Layla is moving along the path briskly yet loudly enough to not startle anyone on the trail. She is carrying a new walking staff and has her eternal backpack hanging on one shoulder.
Eos trots into the cathedral in lupus, her silvering muzzle the first visible thing in the fading light. She surges into her human form in a long-practiced shift that is as graceful as just about anyone can manage.
This is Julen. She's in her late 50s, it seems, and looks to be someone who's spent that life well and happily, with lines creasing her face, and laugh lines crinkled about her eyes. Her hair is dark, with considerable amounts of salt mixed in, and it's short. Her eyes are grey-green, and her face is handsome, not pretty. She's a little too stubborn and square faced for most people to call her that. She's not thin, but she's also not stout, and when she lifts things, her muscles show in the strain. She's about 5'9", and limps when she gets tired.
She's a woman who commands, if not attention, at least the eye. She's not excessively tall, although she occasionally appears to be so, nor is she excessively riveting, but there's something about her, a strange grace to strong hands, an odd light in her eyes. There's an energy in her step and a purpose to her movements, certainly, and somehow, she just draws the eye even when she's not trying to.
She wears rough linen pants, dyed dark blue, and a softly multicolored fine linen shirt. Sandals are on her feet, and she tends to carry a staff around, mostly for hiking places with.
Kelsey stops declaiming abruptly as people begin to arrive and pipes down, giving Layla a lopsided grin. "Donno if I can still do this," she mutters.
Julen emerges from inside the cave, hair sparkling somewhat with moisture.
Rowan, in lupus, lopes up the trail, panting slightly, and heads towards Kelsey, snorting softly.
Eos twitches out the wrinkles in her tabard and dress uncomfortably, as if it has been quite a while since she has been called upon to wear such a thing.
Andreas seems to've slipped in.
Kelsey reaches out almost automatically for Rowan, fingertips brushing against the top of his head, and looks around with an eyebrow cocked to survey elders and peers alike with a solemn yet relaxed smile. There's a sparkle of excitement in her eyes.
Again, the utter wariness Rowan has of Kelsey in homid fades to nothingness when he's in lupus. He leans into her hand slightly, and stays right where he is, restively shifting on his feet.
Julen is not dressed in her normal garb -- she seems to be emulating Eos, slightly, though somewhat more formally. Staff in one hand, earthen bowl in another, she looks around at the assembly quietly.
There are pale scars scattered like stars over Eos' tanned arms. Her grizzled hair is drawn back tight and sleek into a tight braid, falling like a chain of silver from the nape of her neck to her waist. A few stray strands curl in front of her ears. Hazel eyes, set a little too close together for beauty, peer out sharply over a twisted hawk-beak of a nose. Lines carve deep runes into the flesh around her mouth and on her brow, still sketchy near her eyes. A tabard of deep blue linen with gold-threaded trim falls to her calves. Under that is a black dress whose sleeves taper dramatically to long medieval points. Hempen sandals protect her feet.
Andreas is the sort of man who makes tailors rich, and also makes them weep into their fabric. He has the massive, neckless build of a wrestler or bipedal ox, a habit of making expansive gestures while holding mugs full of impossible-to-clean-off beverages, and a passion for wearing layers of clothes matched only by his complete lack of fashion sense. (His favorite outfit these days is a pair of mustard-yellow baggy pants, a purple shirt open to the waist, a green vest, a red sash, and a dozen necklaces that, combined with his chest hair, almost obscure the large rat tattooed across his front).
From the top of his bald head to the soles of his sandalled feet he is the dark brown of someone who's spent his entire life outdoors. The lines on his face and white in his beard suggest it's been a fairly long life; the gold and glitter that twinkles on wrists and ears indicate a prosperous one; and the faint tracery of scars hint that it's been one full of interesting people and events.
Eos shoots a sidewise grin at Julen. "Have I managed a straight braid, at least? I'd forgotten what a devil of an annoyance it is to try to use ponds as mirrors."
Julen quirks a smile. "It is well arranged, Eos. This sort of issue is why I cut mine long ago. To my regret, occasionally."
Eos, self-consciously, runs a hand over her (presently) smooth hair. "Ahhh, Stella'd never let me cut it, since she couldn't grow long hair, she said. And Lucifer used to love it too." She smiles a little wistfully at space, but quickly banishes her personal ghosts to deal with the ghosts at hand.
"Ethan, at one point, told me if I cut it he'd divorce me." Julen's half smile rises. "I cut it immediately, of course, simply because one ultimatums such as that called for such things." Running a hand through her hair, she muses, "Eventually, he learned that. I think he kept doing it just to amuse himself, after a time."
Kelsey looks between the two elders with faint amusement dancing across her features. "When you're finished reminiscing over old flames, Elders," she says with remarkable ease, "could we start the music? I've been looking forward to the ball."
Julen looks from Eos to Kelsey, enquiringly.
Eos barks a laugh at Julen's spousal anecdote and smiles at Kelsey. "Surely. Who wants to do the howl to call folks? Rennen?" She looks around for the lupus.
Kelsey says shyly, "Let me see if I still have my voice." She shifts down into an elegant-furred black canine.
Kelsey howls long and loud, projecting it in two worlds with a power that probably rolls right over the mountain (call of the Wyld). Guardians of the Mountain's Root, we gather Gaia's folk under the full glory of the two moons!
Rowan observes, Apparently so, tongue lolling slightly.
Andreas winces slightly at the volume in this still place, cocking his head for the sound of responses.
Rennen slinks out of the caern's heart without fanfare, carrying himself with an air of quiet expectancy.
Sashenka walks into the cathedral, barely out of breath from the climb despite her huge backpack and arms full of a large insulated drink container.
Voice-of-Accord shakes herself and bumps Rowan's shoulder once before shifting back up to birthform beside him.
Dusty keeps close to Sashenka, laboring with a backpack on his back that dwarfs his frame. He looks uncertainly at the gathering.
Tan Sin follows closely behind Dusty, carrying a large crate.
Rowan, a brindled sort of red-grey lupus, bumps Kelsey back, just briefly, and whurfs a greeting to the newcomers.
Sashenka sets her burdens down in an out-of the way corner and waves to Rowan.
Eos glances around at the gathered and ambles in a bit of a circle: a performer warming up.
Tan Sin places the crate next to Sashenka's backpack. He then steps back and scans the gathering, quietly examining everyone.
Kelsey brushes her hair back and waggles her fingers and eyebrows at the new arrivals. She appears in good spirits, quite undaunted by the crowd.
Dusty struggles out of the clutches of the backpack, sets it near the other pack, and pants for a few moments.Kelsey's cheeriness clearly lightens Dusty's worried expression.
Andreas folds his large arm and looks out between the trees with glittering eyes, less interested in the people he can see than the potential ones he hasn't spotted yet.
Sashenka thanks pats Dusty on the shoulder, then moves toward Kelsey, pausing for a moment to place her hands on various tree trunks. When she gets to Kel she gives her a quick hug, and pats Rowan on the head.
Rennen slips quietly over towards Layla, brushing past her with as much familiarity as the dour jackal ever bestows on anyone.
Dusty meekly waves a greeting to the gathered, then settles cross-legged on the ground.
Layla crouch low at Rennen's approach and affectionately bumps against him as he passes, in greeting.
The Sentinel, leaning slightly on her staff, straightens. "I did not call this gathering a Moot, for a reason, for we are not all of us Garou. We are Gumi, together, and we will find our way, as we construct it before us. But for the Garou, a Moot is a time of gathering. A time of reawakening our spirits. A time of re-dedicating ourselves to our Totems and to our purpose, both our new and our old one. This gathering --" She stops, to look around at those gathered. "It will not be a standard sort of Moot, for we have no Totems. We aim to evoke and call Totems, to call Wards, to call for the peace of the unhappy dead. For Gaia. For whatever we any of us call the Mother, and for the memory of the Glittering one, and Rusalka." Her gaze slews to Rennen.
Rennen inclines his muzzle to Julen, trots forward, and turns to face the others. The Crying of the Litany is tradition in many old caerns, going back to the days before the Long Night. These are laws the Garou must follow, and others may find inspiring. So I speak them now.
