Beth Stonecrusher History
Long before I knew what I was, and long before I adopted the name "Beth Stonecrusher," I lived in a small town in New Hampshire. I had a wonderful family with devoted parents and siblings that I loved dearly. In college I studied pre med in Portland, Maine, and while I was definitely not at the top of my class, I still found the subjects interesting and studied hard. However mostly my passion centered on the numerous sports I played, especially my new favorite: rugby. It was the perfect sport for me - rougher than soccer, faster than football, and an ideal outlet for the temper that everyone kept telling me I had. Although there were ups and downs, life was simple then, and I often regret that I had to leave it all behind.
The End of Innocence
Early in the spring of my junior year I joined several of my teammates on a camping trip to a remote site in the White Mountains. The trip had become our annual tradition to celebrate the beginning of the season, but this year I wasn't enjoying it. For several days prior to the trip I had been having really strange and violent nightmares. I would often wake up in a cold sweat, or sometimes in a mass of torn sheets. I had been hoping that the trip would distract me from all of this, but nothing improved as the days passed. In fact, I continued to feel even more on edge and was beginning to wonder if something was terribly wrong with me.
It happened on the final night of our trip. And I can remember every vivid detail no matter how hard I try to forget. The evening was warm and bright with a full moon shining overhead. We were sharing beers and stories around the campfire, good friends enjoying each other's company. I however, was sitting slightly apart from everyone else trying not to rip my skin apart. I didn't know what was wrong, but it felt like something was trying to claw out of me. My head was pounding, and my heart was racing. And I kept having difficultly catching my breath like I had been running for hours. It took all of my concentration to get up and retreat into the woods and away from the group. For some part of me knew that it would be dangerous if I stayed.
Once out of sight from the others, I fell to the ground shaking, writhing in agony. My vision swirled, hot pain blinding me, as spasms tore though my body and the sounds of bones cracking filled my ears. It felt like there was something inside of me, clawing at my insides, hot fire running up my spine. It lasts for what felt like hours, and finally as the fire reached its climax and burst out of me, I let go. And suddenly it was all so funny. The fire, the screaming, the pain, all one huge joke. I started giggling at myself, and then laughing outright, even as I moaned in anguish. My body finished convulsing, and I grinned at what would happen next. A haze fell before my eyes, and the woods turned into shadows. I heard muffled screams, saw shapes moving through the woods, and the fire rose up in anticipation. I stalked through the night and it was glorious, and I laughed and laughed as bone cracked and flesh tore. I tasted their blood, hot and rancid on my tongue, and the fire roared in approval. I writhed on the ground in what was left and anointed myself in their ashes. I wasn’t just listening to the fire, I was the fire and I howled in its name. It was exhausting and exhilarating, it was beautiful and it was glorious.
And then I woke up and the fire left me, and all was empty. The pain retreated, and I lay still for a moment, cold and naked. After a moment I realized that I was covered in blood, and then I stood looking around and saw why. The campfire, reduced to embers now, was only a few paces away. But the bright light of the full moon was plenty to reveal the broken pieces of bodies, torn flesh, and blood, oh God, there was so much blood, that was once my closest friends only hours before.
Then fragmented memories returned to me, and I knew I was responsible. Once more I feel to my knees in pain, but now my anguish was of the soul. I had done this. I was to blame. Events from the last hour began to replay in my mind, the details becoming clearer with each tear I shed. I knew that I had become a monster. At that moment I didn't bother to wonder how or why, all I could think to do was to end my existence before I killed again. I stood, searched the cooking supplies for a knife, and prepared to open my own throat.
As I raised the blade, and tried to steady my hand for what needed to be done, a flash of light caught my eye. I paused, curious for a moment and noticed the reflection of the moon on the polished metal. Then I turned, looking skyward, and saw her. For the first time ever it seemed I truly saw her - the moon in all her glory and radiance. It was beautiful. I dropped the blade as I felt her glow wash over me, calming me. I closed my eyes for a long minute and felt as if I were being embraced, or perhaps being born. The light offered me peace, even forgiveness. I don’t know how long I stood there. But I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the light until the moon dipped beneath the trees.
Then I forced myself to look at the remains of my friends again. I didn’t know what to do. I no longer felt an immediate need to kill myself, but I couldn’t change what I had done. My friends hadn’t deserved this. They at least deserved a proper burial, but I was too worried that touching their blood again might reawaken the monster. And perhaps if I left them like this people would believe that I had died here as well, and my family would be able to mourn and move on without me. So in the end I just stood there in silence, focusing on each of my friends in turn, saying goodbye and knowing that I would spend the rest of my life trying to atone for this. Afterwards, I then grabbed a few supplies form the campsite that I hadn't destroyed and headed deeper into the woods. My life as I had know it was over.
