I could've taken the quicker road and begged our Gatekeeper for access to the caern, but for some reason, I needed to drive tonight, to see the ribbon of road stretch off into the distance. It was pretty country; I could tell that by the half moonlight. Fog-etched mountains, the shadow of deciduous forests and the distant tinkle of a stream kept me company. The road itself would've been hell on anyone with a weak stomach, what with all the turns and twists. Myself, I rather liked it.
My companion seemed to recognize my need for silence. Meredith Aubrey, or Heart of the Sky as she now was known, was pretty new to all this, just having returned from her Rite of Passage about a moon earlier. I sensed her unease about this odd expedition. Well, we'd see what was up. Maybe we could help, maybe not.
Good thing the young Moon Dancer who gave me a call provided explicit directions. Damn, even the best tracker could get lost in these parts. Even though I felt the presence of a caern nearby, I doubt I'd have found it if not for the heads up.
I preferred not to think about the reception we'd get. The Child of Gaia took a big chance dragging in an outsider, reputation or not, and technically, my sidekick hadn't been invited. A bunch of Uktena and Shadow Lords, just what I wanted. And a few Fianna thrown in for good measure. I'd thought long and hard about whether or not to actually show up, but then I remembered the charge my mentor laid on me after my Rite of Passage: Find the balance of truth, though it has three edges, no matter what the price.
Tonight, someone was gonna pay dearly.
Origins and LegendsEdit
I parked the truck way outside the bawn and prepared to howl my greeting, motioning for Meredith to do the same. You're think I'd have it perfected by now, but to be honest, I'm always a little nervous; first impressions count for a lot. I took a deep breath and began.
"Greetings to the Sept of the Glass Hand! I am called Elaine Edwards by the humans, Balance of Truth among Gaia's warriors, Athro, judge and Philodox, mother and daughter of the Black Furies. I ask to be received as I have been invited, with open heart and open mind."
"Also receive my greetings. I am Meredith Aubrey, Heart of the Sky, newly called to Gaia's throng, Half-Moon Cliath of the Black Furies." Not bad, I thought.
We waited. Presently, a howl sounded in return, a beautiful voice made even more stirring by the mix of moon and fog that surrounded the clearing.
"Welcome to Elaine, Balance of Truth, and Meredith, Heart of the Sky. I am called Song of Peace, Child of Gaia, Moon Dancer and Fostern of the Bloody Tusk pack of the Sept of the Glass Hand."
A female wolf trotted out from the darkness, graceful and lithe, with golden brown fur. As she approached, I noted that one eye was dark and the other light, reflecting no shine of the moon. Yet she had no scar. A metis, then, half-blind, I reasoned. This deal got worse all the time. If her sept-mates didn't trust her, they probably wouldn't like us, either. Great. But we were guests, so I shrugged aside my concern.
"Thank you for your welcome, Song of Peace." I acknowledged her lowered head and downcast eyes with a nod of my own. The metis cocked a head at my companion, who politely downcast her glance in respect. "Have the packs of your sept assembled?"
The wolf's form blurred until a slender young woman stood before us, clad in a plain denim skirt and t-shirt, short dark hair hanging slightly in her face. "Not exactly. I thought we might talk a bit first. You can call me Jon, by the way. I've got a small cabin near the edge of the bawn."
We trekked over the uneven ground to the one-room cabin. Inside, the furnishings were simple: a couple of wooden chairs, a bedstead with a patchwork quilt, a table and an icebox. Thick cotton rugs covered the floor. Meredith and I sat and waited as Joan poured tea from the waiting pot on the fire.
"You got here earlier than I expected," she said, and I detected a note of unease in her voice.
"Well, the matter seemed important enough," I replied. "You said your pack leader was facing unjust punishment and that the sept elders had agreed to hear a neutral opinion from an outside judge."
Joan looked at me and shrugged. "I didn't exactly explain the whole situation. Now, before you claw open my innards, please listen a moment."
"You'd better make it good," I snarled. "If you've pulled me away from my own sept on a whim, you'll have more to contend with than a few new scars." I felt Meredith tense at my side, but she made no further move.
Her chin lifted. "Fair enough. Here's the situation...the whole situation. My pack leader, Gerhard Turner, is a Shadow Lord. He's been accused of killing another packmate, a Black Fury and Philodox, like you. Our sept leader doesn't like Gerhard, and I think he's taking some shaky evidence at face value to get rid of Gerhard so his own position isn't threatened."
"Sounds awful political to me. Is the sept leader a Shadow Lord?"
Joan shook her head. "An Uktena, and one well known. This caern used to be tended by them, but they abandoned it for some reason, and the Lords took it over. Then, when they got wiped out in a Black Spiral attack some months ago, the Uktena came back. Gerhard was one of the few survivors of the Shadow Lords' sept. Calvin Hicks, that's our sept leader, grudgingly let him stay. We've built back our strength, and now there's three packs altogether. The Moor Hunters are three, Fianna and Get of Fenris. The Low Valley Pack are the Uktena. And finally, there's us, the Bloody Tusks. Gerhard and me. Steven's a Fianna Ahroun. Denise is another Child of Gaia, a Crescent Moon. Nancy's the one that died, supposedly at Gerhard's hand."
"So to boil it down to brass tacks," I interjected, "Calvin wants Gerhard out, even if means some sneaky tactics. Lovely. Sounds like this whole bunch are way too interested in their own glory rather than that of the sept."
"That's about it." Joan shrugged. "I figured you'd want to talk to everyone, look at the evidence. But no one knows you're here. Yet."
