<Fiona> comes downstairs, looking around before exploring the grounds to see if Anne was nearby.
Anne seems busy talking to herself in one of the ground-floor rooms of the asylum’s main building. As she hears footsteps approaching, she abruptly stops.
<Fiona> looks at Anne after doing a full circle and coming back inside to check out the rooms. “Don’t you know talking to yourself is the first sign of madness, Grandma?”
There is a soft click, and Anne shoves something into her pocket. She turns to Fiona, her expression the usual smug smirk.”Firebrand, that warning came three decades too late.”
<Fiona> “Uh-huh, Grandma.”
<Fiona> “C’mon, Beth wants to talk to you.”
“Yeah, yeah. If I wanted to get mocked for my age, I’d have checked into a retirement home.” Anne chortles, but her curiosity is piqued at the mention of Beth. “Talk to me?” Anne pushes herself out from her position leaning against the wall. “Sure. What about?”
<Fiona> “Pack meeting. You’re welcome to come along if you want, Grandma.” She begins to head outside, looking to Anne briefly.
“Huh. I suppose I ought’a feel honored then.” Anne shrugs, then follows Fiona out. “It beats watching spiders weaving. Lead on, then.”
<Fiona> leads her into the woods, heading in the direction of a log cabin. When Fiona arrives, she knocks on the door and waits for it to open. See? She doesn’t always punch doors down.
This log cabin in the forest is right off a small pond, and is simply decorated. There are piles of wood outside, and a pair of axes rest in a stump just short of the porch. The building looks like it is used regularly, it is clean, even if in slight disrepair.
<Beth> answers the door after a couple of moments, and lets the pair inside. “Glad you could make it.”, she says. Vella, Sarah, and Laura are all there as well. And Laura’s leg has since grown back from her… incident.
Anne remains quiet as she follows Fiona, and notes this pack’s use of off-grounds land for their meetings. She idly wonders whether out of paranoia, a streak of individualism, or a combination of the two.
<Fiona> nods to Beth before stepping inside and giving the same greeting to the other women in the room.
“Leaving the door intact?” Anne observes with a mock raise of her eyebrow. “Now if you can refrain from jumping into gunfire, your training will be complete.” As Beth opens the door, Anne nods respectfully, and steps in as well.
<Fiona> makes a face at Anne.
<Beth> raises an eyebrow but gestures to the coffee table in the middle of the room, which is covered with a cloth and has some ritual items on it. Alongside the usual are animal parts, antlers, claws, feathers, hooves… encircling the other items. There are no chairs, all the women are sitting in the floor around the table.
<Fiona> grumbles and glowers at Anne, before going to the table and taking a seat on the floor.
Anne attempts to smile back innocently, but with the twisted and scarred nature of her face it comes out as a predatory grin. She turns to the table hesitantly, unsure of exactly what she’s supposed to be doing.
<Beth> looks to Anne and then gestures to a blank space betwen Laura and Sarah… unsure of putting her next to Fiona at the moment. “We thought, since the Wardens has succumbed to some sort of affliction, that you might like to join the Feral Hearts. We often patrol for the area, and that is why more of our safe havens are out here.”
“Affliction?” Anne blurts out, then amends, “sorry. I appreciate the offer, and I’d be going senile to refuse, but I wasn’t aware something’d happened to the others.”
<Beth> nods her head sadly, seeming genuinely concerned. “Yes, the ritual used to strengthen the Wardens, and a few of the others that came in or were brought in… it is believed to be the cause. Most of them have fallen deep into Torpor and no one has been able to wake them.”
<Fiona> looks to Anne, then to Beth. “Where was the ritual found? And who did it?”
<Beth> looks over to Fiona. “Antol and Zaluut created the ritual, and performed it at the Arch Bishop’s request.”
“Wait, that doesn’t make sense,” Anne’s brow furrows, “I was part of that ritual with the rest of the Wardens, and I’m fine.”
<Fiona> nods, looking to Anne.
<Beth> nods her head. “Not all fell into it. But no one that -wasn’t- a part of it did. I believe that Kitt was also a part of that, as was Fiona… and the Assamite.”
“I don’t understand what exactly the criteria is for not dropping to that ritual,” Anne’s face contorts into something heavy scarring makes only passably resembling as confusion, “and what did this ritual accomplish that merited creating a dozen vegetables?”
