Scions of Ingress

Chapter 20: Loss

Now (4:00am Tuesday morning)

With three of their enemies dead, the three Garou and single Corax face off against the remaining Wyrm-tainted Weaver-spiders. One is still on the offensive while the last and largest continues to flee from Stubborn-Heart’s threat display.

Four Hours Ago

Sibyl’s-Feather enters Terin’s room quietly and wakes her friend. Silent in the face of Terin’s grumbling, she says only that everyone needs to be gathered. She’s had a vision.

Once Em and Scent-of-Luna’s-Silver have joined them in the rec room, Sibyl’s-Feather explains what she saw. It is dark. There is a deep pit with massive beams reaching out of it. There are things moving in the pit, watching the pack. Something is being born in that darkness. Something dangerous.

When asked if she received the vision in time for them to stop the thing being born, Sibyl’s-Feather admits she doesn’t know. She does say that she’ll be able to lead them to the location in the umbra. But they need to move fast.

Now

Behm’s form moves around the edges of the construction site. Incorporeal in the penumbra, he is little more than a sense of movement and the occasional flash of rainbow feathers. Within the pit, Scent-of-Silver rips the last Wyrm-tainted spider’s head off. Foul-smelling ichor spills from its neck, coating the ground like oil.

The hunt for their last enemy is on. Despite its size, the remaining spider has vanished behind one of the metal pillars. Sibyl’s-Feather shifts to her bird-form and circles above, while the Garou hunt using scent and sight. They eventually manage to find it hiding part way up a metal beam on the opposite side of the pit from where it initially hid. But they are unable to pin it down before it vanishes again.

The hunt resumes.

Two Weeks Ago

A couple days after their discussion with and promise to Behm – or the greater part of Behm that demanded the promise – Blood-of-the-North-Sky calls the pack together. They find him at the edge of the forest behind the manor, in the small clearing where he and Little-Guardian have made their home. He’s sitting in lupus, Little-Guardian upright beside him. They are struck by how much the wolf has grown in the past year. She’s no longer the eager, cheerful yearling they met. Instead she’s an adult.

Blood-of-the-North-Sky speaks. Now that the pack is full once more, he says with a nod to Scent-of-Silver, it is time to look to their own territory. Because the City and its surroundings are so large, he’s decided that each member of the pack will be responsible for a smaller piece.

He tells Terin to watch the borders. She will announce the arrival of any outsiders to the pack. She will also be responsible for defining just how far their border extends, and marking the line so all others will know.

Next he tells Scent-of-Silver she will be responsible for the Warrens. It will be up to her to decide just how much of the City that reaches, and suggests she speak to the Bone Gnawer kinfolk.

To Em, he gives more leeway. He suggests she may wish to choose the Uktena reservation, although any other are of the City is within her reach.

Since Sibyl’s-Feather can travel so much faster, he tells her to cover whatever areas of the City are left after Em has made her decision.

For his own part, Blood-of-the-North-Sky says he will not take any one territory. Instead, he will travel between them, checking on each member of the pack as he does. It will help to ensure someone has a sense of the greater whole, and also allow for communication when a howl isn’t possible.

He also tells them all not to be afraid to reach out to each other for help when it is needed. Although he trusts them to handle small problems as they arise, he reminds them that they are a pack and the City is theirs as a whole.

That done, he moves on to say that he has decided it is time to return to his birth-pack for a visit. Little-Guardian needs a mate (she preens slightly), and he must pass on his own gift. He mentions off-hand that they must all think about breeding, to which Em, Terin, Scent-of-Silver and Sibyl’s-Feather go poker-faced.

Terin asks if Blood-of-the-North-Sky is sure he and Little-Guardian should travel alone. He allows for Terin to escort them to the edge of the City – since that is now her role as the guardian of the border – but says they will travel by themselves from there. His birth pack is two days’ travel from the City, and there is no reason for Terin to be gone as well.

Conversation done, Blood-of-the-North-Sky promises to return in two weeks, with the crescent moon.

Thirty Minutes Ago

In the umbra, Sibyl’s-Feather leads the pack as a crow leads wolves on the hunt. They approach a construction site that looks just as Sibyl’s-Feather saw it in her vision. A massive ramp made of sand and gravel extends down 30 feet into the earth, where they can see something moving. Weaver spiders ring the edge of the site and scurry about within it. Some of them are different, however. They glisten wetly with what looks like oil, and their scent on the wind is one of chaos and decay. Sibyl’s-Feather can tell immediately they are Wyrm-tainted.

