Awakening: You’re Family Now

This is a side scene/blue book focusing on one miss Linda Lee, who until a few minutes before this scene was Kinfolk to the Black Spiral Dancers, but now has renounced them and been adopted into the Uktena.

*     *     *     *     *

Linda huddled in the ritual robe that Mapiya Sacred Hoop had been kind enough to drape over her thin, freezing shoulders and the moccasins that had been provided for her feet once the Rite of Adoption was completed. Sunset on a mountainside in springtime was no time to be standing around with nothing but some body paint between oneself and the elements. She took a few moments as the Garou cleaned up after their rite to rescue her abandoned overcoat and slip that across her shoulders like a cloak for a bit of extra warmth. One slender-fingered hand patted a pocket to reassure herself that Strago’s Device was still safely there. The thought of losing that thing while up at the Caern was  positively terrifying to her. Being surrounded by Garou was always one of her great dreads anyhow, but without the instrument that prevented them from working out that she had a Bane inside of her it was simply unthinkable. She desperately needed to keep it near enough that she was in range of its protection. As she did that, one of the Uktena Kinfolk picked up the rest of Linda’s discarded clothing and put it in her duffel bag for her. One of the other Uktena Kinfolk, she had to remind herself.

She touched the Garou glyph that represented her new tribe and which had been painted on her forehead. Another matching it was daubed on the back of each of her hands, and a third over her heart. Head, hands and heart: a sacred four. A band of black paint had been spread across her face around the eyes, with a band of ocher below that across her nose and down to her upper lip, and from her lower lip down to her upper neck she had been painted a rust red. Much of the rest of her had been painted or decorated with bars, patterns or glyphs in red, ocher, black or blue pigment. If not for her near-white hair and the bits of pale skin that were still uncovered, it might almost have been possible to mistake her for a real daughter of Uktena.

Her mind reeled. All her life, even after she had run away and turned against them, had been defined by the fact that she was Kin to the Black Spiral Dancers. There was no way that she would ever be able to entirely escape her own background of course, but that one defining trait of her identity was no longer valid. Her own corrupt ancestors had been rejected, her ties with Whippoorwill severed and she had been taken into the protective coils of Great Uktena instead. Though this was confusing, it also filled her with momentary elation.

As with nearly any other happiness in Linda’s life, this euphoria was not to last. Already the poison was creeping back in; Jez reminded her that it was still there, and that it made her unworthy of the honor that she had been given. Yes, she no longer belonged to Whippoorwill, but she still belonged to the Wyrm no matter how many oaths she swore to honor Uktena, Owl or Gaia, or even how sincere she was when she made those oaths. She felt very cold indeed, and that chill had nothing to do with the weather. It was the chill of being alone, unworthy and unwanted. She desperately felt the need to belong, and in the pit of her stomach she was sure that she did not.

Mapiya and Joseph Chases-the-Dream appeared at her side again, each of them taking her by one of her arms. She jumped at their touch, having been lost in her own misery, and still very skittish of any physical contact with any Garou anyhow.

“Jumpy, are we?” Joseph inquired with a good-humored smile on his ruggedly handsome face.

“Yeah, we are…,” Linda replied.

The two Garou led her to a campfire that had just been started in the assembly area. Most of the Garou that had been present for the audience with the Council of elders and the several Rites that followed that hearing had departed off to return to their various duties. The sept was still dealing with the ongoing cover-up of the recent scouring of Prospect Peak, as well as trying to hunt down those responsible for the rise of the artificial Blight that had been there. Yes, there was much that needed doing. Those few Garou that remained in the assembly area and a number of Kinfolk gathered around the fire for warmth and for companionship. Linda looked over each of those that gathered around the fire with her. Once the gathering began to form, Mapiya spoke softly with Joseph and he nodded in agreement before she turned her back and departed into the gathering night.

A few moments later, Joseph called the attention of the gathered Garou and Kin, raising his hands in the air, “Brothers and sisters! We have here two of our sept’s cubs that not yet earned Garou names and our newest Kin-sister.” Here he gestured towards a couple of teenagers present and to Linda. Linda looked around again, noting the guarded glances that she received from those about her. Yes, she was technically a member of their sept but she was not truly one of them. She supposed that the tall teenaged boy with the tattoos on his arm had to be Jared, the son of John Burning-Mountain. The other she did not know, but her understanding was that the girl was somehow related to the Wendigo Master of the Challenge. Joseph continued speaking after allowing a few moments of silence, “It is a time for the telling of tales, a relating of the Litany, and the sharing of the songs and dances of the People.”

