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Chapter 2: New Friends, Old Enemies


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The Return of a Arete was a surprisingly quiet affair.  The Caern had some visitors in the first week. Garou, mostly because of Oracles that had recorded the massive surge in spiritual power in the area, but none could name the spirit responsible, and wisely, the Pack had been counseled to not provide the name.   It couldn't be coerced from them, and those who tried to do so quickly found themselves removed from the Caern, and barred from entry.
 

After a full week, there'd been no truly serious Wyrm activity beyond what was normal for the area, and the last of the visitors had finally left, leaving the Caern and pack to itself.  Of course the other pack in the city knew nothing of the nature of the new benefactor of the Caern of the Lone Star, only that their ritemaster had sworn a blood oath on their behalf to aid the Lone Star should the need arise.   

While their commitment wasn't so high to them, The Lone Star pack promised to aid the Golden Feathers should they require it.   It was this promise that saw Clarity and Sophia working together with the Golden Feathers pack to track down an elusive spirit that hasd been causing problems on the northern reaches of the City.  There's been a rash of disappearances, including a couple kinfolk, and The two of them volunteered to help get to the bottom of what was going on.  Initially the entire pack had planned to go, but wisely they'd backed down, They'd been asked to help, not take over.  The two were sent, with the promise that should more help be needed, it would be provided if they asked.
 

As the moon rose, the remainder of the Pack was gathered there at the camp site that was established near the park, A concession as it were to the Homid members of the Pack.   Eric's Jeep was parked nearby, and three tents were set up, and a fire was already lit and going.  They could have of course done this in the Umbral realm, but with the Pack having spent some considerable time there lately, It was thought a more normal approach was best.  This was essentially just a get-together  of  friends.   Still, They were on guard, mostly.   

There was plenty of beer, junk-food, and barbecue, all cooked by either Mickey or Eric, and the sole male of Pack chuckled to himself.   It had been quite awhile since they did something like this, and he was a little sad that Sophia and Clarity weren't there.  Still, there would be other times.
 

 Okay it's been a week since you got back, Arete's secret is still safe and secure and you're all at a camp-out near  the park (still within the Caern Grounds)  You're in the regular world, likely in homid form.  let's give everyone some time to interact, and we'll move on after abit.  There were wyrm incursions, mostly in the southern reaches of the city that the pack had to deal with between visitors, feel free to narrate these.  They were minor, and with the full pack, easy enough to handle.   Eric would have kept his promise to Red, and gone hunting with her, and any others who wanted to join.  (likely they coursed and killed a deer or two.)


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Red sat next to her sister, Howls, in Homid form. She casually watched the rest of her pack as her foot had begun to thump on the ground beginning to drum a beat. She gave her sister a push on the shoulder, strongly giving Howls the incentive to start the revelry as she was the Galliard and Fianna. Her foot kept beat as she did so. Being Fianna herself, she was ready to start in the merrymaking but this was not her time to lead, that came in battle, and more through her actions than actual leadership. She did not want the position of alpha, even if she was a good fit for it and after she learned of the vision from Howls, she knew that was not her role to play for this pack.

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Deer Stalker waited near the fire, looking more together than the pack had known her to be since her introduction to them by her mentor. She had been doing a lot of thinking since their hunt into the deep Umbra and the adoption of their new Totem. Humans were... complicated. But they were part of Gaea's plan, how out of control they may have become, and she was no Red Talon to reject half of what made her Garou. Might as well be on of her kinfolk wolf siblings as do that.

 

She was happy to relax with her pack, but the threats lurking at the edge of the caern made her just enough on edge to stay in her more-bulky Glabro form. She could pass as human in it, so why not? Besides, her Alpha could do things to meat that made it well worth the wait, and it just might give her enough of an edge to claim an extra serving or two to sleep on tonight. "Claim your first Share, Alpha. The rest of us can't wait to begin," she prodded with a small bark of laughter and a grin.

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Micky checked again to see that all of her mates had food and drink. She loved to cook it was relaxing to get lost in the creation of a meal but, to be honest, she hated these cook outs. With so many Lupus in the pack it was hard to make food that appealed to everyone and so all she could do was basic grilling, which was not a fulfilling Challenge at all,  and even then she knew that some would rather shift and eat raw flesh.