A long hiss which may have started as a sigh, escaped my lips. "Listen, young Galliard. Do you know much about the history of the Half-Moons? What they do? Why they are?" She shook her head "Well, pour us some more tea. I need to get my brain back onto the business at hand, and I'm going to focus on my moon to do it. One of my most cherished duties is teaching other Furies to tread the path of the Philodox, and I'm not going to let your request interrupt my student's education -- it's going to add to it. In the future, maybe you'll know better than to invite a Half-Moon on a whim, and my learner here will become a better judge of when to speak and when to be silent." What I didn't say was talking sure was better than letting my temper flare up and onto this innocent goody-two-shoes. That would be a pretty poor example to set for Heart of the Sky, wouldn't it?
Halves of the WholeEdit
You'll forgive me if I'm not as flowery at this tale telling as you. I'm more used to listening than telling, if you get my drift.
Each tribe has a different story about how the Garou came to be Gaia's warriors, spirits clad in flesh. I won't bore you with the generalities. What's sometimes left out of those sagas, though, is how Gaia decided to split the duties of her warriors. It's true, of course, we're all good scrappers. But Gaia was wise enough to realize that not all the work of a good soldier is done on the battlefield. Some of it is behind the scenes, and that's where the Half-Moons have a great place.
All right, back to the past, for good or ill, it's been the Half-Moons who've guided the werewolves' path. Some Ahroun would argue that point, but think about it, and you know I'm telling the truth. Who helped bring about the end of the War of Rage? A Child of Gaia Philodox. Which auspice directed the creation of the Concordiat? Damn if it wasn't the Half-Moons. And who arrived just in recent years to kick Jonas Albrecht's butt into high gear so he could claim the Silver Crown? Well, I'll be damned, it was that wise young fellow, Evan Heals-the-Past. A Philodox, if you can imagine that.
Fame and InfamyEdit
I should probably note a few of the more famous Half-Moons you ought to know. Maybe you could even remember them in your stories or songs, but I'll let you be the judge of that.
Among your tribe, of course, there's the notorious Cries Havoc. I'm not sure how he manages to preserve the Veil with those large horns of his, but I have to give the guy some credit. He's got guts trying to get the tribes and packs to work together. We also give a special place to the Child of Gaia called Lore-Speaker Gron, whose wise words helped end the Impergium, as I mentioned before.
I do know quite a few legendary Half-Moons from my own tribe, of course. My teacher and mentor, Daphne Theophiledes, is an elder known for leading the Sept of Ariadne's Web, near Washington D.C. Another great Fury Philodox was Kendra Stevenson, who helped found one of the first schools for women in the American West. The sad thing about her is that her end fate is unknown; she disappeared in the San Francisco area during the turn of the century.
Strangely enough, I can't recall any Bone Gnawer or Fianna Philodox who've become well known. Of the latter, it seems, only the warriors and songkeepers of that tribe get major credit. Pity, as I think they could do with some balance in their lives. The same is true of the Red Talons; for good or ill, they have little to do with our tribe, except for the small number of lupus among us.
Furies and Get may not get along too well, but I give credit where it's due. Karin Jarlsdottir has shown herself to be a capable leader, one that at least gives a pretense of thought before action. Maybe there's hope for some reconciliation between our tribes, if she's representative of what the Get of Fenris are becoming. I know a good deal less about Thunder's Teeth, an ancient Get lupus that lives in Finland and serves as one of the unofficial leaders of the entire tribe. Few from this side of the pond have ever seen him, though his reputation is that of a warrior and hunter of legend.
While the Glass Walkers keep to themselves more than ever, which I think is stupid, I've nonetheless heard of a Philodox among them called Elizabeth Genereader. If the Walkers had a leader, I think she'd be it. Rumors have filtered out from Europe that she's quite the mover and shaker.
Speaking of Shadow Lords, Anatoly Maseryk is leader of the Thunderstrike Sept in the Ural Mountains. Word has it that he's a better conciliator than his predecessor. Wonder if this guy is going to work with Konietzko or against him? And as far as Konietzko goes, if you haven't heard of him yet, you will soon. Apparently, he's the leader of some sort of huge European coalition, even though he's not a Philodox.
You may know more about this than I do, but the Silent Striders tell of one of their Half-Moons who may or may not have a dark fate ahead. this Philodox is an Australian metis called Grek Twice-Tongue. Rumor has it that he's going to somehow restore the Bunyip either by finding them or else helping the werewolves absolve their guilt over that unfortunate mess.
The Stargazers, as you know, have officially left the Garou Nation, but that doesn't mean they all packed up and headed back to the east. One of the more renowned (and definitely perplexing) members of the tribe is a Philodox named Antonine Teardrop. He stayed behind for his own reasons, possibly trying to make some massive effort at uniting the werewolves under one banner of allegiance. I say, good luck, because he sure has some tough odds working against him.
I've already mentioned one of King Albrecht's packmates, the Wendigo Evan Heals-the-Past. there's another werewolf of note among the so-called Pure Ones you might note, and that's the Uktena lupus Philodox Lamurum, down in Australia. I think he hung around with Grek for a time, but latest rumor has it that Lamurum has made his way to the Americas. No one realy knows why.
I saved the best for last. Though it seems odd to me, many of the great Silver Fang leaders have been Theurges or Ahroun. One exception was the late Collette Delacourt, a Fang from down New Orleans way. She's one of the great "what ifs" among us Half-Moons. All indications were that she was headed for a lifetime of wisdom, for even in her youth, she worked with many tribes, even the outcast Bone Gnawers. When her dismembered body showed up in a tainted swamp, all hell broke loose, with blame falling on the Shadow Lords. the truth of her fate is still unknown.
Well, there's some fodder for your tales, young Galliard, and a quick history lesson for you, Meredith. Now, back to the heart of the matter: What it means to be a Half-Moon.
