This is a truly odd place, startling in its abrupt change of scenery. It is a large, grass-covered hill, without so much as a single tree on it. However, all around the foot of the hill, the forest crowds in, trees packed densely together. A large stone, perhaps three feet in diameter, sits on top of the hill. One face has been sheared away as though by a great axe, leaving a glimmering reflective surface. From the hilltop, it is almost possible to see over the treetops, but not quite. The greater heights of the eastern mountains are visible from it, in distant, hazy splendor. There is an air of peacefulness that hangs over the place, almost a sleepy feeling. Most of the time, few noises can be heard except for the blowing of the wind.
The dark green of the forest surrounds the hill on all sides. Going any direction will likely be something of a struggle.
Contents: Al Harsin Alexis Sashi
Hazmat sits down on her haunches and looks around.
(James, Joan, Oscar, Porthos, and Justice all arrive.)
Hazmat thuds her tail a bit, seeing all the people coming.
Al Harsin gazes blearily about, massaging the back of his neck.
Oaken appears in a swirl of wind and light.
Sashi waits quietly for the Sneetches to Gather, kneeling beside the small bier.
James stays back a bit from the group.
Al Harsin watches everything with weary choler from his seat.
(Velasquez and Echen arrive, Vel by Umbra, Echen by forest.)
Hazmat eyeballs Echen slightly but doesn't say a word.
Oaken stands beside Velasquez, scanning everyone.
Echen emerges from the woods and stands, silently, at the base of the hill, just past the treeline. He does not approach closer.
Justice moves slowly away from the trees, to stand near Joan.
Hazmat moves over to sit near Alexis, brushing up against her tribesister's legs.
Sashi looks back at Oaken and Velasquez, and beckons them closer to her with a wave of the arm. ~Be at my side, at his side, on this.~
Velasquez swears quietly. Mostly to Oaken he says, "I wish we coulda got all the Gnawers here..."
Oaken looks up at Velasquez wistfully as he moves towards Sashi. "We can make sure they're at the Wake, at least."
(More arrivals - Lara-Anne, Catherine, and Alex.)
Joan stands next to Justice, watching the proceedings thoughtfully.
Velasquez nods, walking slowly over near Sashi.
Al Harsin sits on the ground, peering up at everyone.
Porthos nods quietly to those he knows as they arrive, standing quietly respectful near the edge of the large group.
Sashi's eyes are hooded as she listens to those filing into the circle. She tips her head back at the sky for a moment and some of the tension drains out of her shoulders.
Lara-Anne stands silently beside her packmates, her attempts at keeping her expression neutral not even close to succeeding.
Brandi emerges from the forest to the north.
Echen stays at the very edge of the north woods, just past the treeline. He produces a dull black shape from within his coat, somewhere, and begins passing it back and forth from hand to hand.
Feinan emerges from the forest to the north.
James looks uncertainly at the group, keeping back from it.
Hazmat pricks her ears and turns them toward Feinan. Her tail thuds twice in greeting.
Al Harsin peers balefully at the Mage, but keeps his mouth shut.
Feinan walks in, hanging back from the main group, nearer the trees.
Justice looks at the Mage, then turns a questioning look to Joan.
Joan looks up, startled. She gives a very faint growl, audible only to those next to her, and then stands still.
Jess lopes in, coming to sit next to Lara.
Brandi makes her way over toward her packmates, a quick stroll to make up for being late.
Sashi nods at Brandi and Feinan, and, after a thoughtful pause, waves not only packmate but mage over close to where she kneels at the casket's side. Then she stands and turns to face the circle of faces.
Oaken trots away from Sashi and the assembly, pausing at Feinan's side to rub the lower side of his jaw against Feinan's hip. The lupine signal is clear -- Feinan's part, however temporarily, of his `territory'.
Hazmat's nose twitches and she glances toward Echen again for a moment, scenting something. Then she apparently decides that she doesn't want to think about him right now. She turns her attention back toward Sepdet.
Oaken returns to Velasquez's side.
Hazmat looks at Oaken and flicks an ear in approval.
Lara-Anne gently scritches Jess's scruff.
Joan glares at Oaken, but says nothing.
Feinan hesitates a moment, then comes closer on Sepdet's wave.
Jess sits, next to Lara, her muzzle sniffing the wind, quietly.
