You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive

The Deep and the Dark

Placeholder until I can fill this in with a write-up.

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Guts and Blood

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

The fight with the other werewolf and the bears alongside him was fast and brutal. Ryder focused on the other werewolf, trying to keep him tied up with fast and brutal attacks while the rest of the pack took a moment to deal with the bears – except for Rosie, who kept back observing for a bit before charging in. The interloper let out a snarl approximating “What the fuck are you doing here?” before tangling up in a ball of fur, blood, and claws with Ryder.

Ryder transformed into the Garou form to let loose his rage on the other werewolf, while the stocky black wolf matched him and the two started tearing into each other in earnest. Avery emerged from the shadows to help Sharon put down the bear she had gone with, while Dana mostly struggled with one bear alone until Rosie stepped in with her shotgun.

With the bears dispatched, the whole pack started to converge on the lone wolf, and even in Garou his wounds quickly took a toll on him. After one particularly savage rending by Sharon, he wheeled and…disappeared. Reaching into the Hisil, he vanished from sight and took off.

Summoned by the sound of gunfire, some of the men from the nearby strip mining operation came over across the mountaintop to investigate, and the pack fled into the woods. Ryder had the taste of the stranger in his mouth and could track him like that, and Avery had a sense of the location of some of the wolf’s botlholes – and Rosie had a name. In the first few moments of the fight, she’d been able to read it off the wolf – Darryl Schmitky.

Dana recalled that her father had a packmate named Darryl when she was very young, and Ron also had a brother named Darryl who’d disappeared decades ago, and that definitely shed some light on things – though it may have created more questions than answers. The pack did some scouting in the region for bolt holes Darryl might have fled to, and then returned to the farmhouse to regroup, finally get some sleep, and do some information gathering.

Dana went into the local Walmart to talk to her granny, Carol and probe for information about Darryl. Carol was reluctant to give any, hoping that the past could just stay in the path. With Dana not letting up, Carol did say Darryl and Leland (Dana’s father) had been close once, very close – but there was some kind of major friction or falling out in ‘85. Carol wouldn’t come out and say it, but she believed Leland had murdered Darryl – everyone knew even back then, before he became County Sheriff, that Leland was not a man to cross.

Avery spoke with her mom and confirmed that Darryl used to be around quite a bit, but disappeared in the 1980s. The pack – again, mostly Dana – asked around town and found few remembered Darryl, but those that did had varying stories of what became of him: He’d joined the army, he’d gone off to Alaska for work, he’d died in a car accident, or any number of things. Research found no trace of a paper trail – someone probably should have filed a missing persons report on Darryl, but no one ever did.

The pack regrouped and decided they needed Essence before continuing to pursue Darryl. They recalled they’d never really meted much punishment on Smoulderblack for the spirit’s trespass into the world of spirit, and they all gathered as Avery led the pack through the Sacred Hunt rite before they took off through the Hisil in pursuit of the spirit. They tracked him down near a mining site north of Pathfork, and Ryder took off after him, gravely wounding him before the spirit could offer much of a counterattack. He threatened the spirit with a pickaxe – which the pack knew to be his bane – to extract some information out of him – he’d come from down below, the deep well, which was also where the wolf who let him up (or at least didn’t try to stop him) emerged. The pack tried to get directions from the spirit, but it didn’t seem to have a great way of describing the geography of the underground. They finished the spirit off, and then devoured it for Essence – completely consuming and destroying the spirit.

When they returned to the Locus, the signal sprite Dana had negotiated with earlier was waiting, with information it said was valuable. Dana got the creature talking, and it revealed that a werewolf had been preying on members of the Drag Lion’s court, assaulting at least two spirits. The Drag Lion held court east of Closplint currently, and that was near where the area the pack had fought Darryl. It also held out another piece of information for a bit more Essence – Darryl appeared to be allied with the spirit Old Stone Claw, who used to be a totem for the local werewolf pack…

Armed with this information, the pack declared Darryl the target of their next hunt, and Avery once again led them through the Sacred Hunt rite. Now with a single purpose, the pack started searching for Darryl. They tracked an old mine in the region they’d last found him as a possible hideout, and headed into the slanted shaft… They found that the mine was unstable, likely from the strip mining happening nearby, and parts had collapsed. Looking through the Gauntlet though, they saw that on the Hisil side, the destruction had opened up a small passage through the mine that only existed in Shadow – and that was where Darryl had gone through. The pack returned to the Locus, entered the Hisil, and headed back to the mine to explore deeper through the tiny crack…

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Bones and Bears

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

No one reacted well to finding out a strange werewolf had been through the Locus at the Evert Homestead. Several of the the pack ended up staying over at the farmhouse, patrolling the grounds near the Locus in case any other intruders came by. Dana came across a signal spirit trying to get into the Locus, likely to thieve some essence, and instead of driving it off she promised it payment if it could find anything out about other werewolves in the pack’s territory. The spirit promised it would ask around the court of the Drag Lion, who it served, and returned with what it could find. Ryder ranged a bit farther on his patrols, and he discovered some young teenagers nearby had found Dana’s weed patch.