The Measure of the AuspiceEdit
Over the centuries, as I've told you, we've gained fame, or notoriety, as leaders in times of peace, advisors in times of war and judges whenever and wherever we're needed. I can't stress to you how inevitable and right this is, how essential to our being. You, Galliard, can't help the inborn love of song and pretty words. By the same token, Meredith and I can't resist the need and desire to bring things into balance and stability. We as Half-Moons have an eye for order; it's just who we are. Without rules and implementation of them, we'd degenerate into a bunch of mindless killers. The Litany and our tribal customs, enforced by the Half-Moons, keep us all in check.
So let's discuss duty for a moment. It's a Gaia-given obligation for the Philodox to step in and take up authority when she sees it's needed. Sometimes that means working alongside the Ahroun as an advisor. Other times, it's delegating duties as she deems fit. You know we're also the judges and juries of the wereolves; that's why I'm here talking to you today. You must also realize that it's sometimes hard to see justice served. Being a leader requires you to make difficult decisions. I'm talking about gut-wrenching stuff, like sending a pack on what's surely a suicide mission, because it's for the good of the sept or the Garou as a whole. It's about punishing those who violate the Litany, since those laws were made to protect us and keep our honor intact, even if you have sympathy for the law-breakers. It's about going among a bunch of strangers and ferreting out the truth, whatever the cost, because it's the right thing to do.
Timidly, Meredith interupted me. "What about the distinctions among the Philodox? Is it true that those of the waxing and waning moons take different perspectives on duty? I haven't met enough to realy know yet."
Well, if you ask me, the differences are pretty subtle. Still, some among us say that those born in the time of the waxing moon seem partial to being moderators and arbitrators. Those birthed under the waning moon may have a propensity for maintaining order and balance. I think those distinctions are too cut and dried, personally. Any Philodox worth spit is always going to be concerned with stability, as well as a sense of truth and justice.
I stirred as footsteps approached the cabin. Joan rose and answered the door. I wasn't surprised to see a man with black hair and stern eyes standing there. I rose and nodded my head. Meredith rounded her shoulders a bit, not quite flinching, but clearly recognizing an elder when she saw one.
"You must be the leader of this sept, Calvin Hicks. I am Elaine, Balance of Truth."
He tilted his chin down a hair, "Yes. I heard of your coming from the wind. Half-Moon of the Black Furies, you were not summoned by me. We can tend our affairs without the help of outsiders." He didn't even give my sidekick a glance.
He was pissed, resentful and insulted, not necessarily in that order. Perhaps it was time to apply some balm to relax his hackles.
"I'm sure that's true," I replied in a cool tone. "If I'm not needed, Gaia knows I'll leave. But do me a courtesy, and allow me to extend a hand of friendship. I meet few Uktena where I live, and my young student and I are talking about the roles Luna and Gaia have given us to your Moon Dancer. Perhaps as a descendent of the Pure Ones, you could tell us what you see as the important responsibilities of the Half-Moon."
He frowned, but after a moment, took the cup that Joan held out to him, and sat down on the remaining empty chair. He gave Heart of the Sky a quick look, but said nothing directly to her.
As I lead this Sept of the Glass Hand, to me the primary role of the Philodox is one of leadership and setting an example. I speak of peace times, for in days of war, I likewise believe that the warriors of the full moon can best direct our path. This is an old custom among my people, the Cherokee, to have two chiefs, one for peace and one for war. Most of Gaia's children see the wisdom of this as well.
Within the sept, the Half-Moon must be the one who knows everything. He should speak with the young and the old alike, keeping an ear to the ground listening for shouts of victory as well as whispers of sadness. He must know those who are his equals, his betters and his subordinates, what stirs their blood and stimulates their minds; how else can he make the best decisions for the packs? Also, the Philodox who leads the sept cannot ask anyone else to do what he would not. So, he must lead by example; it's a poor chief who will not do the tasks he commands others to do, even if they are mean and brutal.
In deciding who will lead the sept, I believe in competition, not just of fighting with claw and tooth, but also with cunning and shrewdness. Maybe the Get of Fenris have to solve all their challenges with blood, but not the Uktena. When a young one comes to me wanting to be tested, I look to his heart and head, not his fist. What strikes fear in him? What mettle can I strike that cannot be seen? How will he respond to the duties of higher rank, the risks, the dangers? I choose the task that won't necessarily pit him against a foe, but rather the enemy within himself.
The sept is the backbone of our society; the packs are the hands, feet and eyes. When I agreed to lead this sept, I knew that sometimes I would have to make decisions I disliked because they were for the betterment of the sept as a whole rather than the good of one pack, or even one werewolf. If you snap a wolf's spine in half, she dies. But you can put out one eye or take away one hand, and she still lives. If I must make a decision that will cause pain, I will always choose to hurt the whole pack or the individual rather than the sept as a whole.
As far as the specific duties of a Half-Moon, I imagine my people have similar ideas to your own. We both know that in the structure of the sept, nearly any auspice can hold any office. However, there are tendencies to serve in certain roles. A Grand Elder who speaks for the council of elders, the Gatekeeper who meets with other tribes and the Truthcatcher who mediates disputes are most often Half-Moons. The latter two positions in particular are apt for one who is a judge and arbitrator. In our sept, a Philodox may also serve as Master of the Rite or Master of the Challenge. Sometimes, a Gallaiard may have a stronger voice, but the Philodox often has the clearer vision. In all cases, though, the privilege of a sept office should go to the werewolf who will do the best job.
Does that answer your question, Black Fury?