Velasquez nods to Feinan as he approaches. "Glad you could get out here, man."
Sashi raises up her cupped hands before her face, drawing them together. "Pete. Tonight we Gather for you. These here, they've come to give you send-off with joy. And they bind minds and wills to bless this space under sky on Gaia especially for you, tonight."
Feinan nods silently to Vel, turning his attention to Sashi.
Sashi's gaze travels around, meeting each pair of eyes (or single) for a brief moment before returning to her part in this.
Echen continues to watch from the shadows of the trees, continues to pass the dark object back and forth between his hands, slowly. His eyes linger on Feinan for long moments; something, perhaps remorse? lurks behind the emerald green.
Lara-Anne closes her eyes for a long moment, a very quiet murmur passing her lips.
Sashi closes her eyes and chants, a strange old spell that seems to tug at one's spirit and call it /alive/, awake. She holds it unbroken for about a minute, until the whole clearing here seems strangely lighter.
Hazmat trembles slightly, beginning to be caught up in the power of the Rite.
Jess sniffs, scenting something which makes her turn to find its source, despite the gravity of the events going on.
Sashi finally sits back on her heels, eyes still distant with the edge of a trance. Taking out a faince flask, she anoints the top of the casket in three places with her smallest clawed finger, anointing the shroud in the proper places. Last she scatters a few chips of carnelian over the lid and rises, fingers reaching the ankh at her throat.
Brandi shivers a bit, and edges over closer to her packmates.
Jess looks questioningly in Echen's direction, straining her eyes to decipher the scent she has found.
Oaken's fur, formerly matted down by the drizzle, has started to stand up a little bit as he watches Sepdet carefully.
Velasquez stands stoically, hands clenched into fists at his sides as he watches the proceedings.
Feinan gazes at Sepdet, watching closely, his face drawn tight.
Echen continues to watch Sepdet silently. Still, the dark shape passes, slowly, back and forth between his hands.
Sashi murmurs quietly under her breath ~Now my friend. You have what you need to be free.~ Her lips curl around her teeth in a soft smile, as she addresses the circle again, eyes looking beyond all as if speaking to the sky itself. "Age-mate of mine. Teller of stories round the fire that we all remember. Your septmates and friends and pack brothers and sisters stand at your side, as you stood with them in your last brave battle. Here they are now, to give you Magpie's blessing and send you home."
Hazmat's attention focusses on Sepdet, eyes, ears, and nose.
Jess contorts and blurs as she is transformed.
Sashi opens her arms wide. "He heard me. Now let'm hear all of you, silent or spoken, if any have words to send him on his way." Jess shifts into Homid form.
Sashi steps to the side, leaving Pete's packmates closest to him and a place for others who might wish to draw closer to do so.
Lara-Anne pages to Alex, Alexis, Brandi, Catherine, Echen, Feinan, Hazmat, James, Jess, Joan, Oaken, Oscar, Porthos, Sashi, and Velasquez: Somehow, a sense of peace, edged with pride and honor, comes over you as Unicorn answers Lara-Anne's call for healing the sorrow in the Gathering's members' hearts at Pete's joining with Gaia's soul.
Oaken tilts his head up. In battle, in conversation, in who you gave your heart and enthusiasm to, you were a bright flame, Pete. I will always be proud to call you a packmate.
Echen speaks, suddenly, from the shadows of the trees at the clearing's edge; the passing of the dark shape between hands ceases abruptly as the object falls from his grasp, and he holds both palms upwards, towards the hill's crest. Moonlight shines off the dark blood that pools in his palms and drips from between his fingers. ~It was I who sent you on this hunt, into this battle,~ comes the clear voice. ~Luna light your path, and Stag guide you home.~
Sashi listens respectfully, moving through those gathered but touching none, as if weaving all standing together with an infinitely complex pattern. She murmurs a prayer or binding each time someone speaks, spinning their words or say into the Rite.
Brandi waits a few seconds, and then says quietly, as if talking only to herself and maybe one or two others, "You came in as a cub, you learned, you joked, you shared laughter with others around you. And you died bravely." She pauses, swallows, and then adds "I'll miss you, Pete. Lots of people will miss you."
