Rage Across Baltimore

Fifth story: Under Siege (Regnum Irae)

So, you wanted a fight, did you...

It’s been just a few days since Last Call’s triumph over a bunch of Black Spiral Dancer hill-folk, more cunning than clever, but clever enough to have spirited away who knows how many human captives and perhaps even some Kinfolk to an unknown fate in the Big Apple. It was a fight over Kinfolk, waged largely by and through Kinfolk, but in the end you put some points on the board, too. Those BSDs didn’t get away with their kidnapping and murder. Call it even, right?

No.

You might have hoped — though it would be so cliché — that the greater power and numbers of Black Spirals would be complacent, luxuriating in their dominion, permitting you to build your strength, your resources, until you were strong enough to face them in open war. From the start, you wondered, what are they waiting for?

Well, are you ready? Because the alert is going out, ready or not. The sept is calling, desperate for your aid. The caern is under siege. It may fall that very night, under a mere crescent of a moon. You’ve barely scratched the surface of the filth and rot infesting the city. Your allies are few and scattered and weak. You don’t have the benefit of Luna’s face — and Rage — waxing full. You’re still relatively untested whelps, still Cliath, not strong enough to challenge for rank. And now, maybe you never will…

Let’s see what you’ve got.

other_Amaterasu_by_ExclaimationPnt.png

Comments

Chapter 1 update: It’s 2 in the morning, do you know where your pack is?

Destiny calls at the most unfortunate times. Rousing some of the Garou from slumber, and interrupting Zero’s online gaming, Last Call scrambles to meet up at the Brewery after a call — and a warning — from one of the sept’s Guardians.

Unfortunately, the pack decided to meet up out in the open, not quite at the Brewery but close enough for anyone watching it…and this led to them getting sniped at by an enterprising Black Spiral with a silver-loaded rifle, their old pal Tanner. Although they nearly lost Brickbat in the process, the pack made it to the caern. And while Razvan thought it a point of dishonor to have fled the fight, their other option might have been to let Brickbat bleed to death…

Under orders to conserve their strength, Razvan made use of his mundane skills from medical school as much as his Mother’s Touch, an odd talent for an Ahroun, but proven handy time and again.

While Zero went to the top of the building to keep an eye out for incoming foes, he was joined by his fellow Glass Walker and scout, Fade to Black. And with Brickbat alive, but down for the count, Willow and Razvan were sent across the Gauntlet, so they could see for themselves what the sept is facing.

What they found was grim. At least ten Black Spirals, and a horde of Banes eager to inflict some suffering, with more Spirals behind them, barking out orders and cheering them on. Defending against them, the sept elders – Vaughan, Líadan, and Amargein; and some of the Guardians, Tracker and Mikhail the Klaive-bearer, and a group of black Stags, warrior spirits of Stag’s brood.

Outnumbered at least two to one, the pack enters the fray already wounded, with Raz’s Gnosis spent. Can the sept hold out against this initial attack — much less the other surprises the Spirals have in store?

 

Chapter 2 update: With the pack split up, half on either side of the Gauntlet. In the Umbra, Razvan was eager to shed some Black Spiral Dancer blood, and he got his chance. Tracker, the caern’s Warder, had the same idea, and it worked — thanks to Tracker’s Silver Claws, and the Fianna’s Salmon Leap, the warder set up an over-eager Spiral whelp, and Razvan about gutted him. Although the Spirals went after them, Razvan escaped unharmed, and the Fianna casualties were to their spirit allies, along with some wounds.

On the other side of the Gauntlet, things didn’t go so well. A single industrious Spiral pack, along with some Leech allies, led the paltry few Garou minding the shop on a merry chase before rabbiting into the Umbra. They abandoned their Leech friends to the sept’s tender mercies. One fell ignominiously to Garou claws and fangs, but the other…

The other, with two monstrous sidekicks, broke down the Brewery’s front door while the others were all out back. Only the badly wounded Brickbat and some Kinfolk were left inside. By the time backup arrived, it was too late for Brickbat…and by the time Zero got there, his fellow Glass Walker, Fade to Black, was also badly hurt — maimed by the Leech.

So, with the opening night slowly inching along towards a welcome dawn, the Garou have scored kills, yes; but they have also taken losses that they can scarcely afford. And the siege is far from over.

 

Chapter 3 update: It’s been a busy night, and the day after. Forced to do something about the maimed body of their packmate, Last Call went to the Bone Gnawers’ Stomping Grounds. It’s only been a few days since the night of their Moot with the Gnawers, where they built some good will and Brickbat had re-built his. This time, in the dark of early morning, the remnants of the pack met with the Gnawers’ nominal elder, Sixteen Tons, and brought their fallen tribe-brother back to them, out of respect as much as needing their help.

Although they nearly got on the bad side of the Gnawers’ lone lupus Dumpster-Diver, in time they saw that her hostility came from a place of sympathy, of mourning. While most of the Gnawers are likely to be more angry than spiteful of Brickbat’s death for the sake of those frat-boy Fianna, Six made it clear that they’ll be interested in some payback — on Rat’s terms, not the Fianna’s and certainly not to be slaughtered by the Black Spirals. The pack also learned from a Gnawer shaman, Three Fingers, that the unusual spirit they saw may have been the City Father of Baltimore. Meaning that the city itself may be against them, if it’s sided with the Black Spirals.