"Perfectly," I responded. "I would be a poor gues indeed if I didn't honor the wisdom of your years and experience." Inside, though, I figured he'd painted an awful rosy picture of things. Something in my gut told me that all wasn't as it seemed here. Time to dig a little.
"I realize, Calvin, that I am in your territory, and I respect those boundaries. However, we're here. And we are both willing to help get to the bottom of things. Do you mind if we stay and at least talk to some of the other sept members? If we've given you cause for offense, we'll leave in the morning. But it's a long trip. And my conscience bothers me, to think that I'd be doubly failing in the charge of my mentor, Daphne Theophiledes, called Silverweft, that I seek to serve Gaia's love of the truth wherever I go and serve as a guide to the young Philodox among us." I looked at Meredith.
The Uktena bristled a little at my namedropping. Good. Daphne herself would've applauded; she'd have smelled the same stench of wrongness here that I did. "The Rite of Silver Death comes in three days, when the gibbous moons swells. You have until then to ask your questions, and then you must leave. What follows is the business of the sept and not for strangers." With that, he rose and walked out the door.
Three days. Damn. It'd have to be time enough. And the Rite of the Silver Death was particularly nasty, involving among other things a curse of weakness and virtual evisceration. Not pretty.
Joan had remained quiet through our conversation. "He doesn't like you much, but he respects you," she murmured. "So, do you want to talk to the others now?"
I rose and stretched. "Yeah. So much for sleep. Take us to the rest of your pack." Meredith nodded her agreement.
We hiked about a mile into the denser woods. The smell - it gave me something I'd forgotten. Nothing like dew-damp ferns and the wash of water over mossy rock to renew your senses.
In an open grove stood a small cabin, even tinier than Joan's. Two shapes stood out front, one on four legs, the other on two. They tensed as we approached, but must've recognized the Moon Dancer's scent.
"Nightsong, Finella. This is Elaine, the Half-Moon I asked to come, and her pupil, Meredith. Black Furies, these are members of the Moor Hunters."
The wolf came to me, and I knelt to greet her as an equal, admiring her great beauty - sleek, dark fur and tawny eyes. I was pleased to note her welcome to Meredith, polite and warm, as a grandmother greets a cherished granddaughter. The young warrior Finella lowered her spear and gave us both a nod.
"We're guarding the prisoner," she said, matter-of-factly. "Not a happy duty, but a necessary one."
"We'd like to see him." I met her gaze, and with a shrug, she opened the door.
As we stepped inside, I felt a chill seep into my bones. This place was entropy, nothingness. It had been sliced off from the spirit world with a fell stroke. I gritted my teeth and looked down at the man sitting against the far wall, his dark eyes glittering in the pale silver light filtering through the door's cracks.
Daphne told me initial impressions reflect much. The first one I felt was misery. I flinched at the despair coming from the Shadow Lord. As a rule, like most Furies, I didn't trust them. But this guy's anguish seemed pretty damn genuine. I heard an audible gasp from Meredith; she must have felt it, too.
"Boy, it must be bad if old Stoneface let some outsider in." The prisoner's tone held a slight edge of arrogance, or maybe gallows humor. But he scrambled to his feet after a moment passed.
"You've got a sharp tongue for a killer," I snapped. "I wouldn't go shooting off at the mouth if I were about to be cut from crotch to crown."
He shrugged. "I know who you are, Elaine Balance of Truth. You've got quite a rep even among the Half-Moons of my tribe. Welcome, for what it's worth, to you and your fellow Black Fury. And as for my sharp tongue, it's all I've got left."
"Good thing you're no Galliard, then," I replied. Dammit, I didn't want to feel sorry for this guy or even like him. But I did. Something about his youth appealed to me. And I don't know what it was - a sign from Pegasus or maybe just pure, stupid, unexplainable gut instinct - but I knew this guy hadn't killed anyone in cold blood. Oh, no doubt he could do so. But I didn't think he'd murdered his packmate.
"Sit down," I sighed, and plopped onto the ground myself. Meredith leaned up against the doorway, watching and waiting. "Let's just talk a minute. Tell me the whole story. I make no promises to you or anyone else except to find the truth of what happened."
"That's fair," he answered. "Well, for starters, I'm Gerhard Turner, a Philodox like yourself. A Shadow Lord, but don't hold it against me too much." He flashed a quick grin. "I'm sure you'll be utterly impartial. Anyway, I guess things started going bad when we invited the Uktena."
"What do you mean, invited the Uktena?" I asked.
"As I understand it from my cousin, who used to be part of this sept, a long time ago, the Uktena lived here and claimed it as their own. No one knows how or why, but they abandoned the caern." I flinched, but he continued without noticing. "So the Shadow Lords took over. they lived here and protected the caern until just a couple of years ago. A whole hive of Black Spirals swarmed in and killed nearly all the Kinfolk and sept members. In fact, the only people left were me and another pack member, Denise, a Child of Gaia, because we had the stupid luck to be meeting with some other werewolves at a sept due east of here. When we got home, everything was a mess. Well, hell, we were barely pas our Rite of Passage and had no idea what to do. A couple of Kinfolk had survived, barely, and one of them knew about the Uktena north of here. Eventually, we invited them to come here and help us guard the caern. I mean, two of us simply couldn't handle the job."
I nodded gently. "Go on."
"Time passed, and others came to join us. Nancy, Denise, Joan and I formed a pack, and later on, Steven came in. Odd as it may seem, we worked pretty well together. Nancy and I both sort of took charge, making plans and directing things. We were all about the same age and rank, and we led the assault against the Spirals who'd killed my Kin. Although the Uktena held most of the major positions in the caern leadership, we were getting a rep of our won. And Nancy and I wanted to have a say in things."
