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 Rage Across Texas Part 2: Comanche Moon

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The Laughing Stranger
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PostSubject: Rage Across Texas Part 2: Comanche Moon   Fri 05 Sep 2014, 16:45

With Akna’s destruction, the Garou discovered that time had flowed strangely while inside Akna’s nest. Weeks had passed since they stepped through the gateway, and the waxing moon was almost over. Walks-with-Spiders beseeched the leaders among the tribes for aid in creating the new Caern. Despite mistrusting of the intentions of ‘ape rutting wolves’ and derisive snarls from among her own ranks, Listens-to-Willows accepted the offer, though there were derisive snarls from some Talons. Many among the Bone Gnawers were willing to lend their aid, and Uncle MacLeod pledged that he and any volunteers would do their best to clean up. Only the Get of Fenris declined, many among their number citing loyalty to their Eldest, Roaring Jack. The benighted skirmishes in the Phoenix’s aerie had whetted their appetite, and now the Fenrir were intent on catching up with the main offensive and pursuing their bloodied prey across the plains.

There was much to be done: after the dead were committed to Gaia’s embrace, Red Talons, Bone Gnawers, and Iron Riders united to cleanse one another and the land touched by the burning evil of the Balefire Phoenix. Their task was not an easy one, for the poison had seeped through both sides of the gauntlet. However, due to the intervention of a near-exhausted Noir Kaermode and the concentrated efforts of the gathered Theurges, the Garou are ultimately successful.

It was during this time that the Prodigals made good their promise to return to the border lands of the dark umbra and speak to Lune-Stalker. The unstable Child of Gaia was very pleased to learn of Noir Kaermode's involvement in Akna's destruction and that he would soon attempt to assume the mantle of Caern spirit. The Prodigals, though mistrustful of the elder, realized they had little choice if they wished to remove Mangai's influence over Noir Kaermode and the emergent Caern. After channeling large quantities of gnosis into the Child of Gaia, the sides of the earthen mound began to fall away to reveal a an empty expanse of whirling pandemonium. Only the worm-carved 'ribs' of the barrow remained, and as the Garou clung to these structures, they saw hundreds of feet below lay a chaotic windswept morass of fog-shrouded shapes. Ancient hills and bizarre structures built by dead hands jutted from the mists, as hazy indistinct figures drifted upwards, reaching toward the still-living. They swiftly became a pale swarm of men, women, and stranger things, grasping hungrily up with ephemeral hands. Then a single deep bellowing roar echoed out over the howling wind, and the masses disappeared into the swirling fog as a bear, white as a corpse and wrapped in tangled skeins of plasm, came tearing out of the grey twilight. Standing far taller than even the avatar of great Fenris, the beast's jaws gaped wider than a sharks, its face a gleaming ursine skull. Looking into the black and empty eye sockets is to confront dissolution itself. This is no spirit-servant or avatar. This is Mangai the Death Bear, fighting to defend what is his. Lune-Stalker howled back in raw, mad defiance, her form becoming that of a pale yellow and black furred Crinos. She hurled herself down into the screaming vortex at the center of Mangai's realm, and was lost in the darkness. The pack reluctantly began their long journey back to the physical world.

As the sun set, a swollen crimson moon rose over the cooling granite formations north of Los Perdido and the wolves of Gaia gathered to consecrate the Burned Rock, designating the tall round stone as the nascent Caern heart. Listens-to-Willows began to chant in the First Tongue, her high clear howls ringing off of the blasted stone, leading the children of Griffin, Cockroach, and Rat in a hymn to Gaia. Over two dozen feral voices gave praise to their goddess, forging a bond between the land and the great Bear spirit, Noir Kaermode.

The Prodigals, along with Raises-All-Hell, Ear-Killer Jesot, and Shrike, were designated as guardians for the duration of the vulnerable ritual. For the first few hours all was quiet, but as midnight approached movement and eerie lights appeared in the accursed village below, while at the same time the rocky countryside came alive with monstrous aberrations and evil spirits, drawn to the powerful energy of the Caern. These dregs of the Wyrm were tenacious and wicked, and the fighting raging into the early morning. It was at half past three when the defenders were joined by packs of howling Get of Fenris; Roaring Jack and his children had returned aid their embattled cousins. Upon learning that the Caern was being built, the Eldest had abandoned his push west and north and had swiftly led his tribe back to the hill country.  

Fighting as one, the warriors of Gaia are able to overcome the servants of the Wyrm, and as many of the spirits filter back into their realm, the weary Garou assemble to find that their efforts were successful: the Burned Rock Caern is born. Kaermode, no longer appearing as a two-faced apparition in service to death, has transformed into a spirit of healing and quiet strength.

