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 When The Strider Knocks

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Zas B'ul

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PostSubject: When The Strider Knocks   Tue 24 Jun 2014, 20:44

Zas had taken the lead, ensuring that the pack made up their time spent heading south with the other Iron Riders. The pack needed to be at the meeting place when the Comanche arrived if there was any chance at a truce working.

Though Zas was troubled over his role in intentionally being deceptive to the Comanche about the white man's true reason for wanting this truce, there was still plenty of bad blood and old scars between his tribe and the Comanche near his home, that he was able to for the moment put aside his reservations.

The pack had been faring well, though. There had been no arguments or major disagreements so far. There had been no unfortunate accidents or serious injuries from being on the road, and for the first time in awhile, it was just the pack--no mortals or disabled kinfolk tagging along, no enemy that needed to be watched and dragged behind. All in all, things were going well and spirits were high.

It was around dusk when Zas had decided that the Prodigals had traveled far enough for the day and set about creating a makeshift campsite for the night.
After most of the group had settled in, Zas approached Zoe and asked, "Would you be free for an umbral adventure this evening? I can't promise anything extravagant, but I'm certain that I may end up embarrassing myself at some point or another when before the spirits. It would require you to round a few unusual spirits up. Are you interested?"
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Tue 24 Jun 2014, 21:34

Zoe, relieved to be taking a break from their fast-paced travels, smiled enthusiastically at her Philodox brother as she withdrew her pocket watch from her pants.

"Umbral adventure, you say? Color me interested."

Zoe gazed into her spiritual self via her reflection and stepped sideways with her Prodigal brother. Upon arrival she smiled up at Luna's shining face. The air smelled fresh and free of the smells of civilization. A few Wyld spirits scampered about more or less ignoring the Garou visitors.

"Despite all the crazy things that we have faced in this realm, I love coming here. It's nice to see the world for what it really is as opposed to having to muddle through the facade of the physical realm, you know?"

Zoe inhaled deeply and released the breath slowly with a smile. She gestured at the expansive umbral landscape.

"The penumbra is yours, my friend. Who shall we summon first?"
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Tue 24 Jun 2014, 23:15

Zas looks around at the scene surveying the vast open and empty space devoid of any man made structures.
At the theurge's statement about the material world being a facade, the Philodox just mused to himself, "I like the material world and appreciate it more than you know. However, it's nice here too."

Zas then turns to look her in the eyes as he says with some reservation, "To be honest, I'm not sure what will happen with this first one. I am hopeful that something positive comes from your labor, but...this will likely be challenging."

At the theurge's inquisitive glances, he continues, "I need you to find any of my ancestor spirits. It will likely be difficult to find them though, but I am not certain why. Perhaps it's because my tribe tends to wander so frequently, or maybe because my ancestral spirits just don't like being summoned, I don't know. What I do know is that any time my father tried to seek them out, he never had much success."

Zas shrugs his shoulders, and says, "But, that's who I need. An ancestor spirit."
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Wed 25 Jun 2014, 00:09

"An ancestor spirit, eh? I've never summoned one of those before. Might as well try calling on one of your own and if they don't come, well, we'll try something else."

Zoe focused all her spiritual energy on calling out an ancestor of the Silent Striders, but after an hour of calling with no response, Zoe shook her head sadly.

"Sorry, brother. It looks like you were right about your ancestors."

She paused for a moment then nodded to herself in response to a thought she had.

"I suppose I could try to summon one of my ancestors. It wouldn't hurt to ask, right? And maybe they would know something about my father, too."

Zoe closed her eyes and chanted softly, reaching out through the penumbra for any Iron Rider or Tetrasomian ancestors, willingly one to respond positively to her call for assistance.
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Fri 27 Jun 2014, 14:31

There was a quiet, quick sigh, as if a disappointed but surprised man were exhaling for the last time. A lithe feminine form sauntered through the penumbral twilight towards the two Garou. Inky tresses fell into gimlet eyes and flowed down over the spirit's shoulders. She wore a rich but unassuming gown that could just as easily belong to a courtesan as a queen. Lemon and jasmine perfume intertwined pungently but failed to disguise the underlying musk of arsenic powder. The spirit's delicate, tan hands played around a gilded triangular dagger of Iberian make.

