This wide clearing in the midst of short, dark pines is rough with wild grass and bare stone. The air is a bit cooler up here in the foothills than below, and the majestic peaks of the nearby mountains rear up over the eastern treetops. There is a vine-covered boulder standing under the edge of the somber evergreens to the east. The air here is prenaturally still and the grass waves not at all for there is no breeze that blows through the pines. It is silent, no call of bird thrown from the treetops to dance gaily in the open spaces. Occasionally chill fingers run up your spine.
A faint path leading downhill to the west is the only exit from the clearing.
Three-Blades sits at the head of the body. If there was such a thing beyond the quiet of silence, she is it. Not even looking up to see who has arrived, only her ears flattened back against her head could tell of her sorrow.
Kaz and Bernie head down the trail, Kaz with her flute case sticking out of her backpack, hands stuffed in her pockets. She pauses at one of the stones, and then heads to the main group, Bernie following slowly behind.
Ethan arrives along with Toni, the two Get following the sound of the howl. Ethan's bundled up well in his Thermolite jacket, hands shoved down in his pockets.
Guides-the-Dead's eyes glance over towards the arrivals, watching with apathy. Her attention moves back towards the body of Jay and she once again repeats, ~No.~ Sprawled on her belly, the Strider seems in disbelief.
Jarred watches the others arrive, mutely, before turning his gaze once again upon his fallen friend.
The sound preceeds Joey, a low, sad tune played on a harmonica. Slowly, the Gnawer enters the area, eyes cast to the ground, playing his tune as he moves, finding a place to stop by the others Gnawers. Once there, he lets the tune trail off, and puts the harmonica back into one of his pockets.
Junior nods to Joey, lifting a hand in greeting.
Guides-the-Dead rests her muzzle on the ground, eyes stil carefully trained on the body of her fallen friend. She is now silent, ears flattened still against her head and demeanor reflecting one word and one word only--sorrow.
Ethan avoids the mass of Gnawers, already feeling out of place and more than a little awkward because of it. He mumbles something under his breath to Toni and sticks behinds the rest of the gathered.
Carlos arrives, shivering slightly against the cold. His eyes brim as looks at his packmates, eyes lingering on Banecruncher for a moment, then down at his fallen comrade. o O (Aw, Jay. I'd hoped we would've had a long time ahead to, fight the enemy together.)
Adam, as Groundskeeper, is also there. He stays well out of the way of the others, among the trees, watching respectfully.
Kaz crouches down and takes her flute case out of her bag, but doesn't open it yet. She's mostly not looking at others, and is somewhat along the edges of the main group -- drifing towards Jarred slowly, once she's gotten the flute out.
Nevada straggles in listlessly, hands in the pockets of the oversized jacket he wears. Jay's jacket. The cub lingers at the edge of the gathering.
Bernie halts beside Kaz as the older Gnawer stops, and glances around the area, her curiosity dampened by her apparent shock. Her hands are buried deep within the pockets of her jacket, and she bites her bottom lip lightly as her eyes fall on the body. She glances over toward Kaz, but she's already drifted off a bit, and the Ragabash stands alone and silent for the moment.
Toni stays with Ethan, managing to be even more awkward than he is. She shrugs her reply to whatever he said.
Banecruncher pads to stand beside Yi, then shifts into crinos. ~We gather to remember One-Rage-In-Shadows, who fell in battle against the servants of the enemy. He was a brave and enthusiastic warrior. He shared my vision of retaking our territory from the enemy. It was good to stand beside him. Each of you who knew him has memories to share. Now is the time to tell your stories.~
Guides-the-Dead chuffs lowly, almost in a sad tone as she glances over to regard Banecruncher.
Sepdet avoids Ethan like a plague bearer and slips in somewhere near Kaz and Jarred, after pausing by the body to drop a small blue stone somewhere in the area, and to touch Yi's shoulder silently.
Ethan is definitely more an observer than a participant. He's here to listen, to watch, to observe, but not to interject much of anything on his own accord. As the Gathering begins he settles into a slouched stance, a bit of restless shifting on his feet from time to time.
the Shadow Lord steps forward, hands held behind him. His voice is hoarse, but steady. "I met Jay on the same day that I saved his close friend Nevada's ass from the Dog-Catcher on the streets of St. Claire." He smiles at Nevada... "Since that time, I have had occasion to watch Jay, and learn from his ways. I fought beside him at the battle in which he was killed, and watched him give his live for us all. I will remember his honor, his bravery and his kindness always..." Jarred bows his head to Jay's body. "Rest in the Mother's arms, my friend..."
Jarred steps back away a bit.
Banecruncher nods gratefully to Jarred and looks for the next one who wishes to speak.
