"Glory grows from Inspiration.
Inspiration grows from The Song.
Sow the Song, and Glory will Blossom.
Tend the Song, and Glory will Grow."
- A Galliard.
______________________________ "Ever wondered what it's like to have eidetic memory? No? Well, that's fine. Let me run you through it."
"Close your eyes now. Come on, don't be afraid. Just listen to what I have to say. Yes, it's a story. No, not just some story. MY story. What? A Galliard can't afford the luxury to boast about his own doings? How fortunate of me, you see... as a Garou born under Waning Moon that wasn't really what I had planned."
"We of the Waning Moon sing tales of doom and sacrifice; maybe that's why I'm cynical at times? I never figured. Alternatively could be because of everything I've seen during the many years I've been kicking ass around."
"A Galliard that's been through the sort of things he sings about. That adds power to a tale, doesn't it? I'm drifting... where were I? Oh! See, that's a bluff. I didn't really forget. I can't. I was just making sure you were paying attention."
"My memory, that's where we were. Are your eyes closed? Good. The earliest of my memories; more of a sensation, a tender feeling, no imagery. Guess because either I hadn't opened my eyes or because they weren't well formed yet."
"The calming warmth of my mother's womb, comfortably wrapping me; her heart throbbing; no Wyld, no Wyrm and no Weaver; nothing but the sense you're secure. That was the first and last time I felt safe. Can you picture it?"
"Getting an idea of how powerful and back my memory stretches? I'll tell you what: it sucks. A blessing in disguise it is. That calmness, as anything in this life, can't possibly last. All is left is the sorrow in a memory of something never again attainable. A memory I'll carry to the tomb. See the Waning Moon kicking in? Yep. That's what I'm talking about."
"I was born into what they call a Pure Breed lineage - the Thoroddrson. Between you and me, never quite striked me as right. You're held in high regard, sure, but at a price. Expectations are made, a destiny for you to fulfill. If you fail you sink low, you're a failure, a disappointment - as if being a Garou alone wasn't stressful enough, huh?"
"Back on track: so the contractions squeezed me out, that simple. Soon enough cold hands were on my head, pulling me into life. She wouldn't have me any other way rather than normal birth. It did scare the doctors, being a Garou she dealt with the pain fairly well. The hospital staff assumed she wasn't trying hard enough."
"First thing I saw were the surprised expression on the staff's faces, my first contact with emotions, but more on that later. The second thing I remember seeing was this stern-looking man; both arms were crossed."
"It was one of the few times I saw my father Eluf breaking a smile. The second time? When I underwent my First Change; the third: when my dear sister Karen was born."
"It was a day almost like any other. Eluf had been more rigorous than ever since I was approaching my birthday."
"I'd been swinging at dummy strawmen with a heavy hammer for hours, until my hand went numb and fingers gave up. The hammer hit the packed soil beneath my feet with a thump."
"He needed only to give me a look for me to understand I was to pick the hammer and continue."
"His statements, never adding anything insightful were cold and meant to bring forth spite: "Keep up, boy", "Pick the hammer up and continue.", "Faster! Lift your elbow heigher!" - when my frailing hand couldn't, he led me away to a stone, held the hammer himself. My hand was laid across it and without hesitation it hissed and kissed my hand mercilessly."
"The iron pressed in between my knuckles, the many tiny bones cracking, splitting, giving way to the blunt head."
"The kid I was went open his mouth to scream in pain. A mistake, for he noticed, and before letting out any sound my cheek met with his hand in a slap. He threw the hammer back at my feet. "You're worthless boy. Pick it up."
"Enraged, I felt my blood boil. I was trying hard, but that wasn't enough. His calculated words hit me low, the mixture of the throbbing pain and humiliation brought forth by the mocking led my stress levels over the top. I'd never done that before, but something deep in me made me growl."
"Don't deny the Beast inside you, son - he said that with a stupid smile on his face. It was spontaneous, a visceral growl that was stuck in the depths of my guts and somehow found its way out. Followed by something more."
"If I tell you I frenzied my way into the First Change and slayed my Kinfolk father on the spot, would you believe me?"
"You're sorry cub? Sorry for what? Ah! That's not really what happened. I just couldn't help myself. For a moment there I had you afraid and showing empathy, noticed that? You guessed right, a Galliard's thing."