Allow me to answer thy worthy call, daughter of cockroach and ill-fate.

The ancestor inclined her head ever so slightly towards Zoe before her cunning glance flicked towards Zas. Her voice was like ringing church bells muted with velvet, powerful but reserved.

I have only admiration thy persistence, arbiter.
Orphaned by spirits, thou entreats with an orphan of flesh; how deliciously befitting.  
What glorious folly awaits us this night?

The blade ceased its frenetic dance for a half a moment, its edge balanced on the tip of one long finger.
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Fri 27 Jun 2014, 15:36

Zas eyes tighten and squeeze as the strong scents mingle with one another. He steps forward and begins speaking in spirit tongue, "There are many changes and much discord now in our time. Chaos runs amuck, Disorder is rampant. I seek to remedy these things by reminding others of their proper place and to punish those who would refuse to right themselves where they have erred. It is my understanding that there is a way that someone such as you would be able to teach me the proper way of doing all that I set out to accomplish. A lesson named the Fangs of Judgment. I wish to learn from you, Ancient spirit."
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Fri 27 Jun 2014, 17:11

The spirit did not deliberate, but gave Zas a heartless smile and resumed spinning her weapon, passing it from hand to hand with reckless speed.

Thy purpose is laudable, for heretics and traitors are more poisonous than any bitter herb or venom.
I will reveal to thee this secret, but upon one condition only:
Thou must inform the fallen of their ultimate transgression.

Henceforth, the renegades and turncoats thou slays must know that among their myriad sins,
Their very lives are forfeit for giving themselves over to wanton debasement.
Are thou willing to render me this conceit?

With a final deft twirl the dagger was offered to Zas, the handle facing towards him. The garlicky odor of arsenic  hung heavy in the air, impossible to ignore.


Last edited by The Laughing Stranger on Fri 27 Jun 2014, 22:24; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Fri 27 Jun 2014, 18:03

Zas hears the spirit request what she desires for chiminage and gives it a long moment of thought.
He then reaches out and touches the offered blade but does not take it, as he says, "Your chiminage is agreed upon, but I would also inform you that when I slay my foes-the fallen and the outlaws, that they will know of Gaia's disfavor." Zas then grasps the weapon fully.

Zas then takes a moment and turns to Zoe and back to the spirit and says, "I would also ask that you linger more, for my theurge would speak with you."
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Fri 27 Jun 2014, 18:31

Zoe nods her thanks to Zas and steps forward.

"As an ancestor of my tribe I pray that your memories will prove more faithful than those who still live. What do you know of the one named Tycheros Kostas? You referred to me as an orphan so you know some of my situation. Do or did you know my father and mother?"
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Sat 28 Jun 2014, 04:42

The agile spirit gave Zas a doe-eyed, honeyed grin and ran a warm, soft hand up his chest as she simultaneously took her weapon back from the Philodox's yielding grasp. At her touch, Zas realized he now possessed the means to punish the unworthy failures that had disgraced Gaia's name.

The raven-haired ancestor then turned to address the Theurge, her words quick and precise. The dagger flipped and meandered about her dexterous hands, and as she spoke it moved faster and faster till it became little more than a metallic blur.

Tycheros Kostas was adopted by cockroach and the all the spirit broods of the Tetrasomnians;
Now his name is secret and his doings occulted by shadow. What I know, I know due to thy own actions...
Thou has been asking many inquiries after the fate of thy parents of late.

I confess, such things intrigue me greatly. In thy own curiosity I see my own thirst for secrets reflected.  