<Beth> shrugs slightly. “It was supposed to bring new power to those it was used on. It was similar, we believe, to the ritual used to create the Ahrimanes. And it did work. You all possess a natural talent for a discipline you normally would not. It is possible there is even more than that, we don’t know. The Arch Bishop was only concerned with making weapons and she did succeed in that.”
“Heh,” Anne chuckles, somewhat darkly, “not the first time I’ve been one. I’m sure I can learn live with it again.”
<Fiona> “Ah, of course.”
<Fiona> “The ritual used to create us was a unique thing. Or so Muricia told me.”
<Beth> “We don’t know yet what it is that kept you all awake, but we shall find out in time I imagine. Part of the reason we asked you both here to meet with us was because we have been listening to the spirits of the beasts that walk this land, and they are disturbed. Some darkness from long ago is moving again.”
<Beth> continues, “We do not walk the same paths as those that stay in the asylum. Zaluut’s powers warp nature to serve him, instead of working with it. We are more… in tune with the goings-on outside. And we are it’s top predators. So, you going to join us, Grandma? Though I think Vella might have you beat out for age.”
“I’m sure you’ll find room for two crotchety misers,” Anne smirks slightly, glances at Fiona, then back to Beth. “Ah, hell. The Wardens and I aren’t doing each other a lot of good while they’re in a coma. Besides, Firebrand’s tolerable, so you all must be as well. If you don’t mind putting up with a city liner, I’m willing to toss in my lot with you.”
<Fiona> glowers at Anne. “I’m not a crotchety miser, Grandma.”
Anne stops herself from shushing Fiona and informing her the grown-ups are talking, deciding that it probably isn’t the time or place for that. Yet.
<Beth> gestures to the table. “Well, then, lets have everyone pick a spot and then choose something from the table that speaks to you.”, she says before moving over to her empty space and sitting with the others, allowing Vella to take over from there.
Anne slowly steps forward, taking a place at the table. She casts her eye over its contents and her gaze comes to rest on the claws laid out before her. She casts a glance at the others, waiting for one of them to do something so she knows precisely what she’s supposed to do.
<Fiona> goes to take a seat at the table, settling down in front of the feathers and holding it up.
<Vella> gets up and starts to circle the group at the table, scales creeping up and then covering her dark skin over. She takes a fish’s fin off the table, holding it as she waits for the others to take their objects up. Sarah takes the deer’s hoof, Laura takes a rabbit’s foot, and beth takes a piece of armor from an armadillo.
Anne glances around once more, than picks up the claws laid out on the table.
<Vella> begins now to go through the Vaulderie, and the Chalice and knife is passed around the table. She goes first, and as she spills her blood into the chalice, she also makes sure to smear some of it onto the piece of fish she holds.
Anne takes the offered knife and chalice. She cuts a sizable nick in her right palm, wincing slightly in annoyance as she does so, and clenches her wounded fist over the chalice. Then, she takes her bleeding palm and runs it over the claws as well before passing the knife and chalice on.
<Fiona> takes the knife and chalice when they get passed to her, cutting a gash into her forearm and letting her blood drip into the chalice. She also smears her blood onto the feathers with two fingers.
<Beth> waits until all other members have put their own in before doing the same, being the last in the circle before handing it back off to Vella again. She wipes her blood across the bit of armor, and keeps it resting in her hand as she watches and waits for Vella to complete the ritual.
<Vella> takes the chalice back and begins to speak over it, several times her forked tongue flicking out from time to time during the process. Then all goes quiet, and after several peaceful moments of silence, she takes a drink from the chalice and begins to pass it around.
<Fiona> takes the chalice when it’s passed down to her, having a drink and passing it on to the next person.
Anne takes the chalice as it’s passed to her, gives its contents a cursory glance, and takes a drink before passing it on as well.
<Beth> nods her head as it finishes making it’s rounds and takes the last for herself before setting it down onto the table and looking to Vella.
<Vella> looks over the room and a feeling of great energy rushes through the entire Pack, something primal, and predatory. “Now then. I believe it is time to go and hunt. Go with your sisters, go into the forest, and let the animal inside you run free for the evening.”