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Tonight I tell a tale--a long tale, and not an old tale, but one which I was told as a young cub.. Tonight's tale is of Skelf Oiled-Blade...
*Shrugs, thinking.* Y'see, Skelf was alpha of his pack. Oiled-Blade wasn't a name given to him like most--his pack was called the Pack of the Oiled Blade, and his devotion was so fierce that he took the pack's name as his own. Everyone knew that when they offended the Oiled Blade, they offended Skelf, and that if they were owed a debt by the Oiled Blade, they were owed a debt by Skelf. So even though this wasn't the way things were normally done, noone made any issue about it. *Chuckles.* 'Sides, we don't bother with laws 'bout simple things like that, long as you're not makin' yourself a deed name that claims you done things you didn't.
An' his pack knew that he'd lay his life down for them in an instant--an' they'd do the same. Every pack has a bond, but Skelf Oiled-Blade's devotion was the stuff of legends. When he said to go and see what the thing was and defeat it, the entire pack grabbed their weapons, and they left within a half-hour of getting the news.
They ran. *smiles.* Skelf wasn't the largest in his pack, an' he wasn't the swiftest, but he was for sure the toughest. It took a LOT to knock down Skelf Oiled-Blade. Some say that it wasn't even his own strength that kept him going when by all accounts he should have died--they say it was his devotion to his pack that kept him alive--when nothing else could, the knowledge that the Oiled Blades needed him kept him goin'. An' he always kept goin'. The pack ran, struggling to keep up, for days on end without a single pause.
Finally they did pause. They came across the trail of a deer, dragged it down, ate, and slept. They didn't feast on it, because to eat too heavily before a large battle is dangerous--*chuckles.* We learned that from the tale of Glaston Bear-Belly, a Garou of a different tribe--but they ate well, and they rested. When Helios next brought light to the world, Skelf awakened his pack and they travelled the short distance to the village.
Wasn't too long 'fore they reached the village, an' when they were more than a mile off they could smell it in the air. horrid smell, a smel that literally spoke to their wolf's-noses of death and distruction and heartbreak. But mainly death.
Skelf was no fool, so he had the others spread out a bit. They advanced closer, braving the stench by continuing to smell the horrid thing, trying to find out anything elsethey could. Silently they stepped forward, and they saw what had happened quickly--something had tore everything up. houses, roads, cars... people. I won't make you sick with the details, but it was bad. They say Sour-claw, another strong Modi, lost his stomach.
It also didn't take long to find the tunnel. The Shield Brothers of Adders are known to use them, so that was their first thought--and those foul things are a difficult battle, the power of Gaia's own warriors turned against her. But what they were prepared to see and what they saw were two very different things.
*nods.* Wal, it was Twitch-ear that seen it first--she was a lupus, an' bein' near the town made her uncomfortable already. When her Gaia-granted Gifts were working, nothing could escape her notice. She barked out a warning to Sour-claw, but she wasn't quick enough.
It was just a little shake to the ground, a little noise of stones rattlin' against each other--but Twich-ear knew that no animal makes such a noise. Sour-claw jumped to the side, but he was a big warrior, strong and unstoppable but slow, an' he moved too slow. The thing bust out of the ground, jumping out of it like a fish might jump out of the water, with Sour-claw in its jaws.
No-one screamed--it ain't the way of the Fenrir to give vent to terror--but all fell silent for a moment--then Twich-ear lept forward, an' Skelf Oiled-Blade was at her side. Twitch-ear ripped at the thing with her teeth, but all she managed to do was tear away slime that choked her mouth and nostrils.
The thing was like some kind of eel--maybe a mutated worm, maybe a miniature version of the Midgard Serpent itself. But it had some kind of teeth--that we know, because with what looked like a small twitch, Sour-claw--solid, strong, unstoppable--was cut in two, one leg falling a long, long way back down as Skelf thrust a taloned fist deep into the creature's side, a powerful blow that only make a slight scratch.
Then the rest of the pack lept in--two dozen strong, but as the thing writhed and flailed, a terrible truth came to them--no matter how powerfully they tore at the creature's hide, they did little more than tear into the thick slime that surrounded it. But the Thunderwyrm was not so inneffective--three it killed just by rolling onto them, and another was swallowed up in those massive jaws. They were causing it harm--there was a tear from Skelf Oiled-Blade and another from Thow Axe-thrower, but it was obvious the creature was going to win.
They fought on--for what seemed like hours they threw themselves at the thing, only to bounce or slide off the slick grease that covered it. Twitch-ear backed up and used the powerful legs of the Hispo form, leaping at the thing and sinking her fangs into the slash already made by Skelf. The thing whipped to one side in pain and tossed her aside--and then it turned like a snake and the head--as big as a car, maybe bigger--came down at a dizzying speed, headed straight for the offender. And Skelf couldn't let that happen.
