Kelsey was probably looking for the storm. She has a thing
about bad weather, and a bit of the Overconfidence flaw I excised
Kelsey says "Or GM's discretion."
From afar, Kelsey was thinking "on the slope overlooking the caern, intending to go down and hide in the cave if it starts getting bad."
The sky is ominous indeed.
The clouds overhead which have been gathering since yesterday are starting to take on ominous purple and green tints. Thunder rolls overhead, echoing off the mountainsides until the echoes are more impressive than the original sound. Rain is coming down in gusts and sheets of water.
Voice-of-Accord is cold and wet and drowned in the euphoria of the storm, howling at the symphony of thunder rocketing off the slopes. A lungful of rain finally brings her to her senses with a choking gurgle. After clearing her throat, she starts to stagger her way back down the trail, heading for the shelter of the caern's heart.
The volume of the rain suddenly increases, along with the violence of the wind, which actually lifts her off her feet and flings her against the side of the mountain. Under the Garou's feet the trail is swiftly turning into a miniature set of rapids, brown and white with mud and foam.
Voice-of-Accord's yelp is knocked out of her by the impact. Well, at least there's no one about to notice her sprained dignity. She scrambles for purchase in the rolling gravel and mud as she picks herself up and attempts to resume her slithering retreat to lower ground.
Voice-of-Accord is a young healthy wolf in her prime, sleek, black, with an unusually long mane and feathers at her heels and tail that might be described as "fluffy" by ill-advised persons who failed to notice the edge in her gaze and the whiteness of her teeth. Her intelligent brown eyes tend to search restlessly, as does her sensitive nose. She is handsome, this canine, with a hair seldom out of place, a lithe if not overly large body, a dark coat like the shadowed undersides of building thunderheads, and neat white claws and teeth kept trimmed to sharpness. Not overly large or aggressive in her manners, she nevertheless carries herself with a pride and presence that lends gravity to her statements.
Hail begins to pelt the hillside, along with a drench of rain which would do credit to Niagara. A large pine branch sails by on the wind and embeds itself in the cliff face not five feet from Voice-of-Accord. Underneath her paws, the mud is fast approaching a strange quality of frictionlessness, and her slithering starts to go faster and faster.
This is bad. Terror is beneath any Shadow Lord, of course, but Kel knows when she's bitten off more than she can chew. She fights for a diagonal vector, to move sideways off the path as well as down, fur matted and muddied and beginning to be bloodied as stones mixed with the torrent bruise her paws and tumble across her back.
Due to the large volume of water, the trail is now beginning to ignore the switchbacks and take a direct downward route. The size of the hail increases, stinging and pinging off everything in the area. A flash of lightning briefly illuminates the scene as Voice-of-Accord, borne downward in a waterfall of mud, lodges in a spiky scrub pine, which creaks under her slight weight.
Voice-of-Accord whimpers as the branches dig into her and the hillside continue to pour down on her. She peers into the chaos of mud and water, shivering even as her ears lift again in awe at the pyrotechnics. Oh, for a surfboard. But maybe...
She scrambles, trying to clamber up the side of the unfortunate evergreen and hang on.
The little pine creaks and thrashes under the weight of the Garou. The hail has increased to the size of hazelnuts, pounding everything in the vicinity unmercifully. Thunder booms overhead, the massive sound echoing coldly and indifferently from peak to peak. Then, suddenly, the combination of Voice-of-Accord and the torrent excavating its roots becomes too much for the scrubby little tree. It upends itself, sliding rapidly down the mountainside, roots in the air.
Voice-of-Accord will stay until dislodged, paws slotted into the nest of crunching and splintering boughs, struggling to keep it between her and the rapid rocky ground like a makeshift sled or raft. Flotsam, she is, another howl ripped away by the wind. My Grandfather's daughter! I know you! A single drop of rain, I know the thunderhead!
The hail has reached the size of golfballs, and the rain pouring down on Voice-of-Accord makes it difficult to see anything at all. Suddenly, the front of the tree tilts sharply downward, flinging the wolf into the air as it joins a landslide of mud and boulders. Another unfortunate tree breaks her fall - barely - as she hits an opposite hillside with a bone-breaking crunch. Overhead, the storm howls on.
There goes a rib or two. The wolf lies limply and lets the hail pound her, dazed and stunned, yet swimming in a haze of adrenalin from that which cannot, of course, be real terror. But she refuses to be helpless or to panic. Aching with cold and the throb of knitting bone, she hauls herself up yet again and tries to stand her ground and scout her surroundings for any place where mere mud and water, rather than rock, river, and tree is making its decent.
The garou looks up the hillside just in time to see a landslide, twin to the one she was just flung from, bearing down on her with breathtaking speed.
Thoughts flee as time crawls. She bolts horizontally along the steep slope with absolute clarity, whole being fixed only upon next stride which may or may not take her past the edge of the oncoming avalanche.
The rumble of the landslide starts to drown out even the constant thunder. The roaring winds, carrying an incidental tree, smash into the wolf from behind, lifting her up and crashing her down just beyond the edge of the landslide. Soaked, muddy, and pelted with bruising hail, Voice-of-Accord is only dimly aware of the broken leg as the mudslide roars past her, less than ten feet away.
Voice-of-Accord drags onward and downward on three legs, confused, bedraggled, tail wedged down and completely under her in canine abjection. Innate stubbornness on autopilot now, she simply exists as a hunted thing with one directive left: get down. Keep moving.
Overhead, the storm is still howling and howling, as though it has suddenly developed multiple voices, all yelping in eerie disharmony.
