Are You Coming To The Tree
The Waxing face of the moon, the Theurge Moon was in the midnight sky. It was Samhain, Halloween, the season of Remembrance for all Souls, and it was raining. Hard. The storm had been building for the last few hours and the mists rose to hide the work from those not meant to see. It was a night you light your fires high and snuggle safely with Friends and Family and tell ghost stories. For outside was no fit place for man nor beast. So here let me tell you this ghost story.
You Sneaky B,
Sora "Found Moon",
Aaron the Corvax Kin,
Ivor the Kin
Gran Anna the Kin
...took the little boat across the stormy sea to the mainland of Wales. The storm-battered the little brave boat first up then down one wave after another, all the while the little boat tried to avoid being driven into the rocky shore and into pieces. One might even think forces worked against them to stop them from their goal. This was not a casual journey our Ritualists made, but one of a grave need that must be completed and they continued.
Grave Tale shocked himself by actually sleeping well on the nights leading up to this night. He greets those he has assembled with lunch from his personal stocks - chicken on rice, flavoured in a Spanish-Moroccan style with fresh carrots, green apple slices and an exotic flavour of tea sweetened with real honey. All washed down with locally made ale. A good last meal for at least one of the travellers. The Strider seemed in better spirits than the last few months since the Plague took so many.
Ivor told the tale of his Gran Anna when she was young to pass the time. It was a tale of first love lost and the strange Folklore of the local land. The mist-shrouded trees stood guard as silent soldiers along the narrow winding lanes making a fitting other-world backdrop to his tale. The Dead Raven they had followed now perched on a tree limb and loudly Cawed for them to stop. The storm had intensified and the skies echoed with thunder and lightning. The mists had thickened to a pea-soup’er like Old Sailors or Dickensian poets speak of. First the Black spirit-hound then the White spirit-hound that had followed from the Sept vanished into the mists and back into legend. With a shiver down their spine and a chill wind around their necks, the Ritualists had arrived at the village of Llangernyw graveyard gates.
At the Gates...
Grave Tale begins his briefing so all know what they are to do. “Death is an end, not the end. Tonight we help the unquiet begin their journey to peace. Tonight you are a child of Owl and I call you sibling”.
Found Moon looks excited and eager, although his eyes betray a huge lack of sleep too. UR appears as intent on getting this done tonight as Grave Tale was. Aaron lifts his hand and asks about the number of hot-dogs versus buns helping to ease the tensions and showing his inner unease.
The Church and Graveyard were old but not as old as the Tree for which all were here to visit. This grand Yew Tree was the oldest living thing in Wales believed to be over 3000 years in it’s growing. Two standing stones stood protected and nestled under its thick branches. Tonight it was to be a witness for a great ritual of freedom if all went well. This is the Tree all were being called to.
Grave Tale continues to lay out the simple but powerful plan giving the warning that Weasley Allies were due to be there so not to kill them. They were here to free over a million tortured souls of the dead and set them back into the natural cycle Gaia intended. It would be a long night.
In the Graveyard…
The graveyard was still and eerie, there was no storm inside the boundary walls. Seven indistinct figures shrouded in black shapeless robes stood waiting under the Old Yew Tree. They didn’t wait for chit chat and introductions, all the time they could get would be needed, immediately they started chanting one strange thing after another. The ritual fire kindled into flame though no hand had lit it. Firebrands and shimmering black veils over the head were given linking all that took them together and opening eyes to see into the Shadowlands. The Druids of Wales were alive and well it seemed.
Grave Tale reaches into the fire to remove the Fetish he has been called to use. A Wand made from Yew Root and carved with skulls around and down the length of it. The flames caress but not burn Grave Tale’s hand and he feels a nice warming summer breeze like a kiss. He has been tested and found worthy as the Wielder.
Other stones were laid out on the ground in intricate occult symbols of power and protection. The area was large enough to encompass all of them.
In the back of their minds was a consistently deep voice just saying names in different tongues. They felt a large figure with angelic wings close by. A spiritual presence. It smelt different here in the Graveyard now that the veil covered but opened their eyes. This place was pure. It had no affinity at all for those that could sense it. But it was still ‘different’ it was apparent this was not a place of wolves, but one just as old, another power ruled here.
One of the cloaked individuals lowered his hood. He is tall and might remind people of a Get of Fenris or a Norseman. Half his face was scarred irrevocably, impressive to the Garou. He had a chalice and twirled one finger in the mixture and spoke in Old Norse we think but couldn’t be sure. Those present understood the words then as if he spoke their native language. He spoke to his leader Raven’s Murder to say all was ready. Six of the strangers looked to the 7th, who was the most shrouded and they all began to sing their magic. They called the defences into place, a boundary where the stones sat.
