February: Cracking the Bone
When the howls have faded and King and Pawn has given up his place, Reverence of Dawn once again steps forward as Truthcatcher. She is simply but warmly dressed in all white, the scarf around her throat twinkling with gold thread, her gloves leather but colored to look metallic, also gold. The bone in her hand is one that her packmate and the cub will recognize, in part because they were with her when she took it, handed it to one of her manservants, telling him to clean it.

That manservant's name is Colin, and Colin does not shy from doing things like cleaning bones, scouring and bleaching human skulls, or even tanning leather from the flesh of a man turned fomor. Colin is a precious, dark-spirited young man, and it satisfies some strange need in him to pull flesh from bone, right down to swabbing in between teeth with a Q-tip. It settles him. It fulfills some horrible hunger he feels. And it lets him help his lady sometimes. She does not shout at him or beat him or shut him away in a closet for being fascinated with these things.

He is not as mad as a full-blooded Silver Fang. But they are all a bit mad, in their own little ways.

It is the jawbone of a lion. The fair white hood that covered her head when she came to the moot has been pulled off, letting the wind occasionally lift her hair. Avery smiles at those gathered. She feels alive tonight, every inch of her skin and every tiny hair on her body somehow alert. She feels triumphant.

When she speaks to the garou, she reminds them to speak according to their station. She reminds them that all have a voice, though the youngest must exercise the most patience. And first, she turns to the Great Alpha.


In recent months, the Great Alpha has spoken more to the septs than he has in some entire years. Maybe the massive wolf, almost always seen in hispo, often known only in the penumbra of the caern, is getting used to it. As before, he shapeshifts the cords of his throat and the arrangement of his tongue to speak to them in the language they hold most in common.

But he speaks, at first, only to the Truthcatcher, who is turned to face him, turned to offer him the bone. She looks surprised for a moment, then addresses the rest of the garou as the Great Alpha returns to his place.

"Our Great Alpha has told me that we will address the discussion of Cold Crescent's destiny," and boy can you ever tell that these were not his exact words, if only because the tenor of her phrasing is so distinctly Avery, "at the conclusion of other matters."

With that, she begins passing the bone to the ranking garou and watching it circle through their number. The same old announcements, questions, claimings, and disputes. Cold Crescent may be one of the most important things to discuss this evening, but especially to those who do not call it home, it is certainly not the only thing.
my whole life is thunder.
At some point, well after the first round of announcements, challenges and debates from higher-ranking Garou have settled into a lull, Erich requests and is granted the Bone. He looks at it with interest as it is given to him, unfamiliar with the shape, knowing only that it came from a great predator quite a bit larger than his wolf-skin.

Lowering the jawbone to his side, he regards the gathered.

"Some of you probably already know that the same guy that designed 1999 Broadway also designed the airport," he says, "and a few days back Hector led a group of us to go stake things out a bit. Since it was his show I'm gonna let him tell you what-all we found, but -- well. We didn't have someone with us that could talk to spirits, and there were some spirits I would've really liked to talk to.

"So, I'm gonna go back at some point. With Charlotte probably?" Sort of a querying glance Charlotte-wise. "But also maybe it'd be good to have a few others just in case. Especially if we had a Galliard, 'cause then he could go talk to other Septs about what we find out."

And here, he gives Hector the most meaningful glance he can manage.

[Note! I talked to Kai, and since this isn't really enough material to build a whole scene out of, this will just be a series of behind-the-scenes dice rolls with a quick ooc summary of what is discovered. Or something!]
The next to take the bone is Phoebe Stavros. Holding the jaw with both hands, she looks for and finds Erich.

"I offered this to Hector before, but since I don't see him here I'll offer it to you, too. Not that I don't think Charlotte wouldn't be enough, but Keisha and I are also available should you think you might need more Theurges.

