Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cave of Secrets: Closed Casket Funeral (WtA)

Okay, so... not sure what to really add before getting to the post on this one, aside from mentioning that I'll be at Gencon this year with my roommate Sean. We'll be arriving at the convention on the 16th, and leaving on the 21st if anyone wants to hang out. Just keep in mind, y'know, normal convention levels of business and endeavor to get in touch with me with a little more than an hour's warning or something if you want to get a bite to eat or something. Feel free to reach out through comments on here, or Plus, or Twitter.

But anyhow, that's a few weeks away, and right now...

So where we left off, the Sons of the Saga had been doing some searching outside of town, exploring a couple of side-avenues of investigation after the debacle that was  Wants-to-Know's and Jerry's attempt to investigate that first funeral home. They were coming up dry, and thus got back to talking about a plan to go after the funeral homes in other ways. They also bring up the subject of going back to the sept and asking around to find out who would have known Noah's usual training spot and could have helped someone set up an ambush.

They come up with a loose plan to break into the funeral homes later, but knowing full well that any shenanigans at any of the funeral homes is likely to blow back on Wants-to-Know and Jerry (whose faces and names are known to the police), Åke talks about using his band (who are all Kin) as an alibi, say the group was at practice with them or something. Then Jerry and Åke have to explain to Rebel and Wants-to-Know what an alibi is (Rebel is familiar with the concept, having been raised by moonshiners, but he didn't know the word).

But that's a plan for the evening. Until then, they go back to the sept and decide to ask around a bit, and split up to save time. Jerry and Rebel find Bury the Hatchet to start with him, finding him on Raptor Strike's borrowed sat-phone and apparently talking about getting his pack to come in from Bridger Mountain. He hangs up and spots the pack waiting to speak with him, and curtly asks "What?"

They try to carefully talk about what they found at the murder scene, that it was someone who knew him that might have set him up -- as near as they can tell, another Garou. Jerry does most of the talking, with Rebel filling him in with details via their totem link since he did the investigation. It comes up that a lot of Noah's initial training was done at the Whispering Waters sept out at Watoga State Park, before the discovery of the Cave of Secrets, and that anyone at the current sept he's likely to really know would be Walter (who was helping train him) and the Edge of the Firelight pack. Hatchet himself doesn't really know who might know about Noah's special training spots in the area, because he had spots up at Bridger Mountain too so he never had reason to show Hatchet his Marlinton-adjacent ones.

Bury the Hatchet gets a little worked up over the course of the conversation, at one point shifting his arm into a Crinos one and punching a tree hard enough to bust his knuckles open -- which immediately regenerate. Jerry promises him they'll find who killed Noah and bring him back for Hatchet to decide what needs to be done. In kind of a dark mood, for obvious reasons, Hatchet starts to make it clear he plans to make sure that whomever's responsible doesn't die quickly, and he sounds like he's about to embark on a length description of torture until he catches himself. He reminds himself that torture is the Wyrm's way[0], and decides to talk a walk to calm down. The pack notes he's heading for the road nearest the sept, implying he's probably also going out to meet his pack when they show up.

While all this is going on, Åke and Wants-to-Know go to talk to Deborah -- Åke makes sure to bring Wants-to-Know with him largely because Deb's still been a little standoff-ish with him for some reason and he's not sure she'll talk to him on his own. So they find her and ask her if she knows anything, if the Cave's shown her any visions of what's happened. She says in so many words that the Cave's not terribly concerned about what happened to Noah -- a single Garou, dying messily, doesn't particularly interest an entity whose primary reason for living is as a final desperate backup of lost lore and artifacts. She does mention, though, that she knew Noah semi-socially before "all this"[1] but he didn't socialize much with the Garou he didn't already know from Watoga so she's not sure who would know that many details about his personal life. Her brother Walter is currently back at Watoga, taking care of something (she's not sure what but thinks it has to do with his wife and kids), and will be back tomorrow if they want to talk to him. They mention that they think someone at the sept or with ties to the sept might have gotten him killed, and that gives her pause. She says she's going to need to think about that, because now she's going to be racking her brain about what sorts of interactions Noah's had around the sept, and asks them to get back to her later. They thank her for their time and decide to give her a heads-up that some high-strung werewolves might be coming in over all this. She points out that to Kinfolk, pretty much all Garou come across as high-strung.

So after this the pack regroups and goes to talk to Aedan Thorne from the Edge of the Firelight pack. He immediately asks about their progress so far, and they fill him in -- which helps given that it's relevant to their questioning. They ask him about Noah's social connections since coming to the sept, particularly whether anyone new has come into his life. Aedan mentions that a while back, Noah briefly dated a local girl named Natalie who works at the post office and whom they're pretty sure is unknowing Glass Walker Kin, and that she had only moved to town a year ago. He doesn't know the guy personally, but he thinks her uncle is an Adren (rank 3) Garou out in White Sulphur Springs, about an hour away.[2] But other than that, no new faces come to mind, and because they ask he says he can't think of anyone else who's missing or anything.

They also mention that Bury the Hatchet's pack is likely to show up, and Aedan says he's aware that he was calling the pack, and Aedan has arranged for one of his own packmates to be a 'local guide' to keep them out of trouble.

