Tara Reborn, as told to the Nation
Tara Reborn a challenge for Athro, Sung to the Nation
On the wings of merlin spirits the following tale goes out across the nation:
I am Mallory Byrne, Seeks the Voice, Fostern Galliard of the Fianna Song Keepers. Here me!
Many in the nation who have Fianna in their packs or as part of their septs knew at the end of last summer the Fianna tribal homeland Caern was lost to us. I do not know if how deep the destruction was explained. The ancient stone buildings were gone, the lives of every garou and kin living there gone, and even deeper, everything spiritual gone. She was barren even on the spiritual side.
This was a devastating blow. Many of us have begun work to repair her, but even if we rebuild her physically she could not be restored without the ability to have spiritual life again.
The tale I am about to share is Knows the Path, Seeks the Way Beyond Reproach, Soul-Mender, Restores-the-Balance, Adren Fianna Theurge’s challenge to Atum’s Pride Athro Ahroun of the Silent Striders to be seen as Athro of the nation. His challenge set before him was in three parts. He was to travel to Tara and find a way to empower members of Stag’s brood enough to take root again, then convince one of the spirits to empower a fetish to stand as an aspect to Tara’s Legacy. Second he was to take two others with him, one being a Galliard and to lead us without loss of his charges, learn the history of these spirits and the fetish that will be empowered and third to present his success and the fetish to the leader of the Fianna, Wits Like Silver, Righ of the tribe.
This tale is long, as this took us more than an entire season to complete, while I’ll try to be brief and only to the important parts, after all you don’t care how many times we returned to a location to further gather information or ask more question, but there are important parts that will stretch this tale out for words of wisdom need to be heard.
The Galliard he had join him was myself, and the third was the Adren Philodox Honors Strength of the Fianna.
Together we traveled to the Sept of the Tri-Spiral in Ireland where we found hospitality we Fianna are known for, but there was a wariness about it. We had to speak that we would keep the tenant of the litany that we would not do anything that would cause this caern to be violated. We questioned this for it should be automatically any garou would not violate this tenant, and discovered a pack of Fianna had been through here in the recent past and had caused a mess that left this sept responsible for the clean up. They would welcome us but wanted to be sure no further harm was done to not only their sept but that whatever we did would not make things worse at Tara’s now empty location.
We spent days speaking to Garou at the Tri-Spiral gathering information as we could, trying to understand what was wrong, and where we might begin. We discovered that the spirits of Tara were in very bad shape, those who had survived the attack were fortunate, but some were so intricately tied to Tara that the bans, geas, and oaths that combined were torn at their very essence, most had gone mad by the resulting conflicts of those broken bonds. Many spirits wander lost and mad. A few had sought sanctuary at the Tri-Spiral but no spirits could be convinced to return to Tara. They wanted promises, promises we garou couldn’t yet keep, they wanted Tara back, they wanted to be reassured we hadn’t simply abandoned her and that when we reclaim her we will be strong enough to defend her again. THey wanted a significant demonstration before they believed we Fianna are capable of doing so, and having it be more than just our love they knew we have for her but the strength to keep her safe so she does not fall again.
We learned that the spirits were intricately tied to the land through old oaths and ancient pacts, and that we need knowledge from spirits of Tara that were still out there wandering lost and confused and that if we could find ways to aid them, give them strength and get them to put their faith in us we as a tribe would find greater success in not just our current quest but the over all one to restore Tara.
We learned much about some specific spirits only to discover what they were going through didn’t really pertain directly to the quest we were trying to accomplish. We were told there was an old ancestor spirit that might be of help that at one point had been tied to Tara, but other than that we were at a loss of really what to do next. Soul Mender decided he felt the need to commune with Gaia and perhaps she would guide us in some manner. It took five days for him to prepare for his ritual before settling down to use the gift that lets him have Sight from Beyond. I was offered to share his mind while he did this, the vision provided us with three glowing beacons in different directions at different distances. These beacons seemed to come from areas of swirling fog, wild and chaotic, first like storm clouds then like a gas that might poison, then a shimmering colorful mass of tendrils that reached about.. they seemed to infect the land itself. One was near the sept of the Tri-Spiral, about a mile off the bawn to the south, one we could tell was near the ruins of Tara and the last was out in a wild place that seemed to not have anything near that was significant.