Many years ago, while I still walked Gaia's face,
My nights were filled with labyrinthine plots, sanctioned killing and unsanctioned debauchery.
Thy own mystery harkens back to those distant yester-years...
If I stumble upon a piece to thy puzzle by some happy chance,
I would be willing to part with it for a very low price.
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Sat 28 Jun 2014, 11:00

Zoe listened attentively to the spirit's poetic prose. She was hopeful for more information but was grateful for what little she was able to glean.

"Adopted by cockroach, you say? Was he not born into our tribe?"

She did not understand everything that the spirit said about her own past, but she appreciated her offer of assistance.

"If you come across any piece of information, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, I will pay any price to know more about my parents. Thank you for you willingness to help me unearth their obscured past."

Zoe nodded reverently to the spirit then lifted her head slowly as she had one additional thought.

"I do have one more request. Could you advise me on how best to honor Cockroach and our tribe with my words and deeds? I wish never to disgrace my tribe, totem, or those who have gone before."
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Sun 29 Jun 2014, 17:29

The spirit woman smiled, her head at a coquettish angle.

Cockroach adopts all Tetrasomnians, and the tribe of thy birth guarantees nothing.
Blood matters but little to us. Ability, cunning, and strength unseen are what truly unite those under Cockroach.
Inauspicious births and dark fates do not daunt those who seek to ride on the bleeding edge.

When the ancestor looked at Zoe, her eyes shone bright despite the moonless night.  

The tapestry of the world is haunted by Cockroach and his children. Mere survival is not enough; one truly honors Cockroach by thriving.
The wolves watch over the whole of Gaia, but the task of the our tribe is to guard the blooming cities of man.
Never limit thyself, for our mission requires adaptation and flexibility if we are to progress and weather upheaval.

Cockroach is artful, ancient. Though he is attuned to the staid dreams of the Weaver, he does not belong to her.
In his immortal ubiquity, Cockroach has infiltrated the Mad Spinner's designs, working through and between the strands of the Pattern Web.
Do the same. There is opportunity hidden in order. Finding it is thy charge.

Then the spirit receded, shrinking back into the lightless penumbral evening.
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Sun 29 Jun 2014, 20:16

Zoe bowed her head in gratitude as the spirit finished speaking. She then turned to Zas with a disappointed look on her face.

"It disheartens me, brother, how thoroughly the memory of my parents has been obscured. I must continue to search for information every chance I get, but my primary purpose is serving Gaia by serving our pack."

She smiled at the Philodox though her eyes still held a hint of disappointment. "So, are you in need of any other spirits or was my ancestor sufficient to safisy your needs?"
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Sun 29 Jun 2014, 20:38

Zas listened curiously as the ancestor spirit responded to the theurge's inquiries. When the spirit faded away, and Zoe had spoken again this time to Zas, he tilted his head to the side.
"I understand your feelings well I think. You search for those who were supposed to be close to you, seemingly in vain--in your attempt to find one of my ancestors we were unable to locate one. My ancestor spirits should be one of the most easiest to find and yet for reasons unbeknownst to even my father's father, we have been unable to reach them. It is my belief, that one day we will meet-it simply takes finding the right stranger on the road. That is why I think, in our travels I am most content when on the move; it is that frail light of hope that I treasure.

I am not a theurge, nor Iron rider, but I am your friend. In our shared journey, I would urge you to try not letting discouragement win your heart. To fight it with all the tools Gaia has seen fit to bestow upon you. Instead of looking at past failures or losses, rather try and enjoy the road you are on-the experiences you glean, and the stories you are apart of, so that when you do find your intended, you will have much joy instead of sorrows to share."

Zas then places a hand on her shoulder as he says, "As far as my needs being quenched, it was I who promised you an umbral adventure. I still require your summoning services and most assuredly your guidance in this next task. Perhaps you may glean wisdom from this spirit as well, for it is rumored to be a spirit of great hidden knowledge, and many old secrets....I wish for you to summon a servant of Uktena."
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Sun 29 Jun 2014, 20:46

Zoe smiled at the encouraging words of her pack mate.

