Khati Storytime: Winter Tales
Tonight’s story comes from the wild and free lands of the cold and harsh North, epic tales of unyielding spirit as strong as stone which runs through the peoples of the North. A powerful tale of the great Mother White Bear and maybe more.
As always, clues shared afterwards.
Hooks: Spirits, Redrain, Occult, Theology, Morien, Mor’ral, Family, Kick Ass Mothers
Dec. 18, 2022, 8:30 p.m.
Arx - Ward of House Redrain - The Spirits - Main Bar
Comments and Log
All who enter the Spirits tonight are offered a small item, a wind chime that has a white bear claw with little figurines and shapes carved from bone, wood and stone. Symbols of Northern resilience and unyielding strength born from the frozen mountains and untamed wilderness. The grip of winter here in Arx can be felt and heard as the icy wind howls outside.
One by one, lanterns are snuffed out by a figure dressed in an icy costume leaving only the main fire crackling, giving a darkness to this room. The northern engraved shadow stage illuminates with a pale golden glow and from behind the stage walks a black painted tall and gaunt figure with a large bear in a silent big roar painted in white prominently on the chest with small bears and humanoid figures all standing with their arms outstretched protectively. There's mountains and forests circling his sides and on his back, a large wintery field with a great axe buried with a blade down. The phoenix's eyes glow blue as he looks at those gathered here tonight. "Good evening, my friends." the decayed voice says to them as it reaches into a small pouch at its side, letting pale sand with golden flecks be flung across the floor in a wide arc to scatter on the ground as it glitters from the light of the stage almost like icy snow fields as a sunset or sunrise illuminates them like honey diamonds.
Looking right at you, a dead sounding voice speaks as it moves black long fingers with gold sandy dust which sparkles in the low light, weaving a web. "We recognise those who came before us, to those from the lands we are on this evening and we honour them, for their history is ours to guard and protect. And together, we step across the dunes of time, across the sands of the past and look back with our hearts to what once was and the stories and people are remembered. Of moments split apart but connected in spirit. May we learn a lesson from the mothers and daughters that whisper from the northern stars above by being here tonight. For the Cold desires to seek out the Flames and extinguish them, but the Flames must spark that friendship and love of life like the Redrain houses do so that the fire grows stronger."
Ramona - A Guard in Ashford House Colours, Bigsby - A Thoughtful Looking Young Man in Nondescript Clothing, 2 Ashford Archer, 1 Ashford Scout arrive, following Lisebet.
Aconite settles at the center table, finding the best view she can so that she can lean in and towards the stage to listen to the stories. The Whisper seems intent on the performance at hand. A hand lifted to rest her chin on curled fingers.
It is cold. It's winter. There is snow blowing. It's a long journey from the Pravus ward and Cassiopeia no doubt took a carriage. Still, her guards unbundle the additional blankets and furs that are wrapped around her, for the few steps that might lead her to the tavern proper. Dressed in dramatic burgundy reds, she is wearing a festive ensemble that pays homage to the beautiful pomegranate fruit. Trying to be quiet, and holding a basket tight to her person, she slips in with eyes alit by curiosity. Story time brings a sense of wonder, and as she takes long-legged steps into the Spirits, her excitement is obvious. Accompanied by her two assistants, who could not be more opposite of each other, she suggests they sit at their own table. Cassiopeia is looking for any familiar faces so she might say hello, while her brows lift as the masked figure (who could that be??), starts to speak.
Ximon, a Cainite agent arrives, following Marena.
Khanne is seated in the back booth, her favorite booth, as she waits for the story telling to begin. Seated comfortable, she leans one elbow against the table, where a cup of whisktea sits before her. It is bitter cold outside, but the Duchess seems nonplussed. Not only does she like the cold, but she lives very close by.
As the lights begin to be doused, a smile spreads upon Khanne's lips, reflective of her anticipation for hearing the tale to be told this evening. Keenly, her eyes are focused on the man in the mask, though she does look to those who enter, offering them greetings of smiles and small waves.
Marena has joined the A central table with benches.
Pasquale has been sat near the fire for some time now, sipping at a mug of ale and occasionally coughing. He looks cold despite the proximity of the fire. His cloak and scarves still pulled snug about him. His eyes lingering on the central figure that Titus is portraying.
Pasquale has joined the Back Booth.
