After Ariel agreed to stay and got comfortable, we all went to bed that night. I slept in my usual spot in the caern. I managed to get a good night’s rest with no nightmares.
The next morning, Eli wanted to go into the Umbra to learn a gift. We got ourselves together, crossed the Gauntlet into the Umbra, and then Eli called to Quetzal to help us. Quetzal told us he would be able to help find a teacher, but it would take a little time.
We waited around for what had to be about 20 minutes, when Quetzal reappeared. We were to go north on a moon path until we met the spirit who would be teaching Eli. The spirit turned out to be a wolf spirit named Shebia.
Quetzal utilized his strong position in the spirit world to get Shebia to speak in English to the pack as otherwise Jonathon or I would have to translate the entire thing. Eli implored Shebia to be taught the Pack Tactics gift and offered whatever would be required of him to do so.
Shebia told us she would be willing to teach, but that we would have to work as wolves to understand what the gift meant. We would be told to follow a second moon path into Wolfhome, a realm none of us had ever been to before. Quetzal tried to implore Shebia that this was too great a task for such a simple gift, but Shebia would not relent and said that this was her chiminage to choose.
The journey into Wolfhome could result in us being trapped there permanently, so Eli put it to a vote on whether we should go. He refused to risk the safety of the pack for something devoted solely to him. Still, we agreed to do so anyway. It was only right anyway, as others had been forced to go with Jonathon, John, and myself when we learned our gifts.
Before we headed off, Quetzal told us he cannot go and if he did, it might influence our decisions. He told us as long as we held to the tenets set forth by him as a pack totem we would be just fine. However, John could not go, as he had to fulfill his spirit quest to Cat and fish for the week. With that, a dirt path illuminated before us and we set off to our destination.
After 15 minutes of walking towards Wolfhome, Quetzal began to ask us questions. He started by asking Jonathon what he remembered before his First Change. Jonathon told us about going school and spending time with his parents. William went next and told us about nearly having sex for the first time and changing. Miguel told of his First Change during a Day of the Dead parade. Bjorn’s First Change was just like mine after having a nightmare. I remember being held down by a pack of Glasswalkers once my First Change ended. I also remember looking over at foster parent’s dead bodies. It was traumatic to say the least. Eli couldn’t remember anything before his First Change.
Quetzal then asked what our worst memory was. I relive the death of my parents every night in my dreams, but the real sadness was my boyfriend at the time denying Ryan was his. I hadn’t felt like I could trust dating a guy ever since. Bjorn told of a severe beating he took when he was caught stealing. Miguel’s was similar with him being jailed for stealing for his mother. William’s worst memory seemed a bit vapid when he had slow room service at the Hyatt and disappointed his friends. Jonathon’s worst memory wasn’t exactly clear, backsliding into Captain Amazing and how he saved his family from a horrible beast, which I assumed was him. Eli, naturally, had no worst memory thanks to the amnesia. I almost wish I could have it too.
Quetzal then asked our biggest regrets. Jonathon regretted being separated from his family. William regretted killing Susan, the girl he was with during his First Change. Miguel was sad he could not help his mother. Bjorn didn’t like breaking the rules after the beating he took. Eli was regretful about losing Rage Heart, which I agreed with and still hope he comes back. For me, it was giving up my child. I knew I couldn’t take him and I felt at that moment as though I had lost everything.
Quetzal next asked what our happiest memory was. Eli was happy that everyone had come together as family and a pack. Miguel told of his fifth birthday and how he got presents that year. William was ecstatic about changing for the first time consciously and how it made him feel. Jonathon was happy about the first time he spoke to the spirits. For me, it was obvious it was the birth of Ryan, my son. There’s nothing in the world like it seeing your child for the first time.
Quetzal asked what about biggest secret was. Jonathon, humorously mentioned “motorboating” Kelly at the party. William said his secrets were his own, which was worrisome to me that he wasn’t being very open like the rest of us. Bjorn spoke of how he was in love with Gina. Eli had nothing because of his amnesia, but his feelings for Lindsey might be one. Miguel told us he was too young to have secrets. For me, I had a crush on the Sept Leader, Daniel Morris, in Chicago. It was dangerous I know, but I just couldn’t help it.
