|11 Nov 2004|
|25 Nov 2004|
|09 Dec 2004|
|16 Dec 2004|
|27 Jan 2005|
|03 Feb 2005|
|10 Feb 2005|
|17 Feb 2005|
|24 Feb 2005|
|03 Mar 2005|
|10 Mar 2005|
|Conquest & sick|
|07 Apr 2005|
|14 Apr 2005|
|21 Apr 2005|
|05 May 2005|
|12 May 2005|
|19 May 2005|
|26 May 2005|
|02 Jun 2005|
|09 Jun 2005|
|23 Jun 2005|
|30 Jun 2005|
|14 Jul 2005|
|21 Jul 2005|
|28 Jul 2005|
|11 Aug 2005|
|25 Aug 2005|
The pack rock on down to Rippling Waters by Moonbridge or car, depending how many kinfolk they are taking with them. Moonbridgees arrive and are greeted by Sandra Norton and Raids-the-Roost (who is in trouble and not allowed to go to the fair). They chat for a bit, then wander off to get a lift from people heading to Koroit. Abby spots some people elsewhere in the caern and says that she'll catch them later.
Everyone else trundles off to the country fair. Its a largish sort of event, with a bouncy castle, people showing off local produce, jugglers and firetwirlers, and so on. A bit south of Koroit, it fills a couple of large fields. Garou and kinfolk are mingling with the humans and a good time was had by all.
Krieg is wandering about when two kids, maybe 11, run past him. They double-glance his way and stop and whisper amongst themselves. When he gets closer they look around surreptiously and ask if he's Craig. Kreig corrects them and says "why?". "Cos Marc told us all about you, and the rest of your friends. He said you were ace." Krieg has a blank look on his face before someone remembers about Marc the wanna-be kinfolk. Eyes are rolled and people get the giggles. The kids claim that Marc taught them karate and says that Kreig knows special karate too. Kreig ascents that this might be the case and the kids demand he shows them, so they go behind some of the tents and run through some basic katas. The kids even ignore Kreig's gagging smell.
Freya spends some time catching up with family to a repeated tune of "when's the next baby?", but is walking with Jay when she spots Bret. She'd seen him earlier, talking with Abby, but he sees her and waves them both over. When she gets closer, she sees that he's talking with a dark-haired, stocky guy. Jay says he thinks he knows the guy. They get close enough to talk and Bret says "Freya, Jay, this is Brendan Hilditch. Freya is the Claws of Wisdom packleader and Jay -" Brendan interrupts and says "is the Jindabyne Council spy. We've met." Jay ums and ahs a little and Brendan says "There was a matter of some stolen fetishes from our Protectorate that your sire refused to return. Bret, I will speak later." Brendan leaves. Despite some confusion over the use of the word 'sire', the pack want to know about things, but Jay shrugs and says he barely remembers. Bret is a bit surprised by the rudeness, but tells Freya that Brendan is Fingal's grandson (one of them). He was spending Brigit's day with them. Jay denies knowing anything about stolen fetishes and Bret shrugs and says perhaps there was some confusion. Abby mentally chimes in and says that Brendan is a jerk - he fancies himself as Fingal's successor and probably has 'issues' with the council adding Jay to what is often regarded as a Fianna pack. Not everyone was entirely happy with the outcome of that particular encounter, apparently.
The day slides on. Louis Ash-on-Snow gets involved in the percussion equivilent of duelling bangos with some local drum band, drawing a large audience. There is an axe-chopping contest which Albert Forgione comes in a close third. Abby is spotted moving about the fair, speaking with some of the Fianna like Mae Fischer, but avoids her pack. Cole contacts Freya mentally at one point about what would be a good challenge against...[mental pause] a rank two Fianna ahroun? They want to know what the hell is going on, but Cole refuses to say, except that he's been challenged, and can't think of anything. Freya suggests a race, and Cole agrees. He mentally sings "la la la la la" until people leave him alone, but later in the day, is a bit unimpressed with the "fianna hospitality".
About dusk, folks getting some of the excellent local homebrew notice that Catherine Lie-Thrower, who has been lurking near the beer tent the whole day, is rolling out some "special" beer. When people ask, she gives them a wink and pantomimes people falling asleep. The pack return to cruising for chicks, er, socialising as part of the Brigid celebration. Occasionally they get caught up in some of the more spiritual celebrations, and dragged into the Umbra. These tend to be a bit confused - some traditional spirits regard the date as the end of winter, but others have accepted the change in seasons, so there is a mix of abeisances performed to the denizens of the spirit realms.
And the door swings both ways - as the sun dims away, big bonfires are lit. The night is fairly 'jolly' by this point, and Catherine's brewing talents are stretched. Some of the Garou start to notice that the area is being infested, er, visited by low Fae. The mundanes don't seem to notice them, but the Garou, some kinfolk, and some kids aren't as oblivious. The fae run around the place, steal beer and generally cause havoc. Bob sees two of them beckoning him from next to a tent, and he heads over there. They keep moving away, beckoning him across now empty fields. Bob follows, but suddenly realises that he has seen that stump before. He looks behind him and sees it not 20' away. Suspicious of being led into faerieland, he scratches a mark onto the ground and keeps heading their way. Suddenly, he feels a falling sensation and the illusion breaks, sliding him down into muddy creek. The sound of low fae laughing and running away mingle with the stench of wet dog, and all laugh. Except Bob.
Eventually all the mundanes have left and the Fianna finish celebrating, thanking the gods for a bounteous summer and *cough cough* for bringing the sun back after winter. People drift back to the caern, find a hollow and crash to sleep. Freya uses her Dreamspeak gift and links up with Krieg's dreams once he's asleep, dropping into the trance ....
Krieg is standing in a forest, European and just on dawn. The light skitters through the leaves high above, rich with reddish dawn colours. He can't smell or see any sign of Petrus, so he starts loping through the forest. As he travels, he starts to get an uncomfortable feeling - it starts as if he is being watched, but builds into something more primally wrong. Krieg realises he is being hunted, and that his fundamentally predatoral nature is rebelling against it.
Kreig tries to give the hunter the slip - he splashes through water, and tries to move up wind and so on - but nothing seems to help. Freya, riding along, tries to get a sense for what is chasing Kreig, but she only gets glimpses of a vaguely humanoid form. Kreig tries make a run for it through the forest, and the form gives chase. As best as Freya can tell, it is a huge humanoid, dressed in fur. ttttttttttthwap! And carrying a bow. Kreig gets shot with a yard shaft that passes right through his leg and buries itself into a tree. He veers sideways and waits for the wound to close up behind a tree.
Once the blood has stopped running, Krieg thinks outside the box and heads up the huge oak tree he is behind. He reaches a point maybe 15 or 20 metres above the ground and looks around. A short distance away there is another tree with significant branches at his height, so he figures he can lose the pursuit by leaping from this tree to the other. Unfortunately, he is apparently unable to leap from this tree to the other, and comes slamming down onto the ground, rolls and is pinned to a fallen log by another yardshaft.
Striding towards him is a figure, almost beastial in aspect even though it appears human in feature. It is dressed in furs that Krieg realises look a lot like his own Crinos form european wolf pelt - they might be what's left of Petrus. The figure leans in close and says "a spy in my realm?... with a spy upon the spy." It reaches towards Freya's bodiless point of view and seems to snatch at her - Freya finds herself pulled into the realm from the dream trance, landing heavily next to Kreig.
Somewhat freaked, the garou ask it who it is, and it laughs and says that they have no right to question it in its own lands. It says that it will hunt them both, and they will make fine additions to its trophies. The packmates are about to be all defiant when the Hunter looks up and snarls "What are /you/ doing here?". The two garou sneak a look and see a red-haired woman heading their way - she is dressed in leathers and is bare foot. She speaks and the garou understand - she says that this is her night, and she goes where she wills. And that these two are under her protection, as her servant is part of their pack. Kreig and Freya make internal "huh?" noises, but the Hunter smiles in a fairly unpleasant way and replies that he will not be letting such interesting prey to leave. The woman reaches the two of them and lays her hand on their shoulders -
The world tips and Freya and Kreig are on the shore at Rippling Waters, near the rest of their pack.
People are kicked or stirred awake and the scary dream is related. Abby makes gah noises, and says that the woman sounds a lot of Brigid. Which, given that February 2 is her celebration, would follow. There are some weird looks Abby's way about the "her servant" part of the conversation between the two fey. Abby looks embarrassed and says she just remembered something from the week before when she met Pillar-woman again - there were little speckles of silver all over the ground and a silvery hand mark on one of the menhirs. And Pillar-woman was telling her that the faeries are sort of in every doorway from one place to another at the same time - so maybe it was in reference to Petrus, who had shaken off the silver while inside the circle?
This, and the random sensing and all does seem to suggest that the forest, which was the same as Krieg's original Petrus dream or vision, is in the fae realm. The fact that the hunting thing was also a fay leads to some speculation that it might be Herne, which doesn't thrill anyone, but its a little tremulous. So, the pack collect their stuff, thank the Fianna for a lovely weekend away and Moonbridge/travel back to Melbourne.
Later that arvo, they find Cossack, Emma and Graeme and give them the low-down. None of the Elders look too impressed - losing one of the larger packs for an indeterminate amount of time isn't their idea of a good plan. Graeme floats past Abby the possibility that going to the fae realms is addictive, and they are looking for reasons to go, but she says that's rubbish (while scratching at the inside of her elbow). Cossack grudgingly says that they can go, but that they shouldn't mess about - go and see Lysander and see if they can find out more info about where in the lands of the fae this hunter is, and then re-evaluate if they are going to look - don't overcommit to a long long trip.
The pack go and get a variety of gewgaws (baubles, doodads, fandangles, festoonery, fripperies, furbelows, gilts, gimcracks, ornaments, spangles or trinkets) from $2 shops near the caern. They arrange with Chris McNeil to drive a boat out to near the cave and drop them off, and also let the members of Claws of Wisdom who haven't been to the Fae lands about the deal - knights, two castles, sun on one horizon, moon on the other, oh yeah, queen of the faeries hates us. Abby cautions Melissa about the fae and their courtly ways of lerv.
Bright and early, people are at Frankston and renting a boat. The guy at the doc doesn't pay any attention to their lack of fishing gear; he takes the money and gives them keys. Chris pilots the boat along the coast until people reach the area where the cave is. Jumps-in-Puddles and Melissa are given instructions (hold your breath, just keep moving) and the pack move into the dark trod. They check their alarm clock (all good), and look at the pictures of giant figures, animals and geometric patterns all over the walls.
Transition! Instead of being in a sandy, salty cave, the pack are again standing on the dirt floored cave in the fae lands. A smell of forest drifts in from the outside and when people investigate, there is a strong afternoon light from the sky above. The forest is alive with the sounds of animals, and in the distance they can faintly here the raucous sounds of low fae.
Figuring the easiest way to get out of the forest is to bribe some of the low fae rather than try and rely on Freya's imaginary Hart, the pack hunt around for some native to fob off with beads. They eventually run into a 9'' tall bear. The bear is a bit of a grouch, but with a flimsy excuse for trade goods and the promise of riding on Bob's back, they manage to get him to lead them to Lysander's castle. The bear introduces himself as Larry, and proceeds to lead them in what feels like circles while pulling imperiously on Bob's ears to direct him left and right.
The forest suddenly clears and they are on the road, facing towards the sun. Larry doesn't immediately leave - he claims that he said he'd take them to the castle, but its pretty clear he's just enjoying riding the wolf. The Claws of Wisdom proceed as rose and white colours turrets begin to rise up above the rolling hills and the light starts to fade to dusk. The pack perceive a group of knights riding their way along the road, and Larry suddenly eeps and flees into the woods.
When the knights approach, Freya steps forward. The head knight asks who they are, and Freya formally introduces the pack. The knight says his name is Lord Kenard, and that if she will excuse him, they will ride ahead and inform Lord Lysander of their approach. Freya agrees and the knights wheel and turn, cantering back towards the castle. The pack continue.
When they arrive, the castle is turned out to greet their arrival. Lysander greets them inside the main courtyard, and there is much formal back and forth. He declares that there will be a feast this evening in their honour. Freya subtley suggests that this isn't entirely a festive visit, and Lysander agrees that he will see them after they have been shown to their rooms. Bob is surreptiously looking for the Lords Reegus and Janos and when he sees Janos, points him out to Abbey with much sniggering. Melissa demands to know about the sniggering and when Bob tells her, she is a bit miffed about Abby warning her about things just because she got in trouble.
The pack are shown to a suite of rooms and offered refreshments. They piss about for a bit before being shown into Lysander's presence. He and his court are obviously waiting for the pack, and they are treated like honoured guests. After the formalities are covered, Freya explains about Petrus' part in the events surrounding Nlaloonjurrie and his eventual fate in Erebus. She describes Krieg's two dreams and there is a bit of a stir amongst the assembled nobles. Lysander says that it sounds as if the location they dreamed about was not one that is part of his realm, but of one of the other other great Lords who did not leave for Arcadia when the gates closed. He will command his scholars to find what they can about where the lands may be. But in the meantime, feasting!
The pack return to their rooms. Some of them go exploring, and Abby disappears for a while (Abby only). Eventually they return for the great feast in their honour. There is much to eat and many toasts. There is no sign of Lord Reegus. Melissa is being entertained by a number of young looking fae, male and female, and leaves them somewhat in disarray when she leaves with all the female ones.
Eventually the diners retreat from the main hall to a room of more quiet elegance. The fae lords and ladies mingle with liqueurs rather than wines and talk amogst themselves. The Garou are popular conversationalists (at least to begin with) because they carry gossip, er, news, of the outside world. The night wears down and the crowd clears, eventually thinning enough to reveal a short, white-haired fae in glasses, sleeping on a chair near the main doors. Those garou who have been here before recognise him as Berabolous, the somewhat absent minded scholar who helped them with Nlaloonjurrie last time. Abby gently wakes him up and manges to get him to approach a clear table to put down his material. With many false starts, they manage to discover that the information that they have - hunting, dawn - seems to indicate that Petrus is in, or was in, the realms of Candaon. Lysander tells them that Candaon is one of the most powerful of Fae Lords, on an equilient level to himself and Marianna. Fabulous. He offers to give them a token that will help them transit the forest, and may provide some authority to them - but he cannot give them an absolute assurance that Candaon will pay it any heed. Lysander offers any other resources that will aid them in their quest.
Bright and early in the morning, the 7 Garou assemble and prepare to head out. They've given some thought to how to travel, and are going to move along in lupus form, as a pack, to minimise their resonances with the concept of 'prey'. They also howl loudly and generally behave like predators as much as they can. This has the beneficial side effect of scaring a lot of the low fae away from them too.
The pack run on through the forest, keeping in mind that they are Hunting, not being Hunted, and that they are looking for the dawn realm of Candaon. Freya cuts loose with a Call of the Wyld, but its not really much chop. Time passes, and they run on, hoping that Lysander's token is keeping them from wandering in circles.
About midday, the pack run through a break in the trees and notice that there is a flock of ravens above them. They glance up a few more times as the day progresses and the ravens are still there. Given that they previously have been the servants of Marianna, the Claws of Wisdom are a little concerned.
They have been running for some time when Freya hears the faintest noise behind them. She shooshes the rest of the pack and listens carefully - there is a very faint jingle a long way back from their path. Paranoia strikes and the pack move to trying to make their way through the forest more quietly. Scenting and listening carefully as they travel, they hear similar jingles, and heavy thuds, and then Jay scents the faint smell of horses - which means that the jingling is probably horse tack. The feeling is distinctly that they are being followed.
Freya stops and says that its time for icecream. Everyone wants chocolate, except Cole, who says that it is a metaphor for keeping the black man down, and orders a vanilla cone, crunching through it with obvious relish and muffled "take that!"s. Krieg gets some on his red and white gingham dress, and is a bit miffed, mostly cos Abby keeps snickering.
Deciding that the pack doesn't really want to get into the mindset of being hunted, they spread out into a sort of V, and see who is following them. They hide with the stealth of a thousand ninjas. After a short wait, they spot 4 of Marianna's knights riding slowly along. They are being led by a sort of fox-looking gobliny thing that seems to be snuffling along. The pack have a bit of a mental powwow and decide that obviously this is a threat and they must wipe it out. Abby changes to crinos while unlimbering her bow, and puts the first shaft right through the head of the fox thing. The knights see her and two of them charge that way.
Bob leaps onto the log he was hiding behind and it collapses, dumping him into a powdery hollow. Freya runs forward to engage the knight who had the fox thing on a leash while Krieg tears the hamsting out of the fourth knight's horse. Bob, dusty with rotten wood, leaps out of the hollow and into the marsh on the far side of the log. Abby looses a couple more shots at the approaching knights but finds their armor has a fairly significant retarding effect on the overall carnage she can cause with her bow.
Bob leaps out of the marsh and into a thorn bush. Abby slashes at one of the horses and unseats a knight. Freya tries to knock her opponent down a few times, but finds him harder to unseat than she thought. Krieg pounds one of the other knights and is really mangling him when he drops his sword and yells "yield". Krieg kicks it away and stands back, and the other knights break off from their garou opponents. Krieg uses his gifts to heal knights and horses alike.
Krieg is confronted by the lead knight (presumably) and Freya responds. The knight seems to want to know why they dishonourably ambushed their party, and also why they are trespassing on fae lands. The pack object to the dishonourable part (despite scoffing from the GM) and concentrate on the trespass - they say that they are guests of Lysander, and these are his lands, not Marianna's. The knights say that all fae lands belong to the fae first, and then to individual fae nobles second - and given their dishonourable surprise attack, why should they take the Garou at their word. Freya shows them Lysander's token, and they grumblingly accept it. The knights leave in a huff.
The pack continue. The woods become more and more wild, and it becomes harder to keep to their path. They can still hear animals, and the watercourses they cross are full of fish and other aquatic life. Low fae play around the trees, but their laughter seems less frolicsome and more dangerous. The Claws of Wisdom push on, trying to channel as much of the hunter as they can. Night falls, and rather than take their chances in a dark wood, they find a nearby niche and catch some sleep. The pack take watches in pairs.
Cole is meant to be watching with Jumps-in-Puddles, but he has fallen asleep, leaving the Shadowlord to keep an eye out. Jay hears the faintest sounds off in the distance and thinks he sees a crinoid silhouette move silently between trees. He moves away from the pack and tries to sense. There is a feeling of something out there - it might be a garou, but there is also a fae sense mixed with it. Given that it might be Petrus, he wakes the others quietly and they start creeping after the figure.
Bob manages to get there before Krieg's stinky dandelion butt overcomes all the scents, and gets a scent - but its awfully faint. The pack creep along after it - well, except for Melissa, who is grumpy about being woken up and seems to be having trouble with her balance. Abby mentally hisses at her to take this seriously. They stop for a moment and try to ping the moving figure, only to find that it seems to be cutting back to their campsite instead of further ahead of them.
Half the pack double back, while the other half cut off their current path and towards their sense of the moving figure. Bob reaches the campsite first, and finds, rather than a bewildered crinos, or a vengeful god, two low fae destroying their campsite and throwing all their stuff everywhere. The pack rush in and the low fae run off. There is a brief flickering of a crinos shape, but Abby gut punches one of the fae and it goes away. They capture the winded creature and interrogate it - apparently it didn't know what they saw, but when he works with the other fae, they can project an image of something that the people are seeking. The pack shake the fae for a bit then let it go.
Having gained only a little more sleep, the pack run on. The light starts to change, and the pack pick up speed. They start to realise that the dawn light isn't getting any stronger - which probably means that they are where they should be, in Candaon's realm. More disturbingly, the majority of the Claws of Wisdom realise that Jay and Krieg are both behaving in odd ways - much less wolflike, and more, well, prey like. It is theorised that their more primal nature is more easily influenced by the pervasive aura of this realm. They consider how to release them from the effect - its possible that a Rite of Cleansing will do it, or a Call of the Wyld, but both are pretty loud.
Bob has another theory, which he puts into effect by stealing Cole's flyswat with his monkeytail gift and attacking the sensitive areas of both Krieg and Jay. This doesn't seem to have the desired effect of causing them to spend or channel Rage and shrug the miasma away. Krieg manages to disarm Bob and whacks him on the testicles with it, which does cause Bob to nearly frenzy - only copious amounts of self control stop Bob from trying to kill all his friends.
Freya decides that a Rite of Cleansing is the most likely candidate - they'll just have to run for it after she howls. The ritual is performed and the gnosis freed channelled into the two recalcitrant pack members. They find themselves suddenly accepting of the need for being a hunter in the current time, and the pack run like hell.
They crash through heavy woods and try to do their best to shake pursuit. They run in single file, split up into smaller groups and such to foil people looking to follow their tracks. Freya uses her Ley Lines gift to foil spiritual tracking. The pack plunge through rivers and swamps to foil scent tracing.
The light does not change despite the time that they spend avoiding the lord of the demense. It is still dawnish and still cool. Low fae play amidst the forest, their voices a bit more coarse and the pranks nastier than around Tir n'Noght. The pack keep their noses to the ground and try to smell for Petrus, but don't have much luck. They decide to stop and do a questing stone ritual. Searching for 'Petrus' doesn't have much luck, but looking for 'Frog' gives Bob a vague direction, but not a distance. They head off in any case.
However, as they travel, some of the pack begin to get the feeling that they are being followed. Its hard to pin down exactly why they are gaining that premonition - maybe the sound of wildlife behind them go quiet briefly; perhaps the echo of a broken branch; or the swaying of vegetation. They keep the direction to Frog in mind, but go back to trying to lose pursuit.
The pack climb up a steep bank out of a small river and consider briefly which way to go when Jay watches a long shaft drift out of the forest and slam into his chest. The rest of the pack experience a surge of great pain as the yard shaft pierces most of Jumps-in-Puddles' organs and sticks out his back - the shock causes their Rage to surge, but everyone but Cole manages to control their urges. Cole flips immediately to crinos and leaps the river, tearing and destroying .. .well, the environment, bereft of an actual target.
Krieg breaks the dark fletching off and pulls the arrow free, and lays his hands on Jay... but nothing happens. Melissa cries out and falls to the ground with an arrow sticking out of her upper arm. The pack look around for some cover, given they can't see their enemy, and spot a pile of rocks not far away. Krieg jams cloth over the leaking holes in his packmate and they run for the hideyhole. They luck out and find that it is a pile of jumbled boulders covered with dirt, but leaving a number of small gaps for garou to hide in.
They ponder what to do, accompanied by the fading sound of a screaming garou. Krieg patches up Jay, who is still bleeding profusely. Abby sucumbs to the dark urge to try and summon a fae to help her out, but there is no immediate effect. They wonder if they can try and make a run for where they think Frr is.
Bob spots a blur of movement cross the clearing in front of them, and then realises he is looking at a 'man' dressed in fur and leather whirling somehting around. Bob works out its a sling just as Freya yells "OW!" because a sling stone smashed into the rock next to her head, and then into her. The figure is gone from view before even the Garou can attack.
Bob suggests leaving the wounded and Cole and running to find Frrr with the last of their pack. Abby objects, saying that its all for one and one for all, not all for one except the wounded and the annoying one. Freya says that they all go or no one. Abby hears a whispering from within the crevice and looks to see a shadowy low fae looking at her. She chats with the shadow, but it basically says that the master (presumable Candaon) controls the whole realm, and it is his will that stops their healing gifts from working. The course of the conversation seems to imply that everyone gets hunted, but that it might not be the end of the story - that perhaps hunted does not equal being killed, and that there may be a way to symbolically have one Garou hunted rather than all of them.
Abby volunteers to be hunted, but Freya overrules her and says she will do it, and the others are to stay together. Freya steps out of the forest and calls out Candaon's name. She hears a howl/cry from maybe 500 m into the forest. She yells that she offers herself as prey, to be hunted in as spectacular way possible in return for being shown Frrr/left alone. The cry comes again, but closer and subtly different - more a hunting cry than a recognition. Freya hopes that that means "yes" and runs for it.
While her packmates provide advice, Freya runs for her life. She spends hours making false trails, leaping from rock pile to rock pile, swiming up and down stream, rolling in mud and as many tricks as she can possibly think of. When she is not sure if she can leap off a cliff (20' or so) and heal, Krieg wounds himself with a natural process and finds that its only Candaon's weapons which do not heal.
