The tribe accepted them,
rejoiced to find two lost cubs, and brought them in to be taught the ways
of the Furies. Boudiccea found friends and family of a sort here,
among the young members of the pack. Sappho hung back, not really
trusting them for all their fancy words about sisterhood and unity.
And the two sisters drifted apart.
At first, it was imperceptable, just a lengthening of the time between visits, then the days apart turned into weeks, and sometimes months. Boudiccea went out with older tribe members to fight the Wyrm's minions, first in New Orleans, then Denver, finally in Chicago. She gained her renoun mostly in Chicago, standing her ground while the Get of Fenris turned and ran from an Elder Wyrm's lair. She destroyed it, with some help she remained mysterious about. When she came back, she was changed again, a little sadder, a little far-away sometimes.
"What is wrong with you?" Sappho asked pointedly one day, when Boudiccea's mooning about was nearly intolerable to her.
"What do you mean?" she asked, fixing her sister with steely blue gaze.
"You're distracted, moody, you don't want to do much of anything anymore," Sappho growled. "If you were an ape, I'd say you were in love.."
Sappho laughed to show she was kidding, but Boudiccea never cracked a smile.
"Oh, no, you aren't! Are you? Who is she?" Sappho leaned closer.
"It's not a she..." Boudiccea said quietly. "And it means nothing. We're too ...different. Let it go." She rose to leave.
"Hey, waitaminit!" Sappho followed her to the door. She playfully grabbed her sister's shoulder. Boudiccea turned back to face her. Sappho noticed her sister put one hand over her stomach, in an almost protective gesture.
Her eyes widened noticeably. Boudiccea followed her gaze and sighed wearily.
"Are you...?" Sappho pointed to her abdomen.
"I think. I am not sure yet," she said in a heavy tone.
"Are you going to keep it, or have an abortion?" The word tumbled out. Sappho hadn't thought it such a harsh word before, but now, looking into her sister's shadowed eyes, she bit her tongue inwardly.
"I don't know. There are too many things that I don't know. I just know how sick and tired I feel. Maybe it would be for the best if I ..." she swallowed hard.
"He is .. different, than me," she said again, sadly.
"Well, yeah, he isn't Garou...is he?" Sappho hissed. She knew the litany. She knew the law.
Boudiccea rolled her eyes. She sighed heavily.
"No. And perhaps it would be best if he were, instead of what he is..."she broke off reluctantly. Sappho knew she should somehow reassure her, tell her that all differences could be worked out in the end, but the words would not come. She looked at her sister and shrugged.
"If you want me to piss off, just tell me, ok?" Later, looking back on it, Sappho couldn't believe the anger in her tone.
Her sister shook her head, slowly. Then she turned very deliberatly and walked away from Sappho.
She never looked back.
"So I guess you
woulda been none too pleased fer yer sister to be...ah, involved with a
vampire, then?" Tommie asked. He was leaning back at the table
now, absorbed in the story.
And probably comparing it with the side he's already heard..
But she was enough of a bard to know when the tale was 'fresh' to the hearer, and he had the look of a man learning something new. So maybe Boudiccea hadn't told him everything. Maybe she'd told him nothing at all, beyond a few common knowledge facts.
Or maybe he knows that the eyes are the windows of the soul, and can pull down the shades whenever he wants to...
"No, I would have been furious, Mr Gunn. A great deal has happened to change my opinion in the years since, but then I believed all leaches were the agents of the Wyrm. And my sister knew that as well. I think that's why she let me find out about it the way she did..."
The pomp and magesty
of the Grand Conclaive of the Cyrcles was always a thing of beauty to Sappho.
The long trek to the meeting place was a magical journey to her, and she
actually looked foreward to being far away when she was called, so as to
roam the longest to get there. However, the Conclaive called the
year after Boudiccea gained her rank was a hasty affair, and Sappho noted
with barely concealed jealousy that her sister was called first.
Her own summoning was three days later, and she was told to hurry.
Making her way along the forested track to the small cottage, listening to the birdsong, she felt as though something was .. not quite right. Not a smell, not a sound, not something she could see, but something had shifted somehow. She could feel it in the deeper part of her mind, somehow. Things are never what they appear kept running through her brain as she trotted the last half-mile or so to the Elders' Camp.
She was met and ritually challenged by one of the guards on the path. This was a formal part of approaching the Old Ones, and went as she had expected, the question asked and answer given normally, then the words "A sister aproaches, let us welcome her," were called out, and she advanced.
