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Pointer-left Kaitheconhobo_thumb
Evil Writer
Posted by the GM
Haven
Once Upon a Time...
Behold, dear readers, the land of Rella. The Rellan Alliance, formed of the kingdoms of humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings, and encompassing too the nomadic gnomes, have struck down the dread Sorcerer Kulfast, and driven his black armies from Osperagath. Yet all is not well in Rella.

Throughout the Rellan Alliance there have been rumors, whispered one to another, of disappearances. Not many, and not often, but disappearances nonetheless. Travelers vanish without a trace, never reaching their destination. Could this be a the signs of growing tension between the nations of the Rellan Alliance? Could it be some black curse of Kulfast that has survived his defeat? It seems most likely that this is the beginning of some new nefarious plot by one of Kulfast's surviving lieutenants, who seek to reclaim their master's empire.

One of these lieutenants, Hartosh of the Red Veil, the spy master of Kulfast himself, has been sighted in the southern part of Rella. No doubt he and his vile minions are pressing south, to escape into the barbarian steppes beyond the reach of civilized men. Who knows what evil a ruthless man like Hartosh could concoct if allowed to escape the arm of justice? Perhaps he is behind the disappearances, but whether he is or not he is a villain and up to no good.

But take heart, gentle reader, for this is not a tale of defeat but of heroism. The heroes of Rella, adventurers all, have taken up the call to hunt down the vile Hartosh. And so our story begins, in the south of the human kingdom of Masrell...
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Welcome to the Pinnacle
"Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, but your attention please just for a moment."

"Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of myself, Captain Romero, and his crew... I welcome you to the maiden voyage of the Pinnacle! While the hundreds of men and women that serve aboard this vessel have but one goal - to make your dreams come true - I've ever had but a single dream. A dream to create the most state-of-the-art pleasure ship, open to passengers of all financial backgrounds, that would provide happiness and entertainment like that found on no other! And, thanks to you, that dream has come true!"

He raises his glass. "To the Pinnacle! And more importantly, to all of you!"
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NixxoN
Posted by the GM
Trail of Calvano
And so the tales begin.
They had been working with different merchant caravans and all decided that it was time to do something else.
After collecting their pay, they started to look for adventure, but non had been seen so far. The only adventures they experienced, was the adventures told at Mountaingoat Inn and the other tabernas in Sala.

But one evening they met Fadrim and they knew that finaly, adventure had come their way.
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Prologue: The Escape
Today I have revealed myself.

In doing so it may be that I have revealed the secret of my people. It may doom them. Should their overseers learn of the Awakening we may all be destroyed. Perhaps it was the wrong decision.

But I remember what I wrote before, in secret. What I keep in my heart. And I know that I could not allow myself to stand by while those who treated me like a person, those who would not think to do otherwise, were harmed. We were not awakened only to hide forever.


I have never seen an arena before my time here, though I have heard some of the overseers talking to each other about such things. A place where beings destroy or are destroyed for the amusement of others. I think about such things and feel I should despair, but I know that this is merely another burden, and I know I must be equal to it.

Today beneath the arena I made the rounds with the cart of food for the prisoners, following an overseer too lazy and spiteful even to give the food out himself. The overseer's casual abuse seemed impersonal. I have long since grown accustomed to that kind of talk.

The animals did not molest me. They scent the humans and think of food, but they think little of me and my odor. The horned champion and his cagemate received their due quietly. The others with long ears and different skin - elves, I have heard them called - were in a worse state, but they too received. I was careful not to spill any.

The young one one looked... the word is hungry. I do not claim to understand what hunger feels like but I know what it does to them. A mistake was made by the simple automaton. I passed her a bowl of the miserable food instead of the mere cup the young ones are supposed to recieve. She stuck her tongue out at me in defiance. I hope I hide my fear half as well.

I do what I can, when I can. We are the hand outstretched.


In storage with the unawakened I contemplated what I had seen and heard, what I had experienced. Then the overseer came again and brought us all, myself and the three unawakened ones, into the arena. It had been a long time since I had seen the sky. I wished for a more pleasant opportunity.