Eventually Freya can hear the running steps right behind her. There is a twang sound and the scream of an arrow - she veers to one side, but finds herself tangled in the falling sapling that was the arrow's true target. As she stumbles, Candaon runs past her and knocks her down, dragging a sharp knife across her throat. Blood erupts across the clearing and Freya falls to her back, writhing in pain, and with the irrestible change to homid form. The wound is deep, to the bone, and her life gushes out, warmth seeping into the ground beneath her. Freya is still conscious, but she can't move. Candaon strolls back. It is hard to see his exact form - either paint, magic or some essential nature camoflagues his body and face. He seems pufffed, but exhilerated.
Candaon fingers the stone knife in his hands, still slick with Freya's blood and walks around her. He says that he will take a trophy of the hunt and bends down, resting the knife against her ear. "Maybe this? No, an eye" and he moves the knife to press against the skin under Freya's eyeball. He moves the knife back and says "Hmmm. Maybe your name - you are proud of that, yes?" and the knife blurs and twists into a blade that looks like it could remove a name. Freya mentally yells for help and Abby starts yelling that it wasn't part of the deal to take trophies. Although Candaon is miles away, Freya sees him tilt his head and smile. "I know - ", and the knife moves to Freya's chest. It dips into her skin and peels the battlescar away from her sternum, leaving pink skin behind. He holds the scar up, detached, but still physical and smiles a predatorial smile before vanishing into the brush.
The rest of the pack come and find Freya. It takes a couple of applications of Mother's touch, but eventually they manage to restore her body to a more working state. There's no sign of Candaon, so he's ignoring them which is better than being killed. They heal the others too, and find Cole, collapsed in a heap of shredded blood and worse. Bob does a Questing Stone for Frr again and gets a sensation that he is off in that [waves hand aerily] direction, so the pack hobble/run towards it.
After an indeterminate time, they smell smoke from ahead. Creeping forward, they can see a campfire and a figure sitting at it. It certainly looks like Petrus from a distance, but he still has his skin. Krieg goes forward and says hi. Petrus/Frr is not entirely with it, but he seems to accept that he is Petrus. He looks less scarred than they remember, but a lot more gaunt - while he is a lot like Krieg, he'd need a month of big meals and some careful exercise to be able to pass for him. The pack convince him that its time to go, and that he can change into a wolf. Off they run.
The dawn light fades to night without brightening into day light. The pack opts to keep moving as time is of the essence. When the light brightens again, it continues to grow light until the sky is bright with the light of a summer day. Climbing a tree reveals the sun on one horizon and the moon far away on the other, and the familiar line of Tir na Noght below them in a valley. Petrus is becoming more conscious, remembering little details, but he is still missing huge chunks of his memory.
Knights meet the pack as they head through open grassy fields, and once establishing who they are, escort them to the castle. Lysander, seeing their dirty and dishevled appearance, dismisses them to rest for a time, which they do. When they re-arise, it is to find a small group of people joining them for a simple meal with Lysander. They tell their tale and all are amazed. Lysander offers to escort them personally to their trod so that they can get back home. They all say "yes please" although Melissa looks disappointed about not being able to take a dress along. Or two dresses. And some jewelery.
They run alongside Lysander's horse, followed by his guards and reach the cave and hill. Waving good bye, the pack lead Petrus down to the cave and explain how to get out. *poof* and they are in the salty, cold air of the Realm trod. Digging up the clock reveals that it is 4am on....
... so they've only lost a bit of time.
The pack explain to Petrus, who asks if he has been here before (we think so), about how to get out. They swim to a scalable bit of cliff and climb up. Someone runs to a public phone and gets the caern to send a couple of people down with big cars (there are 8 of them). Aquinas and Christine show up with largish vans and the still damn Garou are driven back to Melbourne.
Freya and Abby are in the same car as Christine and notice Christine giving Freya an odd look or two. They query it and she looks a bit guilty and says "nothing". Freya asks what's happened and Christine prevaricates and then says that they'll have to ask Cossack.
The pack arrive at the Sept and introductions are made all around. Despite Freya trying to ask what was going on that made Christine so twitchy, Cossack suggests that Petrus' knowledge is currently higher in priority. They quickly get down to business - what does Petrus recall? Petrus is a bit more sentient and seems able to remember a lot of stuff, but his memory has distinct holes. He can remember being a young garou in a Get sept, and being part of a pack of rank 1 Get. He has some memories of being trapped by Dancers, but after that pretty much everything is gone - Erebus is nothing if not thorough.
The Elders use their amAzing powers to try and glean something from Petrus' brain. He is more than willing to help, but only two vague fragments come to light - darkness and the strong scent of decay; and the distant sound of rain falling.
Cossack suggests that while Petrus is technically now free of Wyrm taint, its unlikely that his previous Sept will be to accepting of his presence. He is welcome to stay here, but Cossack isn't entirely sure that the Dancers won't do something unpleasant if they become aware that he is back from Erebus. He suggests that after NYE, the caern has become a bit crowded anyway - perhaps Krieg and Petrus could find somewhere else to live to help Petrus adjust and to help drop numbers a bit. He looks at Melissa but doesn't say anything and she doesn't volunteer. Cossack says that they don't have to decide now.
Freya, getting more and more agitated, demands to know what else has happened. Cossack starts by saying that Brad and Jordan are fine, they are staying with Gwen, which doesn't really calm the situation down much. Apparently Brad had noticed someone hanging around their house in Malvern on Friday and then again Saturday morning; given that Freya was in faerieland, called the Sept. They sent Carmel and Kirsty Surfs-the-Train over just to look about and while they were there, the guy came up to the door.
The description sabout what happened next are a bit confused - he definately made some sort of accusation about Carmel (whom it is supposed he thought was Freya) kidnapping his niece Polly. There was some words and some sensing Gifts and then some unpleasantness all around. Kirsty says she wounded him, but he also used maaagic to start a fire. The altercation broke off at that point, and whoever it was left, and Kirsty and Carmel retreated to the caern, bringing the two kinfolk with them.
The Claws of Wisdom stare at Cossack who shrugs. Frankly, he has no idea either. Freya points out that as far as they know, Polly was kidnapped by mages. The whole seedy story is related for Jay's benefit. They have no idea who the hell this was, but Freya remembers they looked up some of Polly's ancestry when they thought she might have been a mage/bunyip/kinfolk/superhero or something. She has the records at her place.
Leaving Petrus with Cole at Freya's, the pack zoom out there, it being about midday by this point. There is some evidence of a fire on Freya's porch, but it appears to have been tidied up. She sits everyone down while she looks for the records, eventually finding a printout of Polly's family tree, as deducted by Gwen. They decide that the description given for the man who came to the door suits Christian Bury better than Christopher Garrett, so try a Questing Stone. It works! He is about 10 or 15kms south west of their current location.
Through a process of repeating the ritual at increasingly closer locations, they find that Christian Bury is apparently in one of the middle rooms in an L-shaped motel in Murrumbeena. Intriguing. From the Umbra, they scope the place out - 9 rooms, about 1/3 being rented, but only a couple of people there. Krieg tries to look in the booking book, but finds that its shut. What an annoying luddite the old guy is who runs it - no computers! They wait about until someone calls to book a room, which luckily is not long, and find a Christian Bury is in room 5. Aha, this is too easy.
They check out room 5. There is a couple in there, maybe a bit older looking than 30ish, but still within the acceptable description. They appear to be married, judging on rings and general behaviour. Neither of them sense of magic, although there is a lingering, general feeling of magic around the hotel. They watch these two pack, apparently they are leaving. Neither looks hurt. Their car has Victorian plates, and the pack get the feeling that they don't live too far away, but had come down to Melbourne for a party on the weekend.
This is getting seriously weird. Abby looks at the rest of the motel in detail. Two rooms are inhabited by single guys, one of whom is there, and a third by a single femme. There's no point sources of magic in these rooms either. There's no chopped up mage under the bed in room 5, and the couple are talking about going to pay and then to a bakery for lunch - not typically occult behaviour.
Krieg watches as the two of them head to the office, chat with Leslie (the owner) and then pull out a credit card (name of Edwards) to pay for room 6. What the hell. Jay runs back and confirms that they were in room 5, but Krieg says that the owner has opened the book and they were meant for room 6. Jay goes and looks at room 6, and finds... that... it ... was the room they had. It still smells like them. It looks just like room 5. Except when he looks at room 5, its closed and has been for a while. And its next to room 3. Many Garou eyelids start to develop a twitch.
Krieg stops peeking and concentrates on going to room 5 in the Umbra. It is hard, but he manages to get to... dammit! Room 6. By dint of joining hands and hammering at it, the Garou manage to eventually have one of them stand at room 7 and the other at room 4, and bounce people back and forth until they manage to overload the magic or something. They become aware of a low magic feeling, pinpointed on room 5. Freya is peeking at the others enter from the Umbra, expecting to be zapped by the door and walls.
However, nothing of the sort happens, and Freya can now see a
darkened, smoky room. Four braziers stand in the corner, and smoke
curls around in a decidedly non-natural way. The smell of blood
almost overrides the bitter scent though, and a pile of bloodied
sheets are on the floor next to the bed. On the bed is a man,
wrapped in what looks like more torn sheets, also bloodied. He
does not look well. A pair of suitcases, one knocked over on
the ground, one askew, are about the only non-motel things apart
from all of this. The pack
bicker decide what to do and
eventually decide to step out into the room. *kazop* Christian -
if that is his real name - doesn't even stir.
They sense - a chunk of magic, some demonic, a non-small amount of wyrm. 4 Garou surround the bed, while Abby and Melissa hide in the bathroom. Freya clears her throat. No reaction. She does so louder, and the figure stirs, and eventually opens his eyes. He doesn't react violently, but tries to clear his throat. He's obviously in a lot of pain. He seems to guess who they are, at least so some degree. Freya asks how he found her, and he says that 'Freya' is a sufficiently uncommon name that it wasn't that hard. As to how he got the name, he's not willing to say. They have a conversation in which he claims they stole his neice away, they say it wasn't them, but other mages.
Christian says that he left Melbourne just after Polly was born, and only came back for his sister's funeral. He left at least partially to protect them, from what he's not saying. He admits that he came back to check on Polly in case she had developed mage powers, which come into their own at about puberty usually. And he found that she'd been kidnapped, and then tried to find out what he could, which seems to have included Freya's name.
The Garou tell a certain amount as well - Krieg heals Christian, who is amazed by the efficiacy of said healing. They say that they met Polly because she was fighting an evil thing with her m4d 5k1llz and tried to help her. When they led it off to be defeated, she apparently tried to follow and then was captured by some other mages. They say that they have some physical evidence that these "other mages" exist, but they'll have to see about giving it to Christian. They also mention that they have tried to find Polly, using her name, and Christian nearly swallows his tongue.
In the end, there is a truce and a joint goal of sorts - Christian wants to find Polly, as does the pack. They agree to join forces for the moment - Christian says that if they can pinpoint where she was taken, he can use some of his abilities to try and get a sense of what happened there. They say it was at Lilydale Lake, just a couple of kilometers from Andy's house, and agree to meet there about duskish (Christian's, er, ritual, being a bit obvious to the random passersby, it would be good to wait).
The pack head back to Freya's and then to the Sept, passing this info on. The elders are a bit leery about the cooperation, but leave it to the pack to do or not - just don't give away the home world. They talk about taking Christian to the mage house in Dandenong, but no one is too keen - she suggests photos instead, and they agree. She grabs a polaroid and a packmember of two, and drives out there.
That night, they arrive at Lilydale in fits and starts. Bob, Cole and Melissa get there in the Umbra and peek, finding Christian is there, sitting on a bollard in the parking lot. There doesn't seem to be anything like 20 demons waiting in the trees or anything. Krieg and Jay scope it from the realm, running along in lupus down in the park, but it all seems ok to them. So, Freya and Abby head in by car, and Krieg walks up in homid. Christian seems much better and thanks Krieg for his help. Freya decides to use her Truth of Gaia gift this time while talking with Christian.
He says that he would like to wait until more people leave - what he is planning is a little obvious and strange. The pack ask for a clarification, and he says that some guy muttering to himself and drawing on the ground is not a good look in public. They wait for another group of picnicers to leave in awkward silence, although when the ragabash moon rises, Christian points to it and asks if it will be a problem as it gets bigger. The garou shrug and say no, some things are blown out of proportion.
Eventually Christian is happy, and asks them to show him where things happen. Relaying from Bob, who did the sniffing last time, and remembering things like the date and moon, they map out what they think the events were. Christian maps a square of carpark and starts making notes at the corners. He suggests they step out of that square - not that its dangerous, but it might disrupt his concentration, and this won't be easy.
When he finishes writing stuff, he puts his hands on the last set of symbols and starts to chant. The pack can sense rising magic mostly, but some faint demonic and wyrm. In the Realm, Freya, Krieg and Abby start to see little whisps of fog appear within the square, oddly lit from within. Bob, peeking, can't see jack, nor can Jay, down the hill. The fog gets thicker, and almost seems to make shapes, strobing into almost-pictures. 20 minutes pass, and the fog thickens considerably when it swirls at the far side and seems to depict a short girl stumbling onto the ashphalt. Although the figure moves in a stop-start motion, almost strobing from point to point, they can see that its Polly.
She moves from the far edge to about where they think the car was, and then stumbles around. The fog-Polly suddenly looks the way she came and a huge Crinos figure looms in, runs across and picks Polly up, and then doubles back the other way. Abby and Freya are enough shock when Krieg says "fuck, that was Kirsty" over the mental link. Christian ends his spell and looks a bit pissed. Well, a lot. Freya's first statement is "That fucking bitch" and Christian says "you recognised them then? who was it?". The mental chatter at this point basically involves finding and lynching Kirsty, and then associating her with the 'traitor' that people have told them about. Why else would she stomp Christian when he showed up unless she didn't want him to know the truth? Freya vocally says that she's shocked, and needs to time to sort this out - is there any chance that this was a mistake. Christian says no - if there was nothing of note, nothing would have happened.
She promises to immediately follow this, and says that it might mean that he is in danger, and she suggests he does what he can to secure his hotel room. They swap mobile numbers, and Christian says that he wants a demonstration of faith, and wants to see the house. Freya's ability to talk while her pack mates accuse Kirsty of treason is astounding. She says she will see what she can do. Bob pipes up with "I don't think it was Kirsty". He says that he knows her pretty well, and he doesn't think she'd lie. The possibility of a doppleganger arises and people throw up their hands.
In the end, they promise to contact Christian as soon as they can about what he has showed them, and head away, gibbering.
They head back to the Sept, and try to find Cossack, discovering him walking through the cemetary with Ian. The pack politely wait (hover), and eventually Cossack comes over. They ask if they can speak to him privately and he says they can buy him dinner, so the Claws of Wisdom take him for a picnic tea near the Maribynong. The pack explains the problem in detail. Cossack sighs and says that he's going to turn it back on them - what would they do in his position?
Freya suddenly gets the weird feeling that Ian and Cossack were talking about the pack earlier. She says that she'd try and figure out where Kirsty had been on that night, by asking her Sept elders, and maybe Kirsty's pack leader. Cossack says that Kirsty was pack leader at the time, and asks why she just wouldn't ask Kirsty - not asking her directly seems to imply she believes the wyrm-tainted mage over her Septmate. Bob pipes up and says that he doesn't believe it.
The pack hum and har a little, but decide to talk to Kirsty. Cossack says that she might be at Carmel's - it is the best place to start looking for her anyway. The pack drive him back to the cemetary and make the call. Carmel says that Kirsty is here at the moment, and Freya asks if they could come and chat. She says that's no problem, so Freya and Abby wander around and are buzzed in to the flat above the cafe.
They find Carmel and Kirsty in Carmel's lounge. Freya says that they are chasing up what happened on Friday and asks for their version of events. Carmel says that Brad gave them a call early on Saturday because he saw some guy lurking about in the street on Friday and he was back that morning. So she and Kirsty went over there and chatted, and were about to go out when the guy came to the front door, surprising them both. Carmel answered it, and she thinks that he thought she was Freya, because he said something like "Why did you kidnap my neice Polly?" - no sort of lead in, just straight to accusation.
The conversation was apparently a bit brusque and then Christian made fire appear as a sort of threat (unless it was Kirsty using a Gift) and Kirsty changed to glabro, and he threw her back with his eerie mage powers. Carmel changed to glabro too, and he set her on fire. Kirsty flipped to Crinos and charged him, and he made more fire, and the house started to burn, and she swiped him one. Then they decided to get Jordan & Brad out rather than carry on, and ran for it. When they came back, the guy had gone and they had no way to find him.
The conversation drifts between Kirsty and Carmel describing events and Truth of Gaia doesn't do more than give a slight twitch when Kirsty was describing what started the fight and her reactions. This is pretty odd. Abby tells the two Get of Pennington members about their efforts to find him and figure out what is going on. They both seem surprised to find that Christian is not dead, but not in a "my god, he will reveal my traitorous soul!" kind of way.
They vaguely hint that Christian gave them some info about that night that suggests that it wasn't mages than came and took Polly away, but maybe someone else. Sub-tool-lee asking if they know where everyone else was that night, apparently both Carmel and Kirsty are having a stupid day and miss the implication that they were involved. They think and say that they know that Claws of Wisdom were out there, and that the Scryers were backing them up. Hand of Lore was guarding the caern, they think, but the Get of Pennington weren't involved in anything particular.
Freya and Abby head back to the caern and decide they should speak to the pack that were guarding the caern.. er, except that most of them are dead or in another state. However, Christine should be around, and they head to Graeme's house to see if he knows where she is. He does, cos she's there having tea with him. They ask about that night and Christine looks a bit speculative. She says that they were all at the caern, just in case things went pearshaped. Um, Malajimbarra moonbridged through earlier in the day, and Chris went with him, so at least one of the Get were around. Christine says that Marcus was with Georgina, they were talking about Galliard stuff - which rings very false. This is a bit weird. She doesn't know where the others were. Freya and Abby ask some more questions and a couple of other facts ring false to Freya, mostly about where some of the Get of Pennington were.
The pack throw their hands up in disgust. Either the wyrmy mage is lying to them, and his motives seem to make sense, or Kirsty is lying to them, and they can't figure out why, or maybe someone was wearing Kirsty's skin, or just generally trying to make trouble. Much frustration, so people call it a night - its been kind of a long day. Freya goes home and Abby, Petrus and Krieg go with her. She calls Brad and Jordan again then goes to bed. Bob and Jay are at the sept when some of the HellHounds come through with beer (gasp). They invite the two lupus over to hang out, which they do. Bob is skipping most of the beer (its crap) and is therefore quite alert when Amy asks about Petrus, and how he's a Get of Fenris or something (how do you know? Dude, he looks like Krieg. Oh yeah.). She seems to be angling to ask if anyone has told the other Get that they got him back from Erebus and Bob just says no and stares her down.
Freya is zoning out with the early morning news on. Her coffee-staring reverie is broken by the name "Otis Coleman" wafting out from the tv. She quickly turns it up and hears that thieves apparently broke into the Gideon Gallery in East Melbourne and stole some of Cole's statuary. Cole is mentioned as "notorious figure in Melbourne's art world" and "missing since the January riots". Police are apparently unsure whether it was an inside job, because they can't find any point of entry.
There is a certain sigh of resignation. Cole is woken up and asked what piece that gallery had. He seems more intent on the fact that this will great publicity, and all of his pieces will be worth more, but the pack manage to find out that it was the Walrus Pope... a walrus on St Peter's chair, with the staff and hat. Not a piece that could perhaps get up and walk away, not that any of them have done so before /after/ they've been made, nor while Cole wasn't there.
The wonder if they can questing stone "Walrus Pope" and Bob gives it a go. Success! The sense is leading about 1/3 of the way between the gallery and the caern, but not directly. A few more performings of the ritual and they find that the sense... is... leading.. to the glade. What the hell. The pack decide that having all 7 of them show up might be bad, so Abby and Freya stay in the Realm while Jay, Bob, Cole, Melissa and Krieg remain in the Umbra. The spiritualised garou head straight to the caern, which is pleasantly cool and green. The Glade Child doesn't show any sign of re-establishing itself, but neither is it dead - Emma has suggested that it will remain dormant until spring.
Meanwhile, Freya knocks at the front door. No response. She knocks again, louder, and can hear the distant thumping of feet down stairs. Bob peeks and laughs, saying Kylie just ran from the other building though the garden and into the original one, clad only in a towel and panic. People giggle and wait. She eventually opens the door, still looking dishevled. "Oh hi!". Abby and Freya are invited in, and say that they were in the area and just thought that they'd drop in and see how things are going. Coincidentally, can they scour the place for a mobile marble statue?
While they are being served coffee, Kev (not Brad, like I kept saying), comes downstairs, adjusting clothes. More smirking. Someone else peeks too, and the Umbral folks try and sense unnatural and look for the marble figure, after getting an idea from Cole as to how big it is. Bob spots it sitting in the gutter, about 18 feet off the ground. Jay runs up the Umbral stairs and looks down the roof - someone might be able to hang out the window, but it won't be one of the overmuscled garou - the roof is old and might give up.
They try plan B and Abby, being shown around the garden, points up and says "What's that?" to the top 3 inches of marble they can see. Kev and Kylie have no idea, and Abby asks if they have a ladder - it might be blocking the drains. Apparently their only ladder is a bit shorter, so Abby checks out the wooden wall next to it - over Kev's objections she says she can climb it no problems. Abby scales up until she's hanging over about 8' of space when the structure she is holding gives way. Reacting quickly, she grabs at a flue, which fortunately retains cohesion. Abby recovers and pulls herself hand over hand up the flue, and reaches over the gutter to try and grab the pope.
Unfortunately, the little fella chooses this moment to wake from his pool side nap and start smacking at Abby's fingers. Abby, rather surprised, lets go and starts to plunge towards the ground. Freya, seeing that Abby is going to crash down into a box of the kids' stuff, throws herself forward and braces against the wall. Unfortunately, Abby is not light and bodyslams Freya to the ground, smashing 20 or so plastic pots, and breaking one of Freya's ribs.
Kev is somewhat taken aback by this and tells Kylie to get some ice as he helps Freya up. Fortunately he is looking down when the Pope takes off with a double scoop of guttermuck and flings it at Abby. He seems to be using the Pope's staff as a helicopter blade.. somehow. A few more loads go the same way before Cole manages to peek and use Mindspeak and speak to the Pope. His name is apparently Peter (duh), and he has a thick scottish brogh for no clear reason. He's yelling threats and imprecations at Abby about disturbing his wee kip by the side of yon loch. Apparently Peter was looking for Cole, but he's not entirely sure why, and he just stopped her for a rest. Cole tells him to let Abby have it with a couple more loads and then meet him in one of the houses backing onto the garden.
Peter scores Abby right in the face and Cole manages to infuriate her with a couple of poorly thought out phrases, so Abby has a short time out in the corner to try not to Frenzy, although it is a close thing. Cole tries to find Peter, but he seems to have vanished over the roof. While the pack think about what to do, Kylie comes out with ice wrapped in a towel. She goes back for a large drink of water as Peter comes over the roof, struggling to carry a small possum that he intends to throw at Abby. Cole, who has stepped into one of the houses, suggests that he doesn't, which is responded to by "oops".
Peter loses his grip on the sleepy possum, and it plunges into the glass that Kylie is holding, knocking it to the ground and smashing it everywhere. She freaks out, this being about the last straw, and runs into the house where Cole is. This is the absolute last straw, as the sudden appearance of a large black man in her house makes her scream loudly and run upstairs. Kev heads up after her, and people sheepishly clean up in the meantime. He comes back down after a few minutes and suggests that now is not a good time. The pack sheepishly leave with Peter hidden in a jacket.
As entertaining as that distraction was, it doesn't really put them any closer to figuring out what to do. They try and find Cossack, but no one really knows where he is, so they go and see Emma instead. Melissa begs off and says she'll wait with, um, Cole. The others look at each other in disbelief, but Abby says she will stay too, and shhh! She's in her office at the Uni, and she settles folks down and closes the door. They basically ask her about how she would go about detecting that a garou had been mind controlled after 18 months.
Emma hums and hars but basically doesn't think it can be done. You could bind a spirit to someone to influence their thinking for a while, but that is going to be short term, and unlikely to be able to create a mind control per se - the individual so affected will remember what they did, they just often will be confused as to their own motivations. When it comes to mage magic, unfortunately the pack are the experts - if they can't sense anything with their totem-provided gifts, then its unlikely that there are other mechanisms that would do the same.