Gerhard paused a moment and looked me in the eye. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to head the sept and our pack. Par of my idea of what makes a good Philodox is that they lead, particularly by example. And Nancy was a tough opponent. If we'd had to compete for it, I don't know that I'd have won. But I would have followed her and trusted her, if she'd beaten me. That's another job of the Philodox as I see it - to be the first and best at serving whoever's in charge. I would have supported her because to do so would be to perform at my best for the pack. If I couldn't be in charge, at least I could advise and offer my counsel."
I thought on that a moment. "Speaking of that, what about the rest of your pack?"
"Joan's a good kid, but she kind of has her head in the clouds, daydreaming and making up songs. Denise spends most of her days inside the bawn or the Umbra. And Steven is a good fighter, but he's what I'd call a sterotypical Fianna - no discipline at all. It was either Nancy or me."
"You realize that with Nancy gone, you'd have one less opponent," I countered.
He stiffened, and I saw anger enter his dark eyes. "I did not have to stoop to murder to defeat her," he snarled. "Something shitty is going on here, and you haven't heard the rest of the story. And you haven't heard the rest of the story. And you've obviously got a poor idea of what it means to be a Philodox in a pack, as opposed to running around judging people, if you think I'd kill her for such a reason." My hackles rose, but I stomped on that anger. Words now, blows later, if it came to that. I motioned for him to continue.
"So, we'd been taking turns leading and planning things. We held pack meetings fairly often, and set up a sort of caper chart on who would pull guard duty and so on. Nancy and I made the final decisions, but everyone had a say. But after Nancy and I announced our intentions to Calvin and the rest of the sept at the last moot, things got pretty tense. The Uktena weren't happy at all, but of course, they didn't say anything to us. Then, two days ago, Joan found Nancy's body, butchered, just outside the bawn. Her fetish, a Feather of Ma'at, she called it, was missing. There was a search, and it showed up in my cabin, of all places. I have no idea how it got there."
I mentally chewed on that a moment. "Sounds like some sort of Silent Strider thing. Where'd she get it?"
"No idea," replied Gerhard. "But she travelled a lot before settling down here, so who knows? Anyway. That's all it took for Calvin to throw the book at me."
"Did he ask the spirits for aid? Didn't he find out if you were lying or not?"
He laughed, short and bitter. "Sure he did. He asked everyone in the whole damn sept if they knew anything about Nancy's death. Everybody said no, and they apparently all told the truth."
I shook my head. "I don't understand. Why blame you on such flimsy evidence? That doesn't seem particularly just or fair."
"For a judge you're pretty innocent. Don't you get it? It was enough for him to say that I was guilty, that finding the fetish was sufficient, that somehow, I'd managed to conceal my part in her murder. He said there were ways of covering up the truth, and he was sure that'd be part of a Shadow Lord's upbringing." Gerhard let his chin drop to his chest. "The Uktena have their own reasons for not caring too much what happens to me. If I'm out of the picture, there's nobody to challenge their claim to the caern or the leadership of the sept."
I paused and considered. "Then let me see for myself." My eyes stung as I whispered softly, feeling the flow of warmth from my own body outward to this fellow Half-Moon, calling upon one of Gaia's blessings to her Philodox. "Gerhard, did you kill your packmate? Did you take her fetish?"
"No," he answered, firmly and with conviction. And I knew the truth of it. He was innocent. Or at least he believed he was.
"Well, that's that," I said, after a moment had passed. "I'm going to talk to your other pack members and then give Calvin a piece of my mind."
I stormed out with no further explanations, Meredith on my heels. Joan waited in the shadows, while Nightsong and Finella talked quietly amongst themselves. Time to sound out my thoughts.
"Moon Dancer, you and your packmates please join us up at your cabin in an hour. I want to talk a bit with Meredith before we speak to them."
We made the trek back to Joan's cozy little retreat, and I poured another cup of hot tea for us both. After a while, I spoke.
"This may not have been the best way for you to learn after all," I sighed. I was loath to admit it, but feared I'd stepped out of my bounds, out of my league.
"Why in Gaia's name would that be?" asked Meredith, surpised. "I've learned quite a lot already. I mean, you don't think the Shadow Lord is guilty, do you?"
I shrugged. "No...but there's something different here. Oh sure, I've adjudicated lots of disagreements among my Black Fury sisters, but this whole multi-tribal thing is kind of new to me. I admit that there's strength in diversity, but geez, this place sure as hell isn't the Garou UN, and I'm no diplomat."
"Well, if it makes you feel better, let me tell you what I've picked up on," she responded, with a hopeful look. "For starters, this place is kind of a mess. Instead of working together to fight the Wyrm or the Weaver, this whole sept has turned into a nest of leeches. Politicking. Vying for power. It's not right, is it?"
She sounded so mournful, I had to chuckle. "It's a clusterfuck, all right, but don't worry about it. Stereotypes don't always hold true, but in this case, the Uktena's secrets and the Shadow Lord's reputations have sure been at loggerheads."
Meredith gave me a long look, and then spoke again. "Do tribes make a difference in how we do our job?"
I paused to consider that.
Among the Furies, we respect each auspice equally. All have a place as maiden, mother and crone. You may call it ego, but I think the Philodox stands at the center of the Black Fury culture. She interprets the Litany, decides on punishments and metes out justice. Some criticize us for being too attuned to the Weaver, but as always, it's a matter of balance. In my tribe, Half-Moons share both facts and wisdom. They don't have to be the same, but they do have to be true. The hardest part of the job, at least from my perspective, is considering both the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.