Gran Anna who has been near death now stands, watches and listens to a song from the hooded figure sitting on the central rock. Curious her eyes subtly dance and the old woman smiles. She recognises the voice to be that of Rhys Davies, her first innocent love that she was told had died decades before. The Druid Rhys shares a little tiny glass of golden liquid with Gran Anna and nods to the 6 other wizards "we are ready".
Doves come to the clearing, an actual Polar Bear spirit walks in, who knows where that came from, and it stands tall ready to defend the Gaian Ritualists and Druids.
The night’s storm intensified further, and some of the rain started to fall inside the graveyard where before it had not. The lightning and thunder were closer in the sky. On the neck, hair prickles. All felt threatened but nothing was obvious. Those there of lupus born felt an urge to shift to four legs.
The Spirit-Hounds returned all at once as if from the sky, from the ground, from the trees, rocks and mists. Pouring out from between the standing stones. These Spirit-Hounds are the Hounds of Annwyn called forth and made flesh. Legend spirit hounds that hunt the souls of the dead. They howl all together, and the Gaians want to join in with them.
In a flash, they are all shifted within the protective barrier to what looked like something within the Umbra. Echoes of temples from many different cultures lined each wall. Many doors leading out to a portal of different glowing colours. Beyond the barrier, the thunderstorm still boomed and the winds whining shook the structure.
The Druids try to focus and open yet more portals together. The main one showing a world of Apocalypse nightmares. Everything was decayed and dilapidated, the only colours that of shades of grey not in a fun way.
The Fight began in an instant. The Banes came. On the outside, Banes started to fly in from the umbra striking the barrier and some getting through with virulent force. The Polar Bear stands and roars backing away the smaller ones and tussles with a large insect-like bane with bright green eyes.
Grave Tale activates his own Fetish pistol as he draws it and holds the other Wand Fetish in his free hand, activating that one as well. The other Gaians fought off the banes that broke through, only a few made it in for now, but the fight had only just begun. The Norseman Druid pounded on his Ritual drum. Hearts pound quicker with his forceful beat, rage wanted to be released. More and more spirit hounds of Annwyn came howling, joining in the night beyond the barrier to bite and tear on the banes.
The Druids come closer together and double their efforts, chanting louder. The air hums with power. The Gaians continue the physical fight, Rage was in full use by all, holding the inner line while the Druids worked.
It was time for the sacrifice, Rhys knows this and the undead Raven caws loudly. Gran Anna feels it is time too and she turns to her Grandson.
.... the deep voice of the Angelystor, The Spirit Angel that was only sensed before but is here now calls Gran’s name. It was clear and audible, where many of the names that were spoken before had not been. It does not pause. It does not stop. It moves right along to the next name.
A gong rings out one loud ‘bong’ and it echoed in the night air even above the storm noise.
.... Grandson Ivor cried out for it to be his name not that of Anna. Begging for it to be his sacrifice, not hers.
...Gran Anna replies “I am the voice of the past that will always be.
I am the voice of your sorrow and pain”.
A gong rings out again, one loud ‘bong’ echoes in the night making it two strikes.
... Gran Anna gave a blessing kiss to Ivor. She looks stronger now than she has been all the trip from the Sept. Perhaps there was something in the golden drink she shared with ...
The wind blew, the Spirit-hounds howled, the drum pounded like a raged heart in your chest. The Banes and Spectres tried over and over to get to the centre of the ritual to stop it.
... the deep neutral voice of the Spirit Angel Angelystor calls yet another name…
…”Rhys Hywell Davies”…
A gong rings out again, one loud ‘bong’ echoes in the night making it three strikes.
....Druid Rhys & Gran Anna speak as one voice, "You are the voice of the future..., You will remain".
... Gran Anna looks up to Druid Rhys…
... Druid Rhys "I told you I would not be leaving you this time".
...The old Druid Rhys and the old Kinfolk Anna kiss for the last time.
... the Tall scared Norseman with urgency in his eyes calls to Grave Tale "Free them. You have the power in your hands".
... All there can see the protection boundary failing as more of the banes attack it at once.
Grave Tale griped the Wand Fetish tight, drawing the blood that was needed to fully activate it. He focuses his gnosis into the item and imagines himself using it to cut a million threads, threads of pain, loss, and loneliness, in one blaze of freedom. His other hand raised the fetish pistol that had been made for his great-grandfather and passed down to him. It was pointed at the nearest Bane and did the Galliard’s talking for him. YSB shifts his way on through to Glabro form and draws his own Fetish dagger.
