Woo, holidays! Woo, this fucking dumpster fire of a year! Woo!
So where we left off, the pack was beginning a sweep of Marlinton, trying to claim the remaining railroad spikes before the Spirals can find and corrupt them. They'd just managed to get one from a seasonally-closed museum and were on their way to the local newspaper office where they knew another resided.
So Åke wants to drop off the spike they just found, and Jerry just agrees with him because he's not eager to pick another argument. Ray wants to go ahead and poke around the newspaper office so Jerry asks Wants-to-Know to stay with him.
Ray and Wants-to-Know sniff around the place in the Umbra, both literally and metaphorically, and discover the inside of the building is literally swarming with clouds of small, wasp-like anger Banes. Wants-to-Know relays this to Åke, whereupon we have this exchange.
Åke: "Oh, biscuits."
Wants-to-Know, not getting it: "No, not biscuits, anger Banes!"
Åke suggests they pull back and wait for everyone to regroup before going in, and so Ray and Wants-to-Know pull back until Åke and Jerry get to the sept, drop off the spike, and return. Ray uses Name the Spirit to get a better angle on exactly what the Banes are, and identifies four discrete Gafflings referred to, as near as he can tell, as Buzzing Spites.
Jerry wants to just wipe out the Banes and then figure out what in the physical world is causing/attracting them. Ray is concerned that without the Banes encouraging the source to remain angry, it will be that much harder to nail down the inciting source. Jerry peeks across the Gauntlet to see that there's apparently some sort of argument going on in the newspaper office. But between the Gauntlet and also looking in through the front window of the place (it's not a very big office), they can't tell what the argument's about.
Åke offers to go in and try and break up the argument, but Jerry suggests just dealing with the Banes and then sorting out the rest. So they take their appropriate war forms (Ray prefers Hispo, the others generally prefer Crinos), and burst in to fight some Banes. After the fighting begins, though, a Psychomachia (a spirit that could be charitably described as representing pretty much all negative human emotions) that looks a bit like a cartoon hateful redneck comes out of the back room, wanting to know what the hell is causing all the fuss.
The group is a little unprepared for the fight, partially because the Psychomachia is a pretty rough customer and because all of the Banes are moving a lot faster than normal. The Psychomachia actually manages to mess them up a bit, but the group rallies and Jerry manages to finish it off with a Kailindo move called Tornado Kick, coming at it like a werewolf-shaped blender. Elsewhere in the battle, Wants-to-Know uses that Fang Dagger he got from Andy Stump to just completely obliterate a couple of the swarms. But even once the battle has died down, there's something in the office that just feels 'off,' like there's something actively radiating Wyrm taint.
The group goes back outside and finds a spot to return to normal forms and step sideways so they can approach the office in the physical world. They come in to catch the tail end of the argument as it becomes simmering tension once they notice someone's come in. Wants-to-Know's Heightened Senses pick up that the argument seems to have been about someone in the office wanting to run an offensive editorial in the paper. Wants-to-Know, driven partially by his Curiosity Flaw, just heads behind the front desk to start poking at things when a woman named Dolores comes up to try and get him to quit it and find out what these people want. She spots Ray and visibly flinches, as he's kind of an ugly cuss (as Sean puts it, in Homid form Ray looks like "Marty Feldman in overalls"). Åke tries to direct the conversation, ask about the history of the building, talk about maybe getting a tour, but because Wants-to-Know can't just leave well enough alone Dolores basically throws them out and for the sake of politeness tells them if they want a tour or something to come back around closing time.
So they go out and Åke reads him the riot act for screwing things up at the front desk. They decide to at least try to give the place a Cleansing in the Umbra and while the pack proper goes to get what they need for the ritual, Ray pops around back and shifts to Lupus to try and listen in on what's going on inside. He's able to pick up enough details to learn that someone in the office wants to run this really racist screed blaming a lot of the town's recent problems on the Romany who recently left. The argument does pretty much die down before the pack returns. They step sideways, Cleanse the Umbral side of the print shop, and then just kill time until a half-hour before the office is supposed to close.
