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It is currently 17:07 Pacific Time on Thu Apr 19 2012.
Currently the moon is in the waning New (Ragabash) Moon phase (10% 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:
Modest Cabin Tiny Cabin Great Oak Grove 23 Hawk's End Southeast Interstate 90 Grotto South



Late in the afternoon and the moon has yet to rise. Having allowed the young Shadow Lord onto his old stomping grounds, Shelby sticks alongside to help his gardening. She wears a pair of thick leather gloves, and wields a pair of pruning shears to trim back some of the most enthusiastic of new growth.

Ky has worked, for a good part of his time so far, in silence. His hands are bared and dirty from coaxing some of the natural and non-Wyld plants to take over the log that had been used as a seat for so long. The progress is slow going, helped in part by the excited growth coming from the Bawn, but the impression he and Andrei had left is still visible. The boy sits back on his heels and rubs a the back of his hand against his chin, casting a sidelong glance to Shelby. "Thank you for sticking around to help," he says quietly. "Usually I just come and work alone."

Shelby says simply, "I know," and thins a bunch of berry canes before turning to look at him. "But you're not the only one working here, and besides...." She eyes the pile of cut canes dubiously for a moment before telling them, "I wanted to talk to you."

"About what," Kyler answers, turning back to the old log. He carefully pulls a new-green creeper upward, laying it across the log. "If it's me coming out here, it won't be forever. I know you and Tim-rhya had enough of me being stuck out here, I just wanted to fix this. As thanks."

Shelby's exasperation is quite audible in her, "I know," even if he isn't able to see her face to see if she's rolling her eyes as well. "Pretend I have two working brain cells, all right? You've told me that more times than I can count. Hell, I think you tell me again every time we're in the same room for more than three minutes. Get over it, already. If I didn't want you here, trust me, you'd know."

"I'm sorry," Ky says quietly, and rather quickly. "I... Just... Don't want to be in the way out here." He frowns slightly, worried, teeth pulling as his lower lip. After a few seconds, he turns slightly, looking at the Fostern.

This time the Silver Fang sighs, and probably casts her eyes to the sky. Only then does she turn to face him, fists planted on her hips. "What? Spit it out, Ky. I'm not going to baby you. Now will I run you off so you can skip out of doing the work. You volunteered for this, remember? If you think you've done enough, you can run it past Tim."

Ky shakes his head slightly. "I don't want to stop working, and I don't want it to be a half-assed effort. I volunteered for it because I want to do it, and if I wanted out of it... I don't know what I'd do."

Shelby says, "Good. So maybe now we can stop having this conversation. Right?"

Ky nods slightly, offering a quiet, "Yes, Shelby-rhya."

"Good," she repeats, studying him for a long moment. "So. Has your Elder said anything about when he might put you on your Rite of Passage? Or are you still in the dark?"

Ky pushes his shoulders upward a little. "Soon. That's as much as I know. He's given me freedoms, more trust to do things without having a chaperone everywhere."

The Silver Fang lets that sit for a moment, as if waiting for something else. After it passes she nudges with a pointed, "And?"

"And I'm still a cub," Kyler supplies. "Won't be forever. But as for a specific date? Don't think Grandfather has told him yet, or if he has I'm not privy to it."

Shelby blows out a long breath, then nods. "That's frustrating. What's even worse is when they tell you if you have to ask, you're obviously not ready."

"That's why I don't ask," Ky says with a grin small grin. "Until then, I just keep to the lessons, avoid trouble. Try not to pull any pranks I'll regret later on."

"I never pulled pranks," Shelby says with a faint moue of distaste. "I still don't. There's more to being a Ragabash than TPing people's houses and sticking razor blades in their tires."

From off in the distance, Djehuti can be heard howling, asking permission to enter the pack's lands.

Head cocked, Shelby holds up a 'just a minute' finger to Ky before slipping into Crinos to invite the Strider to join them. That done, it's back to homid, looking expectant.

"I know that." If the boy picks up on the dislike for pranks from the elder Ragabash, he shows none of it. He pauses briefly, hearing the howl and Shelby's response. "I've learned a lot about my role," he continues a little more slowly, "more than I had before I changed. I'm getting better at scouting, still got a lot to learn, though."

Soon enough, Djehuti can be seen off in the woods, his jackal shape occasionally blending into shadows, occasionally sticking out. Once he's reached the campground, he melts into homid and inclines his head to both of them. "Pardon me, I did not mean to interrupt discussion."

Shelby says with some asperity, "Well, I should hope so. Nik'd be a piss-poor Elder if he didn't even bother to teach you." What more - if there is more - she closes her lips over, and inclines her head politely to Djehuti. "You're not interrupting. We were just taking a break from pruning. If you're looking for Tim, he isn't here just now. Have you checked the cabin?"

Ky looks up when Djehuti appears, only to bow his head a beat later. "Hello, Djehuti-rhya," he says to the Strider. He turns his attention onto the log again, plucking at that little creeper again as if it might make it grow faster.

"No, not Tim, for once." His usual calm mien develops some slight nerves, and he removes a knife from his pants pocket, clearly for something to fiddle with. "I wanted to ask you a question, actually, but if you're doing useful Ragabash spreading..." Djehuti trails off, then looks around. "I could help prune, too."

Shelby promptly offers Djehuti her pruning shears, leaving her with only the thick and unfashionable leather gloves. "Want to use these? And help yourself." She gestures at the abundant overgrowth. "We're just trying to impose a healthy touch of the Weaver on all this Wyld." After a moment she adds, "Or did you want to talk privately for a moment? I know Ky's perfectly able to handle this on his own for a while."