Lucca walks out from the group, looking sniffly but relatively steady. "S'all right if I talk for a little, man?" she asks Banecruncher, staying in homid for now. "I'll try not to be too long."
Banecruncher glances at Three-Blades, then at Lucca, and nods. It looks to him as if Three-Blades needs a little more time to gather herself to speak.
Lucca wipes her nose with the back of her hand. "Thanks," she says, with a soft sniffle. "... Jay was one of the first of the People I met when I'd come here, from the Sept of the Salt Lake. He was, uh, kind of gentle, I thought - it was strange, but kind of sweet, especially for a full-moon." Another snuffle, and then she says with more vehemence, "I know he wasn't the most refined or well-bred or, hell, even the best-mannered guy, but dammit-" A couple seconds of silence, and then she finishes, "He died well," before slinking back towards the group.
Three-Blades wills her ears up to listen to the speeches. She gives Lucca a small rumble of appreciation. Indeed, he died well.
Kaz crouches again, to open her flute case, and put it together quickly. Rising, she says, "I didn't know him that good. But he was a good guy. He /tried/. He tried fuckin' hard. And he died, just before I could shoot that fuckin' Spiral's ass for him." Stopping, she swallows. "So." Abandoning speech entirely, she just begins playing. It's not a dirge. It's occasionally sad, simply because it evokes parts of Jay's personality -- the humor, the intensity, the caring never far from the surface. The rage, the battle-readiness. It's all there, in a few minutes of music, all that and more. She lets it end in a ringing note, rising over the woods, and then she crouches down again, not breaking the flute down again, just watching.
Guides-the-Dead has no reaction towards the others. She just stares.
Sepdet steps forward quietly. Those who don't know her might well mistake her haphazard dress for Rat's own, but her otherworldly manner suggests she is something else entirely, or mad, or both. Her eyes fix on empty air above the body, her whisper musical and gentle. ~You fell fighting for Gaia and the battle was victorious. But we honor you too for the care you gave cubs and friends. I saw you twice: once as a patient needing my aid, for a wound bravely gotten scouting the city's dark places. A second time, you took me to a stranger who needed healing, and lent your voice to the ritual that drove out one trace of Wyrm from this world. I saw your dedication to the battle and to your friends. They will miss you. But they must know you have died well, and that you return to Gaia's peace.~ She lifts her chin and recites a spell in an ancient tongue that resonates with five thousand years of history, then loud and clear in the Mother's: ~The sisters-who-love-you are here. The Son-whom-he-loves is here. Your mouth is open, your eyes and ears are open. You enter into the west, true of voice.~
Guides-the-Dead, for once, seems to pay attention. She regards Sepdet and muses, ~You are truth.~ The Strider then falls silent, glancing around the gathering.
Joey walks forward, reaching into his pockets again until he finds what he's looking for. he holds in his hand a small container of Play-Doh, dark-blue colored. "You know, Jay," he says. "When you gave me this, the first time I met ya, I just thought it was a nice little present that meant I'd owe you a favor, later." He opens the container, sighing. "Took me a while to realize it wasn't that. You...just wanted to give that to me. No strings, no conditions, nothing. Just doing something nice. Felt like you wanted me to do something nice for someone else in return." He smiles, just so. "And I'm still working on that. Even payed you back for loaning me money for the movies and all..." He trails off, here, taking a bit of the Play-Doh out of the cylinder, and rolling it between his fingers. "An' I'm sorry. You were always nice to me, and that one night I just let my own hurt spit it back in your face. Over something nor near as important as you were." He blinks back a few tears, despite his own wishes on the matter. "Last things I remember saying to you, they were angry words, and I meant to apologize to you about them later." he takes the bit of Play-Doh in his hand, and places it next to the fallen Gnawer. His voice cracks. "I forgot that sometimes, there ain't no later. And all I can do now is wish you well, and hope you find what you once told me you wish you had more'n anything. All I wish I had right now is you up here, saying it's gonna be okay, and that ya forgive me, Big Brother." He hangs his head, walking back to the Gnawers, saying nothing. He pulls the brim of his cap down over his eyes, so no one will look.
Sepdet covers her hand with her mouth with a sympathetic sigh, fingertips seeking the feather in her hair as if for comfort. The Strider's impassive mask can be cracked, apparently.
Kaz stares harder at nothing in particular.
Ethan rubs a little at his chin, just listening, still quiet in the background. A more somber mood has dropped over him, that much moreso at Joey's words. He watches his fellow ragabash for a few seconds before sliding his gaze elsewhere.
Junior glances at Joey, sighing, and gives the smaller Gnawer a pat on the shoulder before returning his gaze to the proceedings.
Lucca bites her lower lip, settling down on the ground and looking to be holding back tears, but staying quiet while the other stories and last words are told.
