We opened again the same place we left off last time, with Ice Eyes (lupus Fenrir Galliard, Fostern, father of both main characters) leading them away from the pond. He stopped after a moment and said, "I can't find your mother. The fetish can't tell me any more than this." Shifting into human form, he removed a wooden toy wolf, brightly painted and cleverly carved to exactly resemble their Kinfolk mother, and closed his eyes. Shadow-Touch realized that his father must be activating the fetish. After a moment, the doll opened its mouth and said, "I am in the forest, near the caern. I am very scared. I am badly hurt and in serious danger. I am above."
Ice Eyes growled in growing fear and frustration, then gave the fetish to Shadow-Touch to hold in his mouth, while he returned to wolf form and lead the way to the part of the forest where Ice Eyes was sure the bitch-wolf was hidden.
Sure enough, Moon Face and Shadow-Touch could smell their mother's scent very strongly all around, but right off the bat it was impossible to pick out a directionality. Their father rushed about, searching everywhere an incapacitated wolf could be hidden, while Moon Face and Shadow-Touch looked at each other. "I think I know who did this," Shadow-Touch growled. "You see if you can pick up what direction she might be in. I'm going to see if I smell the false one here."
So Moon Face began sniffing for directionality while Shadow-Touch hunted for the BSD's scent. He found it first coming very faintly from a very large, old live oak tree. Then, Shadow-Touch heard Moon Face say, "Above... her smell is coming from... up there?" Moon Face sounded confused and disturbed, as if unable to understand what his senses were telling him. Shadow-Touch, however, understood immediately. "In a tree. She's in a tree! Ice Eyes," he howled, as much as possible around the fetish still in his mouth, "she's in a tree!" (In retrospect I should have made him roll to be understood, but the mood was already tense enough and I didn't really want to slow things down with another stop to roll.)
Ice Eyes came back that direction, growled a quick note of approval, then began rushing from tree to tree, sniffing. Moon Face and Shadow-Touch did the same, fanning out. Close by to the subtly BSD-scented tree, Shadow-Touch found another large tree marked by the BSD, his disturbing scent rolling off it powerfully. He was about to howl to the others that he'd found it, when he heard Moon Face's sudden call, followed quickly by Ice Eyes' triumphant snarl -- coming from two different directions. Shadow-Touch called out to them, and they re-convened. As it turned out, three trees bore the scent of the BSD's mark. Ice Eyes snarled angrily, but Shadow-Touch knew which it had to be.
The Ragabash ran over to the tree with only a faint scent of BSD, shifted to Crinos, and immediately began to climb without waiting for the others to catch up. It was a tricky process, requiring three rolls and a shift to Human form to keep from breaking some thinner branches, but he finally made it up high enough to catch sight of his mother. She was bleeding from visible wounds, hanging by her neck (!) from a thick branch. Her muzzle, limbs, and body were bound by Tangling Whip straps (seen as "false vines/green-windy-things" by Shadow-Touch) and the stink of the BSD was now unmistakable. It was all too obvious who had done this, and why. Fighting back Rage (successful Willpower roll) Shadow-Touch tried to figure out how to get his mother down without hurting her further.
At this point there was a bit of bad communication between Mitch and I and it took a lot longer to get past that point than it should have. Fortunately we eventually worked it out and kept moving. Basically, he just said an idea shortly, when I was waiting for him to explain a more detailed plan of action, and I took that as him not knowing what he wanted to do yet, when he thought I was telling him his solution was the wrong one. So that was a bit bumpy, but we got it sorted as I mentioned and continued on.
At that point, Shadow-Touch realized he had forgotten about the fetish, that it was still in his mouth. He carefully set it down on a nearby thick branch, then turned back to the problem. He shifted back to Crinos, reached out, and wrapped his fist around the strap which was tied around his mother's neck at one end and the branch at the other. He used his thumb-claw to sever the strap while gripping it to keep it from falling. He then transferred her to his back, supporting her mostly with his shoulder but holding the strap in his teeth to keep her from falling. His first climb-down roll was so good that I ruled that he'd noticed a good path down on the way up, and so the climb down went quickly.
On the ground, Shadow-Touch asked what they needed to do for her. Ice Eyes said, "The Sept, we have to get her to the Sept," and turned to lead the way. Shadow-Touch said, "Wait! I left your fetish in the tree to get her down. Should I go get it?" Ice Eyes stopped, went to Crinos, took the Kin wolf from Shadow-Touch, and told him to hurry and get it quickly, then follow as fast as he could.
Shadow-Touch retrieved the fetish, then put his nose to the ground to follow his father's and Moon Face's trail. It took him to a bend in the trail beyond which he had never before traveled. He began to follow the trail and the scent, but a wolf he had never before met leapt out of the foliage, growling a challenge, tail held high. Shadow-Touch thought, "I don't have time for this," and tried to run past the other wolf, but the other wolf got in his way and made it clear that he'd have to get past fighting if he was going to at all. "Identify yourself," the wolf snarled.
"I'm Shadow-Touch, son of Ice-Eyes," Shadow-Touch said automatically, surprised. "I'm sorry, but I need to go, do you know Ice-Eyes?" The other wolf seemed less belligerent, but didn't fully relax until he had sniffed Shadow-Touch thoroughly. "I saw them go by. They're taking her to the Ritemaster's den." The other wolf gestured with a jerk of his head. Shadow-Touch thanked him and ran in that direction, following the smells of his family and blood.
That's where we stopped today. The rockiness of communication at one point marred the session a bit, but otherwise it was pretty successful. He was fast enough figuring things out that the wolf actually managed to not die hanging from that branch, which I didn't expect to happen. I was thinking this would end up being a sad death-of-parent scene, but he pulled off a day-saver... presuming the Ritemaster can heal her wounds, of course... ;)
As always, suggetions on STing technique, plot, et cetera, are always welcome, and I hope you enjoyed reading. Next installment coming soon.