This clearing has recently undergone a bit of construction, though it seems that at least some attempt has been made to keep the new structures harmonious with the landscape around them. The central area is dominated by a cookfire; in the southwest corner a shelter has been dug into the earth and covered, while to the northwest, an open-air cabin of sorts has been built. Except for the area around the fire, it seems nature has been allowed to take its course. However, those of a naturalistic bent might think that some minimal landscaping or planning had been done, for nestled among the winter-browned grasses are a few hardy perennials that, come spring, will create a profusion of color in the clearing.
A faint trail leads off to the east, and a bit north.
The edge of the valley forms a sheer rock face on this side of the Caern, perhaps 10 meters straight up, studded with outcroppings and lined with narrow cracks in a tracery of spidery fractures. Over the top lip of this natural wall streams a narrow, glass-like sheet of water that hurls itself into a small pool at its base, throwing up spray to soak the stones there, the rock behind it, and the surrounding earth. From this pool the water flows in a shallow bed toward the southwest before disappearing below the surface of the earth again in what must be an underground stream.
To the west, cool mist kicked up by the falls mingles with warmer steam from geothermal sources; these mists swirl around the caern to the north. The caern's center lies northwest of here. You can pick out what seems to be a hazardous trail over rock and up the wall, to the side of the waterfall.
This area of the clearing is about 30 meters wide and is a mixture of dark soil and clay throughout, though much of it looks like it's been sodded in recent months. Near the center of the clearing, the top of a large white boulder juts out from the soil like a bone revealed after the skin of an animal has been torn away. The large rock appears to be normal stone at its base, but towards the top stone gives way to a sparkling collection of quartz crystal.
Around you, twenty yards in every direction, stretches the caern. To the southeast, a waterfall plummets over the edge of the chasm into a small pool in the caern; nearby, to the southwest, steam comes from cracks in the ground, perhaps some of the same water. Northwest, a rocky spar juts out of the ground at a low angle, showing a sloping but smooth top. The chasm walls narrow a bit to the northeast, causing some of the mist to swirl in that area.
The expanse of grass up and down the valley becomes much thicker here, a circular plush carpet of deep green fibers. Lunes dance wildly in the air, especially around the perimeter of the circle, and water sprites leap from the cliff's edge to the southeast down to the valley floor, giggling the whole way. An omnipresent light mist fills the umbral caern, not fully obscuring vision but blurring more distant objects. In the center of the circle is a large white boulder, with crystals on it glimmering with reflected light of the lunes. Etched into the boulder is the wandering glyph of the Wyld.
The air here is charged, and seems to tingle. Even the least perceptive can feel the presence of this place, sense the strength here. Power reverberates through the Earth's shell like the sound of distant thunder, rumbling so deeply it must be felt rather than heard.
Dante sits near the fire pit, yawning and stretching. He idly pokes at it with a stick.
Reads-In-Dark pads softly into view, from the general direction of the Farmhouse, and pauses just inside the boundary of the clearing, gaze sweeping across the area. Spotting someone by the firepit, she steps back a bit, and shifts up before heading toward it.
Dante glances up at the approaching Gnawer. He nods, a bit sleepily, then resumes poking at the fire.
Bernie nods back, with a friendly smile, and stops just beside him at the fire. "Hey," she greets him, softly. "I'm Bernie. I was lookin' for Dante. 'zat you maybe, or y'know where he'd be, otherwise, by any chance?"
Dante looks up again, "That's me," he says, his voice soft.
"Well, cool," Bernie replies, still quietly in case people are sleeping, but grinning more widely. "Y'got a minute? Mind 'f I join ya, talk t' ya a few?"
Dante silently nods, indicating a spot by the fire.
Bernie drops crosslegged into the indicated spot; it's a surprisingly graceful movement, somehow inconsistent with the rest of how the girl moves. "Thanks," she replies. "So, I'm Bernie Rosenberg, sometimes called Reads-In-Darkness, Ragabash 'Gnawer cub, an' from what she said, you're kinda takin' over trainin' 'licia, right?"
Dante has a small smile touch his lips, bemused. "Yeah."
Bernie nods once, satisfied. "Cool beans. 'kay, so. See, th' thing is..." she pauses, glancing around as if worried Alicia might show up at any time, and speaks quite seriously, "...you know she has a twin brother, Benedict, right? He works at the McDonald's, in the city, and they haven't seen each other in a long time, an' they useta be really close, an' they miss each other. But she can't go into the city alone, and Adam never had time to take her, and now she's scared even to ask 'cause she thinks she'll be pushy. So I just wan'ed you t' know he was there, an' that even if she didn't say, she really really wants t' see him. 'f you don't have time t' take her, I know I'm just a cub, but I'm really responsible, an' I'll take her if that'd be okay, or I know I could get Yi or maybe Kaz t' do it, if you approved of them. But, y'know, it'd only take a few hours of one day, an' it'd make them both really happy. So, anyway... yeah. 'f you'd consider it, please?" She regards the coggie hopefully.