Aconite lifts her free hand to wiggle her fingers in greeting to Cassiopeia and Pasquale with a warm smile as she notices them, a respectful nod given to Khanne. The Whisper appears eager to get into the story, gazing at the stage effects with wide black eyes. Only distracted for a moment when her drink is placed in front of her.
Winter, A Highhill Puppy, Angeline arrive, following Kiera.
Lisebet comes in, giving a glance about as she arrives and the door closes behind her. She's with Bigsby and Ramona, her assistants keeping her company as always. The dark haired duchess shivers slightly as she enters, but then moves towards the warm fire, pausing as she realizes she might be a bit late. Alas.
Sen'azala slips in alone, looking for all the world as though she's been taking a stroll in late autumn, rather than the depths of a winter storm. Simple leathers pulled over the steelsilk are the only concession she's made to the cold. She pauses on entry, golden eyes narrowing, before she turns to go and find a seat.
Sen'azala has joined the Back Booth.
The shadow stage shows a very large bear tromping through the forests before coming to a den and sleeping. Birds come and look to flutter away as the bear's mouth snaps. A large fox comes to the den and that too disturbs the bear who snaps its mouth and the fox runs away.
"Our story begins a long time ago in the early days when things were still new and White Bear mother dug her den at the top of the world where the skies dance with colour and the snows never melt. And for a very long time, she was alone there, perfectly content with being so, as she was never bothered and could sleep for as long as she wished. The world passed her by, and many strange things happened, but White Bear didn't care about any of it. One time birds came to the entrance to her den and called, "White Bear! Your sisters are going to a new land, and would have you join them!" But White Bear told them to go away. One time a fox stepped a few feet into her den and called, "White Bear! The dead are walking and making a mess of everything, come and see!" But White Bear chased him out because she was tired, and no one should really believe foxes when they say such ridiculous things anyway and mothers must tend to their business and their families according to their own ways."
One can see far outside the stone den what look like skeletons rising, of terrible things and great sacrifices of other primordia mothers caring for their daughters and children. And time continues to spin around the world with different events people might recognise until two little human figures are standing outside the den and for the eagle eyed, they might see a destruction in the field beyond the den.
"One day, White Bear woke up and found two very new creatures at the entrance to her den, small and nearly hairless and wrapped in the furs of other, more familiar animals. "Who are you?" White Bear demanded, but the new, hairless creatures only cried. "Nevermind," she said, "I don't care. Go away."
"But the small, hairless creatures did not go away, and they did not stop crying either, and White Bear couldn't get back to sleep with all that racket. She picked both of them up by their stolen furs and carried them outside in her mouth. "Now see here," White Bear said, when she set them down in the snow. "You weren't invited, and I can't sleep. And when I can't sleep I get hungry, and I'm just this close to thinking about eating you both so I can get some peace."
"But the creatures only sobbed, and suddenly White Bear smelled death, and blood, and when she looked she saw that the snow outside her den was crimson, and littered with strange tracks and the bodies of larger, if still small, hairless creatures. White Bear breathed in, and she smelled something worse."
Marena ducks inside, pulling her seasonally appropriate coat tighter around her shoulders as she slips into an open seat at a central table. She gives her incidental tablemate, Aconite, a quiet and subtle uptick of her chin in wordless greeting and then turns the full intensity of her icy attention on the storyteller in the mask, propping her elbow on the table and resting her chin in her hand while she listens.
Khanne smiles towards Sen'azala and Pasquale as they find seats nearby. Lifting her hand, she calls over a server, seeing to it they both have any refreshment they desire. She seems to take a certain sense of pride in the story that is told tonight.
Lisebet glances about, recognizing a few folks, and makes her way to a central table, settling in there with the assumption she'll have a good view. She settles quietly, trying to not disturb the story under way. A nod to those near her table, though she doesn't say a word. Her smile is bright and friendly, and then her attention goes to the stage as she pays attention to the main event.
Kiera slips quietly into the gathering, lowering her snow co hoof and slipping into a seat
Kiera has joined the A central table with benches.
Sen'azala sits down and promptly crosses her arms over her chest and leans back, putting her feet up on the empty seat next to her. It's...very un-regal, as is the comfortable slump she settles into. She murmurs an order to the server as Khanne gestures one over, but most of her attention is clearly on the performance, which she's regarding with what appears to be just the faintest critical eye.
Lisebet has joined the A central table with benches.
