Josh is in full gear, on wanderlust duty. But he always finds
himself coming back here. He's carrying a walking stick, using
it to probe the ground in front of him, and using it to support
himself up some of the less steady climbs.
The clouds scud along close overhead, propelled along by the brisk wind that ruffles Josh's hair. From this ridge on this mountain, The Owl, one can see the massif of Katahdin to the northeast. While this is familiar ground to Josh, there is a new feature on the landscape: to the north and a little down from the trail along the mountain, there is a gaping, dark hole that seems to denote a cave of some sort.
Anything different, of course, will get Josh's attention. He smiles to himself, bringing the stick to bear in front of him. he crouches over the rocks, along the mountain face, approaching the cave slowly.
The wind heels around briefly and carries sounds of a struggle over the stones. Something dark flitters out of the shadow of a large boulder and darts into the mouth of the cave. There is a short scream, some laughter, and then silence.
Josh's eyebrows lift. That's not good. He hurries himself, hustling towwards the edge of the entrance, and draws his crossbow. He presses himself against the rock, pushing his conscious mind past the wind to see if he could hear anything.
A muffled voice, cursing perhaps, but certainly shaky. A few coherent words drift out: "Fucking Rider... went deeper... flush out... alone..." It's deep enough to be a man's voice. Inside the cave, however, it is blacker than night; nothing is visible.
Josh winces. He can hear, but he has no gift for darksight. "Hello," he whispers, curious as he peeks his head around the edge of the cave. Be calm, be calm...He lets his finger off the trigger to his bow, trusting some instonct he has.
A pause. "Hello?" a whisper returns. Definitely a man's voice, definitely pained.
Josh just says softly, so as not to disturb anything. "Need any help?"
There is a short, soft chuckle with a quaver around the edges. "Help would be appreciated."
Josh keeps his guard up, and his bow, as he edges into the cave. "Got any light," he asks, peering closely, almost paranoid,.
"Not right now," the man replies quietly. "And my opponent seems to have retired into the depths."
Josh winces, just so, entering the cave. "What was after you," he asks first, keeping a hand against the wall to both steady himself and feel his way around. He puffs his breath, pushing a stray lock of white-blond hair out of his eyes.
The man shifts slightly -- Josh can hear stones move -- and then grunts as, apparently, the stones move to cause him more pain. "Bane Rider," he replies.
Josh is in the dark. He heads towards the sound of moving stones. "Guy with a silver arm?" he asks, this time.
The man's heavy breathing catches slightly at the question, and, after a pause, he says, "No. No. That guy's a Lord. This is a psycho on Bane-back. If you were outside, maybe you saw one of his pets come in. Bodyslammed me and knocked some of the wall down on me."
Josh blinks, once, frowning a bit. Someone knows a bit much. He listens, trying to see if he recognizes something. If he had full body fur, the hairs on the back of his neck would be standing up. "Sounds bad," he says, not moving. "What did you say your name was?"
There is an abrupt rumble overhead and behind Josh as the darkness becomes wetly tangible and bursts past him. Bits of gravel drop on his head as something -- the ceiling? -- starts crashing down behind him.
Josh will chide himself for not following his instincts later. He turns around, and attempts to bolt ouf of the cave before he's trapped.
The man cries out in pain behind him. There is a hideous, shrilling laughter in front of him, mixed with falling, grinding stones. Josh trips and that fall saves him from being crushed by the rockfall. When the noise is done, he can feel a mass of stone mere inches from his fingertips.
Josh sighs. "A trap," he mutters. "Should have known better," he says, turning around. "Still there?"
A rock clatters away as the man groans. "Yah," he rasps, then coughs a bit in the dustcloud kicked up by the fall. "Fucking Rider. They don't usually *use* boobytraps." A pause. "You okay then?"
"My self respect will heal," Josh replies, crawling back to there the other man is. "Where should I move the stones off?"
"If you can get through the stones..." The man pauses, and Josh can almost hear him straining to see. "The stones about two feet in front of you. I think. It's damned hard to see in here. Under the stones, you'll be able to feel a bunch of wire straps. If you can figure out how to work them loose, I'll be able to shift up without cutting myself in half."
Josh nods quickly, feeling around as instructed, moving the two feet to reach around. His plan now is to just keep the man talking. "I'm here," he breathes, working. "I'm Josh, Dancer Kin."
There is certainly a heap of stones there, and they begin to shift easily. Something warm and sticky is on a few of them lower in the heap, and Josh is familiar enough with blood to know its scent. "Dancer Kin, eh? How ironic that the Kin saves the Kinbane. I have far too many names, but you can call me Ginsei, late of the Sentinels."
