Werewolf: Exalted of Gaia

Gunjar - Ch. 2: How Curious.

Open before the five young Garou was the entrance to the crypt which they had been sent to. Despite the assurance that it was a sacred place, the reeking maw of the desecrated temple’s entrance smelled of death, corruption, and unholy magicks. Gunjar’s nose curled as he tried to block out the disgusting scent, steeling himself for the worse scents that awaited them within, along with spirits-know-what else.

Being the only one out of their Crinos form, specifically in Hispo, he was the only to pad in on all fours, his massive size put length-wise instead of towering upwards like his companions. His eyes flicked about as he tried to take in the details. He wouldn’t brag about his sight, but it was keen as any other Garou’s – smaller details became more noticeable to him. Blood splatters long since dried. Cracks in the aging walls. Crumbled masonry. Details his eyes skimmed over as he kept a more vigilant eye for anything that would cause harm – holes for traps, alcoves for enemies, anything. When they reached a large, somewhat-open antechamber, there had still been no opposition.

However, as they fanned out from the cramped corridor in to the room, an abnormal detail struck them – the floor was littered with bones. Bones that began shaking, dancing to an unheard, demonic tune, drawing together and knitting in to several humanoid forms. Each was capped by a skull rising from the floor, levitating as if lifted by some ghost, and snapping in to place atop the spines like a head on a doll. Their perpetual ivory grins were illuminated by the flickering torchlight, the jagged fingers on their hands tipped in sharp, razor-like points. Immediately, the five snarled and readied themselves for combat. Gunjar flung himself forward, focused on one and only one of the abominations. He trusted his allies to be competent enough to deal with the others – after all, their opponents were mere annoyances, unarmed and with no muscle to fight, made dangerous only by fear, which held no grasp on a Get nor any Garou worth his hide, and necromantic energy. The Hispo-form wolf threw himself at one of the skeletons, jaw open wide, and snapped down on the neck of the creature. A sharp CRACK could be heard as his powerful jaws splintered the bone, shaking the new chewtoy before tossing it aside like an old ragdoll, whereupon it slammed in to a stone column and shattered back to bones. Looking over, he saw his pack finishing off the others, the satisfying crunches and snaps echoing in the chamber. Gunjar grunted, pleased, and continued along with his party.

All in all, Gunjar was half-expecting what they found – the rooms were largely empty, though showed signs of recent travel. No new enemies rose to meet them, to the Get’s disappointment. His disinterest in anything he couldn’t break or chew on led to him quickly growing bored, his eyes wandering. His attention was finally called back when he noticed one of the other Garou – one of those wandering Garou, what was his name again? Mu… Mush… Mushroom… Mushtak. That was it. Mushtak was kneeling in front of a stone door, fiddling with the lock. Befuddlement filled Gunjar before he noticed that the door popped open for the Strider. He let out an impressed grunt, really all he had to ‘say’ – no point in using words where they were unneeded. He walked in with the rest of the wolves, down yet another corridor.

He was starting to get tired of corridors. Why did people insist on making their temples so needlessly large? A simple antechamber and shrine would’ve worked… He sighed softly, his mind wandering as to the reason for the temple construction in the manner that its architects chose. He almost didn’t notice the pit until all of his acquaintances stopped. He looked at them, annoyed at the delay, until looking down.

Oh. So that’s why. He thought to himself, gazing down in to the inky blackness of the void that yawned before him in the middle of the room. Well this is… odd. He tentatively reached his paw in, then immediately snapped it back when it vanished as soon as it reached past the lip of the pit. Nothing felt different, no cold, no heat, no pain – it was as if sight had simply forsaken the part of the world that the pit occupied. A curiosity, but likely not something Gunjar would understand by himself, so he simply filed it in his mind as yet another ‘curiosity of the world,’ along with the mystery of flight, the reasoning behind the consumption of tomatoes, and that recurring dream about being chased by a gigantic weasel that sounded eerily like his wetnurse.

His pack mates each took their own turns pondering over the curiosity, whilst the Strider – yet again – went about fiddling with doors he probably wasn’t supposed to. Gunjar spared him a glance, then decided to follow the White Howler… Graham McTibbles or something like that.