The pack of the Oiled Blade was in a battle which it would surely lose, and Skelf Oiled-Blade--the one whos devotion to his pack was so fierce that he took their name as his own--could not watch another packmate see death. As the mouth big enough to engulf two, maybe three Garou in the full Crinos came down, Skelf Oiled-Blade leapt up.
Skelf wore the Crinos himself, and his legs threw him into the air quickly-so quickly that as the thing clamped huge teeth-like plates together to rend him in two, he slipped past them--almost. The searing pain that was supposed to cover his waist instead flooded one leg, and his foot fell out of the thing's mouth like the excess noodle on a strand of spaghetti. Screaming in Rage as her alpha willingly took the death that was due to her, Twitch-ear threw herself again at the thing, her wounds forgotten as she donned the Bear Shirt.
*Smiles.* Skelf had expected to be embraced by death--the end to pain, the end to the hurt in his leg and the searing agony of his packmates' death, played inside his head over and over. But Fenris is not so kind when there is work to be done, and Skelf found himself very much alive--and inside the Thunderwyrm's gullet, where there was no layer of thick skin or the horrid slime coating. Ignoring his wound, he tore with teeth and claws at flesh wherever he could contact it.
And now he caused harm. Now blood flowed wherever his claws touched. *Smiles.* And they touched ~everywhere~. The Thunderwyrm writhed in agony, its attackers outside forgotten, as this new assailant tore at it from inside. Twitch-ear, still thinking her alpha dead, strove onward, slicing into the slime and finally into the flesh, tearing away shreds.
The others, given energy by the sight of Twitch-ear's ferocity, renewed their attack, leaping onto the thing heedless of their own safety and tearing and rending. While Skelf tore from the inside, the Oiled Blade tore from the outside.
As everything in his vision and his smell and his taste became blood, Skelf Oiled-Blade almost lost himself to Frenzy--but he fought off the wearing of the Bear-Shirt and continued to rend, moving to the center--if it has blood, it has a heart, and this is the destination which Skelf Oiled-Blade sought.
And he found it--the great thumping that echoed in his skull led him to the heart--a huge muscle, larger than he himself--and without thought for his own life, his claws bit deep into the largest chamber.
*Smiles.* Now, there was a difference--Now the thing issued some kind of scream, a scream of desperation, and thrashed about even more wildly than before. As for Skelf Oiled-Blade, even the huge lungs of his Crinos form could only sustain him through so much action, and he needed to breathe. Tearing wildly, he strove to cut his way out. This round of thrashing threw off the others, and as Twitch-ear, lost in the Bear Shirt, roused herself from the ground to leap again, the others paused an instant, knowing that something had happened.
The creature thrashed about, then straightened out, pointing straight up to Luna as if asking forgiveness for its crimes against Her sister. With enough still in the ground to keep it standing, at least 50 feet stood outside of the ground, like the trunk of a massive tree. Then, like a tree, it crashed to the ground with an impact that knocked them all off their feet and smashed Twitch-ear against a rock hard enough to loose her from the Frenzy.
And a few things flew--rocks, trees, pieces of concrete, cars. Thrown by the impact, they scattered like a fleeing army, and a few of the Oiled Blade were knocked down by the pieces. But when the dust cleared, the Thunderwyrm lay motionless--except for one moving lump on the top.
And again it was Twitch-ear, the one who would replace Sour-claw as Beta and then Skelf as alpha of the Oiled Blades, the one who later would follow the tradition and offer up her lifes-blood for her pack, who was first there, tearing at the slime and flesh that imprisoned her alpha.
The others soon joined her, and with their effort Skelf thrust his muzzle through a slit in the muscle and mucus, cleared his nostrils of gore like a whale, and took a lungful of Gaia's breath. Now renewed, the Pack of the Oiled Blade pulled their alpha out of the creature's hide, and they gathered to regroup, clean themselves from the thing's foul taint, and lick their wounds before setting to the task of cleaning up the evidence.
The Thunderwyrm was hacked into pieces--a most unpleasant job--and buried in the tunnels from which it came. Spirit's Voice, the old Godi, cleansed the area-a task that took almost a moon, even with the pack's help--and then the pack of the Oiled Blade returned victorious to their own Sept. Even with one rear foot gone Skelf kept up with his packmate--although they no longer grunted and strained to exhaustion to keep up, he did not slow them down. His foot was brought back as well, in hopes that a healer could repair the wound, but the wound's contact with the creature's foul taint and the time gap made that impossible.
*Frowns.* That was Skelf Oiled-Blade's last great battle. With his foot missing, he could no longer lead his pack, and rather than wear the Ice shirt he went to the city where he knew Jorgunmandr's servants dwelled, and threw himself into a battle that he knew he could not win. He did not, but that night there was wailing and the death-songs in the halls of the draugr--the undead--as they whispered with fear of the monster that almost could not be killed.
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Told by Hjarta-Villtnur, Jublain Wade. Dólg-dvergr, Defeator of Ragnorak, Skyddman Skald to the Fenrir, member of the Dogs of War and Child of Wolverine, Warder to the Talking Junkyard Varthi
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