Curse, and naughty words, think the pack, who head back to the caern proper. They help out at the caern for the afternoon, and run various errands while mentally discussing the whole situation and what the hell to do. The mention of perhaps spirits being used as a tool to control Kirsty lead them to thinking about perhaps it was Garou that might have got her to kidnap Polly, and then laid down false scents. Which leads them to suspecting the Uktena - not only are sneaky and underhanded, they are known for having an interest in the occult (ie: mages) and aboriginal lore (ie: the spirit thing with Polly)... they might also know how to block a Questing Stone ritual. But how would the Uktena have known about the situation? Oh wait, the pack were working with Malajimbarra, an Uktena. However, he has so far been completely above board with them, and gone out of his way to help, so maybe that's jumping to conclusions. There were other Uktena around, but not for another fortnight or so - and eventually the Killer of Children was taken by the Uktena to be bound 'properly' (as decreed by the Jindabyne Council).
So, to summarise - Christian could be lying to them. Kirsty could be lying to them - Jay pipes up and says he wouldn't be surprised if there were Ragabash gifts that can block Truth of Gaia. Christine appears to be lying about something, but not connected. Polly might have been kidnapped by Kirsty, the Uktena, other Mages or maybe the Dancers. So.... they really aren't getting very far.
Bob pipes up and says that he just had a visit from Chris McNeil, who was unhappy that they were sneakily accusing Kirsty of interfering with Polly - if they have a problem with anyone in his pack, they can come out and say so. Bob says that Chris implied Kirsty might have been off with some human friends at the time.
Some hair pulling, and they decide that they need to quiz Christian some more. Freya gives him a call, and the tone is quite cool - Christian apparently is still skeptical about them and their claims about "other mages". They agree to meet and talk, and do so in Mt Waverley. Christian shows up after the pack, driving into the car park. He seems fairly unimpressed about their claims that "maybe" someone was "controlling" someone they know - last night they were fairly adamant about her guilt, what has changed their minds? The pack um and er a bit. Christian demands some proof of this alleged group of mages - they mention the photo, and he says they could be old or from somewhere else.
Freya concedes that they will take him there, but that he's not to try and play with the left over toys. And they'll blindfold him. He pauses and agrees reluctantly. They pack take Christian's car, and their own out to the flats - Freya drives in circles a little to make it take longer and be harder to judge where they are going while the others get there first and make sure there's no give away as to where they are.
Christian arrives and is led inside before the blindfold/hood is removed. The house appears much the same as it did before - a large farmhouse type of structure, half invisible from the Umbra, and that half covered in fractal coloured patterns. Christian wanders about the place, as does Jay, who hasn't been here before. The patterns wind around and through one another, and don't appear to have been painted on, but instead appear to be part of the structure of the wall. As you get closer and closer, more detail is obvious and the structures almost seem to float within the wall struc - Jay manages to stop himself from banging into the wall in an effort to look closer and closer, as the others have pointed out that they still bring pain.
They ask Christian what they are for, and he says that according to what he has read (in a medieval latin book that he had to translate as he went), they are primarily used to shield the use of magic within the structure to the outside world. However, if what he translated was correct (and he's not sure), they may also be used to move from one place to another, that you can follow one of the branch-like paths in some fashion and go.. elsewhere. The pack say "to other realms?" and he agrees. Quietly the pack think that it sounds like some of the faerie paths or moonpaths they have encountered. Christian looks around some more and then asks if the patterns have a center - it feels like they should. The pack say yes and lead him to the trapdoor into the cellar.
Down the stairs they go. People are keeping a firm eye on Christian and also a firm Sense of the Unnatural. He looks around at the riot of patterns that run across the ceiling and then down the walls to join the spell circle in the centre of the first basement and looks disturbed. He jumps across the lines that make the circle up rather than step on them, and the garou do the same.
Christian is looking at the way the spell circle joins the fractal wards when Freya senses a minute spike of magic about him. He looks up suddenly and asks if anyone heard that. No one else seems to have heard anything. There is a brief moment of waiting, and Bob starts to use Sense Unnatural to get a feeling for anything else. The darkest corner of the basement feels a bit magicky, even against the background of magic. He and Jay head that way as Christian heads for the store room
Long claws reach out of the darkness and rake down Jay's side. The pack make Argh noises and try not to change form in front of Christian. The rest of the cowled demon emerges from the darkness - a roughly humanoid figure, made of stone, with a sort of cowl and two long, claw-tipped hands. Kreig leaps to the attack as Jay falls back a bit and Bob leaps into the freezer room to change to crinos. Freya grabs Christian by the scruff of the neck and shoves him into the storeroom out the way. The demon is hard to even scratch - punching it doesn't seem to make an effect. Jay curses when he realises the fae sword is in the car. Abby leaps through the gauntlet, but Freya manages to convince Cole and Melissa to stay where they are.
The demon has tricks in addition to his claw-holes-in-Garou - he knows make things really cold. Oh, and Make-Everything-Dark. Great. The pack are not making much headway, although there are now a couple of ichor-leaking holes in the demon. Bob activates Scent-of-Sight and is able to make out the Garou and the vague space that is the stone demon, and Freya finds that faerie lights are some use, but the others are clawing wildly at where they think the opponent is. Suddenly a stream of light clears some of the darkness away - apparently Christian is not entirely defenseless. However, he does this just in time to see the very end of Bob's jaws close around the demon from out of the darkness and then the stone demon suddenly lose its remaining cohesiveness, followed by Bob spitting out lots of stone chunks.
The darkness fades quickly, but Freya manages to get everyone to change to homid before the room is cleared completely, at least maintaining some sort of plausible denial. She suggests they get out of here in case another appears, and Christian agrees. At the surface, he says that perhaps it was an old defence keyed to the arrival of someone with his skills. That is at least vaguely credible. Melissa pipes up and says that Abby still hasn't appeared. Freya sighs and say that her and Cole should wait and see if its necessary to rescue Abby and meet up with them later.
They return to Valley Reserve and chat. Christian says that he's willing to believe that the other mages exist now, especially with the appearance of that demon. However, he's not happy about their prospective "someone might have been controlled" and suggests they follow that up. They all chat about what to do in the meantime. Christian seems interested in their story about what Polly was doing magically and they give him a run down about the eeevil Killer of Children, and Polly and the spirit in the Umbra (skipping the bit about genocide).
Christian suggests that he might be able to do something at the location if it has left stronger feelings behind, and they agree to meet about midnight out the back of Andy's house in Mooroolbark.
The pack arrive first, about 11. They scout the area out - in the Realm, the houses have expanded a bit and new estate lines the highway to the north. But the area out the back of the Garrett house is still a sort of commons, a mix of grassland and ti tree. In the Umbra its marshier, with the occasional creek flowing through the area.
Some of the pack hide in the Umbra, others await Christian, who parks some distance away and strolls up through the long grass. He says that he knows a ritual that will give him some of the stronger impressions of the area around him - if what Polly did was that important, it should have left echos. He asks them a couple of details, then takes out a pen and paper. People in the Umbra watch as he writes down what seem to be fairly incoherent symbols, and does some odd maths. He checks a lodestone and looks at the stars, before drawing a dagger and marking a symbol into the ground in front of him and beginning a chant. The sensing members of the pack detecting a rising sense of magic, some wyrm and a faint demonic.
The chanting goes on for about 45 minutes and slowly slows before ceasing. Christian writes some notes down on his notebooks and then comes back. He says that the impressions he got were a little scrambled, so it may take a day or so for his subconscious to get back to him, but he received a strong sense of fear, and of anger, and a word.. something like "Warren", although that wasn't quite right. The pack have a quick mental discussion of the word "wirrenun", which they apparently killed. They decide to share with Christian who says that yes, that was it. They say they are not sure, but they think it was an aboriginal word that means, um, shamans or wizards. Maybe. Christian says that the word is whispered by the trees, so it was hard to make out, and there wasn't any context.
Some more discussion - Christian suggests that if they can really find people by their name alone, then perhaps they might be able to join his magic with theirs and overcome whatever it is that is blocking Polly. And intriguing suggestion, and the pack suggest that they would like to think about it.
The pack wake the next morning and continue thinking. Inspired by the idea of alternative approaches to their usual magic, they try and think of other resources they could bring to bear. Abby brings up her fae kin gift - everyone else points out that last time she used it, they sucked her away to Arcadia. However, that was under stress, and she thinks that given some preparation and with the rest of the pack there it would be ok. There is some trepidation.
They opt to go and speak to Emma about it. She is not very enthused; people wonder how much the "faerie's are addictive" meme has spread in the Elders. She would prefer that they investigate the options that they have in front of them before adding in a further complication, but leaves the final decision up to them (with a comment that the pack faces the repercussions often enough, that the direction should be also their responsibility).
Abby's argument is that their position with Christian (the wyrm tainted, unknown mage) could only be strengthened by having a bit more information. They can go somewhere out of the way and use her gift, and see what happens - it doesn't really commit them. None of the pack are particular opposed to the idea, so they decide to do it. The pack decide to do what they can to strengthen any fae they summon, so many of them spend the day meditating in the caern. The Claws of Wisdom decide to summon the fae at dusk, when hopefully it will be easiest for it to come through. Out in the country is also good, so they head up into the hills near Healesville (not strictly Fianna territory, but hey).
So, a couple of hours before sundown ("quick, we must return to the castle!") they head up a bit north of Healesville into the National Park. When the sun touches the western horizon, Abby draws on not just her own Gnosis, but that of her pack to send out a call and pave the way. There is no immediate response. Cole sniffs the air and says "uhoh." Drifting through the nearby trees, the pack can see a brunette female, dressed in wafting silks. Cole starts wondering if he can run, and the others realise from looking at her, and Cole's reaction, that its Siobhan. However, its not the slightly dumpy, plain Siobhan they are used to, but a gorgeous young woman, with pale, flawless skin and shining hair. She smiles at Cole and says "did you miss me?".
Abby looks a bit pissed (and Sarah stares daggers at the GM) and asks what Siobhan is doing here. Siobhan says that after a certain pair of low fae were ... chastised for losing Abby from the winter lands, she realised that the Fianna Galliard had learnt the trick of calling to the Tuatha da Danaan. It only took a certain amount of attention to be aware of the call, and Abby so kindly smoothed the way so that she was able to cross over herself, rather than send a minion. Abby points out that she was calling for help, not for trouble, and Siobhan laughs, saying that they have already been kind to her - giving her the chance to come here, and also to see Cole. Cole is trying to not be noticed too much at the moment.
Freya grudgingly explains why they were seeking assistance from the Fair Folk - how Polly seems to be alive, but unreachable to their magic. (I think Christian wasn't mentioned). Siobhan considers their little problem and asks if they can touch the dreams of others. When the pack agree they can, she says that she could, if they like, make it easier to get into this "Polly" girls dreams, if they have something of the girl's. Abby asks what it will cost. Siobhan considers again and says that she won't ask for anything now - they have already given her the chance to walk in their world for a brief time - but the next time they ask her for help, she will ask for something, and wishes them to look favourably on the request.
The pack are justifiably suspicious, but Siobhan reassures them that she's not asking them to commit to anything other than to think well of her future request. This makes them more suspicious, of course, especially when she refuses to tell them what it might be. Abby points out that they might not (over her dead body) call on her ever again, and Siobhan says that in that case, the pack gain her help for a much less obligation than they might. She doesn't seem too phased, and the Claws of Wisdom speculate that its because she's immortal and patient (unlike them).
The pack agree, and hand over Polly's belongings. Siobhan says that she will take them with her back to the winter land, and that they should try and contact Polly's dreams after midnight tonight. Siobhan walks back off through the trees, leaving them with a faint floral scent and distant hints of music.
Abby grinds her teeth flat, and the others speculate what she might want from them. Cole tentatively puts his hand up and says that he thinks she wants him to carve her a new body. The pack squawk, and Cole says that she's sort of asked him for it before and he said no. They don't seem too happy, but its not clear why, exactly.
The pack retire to Freya's house so she can fall into the meditative trance that Dreamspeak requires. As she sinks away, they decorate her with cake icing (no, not really). Freya travels for a time, then finds herself "near" Polly, who is asleep but not really dreaming of anything. She prompts Polly to think of her bedroom and the space shifts and forms her room at Andy's house. Polly looks baffled and wanders around touching things. Polly looks older - about 20 months older, making her nearly 14 which is about right.
With some very subtle prompting, she leaves that room and goes out into a corridor. Its definately not Andy's place now - much higher ceilings and a older feel to the place. She turns into another room, cool and dim, with a fishtank and big tables covered in esoteric bits and pieces. Polly moves through into a kitchen - fridge, sink, pantry, what looks like space for a wood oven at the far end that's had a newer gas dealy put in. There's a big window looking out... but into a covered concrete courtyard, and they can't get a better sense of what lies out there.
Freya tries to suggest that Polly think about who else lives there, and the door opens, and Christian walks in. Freya tries to stifle her "what the fuck" response in case it disturbs the dream. It looks like Christian alright, pretty much as they saw him yesterday. Polly doesn't seem to respond with any sort of surprise and they chat incoherently about her study (no real detail). Freya tries one more change to the dream, and suggests that Polly think about going shopping - hoping to get an idea of a nearby town.
Polly goes out the kitchen door, but appears outside Andy's house, where he is waiting for her. They are shopping for bathers (?), and Polly is worried that it will take too long to walk to Ringwood. Andy says they'll take the short way, and they go down the footpath, turn the corner and are in the shopping center. Polly tries to explain to Andy that she didn't want to go away, but it was too dangerous and she had to go. Andy doesn't seem to hear, and just chatters like nothing was wrong. Polly is getting more upset, and Freya decides that now is the time to leave, before she wakes up.
Freya passes on what she saw, with a lot of ahaa from the rest of the pack. Although there is a the brief toying with the idea of scouring horse agistments or something near Ringwood, Freya proposes that the dreams didn't meant that, just that Polly's train of thought went "home, dad, shopping" and there was a common link between them all - Ringwood is the biggest shopping precinct near Andy's house in Mooroolbark.
More thinking - someone does a Questing Stone on Christian Bury, just to see if he is somewhere with Polly now, but he is apparently in his bed at the hotel in Murrumbeena. Hmmm. They decide to use Dreamspeak on Christian. Freya sinks back into her trance and moves through the sea of dreams until she finds what she is looking for.
She is in a Victorian/Georgian era study - three green leather armchairs, with Christian apparently asleep in one of them, a roaring fire, shelves and shelves of glass-fronted cabinets full of books. She tries to remove a book and finds they are a bit like the fake shelves at Ikea, but solid and faintly organic for some reason. Freya senses unnatural and finds a solid mix of magic, demonic and wyrm (in a greater to lesser extent). Behind her, Christian clears his throat and says "Can I help you?"
Freya is a bit weirded out, but he's definately speaking to her. She tries to look for a mirror but can't see one. Christian sits up and continues to stare straight at her. He repeats "was there something you wanted?" He seems a bit annoyed that she is here, and when Freya says that they aren't sure they can trust him, he points out that he's not the one whose aquaintences gutted someone, who appear to have been responsible for kidnapping his neice and so on. Frankly, he talks a good talk - despite the wyrm tainting, he seems to have been up front with them up till this point, but Freya is still niggly about seeing him in Polly's dream, and alludes to finding out information that suggests that he isn't trustworthy.
Christian asks if it perhaps would not be best if they went their seperate ways if they have such an issue with trusting him. He has his goal, and if they aren't able to work with him towards it, he would rather part on at least civil terms than to constantly be worried about them spying on him, or whatever. Freya says that she's not even sure /how/ they could work together. Christian suggests offhandedly that the spirits they use for their find-by-name ritual could be enhanced with magic that he knows to break wards - and that's just the first idea he has. He points out that he's not in a rush, and given the strength they described of Polly, whoever kidnapped her is probably working with her, not draining her of her life essence, so she's probably not in sufficient danger to make him screw up by pushing it. He politely suggests that the Garou are very immediate in their approach to life (he cites the Mother's touch gift) - that they react quickly to dangers and problems. He prefers a more reasoned approach.
Christian probes Freya for exactly what it is they don't trust about him. She considers for a moment, and then tries to explain that he feels tainted with eeeevil to them. They discuss - the topic wanders a little, but touches on exactly what that evil would be, the slight group mentality nature of garou, Christian's very individualistic approach to the world and the fact that other magi's unsavoury habits has led him to being on his own, when most mages work in covens (mumble mumble cabal that has Polly is probably medium sized, maybe 9 or 13 people). Freya mentions human sacrifice and Christian looks unhappy and cites that as one of the many things that he's not keen on. Freya theorises that association with these sorts of people is what is making him tainted, but does remember that some of the magic he does has spiked wyrm taint.
Other topics are touched on in passing, but in the end, Freya tentatively agrees to keep cooperating. Christian asks about markets around the south east, and Freya says Dandenong market is open on Friday - Christian suggests getting together on the Friday morning there and see if there is a way that they can proceed - he needs to do some shopping, and it seems a nice anonymous place if they can't find any way to cooperate.
The pack talk about what to do. They are at a loss for hard evidence one way or another, and don't want to just follow their instincts (or rather, everyone has competing instincts). In the end, they decide to try and get into Polly's dreams that night again (in case Siobhan's powers have left them open) and then re-evaluate.
Krieg spends the day trawling crappy student housing with Petrus, and they find a couple of dives they can afford for a while. Applications are made.
That night, after midnight, Freya lies down and tries again. Three hours of struggling later she gives up, and when she comes back to her body, she describes how Polly's dreams were there, but they were thick, and slow, and dark. She'd get close and then be stuck, unable to approach or get away - eventually the dreams would dissapate.
Freya says that maybe Polly realised that something was amiss and kept herself awake (she's tried that before), or has a similar ability to Christian's to lucid dream. Alternatively, maybe she drugged herself silly - that might explain Freya's experience in the dream realms. It does seem to indicate that Siobhan's magic has continued more than one day - previously they couldn't find Polly at all. Hands are thrown in the air - still no hard evidence.
People grab some sleep, and then head out to Dandenong to scope the place out before giving Christian the call. Cole, Bob and Melissa lurk in the Umbra, while the others mingle. Sensing Unnatural doesn't seem to find anything particular until they bump into Christian suddenly. He seems a bit surprised to see them early, but Freya shrugs and says they got here quicker than she thought, so hadn't rung yet.
They shop about for a bit. Christian buys some essential oils and some incense (no supernatural taint) while chatting with Freya. Abby looks at celtic jewelery while Krieg and Jay keep an eye out. Jay spots someone being suspicous and looking at Christian, but chatting with someone else out of sight (or maybe a radio). Cole, in the Umbra, trots over to check it out. He finds a late 20's guy and girl, ever so faintly sensing of magic, and heading towards Christian.
Freya points them out, and Christian turns and starts walking the other way. The other's spread out a bit to try and be prepared for anything. The new guy catches up with Christian and taps him on the shoulder, saying "Christian?". Christian looks baffled for a bit, then says "Craig?" "Yeah man, its been ages, you just disappeared after school". Freya kicks up her Truth of Gaia on Christian, who is not looking thrilled. He says "yeah, I, uh, went to Europe, for a while". Christian then takes the lead in the conversation, asking questions of Craig rather than letting questions get asked. At one point the woman he's with is introduced as "Shona, from the year under us". Craig looks at Freya, and Christian say "This is my friend Megan" (lie). Craig shakes 'Megan's hand and Freya has to bite down and not scream. As he pulls his hand away, she can see that he has a silver ring on.
Christian makes his excuses and leaves, half dragging Freya. He doesn't look thrilled. The pack are fairly suspicious about this whole event. Jay runs to their car just to check there's not a demon in the front seat or something, while Cole and Krieg follow Craig around for a bit. Krieg manages to find a while to compliment him on the ring, and Craig says that its an engagement ring, he just preferred silver to gold. Its pretty chucnky and plain, whereas Shona's is gold and delicate. However, Craig senses as being human, and there is only a faint resonance of magic on him, and less on Shona.
Meanwhile, back in a secluded courtyard, Freya asks Christian why he is looking a bit peeved. He explains that he left Melbourne under a bit of a cloud. When Freya pushes him, he says that people died. Abby points out that she could sense some magic on them, it wasn't just a coincidence that they were here - maybe one of the other mage groups sent Craig on purpose. Christian looks very unhappy about that, and asks exactly how they sense magic. There is a brief discussion on that, before Freya returns to the topic and asks "I guess you didn't expect to see them here?". Christian says "no", but Truth of Gaia indicates that that's a lie. Cole, who has been suggesting that they grab Christian and shove him in the trunk and beat him until he confesses, increases his push for this particular path. Freya asks when he saw Craig last and he says he doesn't know, in form 6 or something (lie). The pack scratch their heads. Cole and Kreig follow Craig and Shona until they get in a car and drive away, having bought completely unsuspicious fruit and vegetables.
The pack talk about things with Christian some more. He is now worried about these other mages that are around - if they have realised that he is here and doing things, they might take steps of a "join us or die" or just "die" sort of nature. He is worried that maybe Craig was controlled by them, and that they are scrying on either the pack or him, and wants to go up to a park or something nearby to do a short ritual to sort it out. Eventually the pack concede and head for Churchill Nat. Park.
Abby rides with Christian and sneakily uses her persuasion gift to talk to him about their point of view - she approximately describes wyrm taint and how they fight to keep it under control in the world. So, when they find that he appears to have been touched by the same influences that they exist to try and reduce in the world, it makes them a bit nervous. He seems to at least calm down and not take the high moral ground a little, so it has some effect. As part of this whole 'trust' thing, when Abby asks he explains that when he was 17, he lifted someone up with his magic and accidentally dropped them. He wasn't arrested because the cause of death was "30m fall", which was obviously impossible. But he was questioned, and word got back to the school people, so he left shortly after.
Folks all arrive at Churchill and check out that there's no one else around. Christian performs a short (2 min) ritual that consists of drawing a stick on the ground around all the non-Umbral pack (althought Melissa, Cole and Bob, still in the Umbra, are also within the bounds). At the end of it, Christian looks unsure about Krieg and says that he senses slightly of something odd. The other pack can't sense anything, but Bob was peeking there, so... Christian does the same ritual again with just Krieg, but says it comes up clean.
There is some head scratching, and some discussion with Christian, where some of the things he is saying are not entirely true - for instance, Freya asks him what he was planning to do when he finds Polly, and he hestitates and says he's not sure (sort of a lie). The possibility that Polly could be being used by the strawmen mages is brought up, especially to try and pick up Christian, who is a little leery about giving away too many secrets (and isn't entirely telling the truth either). Christian says that sensing magic is not as easy for him as it seems to be for them. Frankly, he's a little nervous, and wants to go home and strengthen his wards (a little untrue) - he did some magic before he met Freya/ Kirsty and they might have sensed that, because he didn't expect to meet any other mages and was being more blatant than he might have been otherwise.
In the end, they agree to meet again this evening after Christian has had some time to sort himself out. He leaves in his car, and Bob and Cole follow in the Umbra as far as they can - he seems to be heading back to his hotel, but the two bonegnawers are frankly pretty suspicious. They want to mount some surveillence on him, but Freya did promise that they would stay away from the motel. Bob proposes that they could be nearby and do questing stone rituals to see if he's still at the motel - if he leaves, well, they didn't say they wouldn't watch him. This seems acceptable in terms of promises made and kept.
In the meantime, the pack want to check out the rest of his story. They fly to Ringwood, where after some scoping of the secondhand shops, Melissa is kitted out in a Ringwood high uniform and sent in to the school library to try and copy yearbooks. After being busted by the librarian and sent to class to her disgust, she eventually gets the info from Christian's year and also from Polly's too, just to be sure. Escaping the school with a raised middle finger, they find somewhere quiet to review it.
They find Christian's photo (hehehe) and look through the book. He doesn't seem to have been in any particular student clubs or anything, They find Craig (Johnson) and Shona (Grueber) in the appropriate place. Apart from that, the only oddness is that some of the photos seem weirdly blurred. Hmmmm. Everyone heads into the city to look up the details of the article.
Bob and Cole occasionally do a questing stone from the nice park in Murrumbeena, and find Christian doesn't seem to be moving about at all. They toy with lying and bursting in, but decide not to. Abby does a questing stone for Craig Johnson, and finds he is in the telstra building, and neither her nor Jay can really get in without lots of pissing about.
Freya has more luck and finds a series of articles about the tragic and mysterious death of Carlos Galatti. His body was found sprawled in a park north of Ringwood, apparently where he died. However, the paper says that he appears to have died from a fall or an immense blow. Police are following "leads". One article indicated the police were following up the possibility that he had fallen from a balloon or similar craft. In the end, its left as one of those "umm, we dunno" kind of articles.
