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.
The forest is dark and quiet. No, not quiet. Listening. The ancient firs rear up all around, branches interwoven in a dense roof of dark green. Fallen needles lie in a thick carpet on the ground, heaped up around the drifts of undergrowth clinging to the scarce patches of light reaching the forest floor. Every sound seems muffled, and the sharp scent of pine hangs in the air like the clouds of midges that swarm ceaselessly beneath the branches. Even the many deer who roam here seem to step more quietly than usual, and the songbirds seldom sing.
The forest spreads out around you in all directions.
Sweeping branches of trees form a sort of natural roof overshadowing most of this clearing, no more than an open space of grasses and beaten earth in the heart of the forest. Some pains have been taken to keep wear and tear on the area to a minimum, so the firepit tends to shift from time to time. The firepit, several sawn logs polished from use, and a stack of firewood discreetly piled up at the base of an old spruce under a tarp, are the only signs of constant occupation. However, a student of such things might think that some minimal landscaping or planning has been done, for the meadowlike profusion of grasses and other plants has an unusually high concentration of brilliant flowers, which attract a number of bees and butterflies.
A faint trail leads off to the east, and a bit north.
Bowls of smoking incense and of water are set in a ring around the clearing. The grass has been raked with a comb, cleared away altogether in places along with the offending debris; the gravestones, still marred, have been lightly sprinkled with clean dirt to mask the defilements there has been no time yet to chip away.
Seven graves have been dug, and a neat hole has been dug at the foot of one of the older graves. The remains of the four whose bodies survived have been carefully prepared, each laid in grave and covered over with white cloths. Glyphs of tribe, auspice, and name have been painted in sap and blood upon them. Over these are sprinkled green ferns, grain, and tiny chips of carnelian that glitter like drops of blood in the setting sun. The other three graves are treated in the same fashion, save that personal effects have been covered over instead. The child's covered head is covered in an unmarked cloth, save for the glyph of the Striders.
OOC note: There will be a time given for those who wish to speak a few words for their comrades. Page Sepdet, so she can go through you in order, if you have something to say. Please prepare the pose beforehand.
Chas strips away the shirt, and kicks off her battered boots. Her movements are awkward with the wound, as she strips, constricted by the need to protect, the pain and guarding.
Leonard finds himself needing to swallow a few times at the cub's words, scowling fiercely. His hand tightens on Yi's shoulder.
Adrian watches Owen and tries to imitate the other Get's lack of emotion, but while his packmaye speaks, he watches Lyra with deep concern in his eyes. He keeps looking around at all teh other Garou, taking all this in.
Yi closes her eyes at Lyra's words, and breaks away from Leonard's grip to sit heavily against the treetrunk she was standing in front of.
Kaz's lips twitch at something Lyra said. Then she blinks, apparently remembering something, though what in Lyra's speech reminded her remains a mystery. "Oh. Um. One more thing. To take back this Caern? We had Warper help. Mages, folks. One of 'em /died/, doin' it. So y'all, /remember/ his name. Hate him all you want, but remember him. Michael Andrew Perrin. I knew him as Perrin. So. There you go."
Dane listens quietly, lips pressed tightly closed.
Alicia nods her head slightly. "Perrin was the one who first told me I was a Garou, even before all of you knew." Her lips twitch a bit into a smile. "I'll always remember him for all of that.. made my life a bit crazy for a few days."
The Fury regards Kaz, and then Alicia, for a long moment, silently. Then she turns away, to look at the covered bodies. Shifting to crinos, she says, ~Garou die. It is part of who we are. We battle for the Mother, and we go to Her Glory, protecting Her as we can. I speak for all who fell, in this fight, but I especially speak for the one who died to start it all. Bites-Everything was a surprisingly interesting person. I don't think he liked talking very much. I don't think he knew how to express himself well, at least in homid. But he reveled in his new senses, in the feel of being a wolf, and I was privileged to enjoy several fierce, long lasting runs with him, fights with him. He was ahroun to the core, and he was Wyld to the core, and thus, I honor him. He would have honored us all, had he lived.~
Sepdet seems to have recovered her composure now, but Kaz's comment brings the theurge out of her usual silent observation of the proceedings to say in shock, ~He was there? Stupid /idiot/.~ Somehow it doesn't sound like a character condemnation when she says it. ~So noted, Kaz.~
Lyra comes back to Adrian's side, slipping her hand back in his. She keeps her eyes closed, and just stands still, listening and remembering.