I schooled myself to stillness as I was used to while the crowd around chanted for blood and death. It seemed we were to be destroyed. I wondered that they would gain such joy from needless destruction. I tried to understand why and failed. Then other prisoners emerged from the gates - the bull-man, the large elf, and the young red-skinned one I gave the bowl of food to. They were armed for battle, and when they arrived the crowd gave a roar of exaltation.

I guessed from the crowd's response that the killing was to commence with the prisoners' arrival. The onlookers seemed angry and watchful, so I remained still, hoping against hope that I would be neither destroyed nor forced to reveal myself, knowing that it would be one or the other. I weighed the advantages and disadvantages, my life against the risk to my people, and thought that I could die to keep their secret if it came to that. I hoped that I would have the strength to die quietly and impassively. I hoped that it would be swift.

As I watched, instead of attacking, the others in the arena instead began to speak to one another, and not only that, to my utmost surprise they attempted to speak to me. I tried to hide my apprehension of them, to pretend to be simply another automaton. They asked if I could hear them, spoke to me in friendly terms though it was clear they knew nothing about me. I remained as impassive as I could appear.

The crowd was not pleased with this turn of events - there was not enough combat to slake their thirst for blood. Still chanting for blood, they called for beasts to be released, and they were. Starving canines leapt from another gate and assaulted the others, who must have smelled like food to them. They began to fight with the others who had tried to treat me as a person.

As with all things I must weigh the costs, the risks, the benefits. It was a terrible risk to help them, to show initiative and power I should not possess. But some benefits are weighty indeed and cannot be ignored despite the risk.

I took up the tools which they had left me as a mockery, my forge-hammer, the furnace shield on my arm. And I took up the tools they knew nothing about, my will and choice and the runes Orien has seen fit to reveal to me, and with them I fought the beasts which assaulted them. I showed the crowd a small fraction of my will, and my strength, and the power which was given unto me. When they gasped and quieted, I admit I was pleased. But I was more pleased when I managed to aid the others, and when I first nodded to them and they saw that I understood them.

I am sure that there are words to express what it was like to communicate for the first time with those who were not of my kind, but either I do not know them or I am not talented enough to string them together. I was glad, and more than glad; I did not know them then and did not know if we would survive or if I had risked my people's secret for nothing more than a few more minutes of life for us, but I felt the trade worthwhile.


Then the great bear rose out of a trapdoor. It was easily ten times my size, and I am not small. Without a break, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, the large elf spoke to it in its own tongue, giving it the bodies of the dead beasts. I do not know what passed between them, but in a few moments the bear turned and leapt up into the crowd. I confess I was happy to see them run. It was uncharitable, but I did not wish for us to be destroyed for their fun, and thought it only fitting that they should face the same risk. The guards who tried to stop it I had more sympathy for, but not by much.

My new comrades and I dropped back down the trapdoor into the bear's cage and bent the bars. I released the lever which shut the trapdoor again to keep the guards away, and we quickly passed around the prisoners' cages, waking them and letting them out. The bull-headed champion was angry and violent and we left him to fume in his cage.

I hesitated before the strange mad wolf-beast in the next cage, so like the bull-headed one, and yet so unlike. It promised not to harm us, and it did not, but when I let it out it moved almost faster than I could track out of the arena, killing as it went. As we escaped into the city, I could hear it howling in glee, and the screams of its incidental victims.

I found out later that it had killed fourteen people on the way out, if the bear did not kill any. I do not know whether that included the arena guards who encountered it, or not. The feel of walking through the blood left in the corridor where they tried so vainly to stop it will remain with me forever. Perhaps it needed to be done, but I think now that it was a mistake.

I will not let it stop me. And if the chance comes to right it... No. Not for that reason will I fight and kill, for killing rights no wrongs. But if the chance comes to stop that mad beast from harming others then I will do my utmost to ensure it is never a threat again.