"Turns out Eluf was clever, he'd planned for that. His intention was to get me to shift. Soon I darted at him in Crinos with bloodshot eyes thirsty for a kill I had three other Garou I only noticed when my ears twitched; throwing silver-woven nets on me. I swayed the first net away only to have two others entangle around my body. It burnt. But that was for the best. The pain forced me to shift back, to Homid; my natural form, immune to its effects. I'm homid-born, that's right."
"Next day I had the hammer's grip tied to my broken hand and the training continued."
"From there and on my father grew busier, first raising Brock and then my sister Karen."
"This, of course, was before things went downhill. I will get there, don't hurry the storyteller."
"If I met my father again? Yes, we did meet again, he eventually learned I was in Red County and after years of no contact we were all reunited, me, Brock - my other brother and Karen."
"My mother? No clue. Don't ask me about her. No, I'm not bitter about it; just don't. She's probably dead anyways."
"Deep down I knew Eluf was tired, he had served Gaia for decades, he knew I knew, that's why it happened as it did. There had slight hints, perceptible only if you were paying really close attention. I told you cub, nothing lasts in this life. He's dead. Ambushed by Black Spiral Dancers. He didn't go down without a fight. I regret not being there for him."
"What happened to the Dancers? They messed with the wrong pack of Garou. All of them were killed, cold dead. If I'm going to write a tale about it? No. I need a moment. Go get some firewood. No buts. Exactly, I know it's dark. Go. NOW."
... "You're back. Thought you'd get the hint. Guess I was too subtle, as a Galliard, emotions are one of my strongest suits."
"It's funny because that only holds true to certain extent; other people's emotions. Most of the time I'm in a turmoil. Few are the things and the people capable of getting me to calm down. I would blame it on the Rage, but that would be unfair. Remember that Metis I told you about? No, not that one, the other one. Yeah. She's one of them. Is that saying much? I don't know. Cigarettes and drinking until I'm out do the same. Who am I kidding, they half do the job."
''Okay, I do hope you have time because that's what will take for you to understand why do Metises roam around freely around here: Yeah, I was raised to look down on other Garou the same way the other Garou look down on Metises, much like Shadow Lord or a Silver Fang would. No, I don't belong to either tribe."
"Eluf was strict, as a Kinfolk and father of a Thoroddrson he wanted to make the Elders of the Sept proud and raise an exceptional Garou. I, however, was not of like mind. But can you really blame me?"
"In my younghood I was frivolous, laid back, passionated about life and the beauty found in the littlest of things. The Sept knew better, or at least they thought they did. I was to be trained day and night, to focus solemnly on Garou matters, joining a Questing Pack in some suicide mission and sent away as soon as I was ready - to Gaia-knows-where down a Wyrmhole, where all sorts of minions spawned. Does it surprise you, cub?"
"If you have been listening closely, you must have seen there's one thing a Galliard, whose duty is to be Gaia's social anchor; detests. Loneliness. I had made my mind already, but I suppose at the time I was too big a coward to have the guts to do it by myself and have more people with me would make me feel safer. Or maybe the thought of being alone on the road just scared me... so I did what I do best - convinced others. Not just any Garou but the best; most promising. A way to ensure my survival. The only way: I would need an Ahroun, a Philodox, a Ragabash and a Theurge. I was sure of it."
"You know, Galliards make pretty good leaders; if you're able to sway one's emotions you can have others do your bidding unintentionally: all it takes is a seed to be sowed, you plant disbelief and it will blossom into hatred, the illogical aspect of hate will make one vulnerable. Exploit the vulnerability. Agree and offer an alternative... and he's your pawn to used and abused. I had some hate the Elders. And no, I'm not proud of that."
"Where did we go to? That's not a difficult question: to where petty thieves, conartists, runaway freight hoppers and hitchhikers, people who have lost everything - go to. The circus. Not just any circus. The Anastagio's Olde Time Lunar Carnival and Midnight Circus."
''One day we simply disappeared.''
''The bawn of the Sept was quiet."
''Not for long. The prodigies were gone.
"And the Elders were angry."
"But when the amphitheater became only empty shells,
the old performers did not suddenly disappear.
You would find them straggling over the highways of this old Roman world,
stopping at a barbarian court, drawing a crowd at a fair:
the weight-lifter, the acrobat, the daring horse-back rider, the man leading a bear....
The monks' chronicle would not notice them, nor,
if aware of their existence, even be able to identify them.
But as shadows or substance, the circus remained in existence
and eventually came back to life in the modern city."
To be continued.