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 A Dark Road

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Zas B'ul

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PostSubject: A Dark Road   Thu 19 Jun 2014, 13:55

Zas waited patiently for the designated time for his rendezvous with Chief Bowl to arrive. His mind filled with curiosity, not having any real guide or expectation for what he'd likely be challenged with; it left Zas in a mixed state of feeling excited and nervous at the same time.

When the time did finally arrive, Zas made hurried strides to join the chieftain and elder at his home within the Cherokee village for what was sure to be an interesting event. While in route to the village Zas considered and pondered over the last few days and events...trying to piece together what potential challenge he may face.

There was of course the Indians who had been in a drunken revel the day before; maybe Bowls-over-the-great-foe would have him try to teach the mortal warriors the benefits of staying far from the firewater.

Or perhaps, given the elder's age and wisdom-it would be a test of Zas's wit...some form of mystery to solve.
Or maybe a hunt of a nearby spirit beast that the Chief wished to use for creating a pact with, to strengthen his forces.

Whatever the case, whatever the challenge, Zas knew it would not be easy. He mentally began to prepare himself for any of his preconceived potential challenges, so as to be able to respond accordingly. He planned out contingencies if his initial reaction proved not to be enough.

The Philodox moved quietly through the village, but from what he could see, the place was deserted. Little evidence remained of the violence or debauchery of the night before. When at last he approached the Elders house, he took a breath and knocked on the door. The exterior portion of the building seemed to carry more of an eerie feeling than Zas had previously noted. Maybe it was just a rite the Uktena elder had performed, or perhaps the aura of the recent deaths clung to the place; whatever the case, Zas had arrived. This was his opportunity to raise in rank.

Perhaps once he completed his task, any dealings with the Uktena the pack came across in their future travels may have a different tone. Any chance to improve relations between the Pure and the Wyrmbringers was worth at least trying.

As Zas knocked on the door mantle of the great chief for a third and final time, his hand began to feel almost weighted and numb- he felt the somewhat distant, but determined, and focused; the knocks struck the wooden post like a gavel striking its base. There was a sense of finality to it all, a grim clarity-and Zas knew then, no matter what happened beyond the doorway, things would be different.
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Thu 19 Jun 2014, 17:17

As Zas made his way into the unlit house, Chief Bowl was nowhere to be seen. Zas passed through the entry way, stepping over the dark stain that clung stubbornly to the squeaking wooden floorboards. The furniture remained, but the rest of the smaller possessions were missing, and the house was bare and empty. Outside the night wind roared, it howls accompanied by the high rustling screech of branches clawing at the windows and thin walls; the sounds set the Philodox's teeth on edge. Finding nothing in the den, Zas made his way down the hall towards the kitchen. Luna's face was hidden tonight, and it took all of the Apache's Gaia-sharpened skill to make out grey shapes among the pitch black.

Zas looked over the bare cupboards and washbasin, and he realized that the door to the larder was ajar. Cool air coiled around his ankles, winding over the floor, and Zas realized that there was a trapdoor with steps leading down into the cellar. He headed down into the gloom. Zas could feel from the free movement of the air that the room was long and wide, probably roughly the equal to the floorspace of the house. He felt his way forward in the darkness, his hands encountering thick wooden support beams and hanging strings of pungent roots and spices brushed his face. The roof was so low the Silent Strider was forced to stoop.

Walking deeper into the middle of the room, Zas realized that an eerie light suffused his surroundings. He could make out a what appeared to be a shallow grave cut into the packed earth, surrounded by plates and saucers filled to brimming with river water. Bowls-Over-the-Great-Foe was hunched before the yawning pit, one of his gnarled claws clutching a short medicine stick topped with a sharp garnet stone. In the other, he held a rune-inscribed skull with clay seals over its eyes and nose. The weird light seemed to emanate from the rafters, which were carved into the shape of intertwined, winged snakes, horned panthers, and stranger, ichthyoid forms. The Ukena did not turn and acknowledge his visitor, but Zas could hear the elder's voice as it slipped into the younger Garou's mind: "I am glad of your return, Zas B'ul." Chief Bowl sounded anything but glad. His dry voice was flat and hollow.


Last edited by The Laughing Stranger on Fri 20 Jun 2014, 11:30; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Thu 19 Jun 2014, 18:08

Zas took everything in as best he could. The scene, his queasy feeling insides, and the repetitive but distant sound from the wind above the home all served to perpetuate further the already dead-set ambition of the young silent strider.