After the vision Soul Mender decided to speak to the Druids of the Tri-Spiral. We were informed that the one farthest away, and the one Soul Mender wished to investigate first was likely the location of where the ANcestor spirit we were told about was located and that at the last check that he was pretty sane and not affected by the madness the spirits of Tara had been afflicted with but no one had had the time recently to visit so this could not be promised. We discovered the Ancestor spirit was named Rhys Sheehan, in life he had been a bard and as most of us Bards loved the gifts of tales and stories. While he is a friendly spirit he might be difficult to deal with due to his penchant for being easily distracted and veering conversations off in odd directions. They believe he had been bound into a Fetish but was released during the fall of Tara, but no one could determine this as Rhys himself was a bit spotty on his own background and any gifts or charms used to determine the truth only proved to be inconclusive. So for various reasons we decided that we should speak to this spirit. For I too needed to speak to this spirit to work on my own rank challenge of finding a tale lost to our tribe. So we agreed, that yes we would venture out to the most distant beacon and speak with him for both tasks.
So the three of us take off the next following morning. We head in the direction and find ourselves arriving at an old farm, looking reclaimed by the wild more than abandoned, as if the green of the plants had just happily moved back in. It was actually very lovely with vines and moss growing on nearly every surface one could see and despite what many would see as disrepair you could hear the animals moving inside the barn, and the house seemed fairly stable as it was made of stone. It just felt so very peaceful and serene.
When stepping over into the Umbra we found that it was very similar with many nature spirits moving about the house.. and from the house we could hear a song being sung, a very lively tune. Soul Mender called out our introductions in the way of the spirits so we would not offend. I myself could barely contain my excitement. As a follower of Merlin and a Song Keeper learning new tales and knowledge is not just a passion but a way of life.. deep down and spiritually. So our introductions are called out our request made and nothing seemed to happen other than the song continued.. we waited and when the song ended a new one did not begin up shortly thereafter the spirit we were seeking out appeared. Introductions were exchanged and we sat down to some great conversation. When we explained our purpose and offered we would exchange a tale from him for a tale from us.
We were warned that conversation would veer off frequently but tales were exchanged and after awhile we came upon a topic that seemed like the right thing to learn of. The tale of Alain Swift-Knife. It seemed that there was more to the tale than is known in Fianna history and Rhys seemed to know a great deal about it. It included a sorceress, a fae, promises and curses. While the whole tale is not necessary to the telling of this tale if you really want to know you can ask a Fianna Bard more about it. But what was important was a promise that Swift-Knife would live again if he was ever to die and it was tied to a talisman that Swift-Knife owned.
We also learn from Rhys that not too long ago after the fall of Tara a group of garou, that he didn’t speak very well of came around making claims they had some grand plan to fix some things, right some wrong and unearth the old magic they felt we needed to restore Tara. Well it seemed these garou had received some visions and they uncovered some instructions of a rite, but it seems they didn’t fully understand them but still proceeded to perform this “ritual”. So the group managed to summon Swift-Knife, because they needed help defeating some of the spirits that had gone crazy after Tara had fallen. Well Swift-Knife easily defeated them but the theurge had underestimated what those spirits were capable of and the madness that had been part of the now defeated spirits had passed onto Swift-Knife. This is when things went all downhill according to Rhys, for Swift-Knife was thinking because of a promise he was alive again, but really wasn’t. And he thought it was still about five or six hundred years ago. Right, problem.
So this Ancestor Spirit who thought he was a garou returned to life, was now not quite in the right frame of mind, with a lot of information that was hidden from most and he had been using it i his madness and it had begun to infect others with enough time.
So Soul Mender figuring this might be a place to start asked if there was a way we could deal with Swift-Knife. We were advised just confronting him with the fact he was a spirit and not alive again could be a problem, but if we could find a way to cleanse the madness and convince him of the fact he was a spirit we might have a chance. Rhys suggested we find the talisman that belonged to Swift-Knife.
Our next step took us to the tomb of Alain Swift-Knife where we met his kin and learned even more about his tale. We seemed to have known enough that when we asked the kin was able to speak fully of the entire problem a conflict between the sorceress and a fae ally of Swift-Knife and their resulting conflict. Leaving Swift-Knife with the belief that the talisman would bring him back to life if he died and the need was great. We spent a good amount of time speaking with Swift-Knife and the sorceresses kin learning as much as we could about the situation. Before we left we gave our respect to those honored ancestors and making sure that the pack that had come before us and performed the rite didn’t unsettle to much of Swift-Knifes own tomb. We decided not to yet do a gathering of the departed as it was a risk as he was up and walking among us again, but once we had completed our task would return to do so.
