Situated in the center of a large, open meadow is a clustering of six trees, a flower bed, a few benches, and a plywood wall barricade. The area where the fountain was, and presumably the new fountain will be, is currently enclosed by high plywood walls. There is a door in one of the walls, firmly locked with a stout-looking padlock. The walls enclose much of the flagstone area, now, only leaving a little around the edges of the old courtyard. Scraggly hedges line one side of the courtyard, just behind some mostly graffiti-free benches and a chain link fence. Cars on the nearby street have an excellent view of the park as do any residents of the tall buildings which line the waterfront. The park is almost constantly devoid of people as its reputation for being one of the most violent and dangerous places in the city spreads.
The murky waters of the Columbia River flow swiftly along the east side of the park. Bracketing the park to the west is First Street and the city of St. Claire. A meadow surrounds the small glade.
The woods open out into a large meadow that has been allowed to grow wild, the grasses reaching a height of 5 feet or more in the summer months. A stream cuts across the field, from the northwest to the southeast. North of the flowing water, a wide circular garden can be seen. Surrounded by an amphitheater of slim mountain ash. The garden is at its best in warmer seasons, but yields some herbal treasures year round. It is divided into four quarters by neat flagstone paths. Three of the quarters are used to grow produce and herbs, while the forth is used to grow flowers and ornamental plants. Nestled among the trees to the south is a large house that fits well into the surrounding landscape.
The forest surrounds the house and field on all sides, such that the building seems more like a last outpost and guardian rather than an intruder into the wild lands stretching eastward.
Tall Sitka spruce and sequoia crowd around and above you. Many of the trees are old, their branches twisted into impossible shapes, trunks broad and draped with lichen, mosses and creepers. Tendrils of moss hand down from them like green spiderwebs, snaring the unwary with cold, ghostly fingers. The patches of younger growth are dense and pale, needles tinged with silver. Matted undergrowth huddles sullenly in the occasional small clearings, clutching with thorns and burrs at the legs of those who would pass. Deer seldom venture here, but the forest is full of rustlings, and tiny glints from wary, watchful eyes.
The forest spreads out to the east, bounded on the west by Sunrise Road. From farther to the west, one can occasionally hear the distant sounds of the town of Kent's Crossing.
The lane wends its way back and around the farmhouse to here, where it widens into a broad, grassy sward contained only by the woods which encircle it on three sides. Buildings break up the purity of the landscape: an open-sided structure which serves as a garage and the big barn, empty of livestock, to the east. A good-sized vegetable and herb garden furrows the land south of the barn, while a pyramid-like pile of rocks, of similar consistency to the gravel of the lane, rests a few yards south of the garage.
North of the buildings, the fields have long been fallow, hastening a conversion from farmland to natural prarier. A sliding glass door allows admittance to the farmhouse, the interior obscured by Levolor(tm) blinds in a wood-grain pattern. The lane leads out around the house to the southwest. The discerning can just barely pick out the beginnings of a faint path into the woods towards the southeast.
The barn is built in the old style, a vast three level structure that is greater in height than a mere three stories, actually closer to five. Great wooden posts support the weight of the upper levels and roof, sunk into the hard-packed dirt floor of the first level like a sparse forest of regularly spaced, naked trees. The stalls and flagstones which once were here have been torn out to leave a rather open area where even crinos Garou may roam freely without fear of running into anything but the supports or the walls or the ladder at the back which allows access to the other two levels.
The first two levels are relatively open to each other, the second being only little wider than a catwalk going around all the walls but the front one, which has massive, twenty foot tall doors set into it. The third level is a true second floor except for a place cut out that allowed hay to be tossed down to the ground floor when the farm was actually worked. Now, it is a hayloft where Garou can sleep outside of the house.
Kaz is standing by the river, playing her fliute, fairly quietly. There's a hat next to her, but it's only got a dollar or so in it. She appears to mostly playing for her own benefit, at the moment. It's almost meditative.
Yi isn't too far away, also meditative but in the more classic sitting cross-legged position, her hands relaxed upon her knees.
Bernie wanders into view of the fountain, reading apparently a comic book by the light of her green plastic Scooby-Doo flashlight as she walks. She's humming softly to herself as well, though she stops and looks around at the sound of the flute.
Kaz's definition of 'meditative' is perhaps odd, since it's a blues-tinged jazz improvisation, but she keeps it up -- apparently, she's not noticed the cub yet.
Yi perhaps is a little more intune with her inner self, also rather lost in the moment.
Bernie flips the comic shut, and continues toward the other Gnawers. "Hey," she calls out, in that weirdly quiet way people do when they're trying to get someone's attention and at the same time, not disturb them, as if the two could be accomplished together.