Dante smiles a little bit more - but it's kind of a sad smile. "Has anyone ever told you about Kevin?"
Bernie thinks about it a second, and shakes her head. "No, don't think so. I us'ly remember."
Dante stretches a bit, then settles back down. He's hardly a storyteller, but tries, nonetheless. "Kevin was a Gaian cub, a couple years back. Adam was his teacher. One day, he just up and disappeared and then, like, months later, showed back up suddenly. It turned out he'd gone off to see his parents. And ended up telling them about the Garou thing, breaking the Veil..."
Bernie winces slightly at the phrase, and nods, listening quietly.
"... Anyway, and we're not really sure how this happened, but his parents talked. And they got taken off by this company, called DNA. It's some kind of genetics firm. And they pried the general location of the sept and the names of a bunch of the Garou here from them," Dante grimaces.
Bernie winces again, and figures she can see where this one's going. "...I understand it bein' a problem," she comments, "but 'licia's smart. She knows this kinda thing. An' she wouldn't tell him any-a that, not 'til you guys found out if he was kin or anythin' an' said it was okay. An' if you went with, you could even be absolutely sure, 'cause you'd hear what got said. Right?" A slight pause... "...what happened with th' genetics firm?"
"Well," Dante continues, "They set up shop near here. And they grabbed a Silver Fang kin who was a cop. And then a Fang ragabash named Derrick went after him and they got /him/ too. So, we had to make an assault on the place." He takes a breath, "Anyway, at the end, overall, we ended up with Adam getting Jackaled, the Fang kin dead, Kevin's parents dead, Derrick Satired and banished and fifty some odd humans - most of them probably innocent - dead. All because one cub wanted to see his parents." A pause. "He was a good cub, too. A smart one."
Bernie nods, considering the story quietly for a few moments. "Well, that sucks a lot, gotta say. Not gonna be onea th' shining chapters of th' Sept's history. But," she points out, "that's diff'rent. That's a cub goin' off, unsupervised, without askin' first, an' tellin' his parents everythin'. This's a cub who's known her brother's around for like a month now, or more, an' she's not tryin' t' go off by herself an' see him; she's waitin' for someone t' supervise her an' take her t' do it, an' she knows not t' tell him anythin' until an' unless y'all tell her she can. She's said as much t' me, so I know she knows that. An' he knows she's 'round -somewhere-. She'd wanna do this th' right way, y'know? An' you, or me, or Kaz or Yi or whoever you'd let do it, would be there t' make sure nothin' went wrong. An' god forbid t' handle it if somethin' somehow did, but there's no reason it would." She pauses, and adds, softly, "...'licia's sometimes worried she might die on her Rite. An' I know it happens. An' shouldn't she at least be able t' see her twin an' show him she's offa th' streets an' th' drugs an' all, b'fore then, just in case somethin' terrible should happen?"
Dante listens to the Gnawers plea quietly and, well, sympathetically - that's obvious from his expression. "I understand that. Honestly, I do. I told you that story not because I think Alicia is like that, but as explanation as to why we are ... concerned." He wets his lips, "Alicia's Rite should be fairly soon. And our tribe tries not to send our cubs on fatal Rites - a cub that fails her Rite of Passage means the /teachers/ have failed. You are right, though, it may happen." He sighs, "And, all in all, regardless of how I may feel about it - ultimately, it's not my decision - it's Robert's."
"Robert," Bernie repeats, thoughtfully. "Adam told me I oughta track him down someday an' ask for a li'l caern history..." She adjust her glasses slightly, "...mm. A'ight, well. Thanks for lis'nen', anyhow..."
Dante reaches out and puts a warm hand on her shoulder. "You're welcome. Your heart is big; your desire to help your friends is admirable. Don't let life beat that out of you." He smiles.
Blooms-Pain lopes into the compound, her fur looking slightly damp and slicked back to her frame. Her eyes shine as she glances over to her teacher and friend.
Bernie smiles back, pinkening slightly, and tilting her head. "Well, thanks. I'll do my best. 's niceta meetcha, by th' way...." She trails off as Blooms lopes into view. Hey, she knows that wolf! The smile turns into a grin, and she lifts a hand, waving to her. "Heya, 'lish!"
Blooms-Pain brushes herself gently along Dante's legs first, an offer of kinship towards her mentor. ~Hello Dante, Bernie~.
Dante glances over at Alicia, chuckles. "Hi, Alicia. We were just discussing what a pain in the ass you are," he teases.
Kaz has a french fry on a string, and she's occasionally glancing at it as she wanders down the trail to the compound, Rotem in tow. "...Yeah," she's explaining, "This's kinda th' place where th' Guardians sack out an' stuff. She must be tryinna find someone."
Rotem nods softly. "So who're the Guardians? Do I know them?"
Bernie nods at Alicia. "Yeah, I was jus' sayin' how I was gonna getcha a nice rhinestone leash," she teases, and glances over at the sound of Kaz's voice. Completely forgetting people might still be sleeping, she grins and calls over, "Hey! Kazamataz! What brings ya t' this necka th' woods?"
