Seeking a Haven

The tall Strider is walking down the North Path.

Voice-of-Accord is breezing back from the Water Meadows as well, spots the Strider, and with a whoosh of tail-wagging starts testing her stealth against the quiet woman. She stalks after.

You paged Niska with 'You are on wing and movement catches your eye in the woods. There is a brief flash of white wool and golden hair at the very edge of the trail, and then a human wrapped in a shapeless brown-grey scrap of fabric breaks from the woods onto the trail, making good time in a stumbling run. You've seen a lot of dying things in your time, and that there is carrion on the hoof. But somehow, it keeps going. Further up the trail, you can recognize Layla and Kelsey. There is no further sign of the source of the first glimpse, however.'.
You paged Niska with 'This person is running toward town.'.

Niska pages: so the flash-of-white-and-gold was one person, and the stumbling-dying-human is another ? Is the person going to run into L & K, or are they behind it ?

You paged Niska with 'Yes to the first question, maybe to the second -- although they're walking (or stalking) and it's running, so it will likely outdistance them.'.

Niska pages: wanna see what the white and gold thing was.

You paged Niska with 'It's gone. Or well-hidden.'.

The clouds overhead drizzle listlessly.
It is windy, and blowing from the southeast.

Niska pages: glide toward the running person for a closer look -- though not too close. From a branch they're about to run under, say.

After a spell, Layla's ears perk up, and she gives a faint smile. Otherwise, she gives no indication of being followed.

The sky is dreary, despite the fresh breeze, and chilly, misty rain drenches everything. The woods are all aflame with autumn, though, and the rain only heightens those colors.

Voice-of-Accord is barely dampened by the mist darkening her long fluffy coat. She continues to pad after Layla, more stealthily still as she scents some hint of change in the woman's mood, following some dozen feet back with body low to the ground and nose and ears intent on her "prey".

You paged Niska with 'The person passes under the branch. There is a sizeable splash of blood -- not fresh, but not entirely dry either -- across the lower half of the grey cloak, which is what makes it look more brown. From the scent, though, you would guess that it's probably blood of decidedly feminine origin -- probably a birth -- rather than any wound. This person seems to be huddled around something, which is one thing that is making the run more difficult.'.

Niska pages: look again for pursuit. And you say I think the runner is dying ?

Layla finds a large, damp rock in the center of the way. She takes a hanky out of her pocket and spreads it out on the rock before she takes her seat. Her back is turned inticingly away from Voice.

You paged Niska with 'No pursuit visible. Yes, you're pretty sure the runner is awfully close to the last of its strength.'.

You paged Niska with 'The runner may encounter them, actually. Let's say that at least Layla is ahead, in the fork.'.

Niska pages: land on the path in front of the runner. Not so close that they'll run over me.

Oooooh. This is too tempting, indeed. The black canine makes a sudden bounding rush, meaning to plant her paws on either side of the Strider on the rock (she understands too well the problem with muddy feet) and slurp the woman's ear.

You paged Niska with 'Okeydoke. This person doesn't seem to notice you. She (you get a better glimpse of her body shape, and you can see the outline of a breast) has her head down, eyes slitted against the drizzle, and is simply putting one foot in front of the other.'.

Niska pages: shift up. In front of her, but with enough space to give her time to stop. If she doesn't stop, pace her.

You paged Niska with 'She fails to stop. She doesn't even startle.'.

Layla suffers the attack gamely. But when her ear is slurped, she crumpes and emits a long "Eeeeuw!"

Niska pages: jog alongside her -- "Hey, sister, where's the fire ?"

You paged Niska with 'She shrieks and flings herself to the side of the road, falling awkwardly as she does so. She cowers, huddling around something she's holding.'.

Voice-of-Accord assaults Layla's ear a few times and then bounces back, around to the side, scattering a few drops with her tail dank from the gray misty rain. Hah. Hi.

From further north along the trail, distant footsteps come audible, soon followed by a shriek.

Niska pages: Niska gives a little squeak as well, startled by her reaction. "Whoa, hey, relax!" SHe holds her hands palm outward. "You look like you need a hand. What's the matter?"

From the south, meanwhile, comes Rowan, loping along in lupus, evidently looking for someone.

Layla's eyes narrow, and she looks to the north, all serious now.

You paged Niska with 'She whimpers and looks up enough to see your hand. "I need... to find... Joshua. He is in the town south?"'.

Voice-of-Accord's ears and head bounce up. What on earth? As her nose begins twitching, she catches Rowan's scent, and her ears flicker comically between the trail behind and ahead, hackles bristling with excitement at Rowan's arrival and sudden alarm at the sound.

Niska pages: He is. I'm a friend of his. Come on, we'll go together. You want me to carry that ?

Niska pages: she peers curiously at the bundle.

To the north, standing in the center of the trail, is the unmistakeable figure of Niska in homid. She seems to be reaching out and talking to a lump of brown and grey fabric.

You paged Niska with 'She attempts to get to her feet, and fails, hugging the bundle against her belly. As you watch, the bundle shifts feebly and emits a thin wail.'.

Fairly soon, Rowan's fetched up against Kelsey. What, he says, staring northwards, Was that? Tilting a glance at her, he asks, Backup?

Niska pages: Ooh! It *is* a baby! C'mon -- it must be heavy, and you're about to fall over. I'll carry it for you.

Niska pages: she tries to help her up

The two in lupus can just barely hear Niska's voice, though not make out the words. They do, however, hear a thin, feeble cry of a human infant.

Niska's hoarse voice calls a little louder, "Layla? Kelsey? I could use a hand here!"

Voice-of-Accord makes a little growl of relief in agreement at his offer, although her attention's shifted more fully to the goings-on on the northward trail after she bumps against the Dancer. Yeah. She glances up and sideways at the Strider, then trots forward at the summons. What's going on?

