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It is currently 11:36 Pacific Time on Wed Mar 7 2012.
Currently the moon is in the waxing Full (Ahroun) Moon phase (97% full).

The Scarred Forest (North of I-90)
The forest is thinner here than it is south of the highway, though it is still difficult to see for very far. Signs of human habitation break the stretch of woods every few miles; roads, paths, farms, and the occasional out-of-the-way home remind you that civilization is encroaching, though in this area, the battle is not yet decided. Hardwoods mix with towering firs and smaller trees, still concealing some of nature's hidden places from the nearby humans. Streams and small pools are scattered throughout the forest, some large enough to swim in, some small enough to freeze solid for most of the winter.

Fresh stumps dot the woods, and almost all of the trees still standing are disease-scarred around the bases of the trunk, some only superficially marked, some deeply wounded; not a few are dead.

Once hauntingly quiet and sparsely populated with wildlife, these woods have fully come alive again. The scents and sounds and glimpses of animals, birds, insects are now as rich here, among the scarred trees, as they are anywhere.

This region stretches almost 50 miles north from I-90 into the Sun Lakes area, where the disease that scarred the trees appears to have been at its worst.

Obvious exits:
Tiny Cabin Great Oak Grove 23 Hawk's End Southeast Interstate 90 Grotto South

The moon pulls, and the moon tugs, and the moon sends a pair of Garou running the very edges of the territory claimed by the Dragonfly pack. Shelby isn't just running for the sake of exercise but vaulting fallen logs and, on occasion, going out of her way to use a tree to carom around in a strange wilderness version of parkour. Eventually - quite possibly too early for Andrei's liking - she skids to a stop, puffing and blowing and utterly winded. "Feel... better?"

The Ahroun is runs easily, although much of the time it is more like a faster jog that lets the Ragabash get ahead of him until he moves to catch up. It's for the sake of exercise and he lets himself get slightly caught up in the rhythm of running. In fact, Andrei continues for a moment after Shelby, turning a small circle to come back and let her rest. ~A bit,~ he admits, stretching arms out above his head and turning his neck in a circle.

Shelby looks up and sidelong at him, an eye narrowing against the sun. "English." It's more than half an order. Straightening, the Fang gives him another head-to-toe eyeing, this one as critical as the one she gave before sending them both on their run.

Andrei comes about to lean against a tree, and mock-pouts at the Ragabash. "Fine, /Angliskij/ I will," he acknowledges. "But why?"

"Because it's a language we both speak. Because it has a larger vocabulary than Mother's Tongue. Because I say so." The Fang's smile is just this side of brittle. "Pick one."

Andrei counts on his fingers and seems to settle on the last reason, with a faint snort. "Your English has a bigger vocabulary," comes the response, along with a shrug. "But, /da/." And Russian slips into his English no matter what, as well.

Shelby's smile turns angelic. "Then it's good practice for you to expand yours. What, do you think my first language was English, Andrei?"

The Ahroun laughs. "I would think Polish," Andrei says. "But your English is good. Mine, not so much."

"Polish, then English, then French," she nods, her wind recovering quickly despite the recent beating. "I can hold a conversation in French, but I wouldn't count myself fluent." Her shrug is purely Gallic, however. "Mother's Tongue gives me four languages, and it's the one nearly impossible to swear satisfyingly in."

Andrei nods. "Russian, with English at school and such, and then Mother's Tongue when I went to the sept house, but English was un--" a pause, hiss of a grumble, and the Ahroun finds the word he's looking for "--unfrequently spoken, there. So I know it, but far from comfortable."

Shelby offers, "Infrequently. --What, didn't they let you watch TV when you were growing up? How's your written comprehension? Better than spoken, or about the same?"

"I played sports at school, I did lessons and chores and played outside and went hunting and swimming and such. And the television my mother watched was in Russian. Soap operas." There is a tone of abject disgust at the concept of ever watching something like that. "A little better," Andrei continues, in answer to her last question.

Shelby pfts at Russian television. "Please. You live in the United States, not the old country. Garou or not, how did they expect you to interact with any sort of human society with such a slipshod background? I'll try to remember to bring some magazines and books up here, for you to practice your English. Read them out loud - it will be better for your pronunciation."

Andrei wrinkles his nose in return at the idea of magazines, but shrugs and remains silent for a long moment. "My pronunciation is just fine," he states quietly. Accented heavily by his native Russian, yes, but it's understandable and relatively clear. "But, as you will." The Ahroun pushes off from the tree to stretch as they stand there.

He didn't follow them while they ran. Not exactly. But the cub did pick up their trail once he was out of the tree, so it was more like tracking and less like tagging along. Sometimes he ran to close the distance and other times he crawled along lest he be caught, but he never got close enough to actually hear anything. Or see them. Until now. Careful and quiet, a practice in the art of ninjutsu and Ragabash-dom, True Arrow now creeps toward the voices belonging to Shelby and Andrei.

