The Fetch Quest [Attn: Merlin's Wolves]
#1
Star 
In this, the twenty-first century, communication has evolved to the point of being instantaneous and worldwide.  Somebody in Hong Kong could speak in real-time with a person in London, without the inconvenience of waiting for letters or messengers to run words back and forth between one another.  While many werewolves who lived in this time took full advantage of the benefits of modern technology, a good number of Traditionalists still scoffed and turned up their noses to the idea of communicating formal Garou business by way of cell phone call or text message.

Blind Eye of Justice was one such Garou.  Even though the Adren Child of Gaia couldn't be very much older than Avery herself, she insisted on sending spirits with the messages instead.  Often dove or swift spirits, carrying scrolls on their ankles or whispers in their feathers.

She'd been in touch with Avery, for proximity and compatibility of Rank and Moon, in regards to the Silver Fang's station in the Nation.  Her name had weight and recognition, she'd been Fostern for some time now and had been there with the Garou of Denver, steadfast and devout, since the very start of All This Strangeness.  Radiant Honor was ready to Challenge, and this was who she was told to speak with.  A Garou at the Sept associated with Yellowstone National Park.

The latest message was simple:

We are prepared.  I have a challenge ready for you.  Come as soon as you are able.  Bring your pack with you, they will be required.  Make arrangements, for you may be gone for some time.
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#2
Avery is not a traditionalist.  Well: in some ways she most certainly is.  She understands that one's message must be, whenever possible, married to its medium; that is, one's intent determines one's method.  Or it should.

There were discussions, albeit brief ones, with her as-yet-unnamed and freshly minted pack, regarding her decision to be recognized for her deeds and named as an Adren.  There were similar but more candid conversations with her mate about the matter.  These did not take very long; when she has made a decision to do something, she tends to move forward without dilly-dally.

The shuttering of Cold Crescent and the decimation of Forgotten Questions left her with fewer options than she had once had.  The wolf who once sent her on her Fostern challenge was dead, abruptly but honorably so.  Wolves of appropriate rank and auspice were scarce, and none of her own tribe.

Avery reached out: to kin, through kin, to connections in other states.  Someone told her of so-and-so, and so-and-so mentioned what's-their-name, and eventually Avery crafted a message, sent by messenger, to Blind Eye of Justice-rhya in Yellowstone.  It was a request, with a subtly included offering of chiminage, should she agree.

And then time passed.

And then a response came.

--

Avery is lounging on the deck up north with Calden when a dove lands near them, making her laugh in delight and wonder.  She offers it crumbs remaining from her breakfast toast, asking it to eat before gently seeing if it will permit her to remove the scroll on its foot.  Unrolling it while the dove pecks at its due, Avery's eyes skim and flick over the words, and then she breathes in deeply, rolling it neatly back up.

Arrangements began immediately.  First the new scroll for the dove, and a plea that she doubts it can understand, as she does not understand how to speak to a spirit taken form.  The new scroll says only: We are coming.  And then messages were fired off on her phone -- Avery having yet to get over her unease and ask Merlin to speak between the packmates -- to Rafael and Morgan.  Well: messages were drafted.  But then she realized, looking at them, that she is their Alpha.  Messages were re-written:

My challenge is set.  I need the both of you to go to Yellowstone with me.  We will be leaving now, and may be gone for some time.  Let me know what you need from me.

This is sincere: her driver is made available to both of them for whatever arrangements they may need to make.  Chiminage for the Moonwalker at Forgotten Questions, should they require it, in order to run together from one caern to another.  Avery begins to pack, lightly, and then heads south again to meet her pack and enter the spirit world.

A number of hours after receiving Blind-rhya's message, Avery emerges from the moonbridge into the Yellowstone caern, gleaming white and crackling with the spirit world's energy, 

prepared.
my whole life is thunder.
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#3
Wolf gets the text while he's lurking around the Cathedral. Frowns at the little bright square of a screen on his little scratched-up brick of a phone. Taps something back:

I'm good. I'll go pick Morg up.

--

But first, a stop at Hooked on Colfax. Not for coffee, but for a certain blue-eyed witch. Stands in the doorway scaring the entering patrons until girl notices him and comes over. He takes her outside; tells her he's gotta go for a few days. Be back soon though. Tells her to help herself to his place. Kisses her goodbye in that grumbly growly way, one distrusting eye on the rest of the cafe as though he expects someone to come shoo him away. Or try.

Oh yeah, and also: borrows back the bag.