Blooms-Pain chuffs at Bernie and Dante playfully. Figures, leave two new moons alone. This one was at Hope-Star's Adren challenge, she bested the Righ.
Grin rising, Kaz calls, "Yo, Bern! I was just bringin' our favorite pain in the ass --" this is said at least somewhat fondly -- "T' see the Caern. You wanna come?" She wanders closer to the fire, adding, to Rotem, "You wouldn't, 'cause they gotta stay on the Bawn, but he's one." She jerks her thumb at Dante.
Rotem bows slightly, a playfull gesture towards Dante. "Nice to meetcha. I'm Rotem. Aka. Pain in the a-ass." A soft chuckle and he moves to hug Bernie. "Heya Burns!" he smiles, "Thanks again for the g-good stuff. Oh and guess what? Kaz is still packed with Rat!"
Dante raises a brow in his Robert-impersonation at Alicia, but, before he can say anything, he looks to Kaz. "No I'm not."
Kaz mutters, "Til, like, freakin' tomorrow," and then blinks at Dante. "Oh, shit. I suck. You're right. Rotem, ignore me."
Bernie, about to answer Kaz, gets completely distracted by Alicia, "...she did? Kick-fuckin'-ass!" She suddenly looks mildly embarrassed, as if she'd just yelped in a library. "...I mean, yeah, that's cool, what happened an' all? Wish I coulda seen it..." This in turn gets interrupted by the wholly unexpected hug. "Whoa! ...Hiya, Roto-Rooter," she replies, extracting herself, "an' tha's cool, maybe you c'n meet Shadow Claws after all, then." That reminds her of her original thought, and she looks back to Kaz, "Yeah, I'd love t' come 'long, thanks."
Dante then laughs, "Cubs make your brain go down the drain, eh, Kaz?"
Rotem chuckles softly, looking to Dante. "She's gotta think for the both of us, not her fault." He smirks, "Seeing as I got no brain. Least till the wizard of Oz gives me one." He starts whistling the tune to "If I only had a brain" as he sits down.
Alicia's news about Sepdet gets a grin from Kaz. "Yah, was good stuff, Bern. I'll tell you 'bout it sometime." At Dante's question, she shrugs, grin not fading. "Well. Sometimes. When I been walkin' my tush off, mostly. Anyways, let's start a Gnawer conga line. Y'all who aren't Gnawers can come along if you got the weird urge."
Rotem rises back up and moves back to Kaz's side. "But be warned if you're not a Gnawer we reserve the right to empty your fridge when you're n-not looking."
Blooms-Pain flicks her tail back and forth, her eyes pinning Rotem for a moment, lips curling back into a slight sneer. But she reserves her thoughts for the moment, only replying with. ~Bernie, are you going as well?~
Dante stands, stretching once more. Off-handedly, he mentions, "'Righ', Alicia, is a Celtic word; usually only Fianna use it. Kind of like the Get say Jarl. We usually just say Alpha, or High Muckety-Muck." He smiles. It's not a chastisement, just a FYI.
Bernie pushes up from her seat as well and nods to Alicia, "Yup, that was th' plan. Y'wanna come with?"
Blooms-Pain glances over to Dante for permission.
Dante nods, "Sure. When you're done, though, come back here for some lessons?"
That said, Kaz starts wandering out, limping only slightly. She does not, in point of actual fact, conga.
Blooms-Pain flicks her tail back and forth, then looks to Bernie. ~Perhaps I should stay instead.~
Bernie flashes a quick grin at both coggie before following Kaz out, attempting a conga. It's not very good, and she gives up quickly, giggling. "C'mon, 'lish, we'll bring ya back."
Blooms-Pain watches the two Gnawers go, then looks between Dante and Bernie. Perhaps, for a little bit, but the lessons are important to her.
Dante smiles warmly, "Go on. I need a nap anyway."
Kaz leads the way down the path, slight limp not slowing her down at all. She casts the occasional glance at Rotem, measuring his expression with a bit of anticipation on her own face.
Rotem seems astonished by the beauty of this place as he follows a step behind Kaz. "It's wonderful." he remarks mostly to himself, a little louder, he continues. "Burns, you were right. It's amazing."
Kaz stops to crouch by the pool. "Explore," she tells him quietly, and cups her hands to get a drink.
Blooms-Pain follows at Bernie's side, if not pushing ahead from time to time. In this form, she's much faster and stronger. Knowing the way by heart, and all the scents, she glances around for a moment, then head to the center.
Bernie grins a bit, strolling a bit slouchily along behind, hands in her jacket pockets, conga wholly abandoned. "Toldja," she remarks, and watches Kaz curiously. "Kaz, you limping?"
Rotem does as he is told, and quickly starts exploring towards the wall, the nearby trail seems like it would be dangerous to follow. Of course to this cub that is a good thing, as he heads towards it.