Rennen shimmers and changes into a form he seldom wears, the war-form. But he carries himself with dignity, not belligerance, as he recites the old laws.
Preserve the Earth in all places and at all times.
Take no action that causes the Earth to be violated.
Combat the Corrupter where it dwells and breeds.
Respect all other beings -- all are Gaia's children.
Respect the territory of another.
Accept an honorable surrender.
Do not eat the flesh of those whose form you share, animal or human.
Earn the trust of those you lead; do not lead by threat and violence.
Rennen pages to Dusty, Sashenka, Kelsey, Eos, Josh, Andreas, Tan Sin, Julen, and Layla: Er. I did that in Mother's tongue, actually, but yeah. >apologetic smile< Rennen's not very good at English.
Josh is well aware ot the fact. He's late. Nevertheless, the young man walks in calmly, trying not to make that fact all that well known. He finds a spot behind the others, watching.
Rowan, adept at scents while in lupus, sidles backwards and pads over to Josh, companionably, as he listens to Rennen speak the Litany.
Kelsey's brows creep upwards beat by beat, expression sobering as she hears for the first time the new laws that have shaped this world for the Garou, at least.
Rennen pauses with the last one and repeats it carefully. ~Leadership is earned, not given. So the two-legs say. But why should the experienced Elder need to prove herself to the whelp ignorant of her deeds?~
Rennen lools around keenly at the company, inviting answers (or perhaps seeking understanding).
Dusty eyes patiently follow the performance, but his face shows no trace of comprehension.
Josh looks down, and suddenly there's a Dancer next to him. He listens, being quiet, as he gnetly runs his fingers through Rowan's fur.
Sashenka moves over to Dusty, sits cross-legged next to him, and begins to translate quietly into his ear.
Eos offers a suggestion: "So that the cub will know that her commands hold sense and experience, and therefore follows of his own will, without brutality."
This one, Julen has thought about a lot. Casting a rueful mental glance to Lumia, and a physical one to Sashenka, she leans back onto her staff. "It is not that we prove ourselves to those we seek to lead, necessarily. I think it is more that, in these times, leadership means far more than merely barking orders. It means -- it means becoming a true part of a place, and showing by your experiences and your knowledge that you can bring people to do what it is they need doing. And, too, we work as a group. We need to know each other."
Kelsey blinks and looks towards Julen and Eos speculatively, suddenly on unfamiliar footing. "Um. I've noticed a certain amount of...questioning?" she drops her eyes respectfully, a bit uncertainly. "Of elders' authority since I came here. Maybe because the sept is still forming. Maybe because we don't know each other, like you said. Maybe 'cause not everyone's Garou, and others aren't beholden to our little game o' dominance at all, are you?" She smiles ruefully over towards Sashenka and Dusty in particular. "What's normal, is what I want to know. What do you others, Josh 'n Mama Bear and all, think of the world 'alpha' when someone tosses it out?"
Josh looks up as his name is mentioned. "Alpha is a leader. That's about it. But we're all allowed a voice, from the way I was made to understand it."
Andreas leans against a tree and listens, seeming as interested in the answers as Kelsey is.
Rennen monitors the discussion impassively, now that he's dropped out that philosophical bone to be bandied about.
Rowan remains silent, shifting slightly on his paws, restless energy all around him.
Sashenka smiles at Eos and Julen, nodding at their insights. She looks especially pleased at Julen's, then sobers as Kelsey speaks. She ponders a bit before standing. "We Nitakk-ita do not use the word "Alpha." It means very little to me, though I know its importance to the Garou. We have Rank, but we lead through wisdom, knowledge, compassion. No single person is Alpha. All voices must be heard. If the youngest cubling cannot air her ideas and hear them considered, how will she gain wisdom and learn to lead when her time is here?"
Dusty ponders, then looks about uncertainly. Finally he decides to speak. "Everyone needs to know who the leader is, I think. Without one, people get real confused, and bad things happen. But a leader who doesn't listen to others is even worse. At least, thats what I think.." He trails off.
Sashenka pages to Dusty, Rennen, Kelsey, Eos, Josh, Andreas, Tan Sin, Julen, and Layla: For the record, Nitakk-ita as a group have been accused more than once of self-righteousness in their opinions of themselves. :)
Tan Sin stirs from his silent watch. "Among my kind, independence is of great value. If the young choose to ignore the old, they are allowed to. They will reap the benifits or hazard the dangers of this decision on their own, and learn from the experience."
Rennen holds up a hand. ~Our sept shares different customs, as we share different skins. We must all weigh this law in our hearts. But we agree in this much: there must be a leader from among those of experience. That leader listens to those with less. And all may choose to follow--or not to follow.~ He inclines his head towards Tan Sin, then glances around to see if any more have opinions or concerns to offer on the matter.
Kelsey purses her lips, still digesting this rather different style of moot from the one she remembers. "Weird," she mutters.
Julen listens to Sashenka and Tan Sin quietly. There are questions in her eyes, but she doesn't voice them. At least, not tonight.
Sashenka nods quietly, mostly satisfied.
Tan Sin returns to watching silently, his face unreadable.
Julen straightens slightly again, taking her weight from her staff. "And this will be thought more on. But now, we will tell of things. Of why we are here. Of what we have done recently. Of Corrupter, and then of what brought us here, and /why/ we are here."
Julen's gaze, despite her words, slews to Eos.
Eos stands, brushing off her tabard swiftly and taking a deep breath. "Why *are* we here? It has been some time since the beginning; short by the tally of some of our lives, but long by others." Her eyes travel over the assembly, lightly skipping from person to person. "Under the full moons," she begins, voice dropping into a sonorous tone that echoes through the Cathedral, "the players gathered: the bear mother, the techling, the artist, the runner, the singer, the high-flyer, the horse, the wanderer, the child, the seaman, and I.
A song began, a song that called to each uniquely. I heard the songs of my dead kumi, telling me that the visions which brought me here were nigh.
So we all ran, chasing our dreams as they drifted on a thread of melody, and that trail brought us here, and from here, through the trees, to the heart of power.
Before us sat the ancient who was the source of the song that drew us onto the Mountain. The name she gave us, the name we know her by -- for she must have had many names in her many years -- was All That Glitters."
Neither Julen nor Rowan have heard this story. Julen leans on her staff, watching Eos with a very small smile that grows on her face; Rowan actually stops shifting on his feet, ears focusing completely on Eos, almost totally still for the first time tonight.
Kelsey listens intently, but at the same time sidles over to Sashenka, who is probably not far away from her. She touches the larger woman's elbow and points questioningly towards the crate and cooler.
Andreas twitches once at the word 'seaman' and gets a very thoughtful expression on his face.
Sashenka is drawn drom her intentness on the story by Kelsey's touch. Her eyes follow Kelsey's gesture. "Food and drink," she whispers. "For later, I think. We would eat at the end. I don't know what the Garou and others do."
Kelsey dips her eyes apologetically and returns her attention fully to the storyteller.
Dusty calms completely, seemingly lost in rembrance of the events, and perhaps in something deeper.
Eos glances upward into the darkened, invisible roof of trees, then back to the group. "She asked us our names and we gave them:
Sashenka Mkonikan, of the Solar Mkonikans.
Josh West. Kin to the Spiral Dancers.
Brett Strange-Seeker, Fostern Crescent Moon of the Silicon Blaze.
Rahne Enola Aiyana MacIntyre, Harp's-Song-Slays-The-Dead, Fostern of the Spiral Dancers.
Layla Thalia Block, Fostern Hermit of the Striders.
Eos Spins-Dreams-in-the-Morning-Light. Galliard Crone of the Spiral Dancers.
Lumia Cob, Eiru Hills Farm. Connemara Halfling. Mail carrier.
Rakkil Speeds theWord's Shard.
And she told us that she had sent for us, to care for this place since she was dying."
Julen's gaze strays inevitably to those who are gathered here, as their names are mentioned, as if marking their existence in her mind. Eventually, her attention goes back to the teller.
Dusty nods quietly, wide-eyed.
