"If men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail." -- Ulysses S. Grant
Human Name: Rickard Marek
Deed Names: Laughs Last, Dark Sky's Wisdom, Dawn's Dying Echo
Beta of the Sept of Luna's Awakening, Alpha of the Miles to Go pack
Laughs Last is tall and strong, very Slavic with his dark eyes and strong nose. His hair is also dark, clipped fairly short, and he keeps a trim beard that frames his jaw. He wears button-downs and slacks with the ease and comfort that most people wear t-shirt and jeans, occasionally supplementing them with a suit coat, but more often rolling up his sleeves.
In any furred form he is black as night, with a small white blaze on his jaws and another on his left forepaw. He has a large, powerful frame and strong jaws. The voice that is so pleasant in homid form becomes a resounding and expressive howl. His eyes burn a piercing amber, and people find it hard to lie when those eyes are on them.
Undeniably well-educated and often genial, Laughs Last can tell a story with flair and poise, and write one even better. He can most often be found with a smile - or even a smirk - on his face, and his voice is mellifluous and good-humored, if often sarcastic. However, when Garou begin to fight around him his smile vanishes, and he turns commanding and forbidding in the blink of an eye. When he leads, he is firm and forceful, but also inspiring, always commanding from the center, and ever in the midst of the fight.
Stories Told On Skin
Laughs Last has collected a great many scars over the years of war. Among the most notable are these:
- His left arm is burned from shoulder to elbow, a distinctive fractal blaze for those that know lightning scars.
- His chest has a swathe of grayish skin, like a hand was dragged diagonally across it and left the skin dead in its wake.
- His left shoulder has a gouge as if from a great clawed hand grasping him; the scar is black as pitch, and black veins creep out from it like his skin was stained with night.
- There's a pit in both his sides, like he was spitted on some great spear; both scars are tinted silver.
- His right leg has a crushing scar around the knee; the joint was shattered, and no longer bends properly.
He has a few other distinguishing marks, to include:
- He bears a prominent, silvery brand on his right shoulder, a mark in the shape of the Garou glyph for 'sacrifice'.
- On his chest, right over his heart, is another metallic brand, the one bright spot on the grayed flesh. This one steely, in the shape of the glyph for 'survivor'.
- A pattern of overlapping spirals - in a VERY old Scottish style, for those who know it - is worked into his right forearm in some kind of gold-white dye.
- There's a great tattoo across his back (Crafts 6 in execution). A feminine hand in silvery platemail crosses his back defensively. Around it, a swirl of crows fly upward, to be lost in dark clouds that curl over his shoulders like a mantle.
What is Known to the Humans
Nobody who knows Laughs Last is surprised by his human side... well, perhaps not for long.
Rickard is a son of a little-known but influential New York business family that has fallen on hard times. Educated at Stanford and then at Cambridge, Rickard is now a practicing trial lawyer, specializing in corporate and environmental law. With several prominent cases under his belt, including the litigation on Deepwater Horizon, he is currently employed by the state of California as a federal prosecutor, though in a part-time capacity as he is called in only occasionally. He also hires out as a legal consultant to a number of corporations, including the revolutionary San Francisco firm Redefyne.
There are some rumors as to his unreliability in court, people muttering about anger management and threatening conduct. He has even faced several mistrial suits for intimidating people on the stand. However, his record is inarguable, and his results consistent enough that the state generally defends him, and even uses him as an occasional photo op when it needs a touch of flair or glamour. He has tried several high-profile environmental abuse cases, and in every circumstance has pursued them harshly, to the utter ruin of those whose businesses compromise the earth.
What is Known to the People
"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus." - Martin Luther King, Jr
Laughs Last is not new to being Garou by any stretch. His First Change came in March of 2005 during his senior year of law school, a very late change at 24 years of age. Ever since, he has been confounding expectations and throwing aside those who would keep him down or drag him back.
He fought some skirmishes in the Ratkin War - first as a cub, and later as a Cliath - though he came too late to the War to be at all pivotal. Whether through Shadow Lord influence or sheer iron will, he returned to Cambridge almost as soon as the War was done and completed his J.D., scoffing at those who told him he could never make it work.
He spent the next years painfully building a career and honing his control, being taught by a widely-regarded Shadow Lord Athro Galliard named Faster-than-Lighting. He tried very hard to go with she and her pack to the Battle in the Heavens when the Red Star blazed. He got to Alaska, but she out-and-out forced him to stay behind - certainly saving his life - so all he saw was the bloody aftermath. His teacher survived that day... but not the assassinations in the months that followed.
Since that day, Laughs Last has fought tirelessly to bring the Garou together. He is a strong advocate of his tribal alliance, of joining the Glasswalkers and Bone Gnawers to seize every advantage. He is outspoken about wanting to take the Garou's battle to new fields.