At the unusual and surprising elder garou's vocal appearance inside of Zas thoughts, Zas paused stunned but for a moment before replying mentally, with reverence, "You know what it is I seek, yet your words seem to counter your thoughts. Is this a test?"

Zas glances up at the foreign designs carved into the rafters, and then back down to the water bowls and shallow grave, and Zas's brow furrowed in concern. "I am prepared for whatever task you set before me."
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Fri 20 Jun 2014, 14:22

Bowl did not turn, and he remained siting stiff and crooked as a gnarled oak tree. "You know there are shades of passed Pure Ones who walk this village. My son is here among them. He fell during the journey west, but in my hubris and grief, I convinced him and other Full Moons to linger on in the lightless hunting grounds. I told them..." Bowl's mystically shared voice trailed off, his mind blank. After a few seconds stretched painfully into silent minutes, the Chief finally shook himself and continued, his mind-shared words halting. "As they lay dying, I told them they could not return to Gaia, not yet, that their work was unfinished. They died in torment. Their bodies were broken and ruined, but the pain they felt was not of flesh and bone. Their spirits burned with fury at what had befallen the Cherokee, and even in their last moments I did nothing but feed the flame. When death came for them, they raged as they slipped into the darkest depths of the umbra. They stayed, bound to this world by their anger."

"I lied to them that day; I lied to my warriors, my son. I could not bear to see them go, so I told them their deaths were in vain." Bowl slowly, achingly turned look Zas in the eye. The Uktena elder's black gaze was empty, devoid of any emotion other than perhaps dull pain. "They had done their duty, they had given their very lives to defend the Mother, and they believed my false words. They were strong, and they returned to me before the next moon rise to vent their wrath and prove their devotion."

"It was I who was weak. Now I will prove myself against the Wyrmcomers to spare those still living, but I cannot do this last thing. I cannot force my son to move on, for I cannot move on myself." A sudden, reckless anger lit the Chief's tired face. "... and yet, neither I can I allow my greatest failure to continue. The other ghost-warriors have all slipped away, devoured by their own bitterness. Only my son, John, remains."    

"Therefor, this is your task, Zas B'ul. Confront my son. Make him see the truth. Allow him to pass on in the cycle and embrace his fate, which was as just and noble as a warrior of the Mother could desire. Will you do this?"
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Fri 20 Jun 2014, 16:05

Zas listens as the elder reveals the challenge set before him-quietly gazing up at the other figure in the dimly lit room. Zas remains quiet, not daring to interrupt even in the prolonged silence as the aged Uktena theurge formed the courage to continue.

When the chieftain posed his question, Zas did not hesitate. He immediately replied with much of his stored ambition overcoming his normally reserved nature, "I shall!"

A quick thought flashes before Zas as he considers exactly what he just agreed to do, and he adds, "You wish to see your son brought before Gaia. Who am I to stand between such a goal?"
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Sat 21 Jun 2014, 01:24

Slowly, achingly, Bowl rose to his feet and gestured towards Zas with his medicine stick. "Then I will not waste time, arbiter." He stepped aside and indicated for Zas to take his place. As the Silent Strider stood before the grave, the old Uktena began to chant, his ululating words filling the dank cellar. Zas could only make out some of the words- Cherokee spells and prayers interwove jarringly with broken, near-unintelligible First Tongue. The etched skull began to smoke and chatter, and outside torrential winds hurtled through the village, rattling the house to its foundation. The clay platters and pots fell into the grave, and the Chief fell silent; but still the chanting droned on, buoying up from somewhere far away.

The cacophony of wind and groaning cries reached its height, and Bowl's hands shook and warped, bending into hooked talons. The ancient's weatherbeaten face spasmed uncontrollably as elongated fangs, brown and uneven with age, came twisting out of a cavernous red maw. Bowls-Over-the-Great-Foe howled out the last few words of the First Tongue, and even over the storm the Philodox could understand their meaning clearly: "Great Horned Serpent, watch over your adopted son; grant him strength and wisdom to come back to the lands of our Mother." The eerie light went out, the chanting died, and even the wind grew still. Zas felt a presence rush out of the open grave and strong, sharp claws and horns brushed lightly past him, leaving incredibly fine razor-wounds behind. The rasping scrape-slither of wet scaled coils sliding over one another was the only sound in the entire long dark room.