--

Would smell like her when he goes pick Morgan up, except girl doesn't smell like anything at all. So Morgan just smells him, raw and crackling with rage. He drives a car, doesn't make her sit on his goddamn motorcycle. It's a decent car, nothing flashy, some late-model sports sedan that's more sedan than sports. In the back seat is a messenger bag, the sort you can wear over one shoulder or crosswise over the chest. It's pretty small, but that appears to be his only luggage.

On the way there, no music on his stereo. Asks Morgan, though -- "Know what the challenge is?"

--

They meet Avery at Forgotten Questions. Isn't wolf's first time here, but close enough. He doesn't know where anything is, has to follow his packmates. Is cagey and on-edge when they get to the moonstone. He hasn't taken one of these since he was a cub, and didn't like it then. He's the last one through. Puts his hand on Morgan's shoulder as she's stepping on -- for balance, or possibly for reassurance.

--

Yellowstone's remote darkness splits open in a flash of light, a sound like thunder. Wolf stumbles through on the heels of his packmates, disoriented and motionsick; all those miles flying past in a blur, that sense of motion-without-motion. He dry-heaves. He looks like he wants to sit down. His hand is gripping Morgan's shoulder rather hard; the other one has a deathgrip on the strap of his bag.

He lets the first loose. Loosens the second. Dry-heaves again behind closed lips, grimaces.

"I'm okay," he mutters -- perhaps more for himself than anyone. "I'm fine."
BECAUSE OF LIGHT AND DUTY AND REASONS.
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#4
Here's a fact about Morgan Roche not many are privileged enough to know.

She can sing. Had been a member of choirs in Portland, before her parents passed away. Before she became less a girl and far more a monster with that flaming red hair of hers. Avery (or Avery's staff) may be the first to hear it - a lilting melody drifting through rooms while the Ahroun is present; old songs and new - some in English, some ... not. But pretty. Poetic and - surprisingly gentle, for all that the young woman felt like a blaze of fury.

A lick of white hot fire.

--

Rafael has a bag when he collects his packmate and Morgan has -- Morgan. Well, not quite. There's a duffel bag she throws into the back with the Silver Fang's messenger bag; her own a tatty forest green that's seen enough action to bear scars and stains. The Fianna smells like the great outdoors and Avery's shampoo.

Her clothing also seems cleaner than it has - well, - ever.

Know what the challenge is?

There's a frown. The younger Ahroun shakes her head aggressively in the negative. Seems, perhaps, torn between her excitement to be moving and the idea of the trip itself. "Las' time I was there for a challenge it did nae end so well. But - " A little shrug, a self deprecating grin. "Fianna do things differently."

Whatever that meant.

--

They tumble out on the other side, this trio of Merlin. Avery, resplendent and glowing. Rafael, looking a little moonstone-sick and Morgan red-cheeked and spiritually wind-tossed. She's already staring around and biting at the inside of her cheek, this red wolf who smells like Celtic warriors long buried and gone.

"S'like drinkin' Tommy's moonshine back home." She says, as Rafael grips her shoulder. She sounds a little sympathetic. "Maybe you should put your head between your legs."
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#5
Wolf sniffed audibly when Morgan got in his car. "Huh, you smell clean," he says,

which, if you think about it, may or may not carry implications of previous scent-states.

--

But she gets him back, doesn't she? Tells him to put his head between his knees. He grunts, would say something back except if he opened his mouth just this moment he might upchuck. "Mn kay," he mutters, teeth together, mouth closed. It's supposed to be another I'm okay.

He rolls his shoulders back. He straightens with a great heave, and looks to the alpha.
BECAUSE OF LIGHT AND DUTY AND REASONS.
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#6
Needless to say, Yellowstone National Park was a beautiful place.  It was potent with danger and glory and all of Gaia's intensity condensed into visual representation.  Old Faithful and the gorgeous rainbow geothermal pools that had been there, a place of raw worship for their people and many other peoples as well (like a watering hole in the Savannah, a well of spiritual essence that many a spirit-tapped creature was drawn to).

Needless to say, Merlin's Wolves did not arrive there.

Rather, the Moon Bridge tumbled out a nauseated Rafaël, a more stalwart Morgan, and a far more put together Avery in a patch of worn-down dirt and tufts of grass in the forest, in a space where trees were sparse and the soil was sandy.  A large male wolf with gray and brown in his pelt greeted them-- a Ragabash of the Warder's pack.  He would take them to Blind Eye of Justice, follow him.

