July: Cracking the Bone
[Jack's up!]
my whole life is thunder.
How much fatty bone barrow has this hulking beast gnawed, cracked open, and suckled upon? One might imagine that around Law in War not a scrap goes to waste, from prickly avian filaments to clear the intestinal tract on to heftier elk bones and everything in between. Deli meats. Candy bars. Moldy cheese. It's equally difficult to imagine he has seen lean times, but maybe it's only because when they were, he made due and didn't turn up his nose at a rotten piece of grub riddled roadkill.

This mottled John Deere tractor of muscle and fat trudges forward and up to mount the penumbral reflection of Earth's sandstone spine. And it has managed to preserve one bone. His plump and saggy jowls in this lupine form wrap around it. Each breath whistles wetly between teeth, labored as he moves his boulder form to the center, grunting and growling for attention.

Law in War places the mule deer femur with all the reverence he can summon onto the ground, sacred ground still thrumming with the awakened earthly energies of the Caern from the Calling of the Wyld. He speaks first to the bone, in the growls and huffs, yips and barks of their tongue, though loud enough for those around to hear.

“A bone to bear the brunt of disputes, to soak up malice and leave brother and sisterhood, to judge claims, and drag the weight of our concerns,” turning to the crowd arrayed around, hips and hind quarters bucking bullishly as his front paws remain spread in a strong stance.

“Give air to cool hot blood as the stones and highways cool from day's baking heat. Settle wrongs and disputes with claw-cut or bruise or broken bone; with a smart mouth or a sharp mind; be told to shut your muzzle, ain't your place. Claim with piss or words or title, however your tribe's way tell you. Challenge others; hold-throat and win or show-throat and submit. Give a name to your new face,” continuing to circle as he gives his direction, slower as he rounds on the bone. Sniffing the assembled scents of all these warriors of Gaia.

“Threats? Concerns? Wyrm or Weaver or even Wyld? If the Warder should've known about it already it's your tail, but pipe up now. Plan hunts and call claws and teeth against the Wyrm-enemy? Speak now while the Warders and Wyrmfoe listen,” nosing the bone again, its white lost in the bulk of his shadow.

“Do-what-will with this bone, by right of rank or right place, right time, but always speak truth,” finally picking it up as he falls quiet, Law in War brings it first to the Elders for them to speak.

Then to an Athro, and the next, on to any Adren that will question or challenge to speak amongst them.

Then to an Adren, and the next, on to any Fostern that will question or challenge to speak amongst them.

Then to a Fostern, and the next, on to any Cliath, and by now the picture should be clear, because finally...

To the Cliaths, from one to the next, as they step forward to claim it and their right to speak, even if last.
After the Elders have spoken, and the Athros and the Adrens, after even a few of the Fosterns have gone, Phoebe rises from her place in the crowd and makes her way to the fore, to the formation where some time ago now she sang the Garou of Denver to the moot. She gets to the front edge just in time for someone else to be handing the bone back to Law in War.

With a polite and respectful bow of her head to the Truthcatcher, Phoebe takes the bone from the lupus' mouth and turns to address the assembled.

"Many of you know me. For those of you who don't, I'm Phoebe Stavros, Sings the Spirits to Rest, Siren of Persephone, Fostern Theurge of Honored Pegasus." She looks over the crowd, at the faces she knows and those she doesn't, careful not to rest too long on her mother's face, her aunt's, her great-aunt's, the elders of her family who watch her with keen interest.

"My sister, Still Waters-yuf, and I are forming a pack. Our purpose will be to tend to the spirits of the sept and offer healing if it's needed. I encourage any who are interested in joining us to come find me after the moot."

Returning the bone to Jack, she leaves that open space to rejoin said sister.
When it comes time for the Athros to speak, Warning Threshold is not there, but of course he's not: he is in the sept in the city, looming over Denver, keeping watch. His company is thin: a few Guardians who sacrifice their night at the moot to patrol the city, and a ghost who lives atop a stone plinth in a church courtyard. But there is

a tall man, his head shaved clean and a bit shiny, his body barrel-shaped despite his height. He is wearing eyeglasses and a dark blue suit with a reddish-orange silk pocket square and a golden tie. There's an earpiece with a little cord running down behind his ear and under his jacket. He is not garou. He is in the umbra. One of the Elders brought him, and stands in physical contact with him in lupus, the man's hand in the Elder's fur.

This is Richard York, and he is Warning Threshold's half-brother. He is also the Head of Security at 1999 Broadway, and most often seen strolling the lobby, chatting with tenants in the charming way he has that makes them think, really, he's just a figurehead. He also nudges ne'erdowells out the door with an easygoing so where are you headed? and a smile that does not quite hide the feral sharpness of his teeth. He does not look threatening. There is only the sense about him that more threatening things wait behind him, and that is as it should be, for that is the truth.

"Good evening," he says to the assembled, though it is the Elder beside him who holds the bone in their teeth. "Some of you may already know my brother Richard, but he speaks tonight in my place."

Warning Threshold. A different voice, and not the right body, but Richard may as well be possessed by his half-brother, for all he indicates he feels anything he says.

