Taken out of context, some of the things that we do for Gaia - that we gain esteem for, that we risk ourselves for - can seem a little strange, or even a bit silly. Sometimes, the spirits want very simple things. Sometimes they want very complex things. Sometimes they have no explanation for what they want, but out of respect for them, we do it anyway.
I carved some wood. I put some rope in a tree. I told a story.
This time? I got to pet a cow.
It was right here, on the fields between the Sept of the Lost Coast and the town of Newberry Glen. Its presence was witnessed by Bloody Smile-yuf and Cause of Death-rhya, both of whom displayed excellent judgment and wisdom in their observations, their restraint, and their seemingly bottomless pools of cow-entertaining facts.
Why does this matter, you ask?
This is why:
Over half a century ago, a Fury of the Full Moon known as Arrows From The Sky was traveling West, to the mountains of California. Like many others, she was headed there to begin a new life - seeking fortune, fame, and freedom. In her travels, she came across another lone Garou: he introduced himself as an Iron Rider of the New Moon, deeded Roof Runner, and invited her to travel with him for a while. As Garou, we are not at our best when we run alone - so she agreed.
Not long after, the two were traveling along the plains when they saw a cow. Perfectly normal, black and white, idly chewing some grass. It was alone, and it stared at them with a blank expression, unafraid of their approach. That should have tipped them off, but neither of them had heard the stories that came before. They noticed that there was no brand - this cow was clearly not part of any herd. Roof Runner suggested that nobody would be harmed by having a meal of beef... but when he went to strike the cow dead, it was gone! Vanished!
Strange. Perhaps it had been an illusion? The West was full of strange things, they had learned.
Not long later, while they were traveling through the Umbra, they saw the cow again. It seemed to be the same cow. Roof Runner crowed with joy, and leapt upon it in Crinos - only for it to again disappear, and for Roof Runner to find a mouthful of dirt and stones, instead. Arrows From The Sky peeked through to the Realm, and saw... yes, there was the cow again, swishing its tail as though nothing had happened. When Roof Runner heard this, he hatched a plan: he would attack it in the Realm, and Arrows From The Sky would be waiting in the Umbra, bow at the ready.
You know by now what must have happened: instead of simply shifting into the Umbra, the cow vanished altogether - and when they looked, they could see it at the top of the next hill, placid as ever.
Arrows From The Sky was curious where this would lead, but Roof Runner was livid. He was determined to feast on beefsteak now, and while Arrows From The Sky kept pace with him, it was he who led the charge. For hours, they chased the cow across the plains and into the forests, with Roof Runner growing more and more angry with each passing failure. When they tried to use Gifts of Stealth to sneak up on the cow, it stared directly at them as though those Gifts were meaningless. No magics, no skill at arms, no clever tactics seemed to best the creature. Finally, he shouted a challenge to the cow and the heavens - "I will catch you, beast, or my name isn't Claim Jumper! By the Spiral, by the Dragon's fire, you will be mi- ... oh, hell."
Arrows From The Sky was listening intently, arms folded, foot tapping. The jig, as they say, was up.
The Black Spiral Dancer known as Claim Jumper had - in chasing a meal - completely lost sight of the goal of killing or converting a Gaian Garou. He snarled, turned, and vanished into the trees.
Arrows From The Sky thanked the cow, and turned to continue her journey West.
You would think that the end of the story, but oh, no.
When Arrows From The Sky next made camp, she found the cow wandering into the clearing. It settled down, still thoughtfully chewing.
Just as the Fury was settling in to sleep, the cow made a quiet lowing and turned its head. Arrows From The Sky watched, still and careful, as the eyes of the cow tracked around the brush surrounding the clearing... and after a few moments, drew her bow and loosed a flurry of arrows into the space the cow was watching.
Claim Jumper fell out of invisibility then, his hide riddled with silver-tipped arrows. He was not fallen - but his ban to the Dragon Totem meant that he could not flee, and the Ahroun made short work of the fallen Ragabash.
When the deed was done, Arrows From The Sky turned to the cow, and bowed again. "I thank you for your aid, noble beast. But why have you sought me out?"
And the cow, in its wisdom, said: "Moo."
And Arrows From The Sky was enlightened.
There are dozens of other such stories. The cow I speak of is as old as recorded history, a creature of the Wyld that never does harm of its own accord - but whose presence is the downfall of those who would not learn when to let things be. It has been the ruination of overconfident Garou of all kinds, and an object lesson for countless others.
And it has graced our Sept with its presence.
I did not get to pet a cow. Bloody Smile-yuf and Cause of Death-rhya did not just entertain a cow.
I got to pet the Cow. Bloody Smile-yuf and Cause of Death-rhya entertained the Cow.
Sometimes, context makes all the difference.
All tales sung publicly. Everything here is considered to be common knowledge.
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