A Welcome

Near Barn, New Moon Farm
The old concrete floor of the barn is crumbling a little now, attesting to the great age of this old building. It is a big round room surmounted with a hayloft, which is presently empty but still perfumes the dusk of the barn with the scent of sunny grass. In one corner, pieces of an old cart and broken hoes, scythes, and other farm tools await mending. There are a few stalls in the back, built sturdily of heavy timbers, but for the most part it is open space. A stick horse leaning in one corner, and a child's pull-wagon mutely testify to the present uses to which this barn is usually put.
Obvious exits:
Barn Doors

There is activity around the Near Barn today, as the smith who passed through earlier in the season has returned as promised and again set up his portable forge in front of Sarah's barn. Currently all there is to see of him is his legs and boots, thrust out from beneath a large haywagon that's obviously seen better days -- a couple of the farm children crouch in the dust watching him work, rapt. From beneath the wagon come snatches of song: "...-ellow jester does not play, but gently pulls the strings..."

Lucas is a large -- very large, in fact -- man of middling years, with the heavily-muscled shoulders and arms of a blacksmith. The myriad tiny scars marking his forearms and powerful hands -- as well as the sooty grime that clings perpetually in the lines of his hands and under his short nails -- gives further testament to his occupation. His square features are plain and open, with a rough, slightly unfinished look, as though the sculptor had set down her tools and declared him 'done!' without the usual smoothing and polishing. The effect is softened somewhat by a fringe of walnut-brown curls and broadly-set eyes of a clear, deep blue.
Lucas works stripped to the waist, sweat sheening the muscles of his back and arms as he hammers. Over his usual sturdy hemp trousers he wears a heavy cowhide apron, stained and scarred from hard use.

Julen limps slightly as she comes down the road, staff used more as support this afternoon than some days. She smiles slightly at the children, and stops near the forge, examining it with some interest as she listens to the singing.

The forge is a portable farrier's forge, on a collapsible, but sturdy-looking tripod, with welded hooks to hold tools. An iron crank on a large geared wheel somehow supplies the required airflow. A bucket of coal and a bucket of water stand near at hand.

The voice issuing from beneath the wagon is a pleasant baritone. Untrained, but with a decent approximation of pitch. "...he smiles as the puppets dance/For the court of the Crimson King..." The voice drifts into wordless humming.... which is suddenly broken off as a largish mongrel dog darts beneath the wagon. "Ack! Arslag!" comes the voice. "Oof. Bleahh-- not now! Ugh!" The boots jiggle slightly.

One of the farm children darts in to try and attract Arslag's attention. Julen quirks a somewhat larger smile and breaks off from her contemplation of the forge. Clearing her throat, she says, in a voice that carries, "Hello the forge?"

"Eh? Oh! Hang on!" The boots tuck up to give the smith leverage has he scoots on his butt out from under the wagon. The man, when he gets all of himself out and upright, is huge, his broad shoulders looking more than equal to the massive hammers leaning near the forge. "Hullo!" he says, brushing straw and dust from his arms and backside. He has a gentle Midwestern drawl. "What can Ah help you with?" He peers Julen up and down, not looking *at* her so much as looking for the pot or horse or other job he assumes she's brought him.

The dog scampers joyously off to play with the children.

Julen's accent is fairly hard to place, but there're traces of New York still left in there. She seems not at all discomfited by the dirt, and she also seems to recognize right off what he's looking for. "Afternoon, Mr. Maker. I'm actually just paying a call, but I must say, I admire your setup here. It's hard to get a portable forge that'll actually do what you want it to." She extends a hand, explaining, "I'm Constance Juliana Brown, but call me Julen. Thought I should welcome you to the area, you see, in a semi-official way."

"Julen?" The blue eyes brighten. "You'd be the Sentinel, then!" He grins, sticks out his hand, notices that it's smeared with axle grease, wipes it on his heavy leather apron, and sticks it out again. "Lucas Maker, pleased to meet you, Ma'am."