Yi looks up at the name of Perrin. A passing swear is stifled, and she nods slowly. "Rest well, Perrin." The rest of her words are simply a mental parting, private thoughts for the mage's soul.
Adrian takes Lyra's hand and squeezes it tightly. His face still tries to remain as stoic as Owens.
Sepdet exhales, looking towards the elders of the cub in question.
Anneka quirks a corner of her mouth up at Lyra, watches the cub as she steps back to stand near Adrian. Her green eye sheds tears freely, in trails down her face to soak the collar of her shirt. She reaches up to rub at it, then nods. "I've heard a lot of stuff 'bout Warpers, but he died fightin', he turned one of them into nothin'."
Andrea steps forward to speak for her tribe's cub. "You were lost to us before you became fully adult, Malachi," she says, regret flavoring the tone. "May the next turn of the Wheel see you in kinder circumstances. Go to the Mother with the blessing of the Children."
Kristine's just quiet, her head tilted downwards. Her reactions are hidden, though. For now, anyway.
Leonard glances down at Yi, kneeling next to her concernedly. He keeps his hands on his knees, though, giving her her space.
Sepdet speaks up, looking towards Leonard. ~I name the winged ones, and the spirits of war, and in particular Wendigo and Purity's child, both of whom died grappling the Deathshadow none of us ould have defeated alone.~
Andrea's throat contorts before she speaks and, if her words can be understood by any spirits within hearing distance, the Garou simply hear it as Mother Tongue. *You answered our need, spirits, when we called to fight the war with you. Some of you sacrified that which cannot be reclaimed. But without you, we would not have succeeded. Go to your rest to be born from your Incarna anew.*
Leonard glances at Sepdet as he hears Wendigo's name. Seeing her look, he nods, closing his eyes in concentration.
Owen works his jaw in silence fr a few moments, eventually just saying a single word. "Wolverine."
Leonard begins chanting, wordless, rocking slightly, eyes still closed. It is a slow chant, mournful, and old. A feeling of age, of cold, descends as he continues, repeating the same pattern three times. Finally, he takes up his knife on the last line, slashing open his palm and clenching it into a fist, letting it drop onto the ground as he finishes with a blood-curdling screaming cry.
Kaz bares her teeth, in wordless support of that cry.
Adrian watches Leonard with mixture of interest and horror. He grimaces a bit and unconsciously takes a step back.
Sepdet touches the white tooth-scar at the side of her neck as her packmate takes to his feet, her own prayers silent.
Lyra opens her eyes at the sudden screaming, feeling the slight pull on her hand as Adrian moves back. She blinks, then shudders as she remembers the flea rite and retreats a step back to Adrian's side. "If it's not silver, it'll heal," she whispers idly.
Robert stands up slowly, taking a full minute of silence to shift from lupus just to crinos. ~In this time of joy, there is sorrow for those who have left us, from experienced Garou to the youngest unchanged cub, from the most ferocious of spirits to the most innocent. There is a sadness from holes left in our hearts, those we remember and will not see again.~ He looks down and across at the remains, then he looks back up at the gathered Garou. ~We entrust them now to the Mother's embrace, and we remain here to continue Her battle. Let us remember the good times and the bad; let us remember their contributions to self and to sept; most of all, let us remember how they died to protect this caern from defilement. Despite the victory of this battle, our war is not won.~ A small whimper, and the athro continues, ~But for one night, it is suspended while we mourn our dead and rejoice for those who have passed into Her arms. Requiescat in pace. Awaken again into war.~
Yi slowly stands back up as Leonard's cry echoes into the wilderness, eyeing him through a glimmer of unshed tears, before she looks back to the sky and remembers the icy spirit of her packmate's tribe.
