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Rends the Gar

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Posts : 350
Join date : 2013-08-29

PostSubject: Like an Old Friend   Fri 15 Aug 2014, 01:03

Sylvester snorted awake, he'd apparently dozed off at the poker table. He could vaguely remember he'd been doing something and thought he could smell ceder on the air but it faded away, quickly overwhelmed by the heavy smell of tobacco smoke beer and sweat.

"If yer gonna doze off then fold and leave my table boy. Now either bet 'er fold so the men can play 'afore I take ya to the cleaners."

Tipping his Ranger hat up, Sylvester eyed the man across the table from him, the two were separated by a pile of money that other men had worked for only to lose to one or the other of these two. They were the last two at the table, but the bar its self was still packed with ranch hands and dirty working men of all sorts. The odd whore provided a splash of color in the otherwise drab saloon, catcalls and grabbing hands following the porcelain women as they made their rounds delivering drinks. A bear skin hung at the back wall behind the bar, jaws propped open for the bartender to open bottles on. Back in the far corner an old man hammered away at the piano with more enthusiasm than skill, but nobody was sober enough to care. Sylvester looked his opponent in the eye, puffing calmly on his corncob pipe.

"What's the matter, Jensen? Sceered I'll beat ya again?"

"HA! You talk a big talk, Clemons, but you ain't got shit. Now man up and fold so we can play the next hand."

Sylvester noted the corner of Jensen's mouth twitching ever so slightly at the remark. Tilting his hat down again to mask his own smile, Sylvester considered for a moment before pushing all of his chips into the pot in a messy pile. The move drew awed gasps from those nearby as the barmaid came by with another round of drinks, setting a tall glass of whiskey down in front of Sylvester. He drunk her in with his eyes, then to sober himself up took a hit of whiskey.

She wore a dress like the other girls, but where the other girls flaunted their bosoms in hopes of drawing a drunk ranch hand's eye and earning a dollar or two, this girl wore her dress for what it was: a tool to make any man into her play thing. It was only a part of her appeal, and paired with her tumbling red curls, green eyes and full lips she looked fit to take on the world and make it dance for her. And she knew it.

Sylvester smiled up at her, feeling bold from the drink.

"Whaddya think, Marie? Reckon I should get me a new gun with my winnings? Or maybe a nice new pair of boots?"

She gave a laugh that was almost sincere sounding, well practiced and professional as flirting could be.

"Honey you take this bastard's money and the first thang you're doin' is buyin' us all a round of drinks! And the second thang you're doin' is gettin' us a room so I can thank you fer clealin' out old Jensen!"

The crowd around the table joined in the laugh, Jensen turning red in anger at the slight. Glaring at Sylvester, he angrilly shoved his earnings into the middle of the table, matching the all in.

"I'm gonna enjoy this you little shit."

The dealer calmly organized the chips as the crowd gathered around the table, piano still clanging in the background like two drunk cats in the kitchen. Turning to Sylvester, the dealer nodded for him to show.

Smiling broadly, he flipped over his cards. Full house. The crowd cheered, Marie sidling up next to him and taking his hat off to run a hand through his hair.

Jensen's face remained red, glaring heatedly at his opponent. When he saw Sylvester's hand his glare faltered for just a moment before turning into a full wolfish grin.

"I win again, Clemons."

He laid his cards out, and the crowd went quiet. Four aces and a jack stared up at Sylvester.

Jensen let out a loud bark of laughter, reaching forward to scoop up his winnings as Sylvester stared in stunned silence. Marie gave him a consoling pat on the shoulder as she left.

"Better luck next time, sweet heart. That round's on the house."

Anger burning behind his eyes, Sylvester glared at Jensen as he downed the rest of his whiskey. He slammed the empty glass down, Jensen still laughing. Sylvester pushed himself back from the table harder than he normally would have. The table lurched, catching Jensen on the elbow before he could pull back.

A handful of cards sprung out of Jensen's sleeve before he could stop them.

It only took a moment for Sylvester to push the table aside, knocking over the dealer and slamming Jensen into the opposite wall.

"You bastard! You been cheatin' all along!"

Still laughing, Jensen met Sylvester's eye.

"It ain't cheatin' if you make the rules, boy. Now let's have us some real fun!"

Jensen suddenly had a knife in his hand and Sylvester had to let him go to avoid getting cut. He grabbed his own knife, an old iron piece he'd gotten from... somewhere. The moment his hand touched it, a series of images flashed through his head. A giant rotten gar on writhing panther legs. He saw himself running with four other wolves, chasing down a deer and sharing in the kill. Sitting around a campfire telling stories and teaching each other new things, growing stronger. A burned battlefield, a deadly green firebird bearing down on him. The world died in flames.

Then it was over, and he was back in the bar. All around them the place had errupted into chaos; men fighting on every square inch of the place, whores screaming and running for cover. Jensen sprang forward, cutting Sylvester under the eye and drawing blood. Sylvester just smiled back at him, laughing at him as he slammed the knife into Jensen's throat and twisted. Still laughing, he hardly noticed when another brawler broke a chair over his back. Sylvester returned the favor with a fist to his eye, then lost himself in the brawl still laughing.

Something nagged at the back of his head as he fought, something he'd forgotten to do. He couldn't shake it, couldn't lose himself in the frenzy as he took three men at once. Shaking his head, he raised his bloodied fists as the three rushed him, throwing him behind the bar and smashing him into the bottles under the bearskin hanging on the wall.

Bones lying on the floor, stale death and moldy blood filled the air. Zoe at his feet with her throat almost torn out. Rage filled him as he looked up to face his enemy.

His vision cleared again to show Marie smashing a bottle over one of his attacker's heads. She kneeled down, smiling at Sylvester.