Rennen has sunk back down to his own shape somewhere in the story, and now stretches out sphinxlike with white paw folded over black, listening with ears and head erect and motionless.
Josh looks down to the ground, solemn.
Sashenka watches the storyteller closely, her eyes solemn.
Eos inhales deeply once more and goes on: "She called forth her lover, Rusalka, one of those who walk only the night, who slept in the heart of the Mountain's caern.
All That Glitters said: "And it is time, and the visions have come again, and although the mountain still sleeps, yet it may wake. And it is time for me to pass the riddle that is buried here into other hands, for when dawn comes my kin will eat the shell that speaks before you. And the visions will open a way, and the spirits attend your dreams, until at last the deep ones rise, and the end is fulfilled, to avert the wrath of the Sun. There is a great mystery buried here, but I cannot tell you of it, for that is not my nature."
She told us that it was her time, and Rusalka said that she, too, would watch her last sunrise.
As All That Glitters walked out to die, she told us, "You have the responsibility for this sacred place."
And we took it."
Kelsey's eyes widen slowly and she looks around at the others. "Holy cow," she mutters. "Avert the wrath of the Sun? /No/ pressure or anything."
Eos folds her hands and bows her head briefly, to signal the end of the tale.
Kelsey gives Eos a respectful nod from her lurking place by Sashenka.
Sashenka sighs quietly and closes her eyes.
Dusty looks overwhelmed as the memories of the night wash over him. Yet he straightens and says quietly "Yes, we are responsible now."
Julen nods, thoughtfully. "And so we take it once again, tonight, and forever. My thanks, Eos." Attention perhaps drawn by Kelsey's movement, her glance drifts towards her.
Kelsey brushes her hair back and clears her throat. "I, ah, used to tell stories," she offers warily, "back in the old days, each moot, to celebrate the deeds my septmates had done. I haven't seen too much yet, and I've been a little...distracted...? of late. But I can tell you at least what happened to Rowan, and Mr. Hamlin there--" she nods to Andreas with a teasing smile, "and me."
Sashenka looks at Kelsey, startled, then smiles encouragingly.
Rowan doesn't look at all startled. A little nervous, maybe, but startled, no. He again listens quite intensely, although his slight shifting of his paws starts up again, after awhile.
Kelsey's voice takes on a rolling rhythm, and she begins to walk among them, shaping the recitation with gestures of her hands like an orator, and speaking with a richer eloquence and intonation that seems to have been learned sometime long ago in the theater. Of course, she's not Shakespeare, but somehow the doggerel sounds better than it is with the gift of her voice.
"A merchant strolling, two Garou playing a game of chase,
forgetful of the foe in the sleepy afternoon,
stumbled into danger in the forest's heart.
The Enemy, envious of their peace perhaps,
Laid a spike-pit for passersby, and pounced on poor Andreas;
Kel and Rowan fell, and were snared in net of silver--
Speared by spikes, entangled, no struggle could avail."
Kelsey falls to her knees and presses a clenched fist to her belly, knotted face telegraphing surprise, pain, and sudden fury. Hands writhe against some invisible barrier that seems to pin her arms against her body.
Dusty stares intently at Kelsey and leans forward, the story taking his full attention.
Sashenka jumps and restrains her instinctive desire to rush to help Kel.
Rowan's lip curls slightly, and his posture shifts backwards slightly in remembered pain. Julen just listens intently, marking this, too, in her memory.
Eos settles into her place to watch the other galliard with intense interest that includes a certain professional analysis of the performance.
"Now dragged to a van where past victims lay rotting,
The three endured a journey in dark and doubt and pain,
Unsure where the Urge Lords were taking them, save
That it would surely be a place they never wished to see.
Andreas left a trickling trail for friends to find and follow
From the only thing he could: the dead. Give thanks to fallen."
Her hands mimic Andreas' gruesome breadcrumb-trail trick, furtively tossing something away over and over again, and then abruptly climb with a dramatic swoosh to mirror Niska's wings.
Kelsey glances around, perhaps seeking for the coy bird hiding in the branches overhead.
"Raven was soon to spy it, and came winging after, watching,
And tracked it to the lair, brought back word of our peril.
Meanwhile, we were brought into the dripping den of evil,
Still bound and sorely wounded."
For the first her voice falters, and her concentration wavers for a few seconds before she finds her place and continues a little more faintly.
Rowan's lip remains just slightly curled, as he listens.
Andreas glances at the ground, the trees, the sky, finding many things suddenly more interesting than Kelsey and the memories she's stirring up.
"The Urge Lords surged around us. I
feigned kinship with them, to win what freedom I might,
Hoping to send word home in secret or free my friends myself,
while Rowan bravely struck out at our chief captor
During my distraction. No good. Torment lay before us,
Chained in collars of silver, but little news of worth
Did the Enemy earn from any of the three." Her eyes flash, then lower slightly.
"Rowan endured the worst, but whispered not a word,
Even when my gamble to gain time set me against him.
And he gave no thought for himself, striking out in fury when
They turned their knives on me, though he knew not then
Whether I was true. Andreas endured alone after we fell."
Kelsey seeks the Spiral's gaze and holds it quietly for a moment before going on.
"Why speak of all we endured? At last we were cast
Into the Pit of Madness, where Andreas' magic helped
Keep us going longer til hoped-for help could come.
He called on rats to guide us, snapped silver collars
With a spell. Even so, phantoms from our fears formed
And now were tearing at our minds."
She huddles away from something stalking her, hands reaching blindly for someone at her side.
Sashenka looks with interest at Andreas.
The Dancer holds her gaze for as long as she gives it to him; he may be finding his reactions less strong in the lupus form, but at such a direct retelling still causes his hackles to rise, despite the clear affection he has for the teller.
Kelsey swallows, obliquely aware of Rowan's gaze on her, but draws to the tale's closure without her voice faltering. "I gave us what
Peace I could with a dream shaped of weaver's
Numbing webs--and a second time kind hands
Fished me free. There were all of you, victorious
With the blood of foes on your hands, even the
Youngest magic-worker, who found a secret
Path to freedom, just in time. Out you carried us
And away, robbing the Corruptor of three lucky souls."
Kelsey looks around at the listeners, voice easing after hard words. "And never did we doubt you'd come for us, during all the hopeless hours of pain. You gave us strength to survive." Her eyes fall most of all on Sashenka, but the warmth in her voice is meant for everyone. "And I don't know yet what deeds of valor you did to find and free us, but my tale's long enough already, so I'll learn and sing of that another time."
At the mention of his part, Dusty first smiles, then it fades into a determined frown. "It wasn't magic, I don't do magic" he murmurs.
Sashenka smiles at Kelsey, her eyes full of sympathy and pride for the young Galliard.
Andreas rubs his forearms, working out a chill.
Tan Sin stirs slightly at the end of the tale. His gaze shifts to Andreas and dwells there for a few moments, curious and dark. It then moves back to the Garou's in the center.
The Sentinel takes a breath and lets it out, nodding to the young woman in some sort of recognition. "My thanks, Kelsey. Voice-of-Accord." Looking around at the gathering, she continues, "That sort of encounter, that sort of hardship, that sort of destruction, that is why we gather, to /re/construct, to try and heal, to try and lay to rest what has come to the surface." She rests her staff in the ground. "We come, tonight, to Gather, to try to lay to rest the souls of the dead who are so clearly disturbed. And, at the same time, to try to bring Totems, and Wards, to this Caern, perhaps with the help of these dead. I will Summon, and any of those who wish to lend their aid to this, please, do so as the spirit moves you. Rennen, he will be leading the Gathering for the Departed, and it is that Gathering that will lead to what we, gathered as a Gumi, will be able to create." Her gaze falls to Rennen, and then she crouches, by her bowl of water, silent, for the moment, staff at her feet.
Rennen looks around at the group quietly and then moves off towards the "nave" of the caern, explaining has he goes (and hoping someone can translate to those who don't know what he's saying). The spirits of the dead by the Roaring Brook protected this place once. Now they are gone. But they still try to defend it. They still cry out in anger. Before we can build the future, we must lay the past to rest.