I kind of like the Gnawers' outlook on the meaning of balance and the place of the Philodox. Perhaps more than most tribes, their Half-Moons don't just consider themselves judges, but also advocates of both sides of the Garou nature. Yep, I'm talking about human and wolf. Like we Furies, they're often activists for mortals in need of some justice and fairness. They also take the side of those who are downtrodden and forgotten. Needless to say, we're often on the same side when it comes to serving the interests of truth. Oh, and be careful if you ever try to con something out of a Bone Gnawer Philodox; they're whizzes at wheeling and dealing.
Children of GaiaEdit
I remember a Stephen King short story where a well-intentioned peacemaker got a knife in the throat for his troubles. And no offence to this tribe, but that's what I fear may happen to many a Child of Gaia Philodox. They take their roles as peacemakers quite literally, ready to throw down their lives in order to keep things all hormonious and serene. I admire their courage, but to be an effective intermediary, you've got to stay alive. Still, the Gaian Half-Moons have much renown as the best teachers among the Garou, and that deserves a lot of respect.
Honestly, I don't have any personal bias against the Fianna, realy I don't. On the other hand, I don't envy their Half-Moons; they've got one hell of a job. First and foremost, their task is keeping folks in line, no easy task considering the strong passions and lack of, um, self-control among the tribe. And while I don't know why the role fell to the Philodox, they're also responsible for setting up matches between Fianna and Kin. I personally find that old-fashioned, if not downright sexist, but to each their own. Something to remember is that the Half-Moons of this tribe usually have the strongest resolve of any Fianna. Good to know when you have to deal with one that's pissed at you.
Get of FenrisEdit
The Fenrir call their Half-Moons Forseti; I don't know the exact meaning of the word, but if you hear it, at least you'll get the reference. These guys are totally by-the-book. They interpret the Litany strictly and allow little leeway. No doubt you've heard of their harsh punishments for even small infractions, but hell, at least they don't pretend to be anything other than hard-asses. You meet a Fenris Philodox, at least you know what you're getting into; there aren't any shades of gray. One thing that even I can admire, though, is how carefully the Forseti recall the laws, mores and customs of their tribe. If we need to say something good about them, and I suppose I should, then let it be that they regard tradition and the past with great reverence.
The Glass Walkers, perhaps not surprisingly, put a different twist on the role of the Philodox. Here, the Half-Moons are [cough] managerial types. Oh, I don't necessarily mean they're the business executives, but they might well be. They accumulate money, counsel those in need and even make sure the werewolves and Kin get spiritual and physical healing. I guess you could say they're whizzes at multi-tasking. In the remaining hours of the day, they do more typical Philodox stuff, such as interpreting law and judging disputes.
Remember what I said about the Get not understanding shades of gray? Well, quadruple that for the Talons' Half-Moons. They see the entire world only in dualities: Black and white, right and wrong, wolf and human. The Talon Philodox will listen to both sides of the story (never mind if there are three or more), and then make her decision. I can't blame them for being so...two-dimensional; I mean, it's their quintessential nature, isn't it? Still, it's just one more thing that makes dealing with the Talons exceptionally difficult.
Here's a bit of advice: Never play a chess game with a Shadow Lord Half-Moon. These werewolves are masters of planning and evaluation. They set up plots within plots as easily as an actor blocking a scene. The thing is, most of us don't feel their manipulating paw until whatever they've set up as has come to fruition. To be fair, sometimes they've got good reasons for all that subtle maneurvering. Still, even a noble goal doesn't make up for the fact that they're generally cunning and secretive. Like the Silver Fangs, the key player of the Shadow Lords, Konietzko, isn't a Philodox, but you can bet he has a lot of Half-Moons lurking near his ear.
Considering that this tribe is scattered far and wide, you shouldn't be surprised that they don't have a typical sept structure. Strider Galliards may preserve the language, songs and stories of the tribe, but the Half-Moons too help form the nexus of the tribe's communication system. Moreover, like myself, many of them are known for being good itinerant judges - willing to lend an impartial ear to those who ask for it - whether werewolf or spirit. And while I can't say for sure, I imagine more than one Philodox among the tribe is working on some sort of way to reclaim their ancestral homeland, Egypt, especially now that the coalition known as the Ahadi has seriously kicked leech butt there. There's a Strider woman named Bennu that we all may want to watch in the coming days. If anyone can work with Walks-With-Might, the leading Strider in the ahadi, it's her.
Among the self-proclaimed leaders of the Garou Nation, the Fangs give a special place to the Philodox. It's true that Albrecht may be an Ahroun, but he surrounds himself with Half-Moons to give guidance and remind him of the law. And there's a lot of legal stuff to know! The Half-Moon Silver Fang must orate not only Garou law, but tribal law as well - extremely complex stuff. The Silver Fang Philodox is also a teacher and mentor among the tribe, and many can recite history as well as any Moon Dancer. I can see I've shocked you. Well, there's also a downside to so much responsibility, and that's the burden of being a leader among leaders. The expectations are quite high, and more than one Half-Moon of the Silver Fangs has cracked due to the intense mental pressure.
Most Half-Moons of this tribe are great mentors and bridge-builders. As Uktena Kin come from many places and backgrounds, it's important to have someone who can keep things connected. That's where the Philodox comes in. The Uktena usually call them "Lawgivers" or Peacemakers" rather than judges. Many times, as the sept leader mentioned, the Philodox is chief in peace times, but gives over to an Ahroun in days of war, still playing an important role as advisor. Another, less discussed task of the Half-Moon is keeping secrets. The Galliards may have the hidden lore all stored away, but it's the Philodox who often decide when knowledge should be shared and how.