Josh nods slowly. He's not bothered by the blood, and he attempts to move a few stones out of the way. "Nice to meet you, Ginsei." He cocks his head to the side. "Why do you say 'Late of the sentinels?'"
"Wish that the meeting had taken place under less --" something shifts and there is a whistle of indrawn breath through gritted teeth "-- awkward conditions. I say 'late' because I'm no longer a member of the tribe. I... There was a dispute, you see." The stones move aside, and Josh can now feel the man's shattered and bloody legs -- and a few pieces of bone -- jutting through a ruined layer of denim.
Josh doesn't even flinch. "Know a few good healers, after we get out of here." But, again, keep him talking. "The dispute. IS that why you're called 'Kinbane?'" He searches around for the wired holding Ginsei down.
There are several sturdy wires with sharp edges; there is a slight tingle to them that suggests some magic at work in them. The wires entrap the man's legs and twine around his hips and waist as well. "Yes," Ginsei replies. "It was... it was a while ago." He sounds a little groggy at this point, as if the adrenalin is starting to wear off and shock is starting to take over. "I... I was in a pack. And had a good friend in the pack. He was... he was more than a brother. Do you know what I mean?"
"Not for quite some time," Josh replies, a slightly rueful tone in his voice. He gulps, rummaging around in his pack for something to cut the ropes, wondering if he left that Fang dagger Julen gave when they went after Kel and Rowan back home. "Talk to me," he says, anxious. "Don't lose me. Just focus on my voice, okay? Keep talking. It'll keep you up."
"Right," replies the slightly faded voice. "I... well... he... got involved with this woman. Kin, she was. Very pretty. It was... awkward. I cared about her too. She was very sweet." The Fang dagger comes to light in Josh's pack. Ginsei clearly has dropped into shock and he rambles a little, muttering, before wrenching himself back to his story. "The three of us were very happy... for a while. A kumi. I'd never had a family, really..."
Josh grits his teeth, taking the dagger and starts to saw at the ropes. "C'mon. Keep going. Gonna get you out of here...just keep going. I'm here. I am..."
The wires begin to ping apart, one by one, but it takes a good deal of muscle-power. "But... dammit..." The man says something in an unfamiliar language, but the inflection makes it clear that he is cursing. There is a choked sob, one that sounds like the throat making it hasn't been allowed to release a noise like that in a very long time. "Dammit. Dammit. He told me... he didn't... he didn't want me there... not any more. But I cared about him... more than her... I didn't care if she went away... but I didn't want to live without him... and so we fought. I wasn't thinking... I was angry, hurt..." Ginsei doesn't seem to be entirely 'in' anymore. The story is coming out in-between muttered incoherence.
Josh hmmms, nodding. This man sounds around his own age, but so much... The Kin shakes his head, knowing he'll regret this come morning. He blinks something back, cutting until his arms start to hurt. "She got in the way. In the literal sense..."
"Yesss," the man sighs, making that same choking sound again. "I killed her. It was... his eyes... she was pregnant... dunno whether it was mine or..." Fading again, seriously this time. Some of the wires have dug into Ginsei's skin, which is burning hot to the touch. Much warmer than he should be. "Oh, goddess, goddess, Jason, I'm sorry..." he whimpers, struggling to move his arms, which are, evidently, pinned by stones.
Josh gulps, trying not to cry. "S'ok. Let it out," he whispers. "Just let it out," he says, comforting, and going after the wires. "You're feverish. They've possibly been poisoned. I'm not sure which," he says.
"Poison..." Ginsei says, rousing slightly. "His spear... must've been." The last wires pop free at last. "They threw... threw me out. Wasn't a Sent'nel, they said." His words are beginning to slur badly. "And Jason... he wouldn't look at me. At the last... I didn't see his eyes again... such eyes... such beautiful hair... he cut it all off when she died... I snuck... snuck a lock... kept it all these years... stupid..."
Josh shakes his head, getting worries. "Nothing stupid about it. Taking those memories, and cherishing them." He says this quietly, his thoughts for a moment going back to a sandy-haired person he left in Charlotte. "Celebrating life, instead of death..." He leans back, giving Ginsei space. "There. That's the last of it."
"Last?" Ginsei says, dazed. "Up. Gotta get up." Josh can hear the rocks heave, and Ginsei screams once, a sound which deepens into a near-roar as his body shifts. There is an explosion of gravel as he tears himself loose of the trap. Josh hears the massive body reel out from the stones and roll onto the open floor. The deep, anguished breathing eases a little, and then fades back to a man's even, shallow breathing. Ginsei is apparently unconscious.
