Original post to Darkwind’s Garou Board as "Wolf Tales (22)" on Fri, 26 March 2004

Revised 18.11.2021

Will you please keep UP?!

Marcus, in lupus form, snarls, but refuses to turn his head toward Jemi, his pack sister. She's been doing that almost the entire run and it's really getting on his nerves. Just because she's "Number 5" and I'm "Number 6", he thinks.

We're supposed to drag him_CAREFULLY, he telepathically responds, for about the 6th or 7th time.

SPEED is important . Leader said so, remember? Also for about the 6th or 7th time.

She puts on another burst of speed, forcing him to match. Behind them, secured to their lupine bodies via a crude harness, is a makeshift litter on which Rikard, their still-unconscious Pack Keeper lay. Thankfully unconscious, thinks Marcus -- else he'd loudly complain about how the litter bangs and careens around the landscape thanks to Jemi's ideas about how the "lead dog" should behave.

At least we're getting close, he thinks. There, ahead and to the left, is Sleeping Wolf Rock. Seeing it fills his heart with joy, as always and, for a moment, he feels that all will be right in the world. This time he does glance over at his sister -- and sees the same look on her face. Gaea be praised -- she's got something else to think about for a moment.

Sept distress howl now, she orders.

Wait, he contradicts.

She's about to cuff him for insubordination -- she is, after all, the senior wolf in this situation -- but then she looks ahead and sees why Little Brother told her to wait.

Ranolf the Leader glances at Tamika the Keeper, both still in homid form. "Shift," he says. But Uziah the Shaman puts a hand on each of their arms.

"No," he says. "Claw and fang we'll not need here."

Up ahead, two lupine figures come into view, running hard, but their gait is strange, as if -- ah yes, they are indeed dragging something behind them.

Uziah crouches down and opens his bag. As he rummages through it, he says, "Stop them right here, unhitch what they carry and lay it flat on the ground."

Jemi: It's them!

Marcus: The Uktena. How did they know?

The two slow down and stop in front of the three. Without even a greeting, two of them promptly go to work on the harness, disconnecting them from their burden. The third is rubbing something between his hands and studying Rikard's face gravely.

Tamika kneels down and puts a hand on the head of each lupus wolf. They look at her, tongues hanging out, legs wobbly. "You did well," she says, with a reassuring smile. "We'll take care of him now. Rest." The two wolves promptly hit the ground as if they were waiting for someone to say that.

Uziah continues to rub his hands together as he studies Rikard's face. It's swollen and the boils stand out in angry red, with a small, green center. The Shaman finishes rubbing his hands together, closes his eyes and presses a palm to each of Keeper's cheeks. Ranolf and Tamika wait silently. After half a minute, the Shaman opens his eyes, removes his hands and digs in his bag. He comes out with a small, leather charm. This he presses between his hands while mumbling some words under his breath. His hands glow for a moment and, when opened, the charm glows as well.

"The chest," he says.

Ranolf reaches over and pulls away the fabric to expose Rikard's chest, which is also covered in boils. Uziah carefully lays the still-glowing charm over the heart.

Rikard stirs, gasps for breath. Uziah places his hand on the injured Garou's head and again mumbles under his breath. The eyes snap open and dart wildly about, then rest on the Shaman's face.

Uziah holds the gaze and leans closer. "Name. Tribe. Pack. Rank," he says.

Rikard's rapid breathing is the only sound. Then he clenches his teeth and trembles.

Uziah speaks again, louder than before. "NAME. TRIBE. PACK. RANK."

Rikard's eyes slam shut, his teeth chatter and he groans.

Uziah sighs and purses his lips together grimly. He glances at Ranolf and Tamika and jerks his head toward his patient. Ranolf places a restraining hand on Keeper's left shoulder and left wrist. Tamika does the same on the right. Uziah straddles Rikard, using his legs to hold his patient fast.

Uziah leans over again and stares in Rikard's face. Rikard's teeth are still locked together. He opens his eyes and returns the Shaman's stare.

"Whom do you serve?" demands Uziah, his eyes locked on Rikard's.

Rikard tenses and jerks, but the three Uktena held him fast.

Uziah demands again, "Whom do you serve?"

Rikard spasms violently, but again they hold him. A prolonged snarl wells up from his throat. The two lupus wolves get to their feet and whine. "Stay back," Tamika orders. "Do not fear."

Uziah leans over again, brings his face even closer to Rikard's. He grips the chin hard and, with a tone of grim finality that compels an answer, he speaks again.

"WHOM ... DO ... YOU ... SERVE?"

And amidst the constant snarl that boils out of Rikard's throat, come scattered and distorted, but recognizable words in response...

"I ... serve ... the Eternal WYRM!"

And with that, several things happen at once.

Rikard bucks wildly and almost breaks free of the three who restrain him. From his throat issues a scream unlike any a Garou would make. His two lupus pack mates howl in fear and distress. The charm upon Keeper's chest loses its light and shatters. The sun goes behind a cloud.

Uziah digs quickly in his bag, comes out with a small object, presses it between his palms and speaks swiftly in an unintelligible language. He opens his hands to reveal another glowing charm.

While his two pack mates continue to restrain the jerking, screaming patient, the Shaman puts his left hand behind the head. In his right hand, he holds the glowing charm and presses it between Rikard's eyes. The Pack Keeper screams again, louder and more desperate, his struggles increasing to frenzy. Uziah closes his eyes, holds the charm in place and continues to speak in that strange tongue.

15 seconds later, Rikard's body goes limp. His boils break open and ooze green pus. The charm's light is out and Uziah tosses it aside. He signals to Ranolf and Tamika to release their grip. Uziah gets off Rikard's legs and moves to his side. He puts a finger to the neck, under the left ear. He lifts the left eyelid, then the right. He nods.

He studies Rikard's face for a minute. He says nothing. No one moves.

Finally, the Shaman leans over and puts his hand on Rikard's cheek. He taps it gently a few times. "Awaken."

Rikard stirs and groans softly, as one might when coming out of a deep slumber. His eyes open slowly and his gaze rests on Uziah's face above him.

"Name. Tribe. Pack. Rank."

Rikard coughs and clears his throat. In a voice just above a whisper, he answers, "Rikard ... Fianna ... Moon Runners ... Keeper."

Uziah smiles gently and says, "Auspice and Devotion."

In a slightly louder voice, "Dansair. Warrior of Ghosts, Master of Gaea's Strength."

Uziah's smile widens. "Welcome back to Gaea's embrace, Brave Warrior."

And Rikard of the Fianna, Keeper of the Moon Runners, Warrior of Ghosts and Master of Gaea's Strength, manages a tired smile in return.

"Sleep now," commands the Shaman. As his hand caresses Rikard's forehead, the eyes closes and he breathes slowly and evenly.

Uziah lets out a sigh of relief ... then suddenly slumps forward. Ranolf catches him.

"Your patient is not the only one who needs rest, Shaman."

Uziah nods, "A little, yes. He's out of danger, but still needs care. We may bring him to the Sept now."

Ranolf and Tamika pick up the litter and walk off eastward. The two exhausted wolves and the equally-exhausted Shaman follow.