Aware of their promise to Behm to listen to their enemies, Em prepares to speak to the largest spider, assuming it to be the leader. Before she moves forward, however, Behm’s ghostly penumbral form appears in the air beside her. He sniffs the air. The others mirror his action, and realize the Wyrm-tainted spiders smell of Behm.

They’ve taken his blood, he says. He needs it back. He demands the pack kill the tainted spiders and leave the rest.

Now

After a few more rounds of hide-and-seek with the remaining spider, the pack finally pins it down. In fact, it seems to have shaken off its fear and turns to fight. After a few brutal strikes, Scent-of-Silver ends up landing the killing blow. She roars in triumph, ichor streaming from her muzzle.

The discarded body crumples to the ground and splits in two, revealing a smaller spider. This one appears to be untainted, and hurriedly skitters away from the pack.

On the ground, the pools of black-stained blood beneath their fallen enemies begins to move. The pack are wary, as they’ve seen this pattern before. Instead of seeking some kind of escape into the earth, however, this time the black goo moves towards the pack. Terin, Scent-of-Silver and Sibyl’s-Feather skirt away from the goo. Em, however, thinks of what Behm said about needing his blood back. She kneels and cups her hands to the ichor, letting it pool and swim up her arms.

The rest of the pack follows suit, until they have all taken the blood within themselves. Behm appears once more, saying he can almost feel it. They need to do something in his name in order for the blood to be fully returned. Excited, Em suggests they design their own ritual.

Before that, however, she tries to speak with the Weaver spiders to find out what happened here. It doesn’t go well. The spiders project what look like holographic computer monitors in the air, their words streaming across the monitor. It looks like Matrix-y gibberish to most of the pack, but Em is able to read it. Unfortunately, she’s not quite able to understand it. After a few rounds of questions and answers, the text settles on “waiting for input . . . come back later”. Em decides the spiders aren’t interested in talking, and moves away.

She gathers the pack in a circle, links them together, and the Garou howl. Sibyl’s-Feather coos along and moves her arms in a sinuous dance that seems to communicate far more than the others’ howls. They feel a rush of energy flow out of them and deeper into the umbra, where Behm is reunited once more with his essence.

The howl also seems to have put the Weaver spiders on high alert. Four of the larger spiders light up and begin moving towards the pack. They retreat, making their way up the ramp backwards so they can keep an eye on the spiders. Once they have passed some invisible line, the spiders stop pursuing. It seems that, as long as the pack stays out of the spiders’ territory, everything is fine.

Deciding to investigate the construction site in the morning, the pack returns to the manor.

Other Dribs and Drabs

Scent-of-Luna’s-Silver explains her curse to the rest of the pack. She must burn something living at least once a month, lest she lose control of the fire spirit within her. It must be something of meaning, something with a living spirit. The greater the spirit, the happier her curse will be. Sibyl’s-Feather suggests they hold a bonfire once a week, and burn a living plant from the store. This seems to work.

Terin remains undecided about what to do for her father’s parole hearing. More than anything, she doesn’t want her actions to bring harm to the City.

Em receives an email from her father, regarding the promise he made to find out about her birth parents. He says her birth mother was Rebecca Fostworth and her current address is in the nearby town West Cove, about an hour’s drive away. He hasn’t been able to find out anything about her birth father.

Into Real Time

The afternoon after their combat with the spiders, the pack gathers once more in the rec room. With the help of a few maps spread across the floor and tables, they decide what areas each of them will patrol. It’s decided that Scent-of-Silver will patrol the Warrens (mostly using the eyes and ears of the Bone Gnawers), Cobalt Valley and Midtown; Em will patrol the rez (using the eyes and ears of the Uktena), Upper City, and the farmland in between; Sibyl’s-Feather will patrol Mandel, the area around the University, and Newbridge; and Terin will patrol the borders.

That decided, conversation turns to the fact that Blood-of-the-North-Sky is now two days late in returning to the City. Although Terin shares their concerns, she reminds the others that their first priority – both as Garou and in Blood-of-the-North-Sky’s words – is the safety of the territory. They must protect the City from the Wyrm; everything else comes second.