After a lone heartbeat, Bowl growled a single word.

"Descend."


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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Sat 21 Jun 2014, 01:40

Doing as he was instructed, the Silent Strider stepped forward and allowed himself to fall into the black pit. The world inverted around Zas. He was standing in a grave, suffused by an eerie grey un-light. The thick smell of bloat-gas and decomposing bone marrow assaulted Zas' nostrils, the stink coating him like a letch's cologne. Around him were rows of empty graves and piles of cold, sandy dirt. Above, Bowl's house was little more than a skeleton comprised of the basement's support beams and a few haphazard slats that had once been floorboards. Beyond these sad remnants, an empty black sky yawned wide, devoid of moon or stars, and nothing living or dead stirred.
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Sat 21 Jun 2014, 03:54

Zas slightly bewildered at the unexpected abrupt nature of the transition from the mortal realm to wherever he was now, took a few breaths to acquaint and reorient himself.

He tried to clear his senses of the pungent aromas that clung to him like bristles, to no avail. He simply had to endure them. That was the least of his worries, for he needed to accomplish his goal, and from the look of his nearby surroundings-that was not going to a simple task.

Zas began prowling through the area, scanning and searching for anything that moved, anything that could possibly serve as a means of finding his intended. The seemingly countless graves all loomed dark and foreboding. This was not a place that felt welcoming, inviting or appealing. This place was not meant for him.

After several minutes of surveying the area by sight yielded no results, and his ability to smell much of anything being fairly limited, Zas thought to himself, Subtlety is not the way of a full moon. A stentorian rumbling echoed in Zas' ears; the tone was loud, agressive, but the voice was his own: So go out and hunt them down! Confront them and enact judgment on these unrighteous dead!

Zas yelled out in Cherokee into the open grey expanse before him, "I search for the one known as John. Son of the High chieftain of the Tsalagiyi Nvdagi. Reveal yourself if you are here." Oh, that is all? They are shades and you are one of Gaia's Chosen! Act the part! Rend them into fishbait!

Zas steeled himself and forced back his own vicious thoughts even as he shifted into his war form. He took a breath and then in the Mothers tongue he howled Restless Ahroun of the Pure. Meet with me. I Snowy Owl, Philodox of the Silent Striders bring word.

Zas then took a knee to wait and see if there would be a reply, as well as to make an effort to discreetly plug his nose in a vain attempt to keep from smelling the foul odors.
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Sun 22 Jun 2014, 16:56

A rattling sigh rose up in the cold, stale air around Zas. Turning, he saw a towering hybrid of dead wolf and rotten man come loping out of the misty ruins that formed the crumbling gate of the village. As it drew near, the Philodox could tell that this creature had once been a Garou wearing Crinos form, but the touch of death was unmistakable: massive unhealing wounds criss-crossed across its sides, chest and arms, the thin loose strips of skin and meat giving the creature a ragged appearance. Angry brown eyes had long since rotted away, leaving nothing but hollow cavities filled with flickering corpse-light. The ghostly Garou's broken lower jaw hung limply, and it was this feature that transformed a hearty laugh into a sucking, guttural wheeze.

A deep voice tinged with excitement poured into Zas' mind as the newcomer's ruined face flapped and twisted. "What word does a beating heart bring to these, the happiest of hunting grounds?" The thing drew closer until it was only a few paces from Zas B'ul, then it crouched low, its long claws digging into the infertile grey dirt of the deadlands, curiosity evident despite its decomposing features.
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Sun 22 Jun 2014, 20:05

Zas focus shifted. He closed his eyes and began forcing words and thoughts in his mind repeatedly, My task is to restore truth. Gaia will be served in this. I will force this one to see the truth.

While saying this internally, Snowy Owl opens his eyes and addresses the ghostly Garou spectre that stood before him. "The word I bring is for one who once went by John. I bring a message from his father. If this is you, stay. If this is not you, help me find him or go rest in peace."

Zas waited several moments before restating his words mentally. After the ghost lingered on, Zas began speaking mentally to the dead spirit, his tone firm but genuine "I bring a message of light, of truth. I offer it freely to you. You must be the one to accept it. To hear what I say and to act upon it or to listen to me but do nothing-these are your choices. You must choose one way or another. Bear in mind whatever you choose, will have consequences."