Quetzal then moved on to our biggest fear. Eli dreaded losing a packmate. Bjorn worried about the Litany failing him. William acted as though he had no fears. Miguel, mentioned killing William for constantly bringing up his mother, which had been going on for most of the walk. Jonathon didn’t want to hurt anyone as a Garou. I feared never seeing my child again. It was a lonely, empty feeling for him to not be near.
Quetzal then asked us what our roles were in the pack. Jonathon said he helped the pack with the spirits, which was very true. I could do it, but Jonathon had a much more natural talent for it. William said he was the voice of reason, although I highly doubt that. Miguel said he just rolled with the pack and that he was the Ragabash for the pack. Bjorn maintained his role as judge and Philodox while Eli said he hoped to be the scale and balance. I personally said that I was the heart and soul of the pack, or more accurately, its conscience.
We were then asked by Quetzal to tell what each of us thought what our views were of each other starting with Eli. He said the Theurges were the key to the spirits. Bjorn and I were the PR people for the group owing to our ease of working with normal people. Bjorn also maintained good relations with the kinfolk, which was great for the Sept. William was somewhat undefined now, but he was a decent Galliard. John was the warrior for the group while Miguel “Press One” was the saving grace for the group who kept everyone out of trouble. Finally, Jonathon was the go to guy for spirits, but he needed to mature a bit.
It was then my turn to express my views. I thought William might make a better Ragabash than a Galliard, which he didn’t take very well. Jonathon was more suited to the spirits than I am. Bjorn acted as a rule keeper for the group. John was the warrior and Eli was the leader in progress. As for Miguel, I wasn’t sure what to think since he’s so quiet all the time.
Bjorn then went next. He said William was a button pusher while Miguel was just an easy going Ragabash. Eli was growing into his leadership role while John was the obvious warrior. Jonathon was naïve, trusted the spirits greatly but also very gifted with them, and very passionate about many things you wouldn’t think a 12 year old would care about. Finally, for me, he said I was sort of a paradox. I had a very strong moral compass, but I fought as hardly as any Ahroun which I appreciated the sentiment.
It was now Miguel’s turn. He thought that William was an instigator and troublemaker for the group while Jonathon was a great spirit talker. Bjorn was like a principal for the group and a rule follower. Eli was the leader for the group and John was the muscle. For me, he said I was a strong fighter and the obvious Ritemaster for the group.
William was up next and his views were actually pretty thought provoking. Bjorn was the calm, levelheaded one of the group. Miguel was the youthful inspiration of the group who kept up the good in the pack. Eli was the leader who had to make the hard decisions, but he should listen to William more often. John was a true Fianna who was equally a lover and a fighter. For me, he said I was the quiet secret weapon of the group and had more talents than we use. It actually surprised me to hear this and made me wonder if his antics with provoking people were just a ruse. Finally, his opinion of Jonathon was less than favorable. He felt Jonathon was playing with fire by having Tick as a personal totem, he was losing his role in the pack, and that Tick would eventually corrupt him.
Jonathon was the last to go. He thought John was the classic Fianna warrior while Miguel was merely a follower. Although his views on the rest of the pack were not so favorable in my opinion. He thought Eli had potential to be a good leader, but lacked confidence, often relying on the opinions of the pack too much. He thought Bjorn was all for the pack, but more interested in Gina at times. For William, he viewed him as starved for attention who wants to fight for the pack, but equally also causes them. Finally for me, he thought my Garou nature was drawing me away from my faith and that I was suppressing my anger. As far as suppressing my anger, perhaps, I don’t want to rude to people, not just because of Quetzal, but also because I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. As far as my faith was concerned, I just didn’t want to be one of those proselytizers, trying to convert people all the time. I would rather them come of their own free will. Although, I realized I hadn’t prayed in a while and made a mental note to get back to it now that things had calmed down after the whole Samuel Haight business.
We finally arrived at the entrance to the realm. Quetzal told us he could not go in, but he would wait for us. Entering the realm, I found myself and the rest of the pack immediately entering Lupus form. I assumed this was part of the test for us to work as an actual wolf pack. A trail went on deeper into the woods and we decided to walk along the edge of the trail. We kept walking that way for what must have been thirty minutes when it ended.