While the lupe explains, he asks everyone to help him fetch a number of bricks, sticks and stones and a few timbers from the ruins by Roaring Brook, gleaned from the barriers thrown across the paths by the restless spirits. He indicates for them to be arranged in a series of squares and lines on the ground meant to mimic the tumbled walls of vanished homes.
From afar, to Dusty, Sashenka, Kelsey, Eos, Josh, Andreas, Tan Sin, Julen, and Layla, Rennen er. I mean. The materials are all piled up over in the Nave. We don't have to go to Roaring Brook to get 'em; he brought 'em here earlier. :)
Julen, with water taken from that same nave, studies what is in her bowl, focusing herself. Humming below audible pitch, for the moment. She doesn't seem to be paying clear attention to Rennen.
Rowan grabs a brick in his mouth, and pads over to place it carefully on a line.
Eos straightens from her contemplation of Kelsey's story and obediently rises to bring out a timber or two from the pile in the nave.
Layla takes up a brick, weighs it in her hand, and adds it to the pile.
Andreas hefts a timber, walking it over to the appropriate spot.
Rennen snuffles among the bits of bric a brac as they're set in place, focussing his thoughts on the scents and memories of the place for a moment before turning to address the others.
Tonight we Gather for the honored dead who served this place and died for it. Tonight we pledge to carry on their work, so that they can rest quiet. Those who know Summoning, call them here, invite them to join our Rite.
The Strider dips his eyes respectfully towards Julen.
Sashenka grabs an armful of sticks and twigs and adds them to the growing construction.
Kelsey blinks and scurries to bring a stone over, a little drained after her rehash of all-too-recent trauma.
Tan Sin walks over and after a careful moment of examination, picks up some of the cleaner and dryer bricks and places them in the arrangement.
Dusty , eager to help, jumps up and grabs an armloadfull of the materials. He quickly ass them to the constructions, then goes back for another batch.
Julen murmurs, apparently listening closer than one might expect, "Or those who do not, move as the spirit moves you." After this, she is silent again, until her humming rises a touch, becoming audible -- not quite a true Summoning yet, but a calling, rising through the trees.
Eos, after depositing the timbers in place, moves to one side, stretches her arms out as if to embrace the growing night, and adds her voice to Julen's call.
Rennen turns towards the east and stares fixedly and expectantly.
Tan Sin steps back from the others and waits, watching what they do.
Julen's hum falls into the bare edge of hearing again, and she reaches out to grasp her staff, as if embracing a tree limb. Her song only grows once the Strider calls for the calling of the spirits -- It is still wordless, but in her emotion, and her will, and her voice, she calls a Summoning, wordlessly, but also, as she brings her staff up, turning slowly to encompass the whole clearing within its scope, she calls for a binding, a hiding, a creation of defenses both spiritual and tangible, the connection of defenders and the land. A summoning and yet a request, a binding, a need, and a hope.
Andreas flicks his wrist, causing a small knife to drop into his hand. He uses it to prick his finger, mixes the red droplet with some smudges of dirt the timber left on him, and crouches to draw a rune on a brick.
Kelsey looks towards the elders with the tip of her tongue caught in her teeth and tries to imitate Eos' gesture, spreading her hands wide in a welcoming gesture. There's a bit of a helpless edge of laughter to her voice as she finds herself singing softly, "Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?"
Sashenka stands between several trees, prsing her back against one and her hands against two more. Her eyes close and her body sways just a bit.
Julen growls slowly into crinos as she calls, her song becoming tinged with the more elemental howl, yet still retaining melody. There is the slight tinge of chittering, to her tone, the slight stubborn set of some kind of animal in her posture.
Rowan, too, shifts upwards, into Crinos, quicker than Julen, and starts swaying to some rhythm he finds in her song, drifting towards Kelsey, slowly.
Dusty continues moving and shaping the piles of materials. They begin to look more and more like a minature village, surprisingly close to the layout of the ruins.
Rennen takes a step forward and lifts a paw assertively, gaze panning slowly from one face to the next. Who here knows the tale of the ones who walked here before us? Who can name them and put words to their lives? They will hear us the better!
For several long moments, nothing happens. And then the wind dies in the trees above, bringing a sudden and acute silence. The temperature plummets suddenly, making frosty clouds of the exhalations of the assembly.
Layla crosses her arms and shivers from the cold air.
Rennen looks unaccountably more chipper as the gloom settles; his tail wags slowly even as his breath begins to puff his whiskers white.
Eos brings her arms together over her chest in a reverential pose. "I have spoken to the spirits as best I could. I have gathered what of their lives I could. These were people who came to Roaring Brook in search of a Haven, and a Haven they found. These were people who cared for each other with intense passion. These were people who died for the caern until the caern could be protected."
Dusty stops in his tracks. He shivers strongly and looks about himself, obviously struggling to surpress his fright. He forces himself to continue working on the village.
Sashenka's hands tighten on a pine limb as the cold gathers. She raises her head and looks at Eos, taking in her story of the spirits.
Kelsey wraps her arms around herself and looks up and around, peering anxiously at the suddenly so very dark and still trees looming high overhead. "Um. Hello dead folks. Chill out, okay? Or, I mean, relax. We're all friends here, right?"
Julen continues her song, in the face of this, the welcoming and the hope, the resolve to protect and to continue these people's work. There is a brief moment where her song goes higher, almost twittering -- this is perhaps too brief to take in, for most, as she continues her invocation, and her call to both unite and to bind the Caern, and its inhabitants, together.
Rennen begins to stalk among them, hackles raised, ears twitching towards unseen whispers and attention only half in the solid world. Suddenly he spins around and snaps his jaws. Let all offer praise to the honored dead, and give a gift to them: a promise. Say what each of you will do to honor their memory, protect or help this place, which meant so much to them.
Rowan mutters, ~Fight what ails ya. Make the place /live/ again.~
Layla moves from a crouch to a stand. Her eyes are unfocused.
Layla says "Hide the caern!" Her eyes show white. "Must hold on till..." "The caern must not fall." "You, you have exposed the caern!" "They will come and take it!" "Hide it!" "We dided." "They dided, all but two." "You let them die.""
Layla continues "They hid the caern." "You left it open!" "We died for this caern." "we died."
There is suddenly a sensation that the Cathedral is very crowded, and the crowd is surging toward Layla.
Layla says "WE DIED."
Kelsey clears her throat to speak, but her voice dies in her throat as the very Silent Strider suddenly starts arguing with herself. The Galliard's eyebrows backflip. "Oh, hell," she mutters, looking over at the woman sympathetically.
Dusty forces himself to stand his ground, though his body clearly wishes to run.
Andreas hunches lower and keeps himself from backing away through sheer cussedness.
Sashenka lets go of her trees and hurries to Layla, shielding her as best she can from the encroaching... whatever. She touches the woman's shoulder gently.
Julen's eyes widen slightly, and she leans towards Layla, but her song remains -- though it is stronger now, a calling to become /part/ of the Caern, to come to protect the thing they could not, before.
Rowan just growls, softly.
Layla turns her head towards Sashenka, but her eyes are a bit vacant, still.
Rennen's ears slick back on his head, but he is more used to this sort of thing than most, and merely trots towards Layla with purposeful intent. The jackal lets forth a low, rending, challenging growl that could draw silver from stone. Your mouth is open! Your eyes and ears are open! You have the power to walk freely into the west, and rest in Gaia's blissful peace! Or stay, if you love your caern too much to leave, and help us guard with your will and your spirit powers!
A scent drifts through the Cathedral, faint but lemon-sharp in its unpleasantness.
Eos watches the Striders dealing with the dead, shivers under her black dress, and keeps applying her voice to Julen's Rite.
You paged GM with 'Yum, Rowan's paranoia, firmly set recently, therefore does Sense Corrupter for him. I bet nothin', but.'.
Layla says "Hide it." "And it's your fault." "You didn't hide it." "Hide it NOW.""
GM pages: Nopenopenope.
Tan Sin shivers slightly, staring around quickly. He then stops and begins taking smooth, even breaths. His body relaxes into a loose balanced stance, and his eyes stop focusing on anything, instead taking in everything.
