Tales of the Past
Sonoma county was a place to rest. Prior to the age of Apocalypse, the Valley of the Moon was a place where garou sought respite between campaigns. While no place is free of Wyrm taint, the valley was defended by scores of powerful garou, and any visitor could rest easy knowing that, at least here, things would be alright.
As it did in so many other places, the age of Apocalypse changed that.
The Sept of the Moon fell to the Wyrm. The history of what exactly happened has been lost, but the sept was overrun, its defenders scattered, and Luna’s eye turned away from her favored caern.
The blessed caern was corrupted, the periphery torn open and turned into a wyrm tunnel, a buried cavity of corruption hiding under the county. The surviving garou split into two camps, divided on their response. Some, led by No Better Friends, urged an immediate response, to drive the Wyrm out before its corruption grew. Others, led by The Unwanted Fight, counseled caution; the wyrm had defeated them before, throwing themselves right back into the fight would be suicide. In the end, a compromise was reached: one week for preparation, and then a mass attack would be launched on the tunnel.
The attack was successful, the Wyrm was chased to the bottom of its hole where it was banished, the hole from whence it came sealed with a great rite. And only six garou walked away.
Sonoma County was a place to rest. But there are far too few hands these days, and far too much work. Like it or not, this is now a battleground again.
The Sept of Huvarshta (The Sept of Good Deeds)
The Sept of Huvarshta was formed in the aftermath of the reconquest of the former Sept of the Moon. Of the surviving Garou, only The Unwanted Fight still had her pack, the ‘Thumb Biters’; No Better Friend’s pack perished in the initial combat, while A Learning Experience lost her pack buying time for the sealing ritual. After the battle of the Caern of the Moon, six angry, exhausted, grieving Garou fell on each other looking for someone to blame. There was a fight, far worse and far more terrible than a usual Garou fight. In the aftermath, No Better Friend was banished. The remaining Garou formed The Sept of Huvarshta: an informal (there are too few Garou to be formal about it) collection of Garou who claim protectorship over Sonoma, Napa, and Lake county. Dedicated, as their name suggests, to Good Deeds, the Sept spends their very limited time trying to protect and help the land. Gone are the days when The Sept of the Moon sent her scions far and wide, the new Sept has more immediate problems. As the Sept leader is fond of saying to visiting Garou, “The fight is here, and now. And we must fight it here, and now.”
The Caern that the The Sept of Huvarshta guards is new. So new that it does not yet have a name. In the confusion of the age of Apocalypse, a Caern shard was sent via Corax to Sonoma county, meant to be delivered to The Sept of the Moon, unaware of the fate of the Garou there. This Corax met with The Sept of Huvarshta, and delivered the Caern shard into their care, not trusting the weakened seed to survive another cross country flight. The Sept, now holding the fragile last hope of Gaia, sought immediately for a location that might serve as a Caern location. Unfortunately, this search was interrupted by a mighty umbral storm that threatened to shatter the nascent Caern. The Sept was forced to seed the Caern in the one periphery known to all of them: near the maintenance buildings of a local university. The Sept built a small shrine to the shard, and The Sept of Huvarshta found jobs working at the university, using influence and spiritual assistance to ensure that they are able to perform their true job, guarding the Caern. Visitors to the Caern find that one of the dorm buildings on the south end of campus is left empty for them, and the Sept uses the campus at large as the bawn.
It is hardly an ideal location, no one disputes that, but the Caern was founded on a spot that resonated with honest, unnoticed labor, which the Sept leader feels appropriate. Additionally, with all the work that the Garou of the Sept must do to secure the Caern, there is very little time to search out new locations.
Finally, there is the matter of the caern’s health. While it has recovered from its harrowing journey, removing it from its current location would weaken it, which none of the local garou are eager to do. So the Sept of Huvarshta are faced with a difficult choice: shore up and defend a weak position, or risk their shard and Gaia’s future to find a new home for it?
A Learning Experience
A Learning Experience is an old, blind woman. A Silverfang of some breeding, she adopted The Unwanted Fight when the latter was just an infant, left out to die by her sept. For this act of mercy, she was banished. The pair eventually found their way to the Caern of the moon, where A Learning Experience received her current deed name and spent years raising The Unwanted Fight. A theurge of considerable power, A Learning Experience never held formal position within the old Sept, choosing instead to raise her daughter with the help of her pack. After her pack perished in the reconquest of the Caern of the Moon, A Learning Experience has become de facto rites mistress of the Sept of Hurvarshta, assisting her daughter and providing young theurges with contacts and information about local spirits. Her position of rites mistress was recently handed over to Widowmaker, a new comer to the Sept but old timer of the area. While she claims to be a humble old woman, she doesn’t act remotely the part, swinging her opinions around like a klaive, confident in her ultimate correctness.