The heap of grey and brown fabric reaches up a human arm to take hold of Niska's proffered arm and tries to lever itself to its feet, clutching a bundle against it's stomach.

Niska pages: can I tell what's wrong with the woman, other than exhaustion ?

Layla moves to Niska's side to get a closer look at the bundle.

Rowan's ears twitch, and he pads after Kelsey.

Niska braces her feet and tries to help the woman up, but Niska is small.

You paged Niska with 'She pants and manages, with your help, to stand. She seems to be ignoring all your offers to take the infant. She seems to be exhausted and *extremely* underfed. Like she's been nearly starving for a few weeks. And you'd guess that she's given birth within the past 12 hours or so.'.

"Where did it come from," Layla asks in a very perplexed voice.

"Don't just stand there gawping," Niska snaps pertly. "We need to get her back to town before she croaks on us. She's a friend of Josh's."

Under the grey and brown cloak is an emaciated woman with ragged, lank black hair, deep hollows under her eyes, and cracked and bleeding lips. She clutches a baby against her, it's fairly clear. The lower half of her cloak is brown because it's drenched with mostly-dried blood.

Niska slides a thin arm under the woman's shoulders.

Voice-of-Accord jumps back at the arm, then sniffs warily and shifts up to help. "Right." She stoops to slip an arm under the woman's waist, moving around on the other side of Niska. "Will you let one of us carry your baby for you?" she asks as soothingly as possible.

Rowan pages: Friend of Josh's? Does Rowan know her? Is shefrom the Hive originally? What's she smell like? (*nose twitches*)

"Joshua," she says in a hoarse voice. "Jan Ezust... Jan told me to seek Joshua... or his friends... they are people of honor... offered protection..." She sounds fairly delirious. "Baby..." She looks down at the infant. "Yes. Mine. I..." Her legs go out from under her.

Rowan pages: Heh. Answers THAT.

You paged Rowan with 'Does that answer your question? :) She smells, powerfully, of blood right now, but not of, let's say, arterial blood.'.

Layla moves quickly to catch the baby, if the woman loses her grip.

Rowan's ears twitch again, and he quickly shifts upwards. "She's from the Hive. This is fuckin' fabulous. C'mon, we gotta get her back to town."

Niska staggers under the dead weight, quickly throwing her free arm forward in case the woman should lose her grip on the baby.

Kelsey wraps her other arm around the fragile woman's middle as she sags. The Shadow Lord almost drops her, though, at Rowan's snarl, and her eyes round out. "Will they follow her?" she asks in a quavering voice.

"The Hive?" Niska gapes incredulously. "Yer kidding!"

Fortunately, Layla is quick enough to catch the baby with Niska's delaying tactic. The woman is, indeed, dead weight over Kelsey and Niska's shoulders.

Niska says "What difference does that make? You want to leaver her here?""

Rowan tries to help support her. "Probably. I'll do guard duty mebbe. Doubt she wants men hangin' around anyway."

Rowan pages: Corrupter around, captain?

You paged Layla with 'The baby comes out of the cloak and is therefore nekkid. It's a fairly small girl with a mop of black hair and a strange grey birthmark that twines along her left arm.'.

You paged Rowan with 'Other than the mild Taint on the woman, not yet.'.

Niska, tiny thing that she is, is rapidly losing her grip on the woman's shoulders -- she casts a glance in Rowan's direction. "Take her? Before I drop her?"

Layla gathers up the copious folds of her dress and wrapes the child up snuggly.

Kelsey pulls herself together with a glare at Niska, still holding onto the woman. "Just help me lift her," she says shortly, hitching her up to a better position with an arm under her shoulders and knees.

Kelsey pages the room: Er. Trying to hitch. Kel grabbed her when she fell but is having to hold her around the middle to keep from dropping her. :}

Rowan does, in fact, help lift her. "But we're gonna need guards, and some defenses, and..." He trails off, looking at nothing in particular.

Layla's voice comes out too quietly. "Folks, take a look at this child's arm." She points out a strange gray birthmark that twines along the baby's arm.

"Easy for *you* to say!" Niska hisses at Kelsey. "She don't weight twice as much as *you*."

Layla's pointing finger disturbs the layer of mud and other things on the child. A glint of silver shines.

Niska says "Well fuck me."

Layla clears her throat. "Can anybody read runes?"

Niska pages: any way I can look into the Umbra from here ?

Rowan pages: Um, I suppose Rowan can...?

The woman moans and tries to lift her head.

You paged Rowan with 'The squiggles look runelike but don't *seem* to say anything, really.'.

You paged Niska with 'You could try to poke your head in, yes.'.

Layla bundles up the child deeper in the folds of her skirt.

Kelsey ignores the raven with lips pressed tightly together, stifling a squeak or gasp of dismay at the signs of silver. Hesitantly, she speaks low and reassuring sounds to the woman, who may after all be a relative. "Easy there," she whispers. "We've got you. Come on, if we're going, let's go."

Rowan pages: wait, are the runes silver, or the arm?

"Can we figure this out later? Like, say, inside, after we've gotten them fed?" Niska asks. "'Cause she's gonna die on us if we shit around here much longer. She may anyway."

Niska pages: yeah. look in the umbra.

Layla begins to move down the path, towards town.

You paged Rowan with 'Just the runes. Not the arm. The arm is quite fleshy.'.

You paged Niska with 'You peer around and don't see anything in particular. Yet.'.

Rowan tells Layla, "You help Kels out. I need to start patrolling, and quick."

Layla shifts the baby to one arm, and gives her shoulder to support the woman.

Rowan pages: D'oh. MT on her.
From afar, Rowan, brainless.

Kelsey pages the room: Kelsey handwaves. We head south, nevermind who's carrying whom. :) I assume the crone's pretty light anyhoo.

Niska husks, "You want me to take the kid while you deal with her, Layla? Or do want me to go find Josh, and maybe some backup in case that thing I saw following her comes back?"