Three-Blades rises to her paws, and shifts upward into crinos to speak with the mother tongue. ~This gathering is for Jay. One-Rage-in-Shadows. But, I call him Brother.~ She looks around at the various Garou gathered, her normally brightly shining eyes dark with hidden grief. A deep breath, and she continues, ~I call him my brother, but he means so much more than just a friend. When I came from Hong Kong, empty, hollow. I'd lost my best friend, Li Ching, who had accompanied me for 16 years. After she was gone, there was little reason for me to live. As I sat in a cramped crate for nearly a month, I had time to think. What would I do, when I came to America? My plans only were to come, greet the kinfolk Grandmother wanted me to greet, and then return to my Sept. I had no reason to stay. No reason...until I met him.~
Were crinos to have tearducts, Yi would be wrought with tears. But the whole reason why she chose this form, would be so she could see unobstructed by the liquid fire that would flood her eyes. She growls softly, touching a furred palm up to her throat to loosen the tightening feeling. ~He gave me a reason to stay, just by being himself. Jay, filled the empty hollow with a fire, full of life... and love. I remember the night before... we held each other, our hearts full of hope that we would grow old, become Elders, and eventually die together as old friends. When he died, I felt like running, not wanting to stay in the place I knew that tore a new empty hole in my heart. But remembering Jay, I was reminded of how he always took whatever this life would throw at him and laugh. So, I know now, he has left me with another reason to stay and honor him by serving this sept. His sept... and mine.~
Yi's eyes briefly catch Jarred's before returning to gaze at the others. ~I am not bitter, nor am I angry. I never wanted him to die, but he knew he would eventually. I knew as well. He said himself, he was an ahroun. A Warrior of Gaia, chosen to follow the path to his end, full of Glory and Honor. His path was chosen, and he stayed true to its end. He will always live, as long as we keep his memories with us. I thank you all for coming, and honoring my brother's memory. You give him the honor and glory he deserves.~ Her voice drops down to a hard-to-hear level, as she looks down at Jay. ~Until the time we meet again in the spirit world, I hold him in my heart forever.~ She bends down to one knee, shifting down to homid. Lifting the Jay's head, she touches his forehead to hers, holding it momentarily before gently setting it back down. "Until the moonlight shines upon the time when we dance together once more, Brother, rest in peace."
Toni stands silently with Ethan, watching and listening respectually, at least that's the way it looks.
Nevada has stayed behind, but now steps forward, eyes downcast. "I don't know how all of you met Jay, but I want to tell you how I did," he begins, his voice for once unmarked by his usual slang. "I was in a real bad place, real bad off, and there he was. I didn't trust him at first, he was just too nice, you know? There had to be a catch. But there never was. He was a good guy. The best I've known. He saved my life, and I'll always owe him for that." The youth approaches the body, his face pale and drawn. "Even now, I keep expecting him to pop up and yell surprise. He was like that." Nevada smiles slowly. "Jay, I never got to say I was sorry. I want you to have this." He reaches around his neck, unhooking something from his chokechain. It's a key. He places it beside the body of the Ahroun. "When it's my time to go, you better be there with the car, is all I'm saying, bro. Goodbye, Jason.. and you better have that radio goin."
Bernie listens quietly as the others speak, eyes welling with tears behind her glasses, though she keeps them from falling, for now.
Yi manages to sidle over to Nevada, and hugs him tightly, the tears turning waterfalls inside her.
Carlos steps forward. His eyes are streaming openly now, "Jay, you were my packmate, and my friend. I didn't know you for nearly long enough. I will always remember and admire, your commitment, your humor, and your strength. Few garou will be able to match your dedication to Gaia. I hope to be one. I will always remember your enthusiasm, and spirit, the simple fierce joy of life that you seemed to carry with you wherever you went. And when it was time to get down to business, you were ready, and eager for that too. I was taught on my Rite of Passage, that a wolf's life is filled with death. Though we will miss you, we will continue our fight. Though we wish you could have stayed a little longer, we will remember you and be imspired by that memory," He pulls a glittering silver and red yo-yo from a pocket. He grins through the tears, "This reminds me of the first time I met you, in the junkyard," he places it next to the body, "You will always hold a place in my heart. Good-bye my friend."
Banecruncher looks around the gathering for anyone else who wishes to speak.
If crying was possible in lupus, Guides-the-Dead would too be doing so. She is tense as she listens to the others' remarks about Jay. Slowly the jackal stands to her albeit small stature, and begins her commenting upon the one they are all gathered to say goodbye to. ~Jay was a friend,~ she begins. ~I met him when he was new to the city and to the Hidden Walk, and when I failed my first Rite of Passage--he was there to comfort me and show me that at least I survived, and did not die.~ She exhales a heavy breath. ~Jay was honorable and kind, someone I wish I could be at times--he was my brother, my friend, and a friend in the war against the Enemy. I know that Gaia is smiling down upon her warrior.~
As if added on a spur-of-the-moment type of thing, the jackal speaks again--in a poem.