So they decide to follow up on the Natalie lead. It's about 4:30 by now and the local post office is closed, but as there's usually a lobby open for PO box stuff and there are likely still employees there they decide it might be a good idea to sniff around.

So they go in and sure enough, while the main counter seems to be closed they see Natalie filling out some paperwork there. Rebel's Scent of the True Form Gift tells him that she's definitely Kin. They ask her if there are any PO boxes available, and she says she thinks so but they'll have to come back tomorrow during normal business hours. Åke immediately goes over and introduces himself, offering a handshake and everything, because that's apparently something you do in a random, first-time interaction with a stranger at their place of business. So she actually gives him a bit of a look, a little weirded out, when Rebel steps in and asks her about Noah.

She's still a little caught off-guard, but says that she dated him for a couple of weeks a few months ago. Rebel asks if Noah ever talked about his family, and she said that he referred to them as 'Hillfolk' but that's about it. At this point Rebel tells her that he and Åke are relatives of Noah's and he drops the bad news about Noah's recent passing, which she hadn't heard about.

They ask her if she saw anything weird when she was dating Noah or if she's seen anything weird lately. She hasn't, though she knows Noah spent a lot of time out in the woods nearby, which was a point of tension in their relationship. She doesn't know where he went, though. They ask if she's seen any wolves lately, and she says she thinks she saw one a couple of times when she was going out with Noah but might have written it off as some redneck's wolf-dog hybrid at the time. They ask about her uncle, whose name turns out to be Steve and he does indeed live near White Sulphur Springs. They ask if she knows anyone at the local funeral homes. She mentions her mom is friends with the Bromfeld family, who run 'Bromfeld & Sons,' and that she herself went to the funeral for their father about three months ago. Finally, they ask which side of the family her uncle is on, and she mentions he's her maternal uncle.

So they leave and make a note to look into Natalie's uncle Steve before putting together a plan to break into Bromfeld & Sons. Since Wants-to-Know is the one who's sort of the break-in expert of the group (thanks to Open Seal), the rest of the pack (mostly Åke) starts coaching him on stuff to look for and the pack begins talking in circles around the plan and things start looking complicated when Jerry just puts his foot down and says that Åke is going to go in with him. Åke immediately thinks about getting some gloves, and wonders if they can get the floor plans to the building (though they determine that doing so would involve breaking into the courthouse and probably wouldn't be worth the effort). They also talk about stuff like getting ski masks and going in Glabro to disguise their appearance from any cameras that may be in there. Rebel and Jerry are going to be hanging out at the coffee shop a few minutes away, I think as part of their alibi.

So by now it's after dark (because it's January) when they approach the funeral home, and Åke and Wants-to-Know head in in the Umbra. They've got gloves and ski masks in Wants-to-Know's fetish bag that lets him carry stuff across the Gauntlet. They notice that there are a bunch of Banes around the building -- it doesn't look like substantially more than one could expect around a funeral home without dedicated spiritual defenders, but it's still a lot. They sneak past and break in, still in the Umbra, and find the place is pretty well infested with Banes. There's a brief conversation about whether to clear these out, but in the end the pack uneasily decides there's more important things to worry about and that they'll come back later. There's also some sort of spider-shaped Weaver spirit about the size of a child's toy skittering around the corners of the ceiling, pausing every now and again to look around.

They avoid its patrol and sneak into the bathroom and proceed to step back into the physical world without thinking to peek across the Gauntlet first. So the light is already on in the bathroom and the door is slightly cracked and they can hear voices coming from a nearby room. It sounds like a group of people are planning a 'pickup' of some sort out near the hospital that evening. Someone asks where somebody named Samson is, and they're told that he'll meet the rest of the pack there but right now 'he's off preparing himself, whatever that means.'

Wants-to-Know takes a deep breath with his Heightened Senses, and can smell raw meat and traces of wolves. They don't know if these people are the killers or if they're Garou they just don't know, or what.[3] He and Åke report in through the totem link and try to figure out what to do now when they hear one of the people in the room announce he needs to go take a shit.

So now it's decision time -- do they engage, or do they back off? Jerry says to engage but to make sure one is alive for questioning So a man in his 30's with silver hair comes in and Wants-to-Know grabs him and tries to keep him quiet. They struggle with him, until he shifts to a mottled and patchy Crinos form and takes control of the grapple. Wants-to-Know and Åke wind up shifting to Crinos as well, tearing him up enough he loses consciousness and pushing his body out into the hallway because there just isn't enough room for three Crinos Garou in the bathroom.

They see three other people across the hall, and Åke proclaims that they're Gaian Garou, and they can either talk this out or fight.

So the other three people all shift into patchwork Crinos and Hispo forms of their own, in response to his question...

And we left it on a 'To be continued,' there.

[0]-- Not trying to remind Jerry of his own previous adventures in the Land of Torture, but he did have to stop and reflect on that for a moment.
[1]-- Noah lived in Marlinton, as did/does Deborah, and it's a pretty small town. So most folks know each other.
[2]-- This catches their attention, since they're 99% sure they're dealing a Garou who might be helping some Kin become Skin Dancers.
[3]-- They're unlikely to be unknown Gaian Garou, because Åke is more than a little obsessive with making sure he gets to know everyone during any off-camera time period longer than five minutes.

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