Julen's handshake is firm, and a little dusty itself. "I would be. The Fire in the Dusk, I am, as well as Julen. Theurge of the Sentinels, indeed, and Alpha here, since I felt the call. Heard you were in the area, thought I should come give you welcome." She glances at the children, and over at Arslag, and her smile broadens. "Though it seems as if you're to home already."

The big smith takes in her introduction, nodding, and returns more of his own: "I was born to the Dakota Destriers -- they called me Heavyfoot, at Tengri jin Denglu in the Black Hills, and my Master named me Maker, me and two others. One of them is Smithing for Tengri's Light, so Ah'm out here lookin' for a place that doesn't already have itself a smith." He grins, showing strong, corn-fed teeth. "These folks --" he sweeps a well-muscled arm, indicating New Moon, "--have asked me to stay and set mahself up here. But Ah wouldn't do that without making sure of my welcome in the *other* half of the community." He regards the self-professed Alpha steadily. "So Ah'm glad you've found me," he finishes.

From afar, Julen nods. Destrier's being the Clydesdale types, yes?

You paged Julen with 'yah. Cornfed farm boys cum warhorses and doughboys.'.

Julen leans back onto her staff, looking, if anything, quite fascinated. "Black Hills -- who was your Master, then?"

Lucas replies, "Berkejin Silverheels, the first Maker, was my Master."

Julen rocks back on her heels a little. There's a glint in her eyes, a glint of wary fascination. "That's... Quite a legacy to live up to, Mr. Maker."

Rennen enters the hay-smelling gloom of the barn through the big double doors.
Rennen has arrived.

Arslag abruptly bounds for the door with hackles and tail quivering, making an odd muffled bark behind his teeth as if he can't decide whether to defend territory or greet an old friend.

The smith runs a hand across the back of his neck. His tone is fairly neutral -- he's neither bragging about his heritage, nor bothering to conceal it. "Indeed it is, Ma'am. She's got a pretty big shadow for a fella to try and get out from under, Ah can tell you." He smiles. "That's part of why Ah came out this way -- to find a place to make my *own* name mean something." From his body language, it seems the smith thinks that this will be a tough challenge, to be sure, but one that, ultimately, he will rise to meet.

Julen gives Arslag a brief, intent look, but then her gaze returns to the smith. She's studying him, and not bothering to conceal that fact. "I used to be a smith. Never quite Berkejin's level, but I made a few things. I had to give it up, when I became Warder of my first Caern, and could no longer travel as I wished to." She breaks the study for a moment, to look at his forge again, and then asks, "What do you /want/ your name to mean?"

Rennen noses his way into the shadowed barn and eyes the excited canine soberly. Yes? His ears flick towards Lucas and Julen.

Arslag scoots forward towards him in a submissive position, tail curled under him and shivering, tail wagging fitfully. The whites of the dog's eyes are showing, and he lets out a strained whine.

"Ah was lucky," the smith says, "that the Mak-- that Berkejin took me in. If you're a Destrier, it's sort of expected that you'll be a warrior. And Ah can *do* that, and have certainly done my share of it. But when it comes down to it, Ah like making swords better than wielding them. Swords, and other things besides. It'll be nice to-- Arslag!" he calls. "What's the matter, boy? Oh! Hullo... Rennen was it?" He nods to the lupe. "Arslag, what's the matter with you? You've met this one before." Lucas slaps his thigh in the "come over here" signal.

Arslag gives another whine, staring at the Strider with a sort of strained excitement, and then jerks away and bounds over to Lucas, licking at his hands and generally acting like he has fleas up his butt.

The Strider's eyes follow him thoughtfully, and then he dips his muzzle at the smith and alpha respectfully.

"I know the feeling," murmurs Julen quietly, dipping her eyes in the briefest of nods to the Strider, and essentially leaving Arslag to his private nervousness. "Creation is... Far more attractive, to me, than the more martial aspects. What will it be nice to do, then?"

"C'mere you sad thing," Lucas scratches the mongrel's ears in a comfortingly rough way. "Ah'm sorry," he says to Rennen, "He's usually pretty friendly." He looks at the Strider closely, though, trying to figure out what it was that set off his dog.

Rennen blinks once. No intrusion meant. I wished to welcome back the smith.