16 minutes ago, Deer-Stalker said:

"Claim your first Share, Alpha. The rest of us can't wait to begin," she prodded with a small bark of laughter and a grin.

 

And then there was that,  the tradition or instinct or whatever it was for the others to always let the Alpha do everything first. That was annoying. The Homids didn't have that ingrained need to let the Alpha dominate and that wasn't her thing anyway, at least not when they were just being social.

 

Micky looked over at Deer-stalker and made a flourish of tossing a steak onto a plate beside her. "There that one is mine. The rest of you eat, before it gets cold."

 

She looked around at her pack and smiled, no she didn't hate the cookouts, that was  too harsh, she disliked cooking at the cookouts. The camaraderie was what was special and needed and loved. 

 

"Any one need anything else there is more meat by the grill and drinks in the cooler," She said as she sat on one of the logs, on the other side of the campfire. It was instinct to separate herself from the rest even if by just the distance a a log and a fire. She noticed Red's insistent foot tapping and started nodding along with the beat. "Howl's give us a song."

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Howls has remained quiet for some time, contemplating something it seems. Even with her sisters prodding, it took her some time to get up and start to sing and dance, telling tales of old and new. Of the lessons learned and the strength to be gained for the times that will come, for times that always come.

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It was a happier song, and Eric wasn't surprised to see Red dance with her sister, nor for her to quickly pull Deerstalker in.  The Lupus in the Pack were closer to each other than to the Homids, and indeed closer to each other than the homids were with each other.  When she reached out to Eric, he could have resisted, but didn't.  Red could easily pull him up and into the dance if she physically wanted to, and he didn't want to bring down the mood.   It took some cajoling to bring Ariel into the festivities, and with Mickey the last to be invited to join.    

They danced for a few songs, and then sat back down.  Eric turned on the small radio he'd brought with him, to give them some music and give Howls a break.   He made his way over to sit by Mickey, as everyone else did as they would. He had a plateful of food, and two beers.   He offered one to her.   "Something on your mind, Mickey?"   he asked, not as her second, but more as a friend.

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Face flushed and settling back down on her rock, the big blonde picked up her plate of food and started wolfing it down again. This. This was good. Spirits and monsters and duties to their new Arete aside, the core of all this was her pack. That was why she fought and worked and strove to improve. They needed her, so she would  be better. For them. 

 

"Want more?" Deer-Stalker offered to Fianna sisters and stood, indicating the pile of grilled meat with a smile and a bob of her head.

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  • 2 months later...

The night's festivities went on for some time.  There was no real danger, and with little to worry about, the Pack was at peace.   
 

Then a branch broke at the edge of the campground they'd set, and they all heard a voice.   "You pups are pretty lively, though I guess that's something I should expect.   You've done such an important thing, and lived to tell the tale of it."   From the brush an older Hispanic man walked up.  His hair was white, and his face full of wrinkles, yet still, he moved with surety and strength.
 

"You always have to be so dour about things, my friend.  They are not cubs, they are young yes, but have at least earned some respect.   If they were simple pups, they'd never have been left to watch this place."   The second man who walked up was younger Hispanic man who seemed to have a more rake-hell appearance and approach to life.   
 

"Forgive us for dropping by unannounced, I am Gabriel Montoya, and this is Marco Velasquez.   We both have a long long history with this place, and felt the change in it.   We came back to honor her Return, and speak with those who brought The Lady back."  The second man who spoke had lighter tan skin, but his hair was as black as the starless night.
 

Marco sighed.  "You pups can calm down, we're just coming as visitors, and with a warning."
 

It was Eric who calmed down first, his hands moving from his sides, he'd been concerned that their defenses were broken so easily, and while he knew these two weren't Human, he couldn't actually tell what they were, only that there was no hint of wyrm taint upon them.  It wasn't his place to Answer their greeting however, that would fall to Mickey as Alpha, though he did give her a nod, his eyes indicating they should hear them out.