The pack trundle out to Doveton, where Questing Stone says Shona is. They stomp about in the Umbra (ew, weaver goo) and try to see if they can sense magic, or find a receipt for the ring that Craig was wearing, but no luck - not helped by the pack's complete inability to peek. Kreig steps under the house in lupus and senses for magic from there, but doesn't feel that there is anything wrong. They give up and go back to Melbourne.
About 1/4 to 7, Freya receives an SMS from Christian's phone. It says "Hi darling, im afraid im feeling a bit unwell, and will have to cancel our date. hope instead to see you in my dreams tonite". Bob checks again and says that he is still at the motel. Wonderment abounds.
The pack assembles physically for food and thinking. Freya is feeling a bit nervous about possible traps and betrayal, and so they consider the possibilities. Firstly, having the whole pack there is good for a number of reasons - spiritual unity, and also for maximum biffing power all at once place. Also, they could do any dreamspeaking from the caern itself - general caern strength and Chimera being the totem would be a considerable protection, but that might also endanger the caern, so its probably not a good idea. Alternatively, they could summon an avatar of Chimera to help Freya out - after tea, this they do.
The spirit arrives in increasing Umbral mist, and can only just been seen at the edge of fog. It whispers to Freya, asking why she called. Freya explains that she wishes to have protection in her dream, because she is going to touch the dreams of someone dangerous. The spirit asks what she offers in return, and Freya offers that she, or one of her pack, will do a cryptic crossword each week for 3 months. The spirit asks instead that she think of a new (original) riddle each Moot for the next three Moots and present it to her Sept to be solved. This is acceptable to both sides, so Freya performs a binding ritual, and the mist slowly sinks to the Umbral landscape. The spirit does not seem to be around, but they assume it will be handy when needed.
The idea of dreamspeaking Craig first, to get a better idea about what Christian was doing, crops up. However, after an hour of trying to find Craig's dreams Freya gives up and they perform a Questing Stone - ah, he's still in the city, probably at a dance club and sitting at the bar. O-kay. They try questing stoning for Christian and instead of finding that he is in Murrumbeena, they get the same sort of sense as they get for Polly - alive, but not sure where. Oh well, there's nothing for it but for Freya to dive into Christian's nightmarish realms (Freya only).
Twenty minutes later, Freya sits bolt upright and says "Quick, we've got to get to Tooradin. That's where Polly is." She says that Christian found out where Polly was being held. The others quiz her about it, and whether its a trap, and she says that he wasn't that specific - he did say it was urgent though. They consider the need for reinforcements, but figure that 7 Garou is probably enough.
Krieg is driving Freya and Cole along in his car while the others follow in the van. However, Freya is being a bit odd - she keeps changing the radio station, and touching things. Kreig decides that its definately time to try and see what's up when he notices that she has stuffed more than a dozen lemon sherberts in her mouth and then tried to lick the window. He surreptiously tries to Sense Unnatural and is a little disturbed to only feel demonic sense, not much of anything else. Krieg mentally says "er, Freya...." and gets no response. The others ask what's wrong, and Kreig mentally mentions the demonic sense - to no response from Freya. Abby says she's going to grab Jordan and eat her liver - no response. Ohhhh good.
The pack are reaching the point where the freeway diverges down to South Gippsland or out to Berwick, and Krieg heads for Berwick, to no response from Freya. They pull off the freeway and into a petrol station. 'Freya' gets out and wanders around while the others confer briefly. They call her back, but as she goes past Krieg, he activates one of his Gifts. 'Freya' looks at him sharply and leaps back - she puts her hand to her throat and the pack can see pointed claws pointing up and resting against her throat. 'Freya' says "stop! or this body dies".
The pack are left in a kind of mexican standoff. The demon says that others made it possible for it to take the body, but it doesn't know why, or particularly care. Abby confronts the demon about what its doing, and assumes that it is part of a plan, but it seems to only have grabbed Freya's body because they made it possible, not because it has nefarious plans. The negotiations are a bit tense, but in essence the demon says that it will happily take another form if they provide one, and then they can have this one back.
Bob quietly says that he has recently learned the Exorcism gift, but that he's not real sure about how well he will be able to turn it against a demon. The pack come up with a plan - Abby will keep the demon busy by quizzing it, while Bob and Cole find a cat to stuff the demon into. Abby doesn't really find much out - the demon just says that it came into Freya's body, and was given instructions to say "Polly is in Tooradin", but beyond that it had no plan.
The others come back with the cat and tell the demon to get into it. It suddenly gets very suspicious, and says if they can't move it from one form to another, then all deals are off. Apparently it can't do it itself. They manage to reassure it and Bob takes the terrified moggy in one hand and touches the demon with the other. Freya's body lurches and freefalls to the ground. Kreig quickly checks with sense Unnatural, and the demonic sense is gone/fading. However, Freya is not breathing, and seems to have no heartbeat.
Krieg leaps forward and starts CPR on Freya. The others run around in circles, unsure what to do. Bob's healing fetish doesn't seem to have much effect. Sense Unnatural doesn't give much of a sense of anything except fading demonic. Figuring that its only a matter of time before the service station attendant wants to know what the hell is going on, Freya is loaded into the van with Krieg and Abby attending while everyone else leaps into the car.
They are driving back towards the city when Cole's phone rings and he throws it to Bob. Bob finds that Emma is on the other end - she says "Bring Freya to the caern, right now" with no leadin or chatter. Bob says ok, and passes that on to the others, but hangs up before they can ask how Emma knows. They stop cars and swap drivers. Cole takes the van, and floors it up the freeway towards the city while the others follow at a slightly slower pace.
Cole's mad driving skills get them to the caern in no time, without police interference, but with 100% chance of both a speeding ticket and redlight camera violations showing up in the system. They go in the front gate, where Graeme has opened it, and drive through to near the centre of the caern where Emma and Cossack are waiting. Cossack sits down cross-legged and gets them to lay Freya on her back with her head in his lap. He closes his eyes, apparently concentrating (Freya only).
About 20 minutes later, Freya breathes in and then coughs violently. Her muscles twitch and she moans about everything hurting. Frankly, she's a little grey around the gills too, but sense unnatural suggests that if its not Freya in that body, its at least a Garou. Cossack comes back to himself and suggests helping her to Graeme's house where they can get some blankets and food into her. This they now do while Freya complains about a foul taste in her mouth and the worst pins and needles ever. They eventually get her to change to glabro form, which helps regenerate some of the damage that her brief period of being dead caused.
Freya explains what happened - in short, she went into Christian's dream. He was there on the chaise lounge, she went to talk to him and then he changed into something with black eyes and sharp teeth. And then the room started to melt - a giant vortex opened up in the floor and everything started to get sucked away. It was all deadlands and demonic and some magic, so she decided to get away from it. The Chimera spirit and the faux-Christian fought it out, but got sucked down and destroyed. She couldn't get out, and asked Merlin for help and he said she had to drop her body and trust the pack to rescue her. That worked, so she went to Emma's dream to try and explain what was happening. Then Emma woke up so she went to Brad's dream. And then Cossack rescued her.
Everyone is kind of annoyed with young Christian. Given that he set up the meeting, it smacks of being an ambush - but why would he send a demon into Freya's body and send them to Tooradin? Maybe the demon and Christian together would try and attack the pack. The Claws of Wisdom decide that they will go to Tooradin and trip the trap, but hope that being aware of it will give them an edge. Bob tries to questing stone for Christian, but gets no response. They try ringing his phone from both a public phone and then from Freya's phone - no answer and it eventually drops to voicemail.
They talk with Cossack about reinforcements, and offer to take Hell Hounds. Someone wanders over to wake them up, and is greeted with some hostility by Sean until they say the magic word "fight". The Get are ready in minutes, and Abby gives them a rundown on fighting mages ("Get close and then disembowel"). They also grab a shotgun and their fae weaponry and armor. The pack score another car and the dozen Garou head towards Tooradin in three vehicles.
The plan is to go via Christian's motel and see if he's there first, but as they approach, an eerie sense suggests there might be a problem. Actually, its the pillar of thick smoke and the rushing fire engines, but the eventual result is the same. The pack park nearby and go into the Umbra for some scoping, and indeed, the motel that Christian was staying in is on fire, and very fiercly. Its a big roiling fire, with many engines attending - it does not seem like a normal fire. Sensing reveals strong magic sense, and some wyrm and faint demonic. The Umbra is not on fire, but all the weaver stuff that makes up the hotel is breaking up a bit and going a bit charred, and the area has a flickery, bright feeling to it. Bob can't get close enough to the fire, even when just peeking to be able to confirm if there is or isn't a body in the hotel room. There's no indication that Christian did or didn't set the fire, but they don't think his car is there, which is a bit of a giveaway. Bob kicks himself for leaving.
They continue on their way, and at about 4.30 in the morning at the outskirts of Tooradin, begin the scanning of all houses, shacks, cars, and shops they can see. It takes about 45 minutes to thoroughly scan the town, and they don't find jack of any sign of any magic at all. This, to say the least, is annoying. They keep an eye out for Christian's car, but no luck. They call the caern and report and get info ("Was this fire in Murrumbeena you?"), while Bob tries to questing stone for Polly (the same "yes, but huh?") and then Christian again and this time gets a very, very strong response.... about 200kms away to the northwest, almost 180degrees the other way away from Melbourne. The Claws of Wisdom and Hell Hounds load into cars and head back the other way.
On the way back, the pack get a call again from Graeme, who says that he's been listening to the police scanner and it seems that a certain house in Mooroolbark is on fire. Said house is owned by a certain A. Garrett - ie: Polly's dad. He doesn't know if there have been any casualities, but its assumed Andy was inside. Graeme agrees that it sounds like someone has been cleaning up. He suggests caution.
Another hour's drive and another Questing Stone ritual and the pack are closing in on Christian Bury. He seems to be in a farmhouse on a hill that looks towards Melbourne from the vicinity of Mount Madecdon. They glance the house once before it disappears before the hills and decide to park now, out of sight, and creep back through the Umbra. The Hell Hounds are given firm instructions that they want to be able to interview Christian and Polly later - most anyone or anything else is fair game though. They are warned about mind controls and all.
The property appears to be a small hobby sheep farm, sub 10 acres. In the Umbra, there is some light shrub, but in the realm, its all nibbled grass - but with no sign of sheep. They approach the farm house, all senses extended. In the Umbra, the house is an old rambling building, obviously constructed in segments, but in the Realm, there is a new modern looking two storey house. They don't quite match up, but have been built in the same place for the same reason - the view across the plains to Melbourne. Neither of them look a lot like the place in Polly's dream, which had quite high ceilings and looked old style, but in a more coherent way than the Umbral house is suggesting (and Questing Stone for Polly doesn't work in the Umbra, so...)
There is a faint sense of magic and demonic exuding from the house from about 10' away - nothing active, but a resonance of things past. The pack aren't really in the mood to be cautious about this, and Abby just barrels up to the house and sticks her hand in. No zapping, no apparent wards or anything. There's no lights but there are blinds - however, its 6.30am in February, so no surprise. They circle around the house and spot Christian's car in the carport (its cold, so he's been here for a while), as well as signs of other cars. Sniffing around the house reveals an old male and female scents, and then also two male scents, different again, and Christian's scent leading from his car.
The pack move to the Umbral house and detect traps, being a bit concerned about fractal wards and all. However, there's nothing mystic about the building, and they are able to enter the Umbral house. The first impression the peeking people gain is blood; the strong, strong smell of lots of blood.
They find Christian in the dining/family room. There is much cursing as a musical accompaniment - he is on his back on a kitchen table, head hanging over the end, and his throat cut almost from ear to ear. The roof, walls and floor are soaked in bright red arterial blood - its soaked into the carpet, run across the lino and generally made a bit of a mess. "Bugger" is the overall reaction from the pack. From the Umbra, they try and scope out the body - he's dressed as he was earlier today. There's no restraints or sign that he was struggling - he's just laying on a normal kitchen table. There are some objects around him; a couple of knives either side of him, a cup or bowl of some sort (filled with some liquid, then topped with blood) at his feet (no shoes on). There don't seem to have been any ritual wounds like the pack has seen elsewhere. The wound appears to have been done with something sharp, rather than talons or claws, and in one strong blow. There's blood congealed in his hair, and the spray on the roof seems to have started to go brown. There are no footprints around the body - this is sort of odd. Freya speculates about possible speak-with-dead gifts, but its not really the Garou way.
The pack sigh and look around the rest of the house. Abby tries to find mirrors to awaken, but there are absolutely no mirrors in the house - there are spaces where there should be. Its not reassuring. There's a large cage, recently constructed, with a lock on the front that has silver wire wound around it - just the right size for a garou, maybe? There's no sign or scent that its been used, but there is a letter opener on the bureau in the same room, and a couple of ingots - they look like they might be silver too.
The same male and female scents are permeated throughout the house, and bills and similar official bits of paper and they find that the people that live here are an A and E Garner - presumably the owners. They find photos of a couple in their late 30's, that might be these people. Unsure if they were killed or have gone on holidays. Krieg scents Christian's car seat and finds that he was the only one in the car - and his cell phone is on the front seat. The two male scents are also around the house, but not everywhere, and newer. There's no cellar or basement. There's milk in the fridge, but its off, and similarly with other food types.
Abby, Jay and Bob look around the property - there don't seem to be any fresh graves, but there is the smell of a fair number of sheep, and still no actual sheep. In the Realm, Bob does find a scent trail of the two men leading away from the house - it heads across the fields and eventually down a short drop to bit of a space on the side of a road. There is every sign that there was a car here (maybe a sedan, judging by the tire marks) and that the two guys went to either side of the car. They can follow it for a bit, but then its basically too hard.
As there seems to be no one else here and they can't find any traps, the decision is made to step into the realm, but to leave as little evidence that they were here as possible. Once a couple of people have stepped out into an unoccupied room, and there's no demonic response, Hell Hounds are told they can hang around, but that it doesn't look like there will be much here for them to do. The pack find that the owners are Andrew and Elizabeth Garner and Freya does a questing stone that leads to what looks like a septic tank lid. Oh. There's also a slight smell of blood about the place, and bits of what look like smashed mirror. O-kay. They find a crowbar and manage to lift the lid of the tank. Oh god. Once the initial miasma has faded, the garou are greeted with the sight of decaying sheep bodies piled into a large tank, atop sewerage, which has suffered at least some of the effects of a week of warm summer days. Presumably the owners are in there somewhere too. The sheep that they can see have been killed by having something done to their throats, but its impossible to see if its been cut or torn out - because its a wound site, its the first point of decay, and the flesh is swollen and black. After the briefest moment of considering digging through the tank (and an incredulous look from the GM), they put the lid back on.
More poking about the place goes on. Christian's scent is found in a couple of other rooms in the building, and isn't laced with fear or any other subtle scent cues that might indicate he was dragged here or anything. Its all recent - nothing before tonight. Bob is passing the open door of the room of death when he notices something about Christian's body - he probes a bit with sense unnatural, and feels something about the body, but its hard to pin down what. Krieg suggests that its about to get demon ridden, but Bob says its more magic. Someone peeks from the umbra and says that there's a necklace or something hanging tangled in Christian's hari. Despite his packleader telling him not to go into the room, Bob takes a big long step into the blood and then another... and slips, face planting firmly into the inch deep congealing blood. The rest of the pack sigh, and Bob reiterates his desire to burn it all down anyway. He moves over to the body and hooks the pendant thing out of Christian's gaping wound. It seems to be a combination of crystals and weird little mirrors - sensing it is very odd, because while there is a magic sense, if he turns it back and forth, it sometimes disappears and sometime has the faint sense of being something else. The pack figure this is what hid Christian from their questing stone earlier - Bob puts it on, and some experimentation suggests that it does make him unquestable.
Seeing as how Bob has disturbed everything anyway, Freya steps into the Realm at Christian's feet and tries to poke about at things. She finds the bowl/cup thing has mercury in it (the hard way) and that the knives seem to be specifically for ritualistic purposes - they're not just steak knives, but are expensive looking.
After the pack had looked at everything, then follows a period of squabbling about what to do with the evidence. The burn-it-down option is a strong one, but its pointed out that a fire in February near Mt Macedon will bring immediate attention. They are not sure how easy it would be trace Christian without his body, phone and or car. The third option is to just leave it all - the only flaw with that is that finding the phone means being able to get a link to Freya (her number isn't stored and they deleted the last calls to and from) for the police.
There is much arguing before they finally decide to dedicate Christian's body and assorted guff and take it into the Umbra. Freya performs the ritual despite the continuing objections of her pack.
The pack head back to the caern and brain dump everything out to the Elders, talking about what might have happened. Someone killed Christian, but who? Why was he there, apparently of his own free will? Was it really Christian, or was it maybe a fake? Can he jump bodies? Who started the fires and why? Some folks want to call the Strawmen, but Cossack suggests they might want to think about what they want to get out of that interaction first - they, too, are wyrm tained mages, presumably.
A couple of leads still exist, but frankly, the pack are buggered, and decide to get a couple of hours sleep. Its been a long day, especially for the ones who died.
That night, once they've all had a chance to catch up on some shuteye, the Claws of Wisdom shoot on out to Murrumbeena, to see if they can find anything in the ruins of the burnt hotel. The site has been fenced off with temporary fencing, but there's a not a whole lot left. The burnt car wrecks have been removed, only one tree hasn't been toasted completely, and the whole building structure is nuked - even concrete is fractured and weird looking. The whole place senses of a strong resonance of magic - its hard to get any real feeling for something in particular. Jay manages to narrow down where Christian's room was, but there's not much more than the occasional deformed bit of metal to show where it was.
Bob has a bit more luck outside the site - despite the strong smell of smoke everywhere and the immense amounts of water used, he finds faint snatches of one of the scents from the Macedon house further down Murrumbeena Rd. He tries to follow it, and thinks that it leads closer to the motel, a thought that is borne out by the faint glimmer of magic sense on the opposite side of the road, where one might stand to incant foul and disturbing magics aimed at the building.
The garou hark off to Mooroolbark, where Andy's house has burnt down. However, the fire hasn't been as confined this time, and a large section of the grassland out the back - where Polly fought the Killer of Children - has also been burnt. The smell of smoke is absolutely everywhere. Despite the stern "do not cross' tape, the pack have a look at the site - yep, that's burnt. And with a strong magic resonance, again. They scope out the surrounding streets, but there's no evidence of either of their 'friends' from Macedon here.
The pack sigh and chase out to Doveton to see about Craig and Shona. They observe them from the Umbra - the couple are watching some chick flick. Its hard to say whether there's been any increase in their magical resonance - its pretty faint anyway. The pack do find a slight ringing taint at the doorstep, which they didn't notice before. Despite Cole's ongoing suggestions to grab them, tie them up and demand answers, the pack poke about from the Umbra a bit more and then head off.
Folks go home, or back to the caern, and let Graeme know what they did and didn't find. There is still much of the frustration going on, and no real other leads. Some of the pack are all for contacting the strawmen on the grounds they have nothing to lose.
The pack head out to the Macedon house again (water everywhere) and check over the details. It certainly smells like Christian, and questing stone still points to his body. However, knowing that the Garou could track people by name, its possible that he did something maaagic about that. Christian's scent appears to move around the house in an unconcerned way, leaving more confusion - he hadn't been there beforehand, judging by scents.
The pack review the timeline to see if that helps at all...
|12am||Freya goes into the dreamlands||12.20am||Freya sits up and says "to Tooradin!"|
|1am||Realise its a demon|
|2am||At the caern, helping Freya|
|3am||Head back south|
|3.30am||Looking at fire at Murrumbeena|
|5am||Questing Stone indicates Macedon|
|5.30am||Told Andy's house is on fire too|
|7am||Arrive at the Garner's house|
Folks do some research on the tattoos on Christian's back. The left one seems to be associated with decay, or the link between life and death. The one on the right is hard to find an exact match to - it looks a bit like a couple of different ones. which are associated with magical energy, or with the concept of being related (not a specific relation, but the idea that one thing is like another). They aren't recent either.
Cole does a couple of sketches of the house. The only strange thing that appears in his drawings is the area around the septic tank - it seems to fall away into a dark pit in that location. After having the concept of a septic tank explained to him, Kreig declines to dig underneath it. A second questing stone is done for Elizabeth Garner, just to confirm that Christian didn't leave in her body or something.
Back to Melbourne. Brad and Jordan come back home, and Freya spends the day with them. Abby mentally contacts the pack mid afternoon, and says that they may as well cancel plans to go to the Jindabyne council on Monday night - a little bird (Abby only) has told her that Tjinderi won't be there, so the topic of the Uktena and what the Claws of Wisdom found out won't really be touched on. Kreig goes back to the dojo and gets more of his stuff - Greg isn't there, unsurprisingly.
That night, Bob has an odd dream. He is standing on some primordial landscape of black rock, erupting volcanoes and streams of lava, and chatting with Bartholemew Wise-In-The-Ways-Of-The-Wyrm. Bartholomew remarks that it's hard to believe that it is the same place. He gestures and said that over there is Hopping Mouse Hill. Anyway, Bob has a lot to do, so he'll leave him to it. Bartholomew walks away and vanishes in a dream-like fashion.
Lacking any other idea of what to do, Bob is drawn towards the afordmentioned hill. The landscape smells bad, and is all rocky. There are places with seem inappropriately warm. Bob makes it across the plain to the slight rise and looks around. He finds a cave on one side, and sneaks inside. There is a short tunnel and then the cave opens up into a huge cavern. Bob recognises it was the same cavern that Bartholomew showed them in the Blue Mountains. In the dream, however, instead of a broken and smashed floor, there is a great pit leading towards into darkness. Standing at the top, Bob can hear something shifting around in the pit. He wakes up...
... not entirely happy. He waits until the rest of the pack is awake and then tells them about the dream. The pack think concerned thoughts. Someone looks up Hopping Mouse Hill and finds that its a real place, part of Wyperfeld National Park, in far northwest Victoria (making it part of the Fianna protectorate). Frustrated by the whole Christian thing, they decide to check it out.
The 7 garou leap into a van and drive out towards north-western Victoria. They ring Bartholomew on the way, and find that he's at home. He agrees the dream is a little disturbing, and says that he'll go and check out the site closest to him. He recommends caution.
8 hours of boring brown hills later, and the pack are driving toward the only bump bigger than their car. However, there is a camping site at Hopping Mouse Hill, and a bus full of tourists appear to be setting up camp. As the pack approach, they can see that a lot of the happy campers appear to be of the elderly-but-active persuasion. They are waved at as they park. Abby, Melissa and Freya stay at the car while the others follow the signed paths towards Hopping Mouse Hill, before disappearing into the Umbra.
Kreig immediately begins to pick up on the feeling of being watched. Its the normal outback-umbra sensation - not malicious directly, but in no way positive either. He cautions the pack to be on their best behaviour. The Umbra is temperate forest - quite a clash from the mid-February desert conditions in the Realm. Bob pokes around looking for the cave that he remembers. It takes a while, during which Freya relates that the oldies here seem to have telescopes, so don't expect them to go to bed early.
Bob eventually finds his rock face, only to find that he is way too high up - the entrace is buried about 10/12 feet down (in both the Umbra and Realm). Kreig fires up his burrow gift and starts to scour away the accumulated dirt and crap of thousands of years. In short order, he has made a big enough gap along the rock face for Bob to slip down. There doesn't seem to be any gaps or holes in the exposed surface, but the pack remember that Bartholomew used the Waiting stone (a Cracking stone like fetish) to open the way. Bob takes out the Cracking stone and pushes it up against the face. He can sense that something has changed but can't see any difference (nor in the Umbra). Kreig pushes his hand up against the wall and it sinks in.
After a bit of "after you, no, after you", Kreig goes into the wall. Its like moving through liquid - it offers some resistence, but seems to almost swirl out of his way. He can sense which way to move too, coming into his brain as a sort of smell. ("This way smells bluer"). After maybe 12 steps, he emerges from the wall into a large dark space.
Krieg uses his Cat's Eye gift to look around the cavern. He is standing at the very edge of a 30 metre cavern, with a broken and smashed floor. The wall of the cavern are covered in lots of rock paintings. There doesn't seem to be any immediate danger, so he tells the rest of the pack to push their way through.
People bring out the torches from the bag of shadows and look around. The floor is broken up similar to the cave that Bartholomew showed them, but it looks more recent. The cavern looks like it has no actual other air disturbing it, because there is a faint fog-like cloud that swirls as people move around.