Our next step was to approach Swift-Knife and deal with his madness and unknowing lie to himself that he was still alive and convince him of the honor of being an ancestor spirit that he actually was.
The three of us make the decision to approach Swift-Knife in the umbra, and if anything went awry we could escape into this realm where he would be weaker.
As we approached things were pretty uneventful, the spiritual landscape isn’t quite barren but it is obviously less than expected. When we get close to our destination it felt like we crossed an invisible barrier, the feel of the umbra changed and as our eyes tried to adjust the shapes around us twist and bend. It felt wrong, very wrong, you could almost taste the chaos, the madness in the air. After a moment we notices a pair of stag spirits, natural spirits not one of Stag’s brood ahead of us, when they notice us they nod in our direction and then turn towards an ephemeral tree that is not really a tree in the spiritual sense, tap it lightly with their hooves, first one then the second. We stop for a moment and listen, not sure if its a welcome or a warning. It seemed these spirits were debating if the tree was full of treasure, each time one tapped it the spirit would make claim it supports their theory that it is hollow or filled with something. Soul Mender approaches them asking what treasure do they think is here and they explain that Swift-Knife has told them that the land is full of treasure, something called the Legacy of the Fianna. One seemed to think it would be tasty and that the tree was a likely good spot to hide it, the other disagreed thinking that the treasure is supposed to be of the mind, emotion and all that so they need to be looking inside the heads of stuff if they wanted it. They continued arguing before suddenly remembering they were supposed to be on patrol and then trying to be official but not pulling it off at all ask us to state our business. Then they seemed to be confused about what they were supposed to do next. Before they could get into disagreeing with each other again, stated our purpose to speak to Swift-Knife about the legacy of the Fianna and the restoration of Tara. This seemed to have satisfied them and they gave us directions on where to go then to step out of the umbra at that location and we’d find his camp. I was taken aback a bit about having to leave the umbra but then I realized it made total sense, if you don’t believe you are dead, why as a garou would you actually live in the umbra. We learn that Swift Knife is doing well and is really motivated before we take leave of the pair of stags.
Upon request as we walk away I link our minds with the gift Mindspeak. With in our minds Soul- Mender explains that he does not think Swift Knife is actually in the real world, that with his will he has formed his own pocket in the umbra that he thinks is the real world. As we reach the spot it seems Soul Mender did some things theurges do, checked the umbra, explored the gauntlet, noticed a shrouding of sorts but the spirits doing the thing that was like a shrouding were more spirits of mystery. Over Mindspeak again Soul-Mender warns us to be ready that he is going to try to call Swift Knife to us rathern than not stepping into or out into what he could not see.
Using Howl from Beyond he howls out introduction of himself and us and our purpose. After a few moments a powerful Stag spirit arrives and acknowledges that Swift-Knife has heard our call and welcomes us to his lands. That we have his leave to cross over into his territory with his hospitality, we are bid welcome. Soul-Mender explains being sworn to the safety of myself and Honor’s Strength and asks what awaits us on the other side that has been hidden from us, he does not wish to walk into something blindly.
The Stag explains that there had been some agents of the wyrm that had been spying on them which was the reason for the precautions of the concealment. With a bit more of an exchange we are reassured we will be safe to step across that it is best to talk things in the camp than in the umbra and that we are trusted as his brothers and welcome to enter. As we speak to the Stag it is noticed that his eye is shifting colors, which can indicate some sort of mind enchantment of the fae, but anything more than that we could not tell. The Stag leads the way and indicates where we may cross over.