Eventually they decide to wait two more days before they go looking for Blood-of-the-North-Sky. He operates on lupus-time, after all. He may just be running late.

Next they talk about Em’s father. She mentions that they reconnected, and she has begun to wonder whether he might be a kinfolk. She expresses frustration about the fact that the pack knows so little about their own lore and biology. How does one learn they are a kinfolk? How is it ‘diagnosed’? Sibyl’s-Feather mentions the only guaranteed test she knows: turn into crinos and see if Em’s father soils himself. They decide to leave that as Plan B.

Em also mentions the fact that there used to be a cairn at the City, and she doesn’t really understand what that means. The rest of the pact reacts with shock, since they weren’t at the gathering of the Uktena elders where Em learns that. She has a brief moment of regret, thinking perhaps she wasn’t supposed to mention it. She brushes the thought off, however, since they are pack. They should have no secrets.

They decide to go visit Speaks-of-Gaia, who has made his home among the Uktena (when he isn’t off singing the pack’s song to other Garou). He is much wiser than the pack in Garou lore, and might hopefully be able to share some answers.

After a quick call to make sure John is in fact home, they drive up to the rez. John’s house is near the edge of the rez, and backs onto the forest that surrounds the City. It is a welcoming cabin, and its location marks it as home to a Garou to anyone who knows what they’re looking for.

Inside, John has tea ready for pouring. He mentions that he will be leaving in on Friday to visit a number of different packs, and expects to be gone for ten days. When Em mentions she wanted to learn more about the cairn that used to be in the City, John asks where she heard such a story. He says it’s an old tale, one which he hasn’t heard in many years; and suggests it would be best to focus on the City’s well-being now rather than looking into the ancient past.

Realizing John won’t share his knowledge with non-Uktena, Em moves on to her next topic of interest. When asked about lost or unknowing kinfolk, John suggests she seek out the knowledge of a medicine-man named Ahjijawk Neezhoday.

The rest of the visit passes pleasantly enough. Sibyl’s-Feather tries to find out more details about John’s life, which he largely side-steps. They do, however, agree to go fishing together when he gets back from his next trip.

The next day, the pack goes off to begin patrolling their respective areas of the City. Em also decides to investigate the address her adoptive father gave her, and try to learn a bit more about her birth mother.

She leaves the City around 4:30 in the afternoon, aiming to arrive at West Cove for 6. The address her father gave her is in a nice neighbourhood, with two story homes and multiple cars in each driveway. The mailbox outside the address has “The Maynards” written on it, and two Mercedes sit in the drive. Em takes all this in with a sour expression.

Deciding to investigate a bit further, she crosses into the umbra to try and peek inside the house. Because this is a relatively new development, she finds herself standing on a gravel street. There are no houses, but there is a sense of pain at all the trees that have been struck down.

Behm appears next to her to ask what they’re doing. As soon as she opens her mouth to explain, Em realizes she’s made a stupid mistake. She completely neglected to check if West Cove was home to any other Garou. Behm shrugs off her concern, saying she just needs to be quiet.

Suspicious, Em points out “you’re acting all sneaky”. Behm counters “you’re alone. This is a secret. I’m good at keeping secrets”. Em shakes her head, “I feel like you’re sitting on my shoulder. You won’t get that reference”. Explaining that she really does need to do things the correct way, she shifts back into the mundane world and begins driving to the edge of West Cove.

On her way, she rolls down the windows, shifts to glabro, and inhales deeply for the scent of another Garou. 45 minutes later, once she’s sure this is not someone else’s territory, she turns back around and returns to her mother’s home.

Back in the umbra, she holds up her compact mirror and peeks through into the mundane. Behm’s voice follows her as she walks towards the house, asking what she’s doing. She explains that she’s “come to meet the woman who gave birth to me”. Behm immediately understands “your mother. She lives in the umbra?”

Inside the house, Em moves through the neatly appointed rooms like a wraith. The furniture looks comfortable, the art on the walls expensive, and the pictures all of family. She eventually finds herself in a dining room, where a TV-perfect family is sitting down to dinner. There is a shock of recognition when she looks at a woman in her mid-thirties at the head of the table. Not the same as looking at the mirror, but a faded resemblance that marks this woman as Rebecca Fostworth. Her mother.

At the other end of the table is a good looking man in dress shirt and slacks, the top button of his shirt undone, with the hint of a tie being taken off at the end of the day. On either side of the table are two young boys, both under 10. One seems to be telling a story to the woman – his mother, Em’s mother – who leans forward with interest.