"And since I'm up here," she says, smiling as she looks away from the Ahroun to address the gathering as a whole, "let me remind you. The Desert Oracles may be half our original number, but our strength of purpose hasn't wavered. Should any in the Denver area have need of a spirit-dealer, a healer, talens or even fetishes, you know where to find me."

She returns the bone to Radiant Honor with a smile, then heads back to her sister's side.
As the Cracking is dying down, and plans are made for further investigations of DIA, it comes time for the Great Alpha to walk to Avery and take the bone from her. She bows, as she always does, and then steps back, out of his way.

Those who have been around Cold Crescent for the past two months have seen plenty of activity, but much of it has gone on over their heads, among Adrens and even a single Athro who seem inclined to stay in the city rather than near the caern. Arguments and challenges for Sept Leader, Warder. The challenge floor has, once or twice, been wet with fresh blood. Doors have slammed into old offices on those high floors as werewolves get into furious debates, or even seething but quiet conversations. Some of these challenges have been amicable, bloody or loud or not. There is excitement in the air, and resentment, and frustration, and exhiliration -- all at once.

But they're not done. They all know they're not done yet. And the Great Alpha said two moons. Last chance. He didn't mention it at the January moot at all. No check-in, no progress report. They all know why he's stepping forward now, and more than a few wolves who have allied themselves with Cold Crescent feel their stomachs sink, because they haven't heard any Sept Leader announced, or Warder, and while the place is regularly patrolled and lived-in now and shrines are being rebuilt, it doesn't have a distinct structure yet. That sept is going to be closed. They're going to make the kinfolk who own it sell it, or something. The place where the Guardians all died is going to be rebuilt and turned into more office suites.

God dammit.


"Who leads?"

These are the first words out of the Great Alpha's maw, throat reformed to speak the human tongue. His yellow eyes cast around the gathering; he remembers who spoke up at the last moot, saying I will. I will. I will.

"Who leads Cold Crescent?"

At first there is silence. Then Shieldwind walks forward, requesting the bone from the Grand Elder and receiving it in his palm. He is the only Athro who said he will protect Cold Crescent. He is a tall, powerfully built werewolf, a Philodox whose rage at this rank is like a wall of flame. He is the one who said, two months ago, that he will die without his wolf and slashed by silver, if it means he can keep that place protected.

"There is no Sept Leader, Ryha," he says, unflinchingly. "Cold Crescent is divided between the older and younger Garou. We aren't communicating. Many want to see it renewed as a full sept, all are willing to protect it, but only a handful are stepping forward to take responsibility for guiding it."

The Great Alpha's nostrils flare. His lips roll back, baring his teeth, but he does not growl. Nor does he remove the bone from Shieldwind's grasp.

Shieldwind does not hesitate. "But it thrives. Everyone from the Strider cub to myself is patrolling the city sept's territory. Every Theurge keeps the shrines and watches the spirits. We are acting as a sept. There is more to be done," he goes on, and he is high enough in rank that he dares to forestall interruption from the Great Alpha, "and much that we can't do until we have leaders to make the harder decisions. But it is a sept, Rhya. We are not up in the city doing nothing. Every argument for keeping Cold Crescent alive still stands.

"But without a leader to begin with, we might tear ourselves apart trying to find one. I think," says Shieldwind, levelly, "you should appoint a Sept Leader. When Cold Crescent was first built, it was built without the blessing of our elders in Forgotten Questions. That drove a wedge between the two septs for years. Appoint a Sept Leader that you trust. Someone to bridge the gap between the septs, help us determine our other leaders, and hold us accountable for standing on our own feet," Shieldwind says. "And if the day comes when that leader is no longer fit for us, the wolves of Cold Crescent will challenge."

The Great Alpha, who at a couple of points nearly snapped his jaws at the Athro, gives a low rumble of a growl. He stands there, silent but not motionless, then swivels away. He paces a few steps one direction, turns, and paces a few more in the other, thinking in motion. Even in his growing age, the muscles moving beneath his heavy skin and thick fur coil and roll visibly. It is not just the fact that he wears hispo, as he often does; he is strong in every form. He is strength, itself, formed.