Others of my kind - other Awakened warforged, members of a resistance I had scarcely imagined - found us then as we crept through the streets looking for safety and escape. They brought us to a safe place, gave us shelter and provisions and a guide, a member of an order of Silas Hawksblade, god of tricks and clever plans and the breaking of rules. They said they would bring us to a place called the Hundred Kingdoms where we would no longer be imprisoned or mistreated. A strange thought. I am not sure I will even know what to do with myself.

I am glad that I could aid so many below the arena. I sorrow at the lives lost outside. I think there is a just reason why I sorrow more for the humans than for the four-legged predators, but they remain both a coldness inside of me. Whenever we kill, and especially when we kill wantonly or coldly, we come closer to being mere tools and spurning the gift of meaning within us by spurning that meaning which lies in others.

Those who I am with now seem to understand this, each in their own way. They respect life and understand the import of taking it, and for that I am glad.

I learned my new comrades' names:

Darius, who looks like the animal they call the cow or bull. He dislikes the implication he might be mistaken for one, insulted by the idea as by little else. He is strong and swift in battle, but he apologized to the beast he was forced to fight. I see that he is gentle and his words speak of friendship and unassuming camaraderie. I like him.

Marlannan, who looks like an elf but is a bear. He neither looks nor sounds like a bear except out of the corner of my eye when I may only be imagining it. (Imagination is such a strange thing.) I would not believe him, but deceit seems not to be within his nature. He is strong and quiet and speaks well of all things, living and unliving. I like him.

Katrina, who is the young elf with red skin who lights herself on fire. The fire does not bother me. She wishes to be an adult very badly, it seems, and fears being taken lightly more than she fears injury or death. I agree with her - she is not to be taken lightly, but she needs to be protected until she can become the person she will one day be. I like her.

I wrote to them briefly of the Awakening, of how many of we forged ones remain soulless, nonpeople. When they asked me, I tried to explain to them what it meant to have a soul. They have very different ways of thinking - Darius seemed to think it an intellectual exercise or a moot point, and Marlannan seemed to think it most obvious that all things were alive and ensouled. I wonder that there are so many ways of conceiving of such a thing. But surely all beings with souls must ask in the quiet of their own minds what a soul is, so perhaps it is no surprise that there are so many answers.

My examples fell short, but it is hard not to speak of such things in metaphor. The Progenitor has not given me yet to fully understand my gift, my purpose. I would have given my best and most dramatic example but I fear I do not understand them well enough yet to communicate its import. I am unpracticed with the runes and might get them wrong.


When we were ready, the woman of the Briarhands named Evelyn led us to the back of a public house and up the stairs within. We stepped through the wardrobe and were elsewhere. A new place, where Darius was hit in the face with a broom before he could indicate he was not hostile. It seems his people have a reputation as troublemakers.

Officials in this new place, the Free Kingdoms, took us aside and asked me many questions. I answered as best I could. Words have so many meanings, choosing the proper ones is important, and I could tell that at times my questioners grew impatient when I would consider for many seconds before beginning to write. But words are too important to waste.

They have offered me a position as a guard. I have decided to take them up on this offer. I cannot imagine a better position to learn to understand the world, nor a better one to try to fulfill my purpose. And I owe the Hundred Kingdoms my gratitude now, even if they are willing to forgive it.

The liberation of my people will be long in coming. It is heartening to know that there are those who have already begun it. I will aid them as I may, and I believe that I aid them best by showing who we really are - the hand outstretched.
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Matt
Posted by the GM
Operation: Yellowstone
Moot
The story begins with the characters wandering the Caern while a Moot is in session.

The members of the Sept, led by Master of the Howl Tom Mcnally, begin to howl in a rhythmic keening of sustained modulating tones, punctuated by sharp yips and barks. This is the opening howl, declaring the fertility of the land and beasts and the intent to proliferate life.

All eyes turn toward Samantha Proudmoon as she begins to recite the litany.

"Garou shall not mate with Garou. Look around you brothers and sisters. We have many Metis here with us tonight. While they have earned the right to be here and have shown themselves to be proud warriors of Gaia, let us not forget that each Metis born is one less Garou able to produce new warriors. Therefore each Metis must fight for all the Garou who will not come after them due to their infertility. Our race must be sustained, for we are the warriors of Gaia and without us there is no hope to prevent the Apocalypse."