Behm’s voice breaks into her thoughts, saying “you’ve been watching for a while. What are you looking for?” Doing her best to control her voice, Em says she’ll need to come back later. She doesn’t want to interrupt dinner. She’d rather not have this conversation when her mother’s new family is around.

As she makes her way back to the street where her car is waiting, Behm asks about her father. She says she doesn’t know who he is yet. Behm presses, asking how she will find out. “You have to find him”.

Meanwhile, back at the manor, the others have gathered to share the details of their day. Both Terin and Sibyl’s-Feather report they found nothing of interest. Terin visited an RV dealer on the edge of town, but didn’t see anything of interest; other than a small trailer she’s considering picking up for herself.

In contrast, Scent-of-Silver says the Bone Gnawer kinfolk pointed her towards several areas of concern. One in particular is a night club in the Warrens, where something dark is happening upstairs. Based on Scent-of-Silver’s description, Terin recognizes it as a former strip club. They decide to check it out as a group.

They wait until Em is back before heading out. Some dressed more provocatively than others, they take the Cayenne into the City. Scent-of-Silver points out on the way that not only is she under-age, but she has no ID. Terin brushes this off as nothing to be concerned about, while Em suggests they speak to the mayor about it later.

At the door, the bouncer does indeed try to stop them to card Scent-of-Silver. Between Terin’s easy confidence and Scent-of-Silver’s subterfuge, they talk their way inside. Once up the stairs to the main floor they find that, while no longer a strip club, the bar is still fairly skeevy. It’s early enough in the night that it isn’t very crowded, which only means their entrance draws more attention. It’s not entirely unexpected, as each of them have noticed over the past few months how fascinated some humans seem to be with them.

They find a staircase leading upstairs, with a velvet rope and a sign saying “VIP Only” blocking the way. There is no bouncer, however, and no one seems to be paying attention. So they hop the rope and head upstairs.

The space looks unused, with broken tables and a thin layer of dust. A wooden door sits in the back wall, a large mirror set into it. Testing the door, they find it locked. Suspecting the mirror is a double-mirror, and wary of anyone who might be watching, the group decides to enter via the umbra instead.

Back at the bottom of the stairs, a bouncer – shaved head, broad shoulders, obvious steroid use – has taken up his post. He seems a bit flustered that they got past him while he was away, and insists they can’t go upstairs again. They agree easily, and head towards the bathroom. As they do, the bouncer tries to catch Terin’s attention. “I haven’t seen you here before.” “Nope.”

Crowding into the bathroom, Em takes their hands and tries to carry them across into the umbra. After a few awkward minutes, it becomes obvious she’s too distracted by their surroundings to do so. Before they can try again with Sibyl’s-Feather leading the way, the door opens to admit a pair of laughing women.

Em, Scent-of-Silver, and Terin go back into the bar proper to try to come up with another plan. While they are talking, the bouncer appears to ask Terin if he can buy her a drink. She sends him off to fetch a scotch and soda, saying she’ll keep him distracted while the others go to investigate upstairs.

Back in the bathroom, Sibyl’s-Feather is able to carry Em and Scent-of-Silver across the gauntlet with little difficulty. The main room is still a bar, although the décor is far less gross. Everything is hardwood, polished brass, and stained glass. The staircase leading upstairs is a grand, curving affair, muffled with plush red carpeting. Upstairs, they walk down a long hallway with small rooms lining either side. They figure out this must have been a brothel, likely in the 1890s.

At the end of the hall is a set of large double doors. Sibyl’s-Feather balks as they approach, saying there is something foul within. Em peeks through to the mundane through her compact, and finds the double doors are there as well. With Sibyl’s-Feather and Scent-of-Silver holding the doors open, she creeps forward. The room in the mundane is full of boxes; some of them open to reveal brightly coloured spandex and sequins. It looks like the remnants of the night club’s former life as a strip club have been stored here.

At the same time, Sibyl’s-Feather and Scent-of-Silver find themselves looking at an empty room in the umbra. On the far wall is another set of doors leading to what looks like a balcony. Sibyl’s-Feather covers her nose against the stench emanating from the balcony, and says the darkness is out there.

