The four of them, Aaron, Sean, Harrison, and Black Song, are introduced to the The Starheeders Sept. The Sept Leader, Shuns-the-Night, takes them on a minimal tour, describing the layout and some of the history of their caern. Finally coming to their Assembly Area, he introduces them to Tall Shadow, the Rite Master of the Sept. Mistrusting, he grumbles out a hello as Shuns-the-Night turns to finally have a good long look at them.
First seeing Sean’s interesting weapon fetish, the iklwa, he asks for the story behind it. Sean tells his history of the Anglo-Zulu Wars in South Africa, and Shuns-the-Night nods in approval even as Tall Shadow derides him. Chastising him for his cranky snarls, Shuns turns to Harrison, giving him an exploratory sniff. Noting his lack of rank, pack, pups, or anything else of use in Garou society for Harrison’s age (31), he speculates that he’s been hiding from the wolf within, but not for much longer.
Finally whiffing at Aaron, he startles only a bit, realizing he has been touched by the Wyrm. This causes a violent reaction from the other Garou who had begun to get close, curious of the visitors. Many snarl, and some’s muscles begin to bulge, ready to burst into Crinos form at the slightest provocation. Harrison jumps in front of Aaron, snapping out an instant come-all challenge to any who’d try to harm Aaron, and just as three wolves jump him to do just that, Shuns-the-Night barks a mighty order.
The wolves back down. Shuns-the-Night stares at Aaron, and tells him that there was a story told to him once by some Silent Striders who passed by in exchange for a few nights of peaceful rest. The story involved the rending of the Umbra at a Fianna caern far away in their homeland, and the echoes it caused. He then asks Aaron why he’s waited so long in finding redemption, something Aaron only has a cursory answer for.
Finally, Shuns congratulates Black Song on his wedding and First Change, and wishes him many pups by his bride, something the others snicker at. Finally dismissing the four of them, Shuns-the-Night states that their monthly moot is to be that night, and they are welcome to have a look around until then, as long as they don’t cause any trouble. With that, he trots off with Tall Shadow, his sarape trailing along behind him.
Black Song first goes to give his thanks to the Caern’s Totem at the shrine dedicated to it, Hiincebiit. A war and calm spirit, the others follow Black Song to pay tribute to the Caern’s totem. As they kneel and meditate, each are touched with a vision, an unexpected gift from the Great Horned Serpent. Shaken, each go their separate ways without speaking.
Harrison finds a small group of Wendigo, Black Fury, and Uktena Philodox speaking of the Litany and a recent transgression thereof. A metis cub has just been born, and are furiously debating what to do. Turning to the outsider to test his chops, Harrison wisely suggests that the parents both search the Umbra for answers from Gaia as to the child’s fate. After some deliberation, they agree that leaving it in Gaia’s hands through the penitent parents could be the best solution.
Sean in the meantime, sees some of his fellow Ahroun gathered about, each boasting of their prowess in battle. He walks up as one finishes a harrowing tale of chasing a Wyrm-beast for days on end, and is asked for a tale of his own. He tells them the story of his First Change in the midst of a great battlefield, leaving none of his opposition alive. He holds up his fetish gift from the Zulu, and gains a little bit of respect from his fellow warriors.
Aaron, shaken by his vision, sought some solitude underneath a tree to contemplate by himself for a bit. Unfortunately, some Kinfolk human children had other ideas, seeing the wolf sitting by himself. They walk up to him and stare at him, grinning, until he finally decides to shift to homid to see what they want. They tug him, giggling, and take him to a game they have been playing. A net has been strung up through a hoop, and they are taking turns throwing a pole through the net. Aaron takes the pole he’s handed and gives it a toss. It sails cleanly through, impaling itself in the ground well behind the net. The kids gawk, and ask for lessons, and so Aaron spends his afternoon playing with and instructing some Kinfolk children under the watchful eyes of their mothers, and a few wary Garou.