Kaz's song brings itself to a stopping point fairly soon after Bernie approaches, although after she calls out. "Yo, kid," she says, quietly. "How goes?"
Yi slowly opens her eyes at the voice, and somehow recognizes the girl in the darkness. She smiles and nods from her spot, raising a stiff hand to wave.
"Not bad," the cub replies cheerily, and angles toward the bench, "it keeps going. How's with you guys?"
Yi stands up, stretching out a little. "Fine on this end of the string," she smiles, brushing off her jeans before giving a small yawn. "So how are you in your studies?" Her gaze turns from Kaz back to the cub. "Kaz is a good teacher, so I hear."
Kaz quickly breaks the flute down. Heading over to the bench herself, she seems far more subdued than usual. "Fairly well, really. Made some good money busking earlier. Was feeding my soul, just now." She shoots Yi a faint grin. "I try."
Bernie flops onto the bench, and shrugs, grinning. "They seem t' be on pause, but yeah, Kaz's a good teacher, I think. I was considerin' gettin' a job or somethin', or seein' if I c'n take th' GED an' take classes at the college or soemthing, now that I'm old enough..."
Kaz narrows her eyes slightly. "Not till you're Rited. You got enough t'cope with, if you're gonna be learning scouting and combat and the other aspects of Garou life. it's only a month or two."
Yi finishes her stretching then heads to the bench and peers over to look at the comic Bernie was reading. "GED?" she asks curiously. Her gaze flits to Kaz as she talks about scouting and combat among the learnings of the Garou. "New moon studies," she somewhat translates to herself.
Kaz points at Yi. "Yes. And guess who's gonna do /that/?"
Bernie smirks, and opens her backpack to slip the comic in carefully; it appears to be a rather beat up copy of one of the high school issues of Strangers in Paradise. "A'ight, a couple months I can prolly live still..." She zips the bag up again, and stretches out.
Yi glances at Kaz. "Me?" she raises an eyebrow. With a shrug, she chuckles and nods. "Another student, na," Yi chuckles and nods to Kaz.
Kaz shrugs. "You see anyone better around, for /no moon/ stuff? I teach what I can, I expect other people to teach what they can, too." There's a brief pause. "Not that I'm telling you to /do/ anything. Just suggesting."
Yi runs a hand through her dark hair, picking out a tangle before raising an eyebrow to the galliard. "I'm still new as the dew on grass at dawn to this city," she says, gripping the bench and stretching her back in a catlike fashion. "Isn't Joey a new moon as well? Not saying I won't offer to teach of course." Her eyes close as she feels a light click in her back.
Kaz admits, with a sudden grin, "Joey's a no moon, and a damn good one. Y'all can have a fight over her if you want, s'long as /someone/ does some teaching. And sometimes, newness, it can be an asset. You find out things as she does. A lesson in and of itself."
Bernie shrugs, and opens another pocket of her backpack, pulling out half a Hershey bar -- still wrapped. "So long as I get taught all th' m'terial b'fore th' test... choc'late?"
"True and well said," Yi says to Kaz as she reaches down for a small square of the sweet stuff. With a nod of thanks, she takes a little bit to chew and swallow. "Haven't gotten to the shifting yet, have you?" Her question melds a little with the chocolate in her mouth.
"Some of it," Bernie replies, around a bite of the candy, "I mean, I got th' big one down pat, now... th' others, not so much."
Yi nods, still working around the chocolate. "Have you gotten a cubname?" her question is followed with a little smile touching on the brink of her lips.
Kaz mutters, "Max don't even have one that everyone calls her. Yet."
Bernie shakes her head, "Nope. I'm 'bout t' name myself Innominatus...." She grins, and pops another square of Hershey's.
Yi gets a complete blank on that one, having no clue what that would mean. "What does it mean?"
"I -think- it'd mean somethin' along th' lines of 'the unnamed one'," Bernie replies, "but my latin's based on what I picked up from readin' things in English, so for all I know it could really turn out to mean 'the rubber chicken'. But I think I'm about right."
Yi repeats the name softly, rolling it around on tongue and mind. "Well, we should get together with Max and the others, and perhaps come up with a few names for you both. After all, it is how you would be referred to by others, until you pass your Rite."
Kaz mutters, "Y'know, every damn time I seen you here, it's fuckin' dark, and you're /readin'/. I bet we could make somethin' outta /that/. If you want distinctive."
Bernie offers around the last square of the bar. "Works for me," she declares to Yi, then grins at Kaz, "My mom always useta say it was gonna ruin my eyesight, but I kinda figured how much worse was it likely to get? Anyhow... once I notice it's dark, I use the flashlight, so that's gotta help, right?"
