the moral of the story. We took turns making several guess like not disarming yourself before your foe, but we were all wrong. The moral was love could tame even the most savage beast. I assumed the story was directed at Bjorn and Gina…maybe.
We were then asked to tell the Sept what we were thankful for. Bjorn was thankful for the pack and the Sept. Eli was thankful for the Sept giving him a family he never knew. Jonathon thanked the spirits for their guidance and gifts. Miguel was thankful for friends to heal him while John mostly just kept echoing what other people were saying.
When it came to me, I thought about the fact that I had been exposed to a new world after becoming a Garou. I realized now my faith in God was even stronger as most people would go through life never knowing about the tons of worlds inhabiting the space around them. It was met was a bit of silence, but I figured I may just have not articulated it properly.
After this, Kyle and Ryan started to mock fight in Lupus form to which Mackie decided this was a young man’s game and he would retire to the lodge with the kinfolk. I decided to stay out of it since I was not very much a fighter. Andy, Eli, and John joined in on the mock fight until it began to get a little rough. With that, Crafty darted off in Lupus form and I assumed another Great Hunt rite was about to begin. I shifted to Lupus and gave chase with the others.
We raced into the woods. It was an exhilarating experience and something that strangely made me feel more like family. We traveled for what must have been miles and I realized I was starting to get more athletic as I could keep up better now. We kept going until Ryan and Kyle seemed to detect something. They stopped and I came with them. Crafty went on, considering this their job, and the rest of the pack came with Ryan and Kyle. We all shifted back to Homid form and Kyle ordered us to take care of the people he sensed deeper in the woods.
Not wanting to scare the people off with too much of our inner Rage, Eli suggested only Bjorn and I go find these people while the rest of the pack circle around and check things out. Bjorn and I walked hand in hand, pretending to be travelers as we went deeper into the woods. We found a backpack containing a few odds and ends like a cell phone, walkie talkie, and food, but nothing out of the ordinary. We looked up but could not see anything.
Jonathon went into the Umbra to talk to Tick about it, but she could not see anything. John managed to spot the people high up in the tree and it looked like they were stuck. He tried to listen for them with wolf ears, but he could only barely make out their cries for help.
I then called Cliff for help, realizing what these people were doing was illegal and we could be jeopardizing the park again. He suggested either calling Rescue or using some of the climbing gear at the lodge to get them. Calling Rescue was completely out of the question because of the problems it would bring. Realizing the people were in danger, Jonathon switched to his Captain Amazing persona while I entered the Umbra to talk to the tree spirit.
Unfortunately, I could not get any help from the tree spirit and Miguel had to get Captain Amazing out of the area before he caused problems. John went to the lodge and got the gear while Bjorn faked out Captain Amazing telling him there was something in the area messing with his “powers” in order to keep him at the lodge.
After John returned, we came up with the idea of dedicating the gear to Bjorn so he could climb up the tree in Crinos form to make it faster. He would then come out of the Umbra where the climbers could not see and climb the rest of the way normally. I dedicated the gear and went into the Umbra with him. We asked the tree spirit for permission to climb which it agreed and Bjorn made the long journey up.
The climb was a terrifying 270 feet up the ancient redwood tree where Bjorn finally approached the couple. The man was Ken Cunningham along with his wife, Lisa Cunningham. They had been climbing when their rope broke and they only had the spikes to hold themselves up. They considered climbing back down, but they were too weak by that point. Bjorn tells them he is going to get them down and Ken insists on taking his wife first.
With the safety harness strapped to Bjorn, he made the perilous journey back down the tree. There, I took care of Lisa, making sure she had some food and water. Bjorn made his way back up the tree and back down. This whole ordeal must have taken all night, but we finally rescued the couple with the explicit promise they say nothing of it. They agreed and made their way back to their car near the highway.
We were tired and the sun was starting to rise, so we made our way back to the lodge. I chose to sleep in the heart of the Sept again. It was the only place I seemed to get any relief from the terrible nightmares of my past. I felt it was not just for my safety, but everyone elses as well. I did not know if I would go into another uncontrolled frenzy from the nightmares like I did with my First Change, and I did not want to risk anyone getting hurt.
Most of the kinfolk were drunk or asleep. Eli and John stay up for a while drinking while Bjorn cuddled up next to Gina for the night.
Gina awoke at 8 am getting Bjorn awake with her. She asked where I was and Bjorn told her about my sleeping habits. He mindspeaked to me through Quetzal to wake up. Thankfully, I didn’t have any nightmares the night before or at least didn’t remember any and I told him I would be there shortly.
Bjorn stayed at the lodge to get the rest of the pack ready while Gina and I left to go shopping. We made our way into town at around 10 am and she took me to the Capitola Mall. We went and got ourselves bathing suits first. I considered being conservative and only getting a one-piece suit, but I was beginning to realize I should take pride in my appearance. I hadn’t planned on changing my values so I had Gina purchase me a red two piece suit that still had decency to it.