Rosie and Dana spent some time going through all the papers Ron had collected, each sort of keeping track of things separately, seemingly not entirely trusting each other. They eventually figured that Ron was looking into two main sets of incidents – a series of accidents that happened north of Pathfork in 1985, and an accident that seemed similar about two weeks ago at a strip mining site north of Closplint. He’d also pulled up about every map of the mineshafts that had been dug in Harlan county – all publicly available information that created quite the stack of paperwork.

Rosie headed back into town to catch some sleep and then hit the library to try and turn up a little bit more information. It turned out that Ron had been decently through and they already had most of the pertinent information. She then tried to make amends to Dana by replacing the tire she’d popped the previous night. This involved buying it in town and then rolling it up the highway to Dana’s farm, an effort that took her a long time but seemed to buy some goodwill from Dana.

Avery and Sharon both had jobs to tend to, and so Avery went in to her Walmart job and Sharon to the stables. While Sharon was calming down the horses who seemed to be skittish. While she was doing that, she discovered that one of the people who stabled his horse there had been gone much longer than anyone had expected. Worried that something had happened to him, she asked her co-worker and found the rider, Alan, had taken his horse Ranger up north of Holmes Mill.

Looking to blow off some steam, Ryder got on Grindr and tried to find a hook-up within driving distance – not always the easiest in Harlan County. He managed to connect with an outdoor adventurer type from Atlanta who was camping in Kentenia State Forest. He met up with the guy – Stanley – and he smelled vaguely of wolves, but himself didn’t seem to be wolf-blooded. Ryder and Stanley went hiking and had some outdoor adventures of their own, and they exchanged numbers afterwards, looking to hook up again later.

As evening came, the pack started to reconvene at Dana’s farmhouse. Dana was in the Hisil, pretty much standing over the Locus and looking on edge and angry as people found her. They all compared notes, and figured something was probably going on between Cosplint and Holmes Mill, and at the very least they could find the missing horse and rider.

The pack drove down to Holmes Mill in Dana’s truck, and then headed up a old trail until they found a horse trailer and truck that had been sitting there for some time. They started to track the horse and rider, only to find that as they got deeper into the mountains the horse and rider had been stalked by a pair of bears, seemingly (and oddly) working in concert. Soon they smelt week old blood, and found where the bears had attacked – along with a werewolf in Urshul. The meat had been devoured down to the bone, and the rider’s personal belongings shoved under a heavy rock. The pack was incensed, and Sharon was obviously affected by the death of Alan and Ranger, shedding tears for them mostly unnoticed by the rest of the pack.

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

The pack, led by Avery, continued to follow the week old trail of the werewolf and the bears. They lost the trail several times, but continued to pick back up on traces as they headed north, until Avery found a fresh scent. It was nearly five in the morning by the time they started to close in on the edge of the trip-mining operation, and Sharon clued in the rest of the pack to the presence of a trio of large predators… The pack split to try and stealthily flank their quarry, but they were noticed as they approached. The trio – two bears and the hulking dire wolf form of a werewolf in Urshul – tried to escape the closing trap, but with werewolves closing in on three sides and the open ground of the strip mine behind them, they had few options as Ryder raced forward, also in Urshul, and started to tear into the strange werewolf…

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Peaks and Valleys

Monday, July 6th, 2015

It was well into evening by the time Ryder, Avery and Dana returned to the farmhouse with the papers from Ron’s house, and the pack decided the next step was to head out the site where Ron was murdered in the physical world to see if they could pick up any clues there.

AlvaZoom.pngThe pack climbed into cars and trucks and drove down to the site of where the town of Alva had once stood, and then drove up into the hills a ways to where Ron’s truck had been found before fanning out into the woods. It wasn’t long before they found the fluttering remains of police tape near the area where Ron had been found just five days previous.

It had been raining most of the weekend, leaving the forest unpleasantly humid, as well as wiping away most of the evidence of what had transpired there. But the wolves started trying to trace back Ron’s path – before, Avery had focused on Ron’s attacker, whose scent disappeared almost immediately, but Ron was a bit easier to find, though the intervening time made the task very difficult even for a pack of werewolves.