Deciding against any further investigation without their ahroun, they return to the main room. Em heads back to the bathroom so she can fetch Terin, while Sibyl’s-Feather and Scent-of-Silver wait in the umbra for their return.

Back in the mundane, Terin and the bouncer have a lovely chat about bodybuilding, the merits of various diet supplements, and bikes. Terin does ask about the VIP area, to which the bouncer replies that the area isn’t really used. Management has plans to tidy things up and open the area, but for now it’s only used as storage. Terin mentions one of her friends really wants to see the back hallway, and asks if the bouncer would be willing to escort them up. After some confusion, he becomes quite eager at the idea of taking two women up to the musty bedrooms on the second floor.

Em arrives shortly after, and the three of them go upstairs. The bouncer opens the door into the back hallway, and starts hinting towards one of the bedrooms. After trying to convince him to just leave (which causes a hurt expression and a “did I do something wrong?”), Terin ends up taking him into one of the side rooms and knocking him unconscious.

Meanwhile, back in the umbra, Sibyl’s-Feather and Scent-of-Silver return to the main floor to find several more “people” have arrived. Someone is tending bar, a group is playing poker, and a pianist is plunking out a cheery tune. All of them are men, and more than one stares in surprise to find two women in their midst. To kill the time, and possibly distract their attention, Sibyl’s-Feather enacts an impromptu song and dance with the pianist, to the delight of everyone watching.

Em and Terin arrive just as the applause are dying down, and the group heads upstairs. The balcony where Sibyl’s-Feather sensed the darkness turns out to be a fire escape on the outside of the building. It smells of old ash and smoke and Wyrm. All of the group can feel the darkness now, wafting up from somewhere below.

They make their way down to the bottom of the fire escape, which turns out to be a story below street-level. There they find a pair of heavy doors leading into what looks like the cellar. Terin rips open one of the doors to reveal a thick, inky, palpable darkness. The smell from the cellar is foul, and the group reacts with disgust, rage, and horror.

Reminding herself of their promise to Behm, Em steps forward to speak to the thing. Its voice is one of screams and sobs, with echoes of clanking chains and squeaking bedframes. Em learns that it is a spirit of hopelessness. Of shame. It has been fed for more than a hundred years by the souls of the women used up and discarded in the building above. The ones that can’t speak English are its favourite; their fear the most true, their hopelessness the most deep. Swallowing back her horror, Em asks how she can help the spirit, to which it replies “bring me more”.

The group retreat slightly to discuss their next move. Terin, Em and Scent-of-Silver are more than ready to attack the thing and cleanse the Warrens of its taint. Even Behm, ghostly in the penumbra, is eager to kill the thing. Sibyl’s-Feather acts as the voice of reason, suggesting they play it smart and come back once they have a full pack. Fighting without pack mind is a liability; and the strength of the spirit below the night club is not to be taken lightly.

It takes a few minutes to talk Behm down from the fight. Only the promise that they will come back and kill the spirit seems to calm him.

Back in the mundane, after a few moments of quiet to collect herself, Em declares they need to leave to find Blood-of-the-North-Sky immediately.

Returning to the manor to collect supplies and let their various contacts know they will be out of town for a while, Terin raises the issue of leaving someone behind to watch over the City. As much as she is worried about Blood-of-the-North-Sky – and as much as she, too, needs the pack mind to be more effective in battle – she maintains they can’t leave the City unguarded. It’s eventually decided that Sibyl’s-Feather will stay behind, while the rest go to find Blood-of-the-North-Sky’s birth pack. Terin promises to keep in touch to let Sibyl’s-Feather know about their progress, and hopes they’ll be back in a few short days.

After a couple days of travel and wolf-naps, they finally come across a familiar scent. Although not Blood-of-the-North-Sky himself, this territory smells of family. They’ve found his birth pack.

They are greeted enthusiastically. They learn that Little-Guardian has broken off with a pack of her own, but she is called back to greet her friends. She arrives with her mate, and preens that she is carrying her first litter of pups. Em, Terin and Scent-of-Silver pass on their congratulations, then ask about Blood-of-the-North-Sky.

They learn that he has carried on to visit other packs in the area, so he can “spread his gift”. Little-Guardian escorts them to the edge of her territory and points him in the direction he went.

The next few days pass in a blur. The group is welcomed with varying degrees of enthusiasm at each pack, although they are always treated with respect. At one in particular they are informed that the alpha female has been “blessed” by the Spirit-Wolf (their term for Garou). Even her mate speaks of it as a blessing.