~We sing the song of those long gone
But memories remain
And as long as our hearts are true
To those who have gone
Their love will remain.~
There's a bit of silence as she shifts up into the warform, announcing, ~This is for Jay One-Rage-In-Shadows, my brother, friend, and son of Gaia.~ Angry, sorrowful like most of the rest, the half-moon lets out a long, loud howl, pitched low with her agony over losing a confidante.
Banecruncher follows the Strider's howl, after a few moments, with his own, letting his voice rise and mix with hers.
Carlos shifts into his lupine form, and also joins in.
Jarred shifts to lupus and joins the howl.
Ethan sticks to homid, so he's not adding to the howl. Aside from some shuffling as he shifts his stance, he's not said or done much since he arrived. His attention drifts, never really on the body, and it strays more toward Joey and, odd as it may be, Sepdet more than others.
Nevada wraps an arm around Yi in a tight hug, his eyes red-rimmed and dry. He has no tears left.
Yi hears the howls, and the twin tears streak down her cheeks before she too shifts to crinos and joins the howls with the others, her own alto-toned call to the skies telling to beware, a Warrior is joining them.
Sepdet tips back her muzzle and joins in with a high shimmering cry more like a hawk's keening than a wolf's howl, some portion of it for Jay, some portion also calling to all the other honored dead she knows who lie buried here to help and guide him on his last road.
Legbreaker adds his own deeper howl to the chorus.
Kaz breaks her flute down quickly, and then bursts up into her birth form, howling a discordant, almost angry bellowing call, rowdy and enthusiastic.
Dyes-Hair-Often also bursts into a howl, although it's prefaced more with a loud, threatening bark than a 'true' howl.
Joey shifts down for a moment, adding his own howl. His howl is not very deep-pitched, but carries with it something deeper. Of grief, of loss of something newly found.
Nebet-het's voice dies off and the crinos shape of the Silent Strider crouches and melts down into her birth form. If one were to look close, Allie has tears streaking her face. The philodox sits, watching the body with a disconsolate expression.
Storm-Singer finishes his own crystal clear howl and shifts back to his birth form.
Allie murmurs out, "Anubis, guide his path." Her eyes flicker over to Sepdet, sad.
Beneath the bathing glow of the half moon, dark, opaque skies filled with twinkling stars, a soft breeze plays upon the land. It trickles gently through each blade of grass, mingling and dancing with the sad tones of the howls which echo and cry throughout the world. The breeze touches each of those gathered, a soft tickle here, a nuzzle there, rising, lifting, joining the sea of stars as it wafts upwards, a reminder, a carress.
Neon finally falls silent, and crouches down low on his haunches, flat against the ground.
Ethan leans over to mumble something under his breath to Toni, just a few short words as the howl begins to die down.
Banecruncher crouches and picks up a bottle and a bag of chips, then looks at the gathered Garou. ~It is Gnawer tradition to share with those who help remember the dead. I would be pleased if you help us continue this tradition.~
Toni nods at Ethan.
Sepdet shifts down once more and digs into her pockets belatedly, a thin smile on her face. She pulls out a bag of Hershey's miniatures and adds them to the stash.
Ears shifts down, slowly, and pads over to Bernie, resting a hand on her shoulder.
At the maybe-spirit of Jay, Allie seems slightly comforted as she closes her eyes and exhales a heavy breath, She regards Banecruncher and blinks, yet says no words towards the Bone Gnawer. Her only answer is a slight nod.
Banecruncher twists off the top of the bottle and pours out a little into the grave. ~You will not be forgotten.~
Dyes-Hair-Often sags down on her side, not reverting to her breed form but instead going down partially, staying large and bulky - in part out of respect to the weather. Brr. After a couple of minutes, she lifts up her head and peers at Banecruncher, before laughing faintly. "Yeah, he won't be," she murmurs in a deep alto.
Jarred reaches into his pocket and takes out a small handful of Slim Jims, which he brings over to Sepdet and adds to the stash.
Bernie gives a weak smile to Kaz as she returns, and then slips her backpack form her shoulder, opening it slightly, and giving the metis a questioning look, hand on something within.
Sepdet takes a handful of chips for herself, and at least a sip from the bottle before retiring to a quiet place to eat. Her eyes still skip across Ethan as if he were ostracised, at least from her awareness and recognition.
Around Jay's body and grave are spread burlap bags covered with food and bottles of Olympia.