High-pitched cries, mixed with deep baying and the occaisonal resonant howl, fill the air. This is not the wind.
Voice-of-Accord stumbles and falls and stares upwards with eyes rolled to whites, dimly listening through the pain of the body for a sign she came seeking. Is it more than the howl of winds? What rides the sky? Yes! She tries again to find breath for an answering howl, will to put her voice into it, Call of the Wyld that may have the strength to carry even in a world that dwarfs her to an atom's significance. It's no more than a hail, a greeting, a worshipful offering, and--for she is still Shadow Lord--a small defiant declaration of her own existence in the scheme of things.
The yelps sound nearer. Ignorant humans might identify those bone-chilling voices as werewolves, yet they are actually nothing so friendly or familiar. Overhead, a long slim shadow-body leaps an impossible distance. Lightning flashes on the pale form and flares off the red ears. Others follow it, ignoring the small form below.
Voice-of-Accord howls again, maddened by pain and the chaos of the wyld now, in place of the Weaver's static grip which held her for so long. Danger and delight are close kin, at least to her. Hellloooooooo! she calls to them. And, Take me with you!
One pauses, ears pricked to something - could it be Kelsey's voice? The slender muzzle tests the air, and the hound leaps towards the Garou in a few lithe bounds. It moves like the rain and wind, as though the ground were no more than a reference point, and pauses, a mere dozen feet away. It regards Kelsey with a cold dark stare, unmoved.
In some other place, the proud young Garou might strike a commanding pose, earnestness and boldness making her carriage and tail erect and fearless. But now she's a wet mop of black and brown fur and debris, barely standing, and can only blink rapidly at the creature trying to see it through the raging waters. Child of Thunder, she calls it, imploringly. The storm. I believe in you.
The hound continues to stare at Kelsey for a long moment, a single point of complete stillness in the storm. Somehow, its reply arrives in her mind, not having been conveyed by anything remotely like language. I do not need your belief. I exist.
Voice-of-Accord holds herself rigid, fighting the urge to shake her bedraggled coat, holding his gaze for every second she can. Of course not. But I do.
The eerie dog looks away indifferently, then back at the Garou. You may not run with us. You cannot keep up. Then it flows into movement, leaping back into the storm among its brethren.
Voice-of-Accord stares up at the sky, transfixed. But someday I will. Then she shakes herself, for all the good it won't do, and returns her attention to the here and now, an immensely more uncomfortable place than dreams. Time to limp on.
All of a sudden, The wind dies down to merely a hair-whipping, leaf-dancing level and the storm likewise, the rain pattering off to a near-normal heavy rain. The comparative quiet is sudden, like a shout of silence, for all the background noise of the rainstorm. However, the air is electric with tension, all the more apparent for the lack of appropriate special effects.
Voice-of-Accord peers upwards again. Eye. I hope. She leans against a rock and pants shallowly, waiting for her leg to finish knitting itself before taking advantage of the lull to make another go of gaining the caern.
Overhead, the clouds are thinning to dark gray, the spiral pattern of the storm clearly visible in the shaking weak light. Green lightning dances from peak to peak on Katahdin, then dies down with a reluctant sizzle. The eye of the storm approaches closer.
The eye of the storm is now directly overhead. Everything seems to be balanced here, the weight of the entire storm on this still center, the air heavier than stone. Things seem to glow in the eerie half-light, as the storm's utterly pitiless gaze stares downward. Without warning, without a sound, the edges of a pattern form along the distant black storm clouds. After a moment or two, the outlne is clear - a vast spiral structure, taking in the fifty miles of the circumference of the eye with each turn. And on the structure - movement?
Voice-of-Accord tries, oh she tries to keep moving, in small fits and starts, drawn up short all too willingly by the mindless spectacle of power. Or is it mindless? She peers up into the spiral dancing, thinking of her grandmother's tea leaves swimming across heaven and wondering at what it portends.
Right overhead, the clouds part to show an impossible glimpse of blue sky at the very center of the eye. Lightning flickers up and down the clouds, too distant for thunder to reach the ear. In the blue gap, at the center of the storm, floats - something. From the ground, all you can see is a dark speck with irregularly rounded edges. Then, suddenly, it snaps into perspective - an enormous island of some sort, suspended in the storm.
Voice-of-Accord's eyes mirror the storm itself: whites grown large, iris almost all pupil as she stares. How? What? A homeland beyond reach, nested on the breast of the storm itself? All her pains seem as small to her as she is to the indifferent weather, at such a thought.
The lightning ceases. The clouds join together again, swirling restlessly, as the storm's center reaches Katahdin's peak. The edges of the stone, the mountain itself seems to glow in the pale light. Then, the tip of the peak glows white-hot, sending an enormous beam of sunlight-bright light upwards into the heart of the storm. Zelda suddenly ceases its slow, ponderous movement, and stops dead, pinned by the beam.
Muscles protest stiffness as the sopping wolf contemplates the unfathomable with head thrown back, tongue draped limply from slack jaws. What? What? She can only stare and shiver violently now and again.
The brightness increases and increases until it sears the eyes. Then it winks out, leaving only the dark impression of a tree on the retina. The storm resumes its movement, whispering wind bleeding off the eerie silence.
Voice-of-Accord exhales the breath held too long, stars dancing before her numbed eyes along with the black tree's ghost. Eventually the rising wind rouses her, and she slogs on... but shelter is one thing she cannot find this night, nor any trace of caern or cave. The winds batter her as a leaf in a river all the night, past thought or comprehension, until her strength fails and she falls at the heap of some tree to ride out the storm unconscious.