"No disrespect meant to your family," she adds, belatedly. "But they weren't doing you any favors. You sound like you're from Siberia, not Colorado." Shelby glances back along their path and minutely adjusts her stance to give her a better sightline for approaching cubs. It's Andrei she addresses again however: "Unless you want everyone to think you're some sort of foreign national?"

Everything about the wolf hints at a beast that's reached its adult size. His arms and legs are more toned with hands and feet becoming paws, appendages meant for traveling tirelessly. His torso is more lean tan muscular in lupine form. His head is angular, riding on his neck at a level even with his shoulders. Overall, his narrow, more leggy appearance seems to cast him toward runty in wolf skin.

True to Grandfather Thunder's pride, he is a wolf of black fur. The coloring is unchanged, a rich darkness that covers from nose to tail and remains true even when caught in the sunlight. The only color that graces him in this form is his eyes; burnished yellow looking out from the dark fur upon his face.

One foreleg shows evidence of scarring, though it's somewhat obscured by his fur.

Andrei just shrugs, the faint tension in his shoulders rising for a moment and then visibly subsiding again. "No," the Ahroun responds, very carefully in English now. "Also, English is awkward and clunky." And thusly, that should be as good a reason as any for not speaking it very often.

Once he's found Shelby and Andrei, has seen them in an obscured manner, True Arrow pauses to listen to just one part of their conversation. Obviously the part he's present for, one ear skewing off at the Ahroun's posture and words.

Shelby counters easily, "You only think it's awkward and clunky because you're not good at it. What English lacks in beau vocabulaire it makes up for in sheer utility." Her nod is decisive, thank-you-all-for-coming-to-the-meeting. "What sort of topics would you like to read about? As I'm fairly certain you don't care about next season's fashions." She gives no further indication that she knows the dark-furred wolf is there.

The Ahroun purses his lips. "Hunting magazines, the like," he offers, pretty much a standard answer. "Whisper-rhya brought me some novels as well, I've been reading those. Aloud sometimes." Then, the Ahroun quiets, focus turning inward for a moment before he eventually pulls the pack of cigarettes from his pocket with a frown. The distraction that the conversation and run had provided is less now. "Oh, and a newspaper?"

True Arrow chuffs quietly, mostly to himself and soft enough it probably doesn't travel too far. He circles a little before coming out wide and quickly, a crouched gait that brings him nearly on his belly as he bee-lines for Shelby, taking up a spot at her side with splayed ears and an all-too-innocent look directed between the elder Ragabash and Andrei.

Shelby casually drops a hand to ruffle at the cub's ears - or perhaps dangle temptingly in front of his nose - without seeming to take her eyes from Andrei. "Hunting? All right, I'll see what I can do. And good to hear, about the novels. Keep reading them out loud." An eyebrow raises. "What do you want a newspaper for? Local news will just get your back up, if you care about it at all."

The Ahroun glances down at the cub, a moment, a faint smile forming on his face and just as quickly disappearing again. "I want a newspaper because no one will seem to bring me a newspaper," Andrei half-snaps, lighting the cigarette and turning to pace slightly. "Please?"

True Arrow bumps his nose upward when fingers cross his field of vision. His tail wags slightly as he sits, just before a curious look is settled on Andrei.

Shelby drops both a look and half of a smile down at the cub, her fingers migrating earward (and thus, a less tongue-tempting location). She considers Andrei again for a long moment. "You can't always get what you want. However," she continues firmly, before he can finish tying his panties into a knot, "I'll see what I can do. I'll make no promises one way or the other."

"/Da/," the Ahroun eventually acknowledges, hand unclenching from where it had formed a fist that dug nails into the palm of his hand.

True Arrow huffs at the Ahroun, a quiet sound that still holds question. His ears twist forward following the sound, gaze still resting on his uncle.

"English, please," Shelby reminds Andrei pleasantly. She looks again to the cub. "Yes? Something you wanted to add? Use Mother's Tongue, please - you need the practice in that just as Andrei does with English."

Andrei shifts his gaze to the cub, a faint glance up to Shelby. "Sorry," he murmurs, barely audible but audible enough. There is a nod towards his nephew, the Ahroun carefully silent as turns the cigarette over in his hands a few times.

True Arrow looks up at Shelby, ears laying back again. He sidles away, turning a full circle before shifting, form swelling into Hispo. Though far larger than before, he still returns to the Silver Fang's side, puppy like in his manners. ~Why is Circle Breaker demanding news papers and being angry for not having them?~

Shelby merely gives the Ahroun a nod of acceptance and doesn't press further. "That's a question you'll have to ask him," is her answer to the cub. "All I could give you is guesses." She flicks another look at Andrei, this one inviting.

Andrei sighs quietly, watching his nephew for a long and uncomfortably quiet moment before he actually does answer. "I asked for a newspaper, out of interest to read it," he states plainly. "And I am not specifically," the words are terse, not snapped but forced out, "angry at the lack, as angry, in general." He glances over at the Fostern for a moment, before he looks back to the cub once more and falling silent.