He was never good with names.

Gunjar glanced back and noticed his tribe-sister, Vandra, following along. It seems the Child of Gaia, Hashbrowns, decided to go with the Strider. Fair enough. It wasn’t like they couldn’t manage when separated. When he turned his gaze back to his front, he noticed Graham had paused and begun looking around for something, muttering about traps and things for throwing. Gunjar immediately perked up and dashed back from where they came, nabbing a bone from the pile that was once his opponent in the antechamber, then darted back and sat down, tail wagging, as he proudly presented the marked, slightly chipped thighbone to his pack-brother. He watched as the Howler accepted it and threw it, to no avail. Well, at least, to no visible avail – nothing happened aside from the bone clattering on to the stones between two alcoves. If Graham’s mission was to throw something, he certainly succeeded. Otherwise, it seemed fruitless. So, they continued on their way until – lo and behold – a trap sprung, several swords from the statues in the alcoves swinging down like guillotine blades. Gunjar leaped out of the way, as did Graham, but a feminine howl of pain, anger, and frustration echoed from behind them. Seems Vandra hadn’t been as quick. But in a few moments, she was fine again, if slightly steaming and not keen on the whole ‘interaction’ thing.

The room they found themselves in was… well, somewhat impressive. A statue dominated the room, clutching a shield in his hand. Aside from that, it didn’t seem all too special to Gunjar. However, the other two darted from the room as if stung, excitement plain on their faces – well, at least, it looked like excitement. It might’ve been constipation. Hard to tell, what with the whole Crinos form – facial expression are a bit hard to read. In fact, one time, he thought this comely lass was enjoying his company, flattered by his compliments, and amused by his – in hindsight – terrible attempts at jokes. It later turned out she was mute and didn’t much care for his company. ‘Amusement and interest’ can be tough to distinguish from ‘unbridled despair and boredom’ when it comes to Garou.

Eh… what was he doing again?

Oh, right. Statue. Room. Running pack mates. He turned and followed them, quickly catching up to them as they were about to round a cor-

FWWT!

THUNK.

Hm. Well. That could’ve ended with one hell of a nose piercing. Gunjar thought as his eyes slid to look at the arrow that embedded in the wall to his left, several more following suit until a soft, distant ‘click’ could be heard. Peeking around the corner, it appeared that the Strider and Gaia-child had been through here. After all, not many other creatures could – from the looks of the doorway and floor in the next room – rip a door off its hinges and drag it along. They walked in to the room, finding it littered with broken arrows along the walls, which bristled with sturdier arrows buried in the soft mortar. The wayward door was discovered, also embedded with several quivers’ worth of arrows, sheltering the two other pack members. By the looks of it, Mushtak was once again up to Ragabash shenanigans, when the door he was working on popped open – from his reaction, not of his own knowing accord.

Once more, Gunjar’s mind wandered as he gazed around at his surroundings – altogether, he was underwhelmed… another crumbling, dessicated corridor that squeezed in around him. He found himself breathing a little heavier, and furrowed his brow. When they emerged in another chamber, he let out a soft sigh – a break in the tight, confining, suffocating monotony, even if slightly. He was still underground, still sealed in. But he could breathe for a mom- oh for fuck’s sake.

More bones, this time blood-stained from the crimson glint on them, were beginning to form together, dancing to the same unheard tune as the ones in the first chamber. And it was no different – a quick onslaught that brought one skeleton crashing down in to another, crumbling them both to blood-stained marrow and dust. By the time his pack was finished, he was sitting comfortably atop a pile made from his chosen prey, washing himself and looking generally adorable – an astounding feat for the hulking lupine figure that was a Hispo.

Everything blurred together after that – hallways jam-packed with a curious fungus that electrocuted anything that touched them, which he decided was a new species of fungus, and named the Zapidae Fukoficus; A flooded chamber that housed a handful of gigantic frogs, one of which he ripped the throat from as it attempted to grapple the Strider with its tongue. The damn thing tasted horrid, like licking the algae-coated wall of a well that an entire pack had pissed in; A curious yet painfully obvious trap involving more large statues and a narrow walkway over a pit. It’d surely prove a challenge to humans, but the Garou were able to cross it in one mighty leap. Their venture adjourned as they neared a gigantic funky brass door. They readied themselves, and upon opening it they were met with the end of the obscenely-overlong temple.