As the trail ended, we came across a parking lot with wooden posts. In the parking lot we seen a couple vehicles with brown, white, and red markings that we couldn’t make out what they said. There were four men outside with three dogs and one man in one of the vehicles. All them were wearing camouflage gear and talking when they pointed in our direction.
Jonathon and Bjorn were able to make out a few words they said: “They’re armed, call in.” Outside of that, we couldn’t understand them and for some reason, couldn’t even read their body language. With that, we ran back into the forest and heard gunfire behind us. The dogs were barking in the distance as well, but it didn’t sound like they had been let off their leashes.
We decided to split off into pairs and meet up after a little bit. Bjorn and William paired while Eli went with Jonathon. I paired up with Miguel and we set about marking the area in order to confuse the dogs. We met back up after some time and we had appeared to evade the men and dogs. Heading back to the parking lot, we felt wind blowing and heard the sound of a motorized object. Jonathon looked up and seen a helicopter and told us to get to deep brush. As we head back, we noticed the truck had animal control written on it and we were able to make it out clearly suddenly.
After finding safety deep in the woods and realizing the men weren’t chasing us any more, we decided we needed to eat. We picked up the scent of many different animals and tried to pinpoint a deer. Jonathon managed to pick up one’s scent and we started to hunt it. As we did, Bjorn caught the smell of something strong nearby and Eli went to investigate. Inside a hollowed out log, Eli found a fox. The fox pleaded for its life and Eli told it to run. He then proceeded to mark his territory before realizing the animal managed to speak. He chased it back again and we all followed.
Eli managed to catch up to the fox again who was noticeably scared. Eli introduced the fox to our pack and told him we weren’t going to hurt him. He asked him if he had seen any deer in the area. The fox managed to point us in the direction of several deer. It took several hours and Bjorn had to pick up the scent again, but we finally found a group of them in a clearing. There were several bucks and a doe.
The deer had caught sight of us and a chase ensued. We singled the doe out since it would be the weakest and not have the ability to put up a fight. After quite a run through the forest, the doe began to slow down and that is when I made my strike. I bit hard into the leg of the doe, breaking its leg in the process. It collapsed screaming for its life, which was a bit unsettling to say the least. William went in for the kill as it continued to plead. Although it was sad to hear it beg for its life, we were here to act as a wolf pack, and we’d see it through. Eli obviously got the first of the kill and we eventually all nudged our way in and had our fill. I was finally starting to get this hunting thing down.
After eating, we may our way back to the log where once again the fox darted off. We decided to go back to sleep and see what the next day would hold for us.
After a night’s rest, we decided it would be best to explore the forest and try to see where that takes us. We explored for what must have been hours and came across a small waterfall. I drank some of the cool, refreshing water that was great considering how long we had been traveling. It was at that point we could hear a low whine in the distance. Traveling towards it, Eli made a pack formation with Bjorn and I in the front, Eli in the center, and the others in the rear.
We came across a wolf trapped in what looked like a bear trap. We tried to approach, but she just snapped at us and told us pack would be here soon. Eli offered to help or we could just leave her alone until the men came for her to which she replied she’d sooner chew her leg off than let them get her.
We managed to distract her while I figured out how to get the trap open. Jonathon managed to convince her to accept our help and William and I opened the trap for her. She was amazed at how we did that and we simply told her we had been around it before. We offered to take her back to her pack. We realized her leg was badly broken from the trap and she would be in no shape to travel. I decided to use Mother’s Touch on her leg, but I found it incredibly hard to muster. It took a tremendous amount of effort, but I managed to heal her leg mostly.
She led us to her pack and her alpha naturally growled at us. She went to talk to the leader. We surveyed them, as there appeared to be nine of them, one with a collar who could only be assumed to be the omega considering how far back he was. The pack leader asks what we were doing here and Eli told him of helping out the female. We offered to run with them and we were forced to submit to the alpha in order to join.
After the usual sniffing of each, everybody seemed to be all right with each other. It was not something you see in the human world for sure. Although the original pack members wouldn’t let us be in front, for the better part they were friendly.
We went on a hunt that lasted nearly two days. During that time, we were able to get to know the pack better. There were no names involved, considering they were wolves, but each had distinct personalities. The alpha told us about the den where they stayed. He also told us about a rival pack that was encroaching on their hunting grounds. It was as large as this pack is now.