As night falls, the Moot is called. The Garou all begin to gather at the Assembly Area as the Kinfolk pack their tipis and move a safe distance away from the revel to come. The Rite Master’s apprentice, a Theurge named Rides-the-Wyrm, begins the Howl of the Caern’s history, beginning the Moot. The Theurges join in with Rides, and each head of the auspices of the Sept each begin their own, their auspices each joining in, matching in dissonance, each lured to join by the power building beneath them. The waters of the river rise, running over the lowest parts of the bridges going to the caern’s heart. Tiny crackles of electricity are seen running over the surface of the water, and all begin to cross over.
The electricity does not burn, but it rejuvenates the will as all gathered around the caern’s heart. Giving thanks to the Great Horned Serpent, Tall Shadow in Crinos form begins to dance around a firepit as the Gauntlet thins here, the lines between spirit and physical blurring as he wildly circled. A dagger appears in his hand, and he knicks his body, casting droplets of his blood into the fire, and the other Theurges dance with him. The rest of the Sept is chanting, howling, or stamping in tune to the wild, primal beat the Theurges are creating, and as the Spiritual energies they create are fed to increase the strength of the Serpent, a huge cascade of water rushes up behind Tall Shadow, who stands still with his arms raised. The water coalesces into the visage of the Serpent, recieving their gnosis energies. In a crash and final sudden thrum of energy, the visage bursts, washing water over all of them and putting out the fire in the pit. An engling spirit is called, and the Revel begins.
The wolves, flush with spiritual energy and renewal, howl in bloodlust and rage as they give chase to the spirit of Gaia that gives itself freely. Aaron, Harrison, Black Song, and Sean all give chase, keeping pace with the pack fairly well, until Sean and Black Song both manage to finally, close to daybreak, overtake the engling and tackle it from the front, Black Song managing to make the killing blow. Having shown themselves well to the Sept, they finally leave the Revel to rest.
About noon the next day, Shuns-the-Night sends a messenger to them. Going to his hut, he finally speaks on their true business in the Sept, something he’s meditated on. The corruption of Nihancan is a serious matter, as the spirit has served as a totem to powerful packs and some caerns in the past. Having decided that destruction is not an option, the only solution is to bind it. They need items of power, however, to do so.
Shuns-the-Night tells them of a great massacre of his people about nineteen years ago, the Sand Creek Massacre in south-eastern Colorado. A heartless event, the Colorado militiamen who carried it out mutilated the bodies of women and children, and the few braves about who weren’t away hunting, and called it a ‘great victory.’ The commander of the attack got away with only discharge from the military.
At the site of this massacre was hidden an item that would be useful in binding Nihancan. It will be dangerous, he warned, but your proven prowess at the Moot last night is a sign we cannot ignore. Also, he continued, Nihancan would expect us to send our own braves on this task…people he can predict. Any edge we can get we must use.
Telling them to prepare for their trip, he sent them away. Black Song looked mildly irritated, but set, having wanted to see his bride sometime in the near future, and was comforted a bit by Aaron before he ran off to find Tall Shadow. He found Tall Shadow near the medicine lodge, and asked the Wendigo Theurge for any advice in their task. Scoffing at the Fianna, he finally relented enough to tell him that they would be searching for an ancestral spear that was lost in the massacre, supposedly made from the same tree-arrow that a dwarf-spirit had once pinned Nihancan to the ground with in their old stories. It would more than likely be guarded by various unquiet dead of the Arapaho and Cheyenne natives slaughtered there. Spiritual advice on how to quiet said unquiet dead, however, Tall Shadow offered no advice for.
Riding out, it was decided they would pass through Georgetown on their way to Sand Creek, which was at least a week and a half’s ride away.