He comes back to stand facing Shieldwind. Looks beyond him for a moment, finding one among the man, then looks back to Shieldwind.

"Vigor," he snarls, and an Adren Ragabash who spoke two months ago blinks, straightening up.

He doesn't have the bone. All the same, everyone hears him:

"Wait, what?"
my whole life is thunder.
Cautiously, Erich raises his hand for the Bone. When it is given to him, he shuffles it from hand to hand for a moment before standing up to be heard.

"Do we have to have a leader?"

And there are probably grumblings at that. There are probably eyerollings and the like, because of course the guy who claims his pack is a republic -- wait, a republik -- and includes a kinswoman in that republik is going to say something ridiculous and socialist like that.

"Okay, look," Erich raises his voice above the grumblings, "I know that's a ridiculous thing to say, but hear me out. Back when Cold Crescent had a full Sept going, like the whole Grand Elder Warder Master of this and that deal -- we ran into trouble because the two Septs never liked each other, and then they stopped talking. So now we're kinda suggesting that to prevent that, we should just kinda pick a leader and go from there.

"But the thing is, we already have a leader. We only have one Caern, and we're all here to protect it. We all come here for moots. We all, really, answer to the Great Alpha. This is the castle here. Cold Crescent's almost more like a ... a sentry tower. And obviously we're gonna need a Warder to protect the grounds, and a Keeper to tend to the spirits, and a Ritesmaster and a Challengemaster and all the rest of the gang to keep things running on day-to-day.

"A Grand Elder, though? I dunno. I don't think we need one. Not right now, anyway. I think we should answer to the Great Alpha, just like we are already. I think appointing a Grand Elder will just muddy the waters. It'll make some people forget that we're there to guard the Pit, and patrol the city, and protect the Caern. It might even make people complain about the Cold Crescent Grand Elder being a figurehead, and then those are gonna be the people who'll challenge, and pretty soon you're gonna end up with two Septs that don't talk. Again.

"That's how I see it, anyway. So: I say we just agree that the Great Alpha is the Great Alpha of both Septs. And we'll settle on the rest of the offices, and everyone'll answer to him, and hell, if he wants Vigor-rhya to be his voice there, that's cool. But ... no offense to you, Vigor-rhya, it's not that I don't want you to have a crown of your own or something -- but I think it's best if we just not have our own Grand Elder. At least for now."

He's starting to talk in circles again. That usually means he's done. Erich hesitates another moment, and then hands the Bone back to Avery.
There is a dead pause there, after the Great Alpha proclaims that Vigor and Rigor will be the Sept Leader of Cold Crescent. Shieldwind looks a bit taken aback but is trying to parse his words before speaking. Vigor and Rigor is merely stunned where he stands, trying to come up with an argument a little more articulate than WAIT, WHAT.

The Great Alpha holds the bone. When Erich trots up to see if he can have it, the Great Alpha's eyes are baleful and golden, staring at him. He rolls the bone out from under his forepaw and thumps it towards the newly-minted Fostern, who instantly says the most ridiculous thing ever.

And a few things that aren't as ridiculous, such as: we already have a leader. we all answer to the great alpha.

Vigor and Rigor, for what it's worth, immediately walks forward and holds his hand out for the bone and when Erich hands it to him, he gives the Ahroun a wink before facing the Great Alpha. Avery, as the Truthcatcher, watches the bone changing hands but stands aside for now, arms crossed over her chest, which is where her breath is caught.