In a tribe steeped so heavily in ancient tradition, a major role of the Half-Moon is preserving the old ways to pass down from generation to generation. Like the Uktena, the Philodox is most often the leader, except in war, but the Wendigo put a twist on things. They don't assume anything about a Half-Moon until she proves herself worthy. So, the right of leadership isn't inborn; rather, it's earned. One thing you gotta respect about the Wendigo is this: they may not always agree among themselves, but when a Philodox who has won their respect speaks, the tribe listens and obeys, even if they don't understand the purpose and intent of the Half-Moon's words. Let's just hope that someone who's a fool doesn't get the reins of leadership.
Meredith had been listening intently this whole time, but now she interrupted with a question. "I realize you follow the auspice you're born to, but how is the training different from, say, a Galliard? You mentioned that a lot of Half-Moons have to learn history and such. Doesn't that seem like a bit of an unnecessary overlap?"
That's a realy interesting question, and honestly, one I'd not thought about too much before now, so I'm glad you raised it. I guess the best way to answer is to talk about what happens during a werewolf's childhood, presuming she's raised by knowing Kin or in a sept proper, rather than left alone to be kidnapped by strangers at some later point, or even forsaken as a lost cub. I hate to say it, but Kin-Fetches don't always work as speedily and sure as they should. But let's go on the assumption that this kid in question has the good fortune to be in a place where she can learn about things from the get-go. The locals know she's going to become a werewolf and also what moon sign arose at her birth. I don't know that much about your upbringing, but this is kind of what it was like for me.
My own daughter is seven, and I've taken care to introduce her to other members of my sept and their Kinfolk since she was a baby. Her bedtime stories have been those of our great heroes, the ones that are wise sages as well as great warriors. Something we also sneak into those tales is what I call "Litany Lite." Maybe it's just a Philodox thing, but it shouldn't be. Parents and other adults among the best agents of socialization for children, and I think its important that both Garou and Kin learn the morals we hold dear. Do I insist she recite the Litany in order or any hogwash like that? No! But I do want her to remember the basics, such as respecting others, being honorable and not treading on someone else's space. So in theory, she'll always preserve these values we cherish.
Again, let's imagine that someone's First Change occurs close to other werewolves and Kin she's known from childhood. Boom, there it is. Even if you kind of expect it, you and I both know it's pretty traumatic, painful both physically and spiritually. The joy and wonder come later. One of the first things we try to ascertain is the new werewolf's auspice. If careful records have been kept, we already know the sign under which she was born. If not, the Crescent Moons can speak with certain spirits and find out pretty soon.
Different tribes treat newly changed werewolves in different ways. Some prefer not to waste much time teaching them, since they might up and die in the Rite of Passage. Personally, I don't like the sink or swim approach; at least give them a few lessons on staying afloat before you throw them into the pond! So if a new Philodox comes to me, I want to at least talk about the basics. Sort of like I did with you, right? Some of this is good training for any new changer; I'm talking about discussing the Litany, the various tribes, the auspices, the breeds and so on. But with a Half-Moon, I also want to stress the importance of duty. I may delve a bit into the history of our auspice, how we've been judges, leaders, lawgivers and so on, since the beginning of time. I'll also throw in how she should be an example of balance between human and wolf. That's what generally scares them. Oh, not the human/wolf thing, but rather how the Philodox has to be a model "citizen" as it were. Ever heard that saying, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? No? Well, it means "who watches the guardians?" In other words, there's no such thing as a werewolf internal affairs department. We Philodox have to more or less police ourselves, be on our best behavior and serve as an example to others, from First Change until death.
Rites of PassageEdit
As you well know from those fresh scars on your flank, you're not realy a full-fledged member of the tribe until you complete the Rite of Passage; everyone knows that. What folks may not know is that usually the Half-Moons of the sept, in consultation with other elders, often decide on the tasks the would-be werewolves must complete. And it's compromise after compromise, particularly if you're talking about a bunch of different tribal notions of what's important. Fianna may want the cubs to bring back some lost piece of song; Uktena no doubt demand a forgotten secret of ancient lore. So, we Philodox try to negotiate a happy medium for the cubs. The tasks can't be so impossible that failure is certain, but they can't be a cakewalk, either. I like the three-pronged approach myself. First, to test the cubs' mettle, I think they need to release some of that seething Rage, and bloody their claws on a piece of the Wyrm. that's why part of your Rite of Passage involved combat. Second, I believe they need to speak with a spirit; after all, that's in part what we are, and what better way to get to know themselves? So I made sure you got to do that, too. Finaly, especially for the Philodox, I want them to mediate some sort of dispute. It could be between two Kin, for all I care, but I want them to be in the thick of an argument, pull apart the contenders and sort things out fairly. So the Rite of Passage isn't going to be a short process one can finish in a leisurely afternoon. I don't think it's unusual for weeks to pass."
Meredith gave me a rueful grin. "And that last one was the toughest of the three, without a doubt. I thought I wouldn't get out of that scrap between the metis and the lupus alive!"
Hey, it wasn't supposed to be easy. My bottom line is that if a newly Changed cub is a Half-Moon, then I have to see she's worthy of the auspice. If that's not proven on the Rite of Passage, then I better get some proof real quick. Otherwise, a Rite of Renunciation might be in order. Oh hell, don't look so scared. Only rarely does a cub not live up to the demands of being a Half-Moon. I'd say that in all my days, I've only seen it happen about three times. But it's a lot better to do this quick, rather than have an ill-made Philodox serving our peaople. And you did just fine, Heart of the Sky.