We finally found a nice size deer. The pack hunted like a well-oiled machine, running the deer down to exhaustion before going in for the kill. We then followed the normal chain of command when eating. The alpha told us of pups at the den and since the deer is too large they would have to bring back bits of meat to them. I happily grabbed some meat even though I wasn’t under any obligation to do so. We then made our way back to the den.
Once we got back to the den, I was horrified at what I saw. All of the pups had been slaughtered along with the two wolves watching them. Our alpha tried to submit and leave the area, but I wouldn’t do it. William questioned the alpha for the other pack, aptly named Scar for the injury on his eye, about whom he was and why he would do something like this. All William got in return was snarky answers and all of could tell he wasn’t a regular wolf but a Garou leading the pack.
I couldn’t stand it any longer and my anger boiled over. Our alpha tried to lead us away, but I charged Scar. Eli managed to get in my way while our alpha gave me a humbling bite on my hindquarters. Unable to get to him, I gave in and followed the rest of the pack while Scar taunted us as we left.
Once we left, our alpha surprised me by asking me to come to the front with him. I thought he was going to berate me, but instead he just let me run with him. It wasn’t until a little later it dawned on me I was the last female in the pack.
We traveled again for two days before finding a gorge to rest. There was a small cave-like crevice there that the others began bringing sticks and leaves so they could create a nice den. The alpha had me stay with him and him alone. I tried to polite, not wanting to upset the nature order of things, and laid down to rest with him.
The rest of the White Lion’s Pride pack was getting restless. Not sure of what to do, Eli entered the den and told the alpha we were leaving and I was coming with him. The alpha obviously didn’t like that idea and a brief, but violent duel ensued with Eli the victor. With that, the other remaining wolves from the original pack left with the alpha and we decided to make our way back to the spot we entered.
It was a long journey, but there near our entrance point was Scar. I felt anger again, but I held it back seeing how he was alone. Scar explained to us that he knew we were Garou and new to Wolfhome. Traveling back the way we came wasn’t the way out and one would have to know the rules of Wolfhome to leave. He told us if we could get six rules of Wolfhome we could be able to leave.
We all gave it a shot, initially thinking of various nature related things, but they were all wrong. Only when we started thinking of this as an Umbral realm did we get a few answers right. We weren’t able to get more than three at first and Scar told us to return in a day when we thought more on it.
We returned the next day and gave a few more rules that we had thought about. We had given him enough and he filled in the rest for us. We were then free to leave whenever we felt. Before we left however, we asked Scar why he stayed here, as he mentioned we had only been there for six days when he had been there for six years. He told us he was Metis and here he could live like a king whereas in the normal world he was treated with disdain. We thanked him for his help and left the realm.
Upon returning to the prenumbra, Shebia and Quetzal were there waiting for us. Because of our journey, she offered to teach anyone in the pack the gift’s Sense Wyrm and Pack Tactics. Eli obviously learned his, but Jonathon and William also underwent her tutelage. It was then a raccoon spirit named Finneus appeared. He offered to teach anyone Open Seal for a favor. Bjorn and William underwent this training in exchange for placing a shiny object near our cabin while whispering a weakness of all the pack including William and Bjorn once a day for a week.
After returning to the Sept, we were surprised to see Kyle approaching us winded, asking where we had been. We told him about the journey to Wolfhome and he told us of intruders on the bawn. He tried to scare them away in Crinos form, but they didn’t budge. We went to investigate but not before using Sense Wyrm on Kyle to make sure he was all right since we had never seen him winded before.
It took some searching but in the forest, we found two wolves with collars on their necks. The collars read Rusty and Rivet and they had escaped from a wolf preserve. They were scared and didn’t want to return to the preserve. It was obvious they were kinfolk. Jonathon managed to comfort them while taking off their collars. We brought them back to the cabin where Mackie, Ryan, Kyle, and Crafty were. They were unsure of what to do, but decided it would be better left up to us. We needed more kinfolk and allies, so we agreed to take them in.
Overall, it was a long, but exhilarating week. I feel much more in tune with my wolf nature and feel like I can get this survival thing down pat. I wonder where we’ll go next.