"Rhya, I'm deeply honored that you want me to serve in this way," says the Ragabash to the Alpha, "but Forgotten Questions is my home. I don't... want to lead a sept. Not now. I don't want a 'crown'," he adds, complete with finger-quotes in the air. "But Storm's Teeth's idea isn't the craziest I've ever heard. What if we did just have a Warder, a Keeper, all of that? What if Cold Crescent remains under your guidance, even if most of the time it acts on its own? Wouldn't that keep us more united?"
my whole life is thunder.
Next came a wolf new to the area. The big long-limbed heavy-boned wolf with the pale pelt and light eyes came forward. His feet were huge, his size impressive when he walked, but his gait was just a little bit off. Not with a limp, no-- this was less physical and more an impression. He seemed like he wasn't certain of where he was going. He meandered, almost, but not leisurely. He meandered with doubt.

It isn't with doubt, though, that he ducks his head to the Truthcatcher next and takes the jawbone up between teeth that looked as big and heavy as his feet. He circled a little ways back, for comfort's sake, set the jawbone down between front paws (Lupus, all the time).

It's here that he shifts to Crinos (not Homid, note-- he didn't show his human face last time either) and takes the jawbone up in his hands instead and speaks.

"I disagree."

Simply put, at first. A statement. A punctuation. A line in the sand. He looked flatly at Erich for a good long hard second, and it's hard to tell if he's challenging him intentionally or staring into his eyes because he doesn't quite grasp what it means to do so. That time passes, though, and soon his eyes slide across to the Great Alpha. Not so direct a stare with him. Apparently Final Word understands the concept of submission after all.

Next, he addresses those gathered in a more general manner.

"How does a Leader lead a place that he never steps foot into?" Again, a pause. He spoke like he was presenting a theory, leading into concepts and allowing time for thought before leading further still. "By appointing a Second In Command. Someone who makes these decisions for him, and is an extension of himself."

The Crinos-bodied Forseti wriggled a claw in an empty tooth socket in the jawbone and glanced down at it briefly while he continued. As he spoke, he turned his body more toward Erich again-- addressing him more than others now.

"The Cold Crescent is more than a sentry tower. Clearly, if it needs to have a Warder and a Master of Challenge and a Keeper, it is much more than just a sentry tower. The last time we gathered I heard arguments for it standing because it was a home. Because people lived there." Now, a pointed look out into the crowd, toward a Silent Strider Ahroun and his Cub. "Because some know how it is to be displaced from a place they call home, I remember, we chose to keep numbers of our own living and sleeping there because of this. Because of the Pit."

He cleared his throat, paused again, but this time as though he'd lost his train of thought. He blinked once like a deer in the headlights, again as though he suddenly had a taste of stage fright, before he turned to the Great Alpha and dropped his eyes and concluded.

"A Leader who is permitting a fiefdom needs a Lord to run things on location."

And, with that (a simple and blunt end to his argument), Final Word relinquished the bone.
"Well," Erich looks a little irritated -- it is a full moon night, and some random

GET OF FENRIS, shocker of shockers,

has just randomly stepped up to glare at him for a good ten seconds or so. "Here's the thing. We don't need someone 'leading' Cold Crescent like that. I don't want Cold Crescent to have its own leader, calling his own shots.

"We need a Warder 'cause we're sitting on the Pit. We need someone to organize defense. We need a Keeper 'cause we have spirits to keep. We need a Master of Rites 'cause we're gonna be performing rites there, and we need a Master of Challenges 'cause we're sure as hell gonna be having challenges.

"That takes care of all the day to day crap that you need people on-site for. The rest of it? It's all high-level stuff that the Great Alpha should be able to make the calls on, just like he has been doing for the past few months. If he needs information, the rest of the Sept officers will report straight to him. If he really wants someone on the ground, he can send Vigor-rhya or whoever else to be his ears and eyes, and maybe even his voice.

"Putting a Sept Alpha on the ground though -- that changes the dynamic entirely. Even if we start out saying that guy's gonna be the Great Alpha's subordinate, just the act of putting a single Alpha up there means Cold Crescent will have its own leadership, separate from Forgotten Questions. And if that leadership can be challenged, then what's to keep someone who doesn't want to listen to the Great Alpha from getting up there and doing his own thing? What's to keep everything from going south again?