Lara-Anne contorts and blurs as she is transformed. Lara-Anne shifts before your eyes, a blur of rippling motion, slipping into Lupus form.
Alexis says "Bye, Pete. You were a better Gnawer than I am. I hope that, wherever you are, you have all the cookies and video games you want."
Joan stares, almost open mouthed, at Alexis.
Echen's arms fall back to his sides, and his hands curl into loose fists. He resumes watching, silently.
Velasquez waits for a moment of quiet and says softly, "I hope you found the honor you was lookin' for, man. God knows I don' got many I can call friend, but you was one of 'em an' I'll never forget you. An' as long as I live, I'll never let anyone badmouth the Gnawers for bein' any less than anyone, 'cause I got ones like you to tell 'em about..."
MoonMist sits on her haunches, and lifts her muzzle to the night sky. She begins to howl, softly keening at first, speaking volumes of sadness and sorrow, then growing stronger, its tone taking on a note of pride, love, and respect for the fallen. It becomes that of a song, a haunting, achingly pure in nature, a continual soft howl of passage unto a better life with Gaia.
Feinan moves a little closer, looking at the casket. He murmurs quietly. "Pete...you were a dear friend, and I was honored to know you, the time I did. Whereever you run now, I wish you well. Safe journey, Pete, and my regards...and love." He steps back, eyes bright and fists clenched.
Hazmat remains silent except for a soft woofling howl that is barely heard. If there are any words in it, they are unintelligable.
Porthos rumbles quietly, as if to himself. His one arm hangs uncomfortably by his side, and his expression remains stoically respectful.
MoonMist lowers her head, bowing it in deep respect for Pete.
Joan looks up at the casket, and says something something inaudible.
Sashi finishes her slow stiff dance to stand on the far side of the simple coffin from everyone else, eyes gleaming. ~Friend. Son of Magpie. You fought for Gaia, you won your battle, an' died with the honor of true Garou.~ She smiles again at that hovering point above people's heads. "You also know when to laugh, when's a time to be makin' stories, or when it was right to relax and be all that's best in Bone Gnawer and your moon. Keep those stories where you go, as we'll keep stories of you. Now fly with Magpie's wings, to that great Gnawer party beyond Gaia's face. We'll be seein' you."
Sashi contorts and blurs as she is transformed. Sashi shifts into Lupus form.
Catherine looks in to the air, her eyes glowing silver.
Oaken dips his head. Hurry back, Pete.
Sepdet tips back her muzzle and lets out one long gentle howl into the night sky.
James listens to the rite, staying back from the crowd.
Velasquez contorts and blurs as he is transformed. Velasquez shifts into Lupus form.
Brandi contorts and blurs as she is transformed. Brandi shifts into Lupus form.
Oaken tilts his head back, voice low and clear as he howls for his packmate.
Hazmat lifts her muzzle in high, yipping howl, singing of the scab, the back alleys and lonely streets, the song of the Bone Gnawers. Her voice is strong and, though mournful at the loss of her rat-brother, proud that she was able to call him that - tribe-brother and friend.
Echen lifts his voice again in a soft, startlingly-accurate measure of the Dirge for the Fallen. The note rises, then fades. Another note follows on the heels of the first, a quiet, keening wail that lingers on the breeze despite the wind.
Alexis joints the howl, with a clear and sad note.
Velasquez throws his head back and howls, a high-pitched, mournful farewell to his packmate, tribesmate, and friend.
Oscar removes his trenchcoat. Moon Otter contorts and blurs as he is transformed.
Porthos contorts and blurs as he is transformed.
Moon Otter shifts into Lupus form.
Porthos shifts into Crinos form.
Alex contorts and blurs as he is transformed.
Catherine strips off her clothes, folding them out of the way as she begins to transform. Catherine contorts and blurs as she is transformed.
Alex blurs and reforms as he shifts to Lupus.
Moon Otter offers up a low, mournful howl.
Catherine shifts into Lupus form.
Brandi judges pitches, and adds her voice in to approximate a countermelody against Oaken's howl.
James contorts and blurs as he is transformed.
Porthos raises a massive muzzle and howls low.
James shifts into Lupus form.
Windrunner adds his voice to the howl, clear and low.
Oaken's right ear tilts at a right angle to the rest of his body, aiming towards Echen even as he (mostly) concentrates on his call to his friend.
