Tales of the Red Talons

Here now, fellow garou! Songs of Fire sings tales to entertain and inspire you!

As my pack was travelling through the northwest region of this land (in the territory you homids would call British Columbia), I discovered a lost caern which recently had been drained of most of its power. The site had been strangely violated - there were glyphs drawn in the dirt, and some powders that made me sneeze. Worst of all, the smell of humans filled the place.

My packmate Twitchy-Fur, a ragabash of the Uktena tribe, studied the markings and proclaimed that a will-worker had defiled our caern. You cubs might know them as mages. Twitchy-Fur had spent some time studying the will-workers among the humans, and knew something of their ways. We stepped sideways into the umbra, and Sweet Breeze (my theurge tribemate) summoned the squirrel-spirits nearby. They were able to describe the human violator to some extent. Since he travelled to the site on foot, we assumed he had to stay in a nearby village.

Following his trail led us to a small unimportant pit of humans. Twitchy-Fur and Eyes-of-Vengeance (a Wendigo) entered the town in homid form to find out what they could. Meanwhile, I had to deal with a challenge from Glacial Fury (a Silver Fang Ahroun from the Ice Pack), who wished to challenge me for leadership and lead the rest of the pack into the town.

I defeated Glacial Fury, who surrendered honorably, and waited. I knew that I could not discover the information that the wily Twichy-Fur and persuasive Eyes-of-Vengeance could learn, so the rest of the pack waited. After two nights of impatient waiting, our packmates returned with the information. This human was coincidentally backpacking in our territory, and had come from the place you call Washington State (from a specific fishing village).

A good leader knows when to let his subordinates have their way, so I gave Glacial Fury and the rest of my tribemates permission to eliminate this small pit of humanity before we left to deal with the will-worker. After all, they had sheltered a homid which defiled a caern, and the village also encroached on the bawn. We then ran as wolves toward the setting sun, then toward the south.

After navigating around the cities of Washington, we came to the will-worker's village. By this time, Glacial Fury was getting angry again (he is obsessive about an idea once he gets it in his head), so we quickly searched the area for the mage's scent. We found him and two of his apprentices near the sea, preparing yet another ritual. "Order of Hermes", Twitchy-Fur growled, "probably fairly strong. Willworkers of this power can change your thoughts. Beware!" Elk-chaser, an ahroun cub from my tribe, gave the mage a chance to demonstrate his power. Impatient at observing, he charged the mage in Crinos form. The mage wiggled his arms around, and a tongue of lightning struck from the sky. Elk-Chaser would chase no more.

"We must strike quickly before he summons more magick, and confuse them with our plans!" Twitchy-Fur and I devised a plan quickly. "Sweet Breeze and I can prevent his will-working, but we will need a distraction. Glacial Fury - you must provide that distraction" I growled. Twitchy-Fur added "The ritual we need requires the bravest to circle the will-worker once for each auspice, while the rest of us prepare!" I understood quickly what Twitchy-Fur was up to - Glacial Fury's obsession could be used in our favor, if we could trigger it. "Of course, Songs-of-Fire could take that role..."

"NO!" roared Glacial Fury. Quickly, the snow-colored lupus raced toward the mage and his apprentices. "I will do this! I am bravest!" He started his circling. At the same time, I uttered a Primal Howl, chilling our prey to the bone in fear as the howls echoed around them. The apprentices were already trembling in fear, but I could see the central mage working his will again as Glacial Fury circled a second time. Another bolt of lightning narrowly missed his fur, then the mage tried to affect his mind. However, the obsessive mind of Glacial Fury had focused on his task. He WOULD succeed!

As Glacial Fury rounded his prey a fifth time, Sweet Breeze and I both called upon our gift of Beastmind. His will was strong enough to fight off Sweet Breeze's efforts, but drained from trying to affect Glacial Fury, he could not prevent me from reducing his mind. After that, I led the pack and finished it.

Why do I tell this tale? Glacial Fury learned that direct attacks do not always work, and that everyone has a part to play. I also tell the tale to honor Elk-Chaser. But I also wish to entertain you with the story of the White Wolf running Five Rings around the Wizards of the Coast.

Runs-in-the-Lead had heard the call to converge on Las Vegas. He was an Elder of the tribe, wise in many things of Gaia. So when the jaggling delivered Fireclaw's message, Runs-in-the-Lead recognized the urgency for action. He also recognized that Fireclaw was seething with Rage, and would need someone wiser and more experienced to lead him. So Runs-in-the-Lead told his sept that he would travel to Las Vegas, but would need help.