"Do you see what I'm trying to say here? You put a leader up in Cold Crescent, then a leader can be challenged. If a leader can be challenged, then someone else who doesn't want anything to do with Forgotten Questions can get up in his place.

"Look, for the record, I'm not saying Cold Crescent should stay under Forgotten Question's leadership forever. I mean, I'm gonna stick my neck out and say I probably pushed harder for Cold Crescent to stay a Sept than anyone. And I'm happy as hell that it's back, and that we're gonna get our own Ritesmaster and Challengemaster and Warder and Keeper, and that it's gonna be a real Sept again.

"But it's too early for us to break off completely from Forgotten Questions. So, yeah. Let's just share a Great Alpha with Forgotten Questions. At least for now."
And, if no one contests it, the big-boned Get of Fenris took the jawbone back. He held it almost delicately between claws so pale that the pink wick was evident upon inspection of them. He remained in his Crinos form, and this caused him to tower over those in their more comfortable human skins. But despite this, Final Word didn't seem to be doing this with the intention of towering over and physically intimidating those around him. When he took the jawbone back, when he came nearer to Erich to do so, he did not stick out his chest and hold his ears high and bare his teeth.

His voice did rumble like angry rocks when he spoke next, though.

"The Leader May Not Be Challenged During Wartime."

The words are like boulders dropping to the ground. Each word is emphasized, deserving of its capitol letter. These were words that were burned and beaten and impressed into his mind throughout his long, difficult years as a cub learning to be a Lawkeeper and Judge. They were significant, and he wouldn't speak them as anything but. They, too, had their long pause to let them impact those gathered. To make them contemplate their meaning and remember their weight.

"If you put a leader up at Cold Crescent, he or she will hopefully not be stupid enough to challenge this Sept while struggling with Beloved Horror and the Denver Airport. Any who would challenge the appointed during this time would be taken down for their violation and disrespect of the very laws that make us."

He was building momentum now. Before, the Get of Fenris stood as though his very size was a burden to him-- curled in at the shoulders and chest, curved at the spine, walking on both feet and one fist like a great ape, knuckles to the earth and claws curled comfortably in. Now, however, as his voice grew loud and emphatic, he stood up straight on two feet with his shoulders back and his head high. He was addressing everyone there, not just arguing against Erich now. As though he were trying to rally support for what he was saying. As though he simply knew it to be truth and he wanted everyone else to see it too.

"Will you all truly let this one Full Moon speak for you? Does everyone who guards 1999 Broadway truly feel as though it is simply a sentry tower and nothing more? Would it keep its name, The Cold Crescent, if it were not a Sept worthy of having it?

"Do you all believe that it's a good idea to spit in the face of our traditions? Because he 'doesn't want Cold Crescent to have a leader'? As though 'I don't want it' is even a reason worth listening to? For this?"

All at once Final Word appears to realize that his voice has turned into a full sound that filled his chest rather than simply rumbling from within it. His eyes widened, the pale fur over his eyes that would impress eyebrows on a more human face shot up, and he blinked rapidly. It's at this point that he makes a noise that sounds like an uncomfortable clearing of the throat and goes back down onto all fours, with the jawbone curled delicately into one fist.

Soon after, it's surrendered to whatever paw demands it.