Kaz grins. "Reads In Darkness. Works f'me."
Yi looks a bit gone in the head, staring off to space and completely missing the last square of chocolate. "Reads-in-Darkness."
Kaz's grin widens. "Hey, we got a unanimous agreement here."
Yi comes back to reality after a short headtrip. Her brow furrows a moment before she glances up at the moon. "Hunh," she murmurs. Then, she glances back down at the two. "Reads-in-Darkness. I like it. It suits you well, Bernie."
Bernie laughs, and shakes her head. "A'ight, then, by popular demand.... I c'n live with that one. ....yeah." She nods once, and eats the last square herself, since no one else took it, then leans back, and grins again, more slowly. "Gotta say, it sounds better'n 'no other names'...."
Kaz sticks around for awhile, oddly silent, and then heads off to patrol.
Yi nods, her smile spreading over her features. She gives the galliard a parting wave, before leaning slightly on the bench again. "So, what did you plan on doing tonight?"
Bernie waves as well, and considers. "Dunno, really. Not too much... thought I'd c'mere an' finish my comic, then maybe head over t' th' farmhouse an' return th' book I borrowed, get another, maybe talk t' a couple people there..." She shrugs, "Nothin' big or anythin'."
Yi's smile spreads some more as she gets an idea. "Have you ever felt the feeling of grass... under your paws?" She leans a little more, the dimness of the night's stars reflecting off her dark eyes. "Maybe we can return the comic, but go in lupus."
"Well, the book, not th' comic; th' comic's from... somewhere else...." The younger ragabash gets slightly evasive there. "But anyhow, sure... we c'n do that...."
Yi nods, not asking about the comic. "Let's go then?" she grins. "The forest is even more beautiful when you are Garou." She straightens up from her lean and waits for the cub to get up from the bench.
Bernie nods, looking only the slightest bit trepidatious, and stands, shifting a bit form one foot to the other. "A'ight, then...."
Yi nudges Bernie softly in a westernly direction. "Don't worry," she says comfortingly. "It's a night for us new moons, so we should enjoy it. Once we get to the highway, we'll shift there and continue through the forest."
Bernie nods, and adjusts her backpack on her back, glancing in the nudged direction. "Go west, young girl," she murmurs, and begins to walk.
Yi pushes around in the forest, just slightly puffing in the cold night air as the two have rather travelled for a few miles already. Glancing around, she makes sure no one's around before turning to the cub. "We can change here."
Bernie is breathing a bit harder than usual, but not quite as much as some might expect. She nods, not speaking, and looks around curiously as she recovers.
Yi waits for a few more minutes, letting the cub catch her breath. The time taken serves as a double check for any campers or explorers that wouldn't really be wanted around. She nods to Bernie, and quietly says, "Just think about being a wolf. Like when you changed the first time, except this time think of our wolven brothers and sisters. Becoming one of them, feeling the senses, the fur, growling, running on paws..." As she says this, Yi blurs quickly, growing from human to a brief second in crinos, and then shrinking into her lupus form.
Bernie stands a few moments, looking down toward the ground as she concentrates, hands half-clenching. She nibbles her lower lip, and gradually manages to get the change going along.
Three-Blades brushes up against the cub's shoulder, whuffing softly. Her golden amber gaze almost lights up like flashlights in the dark.
Reads-In-Dark yips, almost surprised, and then her mouth relaxes into a bit of a doggy grin as she cranes her head about, looking herself over.
Three-Blades whuffles softly in the dark, nuzzling the cub with her wet nose and sniffing at the same time. You like? Scent is strong. She grins wolfishly, tail wagging behind her. Her black furred ears, near invisible in the dark, flick towards the direction they would be heading, then back around for a radar like scan of the area.
Reads-In-Dark's muzzle wrinkles slightly as she tentatively sniffs, and her eyes widen a bit again. Whoa! Things smell! She turns her head and sniffs the other ragabash experimentally, then a leaf on the ground beside her. Weird!
Three-Blades lifts her muzzle to sniff around in the air, also taking in the scents abounding in the wind. From a dog's eyes, or nose, this are very different. Play, too. She rolls around in the leaves for a little bit, writhing from side to side comically with her paws sticking up in the air, before standing back up.
Reads-In-Dark follows suit, watching the other dog to see what to do. She tries each of the things she sees, sniffing more in various directions, and also trying the rolling around in the leaves. If a dog could laugh, she would.