They did not have to go far, the Moonbridge did not deposit them any needless distance from where the Wolves of this Sept lived.  There were one-story cabins to serve as homes for the Wolves who lived here permanently.  Kinfolk lived in nearby towns, most all of them working for the Yellowstone National Park as rangers and barkeepers and tour guides and what have you.  A stomped-down dirt assembly area with a crude (ancient) alter at the head.  A pit in the center with seamless gray stone wrapped about the area, apparently carved carefully and buried beneath the soil so only the wall was visible.  The inside contained charcoal, the stone blackened from many years of fire.  It was cold and dead now, though.

Perhaps Avery had explained to her pack who Blind Eye of Justice was.  She certainly would have sought out the identity to go with the name when she had learned it.  It was not difficult for a Fostern of the Silver Fang Nation to learn this story, for its roots originally supped the blood of her own ancestry.  Blind Eye of Justice, once Piercing Gaze of Falcon (ironically enough), had been a Fostern of the Silver Fang Tribe, much like Avery herself.  She had mustered enough Renown to her name to be near to Adren, but had a sudden and drastic change of heart.

She left the Silver Fang Tribe.  Renounced her lineage entirely.  This was a particularly hard blow to the Tribe for she represented them in Yellowstone, for her family had been there for quite some time and worked hard to introduce their lineage to the wolf population.  She was Lupus-Born herself, a rarity in a people dwindling from inbreeding and lack of healthy (pure) selection.  Falcon was so furious with her that when he took his name from her, he took what it represented from her too-- her sight.

This Wolf instead joined the Children of Gaia, and stayed here dutifully dedicating herself to the Caern and the people of the Sept and, in particular, healthy relations with the wolf population and their numbers of Wolf Kin among them.  But all of this was many years ago, back in the 70's and 80's.  She was quite old now, plateaued at the rank of Adren, but a part of a Tribe of peoples who didn't believe in sending their old off on ice drifts to starve and freeze and drown.  She stuck to the Caern proper these days.

Blind Eye of Justice lived in a hide tent instead of a log structure.  She would be found in her Human body, as a tall old woman of thin (but not necessarily frail) build.  Her hair was a long and healthy sheet of silver, her eyes milky white.  She dressed in a T-shirt and denim jacket and denim pants as well.  She had boots sitting beside the dusty old wooden rocking chair positioned outside the mouth of her tent.  She was sitting in the chair when they approached, and didn't bother to rise.  Instead, she smiled a thin-lipped smile of greeting and explained:

"Forgive an old woman keeping her seat.  Welcome, Radiant Honor, it is good to meet you in person."

Her tone was matter-of-fact, and her smile was fleeting.  Formalities were exchanged, and she would hear the names of both of the Ahrouns that accompanied Avery and acknowledge them, but soon it was down to business.  Wrinkled hands grasped together on the top of a walking stick that she held between her knees to help support her while she leaned forward in her chair to address them.

"Did you notice our fire pit in the center of assembly?  How it is black and cold with no smoke and no fire?"

Enough time for acknowledgement.

"It is because the Red Talons have taken our Fire to Mount Siyah, up north.  Now the fire burns the mountain in the Umbra, chewing and consuming much more than it should be warranted.  We have a long standing arrangement with Fire here, and Fire is needed here.  Fire protected our Caern Heart, but now..."  She shook her head.

"Some children--" her teeth bore on children, still pearly and straight and strong even in this age, "--made an arrangement with the Red Talons and promised them Fire.  Came and convinced Fire to leave us in the night.  And now they are hiding out, away from their Judgement.

"Seek them out.  Hear their stories, their excuses, their whining and sniveling for forgiveness.  Hear them explain why they have been hiding like children from their spankings.  Then bring them to me."

This was a woman who took her Caern's protection very seriously.  She leaned back in her chair and seemed to be looking down the long line of her nose at them, even though her eyes were as pure and white and the representation of Luna's Glow that Avery wore upon her entrance to the Caern.  Then, after a judgmental huff, she continued on.

"Your pack lacks a Theurge.  You may borrow one of ours-- a Silent Strider who has been here as of late.  You should consider adding one to your number though, dear, they are incredibly useful."
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#7
Running through a moonbridge does not appear to agree with Rafael, but Avery takes little note of this. He is one of her Ahrouns, and likely does not need her to tend to him overmuch. She would not want to shame him in front of strangers. Somehow it is different, for Morgan to offer him a shoulder to lean on. This is, for reasons unspoken, more appropriate. More acceptable. But when they are settled and look to her, she looks back, rising to her feet, returning to her birthform.

She inclines her head deeply to the Ragabash sent to guide them, and follows him through the park, to Blind Eye. Avery knows her history. And upon meeting her, Avery keeps her eyes steady and her manner courteous, even though the older Philodox cannot see her.