Jarred looks over at Adrian's reaction, catching the cub's eye briefly.
Adrian notes Jarred and then Owen and then tries to regain his composure and pseudo-stoicism.
Jarred shifts to his war-form, and speaks in the mother tongue. ~Let us howl for the fallen. Let us howl for our friends...~ With that, her raises his shaggy head and lets loose with a clear, radiant howl.
Dena tosses her head back and howls, the sound only slightly strained coming from a Crinos throat. She howls to send the dead to their rest; she howls for the living who remain. And she howls for the war to come.
Leonard opens his eyes, keeping his fist clenched. He glances at Yi, light of rage in his eyes, then shifts up to crinos, letting loose an angry howl.
Hope-Star dwindles down to the scarred black jackal of the roads, her closest form to the guide of the dead her tribe claims as their distant ancestor. As the alpha concludes the ceremony, she tips back her head and lets out a high, belling cry, more coyote than wolf, calling the stars to witness.
Alicia stays silent as she listens to the sorrow of the Sept, up until the howls are called. She shifts into the war form and lets out a beautiful cry for the fallen.
Kaz remains entirely silent, still staring at her flute.
Adrian watches everyone shift around him.
Owen shifts upward into the warform, howling out a cry of war and victory for the newly departed.
Rags adds a croaky voice to the cacophony of howls, sending off the dead.
Lyra looks around, bewildered, as the cliaths all begin to howl. Unconsciously, her free hand flies up to the pendant, to her throat, as she looks at Adrian, wondering if he would shift, if she should shift.
Gaia-Will-Judge shifts and joins in the howl.
Behind Kaz, Bernie sets her backpack down and shifts up to crinos, joining the howl, the first sound she's made this night.
Seirian joins the howls, taking to Crinos to add her high-voiced cry to the dissonance filling the air.
Anneka looks over to Kaz, reaches to rest her right hand on her elder's shoulder. There's something awry about it, an odd number of fingers, but she grips, tight. Then she stands, her body twisting and blurring into the war form, lifts her head to join in the howl.
Seeker shifts to lupus form and lifts his head to the sky, uttering a long, high, ragged howl. He honors the memories of the dead and fallen and sings them to their final reward of rebirth in Gaia.
Adrian nods to Lyra and shifts to Crinos.
Peacekeeper lifts his crinos muzzle, joining into the dissonant howl of sorrow and victory.
Chaser joins her voice to the rest, the Hispo throat lending a deeper note to the howling.
Adrian tries to howl his sadness at the fallen.
Nightfire lifts his head and adds his voice to the growing number, wishing those that have passed on a swift journey, a brief respite, and a quick return.
Quiet Wind has reached the Gathering late, but is already wearing his Crinos form as he moves out of a shadow to join in the howl.
Yi holds back her howl, glancing at Lyra. Then her form blurs up to the greatest rage and lets free her cry of defiance at death. The fallen live on, in Gaia's heart.
It takes an effort for Kaz not to twitch away from Anneka's touch, but she doesn't.
Stands-Proud's howl quickly joins the others, her own, long and mournful.
Lyra releases the other cub's hand and she shifts to lupus, a wide-eyed wolf with a pendant about it's neck. She too does not quite howl properly; it's more a series of soft, sad yips, unnoticeable by most in the cry of the Sept.
To some people's minds, it may sound as if there are more voices here than can be accounted by the throats of the living. They echo off the scarred trees, marred stones. For one moment the sept is sound. After the last glorious howl has died away, the little Strider shifts up to her favored shape and raises her hands. ~They are free,~ she whispers formally. ~Each of you give them a handful of Gaia's earth before you leave.~
Leonard shifts down as he crouches, picking up a handful of earth with his cut hand. He lets it sit for a long moment, then moves to the child's grave, letting the dirt fall from his hand onto the canvas.