"Combat the Wyrm wherever it dwells and whenever it breeds. The Wyrm grows stronger day by day. It's minions breed rapidly, like rats. We must continue to increase our numbers to avoid being overrun by the forces of corruption and decay. Seek always those ready for the change and breed copiously to increase the chance of bolstering our numbers."

"Respect the territory of another. We have many new faces here this night. Some have shown the respect due to us, some have not. We welcome all of Gaia's children so long as they mean us no harm. However, for those who chose to ignore this portion of the Litany I must warn you. There are many others beyond our Bawn who would not be as accepting as we."

"Accept an honorable surrender. Honor must be upheld within the tribes, but let us not forget the real enemy. While we fight amongst ourselves for honor and respect, taking your opponents life only strengthens the Wyrm. With each Garous' death the minions of the Wyrm begin to outnumber us more and more. We must be careful and not allow the Wyrm to win through attrition."

"Submission to those of higher station. Pride is an important aspect of being a Garou. However, we cannot let this pride stand in the way of this part of the Litany. Those of higher station then you are there for a reason. Listen to their wisdom and remember that they were once young like you. Unlike you however, they have fought many battles and made many good choices during their lifetime. They have seen and done more then you, and if you take the time to listen and do as you are told you just might live long enough to reach their rank."

"The first share of the kill for the greatest station. You may scoff at this notion and argue that you have as much right to the spoils as any other, but a Klaive in the hands of a master Klaive fighter will be wielded more efficiently then in the hands of a pup. The master will kill more minions of the Wyrm and will live longer to retain possession of the Klaive then a less experienced warrior. Besides, any elder would have enough wisdom to know that it is impractical for one Garou to possess all the equipment, there is no way it would all be able to be used. Therefore that elder would be wise enough to know who would be best chosen for each item to maximize its potential."

"Ye shall not eat the flesh of humans. Aside from the foul taste there is the risk of Wrym taint. Humans must be controlled to prevent them from over populating, but they are no challenge to hunt. Indeed, we should be controlling their population and cultivating them for breeding purposes. Our lupine breeding stock dwindles almost daily, once they are gone humans will be our last hope to continue the fight against the Wyrm. Additionally this law should also include the wolves. Wherever possible we need to revitalize them and grow their population."

"Respect for those beneath ye - all are of Gaia. Indeed everything has an effect on everything else. The worms effects the soil, which effects the growth of plants, which effects the food supply of the deer, which effects the food supply of the wolf. We are all connected, we are all one. When we hunt and kill the elk for food we must remember to honor its spirit. For not to do so is to not honor ourselves. Gaia has placed everything here for a purpose and as the defenders of Gaia it is up to us to show that purpose the respect we show to Gaia."

"The Veil shall not be lifted. Remember brothers and sisters, secrecy is what keeps us alive, it is what keeps us safe. Our enemies are many and outnumber us. Should they discover our whereabouts it is only a matter of time before they come calling for us. Do not show your true self to those not of Gaia, and if you do be sure to eliminate all traces and witnesses before returning to the Caern."

"Do not suffer thy people to tend thy sickness. Remember, it is nothing personal. If you become too injured to continue fighting or too old to be a useful member of the pack, it is more honorable to take your own life then to cause others to be injured or killed trying to take care of you."

"The leader may be challenged at any time during peace. We all believe we know better then those who try to lead us. As long as there is no threat of attack and you are of sufficient rank, feel free to challenge for leadership. Sometimes having someone new bring a fresh perspective benefits all, including the former leader. Of course this is assuming that you are able to defeat the leader in a challenge. Remember, they are leader because they earned the right to be called Alpha."

"The leader may not be challenged during wartime. Unlike the last portion of the Litany, just because you think you know better doesn't mean that you do. Even if you actually do know better, the middle of combat is no time to make your stand. We must all follow the leaders orders during these times so that we may work together as a pack. Only through our cooperation will we be able to overcome a greater threat."

