CAST OF PLAYERS:
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………..…Human Psionic
Jera Morrison…………..….Alseyne Aulaudin……………………Sidhe Changeling

Kendall Nye………….……Joseph McAdoo………………………..Ronin Garou
Aaron Murphy……………..Claws-of-Honor………………….Were-Tiger
Jeremy Whitener………….Korin Alabaster…………………………Were
Mongoose
Aron Head………………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master

*********************************************

Casey’s question seemed to snap Claws from his reverie. With a shrug, he looked over at her. “I wish I could say. I remember being drawn to Selene’s realm and a short bit after that. Then I remember sitting in the common room at the hotel, studying a bloody sword. Between that is nothing but a blur.”

Casey frowned thoughtfully at his phrasing. “‘A bloody sword’? Not your own sword?” She tried to recall the weapons he’d carried in Sanctuary, and flashing silver hakarrs took form within the blurred images of those adrenaline-soaked hours. “You don’t remember how you got it, or how it got bloody?”

He shook his head. “No, I don’t think it’s my sword. I really don’t remember ever learning to swing a sword. And the blood, I figure that it belongs to whoever the last person the sword was used on.”

“Who’s Selene?”

“‘Who is Selene?'” Claws looked as though he couldn’t believe anyone wouldn’t know who she was. He just shook his head, as if talking to a young child who hadn’t studied her lessons.

Casey didn’t mind; she’d settled rather comfortably into the role of semi-clueless student.

“Selene is the moon-mother, sister of Gaia.” There was a reverence in the Tiger’s voice, as he told the tale with honor. “From her tears were we,” he motioned to himself and McAdoo, “born, to protect her sister.”

The werewolf nodded, glanced at Korin and then back to the Bastet.

“And our companion, Korin,” Claws added.

Gaia was a name Casey had heard before, most recently from one of the Red Talon guards in Mardmor’s employ. ‘We have not turned against Gaia,’ he’d declared to Claws. ‘We have had her truth revealed to us.’ Mardmor did have quite the knack for revealing fresh new ‘truths’ to the people he had use for. It seemed safe to conclude that Selene and Gaia were figures of power in Were lore. It didn’t really give her any insight into where Claws had been, though.

“Wha’fup’wiff at sncar?” Pip asked through a mouthful of dinner.

“Another of the great riddles that have entered my existence,” the Bastet rumbled.

Deciding that Claws really didn’t have any memory of his curiously aging stint away, and wasn’t just being evasive, Casey let the matter drop and returned her attention to her supper.

“Claws,” McAdoo persisted. “One considers that if the sword was used by you in the time you aged, it might have been deliberately chosen for or by you. Perhaps your hands have warriors’ callus.” He reached out to show his own hard palm and thickened flesh of the inside thumb and forefinger.

Claws turned his hands over, displaying battle-hardened palms.

“Wouldn’t he already have those from his Hakaars anyway?” Alseyne asked, rubbing her own weapon calluses idly.

“Perhaps, Lady, although those would leave differences over time from the blade in your room.” The garou returned his eye to Claws. “May you find your hand remembers what weapon to bear. “

Korin glanced subtly at his own soft palms. The smooth skin seemed more suited to the fork in his hand than a blade or an axe…but Casey knew better. He might look like a harmless college boy, but Korin could give lessons in ferocity to a Tasmanian Devil.

McAdoo pushed his empty plate aside and leaned back in his chair. “Now…do we take the slaugh her takeout or wait for the music?”

Percyndi finished her spinach casserole. “There’s seconds, right?”

“Oh yes,” Pip nodded and waved the waitress over. Looking across the table to Alseyne, “You alright down there?”

She smiled as she took a last bite of her chicken fried steak and lay down her utensils. “Just giving the food the attention it deserves.” She drank the last of her beer and poured another one from the pitcher. “Now I just need some singing and dancing to round out the evening. And not necessarily in that order.”

“Point taken,” Pip smiled. He turned to the waitress. “Who’s playing tonight?”

“Inspector 12.”

“Ah. Great! They here yet?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “Setting up in the main dining room.”

“We’re gonna need them back here. Have ’em set up right over there.”

“I’m not sure…”

Pip flashed one of his devastating smiles. “You can make that happen, right? Please?”

She flushed red. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Alseyne chuckled into her beer as she watched Pip charm the poor girl.

Casey shook her head, stifling a sympathetic smile as she finished off the last bite of her mashed potatoes.

Pip watched the waitress leave, then looked back to Alseyne. “Music and dancing, coming right up.”

The sidhe smiled at him warmly and winked. “Nice to see you haven’t lost your touch. I hope you bought your guitar along as well, though, so you can serenade us all a bit later.”

“An hour then? To seize a moment of beauty while the war rages.” McAdoo drained the last of his beer. “An hour, to take a breath and enjoy the company of friends and packmates. ” He flagged down a passing server and asked for a cup of coffee and a slice of pie, then smiled toward Yggthor and his wife. “To remember anew with joy the
scent of a mate’s hair and the sound of her laugh.”

Pip rose, chatting with the musicians who had entered the dining room. The waitress directed them where to set up, which was accomplished quickly.

“Thanks, guys.” The satyr accepted the 12-string guitar handed to him. He strummed a few delicate notes, searching for a tune…he closed his eyes while his fingers played across the strings summoning up a melancholy melody.

The waitress brought pie and coffee for McAdoo.

“Something I never would have known…” Pip sang out in a warm tone, voice full of cherished memories and aching heart.

“Not knowing knowledge never ennobles
All her ideas were like smoke rings,
Had to know things
She was a tangle of questions”

“How many eggs make up a pound?
How many ears of corn in the niblets?
I was a person who would censor ‘Pee Wee’s adventures’
She was exceedingly liberal.”