Zas stares blankly at the spooky sight as he continued un-deterred, "I am here to right a wrong between a father and his son. I speak of that which happened during a time of sorrow, and war. I speak of the vow that was promised, of a sacred duty that some were told went unfulfilled. I am here to proclaim the truth."

Zas paused as he considered what he would say next. When he had managed to form his idea into words, he began, "Gaia calls us to serve as her protectors. When our last blood is spilt however, we are to go to her. Chief Bowles-over-the-great-foe was wrong to say otherwise. He has told me that he claimed you and the other warriors had died needlessly. This was not the truth."

"The truth is that he was unwilling to let you continue your journey. He was not ready to let you go. He admits this now. He wishes for you to know both the others and your life and your Noble sacrifice served Gaia well. He has asked me to intercede for him now, and to tell you that you are worthy of continuing your journey."

Zas pauses before adding, "What do you say? What is your choice?"
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Mon 23 Jun 2014, 01:28

The empty-eyed remnant stared at Zas, then rose slowly from where it was crouched, bits of grave clay still stuck to long jagged claws. "You, hahaha," the wight snorted, making the tongue that drooped from his his shattered mandible wriggle grotesquely. "...you think I am one of Bowl's deluded children? HAHAAaaaaaa, no, no..." its voice trailed off into the interminable dusk before it reached up and gently touched itself on the chest, affirming its identity. "No, Snowy Owl, I am Hanging Maw, Alpha of the Overhill sept and First Among the Cherokee, Beloved of the People. I know what it means to protect what is mine. It was only when my body lay still and Gaia tasted my blood for the last time that the Chickamauga Wars ended." Telltale pride crept into the dead Garou's voice.

"Rest was never my way, and now I am here, watching still over these wayward souls that Bowl has led into the lawless south. You say you know of truth... and yet the Great Chief Bowl never told you of my presence here? You say you know war, but I see that you carry no scalps, save your own, hahhahahaaa..." The wraith swayed back and forth, the shreds of its body fluttering limply.

"I am afraid I will haunt the Cherokee for a little while longer... but perhaps you will have better luck with young John. He has been morose, skittish of late... he hates and fears me, despite my winsome appearance and charming smile. Hate consumes him, and if you think telling Johnny that his father tricked him into this unlife of torment and woe, then by all means, do it." An expression of hungry glee crawled across the monstrous wraith's features for the briefest of moments. "I have been digging graves like these for almost 50 years now, I know I can find room for you or him. But, if you wish to fight using your rapier cunning rather than the blunt, possibly deadly 'truth,' I can offer the means..."
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Mon 23 Jun 2014, 16:48

Zas grew quiet as he listened to the ghost speak. When at last it finished Zas sighed and began, "I see that you feel proud of your deeds. Yet, you are not who you say. You are but a potent memory of the one you once were. A strong Remnant of a mighty warrior of Gaia. If you were truly Hanging Maw, it would be you defending the Cherokee people now from the foes that howl at their door." True. He is a weakling. Let him know it.

Zas draws a slow chilled breath, beginning grow ever so slightly accustom and familiar with the pungent smells, "I do not claim to know truth, but to proclaim it-to pass it on. I am merely a messenger. I carry no Scalps for there have been no enemies worthy of being upon my waist yet, for I am chosen and blessed by Gaia. When I am ready she will set them before my path. I am no mere mortal. Perhaps such meaningless trophies are acceptable for others, but not for me."

Zas forms a low growl as he barks out, "You will do as Gaia demands."

Zas expression then briefly softens, "The truth is an arrow. The message I bring is one of truth. It will be delivered unto its target. Yet, it is often the arrow that one does not see coming that buries itself the deepest...
You offer an alternative means, I will hear you-for you claim you know John. I will hear this also in honor of who you once were. However such assistance is rarely given freely, what do you request in exchange?"

Zas eyes the figure carefully before adding, "And what means do you provide that I alone can not?"
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Mon 23 Jun 2014, 17:20

Zas' words were met with a gale of dry laughter. "Haaa, you know naught of the ways of the dead, either. Tell me, what do you know? Hehahaha... I care not if the Cherokee keep breathing, they are weak, disloyal, those who abandoned the fight and gave themselves up in the name of 'peace.'" The dead thing snarled the last word as if it were a curse. "Peace is achieved when one side surrenders to the other, when one side fails. AND BOWL FAILED." Hanging Maw bellowed in First Tongue, smashed jaw flapping with rage. Zas realized that the tattered trailing threads surrounding the monster's wounds were not just ripped skin and muscle, but also human hair and Garou fur, collected and braided into Hanging Maw's hide.

