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 The Heart of the Swarm

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The Laughing Stranger

Posts : 452
Join date : 2013-08-29

PostSubject: The Heart of the Swarm   Thu 16 Jan 2014, 17:56

Eaton and the other Bone Gnawers stepped out into the night, and after a swift nod, Raises-All-Hell led them straight out into the empty fields beyond, his dark skin seeming to diffuse in the growing darkness as they headed away from the barn. Cicadas sang in the trees ahead, and Eaton imagined their raspy lyrics were an invitation, beckoning him deeper into the Caern. Zas trailed after the group, keeping his distance. He was curious, but he did not want to impose himself on their hosts.

The small knot of Garou made their way out into a fallow field, the high unharvested wheat intermingling with gangly weeds and the odd sapling. As they pushed their way forward, Eaton and Zas were able to make out a ponderous outline looming ahead. Chittering cries and squeeks rose up from the underbrush they stepped into narrow clearing. The center was dominated by a half-buried stone unlike any the outsiders had seen before: its surface was pockmarked and cratered, and in its various holes and hollows were piles of cat bones, bits of hard old cheese, and dried nuts and berries. Eerie scarecrows made of tattered Mexican and Ranger uniforms stood with their arms outstretched, their cowfeed-sack faces blankly staring up at the moon.  

Wordlessly Raises-All-Hell and his companions shifted into Crinos, their muscular bodies fluid as mercury. Eaton followed suit, shedding his homid form as high lilting howls rose in the cool night, filled with words discordant and savage. The baying spoke of how a brother had been found, another true Gaian willing to tear out the very guts of the Wyrm. A sharp, warm wind passed over the fields, sweeping through the Caern's heart and leaving the scarecrows twitching and flapping. The screeches of the rats changed, their thin voices intermingling with the words of the Garou, their voices piping and screaming in the language of spirits, singing praise to the totem of the Bone Gnawers.

Then there was a long drawn out hiss that cut through the cacophonous song, and a silence swiftly fell over the lonely field. Out from behind the shadow of the meteoric lith slunk a massive spirit beast, a Rat the size of a Clydesdale. Its jaws were flecked with foam, and its hot wet eyes were glazed in a look of unrelenting fury. Faster than the eye could trace, the Rat God leapt onto the standing stone and gazed down at the assembled Garou as a hundred times a hundred rats spilled quietly out of the wheat thicket, surrounding and covering the Incarna's perch in a seething mound of fur and tails and teeth.

Ah my children, bold and cunning, survivors and killers to the last.

Raises-All-Hell stepped forward with some difficulty, his feet slogging through the mass of rats that came up to his shin. "Rat, we have called you forth to present to you another one of the faithful, a warrior and bard whose place among the Bone Gnawers is within the Swarm, if you find him worthy."

The huge spirit lifted its scarred nose, scenting the air. Though it remained almost perfectly still apart from the occasional twitch, the mass of rats at its feet seethed and scurried over and under each other, their frenzied movements hushed and silent. With a sharp hissing laugh, the Rat God spoke:

With this one, I am pleased. You walk with disease, but are untouched.
You know what it is to fight without recourse; in these times, bloody maws are best.
You will not just sing songs of war, you will live them out.

The giant Rat spirit reared up and brought its snuffling, fanged visage face to face with Eaton. Zas stared at the spectacle, regarding the strange doings of the Bone Gnawers with mute curiosity.

You are of the Swarm, one of Rat's teeth.
You will pierce the coils of the Wyrm and the web of the Weaver.
You will not die running, but with back against a wall.

An then the spirit was gone. As quickly as it had appeared, the spirit vanished, slinking back into the shadows. The tide of rats receded, spilling off the stone and running in coursing streams away into the field. As they made their way back toward the light of the bawn, Raises-All-Hell laughed as he resumed homid form. "Well, that's good. He doesn't respond that well to everybody."
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The Heart of the Swarm
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