Guards-Flame reaches down and picks up a handful of dirt, then sprinkles it over the graves one by one, letting out a soft breath as she goes.
Song-of-Fury stoops to gather a claw full of dirt, then turns and approaches his tribemate. ~Goodbye, Quick. You will not be forgotten.~ He turns away and doesn't look back.
Wildfire stand up tall and proud, looking over the congregation now that the rite is over. ~All right, everyone! Listen up! I want every single one of you to go straight to hell!~ A two second pause. ~Good. Now that I have everyone's attention, I have a few things to say now that we have sent our fallen off to a hero's cry. Tonight, I would normally have called the Ahroun of the sept to moot. Instead, I welcome everybody to this moot!~ He starts to pace in front of the gathered. ~We are all, every one, worthy of praise this night. We took back what was ours. We through defeat into the face of the Wyrm! We lack anyone who knows the Rite of Accomplishment, and I would task a half-moon to go forth and learn it when times are accommodating. Tonight, however, I would still have you honored!~ Another pause before he continues.
Helen crouches down to take some dirt, and approaches each wrapped body and sprinkles some dirt onto each. Almost ceremoniously, she wipes her hands. Moving to leave, the ragabash stops and peers at Wildfire curiously, listening.
Leonard pauses, eyebrows going up in surprise. He watches Wildfire.
Seirian returns to homid and gathers a fistful of dirt into her grasp, pausing in a crouch as she looks up at the Get with question on her face. She waits to hear what all he will say before continuing on.
Rags freezes with a handful of dirt, eyes blinking at the Get's unusual opening.
Chaser wreathes her way into the shadows, silently, a pair of green eyes watching from the dappled darkness of moonlight and leaves.
Dena, about to head over to Robert, pauses, eyebrow raised, at Owen, and listens.
Three-Blades stays where she is, looking at Owen.
Sepdet moves back to join her packmates, subdued. She winces slightly at Owen's opening shout, but listens to him gravely as she sinks to the ground by Yi.
Adrian watches his tribemate curiously.
Wildfire pages to the room: For the rest of this, consider Owen having fired up Inspiration and Visage of Fenris.
Wildfire continues his pacing, slowly working his way around the gathered. ~Ragabash of this Sept, Tricksters, Scouts, New Moons, Shadow Skulkers and what have you, your service in scouting and raiding will be recognized by the Sept. Raise your voices, Rotagar, and be heard!~
Seeker listens to Owen's announcement, then nods and begins to toss handfuls of earth on each grave.
Chaser snarls from her place in the shadows, a throaty noise that becomes a full-bodied battle cry.
Kristine blinks a bit, tilting her head cruiously at Owen. She does do the graves honors, by depositing a handful of earth to the graves before she turns back to Owen. She glances around, and frowns slightly. Hmmm.
Dena glances reflexively at Helen.
Four-Leaves twitches an ear, listening to the unfamiliar Garou speak. She crouches. Her tail curls about her paws as she listens. She will wait for the others to leave their marks first. Her eyes glance up at the crinos'd Adrian, then back to Wildfire. In the back of her head, the cub is reminded of a spirit day at school...
Shifting up into crinos, Helen lets out a loud roar.
Three-Blades glances around as the ragabash howl. The Gnawer raggie adds her howl last.
Stomps-The-Wyrm glances at the others, and at the mounds, once, and then joins in with the best roar she can manage, straining her throat a little with the effort, as if she were perhaps trying to sound for more than just herself.
Wildfire doesn't wait until the no moons quiet back down. ~Theurges of this Sept, Shaman, Spooks, Dreamers, Mystics, Crescent Moons and all that jazz, your service in interpreting dreams and finding the weaknesses of our spirit foes will be recognized by the Sept. Raise your voices, Godi, and be heard!~
Adrian shifts down to lupus and sits next to the other cub.
Seeker finishes his service to the dead, then walks over toward Owen and the others.