The Get of Fenris have halted their attack on the Uktena held lands, at least for now. After Akna's permanent death, the Fenrir discovered that the remaining Penetaka had been wiped out by the mysterious Uktena and their allies, the vengeful Caracticas and Teyuwit. After meeting with a number of the Uktena leadership, Roaring Jack quickly led the Get warpacks out of Comancheria and back east. Eventually the majority of the deadly Garou warriors heading back to Galveston, their rage unspent and frustrated. The reasons for this sudden withdrawal are not immediately clear, and even Jack's own children have been left guessing his intent.

With Wife-Eater gone, many of the bestial Red Talons were content to keep a watchful eye on Austin from afar, rather than laying siege to the growing ape settlement. Some of the Get and a handful of Bone Gnawers stayed on as well, expecting that Burned Rock would act as a buffer to any future unseen threats emanating from the savage plains.

The Prodigals and the Oilers eventually returned to the Camino Real sept together, after making sure the new sept was secure. Ebony Wisebeck also accompanied them, reasoning that she would rather spend her winter in Nacogdoches instead of the wind-swept Llano Estacado. The Prodigals in particular were grateful to be home after traveling so far along dusty roads and lonely airts. However, their relief was tinged with grief and anger, for they discovered that during their absence the Cherokee had been attacked as they fled westward, and that many had been slain, including Chief Bowl. The survivors had been herded like cattle to the Texoma border and turned over to the United States military.  

As autumn chilled into winter, the Garou were not idle: the Iron Riders had begun the construction of a stage stop on the Caern grounds, both to empower Papa Stagecoach and to lend the werewolves cover from the burgeoning population of Nacogdoches. Placating both human residents and spirit neighbors was no easy matter, but Cold-Stare and Walks-with-Spiders embraced the challenge. The Iron Riders were also cautiously investigating the territory occupied by the Cherokee, curious to see if Bowl or any of this strange allies had left anything clues behind following their sudden flight...

Zoe found a pair of letters from O'Toole waiting for her with Slick-Blood when she returned. In the first, dated back to the beginning of September, her father expressed vague concern for her well-being, as well as the desire of her precise whereabouts. In the second, dated from early November, he wrote that he had returned home, and that though he was well enough, he was deeply concerned by what he had seen on their 'previous outing.' Over all, Zoe found the letter's presence comforting, despite their nebulous contents.

In late November, Jana gave birth to a boy. The weather was foul and the rites and celebrations were truncated, but nonetheless Uncle MacLeod and his pack of rabble managed to pay a visit the following week, and rites were performed and gifts were given. At the next moot, the Baptism of Fire was performed by Walks-with-Spiders, and the there was much rejoicing when the child was discovered to be Garou.

The winter solstice passed, and in January Harriet also had a child, a dark haired girl. Again the Garou rejoiced, and a celebratory moot was held to conduct the Baptism. This time there was but one visitor, a black-garbed stranger who called himself Drowns-His-Foes, his short visit casting a pall over the otherwise joyous event. This baby too was born in Gaia's favor.

Zas visited the battlefield where the Cherokee had met their end. He saw no sign of Chief Bowl, but he sent word to Scents-the-Lies, who met him by the headwaters of the Neches, above the empty salt-flats. The Wendigo Elder mourned the loss of the Tsalagiyi Nvdagi, but he said that a few of the Cherokee kin had been stolen away during the march north, and were now among the Caddo. The old Philodox warned that though disaster at the hands of the Phoenix and her patron, the Eater of Souls, had been averted, more pain was yet to come, for both the Wyrmcomers and Pure alike. Tales of the rise of the Storm Eater had been circulating among the Uktena, and they feared that its mad influence would harm the minds of men and Garou alike. Shadows had grown long over the protectorates of the Nation and the Pure alike.

Rends-the-Gar was as disappointed as the next Get of Fenris to find that the Skin Ripper threat evaporated and the Eldest was unwilling to pursue the Uktena responsible for the fiasco. His dreams were dark and strange, often turning towards a small, fierce girl writhing silently in a sea of burning silver. Sometimes, though, he would have a glimpse of a pair of Crinos, both tensed as if to fight. One, small and white, angry almost to frenzy; the other impossibly tall, its body nothing but dripping, gleaming silver that constantly melted and ran endlessly, its expression unreadable and alien.

As winter's fury abated and spring began, 1841 is filled with uncertainty. Warm weather returns, and with it, rumors of militaristic action spread by deserters and jaded trail guides. Circuit preachers warn of a coming  judgement before they skip town with pilfered offering money. Drunk stage drivers furtively whisper that almost a hundred thousand dollars has been stolen from the government treasury, and the Republic is dead broke. In the spirit world, a growing disquiet has shaken the umbra, as strange directionless winds have begun to blow...
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