I'd heard Emma was back in town, so I projected out to the clearing behind Edgewood in case she was there. Jacinta was, instead. I'm kind of glad to her back. Told her that the sept really needed her right now. She told me that things had been resolved in Clear Water--someone had bitten off more than they could chew and unleashed a HUGE bane, but it's been tended to. I filled her in on my current status with the sept and how things transpired between Thane and myself. I was a little worried she'd think I was taking advantage of the garou in their time of desperation. In a way, yeah, I have. But I want to think of it more as a mutual exchange or partnersh.... shit. Is this how Pavel thinks? Thank god I'm nowhere near as mercenary as he is.
I tried again a couple nights later, this time with the shadow jedi projection so I could go inside the house. (I know there's a no wolves in the house rule, so I assume there's a no cougars in the house rule as well.) It didn't go so well. I think that form, with the cloak and the shadowed face, unnerved people (Salem, Emma, Ghost, Nolan, and later Sandra and Daphne). And I'd come in on some discussion, and then someone new showed up, and so I stayed quiet so as to not interrupt.... It was awkward town. And Emma was there but I couldn't really talk to her or anything. It sucked. I think Isaac was right. The cloaked form makes people nervous. But if I adopt a human form, then they'll think I can shapeshift and mimic other people. Other garou. That sort of thing. And that might make them even more nervous. Just. Can't. Win.
Oddly enough, when I thought about what human form to potentially adopt, the very first thought in my head was Bob Ross. The deceased PBS painter who painted happy little trees on landscapes. So maybe it's for the best that I leave this alone.
At Edgewood, I had a chance to talk with Ghost briefly. She was struggling with trying to understand if she had some kind of Hanford attachment or not, so I invited her to come visit me in my territory for a fortune telling once it was no longer her moon phase. She came by, I broke out the trusty Magic 8-ball, did a ritual, and the answer to whether or not Ghost was connected to Hanford was a big old affirmative.
I talked her into staying a while longer and sleeping so I could see about working a ritual to lessen those connections she had with Hanford. Curiously, she seems to have two connections. One is unshakeably strong. The other, less so and tinged with recognizable Correspondence magick. Black Mage. I might have been able to have shaken that one loose (although that might be a very bad idea), but the other one? I tried to just lessen it a little bit, like gently stepping on a garden hose to reduce the flow/connection. Nothing. So I tried a little harder. Nothing. And then it was like a wave came down the line. I tried to nullify it, but then shit got crazy. Ghost and I started fading out of this reality. I cut the rite off immediately, and that slowed and then stopped it with us phase about 50% out of this realm. We both, honestly, looked a bit like, well, ghosts. I checked myself out, and other than the phase shifting out of reality, nothing's wrong.
"Other than the phase shifting out of reality, nothing's wrong." Sometimes I stop, listen to myself, and go WTF.
It looks as if the effect is veeery slowly draining away, so disappearing after a few days. Paradox backlash, I'm guessing? This is magick beyond what I could pull off. I'm surprised backlash happened during a ritual and at a node. That's unusual, as is the paradox washing over and affecting a garou that was involved in the ritual, but I was acting against something powerful and unusual, too.
So Emma picks this time to show up. She had a note, which had appeared out of thin air in the garage at Edgewood when she'd been talking to Sandra about stuff related to the Ooze. It read thusly:
The purest state is lack of lacking. Reality is the mistake of birthed ideas, and so it must follow that in order to undo the mistake, ideas must be undone. Even Entropy must die to unravel dying. The greatest mercy is not pain healed but pain never endured. In this way, It is the greatest physician.
Things remain. Ripples of Was But Isn't. Reality is not a still pond, but a lake with a stiff breeze. Sometimes, stones must be dropped in. What you see are echoes of victims, imperfect remnants of unmaking. They are less than corpses and ghosts, and more implacable. They are distorted shadows burned into a wall. Broken marionettes dancing to half remembered music. Evidence of invisible ripples in the fabric of the reality consensus, flowing always outward from mortal wounds.
It has no mind, but it has a will. It has no thoughts, but it has memories. There on the edges drift what remains just before the event horizon, footprints where no foot exists, shadows with nothing to cast them. Echoes that hunt.
Know that reality bleeds black.
The shadows are as they should be, for the moment.
That reeks of the Hanford mage.
It's starting to make sense to me, too.
Should I be worried that it's starting to make sense?
I'll have to study the words more. The meanings are still elusive.
And there seems to maybe be some residual effects with shadows, because Emma's shadow splits into wolf and human and then the wolf shadow goes off into the woods. And then one of those skull-hyena-Ooze things appears from where the shadow disappeared. It didn't attack immediately. I cautioned that they can teleport, but it still caught us off-guard when it did. Fortunately, it seemed to be, for the most part, not hostile. I deployed some countermagick to either prevent it from teleporting or to make it harder, more costly/risky, or slower. I think it sensed what I'd done, as it didn't attempt to teleport until I stopped countermagicking later. It was mimicking Emma's words in the mother tongue, so Emma tried to converse with it, but it just mimicked her. (Maybe that's all they are capable of?) And that was pretty much that. It teleported when I stopped countermagicking. Emma said it left no scent, just a sense of coldness. I tried sniffing too (benefit of having a cougar's body) and got nothing. Magickally, there was no Correspondence "trail" per se, but I got a sense that it'd gone back to Hanford.
I checked Ghost over and she looked fine. Emma as well, but I had no real worries there.
I was sorely tempted to teleport out of there myself. That's precisely what I would have done had it been my house. But I felt a duty to stay there and defend against this threat. Was that because of "ownership" of the node, the talisman in the boulder, or the presence of Emma (and, maybe, to a lesser extent, Ghost)? A combination of all three things? It did give me some quandries, though. Immobilization via Forces doesn't work against something that teleports. How to defend against one of these things? Because surely they've not all been destroyed save the one that escaped from Olympia.
Many problems without easy solutions. This is what keeps life interesting and cats curious.