Niska soars high, her keen black eyes searching for anything new and interesting uncovered by the weather's recent violence.

The woods suffered somewhat all through this region; downed branches and broken trees litter the landscape, promising a rather dicey next dry season, with a great deal of potential for forest fires. Through all this, though, strange things have flittered from time to time. Right now, a metallic green glitter catches the raven's eye.

The bird gives a guttural glonk of pleasure and circles lower to investigate.

Oddly, the glitter is not there a few seconds later, but appears a little further on.

Momentarily taken aback, the raven draws up short, then drops back into an easy glide toward the new position.

As Niska is nearly on top of it, she discovers it is not there any more, but about ten feet further on.

The raven backwings to a fallen branch, ratcheting her annoyance. She peers through the greenery and debris for a better look.

The green thing shines, gem-like, in the early sun, nestled among some leaves, underneath a fallen branch.

Hissing softly to herself, Niska keeps her eyes firmly on the whatsit and begins to *walk* toward it, picking her way slowly along the fallen branch from one twig to the next, occasionally allowing herself little spreadwinged hops.

It lies there temptingly.

The bird edges closer, stalking the thing like a cat.

Suddenly, something lashes up from the underbrush for Niska. A snake, colored a bright metallic green and as thick as a fire hose, snaps for the bird with a mouth certainly large enough to swallow her whole and fangs the size of steak knives.

Niska rwawks in alarm and attempts to spring away, huge wings beating at the snake's head in a localized hurricane of feathers.

Its jaws snap together with a clash of metal repeatedly, as it rises and rises in pursuit of its meal. Unfortunately for the creature, Niska evades it at the loss of just a few tail feathers.

The raven beats a hasty retreat to a branch still attached to its still-upright tree and pauses to allow her heart to resume beating. She glares down at the serpent from her perch, the angry sound coming from her avian throat the grind of pebbles over granite. "What by Raven's feathered balls are *you*?!" she husks at last, not really expecting the thing to answer.

The snake rears back and considers her with gem-like eyes. Its color shades toward ruby slowly. "Hunnnnngry," it hisses.

Rowan pages the room: How big is dis snake?
Niska pages the room: F-ing huge ! But then, anything bigger than a large raven is huge to said large raven...
You paged the room: 'Ooooh, built like a fire hose and about 15-20' long.'.

Niska blinks, then, and settles her wings over her back -- but alert in case the thing should try to reach her. "Well, that's fair enough. There are plenty of frogs over closer to the meadows. A couple of big ol' bullfrogs, too, by the sound of them," she adds helpfully.

Over in the woods, there's a flash of fur. This eventually solidifies into a wolf, ears splayed in vague alarm. He's sticking to the edges, just now. Snakes apparently don't please him overly much.

It sways hypnotically above the brush. "Not tassssty enough. Can sssssmell you, tasssssste you, from here."

From afar, Rowan suddenly realizes, it's speaking... English?
Long distance to Rowan: Weatherwax noddles.

Niska gives a couple of lazy flaps to get herself to s lightly higher branch. "Around here, we don't eat anything that talks," she sniffs distainfully. "It's not polite." She thinks a moment. "If you want feathers, there are some gobblers live over towards the Howes," she offers, though not as cheerfully as before.

From afar, Rowan, paranoid boy as well as rage boy, senses for dat corruptor (and prolly gets nothing.)
You paged Rowan with 'Nada, nope.'.

"Everything talkssss," the snake replies. "Not everything tasssstes good. Other thingssss here are tasssstelessss. You are the firsssst thing that'ssss not." It suddenly shifts its gaze toward Rowan. "Two. Lucky, lucky. Fill my poor empty belly."

Rowan's ears splay even further as he finally realizes what language it's speaking. He takes a stiff step forward as it speaks to him. ~You're not going to eat /me/,~ he says, as if fairly confident of this fact.

"Eat whatever I wannt," it snarls, irritated at this uppity prey. And it begins to grow.

The raven puffs out her mane and leg feathers in what Rowan has come to recognize as her dominance display. "Now listen, you," she addresses the serpent. "I get that a body's got to eat, but if you're gonna start making trouble, well then things're gonna go badly for you." She punctuates this little speech with a metal-on-metal grinding sound that is probably an unconscious response to the serpent's own metallic nature.

Rowan stays right where he is, though he's evidently having to expend some effort not to start backing up. Eyes widening, he says, mildly, ~Wanna prove it?~

It's twice its original size and still growing, watching Rowan with one eye and Niska with the other. Its scales, evidently individual plates of metal, begin to move against each other, filling the air with a droning, yet strangely engaging, music as it continues to sway back and forth and back and forth.