Josh scrambles back as the Sentinel shifts and screams, his own voice lost in his throat. He waits until after the breathing slows, and becomes even, until he goes back over. He checks for a pulse first, relieved that he is alive. He looks around. Maybe there's a way out?
There is the way he came in, which is covered by a heap of stones, although close inspection reveals there are traces of daylight poking through in a place or two. And there is a hollow sound toward the back of the cave, possibly where the Rider retreated earlier.
Josh moves over to that area, blinking away the small bit of sunlight. "Ok...um...stay put," he says, attempting to move some rocks out of the way. He starts at the holes, and prying stones from there, widening them if he can.
An ominous rumble tells Josh that there's a couple of sizeable boulders that are being propped up by some of the stones there.
Josh winces. "Oh, shit," he mutters...
Josh pages the room: Um, Happy New Year.
You paged Josh with 'Happy New Year! :)'.
Ginsei moans and coughs.
Josh feels around for the boulders, sure that he cannot heft them himself. The cough brings him around. "Ginsei, you awake?"
Ginsei coughs again. "J-Jason?"
Josh visibly winces at that. "No. I'm not him. But we're still trapped in here. We need to get out, and I'm not strong enough."
"Sound like him," Ginsei slurs, but Josh hears him heave his body up and crawl to the boulders. "You... Kin... get back from th' door."
Josh nods obediently, and does get out of the way. But he does keep close, in case something bad happens.
Ginsei's silhouette is indistinct, but Josh can detect the sudden appearance of far more mass. The Garou wobbles drunkenly for a moment before steadying himself and peering more closely at the stones. After a moment, there is a grinding sound that echoes through the room. A little more daylight peeps through the dust.
A sound reaches Josh's ears from deeper in the cave. It is a snarling, gobbling sound that suggests that it is coming closer.
Josh readies his crossbow again, calling out. "You gotta hurry," he pants. "We've got company."
"Fuck," Ginsei says indistinctly (and not simply because of his form). "'ll do it." He heaves mightily, and the grinding becomes deafening. Josh can just begin to see, however, a triplet of far-off, fiery lights, deep in the cave.
Josh grits his teeth, firing off a shot. While he's loading another bolt, he looks backward, waiting, hoping, ready to run.
A squeal, much closer than those eye-like lights might suggest, sounds in response to the crossbow bolt. And then, with a boneshaking heave, Ginsei frees the entrance. Josh can hear boulders and stones landing outside, but there's open daylight beyond the massive dustcloud, and he can see Ginsei's hulking form shrinking as he staggers outside.
"Move move move!" Josh barks out, firing off one more bolt to slow them down before turning and running like his life depends on it. He winces, once more into the light, but heads towards it.
The clear wind hits Josh's face as he breaks through the cloud of dust. Boulders are rolling down the mountainside, causing a small landslide as they go. Ginsei has managed to stagger out to another large boulder and is leaning against it with his shoulder, back to Josh.
Deja vu strikes as, just behind Josh's heels, the cave collapses again, this time probably irredeemably. He hears a scream from within that definitely comes from an animal throat -- not a spirit's.
Josh, once the scream stops, collapses on the hillside in a heap, gasping for air. He blinks tears freely from his eyes, turning around to see if everyone else made it.
Ginsei is still propped up against the rock, panting. Nothing else seems to have managed to emerge from the cave.
Josh pushes himself up, staggering over to the Sentinel. "Thanks," he pants, watching the Crinos quietly. "Thank you very much. We'd have been so toast."
The Garou shrinks down to his human form and turns to Josh, passing a hand over his eyes. Argent's silver arm glitters through the torn black glove and ruined black shirt. Blood and bruises stand out on his sickly pale face. His dark eyes are far too bright. "I...," he begins and stops. "Oh, goddess, Jason. You've let your hair grow again." Tears run through the grime on his cheeks. "I'm glad... thank you for saving me... It was the least I could do..."
Josh pages the room: Oh.
Josh pages the room: My.
Josh pages the room: God.
Weatherwax pages the room: Weatherwax grins?
Josh pages the room: You are a sick, twisted, devious woman.
Josh pages the room: I think I'm in love with you. ;)
Weatherwax pages the room: 'That's an accolade I don't get often! ;)'.
Josh's face falls, like a stone. "Sweet Gaia," he whispers. "Argent..."