Unable to linger long, the pack left Brickbat with his tribe, and Six’s promise to handle the funeral arrangements, both with respect for their packmate and for the Veil — an item of greater importance in the city than for some country sept.

Back at the sept, the pack was tasked with guardian duty, as the Fianna hunkered down to try to weather the siege, keeping at least some of them awake at all hours of the day. This left the young Garou on short sleep and short tempers, with little that’s good to say about their elders. And while the Guardian pack tried to catch some shut-eye, the pack got acquainted with a group of faerie kin, apparent allies of the Fianna — or perhaps called in as a favor.

The little get-together was briefly interrupted by another appearance by the Black Spiral, Tanner — who had the fae Lady Miranda barking orders at him, and Razvan shouting threats of murder in the broad daylight!

Clearly our young werewolves have much to learn about warring with the Spirals under threat of revealing themselves to the teeming horde of humanity that surrounds them. That is, if they live long enough to try.

 

Chapter 4 update: Forced to spend most of the following day up and about to give their sept-mates a chance to rest, the weary pack used their time learning faerie ways from Lady Miranda and her motley crew. The idea of Garou and Fomor being once-fae, fighting in a war, the purpose of which has been long forgotten…it’s a different take on history than conventional Garou lore, certainly.

Along the way, though, these faerie kin continue to needle the young pack, questioning their ways, mocking the noble and the true. As allies to the Fianna they may seem ill-suited, and they’re aware of this. And if Razvan sees something familiar in their twist on nobility, perhaps that’s appropriate — for a Shadow Lord.

So, while the newbies while away the day, and Zero employs the internet to beg desperately for aid — ahem, to unlock a few achievements in Team Fortress — finally, they get a break in the late afternoon…

…but not for long! Forced to scramble from their crash-space in a dark back office in the Brewery, the pack rushes into the Umbra to fight — and oh, they got one. A very brief one, but still. Adjusting the odds against them from 3-to-1 to a slightly less dire 2-to-1, it was over in moments, although it seemed to take hours (like any fight in the White Wolf combat system, sigh).

But then, Garou fights do tend to be quick; their Rage burns hot, but it burns out fast, and the Black Spirals didn’t stick around after inflicting as much pain as they could. It ended with many of the Garou defenders wounded and Liadan down, although the sept took down a couple of Spirals and claimed the corpse of one.

Razvan went to the aid of his favorite Fianna, the Warder, Tracker-by-Moonlight. He survived the furious assault of an angry Spiral pack eager to avenge the one he’d slain earlier — sound familiar? — and took another one of them down. It took all of his packmates, however, to convince Razvan to back off when the Spirals tried to lure him out, much as their own packmate had been caught out by himself and killed. At least Zero finds some use for his Cool Mind Gift.

Meanwhile, Willow endured the bite of Ragnor the Terror, while Zero(!!) epically put down one of Ragnor’s pack after the foe was set up for him by Willow, a team effort. Sadly, the nearly crippled Willow was unable to harm Ragnor, who fled with his packmate’s body. Perhaps that one will return with a Battle-scar courtesy of Zero, if he wasn’t already dead.

Afterward, it was time for cleansing and burning the fallen Spiral, and to tend to the wounded, which Razvan skillfully did, after getting some healing for himself of course. Liadan was saved by the other Fianna this time, while the pack’s bravery spared Mikhail the Klaive-bearer.

Fighting on little rest, their spirit allies largely destroyed, suffering from wounds, their precious reserves of Gnosis diminishing as the Mother’s Touch is doled out to the ones most in need — the sept lives to fight another day, but how long can they hold out against the siege of the Black Spiral Dancers? Why, until the beer taps run dry, of course!

 

Chapter 5 update: No sooner had the pack settled down after the last fracas, but the boys were talking about getting out, again, to take the fight to the Spirals… somehow. Exactly how that was going to work was yet to be figured out, which might be why the fae were reluctant to wander off and pick a fight somewhere.

Although Zero, out of some perverse interest in changeling ways that were playing havoc with his (ahem) internal hardware, wanted to try using whatever special dimension the faeries use for their spirit world, the sept elders told the pack in no uncertain terms that the Dreaming was a last resort, and that there would be a price involved.

So, via the Umbra they went, with some spirit aid to conceal them, as they met with the goth wizardess Felony in a local P.F. Chang’s. Unfortunately, they had nothing solid to offer the young mage in return for some potentially very risky work, and so at least for the time being, their investigation hit a dead end. Although they had learned more about the Black Spiral packs and septs arrayed against them, it was not enough to plan an attack on either one.

Several days passed like this, with frequent attacks from the Spirals and even more false alarms and harassment, enough to put all of the pack and their Fianna elders on short sleep and short tempers. Only Luna’s Rage recovers quickly enough, although for the greater numbers of the enemy, it benefits them more.