"Those of you who are not new to our borders also know that last month, we suffered casualties while transporting the cub known as 'Fern' to the caern. The Beloved Horror attacked us, as well as our kinfolk, and killed Wind on Concrete and Slaughter. We have howled for them and buried them. But one was lost who we cannot bury, one who cannot hear us when we howl for him, because the Spirals took him.

"Champion of Honor is still touched by the totem of his pack. He is still holy enough for the spirit to abide, but his mind is silent. We cannot reach him. Our questing stones hang sullen and still. We do not know what has become of him. We only know that he is alive, and that -- if he is being corrupted -- the taint has not spread enough to sever him from his pack."

There are Guardians here tonight, from both septs, who know the man. There are garou of all ranks who have run with him, hunted with him, argued with him. Some even remember the last time he picked up the bone as Truthcatcher himself, when he was still a cliath. Even some of the newcomers know his face, and his voice, and some of them were there when he was taken. The silence in the gathering is of palpable thickness, heavy with anticipation of the inevitable.

"I charge the wolves of these septs, No-Moons to Full Moons and all those in between, to look for Champion of Honor. Find the Beloved Horror. If he is still bound to us, I have faith it means he has not betrayed us. But knowing he has spent a month in their hands, perhaps not even able to know how we search for him, leaves a cold weight in my stomach. He must be found. He must be rescued and cleansed.

"And if we cannot save him, we must save ourselves."

The Elder returns the bone to Law in War. The kinsman walks back to his spot, his hand never leaving the Elder's fur. Around him is the buzz of technology, so clear in the spirit world that it's distracting to many of them, but he remains. He is there in his brother's stead, eyes and ears.
my whole life is thunder.
When it is time for the Cliaths to speak, Avery takes the bone from the Truthcatcher and, upon taking the center of the gathering, turns to the members of Celduin.

"I must offer the garou of the pack Celduin my contrition, though I do not know the ritual to give it formally. Some weeks ago, a kinsman and I were stalked and ambushed by men who traded the true nature of their spirits for the Wyrm's corruption. The deeds that night of Echoes the Lost, Cinder Song, and Law in War are best suited for the singing of songs and telling of tales to come hereafter, but of my own, I only ask that these gathered septs witness my apology."

Avery, hair hair down and loose and straight tonight, hanging over the black yoga jacket that is dedicated for nights like this, inclines her head toward the three of them. "I am sorry, Celduin, for when you came to my aid and the aid of my friend, I fought alongside you only at first. I allowed my rage, and not my will, to guide me halfway through the battle and abandoned the field we were sharing to attack other assailants on my own. It was mindless. It was foolhardy. It dishonored the help you gave so freely and disrespected the bonds that we form in combat.

"And I was ashamed," she tells them, her eyes catching what light comes down from the moon to fill them with color. "If you forgive that error, the shame will be lifted, but my debt of gratitude and honor will not. You may call on me if you have need, and I will answer."

When Jack returns for the bone, she sets it in his hands as though it is far more delicate than it is, then returns to her place.
my whole life is thunder.
The Truthcatcher's pack, though he is only the omega amongst two Galliards of higher tribal birth, has been addressed. As with all that speak, Jack watches the speaker, the Silver Fang this time, though the lupus' ears are always turning independent of one another.

Flicking this direction and that. Great funnels atop his crown, taking in the sounds on the Umbral winds, twister still twisting away across the landscape, rats at the periphery of the gathering skittering in the dark hollows beneath the crags, the General Lee doing donuts before tearing down some rocky straightaway.

Taking in other sounds as well. Not as much looking for words or interruptions, but instead gauging the breaths and sentiment of the Garou who made their pilgrimage from near and far for the moot. Maybe one or two restlessly shift here. Maybe another sighs there. Or one chooses a particularly grave exchange to relieve herself. It all has as much meaning. Breath not used for words, movement that is not the wrapping of lips around rhetoric, could be just as telling as to consensus and emotion. Perhaps even more so.

And when Reverence of Dawn is finished and holds out that bone, though he leaves it to his Alpha to accept (or deny) her contrition, his own sentiment is made plain. As his maw opens to accept the bone, the Bone Gnawer's tongue flicks out the slightest bit to lick the first knuckle of one – the closest – finger before closing around the femur and carrying it on to the next who will claim it.
When the time for Cliaths to speak comes, and all (but she) have, Winona takes the offered bone. Though the airs and attitudes of her tribe don't come to her naturally and often give the appearance of a little girl playing in her parents' wardrobes, now is different. Her posture is straight but not rigid (bend, but do not break) and her long, wavy black hair is down and free. In the dark, her eyes appear black, all pupil, and in the summer her skin is very much darker than that of the average Silver Fang, more in keeping with her maternal line.

"My name is Winona 'Over Sea, Under Stone' Bogdan - daughter of Stephen 'Sees the Unseen' Bogdan, Athro Ragabash, granddaughter of Anya 'War Becomes Her' Bogdan, Elder Ahroun," the family tree could go on for quite a bit longer, but she leaves it at that; those who want to know more can trace it (or ask) easily enough, "and I am a Cliath Theurge of the Silver Fangs. "When I arrived in Denver less than a turn of the moon ago, I believe I found a long term home. Though I am as yet un-packed, I know where I will petition as a candidate. Thank you."

And with that, the bone moves on.

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