Arslag begins to settle down, but is still wiggling and restless. His tail thumps the barn floor.

"Thank you," he says warmly to Rennen, apparently understanding him just fine, though still puzzled by Arslag's reaction. Then: "Hmm?" the smith looks up in response to Julen's query, taking a moment to remember where his previous rambling had left off. "Oh, other stuff. Ploughshares," he grins, aware of the irony. "Jewelry. Ah always wanted to try jewelry, and some of the smaller, less martial fetishes. Heck, even doing pots and pans is fun." He seems genuinely pleased to be stretching his abilities in less familiar directions.

Julen's smile increases; the glint in her eye has mostly faded. "Always liked shoeing horses, myself. Had some good conversations, while doing that."

The smith chuckles. "Shoeing horses is, alas, no longer anything like novel to me," he say. "Could do it in my sleep -- have done, in fact. Anytime you want to take it up again, let me know. Ah can always use a hand gettin' mine on."

Rennen continues to observe, although most of the human speech goes right over his head.

Julen says, "Wouldn't mind, really, now that I'm not tied to the Bawn at all times. If you don't mind someone who's a bit out of practice...?"

"Not at all. These slabs--" he looks down at his booted feet as if they were hooves, "--can take a rusty hand at the hammer, I reckon, before they get too dinged up." His boots seem to have steel toes -- they're capped with some kind of dark metal, anyway. More unusually, so are the heels. He seems distracted as he finishes answering, though -- he keeps glancing over at Rennen. "Ah'm sorry," he says to the Strider finally. "Are you alright?" He glances uncertainly at Julen, to see if she is noticing anything amiss.

Rennen's ears splay, his tongue working inside his mouth. A look of brief irritation squints his eyes half-shut, as he considers the question. Then he relaxes. I believe so.

Julen asks, quietly, "What is making you unsure?"

Lucas glances again toward Arslag.

Rennen's sides heave. The dead are disturbed. Perhaps it is the time of year. When will we be attacking the Hive, alpha?

Lucas looks to Julen with interest, but says nothing.

Julen's gaze slides from Rennen to Lucas, and then back to Rennen. "Soon after the gathering," she says, eventually, and then looks back to Lucas. "You were talking about your welcome in the other half of the community, yes?"

"I was," he agrees. His deep voice is soft, but his eyes are bright. Arslag must be picking up some suppressed excitement, for the canine rubs his shoulders excitedly against the smith's leg, nipping lightly at his grime-blacked fingers.

"A Moot is a solely Garou thing. So we, as a group as diverse as we are, do not have Moots. But we gather, in several days." Julen is no longer quite leaning on her staff, though she's still got contact with it with one arm. "If you would be dedicated to a Gumi that is still finding its way in the world, as you yourself are, I would invite you to come to it, and learn more of us."

Rennen looks intently towards Lucas. You smell of heroes. You should come.

The big smith is silent for a moment, giving the formal invite the gravity it is due. But his blue eyes are glittering. "I would be honored, Julen Fire-in-the-Dusk," he answers after the pause, one hand still buried in Arslag's ruff. "Ask after me here, if Ah am needed before then." He does not acknowledge Rennen's remark, though he does color slightly.

Julen inclines her head. "So I shall. The strike against the Hive, it will, as I say, hopefully be /after/ the Moot -- but time and the Corrupter often do not wait on our own plans."

Rennen shudders slightly. No. It does not.

"Amen to that," says Lucas.

Julen bows, just slightly, to Lucas, and then to Rennen, and murmurs, "I should return to the Caern. Walk well, gentlemen."

Rennen flashes his throat with an economy of movement. And you, alpha. I should... he twitches once... run. With that, he dashes off, and Arslag visibly relaxes.

Lucas reaches a hand up to tip a hat. But he has no hat, so the gesture mutates into an awkward salute instead.
Rennen goes home.
Rennen has left.
Julen goes home.
Julen has left.

Left alone again, the smith returns to his work on the hay wagon. "..the purple piper plays his tune, the choir softly sings/Sweet lullabies in an ancient tongue for the court of the Crimson King..."