In this time of increasingly dire straits, the much-vaunted fae Mahir finally showed up, along with…a terrorist attack? No, just a truck backfiring. And in it, a metis Fianna from the mountains of eastern Kentucky, bringing a bit of aid from a country sept that could spare him — or, just didn’t want him anymore.

The stage is set for the end of the siege. Either the downfall of the last Garou sept in Baltimore, or the turning of the tide — choose, and perish! Well, it’s likely that someone will. Up to you guys who that might be.

 

Story finale! Choosing to go out and face the peril at the Spirals’ rural Hive rather than sit and wait for the end at the Brewery, Last Call snuck out — with the changeling Mahir’s help — and hit the road for Elk Neck. On the way, as luck would have it, they passed by a dark alley where the Garou spotted something bad going on…a human, vomiting forth some sort of monster into the sewer through an open manhole. As time was of the essence, the pack chose to call in the threat and keep going rather than confront it.

Stocking up on some cans of gasoline and a propane tank, the pack hoped to inflict some burnination on the Hive if they could just find it. Willow sent the pack’s totem back to Baltimore to find the Bone Gnawers, and bring them back if he could. In the meantime, they came under attack by a pack of Skull Pigs, semi-intelligent Wyrm monstrosities nearly as tough and fast as the Garou — and the adventure might have ended there, if not for the intervention of the Fire-Fangs.

The pack found that the surviving Red Talons had not left the region entirely; at the suggestion of the Corax, Bright-Eyes, they’d stuck around to sniff out this reputed Wyrm caern. And with Last Call backing them up, they found it.

Rallying ten Bone Gnawers and the pair of Red Talons, along with the inimitable Mahir, the raiders ventured down into the Spiral Pit…all of them suffering from the reek of rot and pestilence, finding these ones worshipers of dark fungus, a corrupt thing originally meant as part of the natural cycle of decomposition, returning dead things to the earth. Sneak attacks through the tunnels struck them in front and from behind, forcing just a few of the raiders into desperate brawls in tight quarters.

It all fell apart when Heart-of-Ice, the elder Red Talon, was attacked through a freshly dug tunnel and thrust into the Umbra. Although the pack knew that a horde of Banes would doubtless be waiting for them, they allowed Heart’s packmate Moonchaser to go after him, then sent Scully, before Willow and Zero jumped into the blender as well. Although neither of the Red Talons escaped the Umbra, the pack at least avenged their deaths on the Black Spiral Theurge who killed them.

Unwilling to wait for his pack, Razvan charged into the lion’s den with the Bone Gnawers and the fae, challenging the four elder Spiral Dancers that remained. Backs against the wall — literally — the Spirals fought with ferocity and dark mysticism, invoking spirit Gifts to wither Razvan’s arm and burn the Bone Gnawer, Sixteen Tons, with tainted Wyrmish scarification.

By the time the rest of the pack arrived, the close-quarters brawl was well underway. Razvan slew one of the elders with almost no assistance, and when his hungry maw wasn’t quite enough to vanquish a metis covered in porcupine quills, a solid punch from Scully’s silver-studded gloves finished the Spiral off. Their allies accounted themselves as well as the pack, with Sixteen Tons absorbing the worst of one Spiral’s rage and mystic power, giving Willow and Zero the chance to finish the enemy. Even Mahir lent a hand — or at least a propane tank, bashing one of the Spirals upside the head with some faerie telekinesis.

After burning the tunnel they found, the pack returned home bearing trophies to find the Brewery, surprisingly, mostly intact…

 

Epilogue: After dragging their mauled behinds back to the city and the Brewery, the pack found it surprisingly intact. Later, they would learn that Miranda and her fae motley went looking for the monster the pack spotted while on walkabout, and the sidhe knight’s blade went snicker-snack through the Banes being materialized to strike at the caern from below. Unfortunately, the creature that brought them across the Gauntlet escaped in the fracas.

Moira was maimed by the Thunderwyrm — her arm was bitten clean off, devoured by the beast — and Vaughan was incapacitated for coming to her rescue. Were it not for the serendipitous arrival of a trio of elder Shadow Lords, the caern’s guardians and the Fianna’s Kin could have been slaughtered. But the Lords arrived just in time to intervene, and in the Umbra, the remaining Black Spirals from the Desolation Hive abandoned the siege when word came of the raid on their home.

With their country brethren bailing on them, the Spirals from Shattered Glass likewise gave up the fight. Although the Garou of the Fianna sept stayed on alert for several days more, eventually the siege was seen to be lifted.

As for the Shadow Lords, this new pack gave Razvan credit for calling for their aid. A lie, but a useful one — one that made up in part for the pack leaving the caern in such a time of dire need.

The next Moot Rite came soon enough, and with it the time to tell tales of valor, to celebrate the sept’s victories and to mourn their losses. The young pack has perhaps earned the rank of Fostern, although it remains to be seen if they will pass the tests set for them by the Garou who they challenged.

Unfortunately, with the chance at new rank and respect from their sept-mates also comes new responsibility. Perhaps in part to make up for the risky gamble they took, Last Call now has the job of guarding the caern. Time will tell if their lot, and that of the sept, has actually improved or merely changed.

tytalus

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.