Kaz glances up, water dripping from her chin. "Oh, yeah," she says, as if she'd forgotten she was doing it. "A little. 's a thing I got awhile ago when a bane almost ate me for lunch. Ain't a problem, don't hurt or nothin', I'm jus' kinda slow most've the time. 's actually why I settled down here, 'steada keepin' t'the passin' messages from Sept t'Sept thing."
Rotem moves off and starts following the trail, wondering where it leads to
Bernie huhs. "Y'know, I never noticed b'fore? Funky. Guess I oughta be more observant, yeah? Like, observin' cubs wanderin' off..." She looks toward the trail as Rotem heads down it.
Kaz yells, "Caern, dude. Get back here." She sounds half amused.
Rotem returns down from the trail. "Freaking cool place up there." He remarks, "I could get used to this place." He returns to Kaz's side. "S'where is the caern? Are we at the bawn yet?"
Kaz adds, to Bernie, "Mostly only happens when I'm tired. I mean. The actual limpin'. 's no big thing." She gives Rotem a thoughtful look. "Cancha feel it? This here, it's part've the Caern." Pointing to the center, she adds, "That's th' focus point, kinda."
After a moment, she adds, "We been on the Bawn f'awhile now. All that really is is the territory th' Sept claims, though."
At the center, Blooms-Pain sniffs about the caern, then relaxes onto her haunches. Dipping her head up, she drinks in a deep breath of air, fluffing her fur out.
Bernie nods, wandering over to the others. "If y'dunno 'f ya feel it, try closin' your eyes an' thinkin' whether things feel diff'rent. Y'oughta be able t' sorta sense it, y'know?"
Rotem descides to try it, he closes his eyes for a moment, taking in a deep breath and exhaling slowly. "Its.. its like.." He pauses, "S'not like a-anything. S'different."
Kaz grins, softly. "'s Gaia's power, Rotem. It's what we're all strivin'a protect."
A strange expression comes over Rotem's features, something that neither Bernie, nor Kaz has seen on him before, could it be caring? "You mean.. The wyrm w-wants to destroy.. All this?" He asks, his voice wavering slightly.
At the center, Blooms-Pain chuffs out towards the Full moon. The Wyrm wants to destroy -everything.- But the ~Caern~ is what it seems to taint most, for it holds the power of Gaia.
Rotem isn't looking towards Blooms, so misses out on most of her answer.
Kaz's grin flickers; she starts smiling, very gently. "Yes. This, alla this, is what it wants to destroy. In a natural cycle, it wouldn't be so bad, but this's out of control. An' this here," she pats the ground, "Is what, at heart, we're fightin' for."
"'zactly," Bernie replies, firmly. "Th' Wyrm wants t' destroy an' corrupt everythin', y'know? But this is somethin' it'd make a priority, it's like a whatsit... it's like th' -definition- of what th' Wyrm's against. Y'know?"
Blooms-Pain heads back to the gathering of Gnawers, rooting her muzzle through the grass until she can feel the mist of the water in the air.
Rotem growls slightly. "No. It cant." He shakes his head. "Y'can't let it." He shakes his head, suddendly stopping and looking to Kaz, he sighs and then speaks. "I think I understand a little better n-now."
Kaz's smile doesn't fade. She keeps a hand on the ground. "We ain't plannin' to. It's why we do anything we do, from whuppin' Wyrm butt, t'savin' some guy from the Mafia, t'teachin' you. It's all in service've Gaia. Of here. Of this place. Of places like this."
Rotem asks softly, "You mean, there are others?" he sits down next to Kaz, all this a bit much to take in at once.
Kaz looks over at him. "Gettin' to be fewer all the time, but yeah. A lot of 'em. A lot of different types. An' they all got Garou guardin' 'em. It's our duty, an' it's our pleasure."
Bernie drops down by the other Gnawers, suddenly feeling really tall. She lets Kaz explain things, mostly.
Rotem sighs softly. "You mean some of them.. are gone?" His voice wavers slightly on the last word.
"Some of them," Kaz says, putting both hands on the ground now, "Are gone, yes. The Wyrm got to 'em, an' we couldn't defend 'em." Voice grim, she adds, "It's part've what's goin' on, in these last days." A little lower, more passionate, she adds, "But th' point is, the ones we got? We /fight/ for, dammit. We fight for what Gaia gives us, the ability to feel love /and/ hatred, the springs and the summers and the new fallen snow. We fight f'the trees an' the valleys an' the rivers, an' we fight for the feeling we get, here, today, that tells us we're alive. /All/ of it." She falls silent, looking into the center.
Rotem shakes his head softly. "I.. " he pauses, "How can I h-help?" he asks, sounding genuinely concerned.
Bernie looks almost stunned for a moment at Kaz's little speech, and then nods, and claps a little. "Damn, Kaz. That was well put," she remarks, quietly.
Kaz turns her head, slowly, to look at him. There's a spark in her eye that wasn't there five minutes ago. "Learn. Learn, fight, live, love, /hope/. Take that mind you have, the one I /know/ is there, and apply it. To fightin' banes, sure, but to findin' ways of making sure the banes don't get to take over in the /first/ place. Findin' ways t'make new things, in new places, f'new reasons. In honor've this place, and the other places like it."
