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It is currently 06:19 Pacific Time on Tue May 22 2012.
Currently the moon is in the waxing 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

It's a grey morning. Cold rain drizzles on Steadfast's back as he trots through the woods with his head held low, sniffing at whatever scents haven't been entirely washed away. His pace is slow, unhurried, and his body language is more casual than cautious. The wolf pauses occasionally to shake himself off, which has left his damp brownish-grey fur sticking up in messy spikes and tufts all over his body.

Equinox' territory is quite well-marked, the edges easy to find despite Washington's near-constant damp and the inevitable blurring. A white wolf trots an intercept course with Steadfast - not deliberately so, at least if her own casualness is any indication. The moment when she catches the other wolf's scent is easily marked with pricked ears; a moment later comes a quavering howl: The Steadfast one is returned? Bright Eyes doesn't wait for an answer but hurries onward.

Steadfast is snuffling with great interest at the base of a tree, right on the very edge of Equinox territory, when he hears the howl. His ears prick up and he replies with a short, excited affirmative. The half-moon waits where he is, squirming with impatience until the Silver Fang appears, and once she does he turns on her with a tongue-lolling lupine grin, clearly quite pleased to see her.It has been a long time!

Bright Eyes pauses at the base of a tree to study him, more than half disbelieving. Her nose works furiously and her ears are radar-dish forward to suss out any last hint that the semi-stranger might not, in fact, be the Gaian. Very long, she agrees, her tail slowly beginning to beat. Bright Eye Sees to the Heart of the Ambush, now. Second ranked and leader while Seeker of Falcon's Shining Heart is away. [Sense Wyrm: he’s clean!]

This wolf is a adult male with a long-legged, rangy build, who stands thirty inches at the shoulder and weighs over seventy pounds. His coat has grown thick and shaggy to guard against the cold winter months. Dull brown is the dominant color, fading to light buff on the sides of his muzzle, chin, throat, underside and lower legs. Above his eyes and down along his back and tail, his fur takes on a drab, greyish cast, with dark grey hairs peppering his nape and shoulders. His amber eyes are bright with intelligence.

Steadfast sinks down on his haunches and licks his nose, peering back at Bright Eyes. He is also second-rank now, but he is still called Steadfast. The wolf is still a bit squirmy, as if he's fighting an urge to jump up and playfully tussle with the Silver Fang. Luckily the mention of the former elder has a sobering effect on him, and he blinks, deciding to shift. In homid, Claude looks like he's been living in the woods for some time. His clothes are dirty and tattered, and it appears as though birds have been nesting in his hair. He looks worried. "You're elder of the Silver Fangs now?" he asks. "Where'd Zosia go?"

Bright Eyes is not so dignified that she doesn't respond to the wiggling - she too looks about ready to pounce... and then Claude spoils it all by shifting. Shelby promptly follows suit, brushing bits of bark from her clothes for a moment before meeting the Philodox' eyes. "She hasn't gone anywhere. But she's pregnant, I think, and it isn't going well, or something. You know how she is. She just told me she was stepping back for a bit and I'm elder while she's away." Aside from a shock of white hair she looks much the same as when she was a cub - perhaps a touch more wariness about the eyes.

Claude looks to be around twenty years old, a lean and lanky pale-skinned guy who stands just under six feet tall. He has a long oval face characterized by bushy eyebrows, dark brown eyes, and a large nose that looks distinctly hawkish in profile. He takes a relaxed approach to personal grooming, rarely bothering to shave the patchy blond scruff that passes for his facial hair. Whenever his copper hair grows long enough to get into his eyes, he carelessly hacks it short again--without the aid of a mirror, from the look of it.

"Ooh. OK." Claude is ready to drop the subject as soon as she says 'pregnant' but he does sound relieved. He runs a grimy hand through his hair, unwittingly mussing it up even further. He looks Shelby over, his eyes lingering for a moment on her white hair. "Y'know, I knew things wouldn't be the same when I came back here, but I didn't realize how much would be different."