Kreig Senses Wyrm unatural, and finds that it senses only of wyrm, no weaver, no magic or anything else - just wyrm. Its also very strong and pure, which is disturbing. Bob stiffs around the cave, and apart from Kreig, there are no real other scents - just dust. Abby tries to see if the floor was all smashed in one place, and there doesn't seem to be anything that suggests it wasn't. Jumps-in-Puddles tries turning over a few rocks to see if there are paintings or marks on the ground, but it looks like there are only paintings on the walls and roof. The pack try and observe the various paintings on the wall - some of them look familiar. Some of the patterns look similar, like the ones at the fae cave near Mornington, or at Scars Atoned and at the disputed caern. Some of them are abstract patterns, others might be human-like figure, and others some sort of animals. They vary from small to quite large, and cover the walls and roof.
However, closer examination reveals that some of the paintings are large, or appear important. Krieg says that he thinks that a 5-branched figure that appears in several places might perhaps represent the wyrm thing that used to be here, although it looks more like a weaver thing in other ways. Abby finds a sort of person-shape, humanoid, with big eyes - and she suddenly realises that the strange circles that surround its waste are like ripples. Ah, its Jirrawan, the caern spirit at Scars Atoned. Oh. That's odd. There is a brief consideration that it could perhaps have once been a caern, especially as some of the images/paintings are the same.
Bob and Abby want to use Spirit Awakening on the paintings, but Freya us a bit concerned that so much of the place sense of wyrm and very little of anything else. They decide to look around first, and see what else is around the cave. The pack breaks up into pairs and looks around. Bob, part of the half a pack that goes widdershins, finds a slight niche about 1/3 of the way around. He notices a large rock and picks it up before thinking "woops, I should have sensed that". However, there's a sense that the rock might be a fetish, and blowing off all the dust, it reveals a smooth rock, cover in patterns, very much like the Cracking Stone and the Waiting Stone. Attuning to the fetish indicates that its called the Silent Stone. Bob tells the pack, but refuses to give it up.
Meanwhile on the other side of the cave, Freya finds a similar sort of niche, and finds a small stone figurine. Sensing unnatural reveals a sense of wyrm (just like the rest of the cave), but it also have a weaver sense... and a fetish nature. Freya attunes to it and empathically reveals that it is a Bane Lock - a weaver fetish created to lock a wyrm thing down. The fetish is almost completely drained of gnosis, and the spirit inside of almost dissipated.
The pack poke the floor a bit, but although the pit disappears down further than they can see of sense, it is also fit of rubble the entire way down. Looking in the Umbra, there seems to be a similar cavern - ducking physically into the spirit world, there are paintings on the wall and a similar smashed up floor. Its looking awfully like the wyrm beast went straight downwards.
Freya relents and allows the others to do an Awakening on the the paintings. They animate, just like the ones in the fae cave. The image of Jirrawan moves across the caern and then stops. The 5-branch images moves in front of Jirrawan. Then a circle of dots moves in front of the 5-branch, hiding it. Then the Jirrawan picture appears, and the animation ends. There is some speculation about what it all means. Abby suggests that Jirrawan went to deal with the wyrm beast, and needed help from Bunyip. There is some thought that the circle of dots might be a ritual circle of theurges or garou.
After some pissing about with the exit in the Umbra (which ends underground still), they head out into the outside world once again. Despite the apparent recentness of events, they sort of need a better sense of the timescales they are looking for. They hunt about in the Umbra and find a tree spirit that they can awaken. It seems strangely unkeen to speak to Bob, but he eventually placates it. The tree spirit tells them that something very bad appeared suddenly and then it passed Beneath. Bob says that's not the right word, but he's missing some connotations that the tree can't seem to convey. They ask when this happened, and the spirit says that it was a few rains ago, which is frustratingly inaccurate.
Its time to pass the buck! Although the pack are in the middle of Fianna territory, they aren't really sure who the closest Sept is, so they opt to contact Rippling Waters as the main protectorate sept. This involves a trip the nearest town to get some mobile coverage.
The phone rings for a bit before its picked up by Jenny Roche. Freya gives a bit of an explanation and suggests that they'd appreciate some advice from Leaps-in-the-Light. Jenny says she'll get someone to call them back in 15 or so. And indeed, in about 15 minutes, a sleepy sounding familiar voice is on the phone. Freya says that they've found something under a place called Hopping Mouse Hill in Wyperfeld to do with their friends near Skipton, and that it might be nice to have a second opinion. Tonight. Leaps-in-the-Light says he can do that and offers to meet them in Horsham. The pack agree and head that way.
About 11pm they are lurking about the main street of Horsham near a fountain when a large car pulls in next to them. Out gets Leaps-in-the-Light and Mae Fischer's pack the Spear of Tulu. Freya says that they've discovered what looks like the prison of a Wyrm beast, and its recently been emptied. Gillian gives Bends-the-High-Mists a $20 note. The Claws of Wisdom explain everything from Bob's dream through to going into the cave while the other Garou listen. At the end of it, Leaps-in-the-Light sighs and says they better go and have a look. He contacts David Thewlis and suggests that the Sept Leader meet them there.
The pack drive back to the Hopping Mouse Hill area and park a couple of kilometers away (no sense confusing the oldies) before running there in the Umbra. They offer to show Leaps-in-the-Light now, but he suggests they wait for David, who shows up an hour or so later. They use the Cracking Stone and head down the odd tunnel. The pack point out where they found the fetishes and the pictures on the roof. They do a Rite of Awakening and show the Fianna the moving explanation for the site. Freya becomes aware of David's disapproval, and queries him on it. He says that he is concerned that they are meddling too quickly - he points out that although the main event, so to speak, involved Jirrawan, some of the other pictures also seemed to animate. He also suggests that the pack removed the fetishes from their niches without even a second thought as to what they were doing there. Abby and Freya argue that they are trying to make amends to the Bunyip, and can't do so without knowing much about them. Nonetheless, David says that such abrupt action concerns him.
Back outside into the cool night. Much discussion - some of which seems to be a bit oddly stilted - and in the end Leaps-in-the-Light suggests summoning an earth elemental to follow the hole down until it finds the end, or till dawn. Some of the Garou get their head down, others chat. Freya notices Mae and Abby slipping away and asks what she's doing - Abby says she's just chatting and will be back soon (Abby only). About 10 minutes later Abby says that she knows what's behind the coolness between David and the Rippling Waters garou and that the pack shouldn't worry (or interfere). There was just a brief demarkation dispute a month or so ago, and it got a bit blown out of proportion - probably why Leaps-in-the-Light was so quick to invite David along.
A couple of hours after dawn, the elemental returns to the garou. It says that the shaft descends downwards for some time. Yay! And then it starts to turn to the southwet. Er. That's towards Melbourne. Oh. However, it had travelled further than the elemental could follow in such a short time, so there's no idea where it is now. The two Sept elders suggest that they could try and organise more elementals in the next week and track it. Freya suggests that the Claws of Wisdom can't really add anything at the moment, and that maybe they could return to Melbourne. The elders agree and so they pack climb back in their pain wagon and slog their way back to Melbourne.
They arrive in the late afternoon, give the caern elders the skinny ("end of the world, blah blah, our fault") and crash for a few hours before getting up to give a more detailed explanation of things, and then going to homes if they have them, or flaking out again in the caern.
There is much discussion about leads. Abby is keen on contacting the strawmen, because she feels they don't have any other leads on finding out what happened to Christian or Polly. Some of the rest of the pack are unkeen, feeling there's no benefit in calling them - all it does is tell the strawmen mages that they were hunting them with a third party. So there is some discussion about trying to track the strawmen when they show up - the possibility of engaging Merlin to help them out is discussed. The pack consult their sept elders who think that its dangerous, but possible. The only gift that Emma knows that could help them really is the one they have from their totem.
In the end, Freya agrees they can put the ad in. However, due to the process of putting an ad into the paper, it'll be Monday before their ad goes in. The pack get on with some of the rest of their life.
The pack do their thang. Everyone meditates. Kreig finds that his application for a house in Brunswick West is a go! Woo. Somewhere to live. Its a small house on a small block that overlooks the freeway, and only accessible from an alley way off a court. Seems perfect for their needs. He runs off to finalise those details.
Bartholomew rings the pack late in the day and says that he's been to the cave and there's no change there. They fill him in on what he's seen and he says that he's going to go and see what is what. He'll contact the Fianna locally and organise it with them.
Freya tries to use dreamspeak during the night. It seems to confirm that Christian is dead (not even daydreaming), and that Polly is once again unreachable.
Bob wakes up having had the same dream, sans Bartholomew. He tells the other packmembers. They sigh. Everyone eventually ends up back at the caern, which is convenient, because Marches-the-High-Road shows up via Moonbridge. He brings them up to date - Scars Atoned told Jirrawan about the Wyrm beast, but he didn't seem to react. Marches-the-High-Road says this isn't unusual - Jirrawan is slow to respond (Scars Atoned being a caern of calm) as he is a sedate spirit.
However, Marches-the-High-Road, says that he and Leaps-in-the-Light organised a few elementals to try and trawl down for the Wyrm beast, and they discovered that it went into the magma. Worst case scenario, this means its going to come back as a volcano, as per Bob's dream of the volcanic plain. Marches-the-High-Road says that that best case scenario is that the spirit is worn out from fighting the binding and it is going to spend 1,000 years regenerating. Freya says they don't want it to come back when its stronger, and everyone agrees. The problem being, they don't even know what to do with it if they can get it back. Presumably the Bunyip knew how to deal with it, and the Uktena (hackspit) are renowned to have rituals that will bind them. And for extra optimism, there might be more of them chained down around Australia - stories about the lost sites surfaced shortly after the genocide.
Jay distracts people briefly with stories about investigating cultists when he was younger and in the north of NSW. Abby wonders about the mages trawling random occult groups and if they could follow them that way. Its a possibiity for kinfolk rather than the garou to chase up. Freya toys with the idea of summoning ancestor spirits, but bunyip ancestor spirits are pretty much out of the question.
They chat with Marches-the-High-Road about the awakening of the spirit pictures the Bunyip left behind. Abby tries to explain their point of view, and Marches-the-High-Road doesn't really object, but he doesn't really agree either. Returning to the topic at hand, they try and work out what to do about the Wyrm beast - presumably the Bane Lock might be usable to lock the thing into sleep. Marches-the-High-Road says they might have to consult with the Uktena. The pack are unkeen to give them the Bane Lock.
The pack are going over the fetishes they have when Freya remembers that Bob has both the Silent Stone and the Cracking Stone. She says that its probably an idea if Bob gives one of them to someone else in the pack. Bob disagrees. Freya pushes the issue and Bob says that he challenges for packleadership. The pack is a little bit surprised. Freya asks if he's serious, and he says yes. Freya wanders off to have a think before coming back and says physical challenge! Er, combat. Non aggravated, no gifts. First to unconsciousness loses. Bob agrees and Freya goes to speak to Ian.
Word seems to spread through the Sept, and people 'happen' to be around near the centre of the caern an hour later when Freya and Bob get together. Ian watches while they both change to Crinos and lay into one another. There's a lot of dodging and solid punching. Bob lands a blow on Freya that knocks her back a bit, and while she is off balance he steps in and slams his meaty crinos fist into her ribs. There is a clear crack and blood appears on Freya's muzzle before she falls backwards and shimmers to homid form. After a brief moment of checking she wasn't going to frenzy, Ian says that Bob appears to be the honourable winner of the challenge, unless anyone else wants to dispute it. Kreig heals Freya. There is some awkwardness as the pact shift in their mind that Bob is now pack leader.
Later that evening, the pack decide to experiment with the amulet they got from Christian's corpse. They check it out with Emma, who says that it is truly weird - she's not sure how it works, but is happy to look at it with Bob. One of the things they want to look at it is Bob's dreams, so once Bob finally goes to sleep, wearing the amulet, Freya tries dreamspeaking for him. In much the same way that it is hard to find Polly's dreams, it is quite hard to find Bob's. Innnteresting.
Jay suggests that he might have a lead towards finding the mages through one of his contacts. Its a name of a person who years ago was known to have a magical mirror that lets you look into the deadlands. With it, they might be able to see what the mages are doing. He knows where they were living, and he knows their name. However, his contact wants to check out where Christian was killed. The pack want to know why and who they are, but Jay is a bit leery. Bob asks if he trusts the person. Jay says no, but he has given good info. Bob asks if he is a mage. Jay reluctantly says yes.
The rest of the pack go a bit apeshit - they want to know why Jay hadn't said anything previously. They want to know everything about him right now. Jay says he lives around Melbourne, and intimates that he owes the guy stuff. He's only known him for a while. Er, since he joined the pack, yes. Much loud accusations. They've been trading information. Er, in the sense that Jay has told him stuff and he has now said things about this mirror. They met about a month ago.
Jay says that he works mostly alone, but he does communicate with other people. And that he wants to getting rid of the others just like they do. Abby wants to know why Jay didn't come and tell them straight away. Cole mouths "Shadowlord" behind Jay's back. The pack's chain of thought is broken by talking about having it away with a poodle, but they get back to asking Jay. Jay says that he's told him less than they've told Christian - he told the guy about Christian (after he was dead), but left Polly out of it completely. The guy told Jay about the mirrors where Christian was killed (after Jay told him about the glass around the tank) - by sacrificing the sheep, the mage assailants can reach through the mirrors and pull out demons.
They ask Jay about how the mage met him - Jay says that he just came up and started talking to him. The guy seemed to know who he was, and all. Bob asks if the mage knew anything about the Dancers, but Jay says that he only talked about the other mages. Apparently Jay's contact really hates them, but Jay's not sure why. Jay did do a sense unnatural - the guy had a lot of magic, then some wyld, then some demonic, and finally a small amount of weaver and wyrm. The pack are confused. Abby is annoyed.
They suggest setting up a new meeting and lying in wait for him, er, finally meeting Jay's new friend. They want to ask questions. Lots of them. They are not sure about asking about Black Spiral Dancers, Krieg points out that tells him that they exist. Its pointed out that anyone watching the news on New Years pretty much is already aware. Bob says that they'll let this guy go to see where Christian died if he answers all of their questions.
Jay says that the best way of progressing is probably to find this Chandeen Mirror that the guy mentioned. Its apparently in a place called Drake's Rill, and the guy who had it was called Julius Victor Ademko. Its pointed out that the area is a Silver Fang protectorate, and Ademko could be kind of east European.
Bob tries to do a questing stone on the name, but there's no response at all. Could be because he's far away, but it doesn't seem to be likely. Jay says that the guy moved out there 50 years ago or something like that.
The pack decide to head out tonight and see if they can get it quick smart and not ruin their weekend. It takes about 4 hours, because its hard to find the right turn off to Drake's Rill from the road between Bairsdale and Omeo. The turn off road winds around a lot, and mobile phone connectivity keeps fading out. Eventually it runs along a ridge line and down into the sleepy valley that includes Drake's Rill. The town is really small - its about 8 shops and some houses along side the road. At the far end of town is a pub, and the near end is a small church. Twilight has begun early because of the high surrounding hills as the pack drive into town.
The pack decide that they look too freaky and drive right on through without stopping. The end. No, not really. They drive 2 or 3kms out of town and down a fire access track. Bob decides that not everyone needs to wander through town, because frankly they look like a bunch of weightlifting mormons when they are all together. The plan is to pretend to be looking for Ademko because they are distant relatives. Cole volunteers to climb up to the lookout they passed and use his gifts to try and draw/paint the town to get hints. Jay goes with him. Bob and Abby go to the church/graveyard, Freya is the least freaky looking and will ask people questions with Melissa, and Kreig will cruise through the Umbra sensing for supernatural stuff.
Freya and Melissa drive into town and park in front of the post office cum gift shop cum florist. The guy is obviously closing up (its about 4.50), but is happy to offer the local whitepages. They look for Ademko, and then spelling variations, but don't have any luck. The guy asks what they are looking for, and Freya explains that she is looking for a long lost relative, Victor Ademko. He says he recognises the name, but can't remember where from - there's no Ademko's in town. He suggests asking Mrs Sandstrom down at the general store - she's been living here since she was born, so she might know.
Meanwhile Bob and Abby are peeking from the Umbra and looking at graves. The landscape is scrubbish and marshy - some weaver stuff, but not too much. The cemetary is quite old, and some of the graves are hard enough to read without the pesky gauntlet in the way. The same names start appearing, but they keep looking.
Freya and Melissa walk into the general store to find that Mrs Sandstrom seems to have stepped right out of a country practice. Freya gives her the shpiel - distant relative, chasing family tree - and Mrs Sandstrom seems surprised. She says that Mr Ademko died about 25 years ago - he's buried over behind the church. Freya says that she got a letter only recently about this distant relative, and has only just now had time to chase it up. Mrs Sandstrom says that its a shame that it took some time, the police weren't able to find next of kin at the time - and they were quite curious at the time after the car crash, and then his house burning down a couple of days later. Aha, think the pack.
Freya gives Bob a better idea of the timeframe he is looking for in the cemetary and asks about Ademko. Mrs Sandstrom says that they didn't know much about him - he kept to himself, but they figured that he was a painter. He didn't socialise much - they always assumed that not having English as his first language, he just felt uncomfortable. So when he died, the police were looking for next of kin and no one really knew much about him. When the house burnt down, it really only left the land for inheritance - she supposes that the government probably auctioned it off after a couple of years, but no one has built there since. The locals think its an ill-aspected bit of countryside - a young girl got lost there a few years ago, and a hitch-hiker was attacked and murdered.
Freya asks for directions to the house, just to poke about and Mrs Sandstrom draws a map out that way. Meanwhile people make suggestions about looking for a title office (it'll be in Bairnsdale shire offices and they won't open until Monday) or microfiche newspaper records (also in Bairnsdale, but the library will probably be open sometime on the weekend at least) as soon as they can get to them (legitimately or otherwise). Freya thanks Mrs Sandstrom for her help and they head back to the car. The church is on the way out to the Ademko property, so they plan to pick Bob and Abby up on the way.
Bob and Abby find the gravestone - Julius Victor Ademko, born in 1923, died in 1978. Unfortunately there's no "loving son of" or "missed by" kind of inscriptions, so its not any immediate help. Bob senses the area and finds that there's a faint deadlands sense to the area (duh, its a cemetary). The two of them head over to the road and leap into the Realm and then the car. Krieg runs out of town and shifts into the Realm and runs through the forest towards the same location.
They arrive at the erstwhile Ademko residence. There's not much of a structure left behind after 25 years, but the forest that's grown back seems smaller and less thick than the surrounding forest. They find the remnants of a brick basement, with a lot of burnt building rubble dropped into it. There's also a flat concrete platform that probably used to be a shed. Exploring further away reveals the burnt stumps of old fences. Abby senses unnatural, and finds that there's a wyrm sense here, although its hard to put their finger on. Freya and Bob find that the area feels wrong - the shadows are just a bit too dark, and sound seems to die off a bit quick. The Umbra is similar, but there are no entities lurking there. Its a haunted, disquietening feeling.
Abby changes to glabro and grabs a torch from the Bag of Shadows. The others look at the cellar in the Umbra - there's no fractal wards or anything. The cellar seems deeper & darker in the Umbra, with a faint smell of rot, but there's no actual signs of danger. Abby clambours down amongst the rubble - sand and dirt shift, but nothing actually collapses. She hears things moving around - perhaps snakes? The walls are made of brick, and don't seem particularly stable. She discovers a lot of rusted chains at one point, in a bit of a sheltered bit. There's glass, but it looks like window glass, not mirror glass. She finds bits of what perhaps might be ... a rack? Or maybe just machinery of some sort. Abby looks for a trapdoor, but there's a lot of rubble on the floor - there doesn't seem to be any hollow space under the ground though.
Kreig rocks up, and does a sense wyrm. The sense is hard to pin down. Bob tries to sense on the cellar directly - the sense of wyrm is down in the cellar, but there's no spike of anything in particular. There is a faint, faint sense of magic in the cellar. He tries smelling around to see if anyone has been around - Bob smells animals, and mostly Krieg. He scopes around the place. Freya and Kreig head down the slope towards the creek downhill.
Abby, looking for paint on the walls, finds that there are stains of metal. Looking closer, she finds that there seems to have been some sort of metal between the bricks before the fire, possibly lead, as it seems to have melted out, and dribbled down the walls, and pooled at the bottom of the wall. This is odd.
Freya finds some animal bones. Er. And some more. And a lot more. There's not whole skeletons, but possibly due to scavenger. They find a cat skull, some spines, etc. There aren't any marks on the bones like knives of anything. There's no grave markers to suggest that its a pet cemetary. Krieg senses wyrm and there is a minor scent.
Bob is sniffing away from the house, upwind of the prevailing winds, and he is snuffling around a huge burnt out gum tree stump. Bob smells just the faintest scent of rot? Its not on the tree, but on the side of the ground away from the house. He starts to dig down through the ground. Its relatively hard and dusty, so it takes a while.
Krieg heads into the Umbra to poke about there. He senses wyrm, and finds its a death, or too much death sense of corruption. He also notices that the usual sense of the umbra watching them that they get away from cities is not there. This is a trifle odd. Krieg crawls down into the Umbral cellar, but slips and him and a load of rubble cascade down into the hole. Kreig's head is nearly crushed by a falling beam. However, he reaches the bottom of the deep hole with no further incident. Although the hole is deeper in the Umbra than the Realm, when he peeks back he is only at the bottom of the cellar - there's no hidden room under there.
Bob's made a significant hole, and senses. He finds a faint wyrm sense seeming to come from further down underground. He gets Abby to help him dig a deeper hole. They reach a point where suddenly the ground smells clearly wrong. The soil is also weird - it smells faintly like blood and bone sense. Jay suggests it might be that a body was here, and has rotted away, but its a very thin layer of soil that's odd. It seems to have happened just where the soil changes from dirt to clay. Maybe it could have happened if a whole lot of blood had been spilt here and it had dribbled through the soil, stopping when it reached less permeable soil?
They wonder if the Chandeen Mirror might be found with Questing Stone - they've had some luck finding physical things this way before, but its easier when the things are unique. Freya gives it a go, but doesn't seem to have any response.
Figuring that they've ransacked all that they can, the pack head back into town. Its getting onto nearly 6pm at this point. Bob suggests going to the local pub and hanging out there to see what the locals have to say. Kreig heads up the mountain to hang out with Jay, given Cole is absorbed in what he's doing. The others drive to the pub, which is an old style weatherboard hotel, with balconies.
The pub is split into two seperate parts - a main bar, and a small dining area. The four garou go to the dining area and order some food. There are photos all around the way, various historic ones of the township, and some of them of people around the town. Freya checks it out, but none of them say "Ademko". While they are waiting, they pull out their purported notes about "Great Uncle Ademko" and start bullshitting about this allegedly family tree. Melissa and Abby really get into it, and start making up stories, assisted by their persuasion gifts.
Eventually the waitress notices what they are doing and starts asking questions. Apparently how boyfriend of the time was one of the CFA attending the fire - people assumed he'd left something artistic happening and without him to watch it after the crash it caught fire. She mentions that the spot where his house was is reputedly cursed - even the black fellas reputedly avoid it. They ask about the fire at the time, whether anything was left over, and she says she thinks that it burnt pretty well - she remembers people saying it must have been all the paint chemicals. But that - pointing through the servery window into the main bar - was one of his paintings.
Abby gets up and goes to have a look in the main bar while the others keep talking. The waitress says that he was driving back on a foggy night from Bairnsdale and lost control on the way into town. She reiterates that no one really knew him, but she'll ask out the back.
All the old blokes look at Abby in the bar with a tch kind of noise. The ceilings are really high with fan hanging down. The painting is quite large and is of the whole town - painted from the place where they left Cole. Its about midday in the painting, and they can see that there's a lot of detail, even though its high up above the top row of spirits. Abby senses it as the others come through into the bar - there is a sense of wyrm and magic about the painting, and possibly a faint demonic sense. None of them are strong or active, but they are there. They wonder if the painting is on glass, but it looks like canvas - possibly its wrapped around a mirror, but its not possible to tell.
The old guy behind the bar notices them noticing it and starts chatting. The pack say that he was a distant relative, and they were curious about it. Apparently Ademko donated it to a charity fete as part of an auction - he broke his normal solitude and just showed up one day. He points out some of the detail - you can recognise some of the individual people in the photo. Its pretty heavy, so he doesn't want to bring it down, but he does offer to let them climb up on a ladder to look tomorrow - they arrange accomodation at the pub coincidentally. Bob peeks and sees that the painting is there, but can't make out much more about it.