His septmates were reluctant to go. The wolves in their territory had recently fled before a Pentex-sponsored hunt, and the Red Talons were arming for war. But Runs-in-the-Lead spoke to the other elders, "Let me take a few garou with me. The human scab is alien to us, for we know Gaia and the Wyld, not the Weaver. I will take the few metis in our tribe with me and allow them a chance to redeem and prove themselves. They are closer to homids than we." And thus did Bleeding Geckal and Bookta Banjabo join Runs-in-the-lead in the fight in Las Vegas. But this is not their story.

Runs-in-the-Lead was leading his small pack through the territories the humans called Wyoming. They had travelled southward for several days, and stopped to feast on an antelope. While the metis were eating, Runs-in-the-Lead heard the sign of the Kin-Fetch - the rite the garou use to track lost cubs of their tribe. "Stay here", he growled, and set off toward the awakening cub.

He ran for several hours. Runs-in-the-Lead enjoyed racing across the face of Gaia under the moonlight; he was the swiftest in his tribe - of all the garou he'd raced, only some Silent Striders could beat him in a run. Thus, flushed and eager to meet his new packmate, Runs-in-the-Lead was amazed when the call led to ... a Human dwelling?

"Wait and Watch", he muttered to himself. This habitation held several cows, sheep and horses within fences. A ranch - that's what they called this place. His keen ears and nose also detected dogs. The humans used them to herd their food animals - a sorry memory of the true hunt. But strangely enough, the Kin-Fetch directed him to those kennels. "The new garou cub must be in there - probably terrified of the humans and their dogs. Perhaps even injured by one of their jaw-traps!" His hackles rose, and he felt the anger coming.

"Watch and Wait", he reminded himself. There was no real wyrm taint in the area, so he decided to observe a while. He set a jaggling messenger to the two metis, reminding them to stay put. Meanwhile, he watched as the sun rose. The humans started leaving their sleeping structure, and moving around the animals. Some of the sheep were sheared and the cows milked, then put out to pasture. Then Runs-in-the-Lead watched the humans, and the dogs.

Most of the dogs were normal. But there, by a human, was a partly-grown wolf. The human was trying to teach it to play its stupid homid games, goading it into herding the sheep with the other dogs. The wolf had been poorly treated, and was afraid of the man. But he was also afraid of himself, and the growing Rage within him. The dogs also harried the wolf, trying to either drive it out or make it conform to their pack.

"Stupid idea, trying to tame a Wolf! Everett said he did it, and I'll be damned if he can do something I can't! Get back here, you cur!", and the human brandished a large stick in a threatening manner. What happened next was a blur. The kennel was wrecked as the new garou Changed. The man's face froze in fear as the angry garou reached out with his claws and teeth. A single snap of powerful jaws crushed the man's chest, and the cub turned in his confusion and headed for the sheep and dogs. Other humans within the house were crying out with alarm. Runs-in-the-Lead began to move toward the ranch.

The dogs harried the garou, fearing him, yet defending their flock. Their bravery did them little good, as the young garou lashed out in pain and rage. The sheep scattered; the cows weren't quite so lucky as he barrelled into the herd and gutted two within minutes. Runs-in-the-Lead saw a human female - the man's mate, he guessed - with a shotgun. As he charged her, the gun went off, and he felt pain along his flank. The mother went down quickly, and Runs-in-the-Lead heard other humans within their dwelling. He searched the house, killing them quickly. Then he had to calm the cub down.

Catching up to the cub was easy. Calming him out of his frenzy wasn't. Runs-in-the-Lead had to step sideways to avoid the cub's claws, then returned and wrestled him to the ground. He held the cub there for a time until the cub's rage was spent. Then he resumed his breed form, and showed the cub how to do. The cub recognized him as another of his kind, and Runs-in-the-Lead began the cub's education, and told him of his journey to Las Vegas.

"These humans have done nothing but cause me pain. I will gladly join you in your hunt to eradicate those humans" growled the new cub, as they began to eat one of the cows. Reaching down to what was left of one of the dogs, he continued, "I will take this collar to remind myself of their cruelty. I will gladly cause them the pain they gave me, and more".

"Then follow me to your new packmates. Since you are so eager for the hunt, I will name you Hunts-for-Blood. Welcome to the Red Talons." He looked wryly at the collar with distaste. "If you're going to keep that thing, I guess we'll actually have to dedicate it to you."