A Lone Wolf
Over the next few months I traveled north, staying as far away from civilization and normal people as I could. The first couple weeks of the journey were the worst. I had been camping plenty of times but never for so long and all alone. The few provisions I had brought along quickly disappeared and I lived under the constant dread of what the next full moon would bring. So before the first month had ended, I forced myself to confront and try to understand this new terrifying side of me.
I knew there was an immense power inside that I ignored since that first terrible night. But now, spurred on by my hunger and curiosity I grabbed hold of that power and felt a shift in my gut. Pain immediately flared up and I nearly passed out. But some instinct told me that I was on the right track, and this pain was familiar. After a few moments I began again. When the pain returned this time I was braced for it and I pushed though. Once again I felt my body spasm and bones twist and once again my vision swirled. Minutes passed, perhaps a half hour, but this time my mind stayed clear as I pushed my body further and further, somehow knowing that it would ok now. When I finally came to rest, I felt somewhat smaller and much warmer. I realized I was covered in fur, and when I stood up I was on all fours. This was not the same monstrous beast I was before. It seemed I had changed into a wolf, a perfectly natural, normal-looking wolf.
After that point my days became a lot more bearable, and I spent that whole summer in the woods. I quickly learned how to hunt small game in my wolf form and I was rarely hungry. I practiced changing forms almost every day, and each time it got easier. The pain of transformation decreased significantly as my body grew accustomed to changing, and I even learned to shift much quicker. With the return of the full moon, I was fearful of a return of my insanity, so I spent several days prior barricading myself in cave with enough weight in stone and fallen trees that I hoped the beast would not be able to move in one night. I spent that night with my nerves on edge, pacing back and forth for hours, but fortunately it ended up being a quiet, peaceful night, and no unwanted change overtook me. It took me the better part of two days to dig myself out of my make-shift cage, but I did not regret my precautions. And during the next couple full moons I devised similar processes to make sure again.
I don't know how long I would have continued my solitary days in those woods. I was incredibly lonely, but would not allow myself go near humans. And the regular wolves I had crossed paths with from time to time generally avoided me. Although neither group could have given me the understanding I needed then. However my solitude came to an abrupt ending on the day I met Father Eugene.
Late in summer when I was walking to a creek one morning I noticed a man sitting on the rocks apparently waiting for me. I stopped in my tracks, uncertain for a moment. He was a middle-aged man with thick auburn hair that had yet to turn grey. He was dressed for hiking, and his unruly beard and large rucksack suggested that he had been traveling for many days. But since he had already seen me I continued towards him. As he turned to face me I noticed that he wore a priestly collar as well.
"Well, hello there," he said with a big smile. "You must be the werewolf I've been searching for these past few weeks." Again I came to an abrupt stop. Who was this man? How did he did know what I was? And did he know what I'd done?
"Relax, I'm not here to harm you," he said with that charismatic smile. "Quite the contrary in fact. I come from a place that can help you."
"No offense, but the church ain’t gonna be able to help me," I replied flatly.
“I think you might be surprised there,” he said with a chuckle. “The church I represent is probably not one you’ve heard of before. We welcome all kinds of people, even supernatural ones. And our special members are incredibly honest with each other about that. It’s the only way we can exist as a community searching for the Truth. And by that I simply mean the pursuit of knowledge, happiness, and harmony, since that is the simple truth that all people crave. That’s why we are called the Church of the Ultimate Truth.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. But this man knew what I was and perhaps could help me. He was at least pleasant to talk to, and I hadn’t had a conversation with anyone for months. So I let him continue telling me about his church. I asked him questions to be polite. I read the pamphlets that he handed me. I helped him start a campfire and shared a meal with him. And at the end of the day when he encouraged me to come with him and meet another werewolf in his community I complied.
Welcome to the Church of the Ultimate Truth
Father Eugene made a phone call and we started walking to the nearest road. Hours later we met up with another member of his church – a woman named Monica who was waiting for us with a pick-up. We drove to a small logging town in Maine. It was so strange to see people again and to hear all the noises of traffic, televisions, and hubbub of a town. When we got to the church, which was actually a large house, I was given time to clean up. Although I had bathed in the rivers and lakes of the wilds, there is just no comparison to a nice hot shower. It was also great to toss the rags that my old clothes had become and pull on the clean shirt and jeans that Monica gave me.
Despite the late hour the church was pretty active. At least a dozen people were milling about and everyone there was pleased to meet me. Monica gave me a tour of the place, pointing out the basement converted into a sanctuary, a fully stocked kitchen, and a guest room with a row of bunks. One of the beds had a small stack of clean clothes on it under a card with my name on it. I turned in early.