Rotem's voice chokes off for a moment, he looks down, thinking. After several moments he looks to Kaz. "Do you think.. Could I stay here a while? Instead of the church?"
Bernie just watches Kaz, looking impressed.
Blooms-Pain dips her head slightly in approval, a smile hinted across the gaia's muzzle.
This is called, 'making an executive decision.' "Yes. I'll make it right with Elan when he wakes up. Sleep'n the Compound. Lupe's warm enough."
Blooms-Pain blinks! Compound?!
Blooms-Pain looks quickly at Kaz and Bernie, eyes wide, like the kind caught in headlights.
Kaz tilts her head slightly at Alicia. "He ain't allowed at the Farmhouse. It's not like you'll be starin' at each other's panties or something."
Rotem asks, not looking to Blooms, still, "What Compound?"
Kaz jerks her head to where they just left. "Th' one you met Dante at."
Bernie half-smiles at Alicia, and shrugs a bit. It's not like she really has any sayin the matter, anyhow.
Blooms-Pain snorts once loudly, ears flattening against her head. After all the trouble he has caused, lets hope he learned something of respect.
Rotem nods softly. "Oh. that. Okay." he looks back over towards the center. "Could you leave a note at the church for me? So people will know where I am?"
Kaz says, a little dryly, "Think of it as a test, Alicia. If he passes, he's officially got a brain. An', well, this Sept, an' the Garou in general? We're /all about/ second chances." She gives the young Gaian a long look. "As you know perfectly well, yeah?"
Blooms-Pain knows perfectly well, but has also heard, that this one has been giving ten, or twenty chances. Let it be known,if he disturbs my lessons, this one will not be a happy ~Tree Hugger~
Bernie leans over, reaches out, and gives Blooms a scritch. "He's showin' signsa recuperatin' from th' cranio-rectal inversion. So we'll see, yeah?"
Kaz studies Alicia. "He disturbs your lessons, Alicia, you tell me. He's my responsibility. Consequences're mine to cope with. OK?"
Blooms-Pain gives Rotem a steady glare with her wolven brow, flickering her tail. She understands, simply said, she will not be /happy/.
Rotem looks to Alicia now, "Look, I'm sorry about what you heard, but I'll try to stay out of your way." he looks to Kaz and then back at Alicia, leaning over to scratch behind her ears. "Please, give me a chance. Who knows, we could end up friends."
Kaz nods. "I understand that, yeah." Glancing at Rotem, she asks, "We gotta deal?"
Rotem nods softly to Kaz. "Deal." he says, still scratching at Alicia's fur.
Blooms-Pain rumbles lightly in her throat, then lets it out with a soft hiss. She doesn't comment any further. She simply ducks away from the hand, moving away from him. Something obviously bothering the Gaian.
Rotem sighs, shaking his head and looking down.
Kaz looks from Rotem to Alicia. "'Licia. Wanna talk about it up there?" She gestures up the valley.
Blooms-Pain shakes her head, rumbling to the other Galliard. ~No.. I'm going to find Dante, I have lessons to learn.~ With that, she makes her way back.
Kaz watches her leave, expression thoughtful.
Rotem sighs softly, and gets up without a word, walking off to the center.
Kaz rises and follows him, quiet.
At the center, Rotem is standing at the stone, looking down at the crystals, not making a sound, thinking quietly to himself.
At the center, Kaz lays a hand on his shoulder. "Tell me 'bout it?"
Bernie watches Blooms head off, looking a bit concerned, and bites her bottom lip, lightly. She, too, stands, and follows the other Gnawers into the center.
Rotem shrugs off Kaz's hand softly. "S'nothing. Nevermind." he touches the crystal softly.
Kaz lets her hand fall. "Ok," she says quietly, the concern -- and a new kind of respect -- evident in her voice.
Rotem sighs softly. "Maybe I shouldn't stay here. I dont want to bother anyone." He looks up from the stone to Kaz.
Bernie looks at the crystal as well. "'s th' full moon. Think that's parta why she's in a pissy mood. I mean, it even gets me, some, an' I'm pretty calm, as we go, y'know?" She pauses a moment. "...also, I dunno 'f it's got t' do with it, an' I still dunno what all happened, but th' guy that died when ya firsted, seem t' recall he was a frienda hers."
Rotem looks to Bernie quickly. "What?" he asks, sharply. "That Kyle guy?" he blinks twice.
Kaz seems not to be filled in on any of this, and just blinks.
"Yeah," Bernie replies, with a slight nod, "They useta be tight, 'fore she found out she was onea us an' all." She pauses again. "...I'm not sayin' that's it, 'cause she hasn't said or anythin', an' maybe N'vada never even told her, I dunno. But, y'know. 's a possibility."