When we do, we find a campsite, with a large roaring fire the smell of the meat cooking over it shows that a meal is being readied. There are about a dozen or so people around the camp site. A large man standing by the fire comes forward to greet us. He is standing like a proud warrior, with a hideous scar across this throat, he is dressed in the hides of animals, and there is nothing modern at all that can be seen around us, except for well our own selves, well mostly me in my dress compared to the others in lupus. The man introduces himself as Alain, called Swift Knife, Elder Warrior of the tribe and son of Stag, he welcomes us as friends, but as he introduces himself, the face on this man is not the one we know as an Elder by the name of Alain, it is the face of Sean McKenna, Gaia’s Blade, Elder Galliard and one of the few people who called Bron MacFionn a friend. A garou we had known to have been killed in the fall of Tara when a silver spear was driven into his throat. Though we had never recovered his body.. well this might explain why. This takes us slightly aback but Soul Mender recovers and introduces us. Over mind link Soul Mender explains that he does not think we would survive a battle here and there would be nothing gained if we three were to die. If it came to battle and we wished to flee he would do all he could to protect us. Then he turns his attention back to Swift-Knife he clearly says he would be glad to tell of our travels, but first wants to ask if he or any of his group remember the great battle against the Wyrm in Alaska, to remember the name of the banes which commanded the wyrms forces that night. There are some among the Fianna who wish to find greater vengeance for Bron’s death. I was unsure of the purpose of this questioning and why Soul Mender might have asked Swift Knife about something that this ancient spirit would have no way of knowing, despite the fact he was wearing another’s face. When the spirit doesn’t recognize the name of Alaska, nor Bron, Soul Mender gives a simple answer to explain it away briefly, but says that we will share our story with him. While doing so he thinks on the fact that this ancestor spirit is possessing a dead garou body, but it is unusual for the charm of animating the dead this is usually only done by ghosts and banes, and for banes this is a difficult charm and can only be done for so long. Surely this has to do with the witches magic and the fae’s curse on the witch...
This begins the process of teaching Swift-Knife exactly what has happened to him. I will explain in Soul Mender’s exact words, as I believe he chose them very specifically to ease this ancestor spirit to the truth. I will also directly quote the Swift-Knife when it relates to his understanding, so that you may see how our ancestor spirit replies as he begins to understand what we are trying to explain.
"We have come here because I am challenged to restore the spirits of Tara. To do this, we have traveled over the great sea to once again look upon our ancestral home which was burned to ruin. We have learned that despite how difficult the task might sound, it is made even more difficult, and we have spent many turns discovering the problems we face. But also in those travels, I have heard many songs of you, of your strength, and of your undying loyalty to the Fianna, and I am thankful to have heard these songs, because I know that you are critical to rebuilding Tara. So we come to you in the hopes that you will answer this call."
"I believe that there is a great lie which has been told. It is true that lies steal from the honest. This lie has stolen much from the Fianna. Because of it, the spirits are weakened, and cannot take their place, which has stolen from the Fianna the restoration of Tara. But there is one it has stolen much more from. This Fiann is being deprived of a place of honor among the great Fianna of legend. He is trapped by the webs of a lie instead of ascending to the greatness of what he could yet be."
Swift-Knife replies, with sharing his own grief over the loss of Tara, and then sharing of what he claims are horrible monstrosities that dominate the land, when he describes these things, we know them simply as cars, planes, and well things we garou today take for granted as everyday objects. He then tells us he fears the fall of Tara is only the beginning for us for he’s had visions since he returned, horrible things to come, a great battle in the snow where a king is lost, being overrun by swarms and swarms of rats tearing away at us , and all the time a red star in sky burning us with its hatred. Things that aren’t really visions for the rest of us, they are things we went through, our history..
But he does finally settle on the topic of the “theft” that he would not let a brother suffer such an indignity that he could not be laid to rest properly.
Again Soul-Mender’s direct wording was, “You truly wish to know this lie that steals, strong brother? The truth is a harsh thing, tempered only by the fact that there is a path forward. A difficult path, but one and the same. Did you know that was my first name in this nation, 'Knows the Path?' I believe I know the path here as well. It is good to know that you are eager to help this deceived one, for the greatest vengeance of the deceived is to stand victorious in the light of truth. Will you swear to it, Swift-Knife? To hear this story will be a painful thing, but to tell it I must know that you will hear it through the end, and strive to help our brother.”
Swift-Knife agrees that he will hear the story to it’s end and do what he can for our brother as he had dealt with many harsh things in his time, both physically and mentally.
Soul-Mender realizing how dangerous this might become holds a submissive posture but keeping eye contact with Swift-Knife, he is also preparing to defend myself and Honor’s Strength if it should come to a fight, knowing part of his challenge is to see us live.
Then so he continues his words, “Then I have your oath, Swift-Knife, honorable hero of the Fianna. For the one I speak of has been denied a place as a great and powerful ancestor spirit, which is the true strength of all Garou. That is the thing which has been stolen. And the one who has been so deceived is called Swift-Knife."