Rennen's ears flicker wildly, trying to gauge the mood of the unseen spirits Layla seems to have a bead to. He stares at her expectantly, and inserts a soothing gruff sort of whine as the argument starts to resolve itself. Your death is not in vain, he tells them urgently. We are here now. We will protect it. We promise.
Rennen turns his head over his shoulder and his eyes narrow sharply as he seeks confirmation.
Rowan's nose flares slightly, and he mutters, ~Don't need to hide it now, you got us.~
Julen's eyebrows flicker at Rennen in acknowledgement -- she continues her calling, but it is an /invitation/ to stay, not a requirement. Just by her intonation and her voice, which is starting to form words in some language most aren't familiar with, she calls them to aid, and to help, and to come to help heal that which they lost. And to affirm her own resolution to do just that -- to stay, here and now, to protect. Her stubborn stance takes on a stolidity for a moment, just briefly.
Sashenka keeps her hand on Layla's shoulder as she speaks into the crowded air. "I will come here every day, with offerings of food and drink for you. I will tend your trees, your grass, your flowers. Your caern will be green and beautiful as it has never been. And I will defend it with my life."
Layla's vacant eyes flicker around, measuring invisible opponents. Every now and then she flicks the hem of her dress, as though she were gently wrestling it from unseen hands.
Dusty crouches, hands clutching the undergrowth. "I... I... I think I can hear them...." he whispers. "Hello?"
Rennen snaps at air again, growling slightly and shying to one side. Be at peace, he commands. Silence. Calm. We are with you now. What do you /want/?
Julen crouches and pours about half her bowl of water out, at this statement of Sashenka's, a tangible portion of an intangible promise.
Tan Sin head twitches to one side, as if hearing something, but then stills as he keeps breathing. His eyes shift though, focusing again, towards Layla.
The scent strengthens. Definitely skunk. Must be a polecat wandering nearby.
Layla shrieks "Haven't done anything so far!" "You were there!" "They touched you! You could be like her!" "Yeah! You and the girl and the man, They tortured you, but you came BACK!" "You should've died!" "Probably told them everything." "They'll be here soon!"
Dusty gathers himself, takes a deep breath, and states waveringly "Spirits, I will make a place for you to live here, a place for you to be comfortable as you were in your old lives."
Rennen flattens against the ground at some onslaught and growls softly, turning his gaze towards the three captives grimly when he can breathe again.
Kelsey tries to follow what's going on as best she can, eyes darting between the haunted Striders and the elders and shadows, searching for some visible sign of the presences she can only dimly guess are there. "I'll guard," she says in a low, quiet voice. "For Gaia. I'll guard." She flinches at Layla's accusation, blanching as if struck. "Or -go- if you fucking want!"
Julen's stance again shifts, back to the stubborn defensiveness of a few minutes before, perhaps in reaction to this scent.
Rowan growls. ~We did /not/ tell them anything. We told them lies and half truths, we told them things to throw them off, because they are not us, because we /fight/ them, because they destroy and we do not. We work against them. We have always, and we /will/ always.~ He's glaring not at Layla but near her. ~We guard. We rebuild. We /are/ doing so, and we /continue/ to do so.~
Andreas glares, eyes narrow and vicious. "I'm already in this up to my fucking eyebrows. They pissed me OFF, and if keeping your place safe makes them even MORE sorry they met me then I'll do it, and keep on doing it 'til the last one of them's a wet fucking smear on the grass. So vows Andreas Rochenko, Ten-Captain, by blood and salt."
Tan Sin takes a last deep breath and faces into the night. He bows, and then straightens up, eyes gleaming. "I am Tao-tieh. The mountains have always been our refuge and strength. I shall watch this place, and as I live /none/ will despoil it."
Dusty's eyes go wild, as he cries to the air "But we could not hide the caern, we didn't know how! We protected it, stood watch, but could not hide it. We need your help for that! And the help of the totem spirit."
There is a slight hiss in Julen's song for a moment, her tongue darting out and back again. There is a plea in there, as well, a wordless one backing up Dusty's words, a need to ward and guard and protect in stealth, as well as in the open.
Kelsey lifts her chin defiantly at empty air, although there are tears in her eyes now. "Yes, dammit, I'm Shadow Lord, even if my tribe fallen to madness. But I'm child of Unicorn too. I'm loyal to Gaia. I'm loyal to my friends. /These/ are my friends. I won't let my blood hurt them or this place."
Rennen's nose turns towards the foul smell and he starts to pad in its direction, body suddenly intent and urgent. Yes. Come. We are here, and we need you.
Sashenka' gaze follows Rennen's pointing nose. She pauses for a moment, then drops her hand from Layla's shoulder and follows him.
Dusty drops to his knees, his hands closed around something. He shivers uncontrollably.
Sashenka sees Dusty's sudden motion out of the corner of her eye and, without hesitation, changes course to go to him. She kneels beside the boy. "Dusty? Are you okay?" she says quietly. "What do you have?"
The skunk odor wafts heavily through the entire Cathedral and a small black-and-white form ambles out of the vegetation.
Layla looks around. Her vacant eyes mark the progress of unseen adversities move to the west, following Rennen's directions. The tension seems to be disapatingg from her stance.
Dusty slowly raises his head and stretches out his arms. His hands open, revealing a small ragdoll. He murmurs in a hoarse whisper "Thank you, little girl, thank you. I will protect this place just as you will."
Rennen halts in his plodding to howl, probably deafening a few nearby, but his call is reserved for those of another plane. Go well and find peace, honored ones. Then he continues heading towards the acrid tang of skunk. We are here, Spirit. We give welcome.
Julen, stance still unconsciously mimicking the skunk's, belts out a howl of her own, of farewell and of greeting. And then she takes one step forward, murmuring, *Welcome to our Caern.*
Sashenka puts her arm around Dusty's shoulders and touches the little doll in his hands gently, tentatively. Tears run down her round cheeks as she gazes at the tiny thing. "Oh. Oh, thank you, child. We will protect your home. I promise."
Andreas looks from person to person to skunk to person, trying to keep up with what's going on.
Dusty gently places the doll in the center of the tiny village. "May you live here in peace." he sighs softly.
The skunk twitches a mostly-white, extremely fluffy tail upward as it backs away from Rennen, looking like it might swing around into an... unfortunate position at any moment. The beady little eyes glance over at Julen. */Your/ caern?*
Rennen halts immediately, so as not to ruffle the spirit further.
Smile suddenly rising, just slightly, Julen takes another step forward. */Ours/. /Yours/, as a Totem, who lends your firm protection -- and ours, all of ours, as protectors and as those who give our energy and lives to you. /Ours/, together. Spirit and flesh.*
The skunk dismisses Rennen from consideration with a small grunt of approval and turns its attention to Julen. *Hmph. Get a chance to go on vacation for the first time in a hundred years, and come back to a bunch of amateurs,* it mutters, seemingly to itself.
Andreas takes a respectful step back, then another, looking at the Garou as if they've sprouted feathers.
Kelsey covers her mouth with her hand and gives the skunk a wiggle-finger wave from a safe distance away. Her face is still knotted, teetering between anger and tears, but she is still and quiet, trying not to draw the attention of any more spirits.
Layla is look blankly back and forth, from the tree line to, well, not exactly at the skunk, but around it.
*We are not amateurs. We are just new come to this area, all of us, coming together to protect and defend this place. If you will come, to become part of it again, it would --* She stops, and her posture suddenly becomes less straight, less confrontational. *We would very much appreciate the help.*
Tan Sin watches the skunk warily. He steps back, to a place where he can watch this... conversation, but where he will be out of range if things go badly. Out of range and upwind.
Sashenka finally drags her tear-stained attention from the tiny, defenseless rag doll and notices the skunk. And the smell. She fights not to cover her nose.
The crowded feeling seems to be letting up somewhat, although the area has not gotten warmer and the wind has still not returned.
Rennen finally glances around at the others, measuring them against the spirit's assessment. Too young to know what we can't do, he tells the spirit almost affably. Is that a problem?
Dusty busies himself making a space for the doll in the village, reshaping one of the homes for its use.