Rowan pauses, one hand on the woman, and asks, "Thing?" in tones of one really wanting information, and wanting it now.

The woman groans. "Joshua... Jan Ezust sent me to find Joshua... the Dark Mother came to me in my dreams, told me to leave before my lord could take the child to the Paths... Jan told me that Joshua and his friends offered haven..."

Layla says "I'm fine with both loads. We need more hands to defend and patroll, if you don't mind."

You paged Rowan with 'MT lends a little help, but she's extremely exhausted -- both from starvation and giving birth -- and is likely to kick over any moment.'.

Brett wanders up from the town, looking behind him as if rather surprised at what he found. Upon encounteing everyone, he says, "Hey, a Treant's moved in. I asked him if he'd seen Merry and Pippin but he didn't get the..." He pauses, then stops dead. "...joke. What's up?"

Kelsey exhales. "We will," she promises the woman with sudden force. "We will." She's moving now, with Layla's help or whoever's, having gotten the weak old woman in a more comfortable position in her arms.

Layla is helping Kelsey support a tattered woman. In her other arm, she is carrying a small bundle that looks suspeciously like a baby,

Niska blinks at Rowan, as the whole troop overtakes Brett and continues to scuttle along the path toward town. "Didn't I say? I saw somebody -- just a flash -- white wool and blonde hair. They disappeared and I went to see what was up with *her*." She jerks her pointed chin at the woman between Layla and Kelsey.

Speaking of the woman, she's not old, actually. In the better light afforded by her sprawl over various Garou arms, it becomes clear that she's no more than a teenager.

Rowan's touch seems to do the woman only slight good. He narrows his eyes at Niska and nods. "Ok. Thanks." Shifting down, he starts towards where Niska was, before, trying to catch scents and generally track things.

Long distance to Niska: Weatherwax grins. Somewhere in the range between 13-17. Hard to tell right now.

Brett lets the party wash over him like a wave. "It's nice to be back, too." He turns on his heel and follows the group, craning his head, curious.

From afar, Rowan thinks Rowan's gonna keep at that. Or something.

The... girl... raises her head briefly, the dark hollows of her sunken eyes peering blearily around for her child. "She... she has no name... must name her... or the spirits will take her." Her head lolls back. "I forgot to ask the girl her name..."

Niska pages: Is she dying ? Can *I* ask the baby's name ?

You paged Rowan with 'You pace back along the woman's track... it's easy to follow, with that blood smell. You reach the point where she entered the trail and get a powerful whiff of a clean, green scent that is very familiar to you, from an encounter you had just before Zelda...'.

You paged Niska with 'She's driftin'. You think, perhaps, that she was referring to a different girl than the child, though.'.

From afar, Rowan's ears flick back, and he follows /that/ scent for as long as he can.

Kelsey tries to keep the woman conscious. "Your name?" she asks softly, not breaking stride now that their course is set unless the others lag too far behind. Her face is struggling between a scowl and the winning smile she uses when her mind is thinking of other things. "And are you the mother?"

Niska utters a curse that comes out sounding like a noise a truck with gear troubles would make. "We're losing her. Does anyone have any water?"

You paged Rowan with 'That scent paces the woman's scent, at intervals, on a straight path through the woods from the north.'.

Brett whips his backpack off of his shoulder and reaches inside. "Here," he says, handing Niska a bottle. "What else has she said?"

From afar, Brett is doing a standard ping for Corruptor. :)

The woman hums briefly, a strange fragment of a lullaby, perhaps. "My name? I am the handmaiden of my lord, chosen to bear his seed. I have... no name..."

You paged Brett with 'Faint Taint on the woman, none to speak of on the child.'.

Niska curses again at that, and tries to offer her some water.

Kelsey hums it back with a visible shudder, fighting to stay calm. She halts and stoops as best she can for Niska to tend her.

Layla needs more hands. She stoops in stride with Kelsey.

From afar, Rowan eventually stops, then, and starts ranging out looking for Corrupter types. Sasha's granddaughter, he trusts.

Niska pages: So, I know about death and stuff. Anything I can do to keep her spirit and body together a little longer ? I reeeely don't want to eat *this* one's eyes...

You paged Rowan with 'You can be fairly sure, yes.'.

Brett 's eyes darken as he hears the woman's words. He slips into the troop as best as he can, supporting the frail woman. "And by what name does your lord travel?"

Rowan pages: sure of trusting her? That's a nice ominous comment... *grin*

You paged Niska with 'The water's a good start. Rest. Something like food. Not sure about much else. Rowan applied Mother's Touch and did the best he could that way.'.

Kelsey growls harshly at Brett. "Argent."

Long distance to Rowan: Weatherwax cackles.

Rowan pages: Anyway, Rowan's fairly out of this til I decide to make him come back, so I'll shut up now.

The woman recoils at the sound of his name. "Ay, ay, my lord, my lord... what could I do when the Dark Mother spoke to me herself? Please, spare her, spare her..." She meanders, but does drink some of the water Niska offers.

Niska pages: any idea who this Dark Mother might be ?

You paged Niska with 'Lilith is probably a good bet. :)'.

Brett 's features tighten. As the woman speaks, his face suddenly lightens. "We will do what we can," he says, voice smooth and soft like a blanket. "We will do what we can."

Niska asks the woman, "Who was with you? With the blonde hair? Do you recall?"

You paged Rowan with 'You scent something Corruptorish moving swiftly past you Umbrally.'.

The Shadow Lord flinches at her own voice, shaping the name, and with regret a moment later for saying it aloud. "We'll take care of the child," she promises again, softly.

She smiles. "A beautiful child... beautiful... hair like spun gold... and such eyes... she found me... gave to me a golden drink and set my feet upon the trail... said her... grandmother's folk?... would care for my child... such strength as that drink gave me..."

The town is within sight now.