They knew they’d been on the right path – heading up from the hollow onto the mountain ridge – when Dana spotted a brass casing, probably from Ron’s rifle, along with a little bit of the smell of blood and signs of an altercation. Whoever had been after Ron, he had managed to delay them here by at least a little bit with that shot, it seemed.

As they continued to trace back Ron’s path – up along the ridge dividing the hollow where his truck had been found from the nearby Lucky Star #5 Coal Mine – Sharon’s sense for the territory detected a large predator nearby, further up the ridge. As the wolves moved towards it, it started to move away, and when Ryder broke into a sprint after it in wolf form, the creature took off running.

As Ryder headed over the ridge, with Avery and Sharon following close behind, also as wolves, he saw what looked like a large black bear but which smelled very different – smoke and char and old coal dust. He leapt forward without hesitation, biting hard down into the bear’s flank, and tasting as much coal dust as blood. Soon Avery and Sharon were beside him, with Dana and Rosie trailing on two legs.

Sharon snapped at the creature while Avery leapt at the creature and misjudged her aim, the thing slamming her into the ground with a shoulder before tearing into her side with its massive teeth. Sharon tried to drag Avery away while Ryder moved fluidly into Garau , attacking it in a fury, finding the thing felt less animal-like and more like rock with every chunk he tore from it, opening up smoking fissures in its side.

As the bear-like creature staggered under the assault from the wolves, it burst into flame, burning Ryder, Sharon, and Avery. Avery cried out and recoiled in pain, badly injured, as Sharon flew into Kuruth. Sharon and Ryder tore at the thing, opening more fissures in it, now flaming, until the report of a rifle rang out and Dana downed the creature.

Immediately climbing out of the mass of bear was a spirit now in twilight, that looked like a black, rock, squat humanoid, smoke rising from fissures in its skin. It immediately started to take off, but the wolves pursued it and tried to question it. Rosie divined its name – Smoulderblack, and its bane – it was weak against damage done by a pickaxe. The pack tried to pry more information from the spirit, threatening it, and it blustered back saying there were both more bears and more wolves on the mountain, and saying that the other wolves didn’t care if it ran amok. Before more information could be gleaned, the spirit fled back across the Gauntlet.

Dana and Rosie rode up the road a bit to Pathfork to try and get a pickaxe – Dana initially broke into someone’s garage, but when someone came out of the house to investigate the noise, Rosie came up and started spinning a story about a flat tire, having helpfully popped one of Dana’s tires to collaborate the story. Thus, by the time they finally got back to the rest of the pack, Avery was almost healed from her injuries.

The pack decided to explore the nearby Lucky Star mine, heading over the ridge and into the old coal mining area. It was obvious the area had been in operation a long time, but it had also been a long time since it had been functioning – it looked like everything had more or less been left to sit and rust for the past couple of decades. The most recent sign of activity was the hand painted signs of warning near the old main shaft, which looked like it had lost its main elevator cables years ago, and probably violently too judging by some of the damage to the winch machinery. Examination of the Shadow nearby showed there were signs of a lurking spirit there – a thing made of chains and cables and bells and lights, hidden and secluded amongst the rusted machinery. Most of the other spirits nearby were not especially active, barring a couple of mutated spirits of industry warped by the sparse pickings of their preferred Essence.

Knowing the shaft was likely hundreds of feet deep at the least, the pack decided against trying to explore down it at all, and returned to the farmhouse – many of them were badly in need of Essence as well. Some of the other Uratha took a bit, but left the reminder for Sharon – only to find that the Locus was dry. Someone else had taken some. Certainly, it was not impossible or even unlikely that a spirit might have stolen some, but when the paranoid wolves searched the area they found the faintest traces of the same scent Avery had picked up on Ron’s body five days ago…

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Before he's even in the ground...

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

Ron Schmitky was laid to rest by his family and his pack in a graveyard just outside of Harlan. As the mourners dispersed, Ryder drove a drunk and despondent Celeste home, while Rosie extended comfort to some of Ron’s family, along with same baked goods. Sharon had her hands full trying to explain death to her daughter, while Avery and Dana lingered at the grave.

As the humans departed – except for a gravedigger lingering in the rain waiting for everyone to leave – the pack started talking about what had happened. The Sheriff’s department had found Ron’s truck near Alva a few days ago, and his body about 500 yards from it. Avery caught a scent nearby, but the trail quickly and unnaturally petered out. They agreed they’d meet up at the Evert Homestead to put together a plan of attack.