*Amateurs* the skunk repeats, sniffing. It begins an amble around the clearing, stopping to inspect what is apparently the air from time to time, wandering close to the living people to sniff whatever of them is closest to the ground. It pauses, consideringly, at Andreas, and then moves on. It scrambles over Rowan's back end fearlessly. Snorts at Kelsey's foot. Ignores Eos. Finally comes back around to its original position and makes an amused noise at Rennen. *Well, you all certainly don't know how to protect the place. I suppose I could hang around a bit, show you a thing or two.*
Sashenka watches the skunk, bemused.
Julen says, earnestly, *We would very much appreciate it. Are your cousins about, as well?*
Rowan stands very still, as it wanders over him. Very still.
GM pages to Dusty, Sashenka, Rennen, Kelsey, Andreas, Tan Sin, Julen, and Layla: Those of you paying close attention to the conversation can probably get a vague gist of it, even if you don't have the Spirit Speech (or similar) Gift.
Rennen's ears splay. It would be appreciated, he tells the spirit, at his most solemn.
Kelsey attempts not to jerk her foot away from the stinky spirit. She still seems a bit spooked.
Sashenka chimes in, "We would really like your help."
Tan Sin freezes at the approach of the skunk. One hand twitches, but then he stills. "What exactly is going on here?" he mutters to no one in particular.
Dusty considers the tiny village in front of him. "Perhaps, sir skunk, you could live in this village too, if you wished? Or maybe you'd prefer a different home? Please stay -- we need the help."
Rowan grates, "A Totem, Tan Sin."
*Hmph* the spirit says again. *Cousins? Just me. Have to settle for poor little me.* The tone is savagely sarcastic, backed with an ill-tempered laugh. *Of course, you /can/ go looking for others. Sometime.* It looks over at Dusty. */Naturally/ you need the help. Of course. Amateurs. Right. I suppose you* it addresses Julen *know /something/ about Wards? And can manage to weave the energies somewhat correctly?*
Julen picks up her staff, from the ground, still in that slightly submissive posture. *That would be partially what I am here to do, yes. With your permission, good sir?*
Kelsey looks sidelong at Rowan, relaxing barely. She manages to stifle incredulity in time, eyebrows twitching slightly as she gives the small spirit a furtive scan. "Skunk, a caern totem? Well, I guess defense /is/ his specialty."
Tan Sin closes his eyes and winces, as if in pain. "Ah. Of course." He says something under his breath in chinese, and stares resignedly at the skunk.
Andreas looks at Rowan, then at the sk--at Skunk. Then back to Rowan again. His lips twitch for a moment before he regains control, keeping his face carefully neutral. "The Caern Guardians are going to be an interesting pack."
The skunk engages in the first completely non-animal physical behavior since it's appearance. It sits back and waves one paw at Julen with an air of superiority. *Yes, yes, get on with it then. You all --* Here the skunk appears to be addressing a much larger group around the edges of the Cathedral *-- get to your positions. You know better than these... people do where the edges of the Bawn lie.*
Sashenka rises, wincing slightly as her knees straighten. She takes a step over to Kelsey and Rowan. "What Totem could be better? Stubborn, individualistic -- and no one in their right mind messes with Skunk." She smiles and turns back to the bossy, smelly little spirit.
Rennen's tail lifts in an extremely rare wag of approval, and his dour expression softens slightly, jaws dropping open in a lupine smile.
Rowan's crinosed ears flick in amused acknowledgement of both Kelsey and Andreas.
Julen, meanwhile, bows to the skunk, a lower one than her usual, and begins walking the edges of the Caern, from edge to heart and back again, finding the feel of the place, making it partof her. As an understanding grows within her, her staff starts to glow slightly and she begins humming again. The stafff's light seems to vary in intensity as Julen's song varies -- her song a binding and a weaving in and of itself, only an occasional audible word mixed in to anchor the energies. A song, clearly, cannot be tangible, but the way Julen weaves and interweaves her song, the Caern's song, and the energies flowing about it, it might as well be.
Rennen's head turns to track movements of unseen spirits, posture relaxing subtly. Thank you, he tells the spirits.
Layla seems to focus for first time. She is watching the edge of the trees.
Sashenka moves quietly to the backpacks she and Dusty brought in and set out of the way. She fishes in them for a moment and comes out with two especially large and well-formed mixed-berry journeycakes. Quietly, she sets one in the miniature village square and one in front of the cantankerous Skunk spirit, accompanying each offering with a little bow. "The first of many," she murmurs. She follows each journeycake with a little cup of cherry cordial.
Sashenka pages to Dusty, Rennen, Kelsey, Eos, Andreas, Tan Sin, Julen, and Layla: With the bears, it's ALL about food. :)
The crowd departs, and with that departure, the heat returns to the Cathedral. Dusty's tiny village begins to light up warmly from within: windows glow a friendly yellow. Tiny sounds drift upward from it. The trees of the Cathedral reflect that golden glow and the light of Julen's staff, magnifying it tenfold so that the trunks and leaves seem gilded, as if from one of the spectacular mountain sunsets.
The skunk watches for a few moments and then begins to grow and fade at the same time. It takes a few minutes for him to disappear entirely.
Underfoot, the mountain seems to shift gently, as if rolling over in its sleep. At last, there comes a feeling of security that has been lacking in the place since Glitters' death. Closure, and the scent of skunk.
Rennen inobtrusively trots after the departing spirits to add his own rather less formidable skills to the Rite: he does at least know Binding. He pees on a tree at the edge of the clearing ceremonially, and then disappears into the shadows beyond.
Andreas lets out a sigh of relief and puts his knife away, squinting around at the clearing with a pleased expression.
Kelsey moves shakily towards Rowan and sinks down beside him, clutching one knee tightly.
Layla shifts from foot to foot, rubbing her arms, trying to finally warm up.
The Sentinel's song appears to have tired her considerably, in some obscure fashion, but as she finishes, with one final word among the humming to set her own binding, letting it hang in the silence, she continues to stand, upright and smiling. Listening, feeling the silence and the scents.
Rowan shifts down into lupus and leans against Kelsey, quietly.
Dusty gapes at the tiny village in front of him as it comes to life. He stays motionless for a time, then a grin bursts forth. "Welcome, my friends. I will keep your village safe and sound, you can count on me."
Tan Sin watches Rennen and rolls his eyes. He then looks around the rest of the clearing and relaxes, approving the warmth and the light.
Sashenka looks down at the village when Dusty speaks, and her jaw drops. She stares.
Eos finally lets her own voice fall silent, just a few moments before Julen finishes.
Kelsey sets a hand on the Spiral and her expression firms into one of determination, a little peace returning to her troubled expression as warmth and peace returns to the place.
Dusty raises his head to meet Sashenka's stare, eyes shining. "I think we've made them happy again."
Sashenka nods, eyes full of wonder, and lets her hand fall to stroke Dusty's hair. "I think we did."
Julen's staff dims, slowly. She leans on it, smile growing, sinking back down into homid. "Well, well," she murmurs, slight astonishment, even after all these years, in her tone.
Rowan sits, and blinks up at Kelsey.
Kelsey sighs and looks down at Rowan with a thin smile. "You have a caern," she tells him softly, and then, before he can correct or question, she adds fiercely, "-We- have a caern."
Sashenka tears her eyes from the miniature marvel and walks back over to her backpacks. She fishes out a couple of dropcloths and spreads them on the ground, then begins to cover them with a jaw-dropping wealth of food: muffins, journeycakes, pie, salmon salad, potato salad, dandelion wine, cherry cordial, birch beer (for those who don't want alcohol), and of course the big insulated container of chicory cofefee.
The Dancer was, in fact, just about to correct her, when she corrects herself, and he just blinks at her. Then he nudges her hard, turns his head so he won't deafen anyone, and bursts into a gleeful howl, long and loud. And very enthusiastic.
Dusty joins in the howl as best he can.
Sashenka howls too, laughing at the same time.
Kelsey's fingers tighten in the Spiral's fur. She doesn't join in, but there is a light in her eyes that might just be from Unicorn itself, unbound by the webs that have gripped her for so long.
Dusty jumps up and begins improvising a dance of pure joy, then notices the food. He lets out another whoop of joy and rushes for the spread.