Perception of time slowed. The drum beating out a single slowed resounding heartbeat. All were linked to their very being. It was a gentle caress like a shroud, a last freeing breath. Rhys and Anna released energy as their inner spirits appear in bright light and their bodies are burned away. Then they are sucked into the apocalypse portal and shoot up into the sky. The portals complete and seem more stable, locked in and dialled up. All the Hounds howl and take on an inner glow matching Ryhs and Anna. The Gaians felt like a badly set bone had been broken again and was righting itself into healing place.
The Banes tore through like a swarm of insects and descend upon the ritual. One of the cloaks fall from a Druid figure and multiple arms come out from it’s back making the first shield to bar the way.
YSB swiftly wades through the cluster of Banes, moving like the wind through the trees as he darts around and sidesteps their attacks. His dagger strikes out like an adder, digging into Banes and causing them to screech with pain at the Fetish's bite.
The Spirit-Hounds all charged through the portals in all directions, the black and the white Omen Hounds with red eyes and red ears and the glow of sacrificed life given freely. The howls of the Omen Hounds, a force of Gaia calling again on your own inner wolf to hunt. Calling you to join them. To fight, to run, to let your spirit join them. To let Gaian blood free to run and hunt the defilers.
... The dead raven comes to fight at the side of Aaron, the Corax kin.
... a white spirit hound dashes and snaps hindering a bane from getting to Kin Ivor, as he is grief shocked at the loss of his Gran so instantly.
UR puts an arrow on her string and draws a bead on as many of the Bane shapes that are attacking them. When the ranged attacks are no longer effective, she switches to Crinos and starts using her claws and teeth to destroy them. She is aggressive in her defence and attacks towards the enemy.
Grave Tale still in Homid form moves fast and his Colt.45 fires its stinging painful slugs into the Banes that get close. The Galliard uses his body when needed to protect the Fetish and the spirits of the dead moving through the portal. Most of the time he avoids the attacks of the Banes but more than once he sheds blood to hold the line and protect the unquiet dead as they are herded free. His Garou healing, and gifts from his "spectral associate", keep him up and going.
When the roar of the Banes becomes loudest Grave Tale adds his own voice to help drown them out.
🎵'It's astounding, time is fleeting, madness takes its toll, but listen closely - not for very much longer - I've got to keep control ...' 🎵
Bang ... Another shot into a Bane
🎵'... I remember doing the TIME WARP ...'🎵
Bang ... Grave Tale continues on and on.
Seeing the darkening cracks beginning at the boundary and spreading wider, Found Moon pulls out a cheap 'Jason' hockey mask and speaks to it as an old friend before putting it over his face. Another Red Day for the CoG. He bows low in acknowledgement of the sacrifices by Druid Rhys and Gran Anna. Wide-eyed in shock and awe as the spirits of the dead begin to transition, along with all the rest of the now released souls to move on. Found Moon openly weeps at the losses. Under his Lord's decree: No respite. No surrender. Only war! Shifting into Glabro then to join in the fray.
Red Fang shifts into Hispo to fight. Jumping and fighting anything or anyone getting close to Grave Tale, to protect the Fetish in Grave Tale’s hand that only he can use. Using every fighting trick in his Wyrmfoe’s box. Using his predator's glare to try to scare the enemy. Activating Razor Claws and Gnaw, his claws and fangs become deadly and brutal. Protecting Found Moon and any that look to be getting swamped.
YSB had a new foe but they screamed all the same. These creatures were people with claws, some with webbing tattoos and even mechanical circuitry in their flesh. They also had occult symbols in their eyes and glowed an eerie red and attacked with ferocity.
The screams echoed in the night as they dissipated. Blood flowed on the protection stones, cold winds, Storm rain, lighting and the tree seemed to be laughing like an evil demon seed was within. When one died it fell to the ground and an opening sucked it in like the abyss and closed like a snapping sickly fly trap.
UR’s arrows flew at the banes striking one down at a time. They would screech, be flooded with light and explode but still more of the swarm came.
Grave Tale taunted the banes... he shot at them with his gun helping keep them back... His wraith companion near him pressed its hand to the ground and an ethereal barrier went around Grave Tale. The spectres coming for him bounced off and hissed in fear holding their heads unable to strike.
More Banes started to flood towards Kin Ivor and the Druids. Found Moon was playing hot potato with them, jumping in before one would hit and dodging out of the way like a hero in an MMO.
Red Fang supported both Grave Tale's and Found Moon taking down bane after bane as they started flooding around them.