The Unwanted Fight
An Adren Ahroun Metis Bonegnawer woman, previous leader of the Sept of Huvarshta and also the leader of one of the largest pack in the area. Raised by A Learning Experience, The Unwanted Fight was taught to be careful, fierce, and practical. Though she sees the corruption that has befallen the counties since their garou protectors have perished, her pack is more or less completely occupied by defending the caern seed. She does her best to direct the garou in the area, pointing them at trouble spots and providing intelligence. As much as she would like to be in the field, the nation, and Gaia herself, have more pressing demands on her.
No Better Friends
A powerful Get of Fenris, former Master of the Challenge, 140 years old and mad as hell, No Better Friends lives in West County, tending to his kin folk and hoping to find cubs to rear on his own. Banished in the aftermath of the Reconquest, No Better Friends holds a great deal of resentment against the Sept of Hurvarshta, certain they represent everything that will drive the garou nation, and gaia, to extinction.
Newt serves as the totem for the Caern. He is a totemic spirit of Wisdom, and while not the strongest spirit known to the Nation, neither is he a pushover. A judge by nature, Newt tends to be much more approachable than many Caern totems, welcoming garou to come and request his wisdom on matters great and small. His law and ban, which he binds all members of the sept to, reads “Do not allow words or fear separate you from that which is good and kind”, and he gets very touchy about Garou violating it. His desire is to see the Unnamed Caern blossom into a font of Gaia’s love. If that happens on a college campus, the effects on the mortal population are totally unknown, but as far as Newt is concerned they can only be good.
Locations of Interest
Imagine if you will, the world loading in like a computer level. First comes the ground: three massive ridgelines, rising up into the sky, with the highways running north south as their spines. On either side of the ridges, deep valleys, almost certainly dipping below sea level.
Now the objects pop in. First signs of human occupation: spiritual reflections of houses, vineyards, roads, worked land, all resting on the top of the ridge. Then the trees. Massive forests of trees, Redwoods to shame Muir Woods, filling in the valleys until you can scarcely tell they're there. The tallest of the trees grow so tall and so tight that you can see the hills and mountains of the real world reflected in their contours. It isn't until you start walking towards them, and down the hills, that the illusion is broken.
The Sea of Secrets
Walking into the forest is like walking into the ocean. It goes deeper and deeper, the sun grows dimmer and dimmer, and you find strange, primal things among the trunks: Stag the size of whales, salamanders like bears, fireflies flitting all around, with hungry things hunting what gets into the light.
The majority of the forest is redwoods, trees of secrets. They breathe it in and are constructed of it like their counterparts in reality are made of carbon dioxide. Other trees find spaces in the sea, but most are pushed to the shallows, clinging to the ridgelines and leaving the lower land to the redwoods.
Humanity’s Spit of Land
Humanity’s reflection in the umbra starts with the roads. Anywhere a road passes, you will find its reflection, sitting on the spine of a massive ridge. All of humanity’s umbral reflections cluster around the roads, with towns pressed tight against the arteries that pass through them. Everything is on the hillside, even our city centers. The weaver here is concentrated, and bitter. The spiders want to spin webs in the forest, to turn the trees to more productive efforts, but the Sea of Secrets resists domestication at every turn.
With the growth of the bedroom communities, umbral suburbs have started to appear. Grey, still, and quiet, these areas usually occupy no more than what would be a few city blocks in the umbra, when viewed from the outside. Those who enter the suburbs report that the houses stretch on to the horizon, with a towering, misty giant in the far distance, assembling houses and setting them into the ground, like a farmer sowing a field.
Do not make noises in the Suburbs.
Stories and Rumors
There are sharks off the coast, and where there are sharks there are Rokea. They had a gentleman’s agreement with the garou of the Sept of the Moon: We keep on our side, you keep on yours. That agreement has not be tested since before the Age of Apocalypse began.
Wolves have been spotted in the forests in the north of the domain. There are rumors of a Red Talon pack in the north, but if they are there, they don’t like talking to others.