Voila! Cole is finished. He has painted the town, but at night - people are there, but they are scuttling from place to place, looking very pale. Its a very oppressive painting - the creek is reddish rather than blue. He grabs the other two and they head down to the pub, and sneak into the rooms that the others have booked, while they eat their delicious food.
The others come upstairs and look at Cole's painting. It does look a lot like the one in the pub, only midnight instead of midday. Krieg heads down in the Umbra and takes a look at the reflection. Its the same painting in the Umbra, but the mood is very different - the light is wan and thin, and instead of playing in the stream, they're drowning; instead of putting washing out, they're getting it in before the storm. The shadows are wrong too - they stretch across the landscape futher than they should. Its almost like the mood of Cole's painting with the detail of Ademko's.
Abby goes into the Umbra - the pub is there for the most part, with only some minor changes over time - and grabs Kreig to help her crawl up and down the building while peeking, looking for supernatural weirdness like cellars and all, but there doesn't seem to be anything of note. They do get a rough idea of the various people around the town though, People kill time while squabbling about who gets to sleep in the beds and who has to sleep on the floor. Freya looks at the umbral painting and confirms that its attached to board, not to glass or mirror.
Eventually the pub closes up and people trundle off to sleep. The town itself seems to winding down too - mostly the lights are off in houses, and with there only being a few street lights, the place get pretty dark. Cole heads downstairs in the Umbra and steps out into the Realm with his painting, wanting to compare and contrast them. He finds the cigarette machine and buys some ciggies before he gets up on a short ladder. There are some houses missing from Cole's version, and a couple that are different, but the town seems fundamentally the same. There's nothing suspicious about his painting, but having it to compare to Cole's means that he notices on his new image there is a dark path leading from the church to each of the houses - its almost like a root structure with its trunk in the church, branching all the way out to each residence.
Krieg quickly checks with people that the church doesn't match the Cathedral they have seen in their dreams before they go further. Figuring that most people are asleep, the pack heads over there via the Umbra with Krieg peeking. The church doesn't really appear in the Umbra, just a rought bit of weaver structure. There is a marker saying that the church was built in 1908 after the last building burnt down in a bushfire. That's a bit weird - of all the places, you'd expect the church to have a strong spiritual reflection, but while its the second most obvious umbral structure, the pub is much more realised. There's a noticeboard out the front that says that there's a reverend here one Sunday a month - presumably the rest of the time the devout have to go to Omeo or something.
Freya senses unnatural and once again only feels a faint deadlands sense - odd, but the cemetary does abut the caern. Cole suggests that if there any corpse disinterring to go out, Bob should do it. The thought that maybe Ademko was buried with the mirror occurs to the pack, but they leave digging up his body to be plan C.
Krieg wanders around in the Umbra peeking - the church just seems a church, with a small residence accessible from one side. It looks just like a hall - the pews are pushed to one side, and there's a raised dias at the front. There is a very tightly wound spiral staircase that leads up to the small belltower. There's a mirror in the bathroom of the residence, but it doesn't sense of anything.
Cole looks about for a priest's sign in book and finds a cupboard up the back that might hold that and similar objects, but he can't see inside of it. He steps out of the Umbra into the empty church and opens it up. There are spare robes, and candles and the like and indeed a signin book for the priests. That looks pretty normal - its been the same two or three guys (McCleod and Warren) for the last few years, but its a newish book so there's not a lot of history. Its like being in an empty hall - there's no pentacles painted in the blood of innocents on the wall or anything.
Plan C is brought up again, and Krieg suggests digging in the Umbra so not to leave evidence. He can dig down to the right level and then peek with his Eyes of the Cat gift. The Burrow gift makes short work of the marshy umbral earth, and Kreig drops down about 8 feet. Cole looks busy while they start digging towards rotting bodies, and heads up the spiral staircase just to check out the space. When he gets to the top of the stairs he finds a trap door, and opens it to find a small tower with a bell. However, he notices some sort of writing on the inside of the bell. He can't read it, so he grabs Abby out of the Umbra to check it out. They have to change places to make space.
Kreig peeks from about 8' down. Dirt, damp, cold. He raises his head up slowly until he finds a space. However, rather than rotting body, he finds rocks and a crushed and broken cheap coffin. There is the same sense of deadlands as above here, but still no point source. Someone suggests that there's a "Back in 5" notes here somewhere. Krieg checks that there's not some weird "don't bury people" cult thing happening by digging sideways into the next grave, but there's definately a skanky body there.
Abby checks out the words on the bell - its hard, because its dark, and because they've been there for a while. Its fundamentally Latin, but its not right - its not church latin, nor is it a pure latin. She's not familiar with this particular bastardisation, some of the words sound like Greek words that have been incorporated into a latin language. She can get the intent out - its instructions, a call or maybe a summoning. Basically its "everyone come now". They sense it but it doesn't seem to have any supernatural taint. Kreig suggests checking the clapper, but there's nothing on that, nor the outside. Abby decides to read it out loud as best as she can.... but nothing seems to happen. Cole keeps a sense unnatural eye on Abby, but she doesn't spike with magic while reading it out.
Abby knows a bit about history and bells - the bells were used to call people to worship, but also they were traditionally blessed, and ringing them would protect the town against evil or demons. It might be an old bell brought back from somewhere else, but they find a maker's mark from Melbourne in 1942, so probably not. Abby thinks that the engraving is not new, but its not as old as the bell. She writes down the words.
Freya goes looking through the cupboards and all in the church. Melissa and Jay stay in the Umbra while Bob steps out into the graveyard to do Questing Stone from Ademko's grave. Cole lurks in the shadow of the church, Beneath Notice. Krieg leaps out of his hole to keep an eye on people from the Umbra.
Bob is ritualling it up when he starts to get an odd sensation, like he's being watched. He stops doing the ritual and tries to get a better idea of where it is coming from. Krieg stands on the Umbral grave and peeks through the Gauntlet to see if he can see anything. From a nearby corpse of trees, he can see glinting like cat or dogs eyes looking their way. He is heading over there in the Umbra when a couple of wild dogs get up and run off - they seem to react to his spiritual presence, which is concerning. Kreig manages to sense them and gets a faint sense of deadlands, much like the graveyard sense. Kreig speaks to Bob, but finds that his packleader's voice sounds really quiet. He doubles back, but doesn't feel any different, but the mental voice is getting quieter. Bob has the same problem - Krieg is fading out. They quickly test each other and find that the whole pack are unable to hear one another well.... and gone.
There is a brief panic from the various members of the pack. Abby and Freya join up in the hall, and decide to join up. Cole heads over to where he knew Bob was. Krieg, in the Umbra tries to step out but finds that the Gauntlet is much stronger than he expects - he can't peek either. Cole waves to Bob. Bob jumps the fence out of the graveyard to meet Cole, and Abby and Freya find them quickly outside. Bob heads over to the trees where the dogs were lurking.
Kreig, Jay and Melissa get together. They can't summon Merlin, because all the spirit oriented people are in the Realm. Krieg takes charge and decides they should head away from the church and see if they can get out of the area. 500m away into bushland and the effect is still there - now that he's aware of it, Kreig can sense how oppressive the lack of material world is. He senses unnatural and finds that its not weaver everywhere, but the same deadlands sense, much stronger than before.
Bob tries to sense unnatural in the Realm and finds he can't get it off his packmembers - ah, no totem link, no switching the gift. He sniffs instead, and smells a wild dog smell. Its definately not a werewolf smell, nor a farm dog smell. Abby glances back to the town, but there's no mob with pitchforks heading their way, nor a swarm of cats, nor does it seem to be suddenly 1941. The four of them theorise that they have somehow slipped into some strange Umbral place, and wonder if they should go back to the town to see if there's anyone there at all. No one blames Abby for reading the inscription or anything. Honest.
Bob decides to questing stone ademko again, from his grave, while the others stay around closeby, but there's no response. Kreig tries to use his Mental Speech gift to contact Bob, but no luck. Despite some confusion about gifts that end in Claws, Cole does not cut his way into the Umbra through the gauntlet. Bob senses wyld, but finds nothing unusual. Krieg senses unnatural in the Umbra, but doesn't find anything unusual about him or his packmates that are with him - as the only person with battle scars from his "packmates" his paranoia seems to be justified. He decides they should head back to the pub rather than keeping on out of town - perhaps the painting has gone nuts.
The four of them are heading back towards the town, Abby spots a possum in a tree staring at them with glowing red eyes. It is just staring and staring at them. Freya tries to speak to speak to it with her special Galliard Gift. It seems to ignore her, blinks, and the red eyes are gone. The possum bolts into the trees. They look around for other animals - the quiet sounds of the children of the night doesn't seem as reassuring as it did. Bob can smell other animals around the place - dogs, cats, rodents, possums, wallabies have all been through here fairly recently, but the presence of two humans and two wolves are blocking any of them showing up now. They head towards the town.
Meanwhile, in the Umbra, the other three Garou make their way through the marshy brushland towards the Umbral pub. They head inside to look at the painting. Krieg can't see any difference, even when peering closely at the bell towards. He checks it out with sense unnatural, but it doesn't seem to be any more active than it was.
While they travel through town, Bob and co decide to make sure that the townsfolk haven't become zombies or disappeared or something. Bob, in lupus form, sneaks up to the only house with lights on on this side of town. He loosk through the window to find that a guy that they think was called Neil asleep in the couch with a beer on one side and a half empty cornchip packet on the other. They decide to detour via the other lit houses just to check that everyone's not asleep.
The second house has a woman sitting at a bench looking at a magazine. Bob watches for a bit and realises that she's not turning the page - either she is the world's slowest reader or something odd is going on. Cole checks his watch and finds that time has stopped! The second hand is not moving.... oh now it has started. Given its a genuine "Rulex", that's not too surprising.
The third house, Bob sneaks up to the window, lifts his head up and goes to look in the window, but there is a cat there staring at him with red eyes. Bob tries to bare his teeth and scare it away but it just stares at him. The cat blinks and the red is gone, and suddenly it behaves like a cat - it leaps about a foot and half off the window sill, yowling like a banshee. The poor human who was playing computer games goes completely to pieces, throwing his coffee across the room, falling off the chair and yelling loudly. Everyone dives for the bushes. Cole suggests that he could use Mind Speak to talk to whatever this presence is, but they should have some sort of subduing process planned out. They decide instead to grab the car from the pub and drive out towards Ademko's house.
Krieg tries to howl out to people in the Umbra, in case there are other Garou around, but makes only a pathetic yelping noise instead. The three of them are at a bit of a loss, so decide to head towards where they left Krieg's car via the lookout and hope that this effect has an edge.
While they are driving out, Cole spots a pair of red eyes staring at him from the bushland to the left of the road. He gets Freya to stop suddenly, and uses his gift to make mental contact with the presence in the 'roo. It seems to be fairly single minded - "Leave, this place is mine". Cole tries to get it to talk, asking who it is and mentioning the others and the mirror. The presence says this is their last chance - leave now. The gauntlet here is still impenetrable. They drive most of the rest of the way out to Ademko's house and after Cole grabs a shovel from the boot they run up the hill towards the ruin. As they head close to his house, the oppressive feeling starts to fade - about 100m from Ademko's house it fades completely and their mental link comes back between the 4 of them.
They decide to head into the Umbra, and when they get there Abby uses Call of the Wyld to try and call for Kreig, Jay and Melissa. The "Come 'ere!" howl resounds throughout the Umbra. Over at the lookout, the three other Garou hear this sound and can judge about where it came from - it sounds like Abby to them. Jay howls back, and they head the way it came from. 15 or 20 minutes of marco-polo through wolf howls happen while the others play with the fuzzy border than makes up the unpleasant Umbral barrier. There is a strong deadlands, magic and wyrm sense at the border of the effect - this suggests Mages pretty strongly.
They all get together finally, and the totem link comes back - they catch up on what's been happening to both groups. They end up in the Realm all together. While they are at Ademko's, they check it out to see if its changed since this afternoon. Not much to be smelt, cos Krieg's been here. They talk about what to do - Cole's a fan of going back there, because that will tick whoever it is off. Bob agrees with that. They go back into the dead area, and find that its really offputting to go back into a space where they can't mentally hear one another - its like going into somewhere where they are partly deaf. They pile into Freya's car in lupus (except for the driver, obviously) and head back to Drake's Rill.
They drive back in to town, considering their escape plan before pulling up back at the church. Everyone gets out and has a look about for animals that might be spying on them. Cole shins himself on a gravestone and stops, jumping up and down. Kreig looks up and spots what he thinks is an owl, passing in front of the moon. He has the feeling that its kind of... not... good. It seems to be circling around them, or the church. The others are trying to spot it when Cole makes a sudden "Waaaaaa" noise and flies across the graveyard through the air, coming down rather heavily on a gravestone. There is a definately bone-breaking sound and Cole does not get up. Everyone rushes over there to see what's going on. Cole's neck is at a very odd angle, and he doesn't seem to be breathing. Kreig sighs and lays Cole out - there's a grinding sound as Cole's vertebrae grind together - and holds his head in the right place. Bob uses his healing talen and Cole starts to breath again - he comes to with the moon in his eyes, and starts to want kill things, but manages to keep it under control. Kreig gives it a go and Cole's spine reknits enough to change to glabro before healing back to completely healthy.
Bob yells out to the night - "Show yourself! Why do you want us to leave so much? We just want the mirror". There doesn't seem to be a reaction, either here or in the town. There's no eerie red-eyed animals about either. Bob looks at the church, and sees shadow flow up the wall, then breaks apart into words - "Leave now or die"... then it all flows away except for "Leave". Bob asks who it is, but there's no response. The others think about leaving, but Cole says that the Litany does say that they have to deal with it. Everyone stares at him, and he sort of sheepishly says "Well, not necessarily us, but you know... someone... er". Obviously they know this is not the real Cole, and leap on him and tear him to bits. No, not really.
They consider their options some more - no one is real happy with idea of running away, but they seem to be short any real way to combat whatever this is. The firmest piece of information seems to be that the church is at the centre of whatever is going on. They decide to try and force the issue a bit more by using talking type words before taking further steps. However, as a precaution, the pack link arms - if whatever it is can fling seven pretty hefty people, then really, they don't have many other options.
Bob starts by yelling that unless they are given the mirror, they'll cause trouble. When there is no clear response, Abby adds her $0.20c. Still nothing ... when Abby feels a tugging at the bag of shadows, nearly jerking it away from her. The pack are still linked, which makes it harder for the force to take the bag. Bob and Freya, flanking Abby, help pull her back against it, and the garou can now see that there are shadowy tendrils wrapped about the bag and pulling back towards the nearest dark area. Krieg uses Create flame to make a burst of fire and light and the shadowy tendrils break up suddenly and three garou nearly end up on the ground. Abby yells "is that the best you got?"
The shadows return to their normal static behaviour, and the pack start making plans to fuck up the church. Jay cocks his head and asks if anyone else heard that - he thought he heard a thumping noise. He runs down the side of the church and peers around the side towards Drake's Rill proper and sees that there are people coming out of the houses through the town. They seem to be moving slowly, almost in a trane like state. And he thinks they have weapons. Oh. This is conveyed to the others who try and decide quickly whether to run for the edge of the effect and come back tomorrow, or barricade themselves in the church and do a rite of cleansing (with an option for plan C, which is burn the church down).
Bob suggests doing the cleansing inside the church by travelling around the outside. The pack run to the front door and use the Cracking Stone to shoot the lock off. Once inside they barricade the doors with pews - the main front door and the refectory entrance. Freya, Bob and Abby will be doing the ritual while Krieg, Cole and Melissa (in Crinos) attend the barricades. Jay will be run up the belltower and spy on the crowd.
The ritual begins, and isn't quiet, a weird counterpoint to the essential quiet from the gathering crowd of controlled humans. The crowd breaks in to the refectory quickly through the mostly glass door. Jay says that half the people are heading in through the residence and the rest are trying to get in through the main doors. The townsfolk are beating on the door with hands, and then there is the distinct sound of an axe biting into the wood doors. Oh. The people outside have all sorts of weapons, including some guns, axes and knives, but Jay says that some of them also have crowbars, and they are moving up to the front door.
Jay reports that some of the humans have run off back towards the town, but the rest are clusterd at the two entrances. The axes are making short work of the door in chunks, and then crowbars are being jammed in the hole to try and lever them open. The main doors are getting the most of a beating, and Melissa is attending them by herself. Jay yells something down the stairs about bulldozers heading their way and says he's going to stop them. Krieg notices that the attacking people having punched a hole lower down in the door, maybe around the doorhandle. Melissa yells for help and Krieg runs over to help her out, and use his Create Element gift to make a tonne of rock to reinforce the doors, while Cole tries to hold up the other barricade. There is a boom and Cole starts swearing - humans are firing a shotgun through the gap and he's got a stomach full of splinters from the blast. The main door is now stablised a bit, so Melissa runs up the spiral stair case to replace Jay.
Meanwhile, outside, Jay leaps off the church and clears all the humans, rolling as he lands and running across the fields towards the approaching excavator and bulldozers. He is most of the way toward the first vehicle when a shot rings out and pings him in the shoulder. He leaps the barbed fence and leaps onto the digging part of the excavator. Another shot zooms past his ear and he lunges into the cabin through the windscreen with the fae sword. The window crazes, but doesn't shatter - he can still see the passenger with the gun trying to bring it around and shoot again, so he lunges into the window again, dropping the passenger (Gazza, who apparently holds some sort of record rabbit shooting). The arm he is holding starts dropping down to drag him along the ground, so Jay crashes through the windscreen again on the driver's side, stabbing the driver through the heart (Ben - quiet, but a nice guy who offered to drive some of the drunk folks home at 9.30pm that night).
The excavator starts slewing to the right and slowing down, so Jay leaps off and runs for the bulldozer. This vehicle is open, and he can see the passenger point a shotgun at him. The shot mostly misses, but some cuts into Jay's body, so he decides to deal with this quickly. He sprints at the bulldozer and swings the sword as hard as he can, decapitating the passenger and spraying the whole area in blood (that was Neil - people spying from the pub know that he was getting married in May). Jay ends up behind the driver and before he manages to do anything, runs the driver through. Jumps-in-Puddles kicks the body out of the bulldozer and tries to work out how all these levers work.
Unfortunately he's paying attention to that, and not to where he's going. The bulldozer hits the excavagator and pushes it into low hanging powerlines. He is jolted badly by a surge of current, but manages to leap clear. Jay runs for it as the bulldozer keeps tearing at the excavagator, with a typical hollywood effect - the sparks from the powerlines light the petrol leaking from the damaged tanks and it blows up, knocking him to the ground.
Back inside, the humans have really wrecked the refectory door, and are now trying to smash the pews away. Krieg manages to grab some of the implements that are being stuck inside and yank them through, so he is now the proud owner of one axe, three crowbars of various sizes and one shotgun.
Meanwhile, Jay stands back up and is looking at the explosion. A little more enthusiastic than he was intending, but the equipment is definately ruined. He has a sudden bad feeling and something drops on his back from above, and starts biting at his neck. Jumps-in-Puddles tries to claw at it, but it keeps crunching at the flesh of his neck. Jay looks about for the sword, but finds its back towards the burning wrecks, so he starts to feel a bit woozy and deliberately drops onto his back to body slam whatever it is.
The thing behind him vanishes - but then Jay realises that he's surrounded by a thick red mist, which forms up into a human form - it is dressed in a tattered suit, covered in dirt and smelling of rot. The form runs for sword and grabs it before Jay can get there, and then dissolves into mist again, heading upwards into the sky. Jay makes a heroic leap and manages to grab the sword by the blade, coming down heavily on the ground and running, still bleeding heavily from the neck.
Melissa reports the explosion and says that Jay seems to have reached the construction equipment and dealt with it. Then she yells down that the people at the main door are turning and heading back the other way slowly.
Jay runs out onto the fields abutting the creek, and curves around to the front of the church. He can see all the people spreading out to block him from getting there, but figures if he just bulls his way through, he can do it. Jumps-in-Puddles is waiting to be hit in the neck by a falling vampire-thing, but seems to be free of bloodsucking impacts. He leaps the fence and runs across the road, and there is a gunshot. He rushes past people as they slice at him with knives and, eek, an axe, being hit, but having his tough crinos skin turn them aside. He leaps up onto the porch cover, and then leaps for the roof.. only to slip as he leaps, grab at the cross, but have it snap off, dropping him back onto the porch. He leaps up again and Melissa leans out yelling "GLABRO" at him as she grabs at the scruff of his neck. Another shot rings out and hits Jay in the butt. His world flashes red and he nearly frenzies - he automatically drops to lupus as Melissa hauls him into the belltower. She slips, and they both tumble down the stairs before crashing into the floor.
Kreig leaps up and helps Melissa away, then heals Jay. His wounds close and he starts breathing, but he doesn't come around. Kreig shrugs and stands up just as the ritual finishes.
The three participants howl as loud as they can, and there is a fizzing sort of sensation as the gnosis expands out of the ritual circle. Bob senses unnatural and finds that the area that they circled (the inside of the church) has been freed of the effects of the magic/deadlands sense. They can reach the Umbra, and pass their totem gift about - and its gone quiet outside. The pack look outside and see that all the humans that were beating their way into the church are just standing there. The spiritually stuffy sensation also exists outside of the bounds of the ritual.
Abby climbs up to the belltower and has a look outside. The construction equipment is still burning, and all the people she can see are just standing there. Weird. Cole tries to make eye contact with the people that had just been smashing at his fingers with a crowbar, but they appear to be in some sort of trance. The pack become aware of a faint groaning sound from the church - the edge of the ritual seems to be be having some sort of effect on the wood and nails.
They could now step out and run, but Jay being unconscious is a problem. Abby, still in the belltower, spots a figure appear next to one of the trance humans. It seems to grab the human, and look them in the face. The human stares at him for a moment and then walks backwards toward the town. He repeats the process 3 more times. Then the figure looks Abby's direction, and she mentally says "uhoh". Something wrenches at her and starts trying to pull her out of the arches of the belltower. Abby grabs at the bell and manages to hold against the pulling. Bob runs up the spiral staircase to try and help. Cole yells out the window if he gives them the mirror, they'll leave. Freya cuts loose with a Call of the Wyld, trying to disrupt the concentration of the guy with a scary howl.
Abby drops down the spiral staircase, nearly wiping out Bob. She jumps off the top of the stairs and runs to get her bow from the corner, but she thinks about it and realises that there's not enough room in the tower to use the bow. They consider shotgunning out the window, but there are bunches of humans in the way. Cole takes the pews down and uses his Beneath Notice gift to slip through all the humans. There are about 15 people in the refectory, mostly holding weapons, but not paying a lot of attention to Cole. His impression of an entranced human is not too convincing, unfortunately, but he persists to the outer door. Cole looks where Abby was and can't see anyone. He tries to mentally contact the others, but it seems that being outside the church hall itself nullifies that. Cole comes back.
Abby smashes some of the remaining windows and see if she can spot someone to shoot through the gap, but she can't see the guy either. Bob goes up the spiral stairs and tries to look around. He can't see the guy, which is a bit disturbing. He can see that some people seem to be doing something near the general store. It occurs to Freya that there was a petrol pump as well as big gas tanks. Fabulous. Freya suggests stepping now, just to check that they can go outside the boundary of the ritual. Bob senses to see if he can get a point source and yells because he does - right above him on the roof of the belltower. Someone lunges in from Bob's right upside down, and he dodges away within the tower, bouncing off the bell. Melissa squeals because she has hold of Bob's foot. Bob tries to grab the figure, but it leans back and away - however, it does mean that he can see the figure clearly. Its a humanish face, dirty, smelling of death and wearing what looks like a bad suit, with extended incisors and glowing red eyes - the word 'vampire' immediately springs to mind. Bob tries to punch the face again, but the vampire bites at his arm. Bob decides that discretion is the better part of valour, and drops down the spiral staircase. Melissa leaps out of the way and Bob tumbles down the stairs. Cole nearly shoots Bob, but manages to realise that it wasn't their opponent.
There is a groaning sound and a loud bong. Presumably the bell was just dropped on the trapdoor. Abby tries to see if the guy appears outside the church - no luck, but she does think she sees a shadow go across the sky. The pack try and think about what to do with the potential for petrol and look for water and fire hydrants. There's not a lot of stuff handy. Freya steps and checks the boundary in the Umbra - its uncomfortable, but they can run away that way (except for Jay).