Well, that was certainly unexpected. Still, Kristine shifts up to Crinos, and lets loose a mighty howl.
Quiet Wind, without a word, moves forward and allows to fall from an outstretched claw a small amount of damp dirt onto a mound of a fallen one.'
Sepdet shoots a wan smile over towards Andrea, shoves herself to her feet again on Yi's shoulder, and belts out a hoarser cry.
StarEyed lopes limpingly into view just in time to hear Wildfire's call. Rising upwards into warform heartbeats after her sister, she raises her voice in a deep-throated and vibrant roar.
Quiet Wind moves, following his part in the Rite, to take Andrea's side.
Wildfire continues pacing the crowd, Fenris' very visage in his stance. ~Philodox of the Sept, Judges, Juries, Peacemakers, Lawgivers, and stuff like that, your services in keeping our ways upheld even in our time of trials will be recognized by the Sept. Raise your voices, Forseti, and be heard!~
Gaia-Will-Judge raises his head and lets loose a howl.
Adrian looks to see if Four Leaves will join in.
Bridge-Mender lets her hands settle to her side, her tail held out behind her, her ruined arm a knotwork of bites crossing over one another. She lifts her head and howls, bright-edged and sharp.
Four-Leaves cants her head, looking for Anneka, then glances at Stonehenge with a wolfish grin. As the other Philodox howls, she too lifts her furry face and yips, managing to slur them into something like a howl.
StarEyed returns to four legs and carefully makes her way over to the side of Stands-Proud, rumbling softly to the other Theurge as she nears.
Wildfire paces more. Obviously there's a pattern here. ~Galliards of the Sept, Songweavers, Storytellers, Keepers of the Lore of our people and our tribes, your services in keeping us together after we were scattered by passing news and for calling upon the Wyrm to meet us in battle will be recognized by the Sept. Raise your voices, Skalds, and be heard!~
Kaz glances sidelong at Owen, and remains quite silent.
Leonard moves towards his pack, lifting his muzzle and howling loud and long.
Stands-Proud turns to look at the other Fang as she shifts down, turning her head to give a greeting to her sister, though it is quiet.
Guards-Flame lifts her head up and howls shortly with a grin on her face, proud of the Get of Fenrir's words in recognizing her Auspice.
Song-of-Fury raises his muzzle to the sky and unleashes a mighty roar that melds into a howl into the night.
Adrian wolfy smiles at Four Leaves and then when prompted, lifts his muzzle in a howl, which mingles his hopes of the future with hopes for himself.
Seirian once again flows upwards to let her voice sing out into the night, high and long before it fades off and she settles back down.
Wildfire eventually makes it completely around the gathered. ~Ahrouns of the Sept, Warriors, Soldiers, Meatshields, Rage-filled Assholes and their ilk, your services are the most obvious in taking the fight directly to our foes. Your skills in battle will be recognized by the Sept. Raise your voices, Modi, and be heard!~
Dena is howling almost before Owen is done, a not-at-all quiet ululating wail, modulating into a slightly more traditional howl at the end.
Seeker throws his head back again in another rough, loud howl, a challenge to any enemies who may be listening.
Thus prompted, Rags raises a fist to the sky as he roars his readiness to go back into the fight.
Nightfire again lifts his head, again howls to the stars. This time, his howl is not a farewell, but a challenge. Defiant, proud, he calls out to world: we are still here.
Quiet Wind crouches, allow his outstretched arms to touch the ground before him. His gaping jaws let loose a low, menacing, violent sound.
Peacekeeper raises his muzzle to the moon above, a loud cry of joy and Rage to the heavens and anyone who might be listening from afar.
Seirian takes a moment to walk over and pay her respects, carefully sprinkling her handful of earth over the bodies equally and whispering soft words before moving back to where she had stood before0. Turning back to things at hand, she curls her arms across her chest again and watches.