"Your talisman did not do what you think it did. Instead, it had been woven with will-worker and fae trickery, by one who was not above taking advantage of your desires in order to achieve her own. And yes, I know that there was a fae indebted to you, but instead of showing you this lie, it chose instead to weave its own magic over the spell so her tricks would have to be honored. It is that magic which remains now, all lie upon lie trying to maintain its veil over your eyes."
"No doubt you are angered by this truth, for the deepest truths can burn us like the worst of wounds. But you must listen to me. You could stand aside Stag himself as a celebrated part of Tara, and have the fellowship of the nation to sing your tales to. And yet there are still many battles to be fought there, and the ancestor spirit which you deserve to be is the strongest any Garou could ever hope to be. A respected druid stands here before you to tell you that an age has passed, and my eyes look to you and see more than a Garou, but an ancestor spirit, and it causes me to howl with rage that these things have been done to him.
But I also look in your eyes and see the truth there, as well. The veil has not survived well in the age it has waited for your awakening. Look there to the dark corners, Swift-Knife, within yourself, and you will find that there is part of you who knows these lies. And also know that I am terrified to have to be the one to show that reflection of truth to you. That is why I swore you to oath, because at least then I will know I have died having said all of the words I can. And I know that you can kill me easily, not because you are a great Ahroun, but because you are a powerful spirit of the Fianna who could be a critical part of reclaiming the former glory of Tara."
It is obvious that as Soul-Mender speaks the truths that Swift-Knife needs to hear the mood of the camp around us grows unhappy. The eyes of those looking at us are those of anger and those of sadness. The pack around the fire begins shifting forms, but they never really shift into our war form in the way we normally do. First their bones expand and break through from their flesh, which sprays a sickly green fluid around them. This fluid seems to seep from the newly enlarged bones, congealing into muscles, tendons, veins and finally the flesh and fur until all five are standing as Chrinos Garou. It is shocking and very unnerving, almost like a tv show you can find on the internet on how a werewolf takes his wolf form, only in reverse.. very very unnerving. Swift-Knife does not shift though and motions for his pack to stay their place. When Soul-Mender finishes speaking Swift-Knife replies that he is sorry for Soul Mender that the madness that roams the land has clearly infected him as well. But not to fear we were granted his hospitality and so we shall have it, that they will cure him and everything will be fine. Questioning Soul Mender’s words, “Think upon what you have said. How mad it seems, that two of my staunchest allies would betray me so. Do you bring any proof of these accusations? Can you back your words up?”
To my relief Honors Strength speaks up, introducing himself formally and asks if Swift-Knife will hear his words, when granted Honors Strength explains that he has the gift to know when true speech is being spoken, and the gift to know the true form of one before me. That he has made use of both of these gifts here and asks if Swift-Knife would like to hear what he has seen. The ancestor spirit again agrees and Honors Strength states, This is in his exact words mind you, “Your words have been true, honored ancestor. But so have the words of Soul Mender been true. This does not mean none of us are deceived, but the tale of Soul Mender is true. Beyond that, as we entered your camp I called upon the gift of sight, that I might know the truth of what lay before me. I say, by the power of that gift, that in you and your companions I see the spirits of dead garou in bodies not their own. You, Swift-Knife, inhabit the body of Sean McKenna, called Gaia's Blade, Elder Galliard of the Fianna and friend to Bron MacFionn. He is known to have died in battle, pierced by a silver spear, the mark of which remains on the body you know possess. Finally, there is upon all of you the taint of fae magic, something twisted which we do not understand. I counsel you to look deeply at these things, and be not hasty to act.”
To me it seems strange that he seems to hear our direct words confronting him, but doesn’t quite take in the fact when addressed, it is as if addressing an ancestor not a ranking garou. While both are polite and respectful, Swift-Knife is just missing this. Now I so badly want to just say hey, don’t you notice this, but I don’t want my own tongue to get us all into trouble so I let the boys continue to try to explain this to the spirit.