Looking outside again, they see that there are people moving away from the church, and coming out of the refectory. There's a scent of death wafting out of the pew-blocked hole, indicating that the vampire might be in there. Cole looks through, but can't see the guy, but he can hear people moving.
The pack look about the church for traditional vampire-hunting tools, but it seems to be short of anything consecrated, like holy water or whatever, and the church really doesn't seem to hold him away. It does lead Abby to suggest that Rite of Awakening on some garlic or anything might sanctify it and make it a vampire weapon. Or maybe water from the creek. But they'd have to run around the town collecting garlic (if there is any).
Abby suggests she could leap in there with one of her arrows and take him on. They can't see him to shoot or anything. They try to come up with an alternative plan, but they won't be able to get a surprise really, because the door is blocked by pews. Freya can kind of see from the Umbra into the refectory, but she can't look through the gauntlet once her head if past the pews. She can just see Ademko. They consider just shotgunning through the wall to hit him, but they are worried about the other humans. Or smashing through in crinos form. The wall isn't brick or anything, but they can't guarantee that they could do it in one go.
They decide that it might be better to send Abby and Kreig out the window and around to block the refectory door, and Cole and Bob fire through the walls to try and mess him up with shotguns. The plan is that Abby and Krieg should be able to get around in two minutes, and they should wait for the shotgun blast before attacking. Freya says that she can see Ademko is biting the humans on the neck before sending them out now. No one is too happy. Abby and Krieg leap out and the bow is thrown out after them. They sneak around the back of the church. Freya gives Cole and Bob the best advice she can for where the vampire is.
In the meantime the vampire sends the woman near him out and then looks at the doorway - obviously he is aware that the werewolves are on the other side, and is thinking about how to get to the other people he can see that would be in their line of fire. He concentrates intently on one of the guys, who turns and heads his direction. When the guy arrives, he bites him and then sends the human out. Abby and Kreig see the guy leave from the refectory and creep up to the door. Abby decides that it'd be better if she got surprise and leaps into the doorway and shoots.
Freya reports that the vampire - probably Ademko - turns towards the door, puzzling the others. However, hearing Abby yell as she fires clues them in that someone has jumped the gun. Abby says Ademko duck to one side and then someone stumbles into the doorway - she knows its one of the humans, but decides shooting them will get them out of the way so looses it anyway. The arrow smacks them in the guts and they fall out of the building. Abby knocks another arrow and leaps into the building, before slamming her feet on the ground and stopping just before her packmates fire through the walls. However, Bob accidentally hits something structural and really just knocks himself back from the wall.
Abby leaps after Ademko, who is fleeing back to the bathroom, and lets an arrow loose. It hits him, but seems to ricochet off rather than biting into flesh. Abby drops the bow and leaps after him with an arrow. Freya yells "DON'T FIRE!" at her packmates. Ademko slams the door shut and Abby slams into it. She wrenches it open and spots him flowing out the window like a mist. Abby yells "COWARD!" and nearly frenzies, punching at the wall. She tries to claw at the mist, and then sees that the window is a slat window, slamming it shut. Blood sloshes down all over the bathroom.
Meanwhile, Krieg sees the guy Abby shot get up and yell "What the hell is going on!" - for some reason certain death has the ability to throw off the vampire's domination of his spirit. Krieg tries to convince him that there's a fire and he should go sort it out, but the guy runs off screaming - apparently the arrow hit his belt or something.
The others kick the pews aside and run out through the refectory. Abby comes out of the bathroom and yells "after him". Abby makes it out the door first and heads around to the bathroom window, followed by Kreig and Cole. She looks around but can't see any sign of Ademko. Abby tries sense unnatural to seen if she can sense the vampire, and the others look around - Cole spies an owl and just blows it away on general principles. Blood, rather than feathers, spatters around the place. There seems to be a blood-red fog drifting down the far side of the tree towards the ground and they give chase. When it hits the ground, it coalescese into a horde of rats. Bob arrives and helps them all stomp as many rats as they can possibly can, or in Krieg's case, bodyslamming them in crinos. Cole looks for the king rat as best he can.
Some few rats get away, but there are many squished rodents dissolving when they have finished. Eventually they run out of rats. And that's when the screaming begins - all the townsfolk that they can see snap out of their trance and begin to express their displeasure with the situation. The pack have a brief thought about whether they have left any werewolf specific evidence and run back into the church to hide, while the humans panic.
The deadlands sense is still there, so Ademko is weakened, but not gone. Cole suggests that he might have return to his grave, although not under his headstone. Krieg starts moving random bits of furniture around in a pitiful effort to make it look like it was. Bob's all for burning the church down to hide as much evidence as possible. Abby goes with Cole's grave idea and changes to lupus and starts using Sense Unnatural. Before she even leaves the church, she senses a definate deadlands/magic/wyrm sense inside their cleansed area. The pack all meet each other's eyes and sigh, and start looking for a trapdoor into the space under the church.
They find a bit on the raised dais that seems to lift up in a trapdoor. Under the floor is dirt and spiders, seeming undisturbed for ages. Freya drops down and sniffs about in lupus, finding a scent of badness - death and decay. Abby asks if she can pry the floor up, and Bob shrugs and reiterates his plan to burn the whole thing down, so they tear up enough space to make it easy for people to get down.
They find a little bit of blood on one of the grills leading from outside at the base of the building. Abby tries to sense unnatural to get a better feel for where he might be - although outside is strong, there is a faint feeling downwards as well. Kreig starts digging his way through the ground. He has only dropped about 6' down when he hits something wooden. He excavates around it and finds that its quite a large coffin. Cole calls for a stake. They haul it up and out of the ground, and there is the sound of stuff sliding around inside. Kreig checks to make sure the lid won't come off, and finds that the lid is nailed down. They get it up into the church.
The pack arrange themselves around the coffin with stakes and shotguns and swords and axes and crowbars. Cole is prying the lid off while the others take appropriate action. He gets it part off when it almost explodes off, pushing him back and away from the coffin. Abby sees the vampire lever himself straigh up, and lunges at him with an arrow, but it snaps off when she hits him. Melissa fires a shotgun, spanging shot all around the room but taking a big bite out of him. Freya slams a makeshift stake into Ademko's ribcage, and it bites deeply while Abby and Bob grapple him. Ademko drops the coffin lid and Cole starts to swear as it crushes his feet. The grapplers have him pinned and Freya slams the stake in further - Ademko stops moving.
Ademko is not going anywhere, and Cole cuts his head off with an axe. Ademko turns to dust and ash. They look in to the coffin - there is indeed a small hand mirror, silvered, and surrounded by bronze or brass decoration that is a little disturbing to look at. It senses of deadlands and magic. However, the coffin also has other stuff in it - a barbie doll; someone's license; photos; random jewelery. The pack speculate that this was some of what he was using to control the town, as there seems to be enough to match up 1:1 with the town.
The pack consider their situation and Abby and Melissa run out into the town (in homid) to try and assess the level of Veil-piercing difficulty. In the meantime, the others look at Jay, and look at the pile of dust and try and work out what to do.
Abby decides that they may as well make an appearance, otherwise people will be asking awkward questions like "where did those four strangers go?". She decides that a firm hand is better than a light one, and through a subtle combination of psychology and extreme violence (no, not really) starts helping organise the townsfolk - she sends Melissa off with the CFA volunteers to put the burning construction equipment out and spends her time calming people down.
The others decide that perhaps a Rite of Cleansing is a plan, and engage in said behaviour around Jay and the pile of Ademko. It takes about 10 minutes, at the end of which they howl, covered subtly by Abby leaning on a car horn to hide the noise. Jay stirs and comes to (Jay only), feeling awful, and appears on the mental link. Krieg subtooly uses Scent of True Form on him to confirm that Jay is a garou. The dust on the other hand crystalises and crackles as the ritual affects it.
Melissa mentally points out that there are two bodies here in the fire, but she can't find the heads. Abby says "distract them". Jay muzzily says "4 bodies", leaving Mel to groan. She says that she'll try to subtly break the truck, but that's only a temporary measure while she hunts in gardens for human heads.
Kreig is about to step in the Umbra when five figures appear around Bob and some of the others. Three of them are homid, two are lupus, and the lupus are white and heavy looking... awfully Silver Fang looking, which is perhaps not surprising given where the pack are. One of them is quite large and has appeared in front of Bob - he demands to know who they are and what they are doing here, in a rather arrogant fashion. Bob says that they are Claws of Wisdom from Sleeping Lore, and their visitors are. The gentleman in front of him is apparently Alexsander Prokopenko, rank 3 Silver Fang Philodox, and his pack are Shattered Fire. There is some back and forth between Bob - who claims that he didn't know that they were in someone else's territory - and Prokopeno - who says that Bob must as stupid as he is ignorant then.
Prokopenko claims that they are here without permission (litany) and that they have caused an incident (litany). Bob counters that there was a vampire here, and Prokopenko says that is not their concern. Bob says that the vampire caused the incident and Prokopenko says that is not entirely true (pesko Philodox gift!). Prokopenko says that the breach of their territory to be the greater issue, and Bob replies that they were about to leave. Prokopenko says that that is a typical Bone Gnawer tactic - make mess and then leave, and says that he is unhappy with Bob's lack of respect. They match eyes and try to stare each other down.
Bob nearly frenzies but manages to hold it together when he is forced to look away. Prokopenko demands to know the exact sequence of events, and Bob relates it. The Silver Fang tells Bob to bring the rest of the pack here. There is more snippishness between the two as he demands to know more of what the situation is. The rest of the Silver Fang pack move around the church looking at things and the pack notice one of them sniff Bob and then look concerned - maybe its just some Silver Fang snobbiness. There is some Russian interchange betwen Prokopenko and one of the others, but the only word that Abby can make out is 'Bunyip'.
When Bob is finished, Prokopenko suggests that they get out dodge and never return. The pack take this oppurtunity and run with it. They grab their car near the church, and run through the Umbra to get the other one out of town. They decide to go by the back roads to avoid police and fire and other inconvenient humans. They see one SES car about 20 minutes out of town rushing back towards Drake's Rill.
While they are driving, Jay says that he saw a sort of vision while he was out cold. He relates it a bit brokenly - everything went dark as he leapt in the church; he was then descending, further and further, and there was sound like really strong rain, coming down in sheets, muffled way above. It started getting warm. He had the bane lock in his hand. There was noise like howling far below. And it was pulsing. So was the bane lock. The howling was exalted sounding. Then he saw either Kreig or Petrus (not sure which) absolutely drenched in blood. The bane lock turned into the silent stone instead, and then a hand came out (an odd hand, but he can't remember why) of the darkness and crushed it. And there was a spider, a white one, on a thread. And a mixture of weaver and wyld. Oh, no, wyrm. And the howling was like Dancers. Freya tries to interpret what it was about. She knows that stuff has come up before in dreams before - heartbeat, bloodstained Krieg/Petrus. Petrus also said that one of the few memories that he had from being with the Dancers was rain falling far above.
People make it home. Krieg finds that Petrus has been unpacking their place, and so they hang out for a bit before Krieg crashes, but everyone else flakes out unconscious.
Freya is rung at about 2pm. Its Cossack, who asks what the hell they did, and suggests the Freya turn on the news. There's a brief news update - "Police today are baffled at the events that swept the sleepy Gippsland town of Drake's Rill" - and Freya says that it wasn't them so much as the things they found. Cossack asks why the police are looking for Abby and Freya sighs and says that she used her license to get a hotel room. Freya wakes Abby up who moans and mumbles, falls into the Umbra and goes back to sleep.
In the evening, the pack sort of wake up and get back together. They watch the news and sigh. The 6pm news comes on and they watch it - "residents awakened at 2am in their sleepwear" - "police and medical investigators baffled at hallucination" - "four people missing" - "fire in construction equipment and local Church" - "drugs, or hypnosis, or alien abduction". Police are looking for a tall blond girl, an irish-accented older woman, a teenaged guy and a teenage girl who were in the town overnight. They have a decent sketch of Abby (and her name) and Bob and approximate one of Freya and Melissa. Abby calls her family and suggests that "they haven't seen her for ages". Jay suggests that they could claim "algae bloom".
They speak to Cossack about it - he appreciates that at least Cole didn't make the news, and asks them how damning their presence was. They shrug and say they didn't do much, but Melissa is technically dead and Freya has been connected with certain events last year. In the end they decide to get some false id for Freya and she and Abby will go and visit the police on Monday. Bob asks for fake id too, and he wants to Barry Jones. No, wait, Tom Jones. No, wait, Thomas Barence Jones. Everyone just stares at him.
Now that they have the damn mirror, they want to know how to use it to help them find the mages. In theory, it lets them look into the deadlands and see demons and demon-related magic. Unfortunately its not a fetish, so they're not too sure how to use it. They also suddenly recall they were a bit miffed with Jay for getting the info from his mage source, and he's a bit miffed that the mage sent them to do the dirty work.
Their Glorious Pack Leader and Superb Theurge Bob bends his MIGHTY brain towards trying to figure out how to use the damn mirror. He figures out that its the strange brass frame that holds the mirror that seems to hold more magic than the reflective surface does. The brass outside seem to be figures of ghosts or maybe demons or spirits. The mirror is silver, but it doesn't seem to cause the normal gnosis disruption. Its somewhat wyrmy as well as magicy and demonic. Spirit Awakening might work, but seems like a poor idea. There's nothing carved on the back. Freya tries to look into it - and asks Jay what the mage name was and he says Xanthipides - and says Xanthipides, KS style, but no go.
Jay gets tired of them calling the mage his friend and decides to set up a meeting. He calls Xanthipides and mentions that they are a bit peeved about the vampire. Xanthipides says "What?" and seems genuinely surprised that a) Ademko was still there and b) that he was a vampire. He checks that Jay is ok before asking if they got what they were going for. Jay says yes, but says he doesn't know how to use it. Xanthipides isn't too sure exactly what will trigger it, but suggests that Jay could bring it along to meet him. Jay says "where should /we/ meet you" and there is an awkward silence. Xanthipides says "we?". Jay says he's spoken to them about the mage's existence - they were pissed off that he was holding out on them - but they aren't planning to murder him. Xanthipides says that he's a bit nervous, but would be ok to meet maybe him, Freya and - Jay says Bob is the pack leader and more magical - and Xanthipides agrees that Bob too would be ok. They agree to meet the next morning at a Cafe in the plaza on Collins St at 10am.
At 9.45am, people show up in the Umbra and peek back to the Realm, while Freya, Bob and Jay settle down (wearing sunglasses and hats as their cunning disguise) at one of the plaza seats. Bob has the mirror. Just after 10, a man in a suit comes down the steps and Jay lets people know that's him. The guy is reasonably tall, with curly dark hair. He looks vaguely mediterrean and about 25. People sense him and find that he has a high sense of Magic, of the Deadlands and of the wyld... this baffles people a bit. There is some wyrm and some weaver too, but not so much that its a real concern. Bob tries to sense the wyld and finds that its a sort of "life-from-decay" type of wyld, similar to the aging-backwards part of the Shadowlands, especially around the Atropos well.
They bring out the mirror and have a quiet discussion amongst themselves about it - Freya uses her Truth sense as well. Xanthipides looks at it carefully and pokes it with bits and pieces - the magic sense grows stronger - and then says that he was hoping it would have instructions on the back. He says that he hasn't ever seen it before, but he's read about it in private correspondance between people in Europe, and that Ademko had it last. There was a seperate item that made references to Ademko being in this town. So he passed the info on to Jay. They give him a rundown on the vampire Ademko and the town, and he says that he has heard of rituals that might give eternal life(tm) in return for a vampire like existence.
Back to working out how to activate it. He suggests maybe adding blood to the mirror, or perhaps looking in the mirror with another mirror. Those are ways that he would expect to work, but he's not sure. There might also been a demon in the brass - he finds it a bit disturbing like they do.
Freya is looking around and spots Claude and Scott from Steel Hunters coming down the stairs to one of the cafes - not too surprising given how close they are to Hidden Green. Bob suggests they should go out of town, right now, before testing this and meet at the car park at Upper Ferntree Gully. They escape before the other Garou spot them.
Out they drive and meet again. Xanthipides lays the mirror down and rolls up a sleeve - they notice that his arms are covered in scars and nicks, so this isn't something he's unfamiliar with. He has a straight razor and cuts himself, drawing some blood. He spills it out onto the glass, but there doesn't seem to be any difference. He sighs and draws something in the blood, and the brass edging begins to move. The blood runs off the flat surface of the glass and into the mouths of the figures that form the frame. The reflection of the sky falls away and they can see a grey world with a roiling sky in the mirror - in other words, the penumbral dead lands of the Umbra that they travelled to last year.
They pass the mirror around and look into it - Jay sort of appears in the shadowlands, and Xanthipides seems to be a roiling greenish grey energy in there - Bob feels a distinct feminine sense from it. The landscape is about the same, except that its all greyish and dead looking.
More discussion about what to do - Xanthipides suggests taking it out to where Bury was killed, and the pack come up with a couple of other places to take it to. They decide to head off to where Polly was kidnapped first, cos its closer, and then to Andy's house.
They chase along the mountains and down into Lilydale, occasionally spotting dead people in the shadowlands - probably car crashes. Cole, Abby, Kreig and Melissa follow not too far behind in a seperate car, and flip into the Umbra when they stop. They look about where Christian did his magic to see who kidnapped Polly, but there's nothing remarkable there. Andy's house is close by, so they go there next.
There's nothing left in the Realm but a big burnt spot and a lot of dead grass out the back. However, through the mirror they can see Andy's house. The structure appears to be constantly charring, burning and renewing itself - the charred marks flicker along a wall as if it was the flames passing through. They also spot Andy's body floating in the middle of the structure - the charring affects it also, but while it is composed, they can see that there are marks that he was murdered before the fire. There's no sign of anything out near where the Killer of Children was floating about.
To Murrumbeena! The pack are on the way when the mirror goes cloudly, then dark and then becomes a mirror. Claws of Wisdom decided to see if they can power up the mirror themselves. They can provide the blood, but Xanthipiddes says that he used mana to activate it - maybe gnosis could provide the same oomf. But how do they provide mana? In the end, Bob uses Talisman Dedication to try and charge the blood up, and its eventually effective enough to make the mirror activate.
With the now working magic item, they wander around the site of the fire. There are one or two ghosts, and the building is there, but its a burnt wreck rather than a strange ghost building like Andy's. The ghosts don't necessarily seem to be from the same night.
They head out to Macedon and the mirror fades while they are travelling. The garou consider awakening it, but that whole possibility of it being demon-possessed makes them unlikely to want to do that. Bob uses Talisman Dedication again to start the mirror up and they have a look around the site of Christian's death.
There's no house in the shadowlands, which is not a surprise, given its not destroyed. Inside the house, the smell is disgusting - the combination of Bob's watery cleanup job and manky blood over a week in February means the floor is furry and black. No one is too impressed. In the deadlands, there's no sign of Christian's body, which is a bit disturbing - however, there is a number of signs of some sort of destruction. Broken rocks, knocked over trees - and no sign of what caused it. The area of destruction starts at the house and heads off towards the south, decreasing in violence as it travels over maybe 100m.
They scratch their heads and decided to go look at the septic tank. There are two sprawled naked bodies in the lands of the shadow. Although its muted and washed out in that realm, the detail is still strong, and the garou can make out symbols all over their bodies - not like they've been drawn on, but like they've welled up from within like bruises. They ask Xanthipides and he says that he recognises the language as being symbols of a language used to summon demons a lot.
They consult with him about the trail of destruction, and he raises the possibility that if Christian was betrayed, and was of a strong enough will, then he might have become a mobile ghost, rather than one of the dead-person images that the pack are seeing a of through the mirror (and encountered last year when they followd Grek into the deadlands). He borrows the mirror and has a look around, then points out that the half tree that was here appears to have been demon-posessed, and it might have tried to stomp something in the area. But the tree itself is quite damaged. Possibly whoever killed Christian might have left something to stomp him on the off chance that he woke up after death. Abby brings up the possibility that Christian might be a spirit, and he might be summonable. Xanthipides isn't so sure about that - he would use a different ritual for ghosts and elementals. They ask Xanthipides, but he seems unhappy. The pack could go there themselves, but it doesn't really seem urgent.
Xanthipides wanders around, and Krieg follows him around from the Umbra (although he can't see through the active mirror from the spirit realm). He heads into the house, trying to cover his nose and mouth and not vomit. Bob came see Xanthipides from a distance through the mirror, and the roiling energies change. Bob alerts Kreig who checks him out and finds that there's more magic about the place. The energies seem to be spreading out a little, but not much else is happening immediately. Bob follows and asks Xanthipides about what happened - he says that he was sort of trying to get an idea of what might have happened here. Bob says that the vision in the mirror changed. Xanthpides says he can't see himself in the mirror, but the others can. (The others can see hints around Jay as well, in the deadlands too).
There is a brief mental aside as Jay objects to the constant referral to Xanthipides as Jay's "friend"; the pack contemplate Xanthipides age; and whether Ademko might have looked younger than he was.
Bob asks what he sensed, and Xanthipides says that there's been more magic done here than just killing Christian. Bob asks about the ritual layout that surrounds Christian, and Xanthipides makes a couple of wild guesses - the mercury might have been to trap him here, even after he was dead, because it makes a kind of mirror that you can make into odd shapes. Jay points out they smashed the other mirrors and he says it might have been to keep him from escaping in other ways. They ask him about the cage, and whether it might have been to hold a demon, but he says that you normally don't need a cage - its either controlled or happy to be here. Maybe to hold Christian? Xanthipides suggests that they might bind a demon into the cage - not inside the space inside, but literally into the substance. They show him the other broken mirrors and he says they pulled demons through the glass - its easy but its dangerous.
They have a discussion about why they pull demons into the material realm - often its for physical protection. Sometimes they work with the demons, sometimes they are rebellious - summoning them is a bit random. Bob asks about the strawman effect - although its not going to be using a demon, its using demon like powers and therefore might be visible within the deadlands.
They get him to look at the symbols on the humans near the septic tank and hums and hars, looking at them with the mirror. He says that the writing isn't quite right, but he's not sure whether it was a screwup or on purpose - its almost like they weren't calling a demon, but something else? The pack run over things that happened that night - there was dead Christian, the giant vortex and the demon that took over Freya. Freya adds that there was also the thing on the couch immitating Christian in his dream. So 3 things. Hmmm. Xanthipides is asked about dreams and he says he has no ability with them, but other people almost certainly have. He says that maybe the bits he has never seen are dream-related - maybe they called and sent something else?
They ask about whether he can tell whether random people have magic powers. He shrugs and says if they are setting fire to the building, its a bit of a giveaway. Xanthipides asks why? Bob just shrugs. He says that sometimes people that are on the verge, and they look more real than the surrounding landscape, but its a subtle thing.
Back to the problem at hand - Xanthipides reckons it was the same people who did magic here as set fires at the house and hotel they were at earlier. There's a sort of signature that's common to both of them - magic often does have one, although there are steps you can take to minimise how obvious it is.
They're running out of things they can do here, and Xanthipides offers to do something about the evidence - he does say that it'll cover anything that anyone else has done, but they figure that eventually people will show up wondering about dead bodies and the like. Bob watches through the mirror and Kreig follows him through the Umbra. Xanthipides goes looking for stuff in the brush nearby. Krieg eventually realises its seeds and seedlings. He brings them back and asks if Bob will do something unpleasant - he really needs the lid taken off the septic tank, and the little seedling wedged in the goo. Bob agrees to do this, and it outgasses as he opens it up. Ew.
Xanthipides begins to chant (from a way back) and the sense of magic rises, followed by deadlands sense and then the wyld. In the mirror, the green energy winks out and reappears over the septic tank. The ritual seems to be less yelling and more a slow compelling. The pack are a bit bemused at the wyldness amidst all this, but he is pretty agitated at the best of times. At the end of all this, there is a significant pulse of wyld energies. Then there is an odd sound and the plant in the tank starts to grow. The garou in the realm can feel the ground kind of rumbling and the tree crests 10' and keeps growing. At 25' tall, the gum tree arising out of the ground pauses briefly and there is a distinct *crack* as the septic tank cracks. Finally the noise stops, and an obviously tired looking Xanthipides goes to have a lie down in the shade.
A few hours later, having recovered, he does the same thing inside the house, but with ivy. The pack and Xanthipides collect up all of the ivy and plants and throw them off a nearby cliff.