Wildfire doesn't join the howl, instead guiding others. He holds out a bowl containing a thick, red liquid within. ~For everyone at this Sept, you have earned a trophy. A mark of war for each of you for your valor.~ He paces up to Robert first and draws a red line under both his eyes. This process continues until each attendee bears a mark, save himself, unless the request to be passed up. ~Do not let your hearts be weighted down! Let the foe know they can not break our spirit! This is my gift to you. So ends this Ahroun Moot.~
Four-Leaves holds her head up for the strange paint, blinking as she feels the cool liquid running into her fur. If she could see herself, she'd see red streaks on her silver face. She nudges Adrian with her head, tail wagging slightly. How do I look?
Leonard lets the amateur draw on his face, eyeing him. He does allow it, however.
Kaz doesn't, in point of fact, refuse, but she only barely manages not to flinch away.
Guards-Flame holds her head up a bit higher, proudly baring the red stains beneath her brown eyes.
Three-Blades lets her already reddish fur get more red, even if her eyes are riveting to the Gnawer Elder.
Song-of-Fury nods to the Get and receives his mark.
Stands-Proud's tail beats against the earth as the red marks stand out against starkwhite fur. She lolls a tongue at her sister. Should get the blue root to go with this.
Quiet Wind stands by Bitter Cup, still crouched, still quiet.
Seirian closes her eyes for the marking, opening them again and nodding to herself.
Cycle-Breaker stands as Wildfire makes streaks below her blue eyes, lifting her chin and letting out a low growl in agreement to the Get's words.
Adrian holds his face proudly to his tribemate as he gets painted. He noses Wildfires hand as he finishes. ~Thank you Rhya~ He looks over at Four Leaves and yuffs as he lifts his head. You look cool.
The Fury Ahroun, paint daubing her forehead and cheeks, grins wolfishly at the Get.
StarEyed gently butts her head against Stands-Proud and cocks an ear. Colorful. Very colorful.
Gaia-Will-Judge stands still for the application of red, then quietly slips over to the graves and sprinkles dirt on the fallen.
Bridge-Mender is still as the red is drawn on her face. Her ribs show as she takes a long breath, glances towards Kaz. Then she steps forward to lay earth one each of the graves.
Wildfire pages to the room: Also, this is for true, the cubs only get a dot on the forehead.
From afar, to the room, Four-Leaves eeps. I've got a dot, not streaks, sorry.
Sepdet turns a wry smile, standing on tiptoe to make the Get's job a little easier. She gives him a formal nod.
Seeker takes the bowl from Wildfire and paints vertical stripes down his face from the corner of each eye.
Rags, newly beredded, dispenses with fishing for compliments unlike others, and completes sprinkling dirt on each of the corpses, with varying quality and time spent at each.
Gaia-Will-Judge pages to the room: Well, at least she wasn't asking for goddess marks.
Stands-Proud looks amused at Star-eyed's motions, and tilts her head up, looking very proud and pleased--with red paint on her pretty white fur. Here's hoping it doesn't stain. Not that she wouldn't mind red in her hair again.
Dena places earth on several graves; Megaera's, and Malachi's among them.
Chaser threads her way toward the graves, and claws a little dirt into each. Her movements are still awkward, hampered by the wound in her side.
Helen, having put dirt on the graves, slinks away, quietly.
Dena considers Robert for a moment.
Leonard moves to check on his packmates, shifting back down in glabro. "Hey."
Chaser limps her way toward Sepdet, slowly.
Peacekeeper finishes scattering some earth on the graves, then walks over to Andrea and mutters something to her, then looks around over the gathered group.
Kaz shakes her head, mutters, "Scuse," and rises to her feet. Limping, she heads out of the Mounds.
Andrea's dark eyes widen and she murmurs back.
Sepdet notes Chaser's approach and drops to one knee again to meet her, expression sober and more than a little drained.
Wildfire at the end takes a handful of earth, mixes it in with the paint, and then spreads the dirt over the new graves.
Four-Leaves nudges the Get cub. I'm going home with my tribe, tonight, she says softly. Going to rhya's?