Ethan starts drifting away from Toni after the whispering, more toward the gathered group. It doesn't look as if he has much to offer. His hands remain stuffed in his pockets, and nothing much to contribute visible from within. It's Sepdet that he homes in on, coming up behind the Strider.
Kaz grins, just slightly, and nods. "Go f'r it," she mutters, and tosses a couple of Ding Dongs on the pile, as well. She grabs a Slim Jim as she goes by.
Neon shifts back to his normal form. Carlos, roots around in a pocket, despositing some caramel chews on the pile, and grabbing a bottle of Olympia.
Joey is already working on another pocket by the time he arrives to where Jarred and Sepdet are. He takes out a one-pound bag of M&Ms, and lays them out on the pile. He takes a couple of chips and slimjims, and a bottle for himself, drinking deeply.
Legbreaker shifts back down, and pulls out a package of red licorice twists from a pocket of his duster. He adds them to the pile, and takes a bottle of Olympia for himself.
Three-Blades pricks her ears to hear the last of the howls fade into the night sky, her golden gaze reflecting Luna's light back at the stars. With the spirit's caress, she closes her eyes. When she levels her gaze again, her eyes are no longer filled with the rending grief from the beginning, but with a quiet feeling of rememberance, hope, life and love. Shifting down to her breed form, she sticks a hand into her sweatshirt pocket and takes out a box, opening the cover. Inside, two rows of 5, pastries with Chinese word for Hope written in icing. Setting the box down on the grave, she then walks over, takes a little sip of the bottle before returning back to her spot.
Toni stands quietly by herself at Ethan drifts away.
Nevada wipes his eyes hard with the edge of his sleeve. He pats around the jacket's pockets, his jacket now, finding a few Butterfinger candybars. He adds them to the stash, taking only a bottle of Olympia. He sits beside his Asian sister.
Bernie pads over to the food, and pulls a bag of assorted minature candy bars from her backpack, laying it down among the rest rather reverently. She comes away with one of the Ding Dongs, returning to the spot beside Kaz.
Banecruncher opens bottles and passes them out to anyone who wants, before taking one for himself and settling down beside YI.
Dyes-Hair-Often looks somewhat abashed and opens up her backpack, digging up a couple packs of spearmint gum and a bag of beef jerky; she adds 'em to the stash and then grabs a bottle of CheapAss Brew, shaking it up a bit and then popping off the cap, sending beery foam at the gravesite - taking care to miss the food.
Kaz grabs a bottle, as well as a Slim Jim, then settles down next to her flute, crosslegged.
Allie partakes of some chips and grabs a bottle of the beer, regarding it curiously as she chomps a potato chip. "What the hell," she mumbles, and pops open the can and takes a sip. A rather sour look comes upon her face and she puts the beer down on the ground, swallowing. "That stuff's nasty."
Sepdet rises to her feet quietly and starts to slip off into the shadows as the Get draws near.
Joey is, for the moment, sitting by himself on the ground, nursing his beer and food.
Jarred aproaches Jay quietly and squats down beside him. Without a word, he removes his most prized posession, his emerald ring, and slides it onto the fourth finger of Jay's right hand, intoning quietly, "The smallest of tokens, in thanks for your sacrifice and your friendship..." He then takes a bottle of beer and a Slim Jim and walks to a nearby tree, leaning against it.
Ethan follows after the Strider, hand still stuffed in his pockets and posture a little tense now. He ignores the food and the rest of the gathering, instead calling after her, "Sepdet." Even if she doesn't stop, he's still moving to follow. Some people just can't take subtle hints.
Junior sits down by Joey, opening his beer and taking a gulp from it.
Allie regards the body and fiddles with her pockets for a moment, retrieving a stone; it is white and round in shape, resembling Luna at her fullest. The girl stands and ambles towards Jay's body and places it on his heart, pressing her hand there before turning away, eyes settling on the ground as she then moves--to leave.
Sepdet stops at the treeline and gives Ethan a hooded look. There is some acknowledgement, but then she slips off into the woods.
Kaz's attention slews towards Ethan, and she blinks.
Yi sets down her bottle, glancing at the people leaving before turning to the others. "Please," she starts, giving them a nod. "I thank you all for coming, again. Jay has been honored well, and if you wish to leave, you can." She gives them all a nod, before returning to her spot, picking up the bottle, and gazing back over the others. She would stay until the rest of them left.
Ethan slips right on out after Sepdet, a little quicker and more determined, and the Get cub is left behind for the moment. The paranoid can feel free to assume the worst.
Allie stops, however, in her path to depart, and she wheels around and stalks over towards Yi. A hand falls upon the Hong Kong native's shoulder and the philodox squeezes it. "I'm sorry," she murmurs. "We both lost a good friend. But he is with Gaia now."