Bonebreaker had followed Natasha and the others through the Time Tunnel. A weird feeling, but the powerful young ahroun was used to following oher garou when it came to spiritual matters. But he found that the Old West, as the humans called it, stank just as much as the New West. The other members of the pack, Killian and Natasha in particular, were once again arguing over their course of action. Talks-to-Spirits waited paitently in their temporary den near the little town that would turn into a gleaming testament to the Wyrm within a century, watching the argument with little comment. But Bonebreaker was an Ahroun, which meant that he loved action.

"Hunting", was all he said, as he left the den. He ran for awhile, letting his memories wash over him. The initial foray into Las Vegas didn't work quite as well as Fireclaw wanted. Fortunately, Runs-in-the-Lead assumed control over the pack, and avoided making things worse. He had listened to Talks-to-Spirits when the Wendigo had told him of the Time Tunnel rite, and decided to join the pack heading back in time. He also let himself remember things from earlier incarnations - his past lives. Blood-Eye, the warrior who singlehandledly destroyed a frontier fort; Sky-Sniff-Guide, the mystic one who saw the new land becoming a battleground with the Wyrm; Creekdancer, who challenged her elders' policy of isolating their tribe from other Garou, and many more. Like most Red Talons, he was very much aware how Gaia's Circle of Life affected him personally.

After a brief snack on some prairie dogs, he decided to head back. The sun had gone down, and the herd of antelope he smelled would provide dinner for the pack. But then another smell came upon him. It was a smell of garou, blood, gunpowder, and whiskey. Pricking his ears up, he heard the sound of a fight. Bonebreaker loved a good fight, so he headed toward it.

He saw the covered wagon train and heard the gunshots. He smelled garou and felt something else. As he charged, he saw the human figures crouching behind the wagons, shooting with their guns. But there was more to it than that - one of the garou was struggling in hand-to-hand combat with one of the humans, and the human was holding its own. No - not human; only one type of creature looks human in Bonebreaker's experience could hold their own against a garou - Leeches.

He saw another garou fall to gunfire as he closed the distance. His howl of challenge echoed through the night, and he saw the other garou take inspiration from his appearance. He barreled into the nearest leech, avoided the creature's bite, and ripped its fanged jaw off its face. A pain in his side told him the vampires fortunately had no silver bullets, and the sting just made him madder. One garou nearby spun with the graceful attack style of Kailindo, while another emerged from the umbra to resume the fight, and a runt smelling of whiskey gutted a pair of ghouls. They were somewhat inexperienced, but had heart.

Bonebreaker's appearance had rallied the other garou, and they had sent most of the leeches to their just reward. As Bonebreaker and the others sought out the few remaining, they saw one standing over an unconscious garou, its claws gleaming wickedly long in the moonlight. "Back off or this young one dies! I don't plan on fallng to you Lupines tonight!" Bonebreaker recognized the garou as a fellow Red Talon, and his Rage grew. Invoking the gift of True Fear, Bonebreaker caused the vampire to hesitate long enough for the Kailindoist to strike. The leech was kicked away from his intended victim, and Bonebreaker charged. The vampire, already wounded, didn't have a chance.

Their pack alpha thanked him. She then turned to her fallen companions. "Whiskey Will suffered a few scratches. Su Lin is fine. Creekdancer seems to be recovering nicely, with the aid of Gaia", she said as she granted the unconscious garou a Mother's Touch. Bonebreaker stared in amazement. He had always thought of his past lives as something vague and undefined, yet now one was recovering consciousness right before his eyes!

Creekdancer was a young garou right now. She saw Bonebreaker, and approached him respectfully. "Honored garou, I thank you for aiding my pack. I assume you have come to summon me back to the sept?" she asked. "I have learned much from these other garou. I know the elders disapprove, but I do not feel my learning is complete. Please let me remain!"

Bonebreaker smiled inwardly. She was weak, but already willing to challenge him for the right to remain with her multi-tribal pack. He could certainly see where she would grow into a strongwilled elder. "No, Creekdancer. You may remain. Learn well, and guide our pack with wisdom when you return. This is not a favor; it is a service to our tribe. Now, I must return to my own pack. Farewell."

A few months later, Bonebreaker returned to his own time. He once again heard her voice echoing in his head, as her incarnation moved within him. "I am proud of you too, Bonebreaker. You have also stepped outside of the tribe to join other tribes and strengthen the Garou Nation. Thank You."