Kaz nods thoughtfully. "That's pretty fuckin' rough, yeah. So -- talk to her. Soon. She might know, she might not, but she still deserves to know what happened, from the guy who did it. But --" She looks him right in the eye. "You've gotten a new lease on things here, Rotem. I respect the way you're pickin' yourself up off the ground from alla these Gnawers beatin' on your brain, and still trying. Trying to learn, trying to listen, trying to love this place, and the places like it. Connecting to people, connecting to the place, absorbing everything you can from it. But--" She sighs. "Even if you know you've changed, people're gonna be skeptical, is the thing. You've gotten a reputation. You just have to stay true t'/yourself/, know who you are and why you're doing any of this, and you'll be fine. I /know/ how tough it is, b'lieve me. I practically exuded "I am a fuckup" vibes, when I was younger. But tough doesn't mean impossible. Just means, things're a little harder. An' I'll be helpin'. Atcher back."
Rotem nods softly to Kaz. "Thank you, Kaz." He uses her name for once, just doesn't seem the right time to call her Zee. "I'll try." a soft sigh leaves his lips before looking away. "I just need to give it time."
Kaz leans on the leg she wasn't limping on. "Yep. Time, an' actin' like you're actin' now, steadily, consistently. People'll start believin' it, after awhile." Her smile is very small. Hard to notice, perhaps. "I have, anyway."
Rotem smiles softly, blushing a bit. "That means a lot to me. Kaz." he grins and says in a playful tone, not ment to spite. "Even if you are a metis."
Kaz actually grins, and jerks a thumb at the pool. "C'mon. Got somethin' to show you."
By the waterfall, Kaz approaches the waterfall from the center of the caern.
Bernie just smiles slightly herself, hands staying in her jacket pockets -- until that last sentence, at which she pulls one out and baps the other cub upside the back of the head again, lightly. Then, she follows Kaz.
Rotem follows Kaz slowly, dipping the tip of his shoe in the water to cause a slight rippling to spread out from it.
Kaz crouches down at one of the stiller parts of the pool. "Ok. You been askin' about th' Umbra, yeah? Well, t'get there, what y'do is, you take a still--" she shoots a glance at his shoe, raising an eyebrow as a hint-- "Reflective surface and, basically, reach through it. Look into it, and look /through/ your reflection. It's a little hard to describe, but it's also fairly instinctive."
Rotem chuckles softly and kneels by the water, next to Kaz. "You know every time I think I've heard the strangest thing, you go and one up yourself." He smirks. "Ok, I'll try."
"It's kinda like those Magic Eye posters," Bernie volunteers, "where they look like static, but then you c'n see three-d shit in 'em?"
Kaz jerks her head at Bernie. "She's had to figure it out more recently than me -- listen'a her."
Rotem shrugs, keeping his eyes locked on the water and attempting to reach into it. After a few moments of silence he states softly. "Ok, here goes." he then pauses for a moment, concentrating on the water, then he jumps in. A large splash is heard, as water rises up all around him.
Bernie bursts out laughing. She can't help it. It's funny.
Kaz represses a grin. "You don't move, while this's goin' on, Rotem. You let /it/ move /you/."
Rotem stands up, now sopping wet, looking to Bernie, then Kaz. "Now you tell me." he groans, and wrings out his hair and shirt. "Ok, one more try."
Kaz looks apologetic. "It's just so -- instinctive, now, f'me. Been doin' it since I was 10, after all."
Rotem shrugs. "Ok. Lets try this again." he sits down at the edge of the water, looking down into it, at his reflection. After several moments he tries to look past his reflection, trying to grasp with his eyes what is behind it.
Kaz watches him, and when it seems he's got it, she slips through in the blink of an eye, comparatively.
Kaz slips through almost at the same time, crouched slightly in instinctive wariness, even here. A grin starts tugging at the edges of her lips as she watches him.
Bernie comes through last, not laughing anymore, at least, but still grinning.
Rotem looks up at the lunes, then at the water sprites. "Okaaaayy. I'm not insane now, right?" he asks Kaz without looking to her. "What are they?" he motions to the water sprites.
Bernie settles down quietly -- and comfortably -- to watch the initial lesson.
"I can't even begin to understand 'em talk, but them? They're the water. The spirit of the water made flesh. Made flesh, an' dancin' from the sheer joy of living." Kaz's grin is rising. She can't seem to contain it. "This's the Umbra, kid, /everything/ is alive. Everything is vibrant, everything /sparkles/, because this is the world as it /ought/ to be, and not as it is." Her usual accent appears to have fled. "This is the place that refreshes us all, that gives us all some kind of hope, however small. This is the place where the essence of everything lives, reflecting what's best on the other side. This is... Gaia distilled. And your birthright. Welcome to it."
Rotem grins happilly, moving towards the water then stopping quickly. He doesn't look to Kaz, but puts his hand out. "Quick, grab my arm!" He exclaims.
Kaz, obligingly, grabs his arm.
Rotem sighs. "Now please hold me still. I'm about to do something stupid." He shakes his head and turns away from the water. "I'm sorry, I just have to catch one. Can I?"