Soul-Mender backs Honors’ words, and further explains that we had been to the tomb of Swift-Knife where the talisman which was used in ritual to call his spirit back. That the way he had returned was twisted still by the lie protecting enchantments which had been laid upon him. He explains that there are gifts granted to him as a Druid that can remove a spirit from a body it was not meant to possess, but that was the way we deal with greater fomori, not the way we would help a strong ancestor spirit such as he. But he does have another way to show the truth of his words with the gift of Battle Mandala, he explains how the gift works, remember we had only been granted some of our gifts in recent days, this being one such gift. He explains if the gift is used, it would protect him as a Druid and that Swift-Knife should feel the results of the protection around the three of us. If Swift-Knife’s words were true it would do nothing to him.
The words Swift-Knife speaks back frustrated me, as I am sure it did the others, but they showed better restraint that I would have if I had spoken up. For I truly would have prefered to act on my frustrations which would have been rash. Swift-Knife tells us that he does not doubt we believe our words, but that is the way of madness. He explains away the fae magic as something he asked as he has many of them as allies. He says simply because he can not recall McKenna he does not believe an Elder would be unknown to him, and that he sees his own flesh on himself not the other that we see. He claims we are confused, that perhaps the wyrm has violated us but he does not act hastily because we are his family and we should be one. That he will help us understand, for what we feel is proof is only one perspective, one belief, and that our words have no weight to them.
As Soul-Mender makes the decision to show Swift-Knife exact what the gift does, Honor’s strength speaks with some wisdom to the ancestor, “ Honored Elder, surely the same can be said of your belief? Madness clouds the mind of the mad, who can say which of us is sane? Is there one whose word you would accept, or is there some proof we can offer you? Where is your Talisman, which we understand was never far from you? Why are our totems discomfited by this place? Why is the Umbra twisted? These are serious questions, which require proper answers.”
While Swift-Knife answers,"You are the ones who bring accusations without proof, not I. Should one of my pack back your words, or the sorceress who gave me this boon, then perhaps I would consider it. My talisman should be within my tomb, protected by the wards of the sorceress, far safer than it would be with me. Your totems discomfort is unknown to me. I am a warrior, not a Druid. The wyrm has become strong in these lands, though, and we're i to guess, I would suspect that fact well before anything of my doing. And the umbra is different here because it is warded against our foes, enchanted to turn them away without finding us," the symbol for the mandala shows on the ground, the pack behind Swift-Knife tenses again ready to spring towards us, but again Swift-Knife holds them back with a gesture. His glare upon us was cold and as the moments passed by his body begins to appear more and more like a corpse all the changes until his eyes lose the light of life.
At first his cracking cold voice states that he should just kill us where we stand burning our hearts on an alter, he was angry that when he offered hospitality we brought him accusations and threats and now attack. He starts to glow green and it smells of the wrym. He claims due to his learnings and the wisdom he has gained since he was our age it is that why he does not act as he just said he should, and that we should be thankful to Stag that he does not. Having some good quality time with Stags brood myself I bristle at this, the fact we should thank Stag when all I want to do is save any of his brood that is here from this obviously glowing of the wyrm spirit.
When Swift-Knife next speaks his voice is cracked and cold, echoing as if there were many of him speaking all at once but in words that are not understandable, I don’t think it was even a true language as I am one who studies them greatly. When the words hit the air the mandala symbol erupts into green fire, scorching itself from the ground, the gift ended, to my point of view having seen the gift before I suspected that it had an effect, but how it ended was not the way it normally does.
But we then watched Swift-Knife’s body slowly return to “life”, his eyes warming from the coldness that had taken hold. He simply asks what we did at his tomb, and to choose our words carefully as his pack has the hot blood we Fianna are known for, and he might not be able to hold them in place a third time.
When asked about the sorceress, if perhaps we could know her name so we might request her presence the ancestor could not recall her name and is greatly concerned by this. Soul-Mender explains to him, “"I will answer your questions with honesty. We were guided to your tomb by the descendant of the very same one who gave you your talisman. Another pack had come before us, the same ones who used your rite with your talisman. He was the one who saw your bones still lying there, and your talisman with them. It holds no power any more, its spell spent. What holds you now in this age is your own spirit, while the magics spun by the will-workers and the fae have deceived you into seeing as you do now. But before we left that place, he gave us a token to contact him. Ask of it and it will be yours."
"But you cannot remember the name of the sorceress, no matter what other spells she may have worked on you, because she has gone to great effort to hide it. Even her descendants do not know it now. Because she knows as I do that names can have a certain power. I now see concern in your face, Swift-Knife. The veil of lies is thinning, and you are beginning to see the wounding truth. Fulfill the second part of your oath now. Break free from it, and we will help cleanse you of these things."