Niska pages: wasn't Sasha's grandkid blonde ?

You paged Niska with 'Yuppers.'.

From afar, Brett plumbs his Theurgely archives. "Does the beautiful child resemble any spiritual avatars I know? Does the description resonate or is this a newcomer to the half-seen world?"

The raven-girl's eyes widen at the woman's words, her mouth a silent 'O'.

You paged Brett with 'The description resonates as, perhaps, one of the Fae. But you've probably also hear some rumors that Sashenka has claimed a child of this description as her granddaughter, and that she is of the "wind-folk".'.

You paged Rowan with 'You scent something Corruptorish moving swiftly past you Umbrally.'.

Kelsey's brows, already intimidating in the form she's chosen to make carrying easier, grow positively overbearing as she knits them together in confusion over the mother's answer. As Brett slips in beside her and Layla to help carry, she shifts down to fully human and a form less likely to alarm the more excitable villagers. She glances sideways at Niska, starting to move again now that they've gotten a little water into the patient. "Oh?"

"Then Rowan won't find her," she breathes. "Ooh... almost there now. Hang on a bit longer, okay?"

Brett whispers something, then says aloud. "Oh, indeed."

You strike off through the trees to the South, the trail gradually becoming clearer, more sure of itself as it heads back towards town.

You pull open the beautiful maple door. The small bell tied to the handle cracks against the wood, drowning out its own cheery jangle as you step inside.
Ursa Diner(#179RAJ)
You step onto a cracked but clean tile floor that was probably once red, but is now a faded salmon pink. A large, rectangular communal table seating about 10 takes up the middle of the floor, with mismatched smaller tables arranged near the large front windows. The long counter in front of the kitchen door sports plates of fragrant bread, cookies, and muffins and bowls of fresh wild fruits. A small, rattling fridge in the corner holds a selection of juices and cold spring water in reused bottles and jars. Atop the refrigerator is a can for cash donations; next to it is a box for barter payments. Scrawled on the box in black marker are the words "Pay what you can, when you can."

With little further difficulty -- possibly because the woman passes out again -- you gain the Diner. The child is squirming and crying in Layla's arms. The girl, in the dry and warm, blinks back to consciousness.

"I'll see if I can scare up Josh," Niska announces, and flounces right back out into the rain.

You paged Julen with 'Julen encounters a pack of spirits of some power moving in from the north. It doesn't seem to be the only pack, from the howls she can hear Umbrally.'.

Niska pages: he around ? I reckon not.

Layla asks "Brett, can you fetch a cot from the back room?"

You paged Niska with 'No, not immediately available.'.

You paged Niska with 'Possibly, you could just have flapped out to his treehouse, found him not there, and flapped back.'.

Brett nods and says, "As you wish." He vanishes into the back room and, after a moment of rustling, returns with a folded cot. Laying it close to the stricken girl, he opens it, snapping the legs in place. "Has anyone seen Sashenka?"

"Is this the place of haven?" the woman asks, blinking water out of her eyes. "Are you the folk who will guard my child?" She seems to have had something of a rally, at the moment.

Kelsey helps lay the woman down gently after the cot's fetched, brushes her forehead lightly, and then heads back to get blankets. "She's been out," the Galliard reports shortly. "Someone get the soup on? There's some in a pot in the fridge."

Layla shifts the baby to her other sore arm and moves into the kitchen. From the kitchen can be heard the clatter of crockery.

Brett reaches into his backpack and retrieves a small, plush wolf. He places the wolf beside the bed and scratches it behind the ears. "Watch her," he says to the wolf. Standing, he says, "Is there any milk about?"

Layla pages: How young is the baby?

You paged Layla with 'A few hours old.'.

After no very long time, the door is abruptly flung back on its hinges with Niska's characteristic over-zealousness. "He's not home," she announces hard after the bang. Then she whirls and slams the door shut again, pausing to shake the rain out of her black hair like a dog. "She still alive?" she asks, rather bluntly.

Layla returns shortly with a tray tucked next to her body. She moves awkwardly and settles the tray down on a table. She hands a crock of soup to Kelsey.

The woman resembles her true age -- anywhere between 13 and 17 -- for just a moment as she picks up the stuffed wolf with a trembling hand and examines it.

You paged Rowan with 'Julen is fine. As I said, Julen encounters a pack of nasty spirit things coming in from the northwest. However, she's fairly sure that they're not the only ones, from the howls she can hear.'.

From another crock of warm water, Layla dips a clean piece of cloth and begins to wash the baby.
Kelsey returns with the covers and is about to tuck them around their patient when the door flies open. My, the Shadow Lord is jumpy. She levitates, glares over her shoulder again, then takes the soup from Layla with a grateful nod, looking down worriedly art the squalling baby. Her hands shake slightly as she returns her attention to the mother, sinks to one knee, and offers her a spoonful. "Milk's in the fridge too. Warm it up a bit?" To the patient, she urges softly, "Here. Good soup. From Mother Bear. This place is safe, guarded. This is the town of Haven."

Brett smiles, eyes twinkling. "It's ok. He's a friend." His movements are very careful, very precise. Nothing sudden, everything flowing like the wind.

Niska strides over toward Layla. In one fluid motion, she leaps from the floor to the top of a nearby table and crouches there, bony arms around her bony knees, unmindful of her wet boots on the clean tabletop. She peers curiously at the baby, black eyes glittering.

Rowan pages: OK, can we assume a) Julen's gonna whup butt and b) Rowan's gonna come warn people?

The girl holds the plush wolf against her cheek for a moment. Under the bloody cloak, her dress is a tattered shred of fabric, and her bones are clearly visible through pale, veined flesh. She strains her neck around to watch Layla, and then turns her gaze back onto Kelsey. "I cannot eat... it... the smell is good, but hurts..." A tear starts down and trickles over the toy wolf's head. "I..." She turns suddenly to look at Niska. Her eyes grow very wide and she breathes, "It's... you..."