Ryder was the last to arrive at the homestead, having to pour a thoroughly sauced Celeste into bed. Sharon got Sadie busy watching a child’s show, and then the pack sat down to talk. Figuring that the trail near Ron’s corpse wouldn’t have gone cold so fast if something supernatural hadn’t been at work. Thinking they might have a better chance of finding it if they could speak with spirits in the area, the pack decided to head through the Locus into the Hisil.

FirstPath.png After taking an hour or so to get things sorted (and for Sharon to call up Eliza to look after Sadie), the Keepers Reached through the Locus by the old well and found themselves in the Shadow. The spirits were calm and mostly slumbering as it was late afternoon and the sun still beat down, and they decided to cut across the mountains – a harder run for sure, but faster if they could keep it up. The pack went from two feet to four paws and headed off to the southeast. The run was a hard one, especially as the pack detoured around the shoal left by some mountaintop removal mining, and it was many hours into the night by the time they climbed back down into the hollow where Alva sat.

Avery extended her senses across the Gauntlet, and started to lead the pack towards where Ron’s body was found. As they crept along, the wolves heard a clattering sound as something took to the trees, where Sharon and Dana spotted a spirit that looked to be some kind of skeletal vulture with feathers made of flakes of black rocks and with bits of rotting meat stuck inbetween. Dana called to it in the First Tongue, and tried to bargain with it for information, using her Gifts to make the rather cautious spirit more receptive. At first it asked the Pack to kill someone for it, but Dana bargained it down to some Essence in return for decent information. The spirit revealed that it had indeed detected another werewolf – or something like it, at least, since it smelled half dead and had other strange smells associated with it. The suggestion that something else could be on their territory and had potentially killed pack made no one happy.

The spirit, as the pack was getting ready to depart, asked if they were likely to be killing something soon and if they minded if it tagged along. Mood amongst the wolves was they they were almost certainly going to be killing something soon.

The Keepers spread out, looking for other scents that might be unusual in the Shadow. Avery found no trace of the original trail, but her and Rosie did find something that smelled, well, similar, and tracked it down further into Alva. The trail disappeared amidst spirits of trash and smoke, and Avery again pushed her wolf senses past the Gauntlet, detecting a human made pit, filled with burned rubbish, enclosed by more human structures poorly maintained.

Resolving to find the location later in the physical world, the pack made the track back through the mountains, returning to the farmhouse mid-morning. Exhausted, some of the pack immediately crashed at the farmhouse, others returned to their homes and partners or babysitters.

Monday, July 6th, 2015

When Rosie got home, she spun a tale about being out overnight shopping in Lexington to her husband. She lightly quizzed him about Ron’s death, and he assured her it was an animal attack and that eventually they’d probably eliminate the animal if it came near human populations again. Charles did wonder why Ron had been up there – it wasn’t deer season, and he was carrying a decent-sized rifle with him with hand-loaded ammunition. After she had a little bit of sleep, she went over to The Portal and quizzed the bartender about people new in town (not that he’d noticed), and whether anyone seemed to have it out for Ron… He mentioned Charlene had spent the previous day in the place bad-mouthing Ron, and opined that if a man like Ron gets involved with so many young women sometimes it is going to go wrong… Rosie tried stopping by Charlene’s place to make some inroads, but Charlene was understandably pretty hungover and not really into taking visitors.

Avery quizzed her mom about Ron, but she didn’t really have much to say – they weren’t as close as they once were. All she had to say was that Ron hadn’t been around too much the past couple of weeks.

Celeste echoed that Ron hadn’t been around much the past while, when Ryder wandered over to her place with some pizza and hair of the dog. She told Ryder that Ron had been distant, wouldn’t let her into his place where he appeared to have a whole bunch of papers scattered about, and when he got drunk he wouldn’t talk about present worries, just delve into the past – his parents, long gone, and his brother who died twenty years ago.

When the wolves gathered up at the farmhouse again that night, they figured they needed to see what was inside Ron’s house – had he been hand-loading silver bullets? What were the papers he had? Dana drove Ryder and Avery out to Ron’s place, and kept watch as the two younger werewolves sneaked into Ron’s place and went through it. They found hand-loading equipment, but no silver bullets left behind (but also no silver in the drawers, either), and Avery definitely smelled that Ron had been worried, agitated, and sleepless and that he had coal dust and fuel on some of his clothes. Ryder couldn’t help but miss all the papers Ron had scattered about, but couldn’t make any sense of them immediately, shoving them all into a trash bag to bundle back out to the truck where Dana was waiting to take them all back to the farmhouse.

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