Sashenka starts filling plates with food and cups with drink and handing them out to everybody. She's still giggling. Judging from how fast that dandlion wine with cherry cordial chaser is going sown, she's not stopping any time soon.
Tan Sin snags a glass of wine and carefully sips it. An odd expression crosses his face, and then he shrugs and takes a long draught.
Layla takes a plate gratefully from Sashenka. She settles down at the edge of the gathering.
Kelsey breaks into a laugh at Dusty's antics; the mood's too infectious for fears to linger in the face of friends. She moves to help Sashenka distribute the bounty, snagging bits of everything for herself and heaping them onto a plate.
Julen happily takes some wine, and finds some pie. Sitting down somewhat near the edge herself, she sets to eating, staff at her feet. She radiates contentment.
Rowan lolls into a grin.
Sashenka watches Kelsey eat and her smile grows even more -- not that that seemed possible. She kneels down to scritch Rowan's ears. "Sorry, I didn't bring any soup. Only one hot --" she searches for the word "-- y'know, hot-liquid-carrier-thing."
Kelsey snags a piece of salmon and dangles it in front of Rowan's nose.
Sashenka wanders off to fill her glass. And everyone else's. And hers again.
Practically bounding along the quickest way up, a flash of mottled, shaggy red-beige fur darts between the trees, eventually changing shape until Rahne comes into view at a half-run. A smile turns up the corners of the Galliard's mouth as she nears and begins to slow, most likely drawn up here from patrolling the town by the howls.
Rowan stares at it crosseyed, and then snaps at it, careful to get only /it/ and not /Kelsey/.
Tan Sin snags some salmon of his own. He then holds up his glass for Sashenka to refill.
Dusty wolfs down journey cakes and birch beer and anything else, and looks at everyone with smiling eyes.
Sashenka grins at Tan Sin as she refills his glass. "So, got a little more than you bargained for on your vacation, huh?"
Kelsey whips her hand back with a laugh and then looks up at the sound of hurtling canine, scrambling to her feet quickly.
Rowan then tells Sashenka, licking his lips, I am gleeful with what I have, Mama Bear, truly I tell you three times.
Sashenka smiles down at Rowan.
Rahne does eventually come to a stop, catching her breath a little and looking around with the smile firmly attached to her expression. "Heya!" she says brightly, placing both hands on her hips.
Rowan lurches to his feet and pads over to Rahne, his entire posture radiating happiness. /We/ he announces with glee, Have a /Totem/.
Tan Sin says "It has certainly been interesting so far, Sashenka" replies Tan Sin. He takes another drink and stares at the cup. "There's a lot to experience, now."
Kelsey relaxes as she recognizes the woman and waves ruefully. "How clever! You got here just in time for the feast, Rahne," she teases.
Sashenka nods, taking a big swallow of dandelion wine. "You pledged your aid to the caern's spirits. Shall I assume you'll be staying a while, then?"
Rahne switches from simple smile to intensely infectious grin as she drops bonelessly into a crouch to greet Rowan, flashing the expression at Kelsey as well. "That's great news! I heard the howls, and ran up here to check for myself." Looking to Rowan, she continues to grin, "I heard you rather well, happy one."
Tan Sin drinks and tips his head back, staring up towards the peak. "Yes, I will. I think there are things to be done here. And a mountain to watch over."
Sashenka laughs, though nothing Tan Sin said was funny. "Yes. The more hands and teeth and swords and claws and eyes and ears and..." she pauses, getting a grip "... the better."
Rowan beams at Rahne. It's Skunk, and he smells, and he's sort of grumpy, but he's real strong and real protective, and I think the salmon is making me giddy. Finally grinding to a halt, he brushes up against his tribemate and pads over closer to Sashenka.
Dusty grabs a small portion of everything in the feast, including a small glass of wine, and takes it over to the village. Smiling, he says "Perhaps they need a little refreshment too!"
Kelsey walks over to the little model village Dusty is fussing over and drops down one knee to look at it wonderingly. "I don't understand this part," she confesses. "But whatever we did tonight, it -worked-."
Rahne chuckles and gives Rowan a brief ruffling during that brush and stands up. "Skunk, mmm? Well, you just make sure you don't cross him wrong, and you won't get sprayed. Words to live by. Now...I heard a magic word that begins with 's'. Salmon's got you giddy, mmmm?"
Dusty beams. "I dunno either, but it seems like we did the right thing. Maybe the spirits were all just lonely!" He gives Kelsey a big hug.
Kelsey hugs the youngster unaffectedly, giving his hair a ruffle. "Thanks," she tells him under her breath.
Rowan's ears swivel to point at the salmon, but he himself finds a journeycake and takes it over to munch on it.
Dusty sighs. "It was group effort, y'know?" He gives a long look around the caern. "I've finally found a home, this time for sure. And a great family, too."
Tan Sin downs some more wine. He looks over at Sashenka and says "Y'know, I never knew you could do anything this useful with dandelions." He then brings his rapidly reddining face a little closer to her and then rattles something off in chinese. "Know what that means?"
Sashenka shakes her head. "Nope."
Rowan, journeycake half eaten, pauses in his munching to pad over to Dusty and lean against him.
Tan Sin suddenly flashes a rather vicious and slightly frightening grin "FUCK PURITY!" he shouts. He then leans back laughing.
Kelsey smiles down at Dusty. "I will have to make another song now," she murmurs, and returns to the tablecloth and her plate of food. She blinks and pauses briefly to stare at Tan Sin.
Rahne's stomach speaks up before she can at sight of the food, and she moves to snag something for herself, not terribly picky. Dusty gets a warm smile for his words, Tan Sin gets a briefly raised eyebrow and a slightly wider smile.
Dusty shouts "Woof!" and gives Rowan a big hug around the neck.
Rowan licks Dusty's face thoroughly before twisting around to stare at Tan Sin in confusion. ~Huh?~
Sashenka stares at Tan Sin for a second, then laughs wildly. She starts dancing -- a spinning, stomping, hand-waving dance that clearly has its roots in Native American spiritual dance, but is looser and wilder, connected firmly to the earth but reaching up to the sky. She dances around Tan Sin a couple of times, then grabs his hand and tries to drag him into the dance with her.
Kelsey decides she's going to damn well finish her plate first, and flops down to forage, but she taps a heel in time to the dance with a smile on her face.
Tan Sin is still laughing, but he pauses in confusion as Sashenka grabs him. He lets her pull him up, and then tries some uncertain movements like her own. He then gives that up, pauses for a moment and then begins to perform a complicated series of high and low spinning kicks, veering around the clearing but not endangering anyone.
Sashenka pages to Dusty, Kelsey, Tan Sin, Rowan, Julen, and Rahne: Ahh, the BrightFuture melting pot. Long may it live!
Kelsey watches mayhem with a smile. "So," she asks Rahne quietly. "How is it out there? Everything all right?"
Rahne collects food for herself and grins at the dancing as she pulls up a spot by Kelsey to sit and watch. "All's well, or I'd not have left. I'll probably head back down in a while to keep watch some more, though."
Sashenka starts dancing with the trees. It's probably your imagination that there swaying seems, somehow, to start corresponding to Sasha's rhythm. Yeah. It must be the wine.
Kelsey washes down a bit of real wine, cheeks burning slightly in the silver light. She waves a hand upward. "Will you /look/ at the moon?" Indeed, it's a full, so it's got to be shining down like a beacon casting incredible shadows over the lawn between the massive and ancient trees.
Rowan shifts into homid, finally, after giving Dusty a last lick, and watches the two dancing. Fairly soon, the nervous energy still emanating from him is expressing itself in a gleeful, unpracticed, stomping dance. It's improved enormously by its sheer enthusiasm.
Sashenka veers back to Rowan, takes one of his hands, and starts dancing with him. She's a pretty good lead.
Not to be left out from the folicking, Dusty gets up and starts leaping and jumping and tumbling, hooting and cheering.
Kelsey hums between bites, eating as if she hadn't been able to taste food for two hundred years and is only beginning to remember it now. Her feet continue to wiggle.