Layla is undistrubed by Niska's sudden movements. She continues to groom the baby, and she glances in the direction of the girl and Kelsey at the sound of voices.

Kelsey's brows grimace again. "Try," she urges. "Just a little. Maybe the drink the stranger gave you will help. It'll give you strength." Even as she's saying it she's doubting, but she has some skill in persuasion and hiding fears in her voice.

Brett brushes a strand of hair from the girl's forhead, gentle as a breeze. He turns his head and looks to Niska, eyes full of questions.

Niska looks up, her face blankly curious. "Huh?"

What little color she had drains from the girl's face. "You... I..." And then she screams, clutching her chest, and lurching from the cot, knocking it over and falling to the floor.
Around her, three silvery wolfish things materialize, rending her spirit out of her body and snarling hideously.

Layla grits her teeth. "I name this baby Eve."

Kelsey rocks back in fear and surprise and swings at the shape nearest her with a snarl, changing too slowly to a form with claws and knocking over another chair behind her.

Niska leaps upwards from the table and is a bird, her hoarse cries of alarm and rage lost in the sounds of chaos that ensue.

It's about this time that Rowan comes shoving through the door, snarling, "Julen's dealing with --" and then just stops, staring. A moment later, he's in Crinos, and leaping towards the nearest wolf. There's a way to make babies happy.

Brett 's face snaps into a growl as the silver creatures erupt from the young girl, his eyes turning gold.

From afar, Brett asks if he's seen these creatures before. "What a night for me to leave my monster manual in the boat..."

Layla stays by the baby, her eyes bright and glittering.

At Layla's voice, one of the spirit things turns long enough to hiss and snap at her. The other two let the wan flapping bits of soul flutter aside, violently shredded pieces of wet onionskin that twitch briefly, and turn on Kelsey, Rowan, and Brett. The girl spasms once, makes a tiny sound, and her life leaves her with a brief trickle of blood from the corner of her mouth.

Niska pages: what's Niska's job here ? Can she do anything for the soul ?

You paged Brett with 'These are Quite Powerful Spirits, and you've heard some distant, distorted legends about them. Creatures of the Silver Arm, they're supposed to be agents of good, but since a Corruptor-servant found the Silver Arm 50 or so years ago, they've been slowly corrupted themselves. Nasty beggars.'.

From afar, Brett hmms. "And they've manifested, yes? So we can slayeth upon them in this realm?"

You paged Niska with 'Niska can't do anything for the soul, but she knows that Layla's a Strider, and sometimes souls will attach themselves to Striders for a while until they can be put to rest properly. Although Layla looks like she's busy with the baby.'.

You paged Brett with 'Yupyupyup. :) Not a problem.'.

Niska pages: if there's anything she can do to encourage the soul toward Layla (pointing out that her baby is there, perhaps), she will. Even if she has to go Umbral.

Predictably, Rowan is fairly incoherent, as he dives for his creature, claws flashing.

You paged Niska with 'She can do that, yesyes.'.

More furniture topples as the Shadow Lord finishes up in war-form and brings both hands down with claws cupped towards each other, raking the sides of the closest enemy she can get her hands on. ~You've taken your /last/!~ she snarls.

Brett falls into a strange, kata-like stance as his ripples from one form to the next, until pelt has replaced skin and claws replace fingertips. Flashing a smile, he waves the creature over with two fingers.

Layla shifts into Glabro, tucks the baby into one arm, and forms a defensive stance. She moves not to join the fray, but to guard the baby.

The raven glides like a black knife through the air between the raging beasts, intent on something other than the battle, it seems. She circles back towards the corner where Layla crouches protectively over the baby -- over Eve. The raven's pinions lightly brush the Strider's hair as she passes.

From afar, Brett wishes he'd gotten a chance to learn the exorcism gift before the fit hit the shan...

The three creatures leap, one for each Garou, in perfect precision. Kelsey's rake catches hers neatly, causing it to roll to one side and snap to its feet a meter away. Rowan's creature meets him squarely. Brett's opponent springs. They are creatures of liquid silver, it seems, and their forms -- wolfish though they may seem -- are stylized and rippling.

Rowan's mode of battle is anything but stylized. Brute force, basically, and lots of it. He doesn't seem to care about silver, or anything else, he just rips, and rips hard.

Voice-of-Accord smashes a chair as she dives after the fleeting form of her opponent, all her fear and fury over anything connected with Argent pushing her dangerously close to losing it as she reaches for it with her claws, gouging at its face and whatever passes for eyes.

Strange-Seeker waits until the creature is almost apon him. As it lunges for him, he takes a half-step to the side, holding his claws out like a rake, letting the entity's momentum run it into his needle-sharp talons.

The creature tangling with Rowan is being ripped, but is ripping quite thoroughly in turn. Kelsey's opponent loses its face, but it buries its own claws in her gut. Brett's critter is apparently sufficiently distracted that it does, in fact, ram itself onto his claws.

You paged Rowan with '3 agg'.
You paged Voice-of-Accord with '2 agg'.
You paged Strange-Seeker with 'No damage.'.
You paged Strange-Seeker with 'Sorry, no damage to you. Plenty damage to it.'.

You paged Niska with 'They're pretty durn fluid, kinda like the T2 opponent.'.
Niska pages: If only we had some liquid nitrogen.
Long distance to Niska: Weatherwax giggles.

From afar, Rowan is really sorry to be predictable, but it is near the full...
From afar, Rowan ergo frenzies. This is a very strange character.

Rowan snarls in pain, and becomes even less controlled than he already was. There's apparently no sentience in there anymore, just destruction.

There goes the soup, splattering everywhere to add to the general chaos. Kelsey twists with pain as she gets raked open and curls over her opponent, trying to grapple and disembowel it under her.