"Time and again, I watched Bowl as he bowed and scraped and gave up our homes. No, no, sooner or later, all the Cherokee will be like me. Then, I will succor them, yes, protect them and nurture them through these cold lands. You have your calling, Snowy Owl... I have mine." The long dead chief stamped a foot on the hard packed dirt.

Then the ghost drew itself up, eyes burning like torches with unholy light. "My marrow was soft and riddled with worms since before your birth, whelp. I do not heed your commands and I require nothing of you; if you would have my aid I will give it. Johnny has a strong connection to the living Cherokee. While they walk Gaia's face, so will he." The wraith had stopped cackling and was now quite serious. "I have been dead a long time. I have learned to sever other spirits unnatural connection to the quick, unbind them from the chains holding them to their past. If John rejects your truth... I can force him to let go."
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Mon 23 Jun 2014, 18:33

Zas steps up closer to where he is glaring directly into the dead spectre's face as he says with barely controlled fury behind his eyes, "I know that there are very few things-living or dead that don't fall before the claws of a Gaian warrior. I know that I made an agreement with other Restless dead before in protection of the Cherokee, yet when the time came to strike at the enemy, when I rushed out to slay the foes I was stopped by the very ones I had entered into agreement with. That it took the needless murder of an unarmed Cherokee squaw before they decided to act. That they failed to uphold their word. This is what I know!"

Zas forces himself to take a breath, "I have asked nothing of you other than to do as you were once called...and I will continue to do so as it is my place!"
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Mon 23 Jun 2014, 19:19

When Zas advanced, Hanging Maw did not draw back, but he might have stopped grinning; it was difficult to tell. "It is as if you forget that I am Garou also... though perhaps a little worse for wear... if you think you will gain anything by threatening me, well, what can you do?" A sneer twitched across the ruined face. "My worst nightmare has already come to pass."

The dirty grey mist of the deadlands swirled, and Zas thought he could hear some frenzied screams and war-whoops. "Ahhhh, now, those would be our new arrivals. I found some fresh-killed enfants out in the woods, they wouldn't happen to be friends of yours, would they?" The wraith's head twisted back to look over his shoulder toward the gate of the village. "Because they are friends of mine, now. They might not have been of my people, they were Shawnee, I think... seemed like they were very angry and scared." The bright flickering eyes refocused on Zas. "But not any more... now they are just angry..."

Then the ghost dissipated, sucked into a swirling black and grey hued vortex. Zas heard the voice in his head snarl You let him get away?! You could have pulled his saggy face apart! The angry warcries drew closer and Zas could see a pack of vague forms scuttling and shoving toward him. They were still a fair way off, and Zas was not sure if they had seen him or not. Strangely, the creatures seemed to be wading waist deep through the ground, their hands grasping, some clutching at long, damaged rifles with fixed bayonets, while others drug themselves forward with blunt-edged tomahawks. Shrieks of pain and hate filled the chill air.

Zas heard himself think Well, surely you can destroy these poor bastards? You killed them once before, why not do it again?
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Mon 23 Jun 2014, 21:26

Zas willed his foreign voice and thoughts from his mind. Enough! Violence is not going to accomplish what needs to happen here. Even if I tear these foul creatures apart, I would still be no closer to finding my purpose for being here. It is decided.

Zas howled aloud, "Snowy Owl will accept the aid of Hanging Maw!"

When there was no immediate change, Zas looked around the area and then hunkered down near one of the open graves, allowing the grey mist to begin swirl around him, mostly concealing his presence. Oddly, as he drew nearer to the open empty grave and the grey mist enveloped him, Zas felt cold dark chills begin to reverberate across his body, causing his teeth to chatter. Even in Crinos form his fur did not seem to be able keep this strange coldness from affecting him.

Zas' body began to violently shake from the ethereal frigidness. He began trying to rub his hands across his chest to stay warm, all the while his breath becoming slightly more ragged and his heart beat beginning to slow.

No! No!! Not here! I refuse to let this place be where I fall! There is no honor in this, no glory! Everyone here was too weak to continue their journey; too powerless to follow the road to its end. I will endure!