[spoiler]
Gabriel
 

antonio-banderas.jpg

 


Marco
 

edward.gif

[/spoiler]

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Micky frowned and stood, walking to place herself between the strangers and her pack, she stopped a few yards away legs spread in a stance which could easily go from passive to aggressive or defensive, and one that could easily be read as such by anyone with brains. The fact that these two just crashed a party of werewolves lent credence that brains may be lacking, that or they were much more than they seemed. Her arms hung loosely at her side and with a flick of her left hand she signaled the pack to ready themselves.

 

"We welcome guests, however when they intrude without even the courtesy of announcing themselves that makes me wonder, their intentions. Not mention it's pretty fucking rude.

 

So before you proceed to piss me off, how about you tell me who the fuck you are and why I shouldn't let my girls have you for snacks?"

 

 

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Marco frowned as Mickey spoke, and muttered in a language none of them recognized.  Gabriel sighed.    "That wasn't nice at all my friend."   He looked back to Mickey.   "I've given you the names we go by in the worlds of Man.   It was foolish, perhaps to hope you'd heard of us that way.   Allow me to give you our real  names."

He gestured to himself, and nodded. "I am Thunderfang, and this is Steps From Beyond.  We come tonight to honor the bonds that tie us to the Caern, and to you.  As to why  you shouldn't unleash your pack, well, we have information you don't have, and while our arrival was somewhat rude, what we have to impart is worth at least little unrequited hospitality."
 

Spoiler



Anyone with occult 3 or more may make an intelligence + occult roll to recognize the two names.    

a single success is a vague feeling you've heard the names, 2 successes, you know the legend of the exploits of the two names.   Three successes or more, you know the legends are over a century old

 

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Micky shrugs as the name obviously mean nothing to her. 

 

Turning her head slightly from side to side she questions her pack with her new found pack voice, <Those names mean anything to any of you?>

 

Spoiler

Pack Voice = Limited telepathy from our totem

 

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Spoiler

Int+Occult [6d10 (5 8 7 6 1 10)] 3 Net successes.

 

With a wolf's hesitance to waste food, Deer Stalker had set her plate of food to one side when the strangers arrived, waiting in a crouch for her alpha's word to strike. That was before they had stated their formal titles, the words tugging at other words until a veritable tumble of them flitted behind her dark eyes. Oh. Oh wow. These two were umbral manipulating legends, the kind of weaver she had wanted to be after her Change and started learning about it. A kind of dopey grin bloomed on her lips for all that these two were Definitely Not Garou, the kind of happy that would have her wagging her tail if she happened to have one at the moment.

 

"They're old allies. Old and powerful and binders of the spirits," she spoke aloud, obviously starstruck into forgetting her fancy new pack voice, "There wouldn't be a caern here today if not for them. Something drove the spirits into a frenzy we could not sooth. Until they came and in a day and a night and much risk to their own lives put an end to it without killing the spirits. Set the wards in place so that it wouldn't happen again."

 

Deer-Stalker nodded happily, thoughts running behind her eyes like a pack on the run, a thousand and one curiosities demanding release, "You asked the spirits to not let us hear you, didn't you? That's how you did it, right? Also, hi. I'm Deer Stalker."  

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Howls had slunk into the shadows with her sister when the inturders arrived, moving aroudf the edge of the clearing out of sight. Even with how bright her fur is at times, she still manages to disappear fairly well, remaining in lupus as she slinked closer, listening to the conversation that was occurring

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As the interlopers arrived, the lazy half smirk on Saibh's face is wiped clean, settling into something closer to her more normal fierce scowl. She practically rolls out of the camp chair she had previously been almost artfully draped across. The position had looked distinctly uncomfortable, though her expression had belied only a certain ease only those in the pack were privy to.

 

Stepping around the small pile of bottles that had taken up residence by her chair, she takes up her customary position on one of her Alpha's flanks, letting a slow breath out through her nose at the still unfamiliar feeling of Micky's mental "voice" <Means nothing to me boss.> Had she been a bit furrier, her hackles would have been raised from her neck to the base of her tail.

 

As Deer-Stalker pipes up, a certain tension bleeds out of her shoulders. Now she's just annoyed, rather than bones dipped in ice furious at the intrusion, the boiling pot of Rage scratching at the back of her eyeballs subsiding for the moment.