Strange-Seeker does not let the beast slip free of his grip. Clenching his talons into the creature's gut for purchase, he swings with the beast, moving as it moves. Like a demented version of someone giving a child an airplane ride, he lets the centripital force lift the being up--and then uses all his weight to pile-drive its head into the ground. All the while, his claws remain firmly entrenched in its innards.

Strange-Seeker pages the room: Strange-Seeker blames this on his very extensive collection of Jet Li DVD's. :)

At the increasing choas around her, Layla clutches Eve closer to her as she walks backwards slowly, incredibly slowly, from the mele.

From her perch on the table in front of Layla, Niska cheers, wings beating, "YEAH! PILEdriver! Woo-hoo!"

Rowan rages, slavers, and rips his opponent in half. Kelsey entangles herself with the creature, impales its gut, and it takes the opportunity to melt and slip over her body, sheathing her in silver. Brett's entity impacts the floor, smashing some of the floorboards, and looking distinctly flattened about the head. It does manage to claw up his arm a bit, though.

You paged Rowan with 'No damage to you!'.
You paged Voice-of-Accord with '2 agg.'.
You paged Strange-Seeker with '1 agg.'.
Rowan pages: It's, like, totally dead?
From afar, Strange-Seeker nods, "Gotcha. Oh, how firmly entrenched in its guts am I? Can I feel vital organs, bone, spine, etc?"
You paged Strange-Seeker with 'No real organs, no. Just lots of slippery silver stuff.'.

Voice-of-Accord's howl of pain is just one more thing to add to the newborn's growing repertoire of nightmare-fodder. She claws and scrabbles to peel the thing off of her, digging in with hindlegs, teeth, anything she can, even while it burns her.

Long distance to Rowan: Weatherwax noddles. It hits the ground and begins to fade.

You paged Strange-Seeker with 'Although... there is a hard little nodule in there.'.

Rowan is probably not very helpful to Kelsey, as he pants briefly and then starts ripping at the thing enclosing her, not particularly carefully given his state of frenzy. He does manage to pull his claws a /bit/, but it's close.

From afar, Voice-of-Accord beams. Damage! I love damage! Wait, don't kill me. :)

Blood runs in hot rivers down Strange Seeker's arms, mixing with the creature's slippery, silvery intestines. Claws still dug deep, he lifts the creature from the floor, holding it by its rended belly and whatever it uses for ribs. Snarling, he brings its back down onto his leg, attempting to split it in two like branch.

The creature around Kelsey explodes with a quiet *fwoomf*, driving hundreds of tiny slivers of metal into both her and Rowan. The creature impaled on Strange-Seeker's arms actually splits like an overripe melon and falls to a fast-fading puddle on the floor, leaving him holding a tiny, silver, beating heart that then explodes in his hand.

You paged Rowan with '1 agg'.
You paged Voice-of-Accord with '2 agg'.
You paged Strange-Seeker with '3 agg. It'll take a bit for that hand to be functional again.'.

Rowan, lacking an enemy, just growls and whirls on a chair, smashing it freely before gaining some control. He pants, slowly.

Niska is hopping back and forth along the edge of the table, shouting encouragement. At one point, she loses track of the edge of the table in her enthusiasm and falls off, black feathers a-frenzied as she flaps to catch herself. She manages it, and is back on the table cat-calling and cheering as if nothing had happened.

Voice-of-Accord collapses to the ground in a singed and bloody mass of black fur, curling around herself and clutching her stomach with her lips pulled back from her teeth. What starts as a growl ends up as a groan.

There is a lull in the growls, as the Garou recollect themselves and the creatures fade away. The newly-christened Eve sets up a small hue and cry of her own.

Rowan, once he gets ahold of himself, crouches down by Kelsey and lays a hand on her.

Rowan pages to Weatherwax: How bad's she down?
You paged Rowan with 'Kel's down 6, methinks.'.

Strange-Seeker snarls as the silver heart pops in his left hand like a grenade, tearing flesh and rending fur. He tucks the arm against his chest, snarling in pain. The massive Crinos slumps to his knees. ~Cleanse~ he growls, splashes of red covering the broken floor. ~Cleanse here...~

Voice-of-Accord shuts her eyes and isn't going anywhere. The blood stops flowing as Rowan patiently pulls her back together again.

Niska, seeing the immediate threat is gone, hops off the table and is homid before she hits the floor. She takes two long strides towards the door, slams it open, and launches skyward, a raven again.

From afar, Rowan does 3 or so, then.

Long distance to Strange-Seeker: Weatherwax grins. You could quickly find Argent and fight him for the Silver Arm! It's a left arm. ;)

Niska pages: she takes a couple scouting circles. Anything to be seen ?

Layla disapears with Eve into the kitchen and returns with clean kitchen towels.

Rowan can't do anything for the worst of Kelsey's wounds, but he does enough. ~Strange Seeker,~ he rasps, ~You need it?~

You paged Voice-of-Accord with 'You're up 3 or so from Rowan.'.

From afar, Strange-Seeker says, "No, thank you. I don't want to play Nuada any time soon."

Strange-Seeker nods. That is all he can seem to muster right now.

Layla waits for Rowan to finish, then moves in with her bandages made from kitchen towels. She is quietly crooning to Eve

Voice-of-Accord stays tumbled on the floor and dazed, although she stirs enough to give Rowan's forearm a squeeze. ~Baby,~ she croaks, anxiously. ~Baby all right?~

Rowan heads over there, in a bit of a crab crawl, and lays a hand on Brett, as well.

Rowan pages: How far's he down?
You paged Rowan with '4 down, although it's all pretty much to one arm.'.

Layla says "Baby is fine, thanks to your heroic efforts," she tells the gang as she winds bandages. "Rest now.""

Rowan pages: Mrrm. 3 then, again?
Long distance to Rowan: Weatherwax noddles.
You paged Strange-Seeker with 'You're 3 up, thanks to Rowan.'.