Alicia says another round of prayers, then slides her hands into her coat. Turnin about, she murmurs a farewell to everyone, then starts to head off.
Three-Blades nearly misses Leonard's re-greeting as she looks after the wake of Kaz. Then once everyone else has put their offerings of earth on the graves, she goes in last and does the same before pausing at Nevada's grave. Again, a silent communion, and she takes a step back.
Dena eventually slides back down into homid, and makes her way over to Robert. "Sir."
Quiet Wind looks to Robert a moment, then back out to the actions about him, face relaxed.
Leonard just kind of hovers, looking between Sepdet and Yi. As Sepdet's otherwise occupied, he once again heads to Yi, looking at her concernedly.
Chaser says nothing, but gestures her thanks by nuzzling the Strider's shoulder briefly. The wolf's grace and eloquence are more than a little compromised by her wounds--as is the case with many here.
Peacekeeper nods again at Andrea, saying, ~Until the caern is reclaimed.~ At Dena's approach, he looks at her and nods politely, if perhaps a bit stiffly, likely from wounds.
Adrian wolfy shrugs. I'm not sure tonight. I'd like to spend time with the other Get.
Stomps-The-Wyrm remains behind Kaz, not yet taking her turn to add a handful of dirt to the mounds, and shifts back down to homid. As Kaz leaves, the raggie glances after her, and picks her backpack up, pulling a little book from one pocket as she heads for the mounds. She opens the book, and reads from it over her packmates' graves, murmuring, the words directed to herself and them. She adds a sprinkled handful of dirt to each, then, and puts the book away before adding dirt reverently to the other graves, as well. One moment's pause, and then she turns, following her Alpha's trail in a mild hurry.
StarEyed looks to the Fang beside her and whuffs softly, getting up and shaking herself lightly. Back to guarding for me. Coming?
[Bawn: Central Forest]
"Hey.. Bern.." A voice calls out from behind the retreating Gnawer, that of one familiar.
Bernie hesitates, glancing the way she was going, but it isn't as though she can lose sight of a quarry already that far ahead. She stops, and turns to let Alicia catch up, greeting her with a small, crooked smile. "Hey."
Alicia dips her head in a nod to her as she catches up, wetting her lips a bit. Pausing, she tilts her chin up a bit, then pulls you into a strong hug, blowing out a breath. "Hey.. " She gives a slight tug, then lets you go, ready to take off again.
Bernie hugs back, tight and fierce. "We should do stuff," she remarks, the little smile getting more lopsided at the incongruity of it. Still. She lets go, and turns, ready to continue her pursuit as well, "...catch you soon?"
"Ya.. sure.. stuff.. um.. see ya." Alicia says softly, then starts on her path through the bawn, heading farmwards.
[The Sept Compound]
The Compound hasn't been violated to quite the extent the Caern has, but it hasn't been spared. There are still trees here, occasionally, and there is still the bare minimum of landscaping, but everything else is gone. Kaz is crouching, apparently trying to get a fire started.
Kaz has not, apparently, been crying. But there's a distinct lack of energy about her. Some kind of spark is gone, or at least missing.
The cracking of twigs announces Bernie's arrival -- no humming or singing, today, just the footfalls and the vague sense of increasing nearness the packlink provides. She doesn't speak until she's reached Kaz, crouched down beside her, and then it's very soft. "Hey."
Perhaps oddly, or perhaps not, Kaz tenses up as she feels Bernie approaching. She breaks a match, though she doesn't swear at it, and glances over at her packmate, sidelong, not quite meeting her eyes. "Hey." Her voice, too, is soft. Quiet.
"...you doin'?" Bernie asks, picking up a few twigs to add to the fire-to-be, not that it'll do much good. She pauses, and reaches into her pocket, pulling out a lighter, and offering it to her Alpha.