Afterwards, we went to the food court, shared a pretzel, and commented on the boys that passed by, some of them obviously looking at us. We laughed and giggled at some of the dumber fashion choices the stores were selling, but I did see a dress I really wanted. It was a nice grey wool dress with white stripes. It was inexpensive as well. I was going to purchase it myself, but Gina told me she would take care of it. Overall, we had a great day together. I actually felt normal for a brief moment. For once, I wasn’t stabbing monsters with Faith or interacting with spirits. I knew it wasn’t going to last forever, but there would be other days we could do this again.
[At the lodge…]
Bjorn and the rest of the pack decide to track down Ariel and talk to her. Bjorn is able to do Rite of the Questing Stone and they hone in on her location at the college campus.
As the pack wanders the hallways looking for her, John comes across Ariel in her class. He winks at her and she screams and passes out. John hides off to the side as the ambulance comes to check on Ariel.
Thankfully, she is just shaken up and will be all right. Security arrives and talks with her for a bit while she continues to look over at the pack. Deciding it’s better to stay hidden, the pack follows her quietly as Security takes her back to her dorm.
At the dorm, the pack decides Jonathon is the least imposing of the group and sends him to get Ariel’s room number. Jonathon manages to con the secretary by telling her he is her younger brother. She gives him her room number and Eli heads up to the hallway, placing various invitations to the party under doors to look less suspicious. He slides the invitation with a false signature from Caitlyn to Ariel under her door.
[Back to Caitlyn and Gina…]
We arrived back at the lodge to find no one there. I used mindspeak to ask them what was going on. They told me about what happened with Ariel and that they were up at the campus. I told Gina we should just pick up Lisa and then get the pack to which she agreed.
I was happy to see Lisa again. She was just a little uncomfortable around me at first, but it soon passed and we were all laughing and having fun while listening to the radio. Unfortunately, after getting the pack, she went quiet. I knew all too well why and I just tried to be friendly so she didn’t feel alienated.
We stopped at McDonald’s and grabbed a bite to eat. While Lisa got her food, I quietly slipped Faith to Eli since I wouldn’t be able to conceal it while at the party. With my fang dagger in Eli’s pack, I breathed a sigh of relief that we would be ready if anything happened. Although I sincerely hoped, nothing would.
As we approached, I could tell the beach was blocked off in certain portions exclusively for the party. I could hear the cheesy DJ rattling off something about the next song. He had no personality, but at least the music he was playing was good. I could see other teenagers playing volleyball, drinking, swimming, dancing, and even sitting around a small bonfire.
After we got out of the car, Lisa and Gina directed me to the guesthouse so I could change into my bikini. Before we could get there, we were confronted with Larry Ward. He was the father of Kelly Ward, who was just up ahead, and he worked towards keeping the parties safe. He would buy a keg for the party and let others bring alcohol, but you had to turn in your keys if you were drunk and stay in the guesthouse. He also didn’t approve of any other drugs. We politely told him we would have a ride and no one would be drunk driving before heading off to get changed.
[Meanwhile with Eli, Miguel, Jonathon, John, and Bjorn...]
The rest of the pack headed forward after talking to Larry to meet his daughter Kelly Ward in the process. She asked who invited them and they replied Gina and Lisa. She asked some questions of everybody to get to know them. During this time, Jonathon was smitten with her and kept gawking. Kelly was polite however, and appeared to enjoy the attention.
While Kelly was getting to know the pack, her two friends, Regina Sanders and Kristin Dagrossi, arrived. They were a gorgeous pair who the pack immediately gravitated towards. Kelly ran the block party this time, but Kristin would run others. Together, the two traded off party duties each weekend. Once again, Jonathon was smitten with Kristin, who playfully toyed with him.
Regina, however, was immediately attracted to the inner Rage of John, making him seem like the bad boy image. After some less than subtle flirting, the two of them went off to drink beer. They would later spend the majority of the party having sex in the guesthouse before returning during the fireworks.
After the meet and greet, a volleyball rolled towards the pack. One of the players challenged the pack to a game of volleyball. Although the pack had little clue of how to play volleyball, the team gave them the basics and asked again if they wanted to play.
The pack accepted and began a back and forth battle for points. Initially, the pack, already given a two point head start, pulled ahead to 5 to 2 in their favor. However, a series of fumbles and lack of coordination allowed the High School volleyball team to catch up until the score was 9 to 7 in their favor. The game winning point went to the High School team, but at the last minute they offered a double or nothing shot at winning. The winners would be “beer bitches” for the rest of the night. In a very close finale, the pack triumphed and won the final point.