"What you say is true: you are not a druid. But I am. I could just as easily come with a party of war. But look at us. There's not a single Ahroun who stands here in front of you. And now that you have felt the touch of the mandala, we both know that you are not only Garou, but the strong Ancestor Spirit Swift-Knife. Come, stand as the spirit you are beside me and help me rebuild Tara together. I do not bring you threat, Swift-Knife. I bring you hope." The confusion in Swift-Knife grows to why he can’t recall one of his greatest allies, not her name, her face, anything. But Soul-Mender stands strong to his words of truth, “Yes, why would one of your greatest allies hide not only her name but her face from you? Because she wanted something from you. She wanted to use you so that her line would have the power to manipulate the umbra. And her lies have stolen from you, brother. Friend. Great ancestor. Now you can see the truth. It is time to finish your oath. Swift-Knife; do not depend on the eyes of flesh you have inhabited but your own eyes of spirit and see past these magics which fade before your true strength. Even now you are seeing and understanding. You know you have a tomb. You know your bones lie within it. You know you do not need them any more, because you have become a greater being of spirit. And Stag's chosen have come here to help you. Swift-Knife, open your eyes!’ Swift-Knife does not want to accept that she would use him, claiming he had already saved her life, what else could she gain from him. Soul-Mender further keeps to the truth, not letting Swift-Knife grasp ahold of the false reasonings that might hold him to his beliefs to be true, “She's not the first I've heard or seen of will-workers who wish to manipulate the umbra as the Garou do, except for their own means. Just look at what has happened in this place. It is more than ritual or gift. The Garou ways have been changed by the same will worker and fae magics that are trying desperately right now to hold that veil before your eyes. And because of them, the spirits of this place are confused."
"But do not think that both of your allies betrayed you. The fae who was debted to you. He tried to force her to make good on her word. He cursed her and her line to see it through, perhaps because he didn't wish to wound you with the truth of her goals. And because of that she imprisoned him below Tara and wove magics to seal his voice. Whatever her goal was, at least part of it was accomplished, for part of her still remains. She has appeared to her descendant, to explain their part in the fae curse."
"You are the center of all of this, Swift-Knife. Simply by choosing to become the great spirit you were destined to be, by seizing your right, you can put an end to all of this. You will have been instrumental to the restoration of Tara. This is the legacy I offer you."
The ancestor begins to grow even more agitated, emotions pushing and pulling him in directions, when he suddenly begins to ooze a foul blood from his tear ducts. I glance at Soul-Mender but he is still answering questions being asked, “The one who watches your tomb, and the tombs of the fallen of Tara, is of her line. His blood is also that of Garou. I believe he may be your kin. Who knows what else this lie has stolen from you?"
This seems to trigger something as Swift-Knife begins to put together that he was betrayed,and then the strange green glow begins to come from Swift-Knife, soon after his pack all begin to glow the same way. All stnading perfectly still and softly repeating the word “Betrayed”. The glow begins to move off the pack and into the fire, the flames turning into a sickly shade of green and what seems to be a face can be seen in the fire. The pack collapses to the ground, losing all color but still “alive”, still animate, they slowly begin aging and dying as we watch, but the spirits are still within them. When asked Swift-Knife seems to give permission for a Rite of Cleansing, but I could barely hear him, especially as the face in the fire begins to sharply hiss at us, “Interlopers! You disturb my great work, defile my artistry. You do not belong her shifters. Go now, leave me what is mine!”
The Rite of cleansing is begun and as we three participate the face in the fire grows angry screaming at us that we should be gone, all the while a jet of green fire shoots between Soul Mender and Swift-Knife, missing both but then the kin folk that were around suddenly approach the fire and stick their hands into the flames and are quickly covered in the sickly fire. They had pain in their eyes but were silent. They suddenly charge at us, and while Soul Mender and I try to complete the rite, Honors Strength jumps between the on coming group, shifting quickly to Crinos. While we complete the rite he holds them back, subduing them without killing them, with the mind link I could sense that each time he was struck his vision would skew slightly, but he had a strong will and held the confusion effect off. As he subdues the last of the kin, the face in the fire is full of rage, it looks down at corpses that held the ancestor spirits and states while they were her strongest they were by no means her only. She has more and she will meet with us again one day. With her final statement the fire goes out, we complete the ritual and feel the amount of wyrm taint reduce greatly. As this happens the bodies of the fallen garou crumble to ash, and all six spirits quickly return to the umbra being no longer anchored to this world.