Niska returns, but since she hadn't closed the door behind her when she left, you are spared the slam this time. Raven-formed, she wings in through the opening and back to her table. "Doesn't seem to be anything else on the way," she announces without preamble. "Not that any of us saw the last batch coming."

Rowan moves away after a moment, Brett's arm healing noticeably, and glances around dubiously. He doesn't seem to notice his own bleeding. ~Fuck.~ After a moment, he adds, ~Gonna go patrol anyway. Fuck fuck.~

From afar, Strange-Seeker is going to return the favor to Rowan and do a, what is it now, Grandmother's Touch on him? I'l pump in as much Gnosis as I have to."
You paged Strange-Seeker with 'You give him 3.'.
You paged Rowan with 'Brett gives you 3 back. :)'.

Voice-of-Accord sits up as Layla stars working on her, and cants her ears backwards. ~We'll be all right. Get her fed.~ She turns to look over her shoulder and winces. ~Be careful,~ she urges with a wide-eyed look.

From afar, Rowan hee hees. Ok.

Strange-Seeker growls, ~Wait!~ before Rowan can head off. He rests his relativly umolested hand on his compatriot and concentrates. A faing glow appears around his bloody fingers. ~Here.~

Niska flaps her great wings and hop-glides to a table nearer the cot. "You all want I should take care of this?" she asks innocently, jerking her beak toward the dead girl's corpse.

Rowan blinks at the sudden surcease of pain. Most of his bleeding stops. ~Huh,~ he says, wonderingly. ~Thanks.~

Voice-of-Accord growls at Niska, rather less sanguine about these sorts of things than a certain lupus Strider. ~Don't you dare. We'll give her a decent burial.~

Rowan eventually heads out to patrol.

Strange-Seeker stands, slowly, his left hand still badly scarred, though no longer pouring blood. ~We should cleanse the area first. Then, I can perform rites for her...~

The raven shrugs, which looks stranger on a bird than one might suppose. "Whatever," she sniffs. "But I have Rites of my own to do before you put her in the ground," the raven adds, and there is no humor in her wine-dark voice.

You paged Layla with 'Your Strider-sense is tingling. There is a ghost following you. It's not at all fully formed, and may take days or weeks for you (or Rennen) to be able to communicate with it, but it's certainly there. You can probably guess who it is.'.

Strange-Seeker's ears tilt at an odd angle as he regards the raven. ~Like?~

Layla pages: Following me or Eve?

Voice-of-Accord looks back at the raven darkly, but she's glaring at everything right now. With a jerk, she gets to her feet. ~Can assist,~ she tells Brett shortly, ~But I haven't learned that Rite yet myself. You got it?~

You paged Layla with 'You.'.
You paged Layla with 'Though, probably, both.'.

Strange-Seeker gingerly works his wounded hand as he nods to Voice-of-Accord. ~Yes,~ he says. ~Yes, I do. I will need a few things, first...~

Niska fluffs out her ruff, her black eyes glittering at the challenge. "Raven-stuff," she says haughtily, and it sounds like the R is capitalized. "Don't see why I should have to explain it to you." There's arrogance in her smoky voice, but underneath it, the perceptive might hear a note of reluctance as well.

Layla disappears into the kitchen with Eve. Again, the clank of crockery can be heard.

Strange-Seeker tilts his head like an inquisitive pup as he speaks to Niska. ~I'm curious...~

Voice-of-Accord shoots back, ~It does if you mean to desecrate the body. Poor girl suffered enough.~ She moves towards one of the towels Layla brought earlier, and starts cleaning herself up as best she can so she can shift down to a more reasonable shape.

"Desecrate?!" the raven exclaims, outraged. "And you decide what is desecration and what is reverence, *do* you, *Shadow* Lord?! What right have you throw such insults? You, who proclaimed how ugly and vile a thing the Lady Lilith is when you first laid eyes on her?" Niska is hopping mad, literally. "Who are *you* deny Raven my duty to him? Huh?"

Strange-Seeker shakes his head and barks, ~ENOUGH!~ The room rattles a little as the Crinos speaks. ~Enough! Please... This serves no purpose. Eve is our first priority. Agreed?~ He shoots a glare to both Niska and Voice, waiting for their responses.

Voice-of-Accord turns and nearly throws the towel at the bouncing bird, baring her teeth. Brett's intervention brings her around to face him with hackles still bristling, but the baby is indeed the one focus that cuts through her scattered frame of mind right now. She slumps, although the fur at the back of her neck is still prickled dangerously. ~Agreed,~ she says tightly.

Layla, attracted by the noise, stands at the threshold between the kitchen and the common dinning area. She has found an abandoned bottle in the back of a cupboard, and she is watching the debate with concern.

THe raven shuts her beak with an audible *clack* and simply stands still on the tabletop, shaking slightly.

Layla's eyes unfocus, and she looks at the poor remains of the girl.

From out of the small bedroom, Julen emerges, looking a bit windblown, and more than a bit angry. The gathering makes her pause, though, and she studies the room carefully.

Layla pages: Am I getting anything from the ghost? Or is she still too unformed.
You paged Layla with 'Still 'way too unformed. Just a Presence, right now.'.

Layla shakes her head, and the unfocused look goes away.

Strange-Seeker moves to the fallen girl. With a surprising delicacy for one still in the form of rage, he rights the toppled cot and lays her body atop it. Taking the stuffed wolf from the form, he places it atop her chest, then crosses her arms over the wolf. As he does so, his features soften, slipping to a form closer to human, but not quite there yet.

Voice-of-Accord wipes her face with the towel and turns her back on the raven pointedly, still struggling to rein in her anger. ~Tell me what you need for the rite,~ she tells Brett in a dull voice. Then she shifts down and moves towards Layla to take a closer look at the baby. "What is it?" she asks softly.

