Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cave of Secrets: A Long Hike (WtA)

Okay, so, while I'm mostly packed for Gencon (I leave later tonight) -- there's just a couple more things left to throw in the luggage, but I haven't yet because it's stuff I'm still using -- I'm taking a bit of time to type up this blog post regarding this past Friday's Werewolf: The Apocalypse session.

So where we left off before, Jerry and Berry had just dealt with a fomor in the physical world while Claudiu and Åke where making their way through the Umbra. Now, after the brief scuffle, Jerry had killed the fomor, but between sessions his player expressed concern that he may have completely deviated from his character concept in the heat of the moment and was wondering if he could take that back and just knock him out instead. After some consideration, I decided he could get one do-over while everyone's still trying to establish their characters, with the caveat that there would have been a part of Jerry that really wanted to go through with it and would have to struggle with that urge.

Back in the Umbra, the pack's totem was tipping off Claudiu and Åke that something was going on back in the physical world with their nearby packmates. Claudiu climbed up a nearby tree to try and get the lay of the land. The umbral forest was bright and colorful, though the canopy of trees almost seemed fused together in places like it wasn't just 'trees' but 'the forest.' And even though it was further away than should have been properly visible, he could see a beam of light coming from where the region's radio telescope would have been -- a solid fixed point for navigation, everyone thought. He also found a clearing at the bottom of a nearby hill with a stream that could be used to get back across the Gauntlet, and he and Åke made their way down there quickly, unaware they were being watched.

Back in the physical world, Berry uses Mother's Touch to heal Jerry of the damage he got from the silver bullet, and then they went through Dan's (the once-dead-retconned-to-unconscious fomor) stuff. There was the aforementioned bottled water, energy bars, and the blood-splattered holster. They also found his wallet, which contained a work ID for a drilling company out of Beckley. His backpack also held some bloody cash as well. They also find needle marks on the guy's arm -- nothing to suggest he's a recreational drug user, but something more in line with medical treatments. At about this point, Claudiu and Åke came through the trees, having stepped sideways a little ways downstream and everybody had gotten caught up on what had been happening. They decide to wake the guy up and grill him some more, and briefly discuss torturing him before deciding they're better than that. (I also point out that as a spirit who prefers more honorable forms of combat, Black Unicorn wouldn't be cool with torture.)

But they drag him to the nearby stream to wake him up, when a stranger calls out to them while he comes out of the trees. The stranger identifies himself as Roy "Don't Dig There," from the Whispering Waters Sept. They fill him in on what's been going on while they dunk Dan's head in the stream to wake him up and restart the interrogation with the entire pack present. They get out of him that he's a psychic working for the drilling company, scrying for drilling spots and occasionally messing with people's heads. Roy leans over and whispers something in Jerry's ear, and Jerry follows his suggestion and asks "What's Project Aeneid?"

Dan shits himself.

After some panicking and blubbering, Dan says that Project Aeneid is an organization helping people develop psychic abilities for commercial use. (which is technically true) Jerry puts a thumb on one of his pressure points and squeezes and they manage to get out of him that STL does some work for Endron from time to time. Claudiu shifts to Crinos to make a point out of the fact that this guy isn't affected by the Delirium to demand what he thought he was dealing with when he first saw one of them shapeshift. Dan said something about how sometimes Endron has shapeshifting creatures sent out to retrieve runaways and he thought he'd been found out. But at this point they think they've got enough.

Everybody but Jerry (including Roy, since Claudiu wants to keep an eye on him until they have time to ask him a few questions) steps sideways. Jerry kills Dan, the pack on the other side discorporates the Mind Feeder bane that came out of him, and then they come back to ask Roy a few questions. He explains that he's an Adren[0] Bone Gnawer Ragabash, and that he was brought out to the hills by a dream as well. His dream, however, featured a cougar carrying a wrapped bundle through a hidden tunnel, stashing it in what sounds like the cavern with the opening in the ceiling the others saw in their dream. So everyone shares what they know about the area (during which Roy mentions that he's seen at least one other Fera out there), and the group offers to bring Roy along. He declines, as he has septmates also in the woods and he wants to track them down.

I think there was a bit of misunderstanding (that I didn't correct, because reasons) where they thought he was heading back to his sept because they gave him the gun with the silver bullets to dispose of. But he left, they performed a Rite of Cleansing on Dan's body and buried him in a shallow grave before continuing into the woods, trusting in Jerry's intuition to lead the way.

Jerry's intuition leads them to some noises in the forest that sound like a group of people up ahead, where they stop and try to sort out who should go and seek it out. Jerry's developed a bit of a paranoid streak regarding Claudiu (for reasons that will become clear later), and suggests that he go out there and meet the threat alone. He points out that last time he approached a stranger in a non-Homid form (he was currently in Lupus), he got shot at. Åke asks if he's afraid, which Jerry naturally takes as a bit of a challenge. But thank Gaia for the crescent moon, as he doesn't frenzy.

In the end, they settle on Claudiu and Åke moving forward, with Åke in Lupus form so he and Claudiu can try and pull the classic 'guy hiking with his really large wolf-looking dog' routine. They head for the noise and find four guys and a wolf, a couple of them with shotguns, making their way through the woods. Claudiu tries saying a couple of words in the Garou tongue just loud enough to get their attention to see their reaction. After a few moments of this, the guy in the lead calls them out and introduces himself as Aeden Thorne from the Whispering Waters Sept, and with him was his pack "Edge of the Firelight."

The two packs come together to share their notes -- these guys had the bear dream, too, it seems, and did their own divinatory rituals to figure out where they were headed. Each of them has a circled area on their maps from their various methods to track down where this 'cave' is, and find that there is a pretty small overlapping area where both of their maps agree. They decide to move on together, as they were getting close.

Meanwhile, Jerry was off to the side, meditating and trying to clear his head. He managed to figure out that someone had whammied him, but who? Smart money was on Dan, but he had a stronger feeling about Roy... but why? So he goes back and asks Aeden if he knows Roy, as they're ostensibly from the same sept. Aeden simply asks "Who?" So Jerry explains to everyone what he's been feeling and what he thinks happened.

So they racked their brains, called upon some ancestor spirits, and theorized that this is definitely some trickster-style stuff going on, which suggested that among everything else in the mountains there was a Nuwisha on the loose. The pack comes to the decision that when they see Roy again, they're not going to kill him but they will beat the living snot out of him.

The two packs gathered up their stuff and continued up the hills together, somewhat spread out just in case. And being spread out like that is the reason why, when Claudiu manages to spot a disguised pitfall just in time, he's the only one who would have fallen into it. Elsewhere, someone from the other pack hits a tripwire and takes a crossbow bolt to the arm. Further investigation of the pitfall reveals that the bottom is covered with punji sticks, with mountain lion traces around.

They're starting to get more concerned about Fera in this region, perhaps worried that they've stumbled onto some hidden community of other shifters. Claudiu, who's a Shadow Lord and thus responsible for a great deal of genocidal atrocities when it comes to other shifters, is particularly concerned. They continue on, discussing what they're going to do and say if they find such a community, an eventually they climb over a hill and start coming down the other side. Further down the slope, they can see where a rockslide has revealed a cave.

Inside the cave, just out of the sunlight, is a stone pedestal of some sort. The walls are covered with glyphs, some more than a little obscure.

And then there was the disembodied voice... the words weren't clear, but the characters could clearly understand what was being said...

"Welcome to the Cave of Secrets."

[0]-- Rank 3, for those of you playing along at home.

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