Ky glances up at the two Fostern, brushing his hands off on his pants. After a couple of seconds he scoots down the log a little further, to start on another section of growth reorganizing.

Djehuti looks at Ky a moment, then shrugs. "Don't see any reason to," he says, taking the shears. "Won't be a secret, or anything." (And putting his knife in his pocket.) Starting to choose some growth to focus on, he explains, "While I was helping to defend this area from Gerik's attacks, I grew... fond of it. And you and Tim have shown me more of what Dragonfly is about -- I had taken it more as a War oriented Totem than it truly is. And, while I will still need to travel occasionally, I am here at this Sept as my home base for the foreseeable future, and... I miss others in my life. So I was wondering, if you felt your pack could use a Philodox."

Shelby glances absently at Ky and tugs her gloves a bit more firmly onto her hands. While Djehuti speaks she gathers the cut canes, cradling them in one elbow like a particularly leggy child. "--Huh," is all she says at first, once the Strider's finished. "Possibly? That is to say, I don't know of any reason Anax wouldn't accept you. Right now we're two Ragabash and a Theurge, and we're heavy on the scouting and detecting. Do you think you'd fit in with that? Or, conversely, what else would you bring?"

Ky politely keeps his attention on his own task. He's not shy about preening the small growths with his fingers, gently pulling the youngest greens out from beneath the log in hopes that they gather some sunlight. As strange as it might look, there is a method to the boy's efforts, a purpose that the log will become part of the forest floor.

Djehuti takes down a few brambles, cutting carefully to get the true source. "Well. My former pack, which lived first under the Triune Goddess and then under Owl, was primarily about detecting and seeking. We followed omens and visions more than concrete nose-sniffing, but I'm fairly good at the more concrete sorts of things as well." He pulls out the brambles he just cut, getting a few scrapes and not seeming to mind overly much. "As a Philodox, I'm not heavy on the judgement angle. I'm far more interested in the balance angle, trying to help people -- and things -- find their proper balance. Which I think is a talent all its own." He snips another raspberry bit, and then looks over to Shelby. "And I think it was you, actually, who spoke of Dragonfly's wisdom. That... Appealed to me. Whether you and I, or Xander and I, can work and live together, that I do not know, though I have appreciated your calm incisiveness. But -- I wouldn't mind finding out."

The Fang chuffs a quiet laugh about 'omens' but doesn't interrupt, simply points out, "Xander and I both know the Precognition rite." After collecting Djehuti's brambles she nods, apparently satisfied (though with whether the brambles or the Strider's words is unclear). "No, that's... it sounds like you'd fit in. You should speak with Xander, too, but I'd like to see what Anax makes of you." A corner of her mouth curls and she adds, "And Chu'mana, for that matter. --Ky, do you want any of these?" She hoists her armful at him.

Ky glances at the pair when his name comes up, though his focus goes to the cut vines. "I can try to make a mulch out of it, or compost it. If you want to leave it, I'll haul it out when I leave."

Djehuti shrugs a shoulder. "Ah? Good. More people with more ways of seeing never hurts." But something she says gives him pause. "Who's Chu'mana?"

Shelby says, "I use tarot cards. --Chu'mana is Tim's... spirit ally, I guess would be the best - most tactful - way of putting it." She deposits the pile of greenery near Ky, adding, "I've been sort of composting what I've cut already, but if you have a better place for this, go ahead." Then to Djehuti, "She's hanging out in the grove, ready to be all bitey at trespassers. She's a rattlesnake."

Ky nods, offering the Fang a faint smile. "Thank you, Shelby-rhya," he replies quietly. He returns to his project, threading a young vine up around a bit of peeling bark and over the top of the log.

Djehuti offers Ky his batch of vines, as well. "I didn't know he knew a rattlesnake. Interesting. She... should be fascinating to meet, yes. If by 'fascinating' one means, 'possibly painful.'" He grins, brief but warm, and goes on, "Knucklebones or scrying, for me, mostly. Depending on if I want leadings or sight."

"She was a friend of a friend, from what I understand," Shelby says. "Though the original friend died, and... well. Tim sort of adopted her, where 'adopted' means 'agreed to be bitten a lot' and now Chu'mana hangs out in the Grove. --What are you-? Oh, I see." This last to Ky and his bark-adornment. "Do you have any plans tonight, Djehuti? I was going to go out and get Thai and read trashy novels, but if you'd rather eat something else...." The trashy novels must stay on the agenda, apparently.

Ky nods to the pile, and probably also in thanks to Djehuti. The elder Ragabash's question gets a brief grin, the majority of his attention keeping to working the plants.

"I see. Interesting provenance." Djehuti blinks at Shelby's offer. "Thai's fine." There's a brief pause while he apparently regains his bearings, and then he offers, "I know a place with a food court, has really good Thai and acceptable Vietnamese. It's one of those places where you mostly only see Asians..."

"Where I would fit right in," says the white-haired, pale-skinned woman, with wide-eyed sincerity. A beat and she grins, tugging off the gloves to toss at an open tote. "Ky, do you want us to pick you up anything?"

Ky shakes his head. "No, thank you, Shelby-rhya. I'll finish up here and head back to the Vault."

Djehuti laughs, and says, "Yes, but it's good," as if that's all the explanation he needs, and puts the shears down somewhere useful to follow her. "See you later, Ky."

"All right," Shelby says easily, with a matching nod to the Shadow Lord. "Remember not to burn down the forest, Ky. It's tacky. --My car's a few miles off," she adds to Djehuti, dropping her voice as the pair move away.
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