Transitioning, he cried out, “…And we fell in love
And the sunshine shone from the sunshine above
Fell in love, whole loaf love…”

He strummed through the bridge bringing the song to…

“Try not to think while your inside…
Just keep your wide eyes wide wide open
I made a meal of the lighting, this was exciting
We had a real urban drama…”

He smiled up at Alseyne.

She smiled back, clearly enjoying his sense of dramatics, her eyes shining with laughter and promises and love.

“She always said it again
Just when she’d said it, that’s when
she’d say it…”

The other musicians harmonized: “How’s that again?”

Pip continued, “She said my pasta was delicious, but repetitious
That kind of thing made me crazy…”

The guitar built as Pip howled out, “And we fell in love
And the sunshine shone from the sunshine above…!”

The musicians joined in again, “Fell in love, whole loaf love!”

Grinning from ear-to-ear, Pip sawed at the guitar while he and the others practically took the roof off.

“Take a look around, the sun has gone down
And I’ve had a good time, have you had a good time?
I’ve loved without loss, I’ve put down my cross
You know what I know, an’ I’m goin’ go…”

Playing and singing softly now, Pip was once again solo.

“…She set my schoolhouse on fire
Down in the fire the angels were singing
Notice a beautiful fire
heavenly choir…”

Pip picked off the last few notes, the music fading from the room.

Alseyne breathed heavily as the song ended. After a long moment of reaction she was on her feet applauding madly for Pip and the others.

Casey cheered and applauded with the rest, her gaze lingering wistfully on the guitar itself. After a long, indecisive moment, she stood, gestured toward the instrument and asked shyly, “May I?”

He stepped off the platform and handed the guitar to Casey, “Absolutely!”

She took it, delighted and a little nervous at the same time.

Pip crossed to his Lady and kissed her. She leaned into the kiss, her hands on his waist. Pulling back a bit, she put her lips to his ear. “Dance with me, love.”

“I thought you’d never ask,” he murmured smokily.

“That wasn’t a question, actually,” she chuckled.

He led her out across the floor and then to Casey, “Play us a song, lass!”

“Yes, something slow where he can hold me close,” Alseyne called. “No line dancing tonight!”

Casey grinned at that as she stepped up onto the low stage, taking a seat on the stool. She picked out an experimental scattering of notes, getting a feel for the 12-string, then settled into an soft, intricate pattern of notes falling like raindrops into the silence.

Pip pulled Alseyne close, moving her slowly across the floor. His hooves glided over the hardwoods all the while, his eyes are focused on Alseyne’s. She gazed back, her heart in her eyes.

“It’s a simple song for simple feeling,
You see the moon and watch it rise…”

Casey’s voice was clear and blended well with the guitar, just the faintest huskiness adding depth to the words. The song’s easy, laid-back tempo made it a perfect choice for Alseyne and Pip’s dance.

“I love this song,” Pip nodded, voice soft.

Alysene let her head fall forward to rest against his as they moved around the floor, their steps meshing perfectly.

“Across the continent a nightbird sings
And somewhere someone hears its cry.

“So disillusioned, keep your head down.
If you do they’ll never know
You’ll have no answers to their questions,
And they will have to let you go.”

“And disenfranchised revolution
They’ll take away by right what’s yours
And make you martyrs of your own cause,
When they don’t know what cause it’s for.”

Her fingers played nimbly over the strings, gradually adding subtle drama to the rather somber rhythm. Distantly, she sensed a shift in the emotional temperature of the room, a low hum of tension from the table, but the song held her focus.

“And all deserted stand alerted
They’ll love you when you’re all alone;
But you find a red rose in the morning light,
You wait the night and find it gone.

Past Pip and Alseyne, Casey saw Yggthor at the table, staring at Claws. The troll was deep in thought, his brow furrowed in a scowl, apprehension radiating from him.

“So hear my words with faith and passion,
For what I say to you is true
And when you find the one you might become
Remember part of me is you.
Mmm, remember part of me is you.”

The music trailed off with a last few moody notes, and she lowered the guitar absently, her eyes on Big Blue. She handed the guitar back to the nearest band member with a smile and a “thank you,” and stepped down from the platform.

“Nice song,” he said.

“Thanks. I love me some Lyle.” Returning to the table, she studied Yggthor closely as she took her seat, then turned discreetly to Katherine. **What’s up?**

Touching Katharine’s mind was like an altoid for the brain. Her thoughts were crisp, clear — and her will was strong, shining like a halogen headlight. Casey found the clarity bracing.

The redhead regarded Casey and whispered, “It’s something Claws said…”

**Did you hear what it was?**

“Something in Trollish.” She added, “I think. I don’t speak it, but it sounded familiar.”

“Trollish?” Casey gave the Bastet a quizzical glance.

“Yggthor.” McAdoo’s body language was carefully casual. “Is there a problem?”

The troll nodded. “I believe so. Yes.”

Pip and Alseyne returned from the dance floor, looking anxiously from Yggthor to Claws.

“What is it, Yggy?” Katherine asked softly.

The troll’s eyes were heavy-lidded as his voice’s deep bass rumbled in his chest: “Varr halr hljoo veita der Wyrm.”

Claws’ head snapped up. For a moment Casey could hear the shouting in his clouded memory of valiant men killing and dying on a wide field of battle. The Bastet’s eyes widened, his nostrils flaring…Casey could almost smell the blood of the fallen. Claws’ fingers flexed subconsciously, as a feline would flex its claws.

“Trollish?” Katherine asked.

“No,” Iggthor answered, looking hard at Claws. “Old Norse. Our friend Claws has been far and long from us. And I suspect he has brought his foes back with him.”