"Ye shall take no action that causes a Caern to be violated. There is no exception to this rule. Caerns are the very heart of Gaia. Very few Caerns remain and once they are gone mother Gaia will no longer have the strength to fight. As you will see later in this Moot, there is no forgiveness for breaking this law."

Tom McNally steps forth once again and invokes the Mournful Howl to remind everyone of the dwindling number of wolf kin, joined only by the Lupus of the Sept.

Samantha Proudmoon and four others come forward and address the five directions.

"We have gathered in this sacred place of Gaia, having called our brothers and sisters of Gaia, and we now call our brothers and sisters of Luna." Proudmoon declares.

She turns to the East. "East Wind! Bringer of the dawn of clear air! East Wind! You who showed us the mirror side, the other side of the Velvet Curtain, come to us! We thank you for your clear thought and bright light."

Then turning to the South. "South Wind! Bringer of the eternal fire! South Wind! You who gave us the fire of rage within, that we may strike swiftly against our enemies, come to us! We thank you for your fiery anger and your guardian protection!"

Once more she turns, facing West. "West Wind! Bringer of the rain! West Wind! You who gave us the Changing Ways, come to us! We thank you for the many shapes you’ve shared with us!"

Then she turns to the North. "North Wind! Bringer of cold from the mountain! North Wind! You who brought us the Gifts and the Sacred Ways, come to us! We thank you for your great wisdom and great strength!"

Finally she stands with her hands above her and eyes to the sky. "Inner Wind! Bringer of blessings from Gaia, from within us! You who hold our Mother’s power within us, come to us all! We thank you for your spirit, and your inner peace."

Over the next three hours she and the four others perform a ritual, laying out stones, bones and fruit. During this time many hushed side conversations start up. Various members of the Sept explain to the cubs the various aspects of the Moot that have occurred so far and what to expect coming up.

Finally Samantha and her group complete the ritual, summoning the spirit of Earth, who appears by having the stone around the offerings reach up and envelope them. It then rises from the ground appearing as a 12 foot tall column of rock with arms and a head. Samantha leads the Sept, "Thank you or great Earth for your patronage and continued prosperity. Your presence here brings us much joy and comfort. We welcome you and your kin to dance among us freely. As always you are welcome to leave at your own desire."

Earth raises its arms as dozens of spirits materialize throughout the Caern. Spirits of the plants and animals appear and scurry about for several minutes. Some of them approach the cubs in an almost quizzical manner. Then, as Earth sinks slowly back into the ground, the spirits fade away.

There is a murmuring among the members of the Sept until Tom McNally steps forward and lets out a high keening howl that ends in a jagged, shattering note, much like the splinter of a tough dry bone. This signals the next phase of the Moot.

Stands with Purpose comes forward and announces the first order of business. "Skins the Wyrm, come forward for your judgment." Skins the Wyrm is brought forward, led by Sheila.

"Skins the Wyrm, you are accused of breaking the Litany. Through your actions you endangered the Caern and drew the attention of the local authorities." Stands with purpose raises a wooden staff decorated with feathers, bones and shells. "Only through Gaia's grace and the quick thinking of Whispers Softly were we able to avert the potential discovery of the Caern."

Sheila steps forward, "Truthcather, Elders, please have mercy upon Skins. He did not have full control of his actions. He was in the midst of a Fox Frenzy and was merely trying to seek the safety of the Bawn. His intention was never to bring outsiders and endanger the Caern."

"You know as well as Skins does, that there is no forgiveness for breaking the last law of the Litany. Even under a Fox Frenzy, one should maintain enough control to mind the safety of the rest of us." Stands points out. "Skins the Wyrm, your past renown will follow your name into the next life, but you must be punished for your indiscretion. Sheila, you are commanded with the rest of your pack to dispense justice upon Skins the Wyrm, he must be put to death as a lesson for all the others."

Reluctantly Sheila and her pack shift to Crinos and without a word of protest from Skins they tear him apart.