The metis shrugs, minutely. That, other than the faint pulse in her jaw, would appear to be the only answer Bernie's getting. Bernie's lighter, in fact, gets more response than Bernie's question, as Kaz shoves the matches back in her pocket and takes the lighter, muttering "Thanks. Needed that," as she gathers more hay and leaves to make kindling with.
Bernie nods once, slightly, and drops from the crouch to her rear, wrapping her arms around her legs. She doesn't try to further anything resembling a conversation, beyond the requisite, "Welcome," as she watches the gathering. One arm snakes out to pick up some more twigs, and toss them in the pile as well.
Kaz remains crouched. When she feels she has enough twigs and loose flammables, in addition to a few logs, she flicks the lighter on with a *chink* and lights some of the hay on fire; the fire does, in fact, start spreading. While doing this, she drifts slightly closer to her packmate. Slightly.
Bernie doesn't push, mostly watching the fire, glancing at Kaz now and then. She shifts back to a crouch, in case she should have to move from the fire -- it can be unpredictable, and she already knows what burning's like. The movement leaves her slightly closer to Kaz as well -- but again, only slightly.
Eventually, the fire proves not to be rapacious, and Kaz sits, crosslegged. Looking into the flames, she asks, as if she's diving into deep water, "You ok?"
Bernie follows suit, trusting Kaz's judgement of the fire potential, and watches the flames dance. "...relatively," she decides, after some hesitation, and after a little more adds rather gingerly, "...you?" She risks a quick sideways glance toward the galliard, with the inquiry.
The question is a complex one. The Galliard stares at the fire. Eventually, after it doesn't seem like she'll say anything at all, she manages, "Nothin' like."
Bernie nods, eyes on the flames again. "...yeah," she says, meaningless as the syllable is. Another darting glance, which turns into a more direct look, and she edges closer, tentatively. The body language implies a potential hug, but no certainty it's the right or even an acceptable thing to do.
Kaz isn't actually radiating misery. She's too frozen for that. Through the packlink, there's the barest inkling of an instinctive urge to flee from any hint of emotional or physical closeness. Clearly, Kaz is repressing this instinct mightily, since it shows not at all in posture or expression. Indeed, very little shows in either. When Bernie's darting glance turns more direct, Kaz manages that same sidelong look as earlier, but she quickly goes back to the fire.
Bernie hesitates again, watching Kaz, now. "I feel like... I mean, I wanna hug you," she admits quietly, "But I dunno if I should. I don't even know for sure whether I wanna do it for you, or for me."
The metis shoves a stick into the fire, sending sparks up. "I..." She shrugs, minutely. "Can't tell."
Bernie nods, and looks at the flames again -- thoughtfully, not really seeing them, this time. "...All right," she decides slowly, "then I might as well do it, and you can deck me or somethin' if it turns out you'd rather not. Yeah?" The plan works as far as she's concerned, at least; she moves the rest of the way over, and somewhat gingerly wraps her arms about Kaz.
Kaz is very still, while Bernie wraps her arms around her. She remains still, until, apparently out of a sense of obligation, she slides an arm around Bernie's waist. "No hittin'."
Bernie gives one fierce, tight, lingering squeeze, and then starts to release Kaz, with a little sigh. "...still don't know. I'm sorry, Kaz. I wish... I'm just... it's... I'm sorry."
Kaz swallows. Eventually, in a near whisper, she says, "I can't... feel nothin', Bern. I just can't... do it. Wishes, sorries, I just..." She trails off into silence, empty.
Bernie is quiet a minute, and then reaches over again, grabbing Kaz's shin, lightly. "You will," she says, then. "I dunno when, but. ...I... if I were better at my job, I could help maybe. Should be able to. Kind of thing. But anyway. When you do. I'm here, yeah?" The last is tentative again, though sincere.
Again, Kaz is rather still when Bernie first touches her, but she takes a long breath, lets it out. Eventually, she says, "Pack, ain't we? When I can..." The unspoken 'you'll know' is obvious.
Bernie nods. "Pack," she agrees, and falls silent again, watching the flames dance along the logs.