Bernie giggles, watching. She pulls her legs in indian style, and looks around a bit. Something rather wistful crosses her face for a few moments, but she shakes it off, returning to her observation.
Kaz can't help it, as she listens to this. She just starts laughing. "Rotem, m'good man, give it a try. If you do catch one, I'll give you a goddam medal." There's a pause, and she adds, "I don' think they'll like it much, though. So prepare f'some wetness..."
Rotem wades out into the water, he's already wet, what does he care? After a few moments watching them dancing he descides he's not going to catch them with speed, so he watches the patterns of their movments, or rather lack of one. He picks a spot where they seem to be passing through a lot, and lets his hands rest just along the top of the water, palms open, waiting for one to jump on.
Jump? I think not. At least, not into Rotem's hands. One does jump close to him, but instead of reaching his hands, it flies into his face, bounces off, and splashes back onto the pool. A high pitched sound that sounds a bit like laughter surrounds the pool, for a moment.
Rotem wipes off his face with a giggle. "Come back here!" he calls out playfully, using his hand to send out a splash of umbral-water at its direction.
The water just gets absorbed into the sprite -- and, suddenly, there's a much larger wave, coming right back at Rotem.
Rotem ducks under the water letting the wave pass overhead and then rising to splash again at the sprite. Laughing all the while.
Again, the water is absorbed, but this time, the sprite, also giggling with glee, sends a gout at Rotem, and a large gout at Kaz, who manages, barely, to duck. The 5 foot long, battlescarred rat just appearing out of the darkness behind her, however, doesn't. *You see what I have to put up with?* it complains to no one in particular, and bites Kaz on the shin. Kaz, contrary to what one might expect, just grins more, and crouches down to start scritching the rat behind the ears.
Rotem gets bowled over by the water and tumbles back, he groans and wades out of the water, sending the sprite a look as he yells back. "I'll be back with a watergun next time!" he chuckles and looks to the rat and Kaz, he is also dripping wet. "Hey Berns! He showed up!"
*She's still pack, even if she's going to bail the next time Elan snaps a finger,* grouses Shadowclaws, *So I'm around. Who the hell are you, and why am I dripping now?* Kaz translates this, grin fading somewhat but still very present.
Rotem kneels down next to the Rat. "I'm greenstreak, an ahroun cub. Same tribe as Kaz and Elan." he sighs softly. "And You're wet because of that sprite over there." he points one of them out to the rat. "If you can get it, I'll be happy to help you catch it." he grins softly.
The rat crouches down so that his feet are hardly visible. *I tried that once. Damn thing tried to drown me. I,* it says, giving the cub a beady look, *learn from my mistakes. Good job, by the way, you've finally started doing it yourself.* Shadowclaws' tone is cynical, almost angry -- but there's a warmth to his voice that suffuses his tone. *Her pack, they call me Shadow Claws. Glad to meet you in person.*
Bernie grins, sitting up a bit straighter as Shadow Claws arrives. "Heya!" she greets him happily. "How's it goin', Shadow Claws? 'side from th' moistness, I mean..."
The rat turns his head slowly to look at Bernie. *Hey. It's the babe.* He sounds glad to see her. *Goes, goes. Can't complain. Well.* He pauses. *I could, but if I started, I'd never stop. When they Riting your sorry butt, anyway?*
Rotem arches an eyebrow. "You know about me?" he moves a hand out to let the Rat sniff him. "I've been wanting to meetcha. I mean, you're like Rat. Kinda. And thats m'tribe's spirit. So I just had to meet you. Where do you live? What do you eat around here? Do you go into the city? I mean, they told me its dangerous there in the umbra. And Why is Kaz leaving your pack? Can I join?" The cub pauses for a second, stopping for a breath apparently, not because he's out of questions.
Bernie laughs, gaining a level of pink at the spirit's reply. "An' that'd be too bad, 'cause I'm sure you got plennya other stuff you gotta get done instead... an', I dunno, 'zactly." She looks over to Kaz before adding, "they're sayin' kinda in th' soon, though."
"Yeah," mutters Kaz, "Soon." *Good,* affirms Shadowclaws, *Her body's caught up to her brains.* That said, the rat turns slowly to look back to Rotem. *'Kind of'?* he echoes. *-Kind- of? What the hell do I look like, sliced cheese? I /am/ Rat. Or, well, part of the greater Mama Rat, anyway. I'm just a unique part of her.* He adds, humor evidently not a foreign concept to him, *A particularly kvetchy part of Her. As for all of your questions, in order, Yes, the city, everything I can, I don't live here, you'd have to ask Kaz that, and you'd have to ask Shadow Eyes that.* He twitches his whiskers. *I could add /detail/ on to any of those answers, if you want.*
Rotem shakes his head. "No, thats ok." he moves on with his questions, "Can I meet you even when Kaz isn't around? How can I find you? W-what can you teach me? I'm sure there is a l-lot." he moves his hand to pet the rat softly. "You sound like my kinda guy, or rat as the c-case may be. Being a Kvetch and all." He chuckles softly.
