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[@AERNE| | | | - By Deena McKinney and Forrest B. Marchinton, with Ethan Skemp A nergy, Derse One The bonfire burned low within the stone circle, yet it still offered welcome warmth in the cooling evening, Occasional flurries of sparks swirled into the night, to mingle with the uncountable stars. A dozen figures formed a half-circle around the fire. Some appeared human, sitting on stumps and low boulders; others lounged on four legs in lupine fashion. Prefer- ring the formershape, Johnny McLaren leaned against, astone, absently scratching the fresh rakingscar above his right knee. A week ago he'd encountered a feral vampire in the woods to the south; he and the Leech, went att for halfan hour, but Johnny came outon top. His limp was almost gone, but he hoped the gouges wouldn't fade away completely; a few scars would make for great stories. Like the others around the fire, Johnny was Fianna, and fiercely proud of it. While his wolfpack didits share of fighting the Wyrm in its many manifestations (as his scars could attest), the Sept of Bridger’s Blessing was a haven for lorekeepers and craftsmen. He himself was a smith, hammering sharp swords and delicate jewelry with ease. Johnny held his skills with claw and hammer with equal pride. A lean woman with a thigh-length honey-blonde braid stepped forward. Caoilte McLaurin lifted her The Giving of a Klaive Legends of the Garou: The Giving of a Klaive head tolead the Opening Howl. One by one, the voice of each individual found its own harmony within the howl, strengthening and magnifying the sound as it echoed across the valley. In this heartbreakingly- beautiful mingling of voices the unity of the sept was reaffirmed. Johnny never felt more a part of the pack than at this moment, as he added his sharp howl to the imix. Following the howl, Caoilte led her fellows in an homage ofsongandheart to Gaia, mother of the Garou and of all things, to Stag, the guide of the tribe, and to the sepe’spatron, Dana, legendary mother ofthe Fianna. {As the last strains of the song died away, Johnny shifted into a more comfortable position and looked around. A murmur arose as Garou began talking qui- etly among themselves, All sensed the tension in the air, as if something important but unexpected was coming, Abruptly, everyone's attention focused on an Corrigan, elder and sept leader, as he stood up. A tallladwith ashaggy auburn mane, he wasaMoonsinger of great renown despite the fact he had barely reached his thirtieth year. Like Johnny and most of the other two-legs, he was scantily dressed, the better to show off the scars and tattoos which ran across his body like imap of the war against the Wyrm. Johnny noticed something different about his leader, however: he wasn't wearing the grand klaive he had won in an uunlooked-for duel three moonsago. Instead, he carried the bowie-sized silver knife, Caelbad’s klaive, he'd been honored with many years before. Standing behind the fire, the elder drew forth Caclbad’s klaive, the wickedly-dagged silver blade reflecting the red flicker of the low fire. He regarded the knife for some moments before sweeping the as- sembly with his gaze. Then he began to speak in the ‘measured tones of a master storyteller. “This Klaive has a long history behind it. It was forged for Caclbad mac Fiachu, given in recognitionof his victory over a Wyrmbeast of great power. As Righ Caelbad, this blade honored him, and he it. Many winters later, Caelbad, with his last strength, placed it in the hand of his son and suecessor, Adamnan. Mac Caelbad used this blade to the exclusion of all others, forsaking spearand sword in battle, Whenthe fell to the claws of a Black Spiral Dancer, his sister, Aoife, took up the blade, and wielded it for a sore of years before siving it to a packmate, Padrig mac Comhail. Padei Mor, as he’s now called, accounted for a full fifty Black Spiral Dancers in his time. When he fell in defense of his caer, his blade was recovered by....” Johnny's excitement grew with the list of former owners. Ian had never done anything like this before; truly something big was about to happen. The Righ was going to bequeath the blade, he just knew it. And who else for the honor but him? Afterall, Johnny thought, who else has fought so hard to drive the Wyrm from caem and county? But lan was nearly done with his tale, and Johnny gave him his attention, “Though born of No Moon, Andrea had the skill of a warrior, the patience of a judge and the worderaft of a Moondancer. She taught me what it was to be Garou and helped keep my head firmly attached to my body.” Hepauseda momentin reflection. “She mether end bravely, alone and surrounded by the corrupted minions of powerful Leeches. Her klaive was found by an honorable Glass Walker. I traveled to him and brought the treasured blade back to my sept. I have wom it ever since. The silver blade has cleansed th: blight of Wyrm-taint from many foes in many land Ian held the blade before him, letting it catch the fire’ glare across its surface. “Throughout its history,no stain of dishonor hastamished this blade. Now, itistime fora new hand to wield it. A hand that, though young, is proven. The bladebearer is among us tonight.” Johnny leaned forward slightly. Here it comes! “Erin Kelly, stand before me.” Johnny fele the blood drain from his face. Astonished, he looked at the young Calliard as she likewise paled before standing uncer- tainly. She seemed justassurprisedastheshocked Ahroun, Erin was taken completely by surprise. She stared at her mentor for a moment before forcing herself up on her trembling legs. With the sept behind her, she faced lan across the fire, her eyes stung by the smoke and heat. He tll gripped the klaive firmly in his hand, where it rested as if it were an extension of hisarm. The lightshone on the polished silver, outliningthe mystic glyphs, which ran along the blade. Erin tore her eyes from it, but couldn’t quite meet her mentor's gaze “Hold out your hand,” the elder said. She did so with hardly ahesitation, and immediately fel the fite's heat rising across her arm as Ian continued. “Though you are young, you have acted with honor and courage. You have fought for your people and for Gaia. You have learned the history and the ways of the Fianna. In listening to Gaia and to your own heart, you show wisdom. In unselfishly aiding the Gurahl, rarest of Gaia's children, you bring honor to your sept and your tribe.” The heat grew more painful, almost unbearable; she thought she could feel the blisters tising on her arm. But she refused to pull back, or even flinch. Not in front of Gleam-in-his-Eye. “Take this blade, then, Erin Kelly, Fostem of the Sept of Bridge's Blessing. Take it and add to its honor.” Though she wanted to scream with pain, she