Banecruncher shifts down to homid for easier drinking and grabs a Twinkie. He leans over to Yi and rumbles softly, "We gonna make that pack he and I planned. And we gonna make it something he'd be proud of."
Kaz is not necessarily paranoid, but she's /curious/. So she rises, and follows Ethan.
Dyes-Hair-Often reaches for another brewski-wewski, doing the same 'beer foam' thing over the grave. "Enjoy it, man, you ain't gonna get a hangover," she mutters under her breath, lip quirking upwards slightly.
Carlos has been drinking while standing. He walks over to Banecruncher, "I'm in."
Banecruncher looks up at Carlos and nods, with a smile. "Good to hear." He glances at Nevada, and at Jarred.
Nevada whispers to Yi before he lifts his eyes, looking to Banecruncher. He nods once, then stands, walking off with the unopened bottle of beer.
Yi turns the bottle over in her hand, glancing up once to Banecruncher. "Jay will be honored, no matter which pack I am in." She glances up at Banecruncher, then nods to Nevada and moves off into the forest as well.
Banecruncher nods to Yi.
Jarred watches the younger Gnawer go and turns to follow, silently.
Allie steps away from Yi and shifts down into the wolf form and turns, stepping out into the bawn.
Joey watches the others Gnawers go, solemn.
Bernie opens her mouth slightly as Kaz hurries off, but closes it again as she disappears, and glances around, looking now slightly lost as well as down. She finds a place to sit, and does so.
Carlos munches idly on goodies, again shivering in the cold, and lost in thought.
Banecruncher gestures at the cub and tosses a Slim Jim her way.
Ethan's mood seems soured, all in the space of about three minutes. He practically snaps at poor Toni. "C'mon, we're going back to the farmhouse."
Joey is watching the others, and his eyes alight on the girl with the glasses on. "Hey," he says, lifting his bottle in her direction. "Want something to munch on?"
Toni turns and walks towards Ethan without a word.
Looking utterly startled to see processed meat products flying her way, Bernie nonetheless manages to catch the Slim Jim, though she almost falls over doing so. "Thank you," she directs to Guido, with a slight smile, and gestures with it toward Joey as she adds, "An' thank you, too... looks like I got somethin' f'r now, though." With that, she strips the packaging from the top third of it, and takes a bite.
"No prob," Joey says, a smile creeping across his face for the first time tonight. He watches Bernie with a curiousity. "Ain't met you, yet," he says, trying for conversation.
Bernie nods back, taking a moment to finish her bite before she replies, "Good, we're even then," with another bit of a smile. "Bernie," she continues, by way of introduction, "Bone Gnawer Ragabash Cub, these days... d' I do that right? Still new t' this stuff..." She resettles her glasses, and peels the plastic down further on the meat stick.
Joey chuckles. "Exactly right," he says. "Joey, also called Braves-Fire or Smokes-the-Weed. Gnawer Ragabash, just past the Rite of Passage." He raises his bottle again. "Heard a little about that we had a new cub. Good to meetcha," he adds, an honest smile on his face.
Junior lifts his own bottle to Bernie in a toast. "Heya...." He smiles. "Pleased to meet ya. I'm Pete Barlow Junior, but everybody calls me Junior. Also called Legbreaker or Tall-As-A-Tree. Gnawer ahroun, and a new cliath, like him." He points a thumb at Joey.
Guido nods. "Banecruncher. Gnawer Ahroun. They calls me Guido when I's playin twoleg."
"Smokes-the-Weed?" Bernie queries, the smile broadening slightly despite the circumstances. "Niceta meetcha too, Joey, Junior, and... I guess I should call you Guido right now?" She stops, considering a moment, and adds, curiously, "...so d'you mind if I ask 'bout your Rite of Passage things? ...An' come to think of it," this bit to Joey in particular, "what'd y' hear?"
Joey shrugs, sitting back. He balances himself with a palm, behind his back, the other hand helping him chug the beer. "All I heard was that there was a new cub, as Kaz told me. As for the Rite...long story. We went through the Umbra, that Spirit place, and ended up in the future or some...dimension, ya call it, Junior? Two-thousand-four, the year, and it all went to shit."
Carlos looks up as Guido is asked about his rite-of-passage.
Guido glances at Carlos. "You wanna tell it? Ya know I ain't so good with twoleg words."
Junior nods to Joey. "Alternate world or something."
Carlos nods, "I'd be glad to," he sighs, "It needs to be told sometimes."
Guido rumbles, "Wish Heartsight were here. Story needs ta go into tribe's memory."
Bernie's eyes widen somewhat at that. "Really?" she breathes, "Cooooooool. How totally sci-fi..." She trails off at the mutterings of a story about to start, and looks between Guido and Carlos, taking another bite of her Slim Jim.