Pack Name: Miles to Go
Pack Totem: Grandfather Thunder
With the binding of the Great Bane on the Alaskan Tundra, undertaken on behalf of the Fianna tribe, Rickard's pack was devastated, losing three of its six members. He and Noah have been joined by a miraculously-returned Swift-Talon, and now they are searching together for the best way - or any way at all - to move forward.
Now this is the Law of the Jungle -- as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk, the Law runneth forward and back -- For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
-- The Law of the Jungle, Rudyard Kipling
Tales Held Aloft
Rickard tends to tell tales in the old style of the high Garou courts; very formalized, with an almost fairy-tale cadence. It's a traditional form, and it has the feeling of something he does because he was taught that way, something grained into him from childhood.
His commentary - interjected within and around some of his tales - is more earthy and modern.
Here is the repository of Garou tales, including many spoken by Laughs Last:
Friends and Foes Alike
(Leave your name here if you know him!)
- Sabine LaCoix, Silver-Swift - Sabine is Rickard's contemporary at the sept of the Valley of the Moon, oftentimes his rival. The two stare daggers at each other constantly, but have done some impressive things working together.
- Feast of Ashes - With these two the baring of teeth crosses both societal norms. Both creatures of strong passions formidable when aligned, devastating when conflicted. A tentative peace has grown in the soil of gallows humor and shared joie de vivre.
- Nadya Nighthawk - A young Shadow Lord who seems to have been taken in as Rickard's newest pet project, and were she a Galliard, likely would be his protégé.
- Elizabeta Dragos
Spoken By Him, Spoken Of Him
My fellows under Gaia, gather now and listen to a tale...
- "Wait, wait... I've heard this story before, I know it." -- Laughs Last
- "I have heard it said, when pride is strongest, sometimes only then do you see the distance left to climb." -- Laughs Last, in the tale of Secrets' Passing
- "You may stand against us, but we are Garou, and you won't dissuade us. So speak to me, while speaking is on the table." -- Laughs Last, to a Lord of the Dead Lands
- “Laughs Last's words are things of note, and he can spin a tale that paints a picture and commands your attention, for certain. But my favorite time is when his mouth is blissfully shut.” -- Sabine Silver Swift
- "You know, I have two things to say about my Alpha. Rickard's the only son of a bitch who's managed to make me think about not leading a pack, and he's a Shadow Lord. So keep those things in mind, should you try to cross him." -- Michael "Wars-on-all-Fronts" Anders
- "I stare at Laughs-Last and I am confounded. I respect and fear him by turns, knowing his prowess and the strength of his conviction, how could I not? Within his hands lies the power to destroy me with a word, or lift me up among the stars. I pray for the grace to show him the purity of my dreams, and to be given the latter, rather than fail him and suffer the former. If that day should come, I will not blame him for the bladed edge of his tongue...it will be my rightful due. If my day of grace should come, I trust that the silver will be wielded elsewise." -- Etienne Swanson
- "Oh, right. I knew that you wouldn't want to take them, but I'm glad that you trusted in my instincts rather than your own and took them anyway. I further hope that you will remember, later." -- Twilight Star
- "Rickard is my best friend, my strongest comrade in arms, and the guy I know I can go to when something has gone to hell in a handbasket and there's nowhere else to turn. What, you think it's weird that a CoG and a Shadowlord can be friends like we are? Dude, it's even weirder from this side." -- Ingrid Tests-the-Waters Swenson
- "I have grown to trust Laughs Last as a leader. Trust does not come easily from me. Especially not for homid that I do not share a tribe. But I can believe that what he desires is for the battle to be won with the fewest deaths possible. And to that end I am willing to fight by his side. Maybe remind him to the important things." -- Steel Vice Bite
- "Many Homids talk to the wolf-born as if we were simple and fools. It is not so with Laughs Last and for this I respect him." -- Moon Watcher
- "He is worth consideration." -- Twisted Wound
- "So he was like a stand up guy. Invited me to tell stories to the cubs and patiently listened. Like, I appreciate that. But I'm not sure if he was like... enjoying my additions to the story, or like just being polite." -- Simon Kressin
- "Yeah, I know its a little anti-Wendigo... but I do my best to accept people for what they do rather than what they have done. We aren't in a position as a Nation to succeed with any other attitude. Laughs-Last is competent, fulfills his obligations and most importantly his people respect him. I'm willing to accept him at face value until the time comes that shows me I shouldn't. I'd appreciate if you wouldn't share that with my tribe... they get... well nevermind." -- Jake "Takes-the-High-Ground" Whitewater
- "Symbols and tone have a mesmerizing power over those of the Nation. Let those who utilize these weapons be of deliberate and careful purpose." -- Storm's Cold Fury
- "Blah blah blah respect, bravery, yada yada and all that other crap people say about him. One of my favorite things about Laughs Last is that his name has nothing to do with storms. I got his back, he's got mine. What else needs to be said?" -- Plays With Fire