 

"This was supposed to be R&R after a pretty fucking hectic couple of weeks. Reckon you can understand the frosty welcome, given the.... surprise....  of your arrival." she trails off for a second, shrugging, eyes flicking over to her Alpha <May as well crack a few and hear what they have to say. 'sup to you though.> She eyes Deer-Stalker, practically vibrating in excitement and something in her expression gentles. <Leaving them to Stalkers curiosity should be pennance enough> the tone is almost teasing at her packmates enthusiasm.

 

 

Edited by Kaoleth
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Red Tips had been enjoying the time and relaxation with her pack in homid form as she was making an active effort to be as comfortable in that form as in her lupus form, but as soon as the interlopers made their presence known, she was back in her lupus form. She initially followed her sister into the shadows, an ahroun who had a talent of being able to hide in the shadows was an asset for the pack. After a quick flick of her ear and a wolf communication the sisters knew from their time hunting in the wilderness, she slunk around the edge of the clearing the other direction from Howls.

The two interlopers said they had information and seemed friendly enough, but given what all they had learned and the attacks she had to help fend off, one can never be too certain. So, superior positioning if the alpha gave the order to attack, and making sure there were no others, was a top priority.

Edited by elynrae
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Micky nodded to stalker, even as she noted with satisfaction the reactions of the rest of the pack. She turned back to the strangers, and sweeps her arm in a gesture to sit at the fire.

 

"It seems I owe you a debt of gratitude, then. Please accept our hospitality and join us, there is plenty.

And, as you will, give us your warning."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Gabriel smiled even as Marco let out a dismissive snort.  "It is nice to be remembered well, even if not perfect details."   He smiled at Deerstalker.  "You're perceptive, I grant that.   Yes I did ask them to not announce our presence like some visiting dignitaries, though I hadn't expected them to not say anything to any of you at all."
 

He bows his head in response to the words of Saibh.  "Again, my apologies for that. We had no wish to interrupt your rest and festivities, but things have begun to happen that meant we had to come tonight."  
 

Marco sighs.  "You youngsters, always being so dramatic."   he actually looked first into the darkness, right at Red Tips, then over to Howls, and nodded.  "You two can come out, it's not like we ever lost track of either of you."  The older man seemed more annoyed with all of this, than friendly, as if this was purely an obligation.   "We have a schedule to keep, you aren't going to be our only stop tonight."
 

Gabriel looked at the elder shifter, and sighed.   "And you think because you're older you're beyond the needs of being civil, Marco."

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  • 2 weeks later...

All but swelling up in happiness at Gabriel's praise of her spiritcraft, Deerstalker gestured at Micky's spread, head bobbing agreeably, "Our alpha can do things to meat that would make an animal jump onto our claws. You missed the last feast we owed you. Please at least taste this one as you share your news."

 

If she could get them to settle down long enough to eat something. maybe she could get a question or one or two or three answered by the time they vanished on their mysterious errand. That was the hope. The blonde remained seated with difficulty, fighting the urge to hover and start shooting off those questions right now now now.

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Red Tips pads forward out of the shadows. She sits down on her rump and glares at Marco. Protecting her pack is important. Just because someone says they're friendly doesn't mean they are. It's better to be safe than dead. Always. The best stories and the best celebrations are the ones you make it out of alive.

 

She wanted to continue her meal but it was now on the other side of the clearing and while they had the pair's assurances. For now it would be better to let the others get information from them and stay here where she can back up her packmates.

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As the others settled, Gabriel nodded.  "Now, as we said, we have information.   First, the bindings holding Ruruk, the Red Wind are coming undone.  Ruruk is a powerful storm spirit that was corrupted by Beast of War long ago.  Where it travels, it incites great amounts of violent storms, including tornados, and relentless lightning strikes.   Destroying Ruruk would have unbalanced the weather here, So he was sealed, deep in the earth, in a small unmarked Cave roughly a mile from the town's old borders.  There are no packs save yours who will be able to either reseal Ruruk, or fight it in its weakened state before it reaches the city.  Every life its destruction claims fuels its power, so it is imperative that you keep it from town if it breaks free."