"Thank you, brother, for your uplifting words. I may never find my parents, if in fact they have already passed on from this life to whatever lies beyond, so I must continue to live in a way that will honor their legacy in the here and now and not let disappointments of the past quench the joy that could be the present."

She nodded slowly as Zas spoke of his ancestors and his desire to summon an Uktena spirit. "I can certainly give it a try. What's the worst that could happen? They don't show up?"

She laughs softly as she considers that much worse could actually happen, though she hoped it wouldn't. She began chanting confidently in the spirit tongue as she reached out into the umbral sphere with a summons for the appearance of an Uktena jaggling spirit.
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Mon 30 Jun 2014, 21:48

From somewhere in the uncharted west a glimmering stream wound its way toward them. They could hear its distant drips and gurgles like musical notes as it trickled forward, steadily becoming louder until it surged towards them, a mystic river running through the ephemera. The fast moving deluge ran between the two Garou, separating them, and before they could contemplate this, a rod of blackest night shot up out of the water. It grew in height until it was tree-high, and only then did it curve back down towards them, sprouting ebon claws and a tangled crown of antlers. Three green eyes peered out of a serpentine face covered in fur, the water coursing up and down its body in rivulets. Wordlessly, the horned serpent lowered its head to level with the two werewolves, a single unblinking eye fixed on each. Zoe looked into the slitted emerald eye of a serpent while Zas saw the cool unblinking stare of a mountain lion. The only sound other than the Garou's breathing was the murmuring stream and the staccato drip-drop of the water spilling from the Uktena's body.

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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Mon 30 Jun 2014, 23:33

Zas made a motion to step forward to approach the spirit, but as the eyes of the a Uktena gazed at him and looked back, his steps faltered. The spirit was strange, different, and most certainly an unusual sight to him even though he'd been expecting an oddity similar to his first experience with the Talons of Horus, to take place. He was woefully under prepared. Maybe it was the way the spirit moved, or how the water receded and coursed up and down the spirits body, or maybe the intensity and severity in which the spirit's eyes honed in on him, but Zas felt completely bewitched.

He gazed on in this almost trancelike state for what seemed eons, nearly losing himself in the creatures piercing gaze, before recalling his purpose and sense of self and well being. When at last his senses began to return, Zas dropped to his knees half out of reverence--half out of what felt like necessity.

His words at first seemed foreign to him as he began to form the words he intended to speak, but slowly and gradually he began to grow re-accustomed to them and spoke in spirit speech, "Great, mighty, wondrous spirit. I, Snowy Owl-child of Owl, son of Desert wanderer, defender of the Tsalagiyi Nvdagi, and adopted son of Uktena have sought you out for your knowledge, in order to better serve Gaia as one of her protectors. There is much I do not know, much I am unworthy of knowing. What I do know is that One such as you is filled with such splendor and shadowed knowledge is also capable of bestowing on me great things.

There are many things that my enemies hide from me. Things that they keep in the darkness and shadow. I seek to conceal my doings from those of my enemies that I may overcome them with tools and methods of their own making, that I might bring them down into darkness.

I know also that such knowledge is not given without a price. I offer in exchange for a gift of secrecy a secret of my own-one that no other has ever heard, read, or seen."

Zas then still keeping his head bowed, stands up and nears the spirit to whisper something to it, that Zoe is not able to hear.

Zas then steps back and kneels again and continues, "I also ask that you bestow upon me a second lesson. This lesson is one that is strange to me, but I perceive how it could further aid Gaia and as such seek it out. I wish to learn how to be, how to do, and how to feel as the snake. I wish to learn how to entrap my foes as I prepare for my final fatal blow that will rid the Mother of those who blaspheme her name by drawing breath.

This lesson is not one I know how to understand, or to explain, but I wish to remember it. In exchange for this teaching I offer my own comfort as well as this gnosis. I ask that you cause me harm, such as the victims I would use this lesson upon would suffer. Make me feel as they would."