Rowan, perhaps not at all oddly, is a fairly good follower, and is soon reflecting Sashenka's movements at least vaguely well. Perhaps it's that aforementioned enthusiasm.
Rahne looks upwards, face catching in a shaft of moon light as her smile softens. "Beautiful." Lowering her eyes back to the dancing, she chuckles lightly and taps the fingers of one hand against her knee.
Sashenka extends her other hand to Dusty and starts leading the two guys in a strange cross between her aforementioned dance and a Russian troika. It works, oddly enough.
Rowan keeps this up for a time, and then spins out of the trio, falling to the ground, laughing.
Dusty grabs Sasha's free hand and spins round and round, til he is too dizzy to stand up and rolls on the ground, giggling.
Kelsey finishes her feast as the dancing tumbles to an end and gets to her feet to tag after Rowan, dropping down beside him.
Sashenka spins with Dusty and grows dizzy too. She collapses next to the boy. After a few moments she rolls over and takes his hand, squinting carefully at his palm. "Mmmm. Look here." She traces a line in his palm. Or maybe it's a smear of dirt. Who knows? It's dark. "You will have many happy years and earn a name around the country as a skilled craftsman. You will grow up and fall inlove with a beautiful girl named..." she peers more closely.... "Marina. You'll have three beautiful children and a horse." She giggles.
Dusty gapes. "Sasha, I didn't know you can tell fortunes!"
Tan Sin suddenly stops spinning. He sways for a momment, and holds up a finger as if to ask for patience. He regains his balance, and, breathing heavily, moves over to where the wine is.
Sashenka giggles harder. "As well as any Nitakk-ita, Dusty." She rolls over and looks up at the moon.
Rowan flops over onto his back and looks up at the moon. "Well, ain't this a night," he says, generally, once he stops laughing. It's mostly said in Kelsey's general direction.
Rahne grins quietly and nibbles on salmon lazily. After a moment, her face takes on a faintly inquisitive expression and she glances around a few times thoughtfully, as if looking for something in a roundabout way.
Kelsey nods subtly, studying Rowan's face out of the corner of her eye as he stares up at the sky. "First one," she murmurs.
Rowan rolls over on his side, elbow on ground, hand propping up his head, and looks at her. "First one what?"
Kelsey shakes her head at Rowan. "First night," she says, but can't really explain any more. She glances over at Rahne. "What's up?"
Sashenka stands up quietly and goes to gather more food and drink.
Rowan accepts that, and rolls back over onto his back. After a moment, he bolts up into a sitting position, and adds, "Y'all, y'gotta be thinkin' about /names/ f'this place."
Rahne chuckles again and tosses an answer over her shoulder as she scoots herself around where she sits, "Recalling where I stashed something." Stopping at almost the exact opposite direction from the one she'd been facing when she sat, she gives a soft 'ahah!' and rolls to her knees to crawl into a patch of underbrush.
Tan Sin snorts and says something in chinese.
Kelsey peers idly after Rahne, eyebrows settling into a thoughtful holding pattern.
Rahne backs out of the patch, dragging her familiar army-green backpack with her and looking pleased. "Knew I left it around here somewhere." she murmurs to herself while returning to her temporarily vacated place of rest.
Sashenka plops down next to Tan Sin and refills her wine cup. She looks up. "Moon Over Trees. No. Moon Trees Majesty." She considers. "No. Majestic Pines.... Moon.... Place." She gives up. After a moment she turns to Tan Sin. "What's YOU say?"
Tan Sin leans back and stares at the moon. "Translation is- Big Stinky Mountain."
Rowan gives Kelsey a fixed look. "You had a Roaring something, awhile back. What was it?"
Sashenka laughs at Tan Sin and abandons the wine for some cherry cordial.
Kelsey laughs at Tan, letting the thoughts bubble up again. "Stoneshell. Roaring Mountain. Sun's Angle. Sleeping Water. Skunk's Skulkers."
Dusty, finally exausted, stumbles over to the food area and curls up near one of the backpacks. "How about...", his comment broken by an enourmouse yawn, then "homey place..."
Dusty pages to Sashenka, Kelsey, Tan Sin, Rowan, Julen, and Rahne: Notice: No rodents were hurt in the preceeding yawn.
Kelsey looks over towards Dusty and sobers. "Haven," she says under her breath. "But that's for the village."
Rowan grins at Kelsey. Eventually, he shifts down into lupus and falls asleep right there, next to her.
Julen appears to have left some time ago, along with her drink. Perhaps she went into the Umbra.
Sashenka clambers back to her feet and commences dancing again, but though it's the same dance, the movements are softer, slower, dreamier. "She smiles indulgently at Dusty, then at Kelsey. "Haven." She tastes the word. "That's perfect."
Rahne plops her backpack in her lap and begins poking through it, a random tune humming its way into being as she rifles. "Sanctuary..." she murmurs briefly, otherwise immersed in her impromptu search.
Dusty lets out a deep belch, then grows silent. After a few minutes you hear the soft tones of snoring creeping from his lips.
Kelsey sets her hand on Rowan's flank with a grateful glance. Only after he's not moving does she bend down to kiss an ear lightly.
Sashenka mumbles, "Gaia's Ballroom..."
Tan Sin sets down his empty glass and looks around. "Too much sleeping" he says, groggily.
Rahne manages to find what she was looking for, something relatively bulky-looking and swathed in a haphazardly quilted mass of...green. Carefully picking at the many-shaded thing, she unwraps it to reveal a smallish harp, which she sets to tuning with a practiced hand.
Sashenka's attention turns to the trees. She returns to dancing around them, slowly, weaving between them in a sinuous pattern, paying careful attention to each one individually, singing a song with words too soft and garbled to make out.
Kelsey watches everyone and everything quietly now. Rahne's harp draws a delighted smile of recognition.
Rahne tentatively tests a few strings as they're tuned and smiles satisfactorily at the sounds they make. Glancing up, she blinks a few times and stretches lazily. "Old girl needs some exercise." she says by way of explanation, positions the harp, and sets about coaxing music from the lovingly cared-for instrument.
Tan Sin gives an enormous yawn. He carefully walks over to an enormous tree on the edge of the clearing and stops, steadying himself with one hand on the trunk.
Kelsey rises very carefully so as not to disturb Rowan and begins to tidy up the lovely chaos of food and drink, tucking things away and making little piles in time to the music.
Rahne half-closes her eyes as she plays, head bent slightly to keep the strings within her narrowed frame of vision. The tune, if it could be considered such, is as aimlessly random as the sounds the wind makes through the trees.
With a small shake, Tan Sin releases his hold on the tree. "Sleep time" he mutters to no one. He then crouches low to the ground. For a moment, nothing happens, but then his body shimmers and changes, stretching out and growing. Gleaming orange and white fur glows in the moonlight, broken up by black stripes. The huge tiger crouches low, and then kicks into an enormous bound up the tree. He finds a large branch and settles in, one leg dangling. Golden eyes shine, and then slowly close.
Kelsey looks up and follows the Bastet with her eyes, awed. "Dream well," she whispers.
Sashenka stares in pleased surprise, her rhythm momentarily broken as the gorgeous creature soars over her head. "Good night," she murmurs, then continues her dance. She is clearly tiring. Just a few trees left to dance with.
"Sleep well..." Rahne answers, not really moving from her music-making and actually seeing what occurred.
Kelsey finishes cleaning up, and returns to her place at Rowan's side, snagging the blanket from Sashenka's feast gear and rolling herself into it with her cheek pillowed on her elbow. She listens to the harper with half-closed eyes, smiling peacefully until sleep takes her too. For once, the wary time traveller has no fears of bad dreams.
Sashenka slowly circles the very last tree in the Cathedral, holding onto its trunk for support as she sways with it. Finally she spins gently away from it, stumbles over to Dusty, shimmers down into bear form, curls around the cub, and is snoring hearty bear snores within minutes.
Rahne's tune trails off when it quietly dawns on her that she's
the only one left awake. Blinking, she smiles softly, detunes
the harp and repacks it, then rehides the backpack. Casting another
smile over sleeping forms, she slips back down to the four-legged
form that carried her up, and pads off back towards the town and