The Banes slowly tapered down with the slaughter and constant fighting. While the Gaians were doing their physical combat the Druids were flinging energy beams and fireballs made of white-bluish fire. One Druid, the one with multiple arms, her skin turned blue as she grew swords in her hands and fought with all her arms, bellowing with a roar of fury.
The Spirit-Hounds flowing like black and white ripples of smoke and cloud. When they came back out of the Portals many of the trapped human souls could be seen following them, herded by them into the Shadow-lands. Ushered to the place they needed to be now that the way was open.
UR's focus was on protecting Grave Tale and the Druids doing the ritual. She wanted the souls laid to rest and they were the ones to do it. She trusted the rest of his pack, LostMoon and Dafydd to help Found Moon with the kinfolk and anything else that needed to be dealt with. She focused on keeping the banes at bay.
The largest portal was between the 2 standing stones, green swirling fire, and the other portals were around the protected area where the Gaians and Druids were all fighting at once.
Yet one Portal wavered… the largest… it became like an eye, Green fire still but with a pulsing black centre pupil and yellow inner and outer coronas. All eyes took stolen glances to it as they fought on giving the hounds another hard-won minute to return... All waited and hoped. And in the flickering failing green portal a Spirit-Hound finally came out alone, obviously weakened and calling for aid with a whimpering howl. The main portal shook again and the ground shook with it as pain and taint seemed to come from it in felt but unseen waves.
Grave Tale, YSB, Found Moon, and UR quickly made the decision to follow the Spirit-hound back into the portal, while LostMoon, Dafydd, Red Fang and others stayed on defence at the Standing Stones under the Old Tree or followed when they could break free of a Bane.
The Garou follow the Spirit-hound back into the large portal. As they made it through to the other side they saw a large grandiose room that looked like an old-world Laboratory. In there the storm had changed, the eerie electric blue-white flashes of the lightning outside the windows of the lab sending flashes that match the Druid’s blue-white fireballs from the graveyard around the room.
Inside was an obviously crazy scientist who had a green vial in his hand and wore a lab coat and he looked feral. He had a futuristic gun that held a green soul-light writhing in pain inside. Grave Tale could see it and recognised it for who and what was trapped in the gun.
As the Gaians came forward the Scientist looked up and slammed down on a lever. Large doors opened and he laughed as a skeleton larger and more monstrous than a human form crawled through growling and hungry grabbing the souls trapped in the dead bodies strewn about on army camp beds and devouring them, becoming more powerful on energy from the souls it ate.
Grave Tale had jumped through the portal first and had a fraction more time to take in the problem and upon seeing the feral lunatic frowned. "Take down the one controlling the skeletons."
"On it" YSB says immediately, using Jam Technology on the madman's gun before charging toward him with his Fetish dagger at the ready.
The large Norseman Druid charged a blue bolt in his hand and threw it at the deformed inhuman skeleton. It screamed in terror as it fell into many small skeletons that flooded forth to attack the souls again but was now more easy to stop individually.
UR follows Grave Tale and focuses on the Madman; taking him down means maybe taking down everything all at once they hoped.
YSB manages to jam the strange gun but it seems to work only partially as the trapped soul inside manages to break free. The scientist isn’t a hard fight without his gun. He obviously relied on his tricks to fight with and he is stripped of those. He throws his last weapon, the green vial at those that come for him trying to get-away.
UR keeps her ranged attacks at the Scientist as much as she can without causing friendly fire before going full beastly on him.
YSB runs more in-his-face interference from the onset, being the dodgy, sneaky bastard that he got his deed name for.
The Scientist is certainly feral, it’s a wonder how he managed to do lab work at all. He growls and claws as his fighting style, bites and gouges at any he can get a hold on. Without his gun, he's not long for this world. He soon falls... but the smaller skeletons continue.
The Little Bane Skeletons that fell from the larger monstrosity fight on without the Scientists lead. When one was injured another took its place while the injured one tried to eat a trapped soul in the room to heal. The Wyrm Taint of that lab was palpable. The tainting sickness creeping into the skin the longer the Gains stayed there.
"... This isn't good." And YSB hurries toward the skeletons to combat the creatures, trying to draw them from eating.
The unconscious, near-dead body of the Scientist, falls and is eaten and mauled by some of the banes as they turn on their former controller. The Little Bane Skeletons don’t seem to care what they attack to get more energy and power. Burn scarring and tattoos can be seen on the body as its clothes and limbs are torn apart. As the Scientist makes his last jerking movement and stills the Gaians hear a loud explosion and a smashing of glass.
The sound comes from behind large locked doors. YSB jogs toward those doors, quite curiously, fighting and dodging some of the remaining banes to get there. He checks the locking mechanism to see if he can get it open quickly. The lock is both mechanical and electrical, a keypad with a place to put a thumbprint.