Gabriel sighed.  "The second bit of information is that five miles north of the city's edge, there is a black spiral dancer hive.   It's new, but the progress they are making is impressive.   You'd have known sooner with Elders present, but the packs who were here have been called elsewhere."

"Even we can only stay long enough to give you knowledge of how to accomplish the tasks ahead, and we must continue.  There are many who are facing similar situations throughout the Americas, as if the evil senses something has greatly changed as of late."

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Micky hadn't sat back down but had stood through out Gabriel's pronouncements with arms crossed, lips pursed, and hooded eyes watching the ground. When he finished she straightened and called to her second, "Eric, get a road map and have them mark the spots, please."

 

She herself crossed to the grill and began wrapping a half dozen of the thickest steaks and putting them in a bag. She took the bag to the two older wolves and handed it to Marco but spoke to Gabriel. "Thank you for this news. Except this food offering for your journey. I know you are short on time. We will do what we can to deal with both threats."

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Deerstalker looked thoughtful, biting her lower lip as she pondered Gabriel's statement.

 

"This big problem facing the Americas... It couldn't happen to be something like a powerful aspect of the Wrym starting to break free from a seal that required the sacrifice of an entire tribe of Garou to make, would it? Because we've received word from our pack's new totem spirit of just that happening," she offered, concern over the situation warring with the hope the news would prove helpful. All it'd take was a nod from either distinguished guest and she'd be off to the races with the story of Arete and the Croation and Eater of Souls tumbling out of her mouth, but...

 

She looked over at their resident Galliard, amending her statement, "Howls can tell the story better than me, though."    

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  • 2 weeks later...

All eyes turned to the Pack's Galliard, who earnestly told of what they faced in journeying into the deep umbra to answer Arete's call, and of the battles those who warded the Caern faced while they did so.  It was a grand story, worthy of remembrance, and the two older shifters both smiled. "You youngsters have lived charmed lives.  The Lady watches over you all."   Marco said quietly.  
.  
Gabriel nodded.   "Yes, you certainly do.  Now, that we have heard your tale, and you have given us provision for our journey, I shall impart to your Theurge, the Rituals required to strengthen or rebind Ruruk."  He put his hand to her forehead, and the knowledge sprang into her mind.  The ritual could only be performed by a Theurge, and only when the the crescent moon was high in the sky.  He provided a key component as well, a tiny lump of moonsilver, no bigger than his thumb.  "You'll need this, and need to keep it against your skin until you act, so it holds Gaian warmth and Luna's light."

Gabriel looked at the others.  "Do not despair, for your own role is just as important.  you must protect Deerstalker while she performs the ritual.    if you fail, and something disturbs her during the ritual, it will cost her her life, and that will be only the first lost, as the beast will awaken, and many will follow."   

Marco came over to Eric, who had the map of the city and the area around it, and he moved to mark where the hive was, and he quickly found it.  "You will find the new hive here.  You will have to act fast, and strike hard.  It's the only way you're going  to take them out before they finish setting up shop."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Once they'd shown them the location of the hive, and the ritual, the two of them departed, back into the woods at the campsite, and soon, not even their scents remained to evidence that they'd ever been there.  "May Gaia and the Lady guide you all."

Eric looked to Mickey, and nodded.  "Not often one is visited like that.   So, we have to decide, do we attack the Hive, even with our limited numbers, or do we head to try and perform the Sealing first?"   As her Second, he'd support her, though it was for her to make the first move.  He knew well enough that the Lupus of the pack would likely side with her, leaving him to be the devil's advocate often enough.  Still he had a good relationship with them all, even as the only male in the Pack.

 

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Saibh lets out a long breath, eyes flicking over the pair of her Alpha and her second from her lounging.

 

"Delaying on either's a problem. Could take the Hive completely by surprise, or strike while the spirits still finding it's feet, so to speak. Whichever we go for first makes the other more difficult though. More time to entrench, more time to build momentum." she takes a swig of her drink, swirling the contents as she talks. "My gut says go for the Hive, for what it's worth. Though how much of that is because I'm more comfortable dealing with an opponent who stops moving when you feed them their brainpan..." she offers another shrug.

 

Going to take another drink, but finding the bottle empty, the bottle goes sailing over one shoulder and cleanly into one of the nearby bins.

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