[[ OOC: Not sure if it would help or impact, but I figured it sure wouldn't hurt to have a roll to go along with it! If we're not taking social rolls in the thread, disregard completely. Smile ]]

Final Word @ 10:00PM
Charisma 3 + Leadership 2, Spending WP
Roll: 5 d10 TN6 (2, 5, 5, 7, 9) ( success x 3 ) [WP] VALID

jamie @ 10:01PM
A certain Fianna Galliard, Cinder Song, takes the bone at one point -- some point. Who has been covering her eyes with the heels of her palms, digging and digging them in, just - because! Because human-born, human-raised, American, she is the Traditionaliest Traditionalist in her heart of hearts, at least some times. And because she will not make her point to the Sept using the history of J. R. R. Tolkien's Gondor she will not make her point to the Sept using the history of J. R. R. Tolkien's Gondor she will not make her point to the Sept using J. R. R. Tolkien's --

-- but eventually, certain impulses quenched, she uncovers her eyes, springs to her feet, and when she has the bone, holds it tightly and with two hands, testing her strength against it in a gentle way to take the edge off. "What -- " she begins, something in her tone hot enough to turn sand to blistered glass, and then stops. Aborts. Takes a deep breath. Begins again. Less heat.

"Politics are a pain in the ass, but they're not going to stop existing just because we want them to. The Grand Elder of one Sept is not equal to the Grand Elder of another. The pack leader of one pack is not equal to the pack leader of another pack. The fostern of one tribe is not equal to the fostern of another tribe. The fostern if one tribe is not even necessarily equal to another fostern from the same tribe. What I'm saying, and what I feel is being forgotten, is that precedence exists, and Cold Crescent havings its own Grand Elder shouldn't impact how much we respect the wisdom and deeds of the Great Alpha of Forgotten Questions. Especially if it's Vigor and Rigor-rhya -- the Great Alpha's answer to, please, Rhya, we'd like your guidance, choose your helmsman, give us a leader, who do you trust to lead the fledgling Sept of young idealists?"

"So somebody might one day challenge the leader of Cold Crescent. So what? I imagine that someone might conceivably one day challenge the leader of Forgotten Questions, too. Challenges fucking happen and it's right that they should. The possibility that maybe, one day in the future, somebody might maaayyybe challenge, and win that challenge, because let's not forget, um, a good leader shouldn't lose an honorable challenge along those lines -- well letting that maybe keep us from acknowledging someone as a leader is ridiculous.

"Should we also give up our Tribes if we want to protect Cold Crescent, because, you know, traditionally that tribe over there doesn't get along all that well with this tribe over here, and it might be a pain in the ass later for two Garou of those tribes to work together?

"That's how ridiculous what I'm hearing sounds to me."

"There is no reason to fear that somehow having a leader, an actual leader, someone we look to, someone with a degree -- just a degree -- of independence from this Sept, will make the Garou who spend time in the city any less devoted to protecting this Caern. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that we're poor flea-chewing filth-wallowing wrathless and toothless -- "

Pause. Break. Falter. Then, quieter:

"Two Septs. Two Leaders. One goal. Fight the Wyrm. Two Septs can be friends. Two Septs can be like the trees that grow together: braiding up toward the sky and the stars and Luna's face, roots twisting together, and reaching out. Two Septs can be allies. Hell. I think it's good to try that whole Two Septs Are Close and Friendly Allies thing here, of all places: Wouldn't that make a hellova story to spread, after everything else that we take out of this area?

"What happened before with Cold Crescent - what I got from the story of that - it wasn't that bad things happened because Cold Crescent's leader didn't get along with Forgotten Questions's. Bad things happened because the leaders of Cold Crescent made the CHOICE to hide things important to the safety of their Sept and their neighboring Sept and they hid those things from everybody: including their own Septmates. They were punished. We're moving forward. We're going to figure out what that Pit is. We're going to take the rest of Beloved Horror and display their skulls for three hundred generations and for at least two hundred of those generations our descendents will spit on the skulls and say, I remember what happened, how the garou of Forgotten Questions and the garou of Cold Crescent dealt with those beasts. We're going to build something lasting."

"Two Septs. Two Leaders. It's what's right."

Bone handed off, bone handed off.


ooc: you know, I'll fix this later, too lazy now, but instead of Great Alpha she totally used whatever his name is + SUPER RESPECTFUL rhya! I don't remember it! Bad me.

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