Rowan starts shifting, slowly, up into Crinos, tensed and ready to move at the slightest hint. ~So what's your major malfunction?~

The raven watches the snake, fascinated by the gleaming scales, the glittering eyes, and the music of its movement. Then she gives her feathers a shake and drops from the branch, darting like a swallow to a tree that puts the snake between her and Garou.

The creature shifts to keep one eye on the bird and one on the crinos, continuing to play its song, continuing to grow to monstrous proportions. It seems to top off when it's as thick as Sashenka in bear form and, apparently, longer than the town is wide.

Shadows the Edges pages: And it's made of metal? Or is that just its scales?
You paged Shadows the Edges with 'It appears to be made of metal, yes.'.

Niska glances at Rowan, then swings back to a tree near the first. After a brief pause, she leaves that tree and returns to the one she'd just left, her flight a graceful garland of black.

Niska pages: she's trying the snake-charmer thing -- rhythmic movement to keep its attention focused on her.
Long distance to Niska: Weatherwax okies! :)
Niska pages: only on a somewhat larger scale, obviously <g>

From afar, Shadows the Edges ums. Jam Tech. (Which prolly also does nothing, but it'd occur to Rowan, at least.)
You paged Shadows the Edges with 'Nothing does seem to happen, no.'.

Shadows the Edges seems, if anything, still frozen. Certainly, he's not moving, though there's a soft snarl starting in his throat. He also appears to be concentrating on something.

The snake's head is slowly drawn around to Niska's flight, and the music changes very slightly. Perhaps it's losing concentration.

The raven continues to weave from tree to tree, in graceful, swinging flight. She's careful to keep her distance, however, with one eye on the serpent's head, and the other on its coils, lest it be gathering itself to strike.

Shadows the Edges, finally, moves, and starts a bit of a dance himself, only on the ground. He shifts to hispo, and starts darting in and out, measuring the snake's responses.

The snake snaps its head around to follow Rowan, then coils itself to strike, watching both targets from separate eyes. The eye closest to Niska, however, shifts with her movements.

Shadows the Edges pages: Rowan's met snakes before, so he's pretty much going to use a rage to try and jump onto its neck, once it finally committs to strike.

Shadows the Edges slows slightly, watching the snake with as much attention as he can muster.

The raven varies her pattern, ever-so-slightly, and occasionally adds little aerial flips and twirls. She is shifting the pattern gradually farther away, as if luring the serpent at it had lured her, earlier. The tree trunks and brush which occasionally obscure her must be maddening -- or so she hopes.

The snake's music is louder, more insistent, and then reaches a point where it stops altogether... just before the ringing clash of its lunge for Niska.

The raven, waiting for the strike, does her level best to dodge behind a tree, hoping that the serpent is too focussed on following her to avoid colliding with its trunk.

Niska pages the room: But I'm so *small* ! *Surely* you'd want to eat something much *bigger* than li'l ol' me ! Like this here tree, for instance ?

Jaws crash together in a deafening, bell-like tone, splintering the tree to flinders. Flying flinders, at that.

Shadows the Edges bunches his feet under him and then breaks into a run again, taking a flying leap onto what he hopes is right onto its neck.

"Hah! Eat bark, you vicious bastard!" Niska crows, flashing tauntingly past the snake's head before it can disengage from the tree and reset itself to strike again. Then she rwawks momentary alarm as she is forced to dodge the flinders. "Jeez. Where the hell did you *come* from?"

From afar, Shadows the Edges can stick a rage or two into that, if needed.

The Garou lands on the snake's neck, teeth and claws skittering over the seemingly impregnable scales, throwing considerable sparks in the air. The snake, for its part, begins to lash wildly, its music changing to mad, orchestral crash after crash.

Shadows the Edges scrabbles, searching for /something/ to hang on to, other than hope and a prayer -- ears, eyes, an opening between scales...

"Oh, hell! You go, Rowan!" the raven calls. As the Garou and the serpent struggle, Niska wracks her brain for snake-defeating maneuvers. Stick in the jaws? Good luck getting it in there. Pinned to the ground with a Y-shaped branch? Not bloody likely. At a momentary loss, she flutters around it somewhat ineffectually, looking for a weakness she can point the Garou toward, and trying to distract it at least a little.

The snake seems impermeable: the eyes are solid crystal, there seem to be no ears, and the scales, while obviously mobile, do not part easily to afford either a target or purchase. Its entire body whips back and forth, lashing down trees that Zelda left virtually untouched, making a small Tunguska of its own. It begins to emit a deafening roar from its gaping mouth that bursts Rowan's eardrums and temporarily destroys Niska's ability to tell up from down. Rowan himself is smashed against trees and stones, Niska, pelted with shards of rock and wood.

Niska is flung about. "Not good! Not good!" she shouts, rather unnecessarily.