Gentle Touches gives voice, adding a clear high sad note to the howl.
James gives a weak howl, not seeming comfortable making the sound.
MoonMist joins her voice to the group, the heartfelt loss evident in the soft, pure tone of her howl.
Feinan takes a deep breath, his eyes shut tight, and howls as best he can, a low tenor dirge.
Joan raises her voice in a soft greek chant--a prayer for the dead.
Brandi trails off as she listens to the remaining howlers, then shifts back into her original form. Brandi contorts and blurs as she is transformed. Brandi shifts into Homid form.
Sepdet looks around approvingly. I think he heard us. His spirit's free; the Rite is finished. We'll tend to what he doesn't need now.
Oaken trails off, looking at the ground again. Fair enough.
James contorts and blurs as he is transformed. James shifts into Homid form.
MoonMist contorts and blurs as she is transformed. MoonMist shifts before your eyes, a blur of rippling motion, slipping into Homid form.
Sepdet takes a deep breath before shifting for what had better be her last time this evening.
Gentle Touches contorts and blurs as she is transformed.
Hazmat's howl fades slowly. She lowers her muzzle and turns her eyes back toward Sepdet.
Gentle Touches shifts into Homid form.
Sepdet contorts and blurs as she is transformed.
Velasquez finishes his howl and hangs his head for a moment, then looks up grimly for the task at hand.
Sepdet shifts into Glabro form.
Velasquez contorts and blurs as he is transformed. Velasquez shifts into Homid form.
Oaken contorts and blurs as he is transformed. Oaken contorts and blurs as he slips into Homid form.
Porthos contorts and blurs as he is transformed. Porthos shifts into Homid form.
Echen leans back into the curve of a tree trunk, cloaking his expression in shadows. Soft, very soft, he sings: "The minstrel boy to the war is gone. In the ranks of death you'll find him. His father's sword he has girded on, his wild harp strung behind him. 'Land of song!' cried the warrior-bard. 'Though all the world betrays thee, one sword, at least, thy rights shall guard, one faithful harp shall praise thee.'"
Lara-Anne takes a plastic baggie from her duffle bag and walks over to the casket. She opens the baggie, and removes a small amount of its contents, which she sprinkles over the casket. Softly, she murmurs, "May the grace of Gaia guide you, Pete... and the unity of our souls strengthen you."
Brandi circles around to the other side of the casket, looking up to catch a glance from her packmates.
Hazmat watches quietly, solemnly.
Lara-Anne seals the baggie and returns it to her duffle bag, then walks back to stand with her packmates.
Catherine dresses quietly over to one side.
Oaken looks over at Feinan, a long, sad glance.
James moves back to the edge of the clearing and watches.
Sepdet slips her hands under the edge of the casket and nods to Oaken.
Velasquez nods to Brandi, and then turns to wait for Oaken.
Echen pauses a moment, then pushes off the tree and finishes the second verse. "The minstrel fell, but the foeman's chain could not drag that proud soul under. The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again, for he tore its chords a-sunder. And said, 'No chain shall sully thee, thou soul of love and bravery. Thy songs were made for the pure and free; they shall never sound in slavery.'" As the last note of the too-quiet tune drifts into the night, so too the lanky Irishman vanishes into the northern woods.
Echen descends the northern side of the hill, and heads into the forest. Echen has left.
Catherine begins to move over towards Porthos, her eyes still glowing.
Joan finishes her chant and moves back into the forest, quietly. Joan descends the northern side of the hill, and heads into the forest. Joan has left.
Feinan looks at Oaken quietly, and nods, then gives the casket one last glance. He murmurs quietly. "Goodbye, Pete. Gods watch over thee, and guide thy way, lad." He turns, and heads off.
Lara-Anne's gaze follows her packmate's movements, finally coming to rest on Porthos.
Feinan heads down the southern slope of the hill, and disappears into the dense forest. Feinan has left.
Oaken sighs deeply, and gives Sashi a nod, gripping his end of the casket.
Porthos turns away from the casket, just now noticing the glances directed his way.
Sepdet murmurs "Just help me take him to the mounds, friends, and then join Feinan. I'll tend the burying."
(Sepdet, Brandi, and Vel leave, bearing the casket to the Burial Mounds.)