Linda sat with the others and listened as tales were told of the mythology of the Garou and especially of the Pure Ones. Linda could tell that every tale told had a reason for being told at that time and that moment, though she could not always tell which or why. Some of the special vocabulary that the Garou at large and the Pure Ones in particular used was discussed and explained. Joseph, as the highest ranked Garou at the fire and the Songkeeper present, made a point of helping teach the words and tune of the songs that were to be sung, as well as the English interpretation since not all present were from the same native tribes.  The young white woman attempted to follow along as best she could with the singing, but she did not know the language and her difficulty with pronunciation only made her more shy and conscious of her own otherness. She decided that she could listen to the Songkeeper’s rich voice all night, however.

On Joseph’s orders, drums began to beat and flutes to play, and Linda was dragged up to her feet, leaving her coat on the ground though she made a point of keeping track of it. After some instruction, she began to haltingly dance along with the other Uktena and Wendigo present. It didn’t take her long to start getting the hang of it, for she was highly coordinated and had a good sense of rhythm at least, and that helped her feel a bit more at ease, more like a part of the group. Her bandaged ankle was throbbing, but she did her best to focus on letting the pain drive her to keep track of stepping and weaving properly. Pain was part of her identity, what she was. If there was anything that Linda knew, it was how to feed off her own pain and use it to remind herself that she was still alive.

As she danced and whirled painfully, her mind went over what she knew of Uktena. He was an ancient and wise water-spirit and both seeker and guardian of deep spiritual and magical mysteries. The element of water. Cups. Primordialism. The Queen on her throne. Linda caught herself gasping and had to correct her movements so as not to hazard one of the Wendigo Kinfolk, who glared at her and snarled something about the clumsy wasichu. She hastily apologized and got back in step.

After a bit of that, food was brought and Linda sat to rest her sore ankle and get a bite to eat while watching some of those present continue dancing and singing. She dug in with a will, eating but trying not to be too much of a pig, and making sure to let those higher in station than herself go first. As she ate, she surreptitiously snuck some of her meds out of her duffel bag and swallowed them. After having a quick bite, Joseph got back up and began singing again.

Linda’s gaze dwelt on the way that the moon gleamed in the tall Garou’s eyes. Yes, he was gorgeous. Whatever hate she felt towards the Garou at large was blunted a bit when looking at that handsome, talented and dangerously sexy Songkeeper. He moved like a powerful predator, and his smile had a razor edge. No, she did not feel safe around him or any other Garou… but she did not mind the danger so much, if he were the one menacing her.

After a time, she found herself sitting nearly alone at the fireside with Chases-the-Dream. Nearly everyone else had drifted off to sleep or towards other locations in the Bawn. She took the opportunity to get a bit more to eat, knowing that the portion that she had earlier would not sustain her.

“Your singing voice is pleasant, Linda. If you took a little vocal training and got  a bit more confident, you could be quite good,” Joseph told her, gazing at the way the fire backlit her profile. “You’re not bad for a sad white girl,” he chuckled.

“Ah’m sorry Ah’m so gloomy,” she murmured nervously. “It’s all so much ta take in, y’know? Yesterday Ah couldn’t dare dream Ah’d be a member’a a proper tribe. Didn’t never think mah cracker ___ would get accepted by no Uktena. Havin’ a rough time processin’ it. Trustin’ it,” she looked furtively back at him, a bit pained at the admission that she didn’t trust her new circumstances, especially since she did not want to alienate this man. Her large, striking blue-white eyes stood out sharply from the band of black facepaint that surrounded them as she looked him over nervously.

“I can understand that, Linda. I heard a bit of your story when the elders were questioning you. After your experiences, I would think that only a mad woman would easily trust now. Heavy burdens are more easily borne  by two than one, and I would gladly lighten your load,” he asked softly. She understood the question that he had not directly asked: he wanted her story. Despite the danger, his voice was so sultry yet so concerned that she could not dare resist him.

They sat together, Joseph easing her into telling of her own life, her painful and nearly hopeless dreams, and especially of her daughter. She was carefully guarded enough that she kept her own possessed condition hidden from him, but the simple fact that she was a deeply wounded woman could never be hid from the perceptive Galliard. He had to say very little to keep her talking, and he nodded encouragingly in silence as often as he actually asked further questions which was at least as effective as if he had. Joseph was paying attention to Linda, and showing sympathy and concern for her, and her body reacted so eagerly to his close proximity. How could she help but want to keep him listening?

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