Argent reaches out with his right hand -- the one that's flesh -- and touches Josh's cheek gently. "I didn't mean to kill her. I hope... I hope you know that, Beacon-to-Spirits." His hand drops and he staggers back against the stone. "I... I have to go... the Rite's still on me... I shouldn't've spoken to you... you could be..." He looks around, blindly, at the mountainside, and finally casts his eyes back to Josh. "Oh, Jason. I loved you."
Josh pages the room: Josh falls off his chair in shock.
Josh pages the room: Josh needs a minute or two to sort this all out. One sec...
It hits Josh in a rush, all at once. His chest starts hurting, somewhere inside. "That was a long time ago, Ginsei. You hurt so much, then the Paths took you, didn't they?" He stiffens, as if keeping from collapsing on willpower alone. Grandfather...Sweet Gaia, Grandfather....
Argent rolls his head back against the stone. "The Paths," he murmurs. "Yes. I- I have to go. My head... damn poison... damn Rider... worse than Lords... worse than Picts..." He inhales sharply and looks at Josh. "I have to go, go before I..." As if drawn by a magnet, he leans closer to Josh, his right hand hovering near enough to the Kin's face to make the hairs tingle. "You have such eyes. I stay near the sea, just to see something like your eyes. But it's never deep enough."
Josh shakes his head, his brain doing frantic tumbles to get a grasp on the situation. "You...what was done to you today? Who tied you up? Was it because you remembered?" His breathing is coming in frightened gasps, since he knows full who will win in a fight, sick or not. His hand fingers his crossbow. One shot, he thinks. One shot, and I can end his nightmare. And my own... "Ginsei...Argent," he says, reminding himself, backing away slowly.
Argent reaches for Josh abortively, and catches his hand back before it touches the Kin. "It... it was a Rider." He looks down at himself and tears his shirt the rest of the way open to reveal an ugly purple-black wound in his side. "Poison... on the spear. Bane poison. If... if I go back..." He looks up, anguished. "Jason... if only... only you hadn't... I wouldn't be like this..." He holds up his left arm, the silver one. "I wouldn't have quested for this on the Battle Plains. I wouldn't have... wouldn't have..." His chest heaves painfully and his left hand tightens into a fist. "I wish... I could come back to you... but you're a poison dream, aren't you? And this..." He pulls a small leather bag from the tangle of the rest of his shirt. "This is all I have left of you. Forever."
Josh could say it, here. Tell Ginsei the truth, relate a story of the funeral of Jason Beacon-to-Spirits, and how his life was celebrated, and how loved he truly was, especially by this grandson of his. But, something snaps inside of him, and he speaks softly. "It's not Jason's forgiveness you seek, Ginsei," he says. Don't day the other name. Don't say the other name, it it gets worse. "It is your own. The poison...what can counteract it?"
Argent blinks and wipes his face, falling back against the boulder again. His silver hand probes the wound absently. "I can... I can, soon enough. I need to rest." Suddenly, he looks around at the wide open mountainside wildly. "Not here... not here! Too open. They'll find me... hunting me... I-I have to... I am what I am, now. I'm not your lover Ginsei any more. I'm not a Sentinel. You all took that from me." He backs away, sliding along the stone, moving upslope and into a crouch. "I know... I had to pay... but it was your fault... your fault! So why didn't you have to pay too?" His body begins to shimmer.
Josh stomps down any fear he has left, refusing to allow his grandfather's memory to be defiled any longer. "He paid, Ginsei," he says, voice cold. "My Grandfather, the Jason you speak of, lost every day of his life in the War against those who fell, who would have us all dead. He helped bring about peace, as much as we've had in centuries. You don't think he lost anythign, Ginsei? He lost her, and he lost you too. I...he never told me this story. Ever. Maybe he truly loved you both, I cannot say, but he lost you both. And I don't doubt for a second that that never hurt him. And he had to live his life, without either of you. He paid..."
Argent's head drops forward and he covers his face with his right hand. His shoulders shake. "I have to go," he finally says in a strained, flat voice. "I have to... go." He swallows hard and finally looks up at Josh. "I'm sorry, Jason... You are beautiful, and I'm glad to have seen you again..." The whipcord of his body snaps him around and a black wolf with a gleaming silver forelimb darts off over the mountainside.
Josh watches him go, waiting until Argent is out of sight. When that happens, Josh feels his strength leave him, and he falls forward, onto his hands and knees, shivering uncontrollably.
Josh pages the room: Josh hmmms. Leave it here?
Weatherwax pages the room: Weatherwax grins. As you like. :) Argent's gone off, so it leaves Josh to wander home on his own.