Kreig suggests that they can check out the mage house in Dandenong with their new toy. So, they fill Xanthipides in on the house and all drive back across all of Melbourne to look at it. Before they go they chat about the factions of mages - they put forward their theory that the strawmen mages have fractured into multiple groups, and he can't confirm it, but can say that its definately a large group, and if they've split recenty, he won't be able to differentiate between them all. They tell him about the gargoyle balls, and he is impressed - its a spell frozen in time, sort of, and thus anyone else can just trigger it. They can also build them up over time to have an army ready. He doesn't know how to do it.
Off they go! Dandenong site doesn't look disturbed, and they go inside. Xanthipides' reaction seems fairly shocked. He says that he can feel the strength of this magic from a distance even, and wanders around a bit amazed. They power up the mirror and look at the place. Where the fractal wards begin, they can make out stone walls building up - they look like bluestone blocks, but occasionally there is a block which seems to have a moving figure within - on some of the blocks they can make out a screaming, moving human face. The walls get higher as they go further into the wards, and there are uncompleted arches that lead into corridors made of the same stone - the corridors curve away, and they can't see far down them. Some of the arches are complete, and have more of the writhing, apparently screaming faces about them. The corridors that lead off them seem more developed. This looks kind of not good.
They chat to Xanthipides about it. He says that it definately means that they have a fairly equitable relationship with one of the Nether Kings, a major demon - it will have been handing them power in return for something he wants. They chat about this a bit more, and then descend into the cellars. In there, the interior of the summoning circle is a pit that leads down into darkness, and the edge of the designs is the edge of the pit. They look in the corner where the cowled demon came to attack them from, and they find that the stone appears to have been breached rather than something having come though an arch way. They can't tell if it was sent or summoned though.
They chat some more and Xanthipides says that this magic feels like the strawmen ... or at least the magic that attacked the caern on New Years Eve. He hasn't actually met the strawmen though - maybe the groups have split, or they are a third party... They try and get a better idea of what's going on - Xanthipides says that its almost exactly the same magic here as was used everywhere on New Years Eve. Maybe the garou have the right idea, and they've split it up.
Bob wants Xanthipides to come with them to meet the strawmen, but he's pretty unenthused. They try and convince him by showing Christian's antiscrying pendant, but he says that having seen this house, he doesn't think that will be enough. They lend it to him so he can analyse it over the night.
Bright and early, Freya and Abby head out to Berwick police station, having worked out their story (we left to continue our camping trip). They arrive and are seperated and interviewed.
Freya uses Mimic to fake an Australian accent and Persuasion to help lie her arse off. The interviewer asks her to describe what happened from the point when they entered the town, starting with who she was with. Her name is now Laura Ryan, Abby is Abbagail O'Farrell, Melissa is ... er, Melissa Grange, and Bob is Bobby... ummm. Brown. Freya mentally passes this on to the others as she is forced to extemporise. And their relationship to Freya? They are ...friends of the family. They were in town as part of a camping trip and to locate Victor Ademko (a distant relative). They went to the store and asked questions, were directed to the church & graveyard to pay their respects, decided they'd stay at the hotel rather than pushing on cos it was late. They had dinner, a couple of drinks, went to bed. Then they woke up in the middle of town (the policeman gets Freya to point on a map), sort of all together. She doesn't remember anything of how they got there. In response to a question, Freya says they ate at the pub. When they woke up, there were fires and they tried to help some people, but when things had settled down, they decided to head off and continue with their trip. He asks why they didn't wait for the police or emergency services, and she says that they were weirded out and wanted to go. Why didn't they come in to talk to the police? They'd been out of contact. He asks if they've been to a doctor, and she says no - the policeman wants to get her to get a couple of quick tests, and suggests they go into the city for them, just a simple bloodtest and a couple of similar tests. Then he asks if she's ever gone hunting? Rabbit hunting? Freya says no, not really. Haven't joined any sport clubs? A puzzled Freya says no. The police release her and move on to Abby. Freya warns her they are coming and that they are asking for blood tests and a couple of details.
Abby has been waiting about 20 minutes or so when the two police show up. She uses Persuasion on the interviewer too, which seems like a sensible idea. The police ask her similar questions - what happened when you got there, who was with you, what is their relationship to you? Then what happened? They ask her about which campsites they had been at, and where they went afterwards. The policeman asks if they went into the church? Abby says no it was locked, they just went into the graveyard. Abby mentions the painting in the pub above the bar - this produces some strange interest. They went to bed, and slept, next thing she knew they were in the street (point at the map again) with Melissa nearby, but didn't know where the other were. They ask about not going to a doctor after they woke up? What happened when they woke up? Abby helped out a bit, where did the others go? Around and helping out as best she knows - she's not so sure. They left before the police because, well, no one seemed to be really hurt, they were freaked out and decided to leave. Where did they go then? Abby makes up some more campsites. They ask about her gun license - but no actual gun? No, its just in case it comes up. She lives at the gun license address? Yes. Why did her parents say they hadn't seen her for a couple of weeks. Yes, she's been travelling for a while. Has she ever joined a uni club? Any sports clubs? No, just the linguistics club. Not studying at the moment? No, its February. Ever been bow hunting? Abby stares at him. With bow and arrows? She tries desperately to work out why they would ask this, and then realises that she left at least one arrow around... and isn't sure if she'll have left prints on them. Abby says "no". They ask her about taking blood samples from her, and she acts up and says that getting hit with a needle makes her pass out, and she'll get a medical certificate about it if necessary. They shrug and ask her to talk to the examiners, seeing as how Laura is going and she agrees.
The police speak to them both in the hallway and ask where Melissa and Bob are - they'd like to get a statement from both of them. When 'Laura' says they are a bit young and traumatised - the interviewer says that in that case, they'd really like to make sure they are ok. After all, if they are family friends, 'Laura' isn't their guardian, so they'd really like to get them in. 'Laura' makes up a story quickly about Melissa being an orphan, and how 'Laura's been taking care of her. The police stare and say that they'd very much like to speak to her, and to Bob... Brown. So where are they? They were... dropped off on the way home. But Abby said they came right here from camping? Er, they went into the city by train - maybe they could meet an different interviewer in the city when they go to give blood? The police consult, and say yeah, that's ok.
This they now do, filling people in on the way. Freya, Bob and Melissa are poked and prodded and sampled, but Abby begs off and they just do a saliva swab. Bob is interviewed and basically said he was hitting on Melissa, and she invited him along on the camp thing. They ask a couple of extra questions ("what were the sleeping arrangements?", "got any sporting hobbies?"). Melissa says that she was friends with Abby, who was friends with Freya. So they all went camping. Everyone goes home and has ice cream.
That night! Moot! Woo! There are a couple of extra folks there - they recognise Anjou, but not the older gentleman. Opening howl and Inner sky, and then Cracking the Bone. Cossack introduces the guy next to him as Ilyich Prokopenko - the Claws of Wisdom think uhoh... he does look a lot like the guy that was a wanker on Saturday morning - the Sept leader of the Still Moment Sept in far East Gippsland. Oh god, think Claws of Wisdom. Cossack says that Ilyich would like to address the Sept. The pack prepare for a lambasting.
Prokopenko says that he'd like to thank the pack for their efforts in discovering and destroying the vampire. The pack gape at him a bit. It was an issue they are glad to have removed from their protectorate. They would have preferred that the pack were more discreet, but sometimes these things are not possible. Ilyich continues, saying that they have also been aware for some time that a number of Melbourne garou have been conducting ecoterroristic activities in the Gippsland protectorates. They would have preferred that these Garou had been polite and announced themselves before running amok, but the Silver Fangs were not too disturbed.
What they cannot countenance is when those same Garou lie and decieve, planting evidence of wyrm corruption, and silver weaponry in his protectorate, presumably in an effort to draw his Sept down to take steps against a non-existent threat. He is sure that all concerned that those involved will be responsible enough to want to stop this from becoming a larger issue, and that the perpetrators will be want to protect the honour of their Sept. The pack are looking blankly around, but Freya looks at Bob and realises that he had an incredibly guilty look on his face, and so does Kirsty. She yells "BOB!" over the mental link. Ilyich turns and leaves, Moon Bridging away.
Cossack steps forward and asks if anyone has anything to say? Cole starts the conversation by accusing the Silver Fangs of sucking Wyrm cock, which really sets the tone. Cossack looks at him for a long moment and then clarifies with "Anything relevant?" The Claws of Wisdom notice that Cossack is favouring Bob with his over-the-Sept kind of glance, and Graeme is staring right at Kirsty, and looks ready to kill her. A couple of the other Sept members have a "um, is it us?" look, but no one steps forward until Kirsty suddenly moves forward. She says that they were only doing what had to be done to make the others respond like they should. All they did was go in there and make them pay attention to things they should have been paying attention to. Cossack says "No - you deliberatly corrupted things with wyrm stuff and drew the Silver Fangs to the silver shotgun shells with a false threat - what if you drew them away from something else real?" Kirsty makes a disparaging comment about the Silver Fangs and Cossack responds, obviously angry. The discussion continues in a similar vein, getting louder and more angry. Kirsty's point of view is that she (we) have done nothing wrong, but Cossack points out that she blatantly has - its a very clear breach of at least two parts of the Litany. Cole pipes up and Cossack yells at him to sit down and shut up.
Mentally the pack are berating Bob and saying "Why didn't you ask us as a /pack/?" while Kirsty and Cossack continue to wrangle at one another. Some of the sept are starting to look a bit nervous - its a full moon after all, and the chance of frenzy is pretty high. Cossack is trying to assert his authority but Kirsty continues to argue - she's done this before as well - and frustration builds further. Cole tries to support her and Cossack says that by all means he can stand in with her if he had something to do with this. Cole moves into the middle and Bob moves and joins them. "Anyone else? Anyone else think its a good idea to fuck up 20 years of diplomacy?" Cossack points out that because of how this came out, he is forced to take formal steps of punishment rites on all three of them. Cole tries to stay that obviously the Fangs weren't doing a good job and Cossack says that that is not any of their responsibility - their responsibility is this Sept, and this bawn, where there are Dancers and Mages and other threats. Perhaps if people hadn't been running off into the wilderness and messing about with other Septs, they might have been here to notice the threat before it reached a point where the caern was actually attacked? So they have been derelict in their responsibilty to this Sept, as well as breaking the Litany to affect another. Bob counters that they've done the most of any of the pack to fight the threats - Cossack says its obviously not enough, where are they? Bob asks what Cossack and the other Elders have done. The temperature drops through the floor. Cossack quietly points out that they have been doing all they can to ensure that all the Garou and Kinfolk in the Sept are safe, as well as fight the wyrm's armies. Whereas, to get back to the problem, the three of them have been using the wyrm rather than fighting it - as Prokopenko pointed out, the ecoterrorism they would let slide, but crossing that line to try and use wyrm tainted material means that they have gone much too far. Kirsty says that the Sept wasn't doing shit to fight the over all problems, they had to do something.
Freya tries to apologise, as she was pack leader - Cossack says "Sit." and she subsides. Cossack says that he has overlooked a whole lot of behaviour that should traditionally be outlawed amongst the Garou and that the pack have violated the trust the Sept put in them to do the right thing. The Elders will have to punish them. Kirsty bursts out and says "Fine, if you want something to punish us for, I've been fucking him " - she points at Bob - " for the last year and a half".
There is much mental squealing from the pack, but the Sept goes a bit quiet. Cossack's eye starts to twitch. Bob looks at Kirsty and frankly she looks like she's about to lose it. Emma steps forward and says that perhaps a short, calming break would be the way to go and she shuffles the Elders away a bit. The Get of Pennington have a fairly shocked lock on their face - Krieg notices that Chris seems not exactly surprised.
Abby asks from an explanation from her packleader, who basically says "All of you shut up". There is much twitching. Freya does some mental calculation and wonders why its taken this long for the Silver Fangs to realise and find them - and then she remembers the weird look that the garou gave Bob when they were in Drake's Rill .. maybe they had no idea who the hell it was until now. Cole tries to get the rest of the pack to join the circle people, but he's not having a whole load of luck. The Hell Hounds seem to have a rather "ohhh really" attitude to the pack being in trouble and trying to not snigger while making childish hand motions at Bob. The Get of Pennington are having a very intense discussion amongst themselves - Marcus looks pissed, the others look upset or resigned. The Scryers have a distinct poker face on.
The Elders return, looking a bit more calm. Cossack says regardless of their reasons, the Sept is obliged to punish them for breaking the Litany. Cole tries to argue it further. Kirsty says why should they accept any punishment, they aren't the ones doing the wrong thing. Cossack says if they are not willing to accept the judgement of the Sept, they can't stay in the Sept. Its their choice; but if they want to remain part of Garou society, then they have to accept the Litany as it stands. He looks at Bob, who says he'll accept it. Cole says that the rules aren't really relevant now, and there's no case made that they have broken the rules. Cossack stares at him and asks if these things haven't happened? Cole says he didn't do them, and Bob agrees he wasn't involved. Cossack tries to send him back to his pack, but Cole says he wants to stand there and he isn't sure that they actually broke the Litany. Cossack starts some more and wants to know exactly where the ambiguity is in "Garou shall not mate with Garou". Bob points out the number of Metis in the Sept and Cossack says that the violators were dealt with accordingly. Cole points out that Kirsty is barren and Ken (of the Get of Pennington) says Yeah, which causes a certain amount of arguing within their pack. Cole argues that the Gnawers should be progressive, and Cossack asks him if the next time the caern is attacked, would Cole like to see it being the Silver Fangs on the other side of the fence? Or traditional Fianna? Cole says no. Cossack asks if he wants to see more co-operation amongst the Garou. Cole says yes. Cossack yells that it has taken 20 years to get things to a state where there is this level of good will between Septs, and that by blatantly disregarding the Litany, they are endangering that good will.
Bob says that he doesn't think that particular breach is any of the Fang's business, and Cossack says that's right - but by the flagrant disregard of both the Elders and the Litany and the lack of of regret about their actions, they have made it Sept business. They argue some more about the basics of the the basis of the Litany and how it affects pack interrelationships. Cossack tries to explain the rules have other reasons other than their obvious applications. Cole says that he doesn't think they have to be so literal, and Cossack says that if they do and if Cole doesn't agree, the door is over there. They squabble some more about how the Litany applies, Kirsty starts yelling about how they elders just sat on their fat arse doing nothing - Bob makes no effort to calm her down and Cossack's responses are not helping. Kirsty snaps and Frenzies.
The rest of the Claws of Wisdom Spring Into Action! They manage to leap onto Kirsty and bear her to the ground without anyone getting hurt, including Kirsty. Freya runs up with the calming fetish and tries to quieten her down, which eventually she does. Everyone sits on her until she finishes frenzying after about 10 minutes of screaming and biting the ground and herself. Kirsty seems to mentally retreat, not responding to any outside stimuli. The Get of Pennington suggest taking her away to somewhere quiet to recover, and the Elders aquiesce.
Abby makes some mental comment about the quality of Kirsty as a partner and Bob gives her a stare. Cole starts to gibber, and Abby snaps and leaps on him, tackling him to the ground. Both Cole and Abby nearly frenzy but manage to keep it under control. Bob hauls her off and they nearly frenzy at each other - Bob stares her down, managing to force his will onto Abby who looks away.
Cossack and the Elders return. Cossack asks Bob if he accepts the authority of the Sept. Cole says that he does in general, but not on this particular matter. Cossack asks if Cole is challenging him, and Cole says no, but continues to talk. Cossack reaches into a pocket and brings out a rolled up newsletter - "Cole - that's the end of it. I don't want to hear anything else from you this evening". Bob queries exactly what Cossack means. Cole keeps interrupting, and Cossack says "Cole - shut up or get out." Cole keeps talking. Cossack starts yelling "If you will not accept my authority, then leave right now". Cole keeps arguing, and Cossack starts laying about him with the rolled up newspaper. Although its not doing any damage, Cole feels strangely more and more cowed until he collapses. There's a certain amount of sniggering from some of the other Sept members.
Once Cole is finally quiescent, Cossack returns to the rest of the Sept. Bob says that he didn't intend to make things bad with the Silver Fangs, he just went along with it. Cossack says that is worse in some ways - he didn't even have Kirsty's allegedly lofty goals. Bob says that he just stood against the logging and the actions they did have a higher goal in mind - Bob notices that Cossack flicked his eyes briefly at Jay, which seems odd. Cossack sighs and speaks briefly to Emma who nods, then returns and says that in that case Bob's punishment is to create two fetishes for the the Silver Fangs, to make up for the time of theirs that he wasted. On the topic of him and Kirsty, his punishment is to remain in lupus for the next month, regardless - if he is not willing to face up to the responsibilities of being a Garou then he does not deserve the benefits. If he does change, the Elders will take greater steps.
The Sept moves brittly onto the rest of their business. Anjou, the other guest steps up and says that after their visions at the previous moot, some of the Sept asked her to return and tell what they saw. She says that their visions were of Australia, as if from far above, and then a hundred toothed mouths opened and the continent shattered, cracking from the points on the coast where the cities are. They would suggest this may relate to the Hopping Mouse Hill wyrmbeast - perhaps all of the Bunyip wards and bindings are shattering, releasing much of the evil they had contained. No one is too thrilled by this idea. She does say that it is definately open to interpretation
The other packs take their turn at speaking - The Scryers and the Get of Pennington, when they return (sans Kirsty) and then the Hell Hounds. No one is explicitly ignoring the Claws of Wisdom, but neither are they giving them the speaking stick. However, Amy of the Hell Hounds finishes by saying that her pack was brought here to fight Black Spiral Dancers, or Mages, and she wants to know what has been done to find them. She looks fairly pointedly at Bob who indicates Abby to speak for the pack. Abby explains about all that's happened since the last Moot - the strawman approaching her with a deal; finding Petrus in faerieland; Christian, his accusations and and his death; Hopping Mouse Hill; Xanthipides and the Chandeen Mirror. Its been a busy time.
Matters are discussed and the Sept recognises renown. Stories and songs are told, heading for the Revel. Cole sort of comes to and participates in the Revel like a sleepwalker. The pack run through the streets and try to forget their troubles. At the end of that they return to the Sept and sleep.
The pack move away from the Sept and eat breakfast at Krieg's. His furniture is a weird mix of expensive professional stuff and besser bricks and wood as he and Petrus settle in. They grab a paper and see that their "dancing" newspaper note in the personals. They start to think about how they are going to approach the situation. After a long discussion about how to spy on the mages from within the realm, someone thinks to check to see if the mirror can step with them. The answer is yes, although it feels almost sluggish, like seperating magnets, to pull it through the gauntlet. Now, part #2 - does it work in the Umbra. Yes! They can see into the shadowlands just as if they were in the Realm. Sucessssss.
That makes life a bit easier. So far all the strawmen contacts have been when Abby has been on her own and at home. So, the plan is to leave Abby on her own there, while the rest of the pack take shifts of 3 each from the Umbra. So... what... will they tell them they called for? Oh yeah. Hmm. They could lie to the strawman and say "Hey, we found this guy (Christian) and he was a mage and maybe he was working with the dancers?" - it might make it look like the garou trust the strawmen in that case. However, if the strawmen go and do magic, they may find that's a lie. They could tell them about the vampire, but that might lead them to the mirror. Abby wants about 2 or 3 things she can blither about to them freely - for a start, they have to awaken the mirror while the strawman was there. They talk for a couple of hours and get a reasonably firm list.
So, after lunch, Abby goes home with a bunch of books and mags to pass the time. The others work out who will be on each shift and start their watch, or wander to the caern (Kreig only) or do various tasks. Cole speculates about ambushing a lone spirit and learning a gift on his own.
Twiddling, twiddling, what an exciting life the Garou lead.
About midafternoon Abby hears a knock on door and opens it to find a man in a hawaain shirt and glasses who says "Can I come in?" She invites him in and asks if he wants anything to eat or drink, dragging the time out as much as she can. Meanwhile Krieg does the rite to awaken the mirror as fast as he can. Abby waffles on as much as she can in the meantime. She starts by asking questions about Coode Island and getting the strawman to talk to her about things. Apparently the Mages had been convinced that's where the Dancers had been, and therefore they were very surprised that Abby and her friends found nothing. Obviously it was used as a rather successful distraction. Abby says that their co-opponents have used the Yarra before, and covered their smells that way, so it made sense to them as well. The strawman sums up and just says that they haven't managed to find anything new, and wonder whether the others had perhaps retreated - does she have any idea where they might do that? Would they perhaps leave the city? Abby says that their information suggests they are underground. They've had suggestions of traffic, or motors or machinery a long way underground. The freeway tunnel comes to mind, but Abby says that they have that checked out regularly (well, Hidden Green does).
Abby mentions that they have met a vampire - something that drains blood and so on. Cole starts to demand she shows the mage guy his picture and Melissa waves a dedicated rolled up newspaper threateningly. She says that they were out in Gippsland and they found that there was a magically kind of being that seemed to match all the normal vampire kinds of stories. She keeps drawing it out as much as possible.
Krieg finishes his ritual and the blood drains into the mouths of the shapes around the mirror, and it falls away. Abby's flat doesn't appear in the deadlands, but he can see a kind of shadowy figure standing where the strawman is. On closer inspection, there is a sort of shadow cast by that figure across the yard and up the fence. The garou leap into action.
Abby tries to redirect the conversation back to the Mage and their opponents - after some confusion about what she was talking about - he suggests that they should concentrate on the more obvious, and violent problem. The strawman refuses to be drawn on the topic, and redirects conversation back to the vampire thing - he says that they know of rituals to do that, but its regarded as having too many draw backs. He asks if they found any other material out there and she says no, they had to leave in a rush and didn't have time to search in detail.
The others are sprinting at their best speed while concentrating on the shadow they can see through the mirror. The shadow lies flat on the surface of the ground until it hits a wall or something, and then goes up the wall and over the room. As these walls often don't exist in the realm, that makes their progress a bit wonky. Although they mark spots in the Umbra where the shadow seems to be in the Deadlands, the shadow isn't exactly straight, so they can't get a firm direction on it. They tell Abby to stall as best she can.
Abby starts to talk to the strawman about the fires. She says that they found a couple of locations recently where quite severe fires happened. He looks unenthused about the topic, but she continues, pointing out that they felt magical to her and her friends. She suggests that if the strawmen didn't do them, it might indicate some hints toward a second group of mages. The strawman says that he is sure there are no other groups of significance with magical powers in Melbourne, but he'll check it out. He says that if there's nothing else of significance, he'll go. Abby warns the others to watch out. He says that they'll use the 'underground' info and see what they can see. Abby briefly distracts him by mentioning the fulgarites under the chemical explosion, giving her pack a minute or so further. The strawman says that they can use the personals option to contact him again, or he'll come and find them if he needs to speek to them. The human image fades and she is left with a straw dummy.
From Kreig's point of view, looking through the mirror, the shadow just *snaps* out. He doesn't see anything pass back along the way, and hopes nothing sees him. The others mark the last location of the shadow, and head back to Abby's to check out a map. They mark the line that goes from Abby's to where they last saw the shadow and it wiggles around a bit, so they draw a line from that last location out the approximate direction.
Their line heads more or less south east, out kind of along the south eastern freeway, then along the Princes Highway, through Dandenong and out toward Tooradin. Even by the Malvern area though, their line is a kilometre wide, and it just gets worse. The pack go back to the Umbra and start to follow it along, sensing as they go and running back and forth it. There's no sign of anything magical by the time they reach the Yarra (not even residue in the Umbra, and they can't sense through the mirror), and their search space is getting enormous.
They head back and examine their line. Tooradin makes them raise their eyebrows, but they figure that they crawled that town a couple of weeks ago. It goes through Dandenong, which they circle as a maybe (although its nowhere near their 'mage house' in Dandenong). There are a lot of other potential badness spots (like the GMs house) like Chadstone (just) and Monash University.
The pack decide that they need a second point - hopefully the mages will go and look at the fires, or at least send someone to do so that they could then trace. So they organise to stake out Andy's old house and the burnt down motel.
They head back to the caern to check in with the Elders and just generally organise things. Krieg and Cole head in and are somewhat surprised by the sound of Freya yelling. She tried to go through the gate and was shocked badly. The others have no problem and Freya doesn't sense of anything particular. They sense the gate and it just senses of Chimera and caern... oh... Freya remembers that she was meant to perform spirit chiminage at the moot, but in all the chaos, she just forgot. She sighs.
Freya gets the others to get Emma to give her a call and they work out what to do. Freya performs a Rite of Contrition and as part of that, offers to honour Chimera by learning something esoteric that she has no knowledge about at this point. The ritual and offer seem to suffice, as Freya is allowed to enter the caern again.
Nothing much happening.