YSB turns back into the fray of fighting and makes his way to the downed body of the scientist. Banes don't particularly scare the young Get of Fenris, and a tug of war with a Bane and a Scientist’s arm soon yields what YSB is after. He yanks the Scientist's hand free to bring back to the keypad. The hand still being warm from its just departed life activates the electronic part of the lock.
The freed tortured ghost from the gun tries to interfere with the unlocking process. Grave Tale, Found Moon and UR deal with it and finish off the last Skeleton Banes while YSB uses his... um... not-quite-legal knowledge of dealing with locks to try to get the mechanical bit to cooperate.
It is a very modern and high-quality lock but YSB makes short work of getting it open and all hear a ‘whoosh’ of air as the doors pop open. It takes a push of will to make themselves enter inside. The taint in there was definitely much worse.
YSB takes a breath and steps in to look around inside the new room.
Grave Tale moves into the room and examines the lab.
Found Moon goes forward.
UR goes in the last holding up the rear.
Inside the room are 5 larger than human size vertical reinforced glass tubes, one broken and still ablaze with sickly green fire. The other 4 have not broken and have ‘things’ inside. YSB moves closer to look at those ‘things’... And sees a mad science experiment of a ‘standard human’ to Guyver like monsters in varying success stages. YSB sees that the tubes are all booby-trapped but only one seems to have worked.
YSB starts pulling the plugs on the tubes to sabotage the experiments. Grave Tale, Found Moon and UR standing guard. The first goes OK, then when moved on to the second the first partially formed monster starts to 'rage' in its tube trying to break out. The glass tube cracks after a few beatings from the inside, it’s not fully broken yet but could go at any moment.
The one in the centre, the first one to be sabotaged and thus now awake, looks like a Monstrous Husky for all intents and purposes. Black fur the green goo radiating his system makes him look more majestic somehow. His eyes glow green. He snarls ferociously at first and grins. Though when Found Moon begins to speak to it in Wyrm-Speech it begins to ‘think’ not ‘Rage’, a little understand returns to its eyes. Found Moon manages to calm down the ‘raging beast’.
Grave Tale takes stock to formulate a further plan. 1 missing, 1 awake and raging and 3 still growing unaware - for now.
The other 3 tubes are glowing green and pulsating. It is decided the three tubes are to be shut down too. The monsters that are stirring awake one at a time as they are disconnected begin mutating rapidly. Some growing animal body parts, others are mutating to different skin colours and eyes. It looks like acid is eating away at their bodies inside the tubes and they cry in extreme pain while trying unsuccessfully to shift forms.
Investigation of what this mad lab was for hurriedly begins. Tainted markings are all around on walls, floors and on the mutated creatures. The Husky, now calm, watched curiously, pawing at the glass pushing at, still trying to get out. Grave Tale Senses the Husky so better to decide what to do with it. The rest of the lab is best left to your own imaginations for the taint and vats holding deformed and dead bodies was not a pleasant thing to see.
Grave Tale investigates the Lab computers, YSB attempts to track the one believed to have escaped. Searching leads to a disintegrating hallway as the intense Storm outside the Lab is eating and dissolving away the building. The power in the Lab is failing and the lights spark in and out. Time is running out and decisions are quickly made.
Information is collected for removal, the Husky beast was let out but Grave Tale puts it out of its misery after a brief but intense fight as it mutated further and tried to attack the Gains. The area is cleansed and as the Gaians hurry to leave for the portal out there is a large fiery explosion behind them. Grave Tale smiles and puts on his sunglasses. None turn around to look as ‘Cool Garou’ don’t look back at explosions they set.
This is the tale of Grave Tale’s Rank challenge as given to him by myself. To help and clean three Graveyards of whatever problem he finds. As his efforts and that of his team he organised freed all the trapped souls that fell to the plague in Wales, I say this more than covers the Challenge I gave. As the name still suits his deed I still name him Grave Tale, now Adren of the Nation, Galliard of the Silent Strider Tribe.
Naomi O’Mannion, “Ancestral Wisdom”
Athro Talesinger of Oak Vale,
Born of Fianna and Bitten into the Nation.
Oak Vale Sept
OOC: Craft 5 Author if you are reading the tale.
Anyone named (not Kinfolk) in the story can claim 1 Honour, Wisdom or Glory at their own choice. Naomi is issuing the story as official Talesinger duties. Thank you to all Proxy St’s and writers that helped create the first report that this story totally used about 80% for most of the details.
Storyteller Email: staff list
Player Email: Josie R