- "That one knows what it is to live, to know the truth in his spirit about why we fight. That gives him a strength I can respect." -- Feast of Ashes
- "He is my friend, despite his insistence to the contrary. He's at least grown wise enough to not contradict me. I've fought beside him as often as I have my own pack it seems. He has earned my trust. It is not given often or quickly. But I've crawled into too many dens of evil to slay what dwelled within with him to not call him my brother." -- Steel Vice Bite
- "We met in unique moment of blood and reverence, my Tribe-mate and I. It seems to be a continuing trend...I'm interested to see how this song plays out." -- Sings the Forgotten
- "How we met was a story in itself, but now I am a member of his Pack. His relentless patience, his...odd kindness, and his drive to see the potential in even the darkest of Gaian souls has saved mine." -- Sings the Forgotten
- " His stories and wisdom reach our ears in the mountain peaks of the Rockies. This one bears watching, and should be listened to. " -- Jericho Windstorm
- "Laughs Last knows what he's doing. Granted, I don't know what he's doing half the time, but I know that HE knows. And that's enough." —- Reach For The Sky
- “Wait wait wait wait….. His names is Richard?!! So I can call him a dick to his face and only get in a little bit of trouble!! HA!!! That’s good stuff.” -- Jacob Redding
- "I can't say we met exactly. We were in the same room together, so that counts right? I'd give him pizza if he was hungry." -- Boots
- "Laughs Last is one of the few people I can say I honestly trust to have my back, and that means a lot to me. I don't know exactly what he sees in me, or why he decided I was worth it, but I do appreciate the vote of confidence." -- Nadya Nighthawk
- "Rickard is many things to me, but first and foremost he is my teacher. I stand in awe of him, though he may view me to be his honored equal, because I know that I will never be made of the same stuff. Still...one day I hope to feel myself his equal, and for now I will accept continuing to learn from him until I do." -- Noah Rahmat
- "Laughs Last is a teacher who seeks to embody the best of our tribe, and has helped guide me to this point. I'm not forgetting that anytime soon." -- Swift Talon
- "It is the thing of most pedestrian stereotype how Laughs Last and I openly despised each other upon meeting. How we had already formed our opinions and judgements on each other based merely on Tribal conflicts. How utterly foolish I was. Once I thought his words word false bravado and pure arrogance and manipulation. Now? I have the utmost faith in him to guide me, trust in his counsel and can rest easy knowing that when the time comes; the things most sacred to me will be safe in his care. I will never have a Beta that even comes close to him, and with Gaia & Luna willing, I won’t have to. " -- Sabine Silver Swift
- "Rickard is not my pack. He is my family. It should be unsurprising, then, that we share qualities of cunning and ruthlessness hard-coded into our DNA. It has been long whispered that we are rivals vying against one another for Dominance. For the sake of the Nation, you should all hope that is true--because imagine what we can accomplish if we work together." -- Omengazer
- "There are admirable qualities fostered by every Tribe of Garou, taught to them by their Tribal Incarna. The Shadow Lords hold to a sense of pragmatism and dedication which serves Gaia in ways that many other Garou are unable to do. Unfortunately these virtues are often coupled with vices - often the very inverse of the virtue. The Shadow Lords sometimes earn their dedication at the expense of compassion, and their pragmatism at the expense of ideals. What I have found remarkable about Laughs Last is the fact that he embodies the best of his Tribe, without succumbing to the worst. He is a child of Grandfather Thunder with all that implies, and in the heart of such a Garou lies the future of the Nation, in more ways than I care to explain." -- Tiercel Twice-Sworn
- "Legends are never more than a story we tell ourselves. Forget I was ever a man, that I crawled as a child, that my mistakes were many. Scribe instead in silver, that I called lightning and danced with thunder as I ripped dragons from the sky. And when I find my own grave, in that tale or another, say that another legend was born, waiting to be named. The story is always more important than the man." -- Margrave Yuri Konietzko
- "We share the commonality of understanding wasteful action...we share in the disdain for those who perpetrate it. Purposeful action, action that is deliberate and effective are what matter most. In the short time we have known of one another we have shared in loss, shared in purpose, and understand keenly that one often leads to the other." - Walks the Storm
- "I am no one of consequence, I merely watch and wait to see where this one will step just as I watch and wait to see where many others tread. I hope that his path will allow me to remain no one of consequence. Thus far he has made me hopeful." - Alvarez
- "For the People, Raven holds a special place in their hearts. He is trickster, and fool, but he is also a protector. He brought light to the world when there was only darkness." - Megan