Zas then sits up, tilts his head back to give a long rage filled howl of defiance.
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Tue 24 Jun 2014, 00:46

A strong pair of hands reached up out of one of the graves and yanked Zas down into the deep pit as a seething mob of Shawnee dead rampaged into the center of town. Zas found himself staring into the face of a stern looking young man. Long dark hair shaded troubled eyes, and he wore faded Cherokee battle paint. Unlike Hanging Maw, his body seemed relatively whole, and only a few pale scars marred his tan skin. He covered his own mouth, urging silence. Ah, your quarry. Tell him about his father, Zas, it was what we came all the way down here to do. Zas realized that this must be John.

The spectres fanned out, flailing, searching, their spasmodic movements accentuating their broken forms and gory wounds. Their faces were maddened rictus grins, the skin of their heads and faces curiously absent. Zas recognized one of them as the man he had run down while the Philodox was wearing Lupus form. One of the skull-faced abominations came groping up to the edge of the grave, long nailed pale fingers curling over the crumbling dirt, clutching a notched fillet knife. Even though it did not have a nose, the vile ghost made drawn out snuffling sound before finally recoiling and wandering away with its fellows. The creatures did not go far, but stayed in the ghostly ruins of the town, twitching and creeping listlessly.

Zas' new friend relaxed fractionally, and leaned in close, his expression still determined. "I want to hear what message is so important that it was brought down here by one of the quick. And don't do anything stupid, those spectres will be all over us both if you do anything to attract their attention."
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Tue 24 Jun 2014, 09:41

Zas looks at the Cherokee warrior with a renewed sense of hope. He had found his target.

Zas leans in closely speaking barely above a whisper to the painted Cherokee, "I bring word from your father. He wishes you to know, that you are a true warrior of Gaia. You are worthy of continuing your journey, of rejoining Gaia. He was not strong enough to make this journey to tell you this himself, and asked me to intercede for him."

Zas watches the man intently, observing how he responds to the news.
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Tue 24 Jun 2014, 10:30

The ghost jet-black eyes searched Zas' face as the Silent Strider spoke. After a moment the intensity faded and John seemed to wilt. "No... no! I cannot believe that! Before death's claws found me, Chief Bowl, my father, said that my pack's sacrifice would mean nothing unless I fought on to protect the Cherokee." John spoke with intensity, despite the fact that he was forced to whisper. "And he was right. I am unworthy of the Mother. I fell, I died, I failed. The only thing that I am worthy of is using what little strength I have found against the enemies of the Tsalagiyi Nvdagi."

The young Indian spirit's voice hardened. "I do not know why you have come so far, only to tell me falsehood." His face was filled with anger and desperation.
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Tue 24 Jun 2014, 13:32

At the ghost refusal to accept what Zas had claimed, Zas began quietly taking off his weaponry, letting the tomahawks he had collected from the dead Shawnee braves, and his bow and his quiver of arrows, and any knives or other implements he still carried that would serve as a weapon. He then shifted into Homid-form.

When this was all complete Zas looked at the ghost, threw his own arms to his sides leaving himself completely exposed and vulnerable, as he says in a near inaudible tone of voice, with eyes closed "If you find my word to be lies, I beg of you to end me here and now. I will not resist for I am Apache. My word is who I am. If I am not what I say, I am not Apache any longer. I am also Garou, and serve my pack as Philodox. If I do not know of truth, I am of no worth to them. Hear me, Judge me, and decide my fate."

Zas pauses before he begins, "Your father lied to you and your fallen brothers. He has told me that you fell during the journey west and that he convinced you and the other full moons to defend the Cherokee people by journeying here to this place. He claims that he told you your work was not finished. He says that your bodies were broken and ruined but you experienced such pain from the torment of your spirit being overcome by what had become of the Cherokee. Yet, he in his grief was unwilling to let you go, and to continue your journey. I would have wished to spare this painful truth from you, but it must be spoken for he asked me to speak for him. Your father claims you to be the only one of your brothers who still linger. He asks that you continue your journey, to fight your way free, to return to the Mother for you have done your duty and deserve to be where you belong. He considers asking you all to do this this to be his greatest failure, and cannot go on without it coming to an end.

You have given your very life to the mother. He says that you and the others showed your strength and devotion to him by appearing to him before the next moon rise. He has told me these things. I ask you to consider this: I am but a young warrior. I am not of the Tsalagiyi Nvdagi and your sacrifice was before my time, how else would I know of any of this if it was not your father who sent me?"