"Thank you, -Rhya," she says, in response to the greeting. "I have brought my pack," and thus begins a truncated version of their introductions. Their names. Their deednames. A note about Rafael's mother and her deeds. Whatever she could find about Morgan's lineage. Just notes; broad passes, really. Avery is, after all, a Silver Fang, and one who exemplifies the best that the tribe is still capable of. One who believes and hopes in equal measure in the goodness of her tribe. Being a Silver Fang is, to her, as inherent to her nature as anything else: the blue of her eyes, the love she has for her mate, the faith she keeps to her auspice. And the Silver Fangs believe that history matters: where someone comes from, what they have done, the ancestors whose spirits still follow them in the world.

These are, however, only pleasantries. Introductions, briefer than one that might be given by a Galliard of the same tribe... or Morgan's, or the Get, for that matter. They have business to attend to, and Avery has a commitment to her packmates to return them to their chosen home and their friends as soon as they have helped her.

"I did," she answers, regarding the fire pit, because a nod would be useless to Blind Eye. Also useless is the hop of Avery's eyebrows as she gets more of the tale. She lowers them a moment later, more thoughtful. When Blind Eye is finished, she says: "Thank you, -rhya. We would certainly appreciate a spirit-talker for this task. What can you tell me about the ones who brokered this arrangement with the Red Talons?" she asks. "Their number, and their ranks and auspices, if I may. What is known of their motives? And, if it pleases you, is there someone who can tell us more about the history this sept has with the Red Talons?"
my whole life is thunder.
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#8
Blind Eye is neither who nor what the wolf expects. His astonishment and -- truthfully -- his doubt are both writ clear on his face. He takes up a position at Avery's right shoulder, side by side with Morgan, nodding when he is introduced. Belatedly, he realizes the gesture is wasted.

Note about his mother and her deeds surprises him. He doesn't even know much about ... all that. Makes him a touch uncomfortable too, as though suddenly now he would be expected to stand worthy of those legends.

While the Adren and the almost-Adren discuss Fire and Red Talons, he listens, furrow-browed. And leans toward Morgan. And -- low, intended mostly for Morgan, though he's certainly not trying to mask it from anyone -- he mutters, "What do Red Talons want with fire, anyway?"
BECAUSE OF LIGHT AND DUTY AND REASONS.
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#9
If Rafaël got the impression that the blind woman was staring at him, he wouldn't necessarily be wrong.  She had certainly turned her head in his direction, where his voice had come from, and though her eyes had no way to focus, she seemed to have pretty good alignment all the same.

"I apologize, son, I left you with the impression that this was your challenge."

She gave that a moment to sink in.  Sharp, mean, but the snap of a whip always would be.  When that moment had passed, she leaned back in her chair and continued.

"The ones you're looking for are young-- selfish, foolish, young.  Cliaths, the both, so fresh they did not even wait to have Deed Names bestowed upon them before they began to besmirch them.  The Ahroun is a girl-child adopted by the Black Furies, called Gloria.  Then there is the boy-child, Ashton; he is a Ragabash of the Silent Striders.  The girl has been here perhaps six months, the boy came with the wind three weeks before their treachery.

"As for motives, this is part of what you seek.  You seek them, the two of them.  You seek to find the details of their bargain with the Red Talons, and you will then send those details back here to us, along with the whelps.  I do not presume to believe that two pups will be much difficulty for your packmates to handle.  Then you, Radiant Honor, will seek counsel with the Red Talons and broker our Fire back to us."

She stopped there with an air of finality, but seemed to recall her last question.  She scowled and shook her head.  "They are not the most progressive Red Talons, but there are few who pledge to Griffin who could call themselves such.  But, they do not lack Honor.  They will hear your words."
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#10
The Adren snaps at Rafael, and Avery briefly turns her head to her tribesmate, catching his eye.  Not with a subtle cough or with a deep inhale; just some small measure of change in her bearing that draws his attention to her.  It is a small, singular version of something she does, sometimes, when she does not feel the need for a word but does need eyes on her.  In this case it is specific to her pack.  Some shift, just then, that calmly pulls their awareness back to her.

She looks at him, and her gaze is one of silence and caution.  Maybe he heeds it.  Maybe he ignores it.  But it is a command, and she does give it, albeit silently.

--

Her own attention returns to Blind Eye as the older Philodox goes on.  Avery inclines her head in a small bow, more for the sake of propriety than for the blind wolf's benefit.  "Thank you, -rhya," she says, and moves to turn.  "We will begin now."  She steps back closer to her pack once more, to go pick up their Loaner Theurge and begin their work.
my whole life is thunder.
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