- "There was a long time when, despite our shared lineage, you might've called Rickard and I rivals. Those days, I'm glad to say, are well behind us. I have experienced a vision wherein the future of our Tribe rests at the peak of a great mountain. It's a damn good thing, then, that conquering Summits is right up his alley." - Howl of Thunder
- "I have been learning a great deal from the Elders of my tribe. From Laughs Last-rhya I have learned that no word is as powerful as the last word." - Long Fang
- "He sings stories so well you think yourself to be in them. When you think of our tribe his name comes instantly to mind. I didn't know him, only of him, but I knew Nadya, and she loved him dearly. That was enough reason for me." Simona_Decebal
- "My alpha's songs will carry well beyond any of us, because they are a part of him that he willingly lets go. He has taught me more in life than I think he ever wanted to, but at the same time he has shown me the weight that comes with duty, and the price leadership has. I see the burden he carries, but every day... every night... he rises and pushes it aside to continue. May I have the strength do to half of what he has one day. No matter how far he's gone, I see that smile and I know he will hold it longer, and gladly. Hear his words, and know the man that sung them." - Swift Talon
- "Born of wolf, we learn the monkey language to make communication easier among the Garou. There are many nuances and subtleties that are found in the human tongue. Words, just as much as claw and fang, are weapons that can be mastered and wielded with grace. In all my travels, I have yet to meet another Garou who has displayed a mastery equal to Laughs Last. He has my respect as a warrior who has shown excellence across many fields of battle. I have much to learn in watching him." - Stone Gaze
- "Few Galliards command the sound of silence with the same authority and precision as the weight of their words. Dawn's Dying Echo is one of these. Listen carefully." - James Nathan Hunt
"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." - Niccolo Machiavelli
- Rickard actually met Yuri Konietzko before the Battle in the Heavens, and the Margrave told him a secret that day which he still keeps in trust.
- Laughs Last is actually hiding a terrible secret, and is under the thumb of those who know the things that would destroy his burgeoning reputation.
- He kept his powerful fetish under his dubious protection for years before he was of rank to use it.
- He has traveled far into the Umbra in search of stories alone, and brought back secrets.
- The knowledge he brought back from those trips could potentially break the fragile unity of the Tribes, and he's keeping it for the right moment.
- He's lied about his Rank several times, claiming to be Athro when only an Adren.
- No, the lie is that he's only an Adren; he achieved the Athro Rank months ago and is merely holding his tongue to see who will get up in arms. Did you notice how nobody's made a public issue out of it?
- He made an alliance with, of all people, the Pure Tribes in California, enough that he's welcomed freely at at least one of their caerns, and they allowed him to build a shrine to Thunder there.
Strikes Before Thunder
Rickard has emerged in public as the bearer of a powerful fetish, a Shadow Lord tribal artifact called a Storm Gauntlet. One of only a few in the world, his is named Strikes-Before-Thunder, and carries a long legend and a lineage of powerful bearers within his tribe.
It is a clawed gauntlet, forged of black iron, fully articulated and wickedly barbed. There are tiny runes covering much of the gauntlet's surface, telling the story of its name, of its bearers, and of Shades-the-Earth-Beneath, the mighty Stormcrow that inhabits the fetish and lends it power. The air around the gauntlet feels hot and hair stands on end when it gets too close. Every now and then a jag of blue electricity will dance between the fingers or arc briefly across the armor plates.
Rickard has born it in several major conflicts, and it makes the already-competent Shadow Lord a terrifying foe and an intimidating presence.
Rickard Marek, Laughs-Last
Marten Marek, Splits-the-Skies - Athro Ahroun; who rained destruction down on a budding enclave of Pentex by leading a Rite of the Hurricane; who leapt from a precipice to kill the Spiral Dancer Manyfangs with a single blow; who died fighting at the Battle of the Heavens, atop a mountain of Antehelion’s dead spawn, and brought down beneath another mountain.
Nadia Marek, Breaking-the-Silence - Elder Galliard; who spoke harsh truth to avert a war between septs; who sounded the battle-howl uncounted times for the Falling Leaves pack, and sang their lament; who soaked her claws in Ratkin blood protecting the Sept of Iron Spires, and whose war anthem sounded on after her death at the Battle of the Heavens.
Teodor Vacek, Sown-in-Ice - Athro Galliard; who drew a pack of Spiral Dancers to a cold death on a frozen lake; who died plunging a klaive into the eye of a Nexus Crawler.
Richeleine Vacek, Moon-on-Black-Feathers - Elder Theurge; who destroyed the Ruptured-Scar pack with a horde of summoned crows; who riddled and won against Grandfather Thunder’s servant; who found the First Raven and gained His counsel; who, with that counsel, laid waste to the Green-Rivers Hive; who disappeared into the Umbra after that place’s cleansing, to complete her vow to Raven.
Member Number: US2008082801
Home Domain: Sonoma, CA - Unconquered Sun - CA-058-D
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