We see to the kin folk, making sure they are safe and not at risk of losing their lives and then we step into the umbra. We are greeted by Swift-Knife and at Soul-Menders words of thanks for seeing it through to the end, and that things were returning to balance, that the lie had been preventing it from such, Swift-Knife hangs his head and in garou apologizing for what had happened. Soul-Mender reassures the ancestor spirit that all is well and that we had faith he was still strong enough to see the lies if there had been a way to show them to him. Swift-Knife explains to us that looking back he could tell it was not his own voice, but the thing in the fire that was empowering them, and while he doesn’t know what it truly was he suspects that it was the sorceress who had created it, something born from all the broken contracts, twisted oaths and the paradoxes from Tara’s fall and the aftermath.
Soul-Mender asks one last favor from Swift-Knife, it is explained that Tara is barren and that he must call the spirits to return to her, to again take root in the place which is the celebrated home of the Fianna. His help of lifting the barriers which had been keeping them from knowing their place, but we need to convince them to return, and the voice of a garou might be difficult, and that having his voice to let them know that we the Fianna still fight for their homeland would help. Swift-Knife agrees. So the voices are heard, spirits are called to return freely and safely with the knowledge that we Fianna will rebuild our home.
You would think the tale ends there no? But it does not, although the ending is far shorter than the beginning. We return to the Tri-Spiral, making sure to cleanse ourselves again before stepping onto their baun. We make sure gathering of the departed is done properly at the tomb of Swift-Knife as well as those ashes that were collected at his camp. We do many things to encourage spirits and their this realms representations to return to the land surrounding Tara.
One of the final tasks Soul Mender was set to do for his challenge was to convince a spirit we had empowered to return to Tara to inhabit a fetish that would stand as an aspect to Tara’s legacy.
Here is where serendipity comes into play. Last spring after I had helped defend Tara while the protections had been put back into place I had asked for some rowan wood from a tree on the baun of Tara. I had planned to make a spear honestly for myself so that I could have it be made a fetish. I was granted this wood from a Rowan tree and returned home, being like many Fianna I believe in the power of three. So my spear could not just be made from Rowan I must include three other types of woods. I chose Ash and Oak as the other two. I spent months crafting this spear, carving it as if it was a puzzle box, where it slide and turned into each of the other parts. When moved into place the three woods formed specific design work including Celtic knots. It is further bound by steel wiring weaved around and through it following along the knot patterns. I chose the three woods for the following reasons, with the understanding of the old world representations of each tree. Rowan not only because it is from our beloved Tara but it represents protection and connection, it was chosen as the primary wood as the connection to the others two would be important, as well as its protective qualities despite being a weapon not a shield. The second being Ash, also chosen for connection but that it represents Wisdom as well, and the third Oak, for its strength and stability to bind the three together. Ogham runes decorate the completed haft with each of the associated trees and their meanings, a knotting of representation to Stag, and Merlin.
This spear came into play here, with this fetish. To represent Tara’s legacy, Rowan from Tara herself, weaved with other woods to form a spear, a traditional favored weapon of our ancestry. When Soul-Mender asked the spirits who were returning to Tara who would be willing to serve as a fetish to represent Tara’s Legacy, Swift-Knife above others stepped forward for he wished to appease the many spirits he had angered and felt this would be the best way to make right his wrongs. To remind the American Fianna of our duty to protect our homelands. Soul-Mender bound Swift-Knife weaving into it a strength for each of the three woods. Protection of the rowan so that it’s bindings may never be broken, strength for the oak so that the spear may never crack or bend, and wisdom of the Ash so may the holder of the spear speak with Swift-Knife over the old knowledge he has of Tara’s Past.
Soul-Mender when he returned across the ocean presented this spear to Wits Like Silver, Righ of the Fianna to remind us of our duty that when we rebuild our home we will always be ready to protect and serve her again.
When Soul-Mender returned to Atum’s Pride and told him of his accomplishments he saw that yes Soul-Mender shall be seen as Athro of the nation and be known as Deceit Unbound.
Cam Number: US2002096647
Home Domain: Kansas City