Eventually, two days after their hoped return to the City, the group comes across a pack that is not at all happy to see them. Terin ends up having to stare down their alpha, but even then he warns them to leave. There is another Spirit-Wolf near by, who does not take kindly to outsiders. Terin and Em push for more details until the wolf finally relents and takes them to the edge of the other Spirit-Wolf’s territory. They howl to announce themselves and ask for an audience.

A single howl comes in reply. The Garou introduces himself as anthro ahroun of the Red Talon. Like all Red Talons, his name has no man-speak equivalent, but the group eventually works it out to mean Blood-in-his-Teeth. He closes his howl with a flat “fuck off”.

Scared for their alpha, the group persists. Stubborn-Heart howls back “seeking Blood-of-the-North-Sky. Seeking alpha”. There is no immediate reply, and the group is wary of crossing into an elder Garou’s territory without permission.

With the trail gone cold, Em suggests they cross into the umbra and ask Behm if he has some idea where Blood-of-the-North-Sky may be. She takes them across, although for a moment it doesn’t look like anything has happened. Aside from a slight sharpening of the senses, the forest is the same in the umbra as in the mundane.

Save for the raging, feathered serpent that is thrashing at trees.

The group is shocked and more than a little frightened by Behm’s behaviour. They try to calm him down, only to stumble back when he breathes fire to set several trees ablaze. Terin, in homid, finally stands in front of Behm and holds her hands up for peace. He subsides, moaning that “you lost him!”

Immediately the group realizes what has happened: Blood-of-the-North-Sky is dead.

As they fall into confusion, trying to find out when, how, where, they become aware of a massive red wolf watching them from within Blood-in-his-Teeth’s territory. Stubborn-Heart wheels on him. Recalling Blood-of-the-North-Sky’s story of a red wolf that killed off several of his birth pack when he was a pup, she shifts immediately to hispo and prepares for battle. The first words from Blood-in-his-Teeth when he sees her – “my, how you’ve grown human pup” – do little to calm her down. She demands to know whether Blood-in-his-Teeth has killed Blood-of-the-North-Sky.

The red Garou reacts with amused disdain. He easily stares Terin down, until she is cringing with her tail tucked involuntarily between her legs. Blood-in-his-Teeth rebukes the group for their human-bred stupidity. He tells them they should have followed their alpha’s scent rather than the word of others as to where he went; and maybe they would have found him in time. Dismissing them as fools, he turns and fades back into the darkness. Only Far-Wisdom’s pleading is enough to keep Stubborn-Heart from raging, and leading them into a fight that likely would have killed them all.

They retreat in silence. It takes a painfully long time before Stubborn-Heart’s tail comes out from between her legs.

Back in the mundane, Terin shifts to homid and prepares to call Sibyl’s-Feather. She finds a voicemail already waiting for her. Sibyl’s-Feather’s voice is solemn and ragged with tears, asking Terin to call as soon as possible.

Their conversation is brief. Sibyl’s-Feather felt the loss 30 hours ago. She asks if the rest of the group are alright. Terin says they will do their best, and promises to find out what happened. Before they sign off, Sibyl’s-Feather asks Terin to please bring back Blood-of-the-North-Sky’s eyes.

The group backtracks to the last territory where Blood-of-the-North-Sky was seen and begins searching for his scent. They eventually find it, only a few days old, and follow it to Blood-of-the-North-Sky’s cold, bloody corpse.

Without a word, Stubborn-Heart shifts into crinos, cradles Blood-of-the-North-Sky’s head, and gouges his eyeballs out with her claws. At the same time, Far-Wisdom reaches into his stomach to find the seeing stone he swallowed so many months ago. They both put their burdens into their mouths to carry for the long journey home.

Bewildered by her pack-mates’ actions, and horrified by the sight of her alpha’s lifeless body, Scent-of-Luna’s-Silver breaks. She falls into lupus and takes off in a fox-frenzy, her mind overrun with memories of being chased by sharks.

Terin and Em chase after her (although Em eventually falls behind). Once Scent-of-Silver has exhausted herself, she collapses into unconsciousness as a homid. Barely more alert herself, Terin curls around her as a hispo to keep her warm. Em comes across the two of them, sleeping, and curls up to mourn with her pack.

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