After the match, Bjorn looked over towards Gina to see her talking with another guy. Casually coming over, Gina introduced Bjorn to Brice Acres, her 5th grade ex-boyfriend. Gina was worried Bjorn might snap and tear Brice apart, but Bjorn remained calm. Gina went ahead and headed off to where Caitlyn was at the fire while Brice remained behind to talk to Bjorn. He tried to intimidate Bjorn by saying that Gina would return to him after Bjorn was gone and he was just a momentary fling. Showing restraint again, Bjorn shrugged off these taunts and went to spend more time with Gina.
Meanwhile, Eli and Miguel were abusing the volleyball team to an absurd degree making them constantly bring them beer while Miguel slapped Eli every time he thought he was getting too drunk.
Jonathon continued his quest to spend more time with Kelly. He grabbed a flower nearby and approached Kelly, As he got closer, he overheard a conversation between Kelly and another girl about Ariel. Ariel has been having bad dreams, that she wasn’t coming to the party, and that she had been taking medication. Jonathon manages to convince Kelly to take a walk on the beach with him. There, he works his mojo on her to get to second base after doing a little swimming on the promise he would call her later in the week. He tries to go farther, but the fireworks beginning stop his fun.
[Back to Caitlyn…]
I left the guesthouse and decided to follow Lisa around and have her introduce me to some people. I felt a bit awkward not knowing anyone and I got many of the usual looks from guys I’m used to. As she introduced me to the people around the fire, I saw some of the pack playing volleyball, which made me happy that they were having fun.
Afterwards, I sat down at the fire since the light wind was making feel a bit chilly. Gina came and sat down with me and we giggled about the fact the volleyball team was going to have to serve our pack for the entire night. Bjorn came over and sat next to Gina so went ahead and wandered over towards the lawn chairs to let them have some time together. I got the usual constant pick-up lines by most of the volleyball team, but I politely turned them down.
As I sat down, fireworks began to shoot off, which made me wonder exactly how rich these people in this neighborhood were. A tall, blonde-haired guy about my age named Jason Cripe sat down in the chair next me. His opening line about asking me if I was easy threw me for a loop. He certainly lacked any sense of manners. He tried to go back on it saying it was just a joke and I tried to play along, not wanting to be rude.
We chatted for a little while and tried more of his crude jokes. I tried to humor him the best I could. He asked me if I knew how to skate, and I told him I didn’t. He offered to teach and I told him I would since I really need to be more athletic anyway.
As the party wound down, we all went our separate ways and the pack gathered. We were ready to leave when we were approached by Brian Cripe, the father of the guy I was talking to. He offered the pack a job doing various things for the Santa Cruz Derby Girls, a business he owned. He even offered to have become a Derby Girl, which was flattering, but I thought a little dangerous given my true nature.
We left the beach with Gina who told Brian was a creep that used his employees to spy on his son. I thought about whether I should date Jason or not. He certainly needed to work on his manners. I assume he never met a girl like me who was very polite and well mannered. I worried more about my life as a Garou. I don’t know if I could have a relationship with a normal boy because I would always be hiding something from him and I always thought honesty was the best policy when dealing with people you care about. Maybe I should just find a good kinfolk to settle down with.
As we left, Jonathon told us about Ariel and John deduced that we needed to talk to her tonight before she had another dream and knew we were coming. I wondered if her prophetic dreams meant she could be a late blooming Garou like myself.
We asked Gina to take us to the college. It was late, but we went anyway. Eli suggested I alone be the one to talk with her since my name was signed on the invitation and I would have the best chance of not terrifying her.
I managed to convince the desk lady to let me in, telling her I was a friend of Ariel’s and had heard of her fainting incident. She agreed to let me in, but told me once school begins she won’t be able to do this anymore. I thanked her and went to room 213 to see Ariel.
I knocked on the door and got the response I expected. She was wide-eyed when she answered the door telling me about how I was there to kill her. She told me about our exact plan to reveal to her the true nature of her heritage, although she didn’t know what we were. I told her we weren’t monsters, but guardians and protectors. I explained that she was connected to us through the dreams and her blood. She worried if she would become like me, but I told her I couldn’t be sure.
She invited me in while I continued to tell her about her nature as a kinfolk. At first, she struggled to take it in, but gradually, as I reassured her, she began to somewhat accept. She asked if it would take away the bad dreams, but I didn’t really have an answer for it. I told her we could find others like her that would help explain it and make her feel better. She accepted my invitation to the Sept, but only till the end of the week when she would have to return to school.
She asked if there was somewhere to stay or if would cost her and I assured we would take care of everything. I used mindspeak to tell the pack to head home on foot so we wouldn’t alienate her too much. She gathered up a few things and Gina took us back to the lodge.
There we met with Cliff while showing her to her room. We had at best two days to explain the situation and we wanted Cliff to take the reins since it would be easier for another kinfolk to relay the information. With that, we had secured another kinfolk for our Sept hopefully and I felt better about our future.