Zas then stopped speaking as he considered his next words carefully. When he had decided on the proper phrasing he stood up and stared back into the gazing eyes and said, "I offer up these offerings in exchange for these lessons. If further sacrifices must be made, speak your price and I will try to provide them."
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Tue 01 Jul 2014, 00:49

The serpentine spirit's two lower eyes grew opaque, and then slowly faded from view altogether, like the moon in daytime. The great eye in the center of the Uktena's forehead blazed with light, and as it did so, Zas had a vision of two shapes, one black, the other red, intertwining, before both were cloaked in billowing darkness.

Zoe saw Zas' eyes also go opaque, and then they too faded away, leaving nothing but dark empty pits in his head. Before she could say anything, the Pure totem reared up as great tentacles splayed out of the water, strong and thick as pythons. Its lips parted, showing a mouth filled with dozens of serpent's fangs dripping a runny dark venom, and then it was upon her.

Zas B'ul's eyes snapped open, and saw that the Uktena had grown in stature, towering high out of the water, but it still stooped over them, its face very close to Zoe and Zas, its forked tongue tasting their scents. The Silent Strider saw that he was held fast by lengths of writhing shadow that erupted from the Uktena's river. He also saw that Hears-the-Song was also gripped tightly by the same strange coils and was attempting to break free.
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Tue 01 Jul 2014, 01:44

Zas struggled and squirmed against his bindings, the grip unrelenting, unable to slide through. The spirit had seen fit to give Zas exactly what he wanted-what Zas failed to consider was the dangerous nature of the situation.

Zas tried to even the odds by shifting to Crinos, and rather than squeezing free, try to over power the shadows holding him down. He managed to begin shifting, but midway through his form, his body stretched up against the bindings and stressed them to the point that Zas began to draw blood from himself as he rapidly ran out of space in the confined area. When he tried to revert back to homid form he wasn't able-his shadowed bindings held him in check. He was beginning to already feel cramped, but the longer he stayed here trapped and bound the more uncomfortable and difficult it became to breathe.

As the blood began to trickle down his wrists and out of his sides, and down his ankles and splatter onto the ground he part cried-part howled-part gasped out in agony and spoke in a garbled mix mashed jumble of spirit speech, mothers tongue, and Cherokee, "Please release us The protectors of the mother I understand! Your ways are known to me now! Please do not make her suffer for my ignorance and impudence!"

Zas gasped for air as he continued to plead with the aggressive spirit, "She too comes to you for knowledge at my suggestion! Her past is unknown to all, spirit and Garou alike. She does not seek your destruction. She is not like others. She is not like the Wyrmbringers!"

Zas inhales a last ounce of air, his very body on the verge of crushing in on itself and him falling into unconsciousness, he says in a weak breath, "I offered you more if you wished. Take my life if you will, but spare her. I am ready to face death."
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Tue 01 Jul 2014, 07:33

Though constrained like her brother, Zoe breathed as deeply as she could to remain calm. She believed the spirit did not mean to kill them but only wished to teach Zas and she wished not to interfere with the spirit's lesson.

When Snowy Owl attempted to shift forms and found himself gasping for breath and life, Zoe struggled to remain silent, but she could do so no longer. She hoped her voice did not betray the panic she was beginning to feel.

"Great spirit of the Uktena, though the Pure and the Nation do not always see eye to eye, my brother's Gaia-given task in life is to bring peace between the tribes, including the Uktena and Wendigo. We wish to help our Pure brothers and sisters to thrive, which is why we have summoned you here today to learn from you how best to accomplish that task. We are requesting help from you and offering help of our own to your people in order to begin reuniting the Garou tribes."