The rat's whiskers twitch again, but he leans into the patting. *I'll bet you about 5 nuclear weapons she's gonna say you can't come here alone.* He looks at Kaz. She nods. "Dangerous, see. Even here, potentially. Need backup." The rat snorts. *Overprotective snots,* he confides, *But they mean well. Anyway, I hang around Kaz and her pack. You'll only find me here when one've them is. Mostly, I like the City better -- I'm used to the cover there. Far as I can tell, Ears is leaving because she's gone and grown up, and more power to her.* Kaz blinks in confusion at this, but he ignores her completely. *As f'learning from me -- right now, best thing you can learn off've me is how to duck, and how know when /to/ fight and when /not/ to fight. Survive for as long as possible, killin' as /many/ things as possible.*
Rotem chuckles softly. "So, teach me. When should I fight and when shouldn't I." He shakes his head. "You see, w-when it comes to that I'm a complete idiot. Totally." he pauses. "You know why I'm banned from the farmhouse, yes? And what happened with Tim?"
*Yeah, you were a nitwit and pushed your luck. But you're getting a brain, I've noticed.* The rat stops for a moment, to think. *Well. Packs. Talk to me about packs. Or don't, because I will, at great length. Rats, we hang out in groups, fight in groups, swarm things. You guys, you do packs, but same thing, really. On your own, it doesn't work so well. You have a Wyrm thing, say. You have a /large/ Wyrm thing. Are you planning to go after it yourself, in a full frontal assault, which, I might add, is what you've been doing?* It doesn't give him time to answer. *Not if you have any brains, you don't. You go away, come back with more people, surprise it, and kick it's ass out from under it. The way you do it doesn't matter, as long as it /gets done/. That's what Ring of Fire's supposedly all about, taking back the Umbra one step at a time, by any means necessary.*
Rotem nods softly. "But I just.." he pauses. "I just can't help it. I got impulses, y'know? S'hard to control." He gives a distainful look to the water sprite. "Like them. I just /have/ to catch one. I will sometime too!"
Bernie mutters softly to herself, with a slight smile, "...now, where've I heard that b'fore...?" at the Rat's lecture. Mostly, though, she just listens.
*Yeah, yeah, you're a ragey bastich. You're pretty fun, all things considered, but if you want to be a Child of Rat who /lives/ for awhile, you have to put a lid on them.* The rat leans into Kaz now. *You have to wait, take the /right/ opportunities, jump on things when you have the chance, and be able to wait when you know you'll get your ass kicked. A lot of people'll look at you like you're a coward or whatever they want to say, but they don't have the right attitude, is all. Us, we know better. There aren't /enough/ of you. You can't afford to die because you're /stupid/ an' throwin' yourself away into glorious, deadly combat. Not these days.* He twitches his whiskers. *Which is not to say kicking ass isn't a good idea. I'll kick /your/ ass if you /don't/, once you're close to getting Rited.*
Rotem nods softly. "I'm trying. Now are you sure you can't come visit me without Kaz and folks? I mean, I'll bring ya fooooood." Rotem grins, "Chicken wings, chinese, cheese. The works."
The rat gets a hard gleam in his eye, and he darts out to nip, briefly, at Rotem's ankle. It doesn't hurt much, really. *They say not, they say not. Law of the land, just now.* After a moment, he allows, *Not that I wouldn't mind some food anyway.*
Rotem rubs his ankle with a sigh. "Fine, but I'm keeping the chinese then!" he chuckles, extracting a piece of beef jerky from his back pocket and offering it to the Rat. "Here you go." He grins and adds, "When's the last time /your/ pack fed ya? Huh? Bet they don't feed ya enough."
Shadow darts a glance at Kaz. *Had some roast beef just this morning. Think she was trying to butter me up.* Kaz protests, "Hey, I was just bein' nice." The rat snorts. And then, it raises its head. *Yeah, kid,* it says absently, *You can feed me all you want.* It takes the jerky, eats it rapidly, and then explains, *Shadow Eyes calling, Ears. We should both get.* Kaz blinks, and gets to her feet. "Yeah, ok," she says, suddenly getting a brief absent look of her own. "You two don' stay too long here, yeah?"
Bernie nods, and lifts a hand in a bit of a wave. "Later, Kazster. Thanks. An' niceta see ya 'gain, Shadow Claws..."
Rotem nods softly. "Week, two, tops." he replies, nodding. "Although quite a bit longer if you dont explain to me how I go back!"
Kaz snorts, grinning. "Lookit the water again. Look through it. Reach. Let it take you. Just like you did earlier, coming to this side."
Rotem waves the two off. "Have fun." he then looks to the water again, and back to the Rat. "Wait!" he says. "Can you talk to that thing?" he asks softly.
Shadow's whiskers are twitching at a higher speed. *Not today, I can't. We gotta go. Trouble. C'mon, Ears.* Kaz nods, and, contrary to her usual approach to life, shifts down to lupus. Later, she tells Rotem, and takes off at a gallop, limp barely noticeable.