They arrived early the next day, Harrison immediately heading to the hotel, the Harvest Moon, that he planned on purchasing. Meeting with the owner, Fred Hoyle, they spoke of Harrison’s plans. In purchasing the hotel, he would channel funds into it that would improve it to the go-to hotel of Georgetown once the railroad was completed. He would begin taking in profits only after the railroad was done.
Aaron went to go fortune-tell and cardsharp back at the Drunken Coyote, which was near empty for the early hour of the day. Curious, Jesse Simmons came over to have a look at Aaron’s setup, and asked what they were up to. Aaron told him they were only passing through this day, since they were going to take care of some Arapaho business down in the southern bits of Colorado. Dropping the name Sand Creek almost by accident, he saw Jesse loose the color in his face and make his excuses to head back behind the bar. Aaron wisely followed, and after buying a whole bottle of whiskey and coaxing him for a bit, Jesse finally admitted to being present at the massacre. He was a militia officer in Company D of the Second Colorado Militia, under Captain Silas Soule. Captain Silas was one of two company leaders that had commanded his men to hold fire and ignore John Chivington’s orders to slaughter the Arapaho and Cheyenne. He described in numb detail the horrors he witnessed, and went on to say that his wife, half-Arapaho herself, had begged Jesse not to testify to the military once the investigation into the incident began. Captain Soule himself had just been killed by Chivington’s men in his Denver home after his testimony, and Jesse had agreed to his wife’s pleading.
Going into the back of the bar, presumably into some personal home storage, he came back a moment later with a woven necklace with an arrowhead as its centerpiece. It had belonged to his wife’s mother, he explained, and she hadn’t looked at the necklace since the incident. He asked Aaron to take it with him when he went to Sand Creek, and maybe say some apologies to the spirits there.
Sean was waylaid by Orin on his walks through town, who immediately began pestering him with questions of the fairer sex. Apparently, he had been trying to purchase the evening with one of Serendipity’s girls, and had literally been left in the dark. The mocking, giggling dark. Not quite understanding what was going on, he told Orin that he’d go see Serendipity, if for nothing else but to quiet the young man’s pestering, and also because he was curious about the rat he’d begun to smell. Apparently he’d already paid twenty dollars for an evening with the girls, so he decided he’d at least try to get Orin’s money back.
Harrison, his current business with the hotel manager taken care of, had actually decided to see if he could find Serendipity himself to see how his little ‘deal’ was going. Finding her in the tailor’s, she smiled and said her girls had never had so much fun. Just as Sean came in, Serendipity locked on and amusedly listened as he advocated for the return of Orin’s money. Harrison fixed a predatory grin on Serendipity, obviously wanting to hold her to her own end of the bargain, but she went ahead and told Sean she’d return the boy’s money for services NOT rendered. Quipping as he prepared to go that he just seemed a ‘primal force for that boy’s honor,’ Sean realized that Serendipity was actually coming on to him. Harrison excused himself, as did Sean, and he went to the saloon to find Aaron still there, along with Orin now.
Aaron wisely suggested that he use gifts instead of just money to get a gal, appeal to her feminine side as opposed to her business-like side. Snagging Orin into the idea, Aaron grinned and hinted that he simply didn’t know enough about the outdoors to find the proper flowers…which prompted the desperate young man to beg Sean to help him find flowers.
What followed was a mad dash around Georgetown to end or maintain Orin’s virginity. Black Song watched from the outside for most of this, utterly confused by the white man’s need for little rituals before simply taking an interested woman to bed. Aaron even cut the telegraph lines as Harrison tried to get a message out of town to Orin’s mother, and Serendipity got in on the fun as well once she realized what the men were doing. Finally, Orin had flowers and some nice gift from the tailor’s (Serendipity’s suggestion), and was shown up to “Miss Daisy’s” room. In the aftermath, both Harrison and Sean attempted to use their primal presense to attract Serendipity’s attention, Aaron also doing so nearly reflexively. Serendipity collected herself and left, and Black Song, who had followed them into town, took one whiff at the air and walked off.
“Gaia help us.”