She gasped as the spirit tightened its grasp. "If it is secrets you enjoy, my past is wrought with them. Please release us so that I may inquire of your superior understanding of mysteries in search of one who is able to obscure memory possibly even from you."
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Tue 01 Jul 2014, 12:49

The Uktena struck like lightening, its jaws engulfing Zoe's head and shoulders. She felt the creature's lukewarm breath as its teeth sank into her, each razor fang like a deep pinprick. Despite the pain, Zoe's rage ebbed, and she realized she could smell piney woods, and hot pork stew. She heard the movement of water, slow and steady, sliding past. The long, even snarl-rattle of a crosscut saw working its way through a tree trunk drifted through the air. It was like a dream. Then someone crouched in her field of view, a pretty woman wearing a simple dress, her long curly hair tied back with a scrap of green satin ribbon that matched her olive eyes. "Here, help me get your father his lunch, will you, Zoe?"

Then Zoe was outside, watching a bear of a man cut through a tree. The saw he was using was designed for two men to work both sides, but Tycheros Kostas was single-handedly slicing through the massive fallen evergreen with ease. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand and then looked up from his work. Zoe's father beamed at her, deep laughlines around his eyes. Zoe might have said something, but she wasn't sure what. He left the saw half-buried in the tree and walked up to her, or perhaps she floated closer to him. Tycheros' warm smile was filled with needle-fangs. A cold sing-song voice rang in her ears. "She is hidden away..." her father wavered, his form flickering like a wind-blown candle. Zoe blinked, and his body elongated into a wet snake or eel, and two laughing eyes became three. "...against the flow of Hears-the-Song's first river." Dark hair became dark scales and sprouted stag-like horns and Tycheros/Uktena's mouth opened, yawning wide. "...secrets are not forgotten by all..."

Zas watched in horror as the horned serpent bit down on Zoe, one of its green, predatory eyes still fixed on the Philodox. He could see the muscles' in its jaws tense and spasm, and then it released the both the Garou, black tentacles receding back into the swirling water. Zoe seemed somewhat shaken, but otherwise fine, the many tiny fang wounds in her back, shoulders and neck slowly healing before Zas' eyes. Again, the Uktena faced the Prodigal werewolves, its unblinking stare as ineffable as ever.

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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Tue 01 Jul 2014, 13:12

Upon first seeing the pure spirit begin to bite into his packmate, Zas felt both a feeling of intense rage while at the same feeling total helplessness. He was trapped- there was nothing more he could do aside from just sit and watch as the painful seconds ticked by.

When all of a sudden, the spirit released his theurge. Zas took in the relatively minor wounds she sustained and saw how she seemed to be recovering from the ordeal. A wave of relief washed over Zas, while at the same time his bonds were loosened and he began to connect the pieces. He had gotten exactly what he wanted. Maybe the spirit had been talking to Zoe when she was in its mouth. It didn't matter at this point-they were both alive.

The creature did not seek to destroy them, but had done as requested-albeit in its own fashion. Zas considered how the scenario had played out while his body fully reformed into homid. His sides and wrist and ankles still ached and throbbed from the ordeal, but Zas couldn't have been happier.

Hopelessness and despair to joy and contentment in such a short span of time, caused Zas head to rush. He stared up in true awe of the mighty ancient spirit before them and said the first thing he could muster.
"What is your name great one?"
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PostSubject: Re: When The Strider Knocks   Tue 01 Jul 2014, 15:26

Zoe fell to the ground as the spirit released her, tears streaming down her face. For the first time in her memorable life she saw the face of not one but both of her parents. The smell of her childhood home burned into her nostrils and she willed herself never to forget it. Her mother's beautiful eyes pierced deeply into her soul. And her father - his jovial face, grand stature, and gentle strength - filled her heart with joy. She would sustain those needle-sharp injuries a thousand times over if just to relive that moment with her parents once more.

When Zoe looked at Zas, he could see the tears continuing to stream down her beaming face. She then crawled to her knees, bowed her face to the ground, and thanked the spirit profusely.

"Thank you, great spirit, for your generous gift to a lowly member of the Garou nation such as I. Please tell me your name so that I may praise your superiority over the power that has stolen the memory of my parents from so many. You are greater and more powerful than those thiefs will ever be. Thank you for bestowing on me the most precious memory I have. There is no way I can repay you, but I will do the best I can. Please, name your price, great spirit of the Pure."
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