Dolores is at the front desk, both a little surprised and dismayed to see they're back. She agrees to give them a tour as long as they chip generously for the office charity pool (since, ICly, it's almost Christmas). Ray gives it a little side-eye because he's told that the charity is for poor people and he himself is rather poor (after all, he's an inbred wolf-man raised by moonshiners), but they manage to avoid an incident.
Dolores takes them around the office, and shows them a lot of the vintage equipment the newspaper uses (out of pride as much as anything else), while Åke tries to make endearing small talk and Ray uses Scent of the True Form to determine that she's human (just in case). Jerry spots the spike being used as a doorstop while they're on the tour. The others distract Dolores while Jerry grabs it without letting the door it's holding open close loudly enough to catch Dolores' attention. It's uncomfortably warm and moist in his hand, like it just came out of a mildewing gym bag, and if the Wyrm Taint reek was any stronger there'd be visible cartoon stink lines coming off of it.
Jerry can't find an easy way to hide it, so Åke comes up with an excuse for Jerry to need to get something out of the car so Jerry can just smuggle it out. And then Jerry just takes off because the thing he needs to get out of the car doesn't exist and also because he wants to try and perform a Cleansing on the spike. Åke smooths over Jerry's disappearance, and Wants-to-Know leaves 'to go look for him.' And Åke just keeps having to BS his way through explanations as to where his friends are going. Eventually Åke leaves Ray alone with Dolores for an awkard few seconds before he heads out himself.
Elsewhere, Jerry's actually having trouble Cleansing the spike. Åke and the others catch up with him and they're trying to figure out how it was Tainted and whether that activated its spirit-enhancing abilities. As near as they can tell, someone just pumped it full of Wyrmish essence and that was enough. But they manage to Cleanse it and are pretty sure there's just one spike left extant, in the courthouse.
They quickly run the spike they've got to the caern, head back to the courthouse, and by now it's evening. They approach the building in the Umbra. Pattern-Spiders skitter around on the outside of the building, and Wants-to-Know actually has to unlock the door in the Umbra with Open Seal to get in.
Ray manages to track down some sort of legal spirit that looks like a judge and convinces it to help them. It offers to show them where the spike is, but asks them want they want with it. They give him the run-down and he asks if they have any collateral to offer while they borrow it. Jerry offers the judge-spirit some Gnosis and it asks him if this is a bribe. Jerry says it's not, at which point the judge loses interest. Jerry then tells him that it is a bribe, and the judge is interested again and agrees. (And then for some reason Åke gives it some Gnosis as well, unless I misread my notes)
Apparently the spike is kept in a courtroom as a good luck charm, underneath the bench. Åke starts getting concerend about swiping all of these railroad spikes at once, that the police might notice -- especially if there's one that a local authority might notice is missing. He wants to get some railroad spikes to replace the ones that they've been taking. While he's making his case, Ray and Wants-to-Know quickly step sideways, grab the spike, tuck it in Wants-to-Know's Magpie's Swag bag, and bring it back. Wants-to-Know isn't particularly concerned about the spikes going missing but tells Åke that if he wants to replace the spikes nobody's going to stop him. Åke really wants this to be something the whole pack does because he doesn't want to go off alone, I think, but nobody else really wants to go to the trouble right now. Bigger fish to fry and all that. But as the pack gets ready to leave, Ray decides to take it upon himself to replace the spikes since he doesn't have much better to do and is still technically packless.
And we leave off there. See you folks next year.
-- Gafflings are the lowest tier of spirit, the equivalent of Bond villain goons who lack nametags and thus have no chance.
-- For those of you unfamiliar with the fine details of Werewolf, the Stargazer tribe has access to a special martial art they've developed that incorporates their shapeshifting into maneuvers. The martial art, if you haven't guessed from context, is called Kailindo.
-- There are seven spikes. There's the one in the Lodge (which they hid), the one that was in the Tannery (which they procured), the ones in the museum and newspaper office (just acquired). And then there is one in the Opera House and one at the site of the old train station, both of which are X'ed off on Andy's map so the group takes that as a sign that they're taken already.
-- Lol political humor