Junior shrugs at Bernie. "The idea is cool. The place was hell, though."
Carlos leans back, fingers templed in front of his face, he concentrates for a moment, then begins the tale...
Carlos sits forward, elbows on knees, "OK. Junior's sire, Pete performed the rite. It was Guido here, me, Little-cat, and Grey-Sky," his tone is respectful, his eyes, unreadable, "We were asked to get a bone from a great beast, and that we must go to 'Pangaea' to get it."
Carlos continues, "We didn't know what it meant at first, or where this 'Pangaea' place was, although we were told it was a place from out of Gaia's memory. We followed a raccoon spirit to a cave in the unbra. We passed through a pool, and appeared at the Caern of the Crescent Moon. The first Caern in Garou history." he again glances at Guido, "We were given the way, told the path to reach the 'Painted Caves' where we were to ask the Seer that lived there how to get the bone of a great beast."
Bernie listens quietly as she slowly devours the Slim Jim, taking in the story as it unfolds.
Guido nods as Carlos speaks. Yup. So far, he remembers it just as described.
Carlos continues, "We rested for a night and then set out. It was dense jungle, hot and humid. Frisket, that was Banecruncher before the rite, found a giant bug the size of a dog, and we ate it. We went on, but the heat of the afternoon was too much for us. We decided to drink at the river, since we were following near it, and then rest to travel at night instead of during the day. Grey-Sky was attacked by a huge," he pauses, "a *huge* crocodile, while he was drinking. He didn't see it. I ran and pushed him out of the way, and it grabbed me. We all attacked it, and killed it."
Guido grins at the memory.
Carlos continues, "We found a place to sleep, and took turns on watch. When it got darker, and cooler, we went on. The next day, we found some small reptiles to eat, but could not catch them. We found a small nest of," he pauses, "rodents to eat. The mother attacked Little-Cat, but again, we killed it." Carlos shifts a bit uncomfortably, "Rat teaches us to survive. Elan says he gave us his children so we could do that." Carlos nods then, "I, we *all* forgot about our tribes while we were in Gaia's memory."
Bernie nods a little, shifting in her seat to get more comfortable.
Junior hmms softly as he listens, taking a swig from his bottle.
Carlos winks at Junior.
Carlos glances again at Guido and continues, "We were in the distant past. Straight out of Jurassic Park. We were all just Garou then, there weren't seperate tribes. So, while we were there, we too forgot our tribes. Think dinosaurs, that's what was meant by the 'great beast'," he smiles briefly, "Later, we came to a 100' cliff at dawn. We slept so we would not be too tired to climb down. I suggested War-form for the climb down, but Frisket was too heavy in that form. He fell and slid, but was OK. I went down in glabro, as did Little-Cat. Grey-Sky climbed down in homid. Kit fell, and I tried to break her fall. We were both injured, but not badly. Frisket did the same for Grey-Sky when *he* fell. Near the bottem of the cliff, we found a rotting tyrannosaur. Frisket got a tooth loose, and Grey-Sky agreed to carry it."
Carlos nods and continues, "We figured a tooth might do for a 'bone' of the great beast. We came to a river, and there was a huge tree on the far bank. We were attacked there by velociraptors! One attacked Grey-Sky and the other attacked me! Little-Cat went to help Liam, Grey-Sky. He tried to stab it with the tyrannosaur tooth he was carrying. Frisket, came to help me, and he brought our raptor down. Then, little-Cat, ran away! I don't know why! I could see that Frisket was going to get the last raptor, so I turned to help Grey-Sky. I killed the already wounded raptor, but then," his face is bleak, "then, a third raptor appeared. It was *fast*, and had the taint of the unmaker. It disembowled Grey-Sky. Frisket and I finally brought it down but it was too late for Liam. Frisket howled then, to warn the spirits of the dead that a Garou warrior was coming," his eyes fill with tears at the memory and he glance at Jay's still form, "I joined him in the howl, and when Little-Cat returned, she did as well."
Bernie follows the glance, biting her bottom lip quietly.
Carlos pauses for a moment, looking sadly at the cold ground before him, "We dug a grave there, and buried him where he had fallen. I remember exactly what we all said: Little-Cat said, 'You stay close to Gaia's heart.. and mine,' Baney said, 'Mother, take Grey-Sky into your heart. He died in battle, as a Garou should die. Let his death be an example to all who hear of it.' And then I said, 'We will complete our quest Grey-Sky, and see to it that your memory is kept alive, as you should have remained. Now rest.'" Carlos pauses again for a moment, "Damn, this is hard," he wipes at his eyes a bit, "I took the tyrannosaur tooth, it was *my* charge now, a symbol of a new friend, lost far too soon. I honor his memory each time I tell others of my rite of passage."