Not only is Rowan smashed against tree and stone, he completely falls off the creature, slamming into the ground with a heavy thud. It takes him a moment to rise again, but he's darting away after a brief moment, trying to get a bead on its mouth, now.

The snake draws itself up and lets loose a high-pitched shriek that kills small animals for a half-mile around and makes the flesh of larger animals try to crawl off their bones.

"You crazy damned snake!" the raven shouts. "You can knock down half the woods, but you couldn't hit the side of a mountain if it *fell* on you!" she taunts, darting wildly and recklessly around its head. "Rowan! Go for its-- " she breaks off in a cry of pain that is lost in the earsplitting din the serpent makes.

Shadows the Edges, unfortunately, couldn't hear Niska even if she'd been able to finish the thought. ~SHUT UP,~ he growls at the snake, and then leaps for the mouth, evidently trying to get /inside/ it.

The snake swallows the Garou.
The jaws snap shut with a certain finality. The music goes silent. It goes still.

"Shit!" says Niska.

You paged Shadows the Edges with 'You are inside the mouth. It's smooth and metallic and tunnel-like. Small, nasty hooks appear from the roof of the mouth and hook into your body, attempting to move you further down the throat. You feel... like your Gnosis is starting to leech away.'.
From afar, Shadows the Edges hsm.
From afar, Shadows the Edges, therefore, frenzies. Lets you pose that, since, well, he's not in control of himself.

You paged the room: 'Nummy, nummy Garou.'.

In desperation, Niska stoops to the forest floor and grabs the stoutest, straightest-looking stick she can lift. The she flies up directly above the snake's now quiet head, shifts, and drops. Clutching the green head with her knees, she makes a hopefully creditable attempt to shove the stick up the thing's nose, giggling as if she's lost her mind.

From inside the mouth, Niska can hear muffled, but echoing, roars, snarls, screams, and the shrieking of claws on metal. The stick she has successfully shoved up the thing's nose does something -- there is a distinct crumpling sensation and then....



Homid Niska and frothing Rowan are both plummeting into the marsh, a good thirty-foot fall.

"GIVE. ME. BACK. MY. GAROU!!!" the girl is howling, griding the stick as far and hard as it will go -- then she drops heavily into the muck, too surprised to shift.

Shadows the Edges pages the room: Shadows the Edges falls over laughing.
Weatherwax pages the room: Weatherwax asphyxiates.

Niska's Garou is still frothing, until the point where he is dumped solidly into the muck -- and then he goes still, until he rockets to his feet, mud dripping everywhere, glancing around wildly.

No snake to be seen.

The shape of a small, skinny girl forms out of the mud, shaking flying spatters and flecks of it from her short hair. Niska is groping around for whatever's left of the snake, so as to go on to stabbing it. Thwarted, she tears her hands through the went earth with surprising violence, voicing a gutteral rasping, grinding sound that shoudln't be coming from a human throat. "Where are you you wretched thing!?"

Shadows the Edges pages: Any /scent/ of it?
Niska pages: She looks into the umbra. Anything?
You paged Shadows the Edges with 'Nope, except for the ozone from the sparks.'.
You paged Niska with 'No, there's nothing in the Umbra either.'.

Shadows the Edges's nose twitches. He chooses not to believe it for a few moments, however, poking around in the muck. Eventually, he concludes, ~It /exploded/.~ He sounds a little incredulous.

A few small frogs float, belly-up, in the water nearby.

The girl, still on her hands and knees, peers up at him through her mask of mud. Then her face twists and she utters a very girlish squeal of fury, slamming her balled fists into the mud. "Not even a *scale*! Not even *one*, beautiful, shiny green scale!" She paws disconsolately through the debris. "it's not *fair*!" she wails.

Shadows the Edges says, still a little incredulous, ~Sometimes, I wish the world would make sense. Just for an hour or two.~

Niska pages the room: Hee!

Niska climbs to her feet, staring down at herself. "Ew. I'm disgusting."

The woods around you are quite silent for now, except for the occasional creak and thump of a bit of falling wood.

Shadows the Edges, finally, shifts down into homid. And drips. "This is what showers are for."

Niska perks up. "Hot ones? I'm in."

Rowan jerks his head down toward town. "Sasha's got one." He takes a last look around, and shakes his head. "Cripes."

Long distance to Rowan: Weatherwax notes that you're at about half Gnosis after being eaten. And you've got a bunch of nasty cuts on your back that seem to be agg.

"Keen!" Niska skips ahead, already recovered, it seems.

Niska stops abruptly and trots back to the patch of mud she'd been flailing in. Stooping, she retrieves a stout stick. "My snake-killin' stick!" she announces triumphantly, then skips back down the path toward town.