The next morning I woke up to the sound of someone entering the room. He was a large, muscular young man covered in scars, who I hadn’t met the previously night. I immediately leapt out of the bed sensing a strong predator. However the man simply held up his hands non-threateningly and spoke. “I’m Frank.” I relaxed slightly but made no movement to come any closer. This man was not human. I suspected he was like me, but that didn’t give us an instant bond; instead it only meant that he was very dangerous.
“Sit,” he said pointing at one of the bunks. There was a slight growl in the order, as he seemed somewhat irritated at my initial fear. I complied. “Yeah, I’m Uratha like you. Eugene told me he was chasing rumors of a First Change but I didn’t expect him to actually find anything.” Frank paused looking me over. “Well, I guess he didn’t find much,” he said shaking his head.
“Hey, I’ve been on my own since this started!” I shot back, his insult replacing my fear with anger. “If I’m not up to your standards perhaps you should have looked for me yourself instead of sending your priest out hunting!”
“Heh, so she has a little fire after all,” Frank replied taking a seat on another bed. “Look here’s the deal. The others here want me to welcome you to the Church and be your new best friend. I don’t see that happening. I don’t need some pup following me around and getting in my business. But what I can do is teach you, so you don’t embarrass me. Deal?”
I didn’t like his attitude, but I couldn’t argue that I needed help. And if he was the only option I didn’t see that I had much of a choice. “Deal,” I said. He nodded. Then even though I knew the answer, I had to hear him say it. “What’s Uratha?” I asked.
Frank sighed shaking his head again. “It’s what you and I are, dummy. You had to expect that we had a term for ‘werewolf’ in our own language.” Frank stood up and walked back to the door. “Be outside in ten minutes,” he said as he left.
I cleaned up and run out back in less than five minutes curious to learn whatever Frank was willing to teach me. “You’re late,” he said walking out the door behind me. Before I could respond, Frank shifted in front of me into a wolf and I heard his voice in my head. “Follow me,” he ordered and then took off in a sprint towards the woods. No one else was in sight, so I pulled off my clothes leaving them in a pile by the back door, shifted myself, and followed.
Frank let me catch up and we ran for miles. It was wonderful to run with another even if it was hard to keep pace. We ended up in a secluded clearing. And then Frank suddenly commanded, “Defend yourself!” as he spun around and attacked me. He shifted into a huge monstrous form as he approached that I recognized from my first horrible night. Terrified once again I turned and tried to escape the clearing. Frank was on me in a second however and my world filled with pain as his claws ranked my back. Then I felt him shift back into a human again. “You can’t run away from this!” He shouted in my ear. “You’re a wolf, not a squirrel! Act like it!” Then he let me stand up. I shifted back to human form and feeling blood trickle down my back, used a trick I had learned to heal myself quickly.
“Well, at least you know how to use Essence,” he said. “But remind me to get your clothing Dedicated as soon as possible so it’ll shift with you,” he said noting my nudity. We spent the rest of the morning sparring. The lessons were painful and frustrating, but at the same time I was exhilarated. For the first time I was able to let loose with my new strength without the fear that I would lose myself to it again, knowing that Frank was keeping careful watch. And despite his jests and insults, Frank didn’t treat me like a monster or a mistake. I was finally part of a team again. Perhaps this Church really could be my salvation.
And so I fell into a routine. I spent most mornings working with Frank, the afternoons doing manual labor to help out around the compound, and the evenings attending church services. After a couple weeks it began to feel like home.
The evening church services were focused on fairly basic and generic topics: helping out your fellow man, encouraging people to take charge of their own destinies, and showing the power of truth and knowledge. There wasn’t much focus on God or a deity of any sort, rather the church taught people to empower themselves. I couldn’t argue with their methods since most new members experienced a marked improvement in their lot in life, including myself. However I had also noticed private services were regularly going on later at night comprised of select members of the church. When I asked Frank about it I was told to mind my own business and to leave it alone.
Chapters yet to be written:
- Learning more from Frank, and eventually befriending him & meeting other Uratha
- Learning the truth about the Truth
- Helping Frank to destroy this local chapter of the CUT, Frank dies in the process
- Finding yet another new home in a new place and joining a pack of Forsaken
- Joining the Blood Talon tribe and earning her deed name
- Meeting an Accord member and learning there are others who fight this
- Pack is wiped out by the Pure
- Lost again without home, family, & pack, seeks out that Accordist and relocates to Boston
- July 2014: officially joins Boston's Accord Cell