True Arrow tips his head to one side, then looks at Shelby for a moment. When his gaze returns to Andrei, he sighs, the sound not unlike the boy shaking his head in another form.

"Luna is large," Shelby tells both of them, with a deep breath of her own. "And it doesn't serve anyone for us all to be at each other's throats." She nudges the cub with her leg in warning, but fondly. "Remember what I said about knowing when to stop poking? That goes for everyone, on a moon this big."

"Thank you," Andrei murmurs, pacing back a few steps from the pair of ragabash after he's said so. There is evident effort before the Ahroun's own breathing calms to steady.

The cub doesn't shift forms, but at Shelby's statement he does roll onto his back, presenting his belly to her. His tail wags again, short quick little movements.

Shelby takes another moment before nodding - first to Andrei, then to the fallen cub. "You're fine - both of you. True Arrow, tell us what you learned while tracking us. Andrei, how long do you think he was back there?"

The older Shadow Lord draws out the pack of cigarettes from his pocket, pulling out another one. The laugh Andrei gives once he's lit the new cigarette and shoved the butt of the old one into his pocket is self-deprecating, hollow. "Much longer than I knew," Andrei states flatly.

True Arrow is a sneaky cub. This is stated while he lounges on his back, paws in the air. And in lupus. ~I learned there are smaller paths through these woods,~ he continues in mother's tongue. ~Hard to see, sometimes easier to follow by scent than sight.~

"You aren't a scout," Shelby reminds Andrei with a certain sympathy. "I knew he was back there, and if there'd been a problem I would have told you." She shrugs deeper into her coat as her eyebrows lift at the cub. "Not to mention that wolves use their noses and ears far more than their eyes. Perhaps some time in the future Andrei could blindfold you and set you hunting. You can learn a lot that way." She sends a semi-expectant look toward the Ahroun.

Andrei nods. "Yes. That would be good," he says, a very brief nod given to the Silver Fang in response, the slightest indication and assurance that he's dealing alright with the evident tension in his posture at the moment. "As would anything else you could suggest for him to work at his lessons. Keep him from having excess attention to spend poking me when it is not appropriate." A wry smile follows the words.

~I'm not just a scout,~ True Arrow says mildly, head rolling back to look at Andrei. ~I'm a questioner, too.~ There's a lolling of his tongue, good humored, before he rolls and returns to his paws.

"Stop," Shelby orders - no, barks, and takes a quick, warning, step at True Arrow. "Obviously you -haven't- yet learned to quit poking." She looms at him, Glabro'd fists curling. "I don't want to hear another word from you tonight - and no, that doesn't mean you can slip into lupus and be lippy there. Do you understand me?" She doesn't so much as glance toward Andrei, though she's probably well aware of his presence.

The Ahroun moves to take a step forward, and then when Shelby gets there first, Andrei very slowly and carefully turns from the two ragabash, taking several steps away. More evident is that Andrei is simply not allowing himself to speak, but there is a low rumble of snarl, and his own hands are in fists at his side, breathing heavy and less than even for the moment.

The cub flinches, rather physically. His tail tucks and ears splay, body shrinking away from the Silver Fang in anticipation of being struck. For a whole beat he remains as such until he shrinks to lupus. True Arrow wasn't trying to be poking, thought saying another dark moon job was a good thing. He whines softly, an apology, before half crawling for the path he'd approached from.

Shelby errts, rather like a game-show buzzer, and points at the ground near her feet. "Get back here." She still hasn't lifted a hand to the cub, save for that single threatening step. "I accept your apology. However, you need to learn how to be around Ahrouns on a big moon without yanking chains, and crawling off won't do that." She continues to Andrei, conversationally, "How is his Mother's Tongue? He could recite back to you what you've read aloud. I really don't know where the holes in his teaching are, but expanding vocabularies is always a good thing."

Andrei takes a moment longer of facing away from both Shelby and the cub, before the Ahroun turns around, slowly. "It is getting better," Andrei says, one word at a time and voice not at all level before he sinks down to a crouch. "And yes, that might work." The return to the previous topic of conversation seems to work to keep the Ahroun from further anger, for the moment.

True Arrow flicks a glance toward Shelby as she speaks before circling around and returning to Shelby's side. He doesn't speak to either of them, doesn't look otherwise look at Andrei or the Silver Fang. Only the occasional twitch of his ears is proof that he's listening while he looks at something inconsequential.

Shelby says without any irony, "Now that we've had a break, I think I'm ready to continue. True Arrow, this time I want you to scout in front of us - and no, we're not going to tell you where we're running. Yes, this is going to make your job much, much harder. I think you're up to it. If you see anything larger or more dangerous than a squirrel, you need to let us know." She gives the cub a nod to set him off. After only a few seconds, she gives Andrei the same nod and the pair of them head after the cub. Shelby continues with her fairly random path, though they mostly continue around the edge of the territory and eventually end up back at the camp.


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May 2012

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