Zas then slowly opens his eyes and says, "This is why I have come. I do not dare to tread here, in this domain, lightly, for this place is not meant for me...or for you. We are of Gaia. To Gaia we must return."
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Tue 24 Jun 2014, 14:52

John opened his mouth as if to retort, but as Zas finished speaking, the Cherokee ghost fell back into the dirt. Distantly, the Silent Strider could hear the yelping and cursing of the Shawnee as the spectres began to converge on his position. Zas shook his companion, but dark gas-like aether poured from John's eyes, nose, and mouth, enveloping the comatose wraith, who swiftly sank into the ground as if he were stone thrown into a mire of quicksand.

Zas was alone in the grave. You tossed that child right into oblivion's jaws. I guess that the truth really will set you free, alright... free from sanity, free from- "Be silent," Zas commanded, audibly, his voice cold and hard as iron in winter. His shadow complied, but he could still sense its schadenfreude presence. He heard the wheezing, snarling breaths of the feral ghosts drawing near, and as he looked up he could see several sets of pale, dead hands grip the edges of his grave. The Shawnee thrust their heads down at the Garou, yelling, screaming, some howling in imitation of beasts. Their mutilated faces burned, their orifices filled with a fevered, greenish glow.

Zas prepared to meet them, but then they retreated, though they still crowded and gibbered around the grave. Above them towered Hanging Maw. Even as he crouched on one knee, the rot-filled Garou was still far larger and taller than any of the smaller human-sized wraiths. The brutal looking Crinos shook his head in mock disappointment, his jaw swinging like some sort of demented pendulum. "How short sighted! You obliterated the one being that could have concealed you from us. I really should thank you, it saves me the trouble." The corpse-fire that filled his empty eyes blazed with insane fury.

"Any last words, Snowy Owl, last emissary of Bowls-Over-the-Great-Foe?"
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Tue 24 Jun 2014, 15:48

Zas finishes reattaching the last of his weaponry to his side. He glanced up at the chattering foes gathered around him.

At Hanging Maw's question, a small unnerving and unsettling smile began to work its way across Zas's face. He gives a long slow nod as he withdraws a single Tomahawk that belonged to one of the Shawnee and lets the shaft slide through his hand til he is gripping its base and the blade is dragging the ground.

He then looks down at the Shawnee braves that surround him, and then back up at Hanging Maw and says, "I, Zas B'ul of the Silent Striders and  Apache brave of the Na-Ta-Hay tribe, acting as chief spokesman for Chief Bowle-leader of the Tsalagiyi Nvdagi find you all in violation of the Mother. I charge you as Guilty!"

He then with a low growl says, "Welcome to Judgment day!"
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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Tue 24 Jun 2014, 16:45

Zas sprang out of the ground, his body rippling with black fur and corded muscle as he exploded into Crinos form. Howling, he tore off the head of the first Shawnee that lunged at him, while simultaneously splitting another's malformed chest in two with the ax. Many of the spectres attempted to slash at his ribs and claw his feet, but their blades and nails failed to pierce the Garou's hide. The Silent Strider lay into the scrabbling mass of ghosts, and he ended up clubbing in more than one foe's face with the disembodied head of the first fallen wraith. He enjoyed feeling the bones of their ghastly faces give way with a series of satisfying crunching sounds. Zas howled in rapturous defiance as he smashed apart the last of the writhing Shawnee. That was when Hanging Maw plowed through the remnants of his broken minions, hurling himself headlong into Zas, claws outstretched, flame-dripping jaws agape. Even as the fallen alpha ripped into Zas with talons of pure oblivion, the Philodox's own fangs found the monster's dry husk of a throat and the pair tumbled back into the darkness of the grave...


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PostSubject: Re: A Dark Road   Tue 24 Jun 2014, 16:59

Zas awoke in Chief Bowl's cellar. He lay at the bottom of the freshly dug grave, and he smiled. Not because he had triumphed, but because he could no longer smell the choking death-scent of the afterlife. Instead, he breathed in musk of the damp clay and clean earth. After peaceful moment, he slowly clambered up and out. A single feeble candle illuminated the scene of the ritual. Bowl was propped up not far away, his back against a carved support beam. The Uktena elder smiled weakly at Zas.

"You have done well, Fostern. You have done well."
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