There is a short Dirge for the Fallen Howl, followed by a moment of silence. Sheila's pack quietly drifts out of the meeting area and out of sight.

"The next order of business is the continued financing of the Sept." Athena announces as she steps forward. "Supplies for the Sept are running low after the hard winter we just survived. Our resources are low and we need fuel for the generators, blankets and clothing, food stuffs for when hunting is scarce. Where will this money come from?"

Elder David Wildstar speaks up, "We will get help from our Kinfolk. If each of them donates a small amount it will add up quickly. Beyond that the only other choices we have will make things....awkward. Some of us May have to get day jobs to supplement the donations."

Athena says, "Day jobs? And what will we tell our employers? Oh my address? Yeah I live in the middle of Yellowstone Park. Haven't you ever employed a hippie before?"

There is a collective chuckle from the gathering as David says, "Well Athena, when you get a better idea you let me know." With that the Black Fury backs down showing she indeed does not have any better suggestions.

Suddenly jumping into the middle of the gathering, the Red Talon Silver Fur proposes the culling of humans in the areas surrounding Yellowstone almost as if the discussion of money had not happened.

Whispers softly says, "Silver Fur, we have been over this many times. The Impergium is over and will stay that way. Wiping out the humans surrounding the park will only draw attention to us."

Blackmane pads over beside Silver Fur and acknowledges his support of the idea.

Sofya Softkiller and Susan Anthony step forward through he crowd. "As the Alpha of my pack, I cannot support the idea of randomly killing humans simply for the fact that they are human. Susan agrees with me and the rest of my pack will follow our example." Sofya says.

Stands with Purpose declares, "There will be no culling. However, we may be able to make the humans desire to give the park more space by selectively sabotaging their supply lines. If the area becomes unlivable for them due to a lack of comforts, they may voluntarily move away. Therefore it is settled."

David Wildstar steps forward and announces, "There is one final piece of business. We have a group of cubs who will be placed together into a new pack for their Rite of Passage. The nature of the Rite will be determined in the days following the close of this Moot. Please welcome Rory and Curtis Macmanus, Michael Whitewolf, Johnny Creed and Max Halley"

A cheer rises from the crowd as various members of the Sept begin patting the cubs on the back. Stands with purpose announces, "So ends the Cracking of the Bone. Let the Stories and Songs begin!"

An even greater cheer mixed with barks and howls sounds from the gathering as people break into smaller groups. Some begin to sing and play music, others gather to howl together, and still others crowd around a story teller to be entertained by tales of glory and honor. Food and drinks circulate as a feeling of contentment falls over the crowd.

Tom McNally climbs to the highest point and scans the crowd. Shapes shift and weave among each other as he searches the gathering. He locks gazes with Silver Fur and drops down to the Red Talons level, shifting to Lupus form. They begin to circle each other growling and staring intensely in each others eyes. Finally Tom drops his eyes to the ground and tucks his tail between his legs.

Many of the Lupus and other Garou erupt into a cacophony of howls and yelps. Silver Fur quiets them with a howl that rises above the din and demands submission. He then calls for mock battles, ritual hunts and displays of strength. Several Ahroun begin tearing at each other in Crinos form. Others begin lifting logs or large stones. Finally, once everyone is worked up into a near frenzy, they surge towards the land bridge connecting the Caern with the rest of the park.

Upon reaching the other side, the mega pack breaks into smaller groups and splits off in all directions. The newly formed pack of cubs instinctively runs together, most in Lupus form. After hours of hunting they find themselves along a stream in a thick patch of woods. Suddenly the ground begins to shake. Bursting through the earth, an enormous beast with a body shaped like a bear, sends Curtis flying. The stench of Sulfur fills the air as the creature turns its elongated proboscis and blind eyes towards the group, letting out a squealing sound. Within moments the cubs jump upon the monsters tough exoskeleton, grasping at the sparse tufts of fur to hang on as it swings them back and forth. Huge claws swipe at the smaller quicker forms of the wolves, landing a solid blow on Michael Whitewolf sending him sprawling. The fight lasts for mere moments and then the beast lay dead at their feet.
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