Serving the TribeEdit
When the Half-Moon completes the Rite of Passage, her learning isn't finished, as you're just starting to find out. Not by a long shot. She likely trains side by side with a Philodox of higher rank, perfecting her knowledge of Garou laws and customs, to correctly interpret these matters for the tribe. Also, she learns what it means to be a leader. I'm not just talking about being at the head of the fray in battle, but also how to make hard decisions, the ones that gnaw at your very soul. One of the most difficult things we teach the Half-Moons who eventually lead our packs and septs is that death is part of life. It may rip your heart out to order a beloved friend into certain death, but if it's for the good of our people, it has to be done. Act now, mourn later; that's a common saying among us. We can't show any partiality; we have to be fair in all things, no matter the pain we may feel.
Another part of serving the tribe involves having good judgement. I'm not talking about being a judge per se, but rather knowing when to give and take, when to push and when to let go. It's not something that can be taught realy, but comes from years of experience, watching others and not flinching from the tasks at hand.
Archetypes both reflect stereotypes and defy them; they can show the "basics" of how to play an auspice as well as put a new spin on an old idea. The following archetypes should give players and Storytellers a few ideas on how to work the Half-Moon creatively into the frame of the chronicle.
In maintaining law and justice, the Philodox has to ask hard and sometimes painful questions. The Inquisitor excels at this exercise, to the point of near fanaticism. While her intentions are usually good, her technique is razor-sharp. Not everyone appreciates her drive and ambition, nor her passion for figurative (and sometimes, literal) bloodletting. The Inquisitor is a real take-charge type who barges in, kicks ass and carves names into her little black book with gusto. When sitting in judgment of her fellow werewolves, she's the one who pushes the envelope - not afraid of anything or anyone.
The problem with the Inquisitor is that she is heedless of any consequences. Even if there's a slightly easier path to reach the truth, that leaves another's honor intact but still accomplishes the job, she'll always take the harder road. For this reason, most werewolves fear rather than respect her. They'd follow her if so ordered, but out of dread of her reprisals, not loyalty. The Inquisitor means well; she's just got to learn to soften her blows on occasion. Nobody wants to see her show throat needlessly, but by the same token, she should learn how to accept her losses gracefully.
The Inquisitor of the waning moon tends to see everything in dualities: Yes and no, good and bad, right and wrong. there's no middle ground whatsoever. When born under the waxing moon, the Inquisitor seems to revel in the fear she evokes in others. She's like an old, crusty teacher who has no mercy on anyone for any reason. She's not realy such an absolutist, but she does enjoy the reputation.
The Perfectionist is fairly high-strung and nervous. He believes that everything has a place under the sun, and whatever's not in the proper place needs to scurry there as soon as possible, lest he get too pissed. The Perfectionist is the fellow who scours the bawn again, and again and again, driving the Theurges mad with his fidgeting. He's in high demand as an organizer of sept gatherings and moots, though; when the Perfectionist is in charge, others can be assured of all things going smoothly.
In evolving into a wiser Half-Moon, the Perfectionist needs to learn to slow down and relax a bit. He can work well with others (it's in his nature, after all), but he also needs to get better at taking advice and input from his packmates seriously, not just giving lip service and then doing it his way irregardless. In short, he's got to start seeing the forest and the trees, not just the leaves, roots and branches.
The waning moon Perfectionist specializes in details. He looks at minutiae to the detriment of the big picture. Granted, those small parts of the whole are going to be increadible, but in the end, because he doesn't always step back with an objective eye, he may miss some bigger points. The Perfectionist of the waxing moon is just plain bossy; he's a bit of a know-it-all who may have a somewhat elevated opinion of his abilities.
The Unready LeaderEdit
Born beneath the Half Moon, this werewolf is destined to be a leader....and yet, he fears the challenge that awaits. He may not want the reins of command, but by fate or heredity, they've fallen into his lap. The Unready Leader has good qualifications, but he's full of self-doubt. Every time he makes a decision, he's afraid it's the wrong one. Moreover, he blames himself for the pack's failures, and never takes credit for their successes.
The Unready Leader has a bit of a martyr complex, but he internalizes it rather than complaining about his lot in life. Most of his packmates probably don't realize that the silence they take for quiet wisdom is realy concealing worry and misgivings about the future. The Unready Leader needs to gain confidence, and this will only come from repeated success, the passage of time and the firm support of his pack.
The Unready Leader born under the waxing moon may seem detached, perhaps even unfriendly. His detractors call him cold and unfeeling, while his friends, despite their affection for him, think he's too preoccupied inside his own head. If born under the waning moon, the Unready Leader seems constantly on edge, checking and rechecking every preparation a dozen times or more. He's pessimistic and believes that something will go wrong unless he's right there to fix it.
The Itinerant AdjudicatorEdit
While the Inquisitor peels back the layers of lies to find the truth, leaving plenty of scars in the process, the Itinerant Adjudicator rather is a mender of old wounds. She moves from sept to sept, invited in most cases, and applies a soothing balm of healing wherever it's needed. The Adjudicator usually keeps her cards close to the heart until it's time to speak publicly, but she's willing to talk to anyone and everyone to make things right...wherever that path may lead.
Unfortunately, the Itinerant Adjudicator sometimes stumbles into trouble because of her Pollyanna outlook. She believes that all disputes can be resolved in a fair and resonable manner, whether through mediated discussion or an even-handed fight. Moreover, she believes in the inherent prevalence of justice among the werewolves, an outlook that often clases with strong tempers and tough personalities. In becoming a better moderator, the Adjudicator would do well to occasionally set aside the rose-colored spectacles and deal with the shades of gray in a slightly more cynical manner.
The waxing-moon Adjudicator in particular has difficulties peering beneath the surface of things. She's usually content to hear all sides of the story, give her judgment and go about her merry way, not realizing the chaos she may have left behind. The waning-moon Adjudicator, on the other hand, may overstay her welcome and delve into matters way beyond the scope of her goodwill.
This category has only the following subcategory.
- [+] Philodox (1 C)