Carlos looks at Guido, "*Our* rite of passage."
Guido nods to Carlos and rests a hand on his shoulder.
Junior sighs softly, taking a deep swallow of beer.
Carlos pauses again, to collect himself, he smiles gratefully at Guido, takes a swig of beer, then he continues, "We reached the lands of the Simba. They are like us, only they are lions not wolves. They had been devastated by the enemy. There was only one remaining, and he allowed us to pass in peace, asking only that we warn the Caern of the Crescent Moon. We got to the painted cave, and the seer was there. She was a dragon!" Carlos watches momentarily for reactions, then continues, "She had judgements for all of us. To Kit she said, 'Indeed, one of your number /has/ died. One of your number showed cowardice in the face of the Enemy. Does that one stand forward and accept the punishment for cowardice?' To Banecruncher she said, 'Indeed, one of your number /has/ died. One of your number has shown the goal-seeking of a bull, yet leaves the enemy behind, with none to warn and none to defend. Does that one stand forward and accept the responsibility for what may come?' and to me she said, 'Indeed, one of your number /has/ died. One of your number has shown an effort in remembrance. Is that one willing to leave their remembrance behind - to learn that a wolf's life is filled with death, and one must continue, regardless?'"
Bernie blinks at the dragon revelation, leaning in and listening avidly to the continuing tale.
Guido remembers the dragon. Ohhhh yes.
Carlos' eyes are alight now, "We three were judged, and she *gave* us a bone from a great beast. Then we returned. On my way back I had a vision: That I was in a room filled with skeletons, and as I rushed to and fro, giving gifts to them, they became alive again, yet there were so many," he finishes his story, "And that was my rite of passage," he smiles, "I thought that I had failed, because Liam Grey-Sky died, but I learned a hard lesson," he looks again to Jay's still body, cold and peaceful, "We must go on, no matter what happens, no matter who may fall at the hand of the enemy. We are Gaea's warriors, and we *will* defend her," he looks back to the others, rather intently, "That's it," he sighs then, and relaxes.
Junior hmms, and nods to Carlos.
Guido nods and rumbles in his chest as he remembers. He guzzles the beer, grimaces, and uses a Twinkie to clean the taste out of his mouth.
Carlos sighs heavily, "I think I'm about drained, emotionally, that is."
Bernie relaxes a bit herself. "Thank you," she remarks, still under the quiet spell of storytelling. She sighs, glancing off in the direction in which Kaz earlier disappeared, seeming a tad worried. "...I s'pose I oughta go see if I c'n find Kaz... I'm not quite s'posta be out on my own yet, I think... though, technically," she glances around, "I guess I'm not 'zactly on my own..."
Guido nods. "You're with us. We's family."
Carlos nods, "We'll take you back to the farm, if ya like."
Junior nods. "Yep."
Guido stands, jumps down into the grave, and lowers Jay's body into it. He jumps out, shifts to his birth form, and begins shovelling dirt into the grave in big pawloads.
"Farm?" Bernie asks, tilting her head slightly, "....cool. Can't go back there, though, haven't been there yet... I'm stayin' at Signe's 'partment, 'til Kaz gets through teachin' me th' lit'ny an' th' other stuff I gotta know t' be 'llowed out on my own..." She looks over at Guido, thoughtfully. "...you want we should give you a hand, or is that a solitary kinda thing?"
Carlos shifts to lupus also, to help. It is as with Liam, Grey-Sky.
Banecruncher believes that anyone who knew One-Rage is welcome to help.
Bernie slips her backpack off her shoulder, and lets it rest on the ground as she stands and wakls toward the grave, staying in human form as she begins to help move handfuls of dirt into the hole.
Junior hmms, shifting to lupus form to help.
Banecruncher continues the burying until the grave is full.
Bernie straightens up as the job appears to be done, and wipes her hands off on her pants, with a slight sigh, and a shake of her head.
Banecruncher whuffs thanks to the cub.
Banecruncher rumbles and stands, shifting into crinos to gather up the leavings so there's nothing left to clutter the land. He looks to Junior and Bernie and rumbles as he ties the bags together like a doggie pack, ~We should take this to where it can do the most good.~
Junior shifts back to human, and nods. "Yeah...."
Bernie wanders over to reclaim her backpack, and her brow furrows as she listens to the Crinos talk. Her eyes glance around for someone to translate, and she seems a bit frustrated. One might guess that the new language is a facet of this whole experience that has caused her some annoyance so far. The whuffs, she got, though, smiling back at the lupus before he shifted.
Banecruncher shifts back to his birth form and noses into the tied assembly of bags. Cub needs to learn Mother's Tongue.
Junior nods to Banecruncher, and goes to help him with the bags.