The storyteller pauses a moment, a hand reaching to another pouch as it flings something in the fire which sparks with flashes of red in the smoke and the light of the shadow stage turns green. There's a large shadow of an odd form that doesn't look like as much an animal but something that lives in tales rarely shared above a whisper and even more rarely at night. The large mother bear figure looks as though her head sniffs as little children are scooted behind her.
Maybe the winter's wind howls outside like a stalking monster as the door to the Spirits is shaken like something outside very much wants to come in here, the storyteller continues his story.
"Give them to me," said a thing the White Bear mother never saw before, a thing that smelled of everything that could ever be wrong in the world, whose claws dripped with the same blood that stained the snows" says the storyteller in that dead sounding voice. "They don't belong in this place. I will take them, and you can have your sleep again, White Bear."
"But White Bear trusted her nose. "Leave," she said. "These can learn to belong here, but you never will." And with a shriek of rage, the thing that didn't belong ran at her with those long, bloodied claws, and White Bear bit it in half. It was the worst thing she had ever tasted, and she spat it back out to dissolve on the ground."
The large shadow monster is no match for the mother bear who rages forward and bites the shadowy monster in two, and with that the fire does one more large set of crackles and pops before the green light fades away to golden. Only the mother bear and two little children are seen in front of the den.
"You're mine now," White Bear told the small, hairless, ugly little creatures, before she picked them up again and took them back inside her den. And from that point on, they were, for when White Bear decides a thing, there is almost never any possibility of changing her mind. She fed them, and spoke to them, and taught them how to hunt and fish, but mostly she taught them how to be bears, because being a bear was, of course, the thing White Bear knew most about. And when the small, hairless, ugly little creatures grew to be less small, if still hairless and ugly, White Bear sent them out into the world to make their own way, as that is the way of bears. And she settled down for a long nap."
Pasquale murmurs a few words to Sen'azala and Khanne before turning his entire attention back to the masked storyteller. Quiet expect for an occasional cough.
Aconite smiles to Marena and inclines her head in greeting, kiera is met with the same welcoming smile and a quiet musing to her tablemates. But like everyone else she's here for the storytelling and even her drink is forgotten for the icy spectacle.
The topic of the White Bear and the Fox draws her in, after taking a seat, Cassiopeia cannot help but lean into the tale. A vodka finds its way to her table, and she reaches for the glass to take a small sip. Azure blue eyes scan the room briefing, having wiggled her fingers at Aconite's greeting and a similar way at Pasquale. Attention on the story-teller, she is quiet, save for the occasional 'oh' that escapes her lips.
1 Saik Guard, Micana, an efficient assistant arrive, following Lucita.
Lucita enters the bar and manages to get the door shut behind her. She stands there shaking snow off her cloak and quietly brushing ice chunks off her boots. Her face is cold-pale with reddened cheeks and she shivers. Once her cloak seems free of snow sufficiently, she glances around the room, seeking out familiar visages.
"White Bear's children found other small, hairless, ugly creatures very much like them, and in time, they had children. And their children had children. And those children had children. And every now and then White Bear would wake, and amble to the entrance to her den, and would find some of those children's children's children had come to pester her about one thing or another. Sometimes she told them to go away. Sometimes she chased them off. And sometimes she would take them into her den and teach them how to be bears. Sometimes she would tell them of what she saw in her long dreams, and they would watch the colour dance in the skies."
The children become adults and on they leave the sleeping mother in the den while the scenes change and show amazing battles. What might be more amazing is how the figurines look to grow even larger as they fight enemies, and bears and other creatures battle as crowns can be seen moving in the background with wars being won and lost. And soon enough, those figures bring little figures of children to the den and the great mother bear wakes and gives them what might be a big bear hug. On the figures go to battle, and yet perhaps at one big battle, it looks like another den is made as walls form around a small fortress. One might notice though there's fewer and fewer little children brought to the great mother bear after each battle. Perhaps more of her children are being lost to protect others rather than keeping their own safe.
Here, the storyteller looks at each of those here, the wind's howl still can be heard for a moment before he speaks.
"May you each be as brave and determined as the White Bear mother when you are challenged and you know that what is right is not easy. May you remember her words that when you bring others to your house and lands, to spend time to teach them how to be like you and yet give them the opportunity to be themselves too and grow your great Compact family. May we protect our differences and find even better reasons to come together by the fire rather than stay out in the cold so Flames shine bright and the winter's grasp fades for a new spring."
"One more, a story of stories."