She noticed a few old friends in the guard around the Most High One's cabin, and a scattering of new faces, young for the most part, all bursting with energy and pride to have been among the Chosen. She smiled inwardly, knowing how she would feel were she ever chosen also.
Three old women sat on the porch of the simple log cabin, and as Sappho approached, one of them said, in a low whisper: "This is the one's sister, then?"
It was not addressed to her, but she heard it just the same, and bristled inwardly with a pang of jealousy. Why was it always Boudiccea's place to be the golden child, when she was just as good, just as strong, and just as wyrm-hating as her? By accident of birth alone, she had slid into the world mere seconds after her sister, and it was about time everyone forgot that and let her prove herself on her own merits.
She walked to the steps of the porch and bowed her head in honor to the three sitting there. She knew some ettiquite. She was silent as she waited for them to speak.
And in that silence, plain as daylight, came a voice from the forest around her, the voice of her mother.
"Do not fear what will happen, my Nose-biter. All these plans being laid now will only strengthen the Wyld, and the Weaver. Know that you hold as high a place in the scheme of things as does your sister, as did I when I was of an age as you. Fear not where you will go, for you will do the thing that you must do. You will succeed where others fear to tread."
She stood, trembling, before the elders. Sappho was not used to hearing voices, that was the province of the theurge, not the ahroun. She looked up into the eyes of the woman sitting in the center of the three.
The woman nodded slightly to Sappho, and then to the woods, as if to say yes, you did hear this, as did I...
But when she spoke, it was not about the voice from the trees, but about something else entirely.
"It has been decided, that it be the will of the Weaver, that your sister should quit the company of wolves, and make her way to the cities of humans, and there she should live or die, being no longer of our concerns." The face of the woman was soft, contrasting the words she used. They were part of the ritual of Ostracism, enacted on only the lowest of the low, those who had broken the litany, or consorted with the wyrm itself. Sappho shook her head, not understanding what was going on. The woman continued,
"You and your sister have a duty to fulfill. These are perilous times, and call for desperate measures. You will stay here, in your pack and your family, but you shall not tell of she who was once your sister."
Sappho moved her mouth several times before the words finally came out.
"Wha..what has she done?"
"It is not what she has done, but what she will do. The Wyrm listens everywhere, child, and secrets shared are secrets exposed. Know that it is for the best. That is all I can say."
Sappho wanted to jump up, grab the old woman, and beat the information from her. As she thought it, the woman laughed softly. The other two turned to her with confusion written on their faces.
"That would accomplish little, Sappho Spear-breaker. And indeed, if what has been woven should come to pass, you may yet see me dead in this very spot. But not for this night. Go now. Wash and eat, and things will seem easier to accept soon."
Sappho didn't want to leave, as she watched her body rise, turn, and walk quietly away. A part of her inside was screaming, but outside she was calm. She went to the communal kitchen, sat down quietly, and let an older fair-haired woman set meat before her on the table. She looked up at the woman to thank her, and suddenly a golden light came from the woman's hair, from her skin itself. As Sappho stared, shaken, the being put out a hand to her.
"Do not worry. There are more forces involved in this than first meets the eye. You are to play a part in this, and play it well. I will come to you again when your time here is through. Until then, my daughter...." and she bent forward and kissed Sappho on the forehead.
Sappho stared blankly ahead at the woman who brought her the meat, then a moment later started wildly, as if waking from a dream.
"Are you alright, sister?" asked the older Garou.
"Yes, I .. think so...I'm sorry...I thought you were ... Gaia. I am ... tired." Sappho ran her fingers through her hair. The woman smiled.
"We are all Gaia, little sister. You are Gaia, too."
Sappho swallowed her platitudes with thanks, then dug into the meat as if she had not eaten in weeks. By the end of the meal, she was tired, and she found her way to a cabin where they seemed to be expecting her. As she fell into the bed, she tried again to put all the thoughts together, to remember what had happened this day. Failing that, she decided she would think clearer in the morning, and dropped off into an exhaused sleep.
When morning came, she washed, said her thanks to the women, and took to the road home. No one in the pack again mentioned Boudiccea, and she did not bring her up either. She couldn't quite remember the offence, but knew it to be serious.
Her own sister! Well, she could overcome any stain she had put on the family name. She would do just that.