Julen says, to no one in particular, "There were more of them," and then focuses on Niska. She looks at her, enquiringly, but silent.

Layla shrugs gently with a smile at Kelsey's enquiry. "I was looking for something."

Niska sullenly raps her beak against the table, her black eyes watching the group around Eve.

Julen asks, mildly, "Are you well, Niska?"

Kelsey tosses her hair back and smooths it with both hands. Composure, yes. The elder's voice nearly breaks it again, but she manages to smooth out her features and bob her eyes respectfully towards the woman as she turns towards her. "More, Julen-rhya?" She sounds a bit faint. "We have Argent's baby. We've got to protect her."

Brett turns to Kelsey. "I need a branch, willow or birch preferribly, and clean water or snow..." He glances up, seeing Julen enter, and bows his head.

At the mention of the baby to Julen, Layla steps forward to present the baby. "Her name is Eve."
Layla says "May I ask, you said there were more? Are they a threat to us still?"

Julen shakes her head. "Not anymore." That said, she turns to Kelsey, eyes widening faintly. "/Argent's/ baby? Well. Life is... More interesting than I expected. Are you all well? Other than," she adds, looking around, "Some destruction of property?"

There is a croaking sound as the raven clears its throat. "*If* I am to be allowed," she begins formally, her soft voice edgy with bitterness, "I would like to perform my Rite before the rest of you do yours." She adds, "Since I think yours might get in the way of mine." She falls silent, glaring, and awaits an answer.

Kelsey sighs and gestures sadly towards the dead mother. "And one more victim of the enemy," she says bitterly. "We couldn't save the mother. I think we're all right."

Brett raises a still mangled left hand, but says nothing about. His eyes remain on the dead girl, holding the stuffed wolf to her cold, still chest. "Are there any others in need of healing or cleansing?"

Layla pages: Ah, more angst. Ghostie isn't going to be happy if birdie plucks her eyes out.
Long distance to Layla: Weatherwax thinks that the Striders would know about this: the Corax always ask the spirit's permission before they do it.
Layla pages: Thanks! Layla might, but Jennifer didn't. :)

Julen turns, evenly, to look at Niska. "I should think so," she says, mildly, and then turns back to Kelsey. " I had hoped..." She trails off, and leaves it at that. "If you need aid, you of the Blaze, you have but to ask."

Brett smiles. "Asking is just polite demanding, Rhya. This can wait. Others may not have that luxury." He rises. "I don't believe we have met, formally. I am Brett, Strange-Seeker, crescent-moon of the Silicon Blaze."

Kelsey hunches her shoulders, but is letting others deal with Niska now. "Whatever," she says diffidently, and heads for the door after scooping up a pitcher from over the sink. "I'll get some water and willow and stuff."

Kelsey pushes open the door and walks out onto Main Street.

Julen gives the young man a faint bow. "Constance Juliana Brown, but call me Julen. The Fire in the Dusk, Weaver of Cords of Fire and Iron. Theurge of the Gaian Sentinels, and Alpha here. My partner in Warding is up on the other side, making sure we don't have more incursions tonight. Pleased to meet you -- you were one of the first, were you not?"

Supposing that she'd better get this over and done before the situation changes again, Niska spreads her wings and hops lightly to stand on the dead girl's chest, the claws of one of her taloned feet denting the pale flesh of her crossed wrists. The bird glances quickly at those present, as if wary of attack.

Brett pauses. "Yes. And no." He says both answers as if they were both absoloutely correct and in no way mutually exclusive.

Julen seems to find Niska's actions perfectly normal. "No?" she asks, eyebrow raising.

Seeing no immediate hostility, the raven peers intently into the dead girl's face for a long moment.

Niska pages: got permission ? If there enough of her here to ask ? Or should I be looking toward Layla ?
You paged Niska with 'Look toward Layla after asking permission, and yes, you get it.'.
You paged Layla with 'You sense the spirit forming just enough to indicate something to Niska, and then disperse to an amorphous presence again.'.

Brett tilts his head. "I should help Kelsey find cleansing materials. We will need a rather large stockpile." He bows to Julen. "Be seeing you, Julen-rhya."

Layla's unfocus at an area near Niska, then refocus.

Julen merely nods, this time. "Walk well, you of the Blaze." She doesn't seem to notice Niska's actions.

The bird cocks her head, then look up and stares directly at Layla. After a brief pause, those nearest can hear her murmer a quiet, "Thank you." Then, with a lightning-fast dart of her head, she plucks first one, then the other of the corpse's eyes. Her sleek black head tilts back, the feathers of the throat rippling as she swallows.

The raven's eyes close, and she spreads her wings slightly, as if for balance. Her claws dig in a little. After a pause, the black eyes open, though their usual hard-edged glitter is dulled. "Teresa, I'm --" the bird husks. She shakes her head, dog-like, and folds her wings across her back. She looks at Layla. "Her name was Teresa," she says quietly. Then she hops to the floor, homid again, and makes silently for the door, looking at no one.

Layla says to Niska in a quiet voice that carries "Thank you."

Julen lowers her head briefly, apparently in respect.

Kelsey comes in with willow branches, a pitcher of water, and rain in her hair, in time to hear that last. So the door is open for the raven's sober departure. She gives Niska an odd look as the bird slips out, but the outside air has calmed her down enough that at least it's civil.

Niska, a raven again, ignores Kelsey's entrance completely, launching herself from the edge of the porch up into the rain.

Kelsey catches sight of the body as she starts to set down the ritual items on the kitchen counter. Good thing she's put down the pitcher already. Her face crumples completely and she covers her eyes with her hands, turning and bolting with determined strides for the back door.

Julen herself goes off to relieve Rowan on his patrol, murmuring a quiet farewell to both Layla and Kelsey.

Layla takes the baby into the back room, where she intends to settle for the night. Layla generally isn't one for sleeping indoors.