"Better get back at it, honey. But be sure to save some energy for me."

She leaned down to kiss him, but something felt off. Sylvester could almost remember something he was supposed to be doing, but it was hard to focus between the high of the fight and Marie's sudden attentions. As she broke the kiss, Sylvester looked over her shoulder to see the bearskin staring back at him, empty eyes somehow very alive.

"There is work to be done, Rends the Gar. Remember your purpose here."

The bearskin fell from the wall, draping over Sylvester like a tent and blocking everything from the bar out. Awareness flooded back into him. His pack, his Tribe, all that they'd worked to do to end Akna, awakening Kaermode. He screamed in anger and against the sudden burst of memory and emotion. It seemed to take forever, but eventually he settled back into himself, fully aware of who and what he was. The bearskin was still draped over him, he could feel Kaermode's presence coming from it.

"Thank you. I dunnow what I was doin' there..."

"Death is a master of deceit. He would trick you into wasting this chance if he could; distracting you with the things you desire. He seems to have taken particular interest in you. But I will shield you from his illusions. Now do what you came here to do."

Nodding, Sylvester stood up, keeping the bearskin wrapped around his shoulders. When he looked out again, bar was gone. He stood alone on a naked clifftop, looking out over a desert landscape lit by Luna's face, which was much larger than it normally was. He knew he was looking out at a desert, but the land stretched out before him was smooth and glassy in most places, rising occasionally to form dunes. Trees sprouted up occasionally, branches forming impossible geometries. Looking to his left, Sylvester saw two large chairs on the edge of the cliff, both with their backs turned to him. He could see one was occupied but not by who.

"Approach with care, Rends the Gar. Death is greedy, and will take whatever he can."

A dry laugh rose from the occupied chair, followed by the voice of an old man.

"Oh come now, I may be a bastard but I'm no fool. I know a good investment when I see one. Come, my young Full Moon. Sit with me and let's talk."

Suddenly hesitant, Rends the Gar approached the empty chair from behind, sitting and looking at his company.

Death was a chubby middle aged white man smoking a fat cigar. He had a neatly trimmed beard and expensive suit, gold pocket watch and chain in his pocket. He took a merry drag on the cigar as he regarded Rends the Gar, face jovial.

"Well now, here we have a sterling example of your people's potential. Young Rends the Gar, son of the Wolf Spider himself come to make a bargain with Death. Well I must tell you, my boy, I am quite pleased with your work. Garou are usually so preachy, but I always find it a pleasure to deal with you Full Moons. I find we have more common ground than others of your kind."

A dozen questions bubbled up to Rends' mind, but he wrestled them down. He was here to make a deal, not to get a history lesson. He didn't know why, but even though death's tone and face were friendly Rends got a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach every time he spoke.

"Uh, thank you sir. I, um, appreciate it. I was hopin' maybe since we's so friendly and whatnot maybe you wouldn't mind backin' off fer a while so me and my pack can deal with Akna."

Death roared in laughter, and Lunas light seemed to dim just a little bit.

"Help you kill Akna?! Why in the Heavens would I do that! Roaring Jack's war is going so well, disease is spreading, the whites and red men hate each other more than ever! Why it's utter genocide out there! Why would I want to put a stop to something so beautiful?"

Rends felt a surge of anger at the spirit's mocking words.

"Because, you may be a backstabbing, cheating manipulative bastard, but you still serve Gaia in the end! She is of the Wyrm! We kill the Wyrm! Now either help me do my job, or got get someone who can!"

Rends could feel Kaermode tense up, and it was suddenly quiet all around them. Death regarded him for a moment, silently toking on his cigar. There was a pale fire behind his eyes.

"You're a bold one, Ahroun. Nobody's talked to me like that in a long, long time. Lucky for you I like bold. I'll help you. But remember your place, Garou. I am Death, and I will come for you as I come for everyone in their time. Now, remove that skin and let me show you something."

Rends hesitated for just a moment, the took off the bearskin, setting it down beside his chair, In a moment it grew into the full sized Kaermode, looming up behind him. Death did not seem to notice. He only took a long drag on the cigar, then blew the smoke into Rends' face.

As the smoke entered his lulngs, Rends felt his bones start to ache. He could feel his muscles rotting away, his joings creaking and cracking under the strain of just sitting. He looked down at his weaked hand, saw liver spots and wrinkles growing on them. Terrified, Sylvester could only sit as the desert swirled around them, his and Death's chairs somehow remaining still amid the flurry. Death leaned forward, locking his now empty eyes on the young Garou.

"Know this, pup. You serve me while you live. Your body is a tool to my use. And while it pleases me, I will use you. But soon your body will fail you. You'll grow weak, lose your edge, you won't even be able to control your own bowels. But until that day you are mine, Full Moon. As are all of your kind. You fight for Gaia, you serve Luna, but with every kill you bring glory to me. Remember that, pup."

Rends let out a weak croak as the world flashed to white, then snapped into place again. He was back in Perdido, the rest of his pack still asleep. He was in a cold sweat, trembling. He reached up, feeling his arms and relieved to find them strong again. Kaermode was staring at him, regarding the Garou.

"He's right ain't he? I'm a killer. Always have been. Everything I do jest plays right into that bastard's hands..."

Kaermode regarded him for a long moment.

"Death is a master of illusion. But illusion is not only what is seen. You have in you the power both to kill with great mastery, but also to protect and bring life. These things Death cannot take from you. Not yet."

Rends nodded, still shaken. After a moment he smiled to Kaermode.

"Right. But fer now I gotta do a little more killin'. After we deal with Akna though, I reckon I need me a vacation. Man's gotta find time for recreation sometimes, after all."

Kaermode just stared back at the Ahroun, expression unreadable.
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