And soon the shadow stage goes dark although the mother bear can still be seen sleeping in her den although the scene has changed. A woman warrior chief is battling what might be dragons in one moment. In another moment, the light of the stage turns green as she fights terrible monsters with her great axe before the stage light goes back to a golden glow. Every single battle, it's the single chief fighting against many as snow and wind move around her with every blow she hits against her target.
With every battle and fight, she is unyielding.
Finally, a great battle can be seen, mountains high and a field as two great women (one wearing a crown with a long banner) are battling while many watch on. And still, mother bear in her den sleeps.
Aconiteseems entirely focused on the story but that doesn't mean that she isn't paying attention so as people at the center table speak she murmurs quiet answers, finally taking a drink. Her eyes never waver from the story though. Smiling.
Khanne looks up as Lucita enters, seeming to catch a question from the woman. She gives a nod and gestures to the booth before eyes refocus on the man wearing the phoenix skull mask.
Lisebet murmurs very briefly at her table, her gaze watching the show with rapt attention.
Lucita has joined the Back Booth.
Lucita murmurs a soft 'Thank you.' toward Khanne and slides into a seat at the table. She listens to the story attentively but speaks only in low tones to that at the seating group when the tale ends.
The masked phoenix's odd blue glowing eyes look at you, and the decayed voice sings in a low whisper an old song as a single lute is strummed somewhere in the dark and a low beat of drums is given. The voice of the storyteller in spoken song isn't like the lark or other songbirds, it is more like a whispered secret being shared from a tree branch creaking as the wind howls near a tent or cabin in the far northern woods.
"Sword shatters axe on snowy plain, And all who watch do see as North Wind falls to Queen Redrain but refuses to bend knee. "You cannot cage the North Wind!" she cries, "And so you cannot cage me!"
"Defiant Galenna turns north again, defeated, unarmed, but free. Faces demons coming for her lost kin, stands tall while others flee. "You cannot kill the North Wind!" she shouts, "And so you cannot kill me!""
The shadow stage shows only a great axe broken laying in the field as the crowned Queen of the Redrain moves off as does the warrior chief in different directions.
There's another moment of a scene where what might be the northern wall of Arx is seen with uncountable winged monsters threatening to destroy it as the stage light turns green. On and on little figures are rushing to defend what seems not defendable. The wind from outside howls as the door is given a shake testing the latches. Will it hold?
But a flash from the fire which turns the stage light from green to gold, one can see what might be a great bear outline superimposed over the little defenders few in number, but with their axes, spears and determination, they are unyielding no matter the flood of winged demons against them.
The stage slowly has the light dim to nothing except the mother bear in her den sleeping. The blue glowing eyes of the masked storyteller look at you all as it speaks one last time.
"The lands of the Redrain and North are untamed, wild and free. In each person of every house of the north there is that spirit where they may lose the battle but their hearts cannot be caged and defeated. A land full of peoples who have ancestors that gave their lives here at Arx and terrible things threaten to destroy everything all hold dear. Let us remember their stories and histories and take the best of the Northern houses by teaching and helping those in our Compact family and should the least of us be threatened, let us be like the great mother White Bear and be unyieldingly protective no matter if it takes our life so that our Compact Family might grow. May your strength have roots as deep as their mountains."
With that, the storyteller gives a bow of his head as he makes his way behind the stage and white fur clad bear helpers offer again refreshments and other things as lanterns are relit and more wood is brought to the fire so that warmth is shared.
Lisebet smiles as she listens and watches the events play out, the story told. By now a warm drink is served, and she sips it quietly. The petite duchess is not saying a lot, mostly just enjoying the show and listening to the chatter.
Aconitesmiles brightly when the storyteller inishes his tales, removing the hand drumming it's fingers on her mug and underneath her chin so she can applaud.
Khanne smiles at Sen'azala's confession as she begins to applaud the story teller. "That is remarkable praise for the storyteller, coming from you." To Lucita, she says, "unfortunate the snow kept you, but at least you caught the ending."
Kiera smiles broadly as the storyteller finishes, rising once more ffrom her seat to applaud
Marena smiles politely when the masked storyteller reaches the end of their second tale, joining the drumming of applause and passing her eyes around to see what other faces she recognizes that are at the telling.
Lisebet applauds with the others, her smile still bright and cheerful. She waves a hand Lucita's way gently. As the story is over and Lisebet gets to glance around more, she does recognize a few more faces.
Lucita nods to Sen, Khanne, and Pasquale. "He certainly does a good job with the stories. " She claps in approval.
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