Three-Blades doesn't laugh the way a human would, but she does give her fur a good shake to loosen the leaves from her dark coat and whuffle. Her ears turn back in the direction they should go, and she rumbles to the cub. We'll go into the forest. Let's see how well you walk on four legs.
Oh no.... am I going to have to relearn walking in every form? The cub eyes her paws warily before she attempts a few steps. She thinks too hard about it and almost tangles her paws up, stopping and catching her balance as she wobbles. Setting all four paws out for a solid stance, she shakes off the residual leaf detritus, and tries to walk again. This time, she remembers the lessons of walking in crinos, and doesn't look at her feet or tail. She looks as though she's trying ot think of something else altogether, in fact.
Let the instinct do what it does, suggests Yi with a soft whuff of amusement. When as the wolf, do as wolves do. Her twisted saying is accompanied by a couple of circular trots around Bernie, the way dogs would do in a dog show around in the ring.
Reads-In-Dark wags her tail cheerfully. Show off! Let's try going? Is there anythign special I should do?
Three-Blades slows and dances around on her paws a little. Nothing special. Just walk with me, until you feel good enough to run around. She swishes her tail a few times, then sets off into the bush, glancing behind her once before heading onto the path.
Reads-In-Dark stops suddenly, blinking once, and looks around, sniffing. I... felt something. Just then. It feels different here. How come?
Three-Blades stops at the stream, her ears flicking around as the sounds of the town in the west reach lupine ears rather well. At the cub's question, she rumbles softly. We are in the bawn to the caern, a place close to Gaia's heart. Feels like, something comforting? Calm in knowing you are with the earth?
Reads-In-Dark considers a moment, and then bobs her head, ears twitching to catch the surrounding noises. Yes. And alive. Or more alive? A good thing. She looks around, and approaches the stream, bending her head down to take a cautious sniff at the water.
Three-Blades pads up next to the cub, and lowers her head to take a small drink of the water. She lifts her muzzle up after the drink, the ends of the fur dripping slightly with dampness. Another quick flick of her tongue and she pricks her ears. Alive, yes. Alive is the feeling. Sometimes, I think I feel Gaia's heartbeat when I just sit down in the forest. Drink. Water is good.
Reads-In-Dark sticks her tongue out tentatively, and dips it experimentally into the stream, pulling it right back out. Cold... She lowers her head again and laps some up, lifting it again to agree. Cold but good.
Three-Blades sniffs about, scenting the air. From there, she motions with her head. We'll keep going. She wags her tail a couple of times, then turns towards the direction of the farmhouse.
Reads-In-Dark looks around, cocking her head. I remember I was told, only shift in barn, nowhere else. She regards that building, then looks at her companion.
Three-Blades glancing over the tops of the grasses that sprawl over the fields, towards the farmhouse. Eyes travel back to Bernie and she whuffs. Here we are. Yes, shifting only in the barn. She opens her jaws in a sort of lupine grin, then lopes towards the barn.
Reads-In-Dark follows, looking about curiously. New place. To me. She stretches, eyeing hte area, and breaks into an experimental run, making a circuit of the open area, and stopping where she began, tongue hanging out slightly as she pants.
Three-Blades edges in and blinks in the darkness, again checking around as Bernie runs circles around her for a change. She rumbles playfully, then pounces just as the cub stops. Gotcha!
Reads-In-Dark falls right over in shock. Ack! She tussles a bit with the other canine, playfully.
Three-Blades nips around the cub's ruff as she rolls about in the dirt and hay with the fellow raggie, growling playfully. After a little bit she rolls back onto her feet and shakes from head to tailtip and nuzzles her. Some things you just have to do as dog. A soft whuffle of amusement slips from her.
Reads-In-Dark gets up and shakes off as well, managing a similar whuffle. She stretches again, and glances upward. Change now?
Three-Blades chuffs and bobs her head up and down, as best a nod as she can manage in this form. With that, her form blurs as she continues to grow up into warform, and then back down into more human shape. At the end of the transformation, she wipes the side of her face a little with her sleeve.
Reads-In-Dark concentrates a few moments, but the change back is much quicker than the change down, and she quickly increases in size.
Yi grins as the cub returns to her breed form, "Fun?" she asks, straightforwardly.
"Fun," Bernie replies, with a nod, and grins, adjusting her backpack. "Shall we return the book, now?"
Yi nods in agreement, and walks with the cub into the house. "We can sleep up in the attic. It's a bit late for us to go back to the city now," she notes as the two walk towards the house.
Bernie laughs. "Bohemian Decadence for us!" she declares, as if there were particular meaning to the the phrase, and returns her book to the shelf, almost randomly, it seems, selecting another. That done, she heads cheerfully up the stairs and off to sleep.