Shelby tucks a bit of that hair behind one ear with a wry half-smile. "What, you mean besides the caern being unavailable and the bawn overrun with Wyld? It's all the new packs that are just so disconcerting. --I'm in Equinox," she adds, like it's an afterthought. "We follow Dragonfly." Another beat and she swerves to another topic: "It's good to see you again, Claude. I'm glad you're back."

"Dragonfly, huh?" There's a flicker of curiosity but Claude is too concerned by other matters to follow up on it just now. "It's good as hell to see you too," he answers with a faint, fleeting smile. "I just wish I'd come back sooner. What the hell happened to the caern?"

Shelby's bright grin flashes here-and-gone but lingers in her eyes. "Long story - want some coffee? Our cabin isn't far from here, and I don't know about you, but I still don't like standing out in the rain. But the short story: There's a Wasp spirit hanging out in the Caern on the flip side, incubating eggs or something. That's why there's all this Wyld -- you've been warned to avoid the bawn, right? And not eat any of the fruit? The thinking goes that in a few months the eggs will hatch, Wasp will depart, and the Caern will be stronger."

"Yeah, sure," Claude answers with a shrug. The rain doesn't appear to bother him at all, though his clothes are steadily getting soaked. He's just following her lead, more focused on their discussion. "Wasp spirit. Hm." The philodox chews on his lip, mulling it over. "Actually no, you're the first person I've talked to. Didn't know how to get in touch with anyone. I think my pack broke up--link's dead, anyway."

Claude adds, "After seeing what the bawn looked like, I wasn't even sure if it'd be safe to howl."

With a friendly inclination of her head Shelby beckons him onward, boldly crossing the territory markers without so much as pausing. "Well, Edgewood's still there and still a hangout if you want to use it. Zo's house has room, too. I moved out about a month ago. Oh - there's a new Fang there named Dirk. Says he comes from like the late 1600s or something. He hasn't decided if he wants to stay so he hasn't offered chiminage. The Walkers still have their safehouse, too." She ducks under a low branch and looks back at him. "Do you have a phone? If not, do you need one?"

Claude keeps pace with Shelby, walking with his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jacket. "I've been by Edgewood a few times, didn't see anyone I knew. I haven't been staying there, though." He makes a face, "Sleeping in a bed feels... weird now." His eyebrows raise at the mention of Dirk, and he glances sideways at Shelby as if to see if she's serious. "Really? Wow." The Gaian answers her question with a headshake, "No, never had a phone. I don't need one."

"No," she agrees mildly, "but it does make calling people so much easier." Only at the end do her lips twitch, revealing the tease. "If you do want one, let me know. It's harder for me to get into town these days, but for you I'll do it. --Oh." Whatever thought (and it's bad, given the caught breath and downturned tone) causes that particular silence remains for a few steps and an uncertain, sidelong look. "Jacey's gone Ronin. She's trying to join the Get, if rumors can be believed. I'm only catching this by rumor myself, you understand."

"Yeah," Claude reluctantly concedes. "I guess you're right. If you wanna give me a phone, I'll use it." He doesn't sound especially thrilled about the idea, for whatever reason, shrugging it off as they move on to the topic of Jacey. "Hell. That's a pretty big decision to make," he says with a frown. "Hope she knows what she's doing." He scratches at the patchy blond scruff on his jaw, looking distant. "Wasn't she a lost cub?"

Shelby says breezily, "I'll get you a burner, I promise," waving off any further protests by dint of busily leading the way. Her next words come over her shoulder as well: "I don't know. --I don't remember. She was a cub about the same time I was. I think I only remember her as Fianna, though. She doesn't strike me as particularly Get-tish, but I guess that's up to Fenris. The cabin's just up there," she adds with a nod. "You can dry off, get a shower if you want one. You need me to call anyone and tell them you're in town?"

Claude shifts his gaze up toward the cabin. "Sounds good," he says. The Gaian pauses, considering, then shakes his head. "Not really. Only August, if you have his number--I don't remember it anymore. Don't bother Zosia, though." He beams a bright grin at the Silver Fang. "Thanks, Shelby. You're awesome." And with that he heads inside the cabin for coffee and a much-needed shower.


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May 2012

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