A dais and sarcophagus were at the far wall of the room, columns flanking the straight path to the steps that led up to them. A young-looking woman was laying upon the sarcophagus, and a hideously-unkempt male human that smelled vaguely of the wild was bowed over her. He glanced back, catching sight of them, and stepped to the side. Gunjar, now in Crinos form since their ventures through the crypt, snarled as the strange man shifted in to Crinos form, and from the looks of the male… it was obvious what he was. A Dancer.

Well. This doesn’t make anything easier. Just as he thought that, a shimmering form stepped out of the shadows – although clearly Crinos, the new enemy appeared to be far from living… his form shimmered, vaguely translucent, his armor wavering as if distorted by heat. A spirit… and from the looks of it, not on their side. Hm. NOW it’s fun…

Several skeletons rose from the ground between the group and the Dancer. Nothing new, but certainly a hindrance. So Gunjar took one step backward and focused on the strength in his legs, his muscles tightening like the legs of prey about to flee in to the snowy woods. His heart hammered, as if stricken with fear, but he felt no terror. He stepped forward, once again, again, again… then kicked off the ground and hurtled through the air, leaping over the skeletons and the spirit and all but flying towards the dais. The Dancer looked up at him, and at the last moment Gunjar saw the tangle that had been happening – somehow, Mushtak had darted past the barrier of enemies – a gash on his body showed it was not scott-free – and had his hand in the Dancer’s pocket. Curious.

That split second of observation passed in a heartbeat, as suddenly all 500 pounds of Get slammed in to the Dancer, knocking him off his feet and sending him to the ground. Mushtak had his prize clutched in his hand, and the Dancer seemed dazed. he quickly recovered, however, reaching back in his pocket and snapping something within them. He, along with the woman, disappeared. Gunjar jumped back in shock, then reached out and slashed at the ground where he had lain a moment before. When no cry of pain came, no hot splash of sticky blood, no satisfying rip of tender flesh came, he snarled in frustration. He turned and decided to focus that aggression on those who had, as of yet, been occupied with his pack mates. Graham had begun tangling with the spirit, fighting eye-to-eye, mark-for-mark with the spectral entity. A smirk came to his muzzle as he saw Hashbrowns – no, wait, Hashim! – jab his sword in to the ancestor’s head, causing it to howl out in pain. Taking the chance, Gunjar flung himself forward and brought his claw down on the spirit’s shoulder, forcing him down to his knees with a vicious blow that would’ve shattered a human’s bones.

Suddenly, light radiated from behind Gunjar. He whirled around, his claws brandished and lip curled back in a snarl. His ears perked up and lip dropped, however, as another spirit rose from the sarcophagus, brandishing a long blade. He looked familiar. Uncle Roknar? No, no, no… it’s that guy from the murals! That’s it!… Wait, Roknar’s alive…

The new spirit, Shiny #2, howled out something about Shiny #1’s heritage, relation with his mother and her chosen profession, his prowess with females, and several other explicit details that he didn’t quite catch, but imagined were to a similar effect. He walked up to Shiny #1 and drove his massive fuck-off sword through the specter’s chest, the armor that once clung to him like wet fur dissipating in to mist, leaving him vulnerable. And spirits almighty, it was as if the Pied Piper had set his flute to the ‘serial murderer’ setting. Gunjar and the other Garou descended upon him, ripping, slashing, biting, and beating him back in to oblivion, shreds of his body flying off and disappearing in to nothingness.

((I can’t remember all the details here. Hopefully Mario will.))

Shiny #2 talked. Turns out bad shit happened. You got the Flame and Codex! We returned in record time. We got our Rite of Passage. A gassy Conker-like spirit claimed us as his. Weeeeeeee good times had by all.

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Zephier WolvenCarnus

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