When All Other Lights Go Out

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When All Other Lights Go Out

Post by Joyjah » Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:30 pm

As told to me by Runs-with-the-Landslide, Silent Strider Homid Ragabash:

"The stars aren’t just for navigation, you know. They’re guiding lights in other ways. Since the dawn of time, the stars have inspired mankind to dream, to voyage, to reach beyond. They’re our hope in the darkness.

A couple years back, I found out just how literal that can be.

We were two years into the current iteration of the war in Syria, and I was tired. You spend enough of your time digging mutilated bodies out of bombed out buildings, trying to smuggle refugees and historical artifacts out of the country, and cutting down militant thugs at every turn, and that’ll happen. This particular night was shortly after chemical weapons had been deployed outside Damascus and killed 300 people. I was there, helping to bury the dead and locate the missing who’d tried to escape. Among them was a six-year-old girl. Her mother was kin to my tribe and in absolute hysterics – Najima was her miracle baby, conceived after years of trying to start a family and a half dozen miscarriages at least. Her father was dead, killed in a bomb blast the year before; she was all her mother had left.

I swore I’d find her. Truth be told, I assumed I was looking for a corpse.

If you’ve never tried to find a missing child in the middle of a region that’s been completely blacked out and flooded with poison, consider yourself lucky. I spent three days and nights combing every inch of the surrounding area, tunneling through rubble, crawling through sewers and getting all manner of filthy, cut up, and exhausted. It was an insurmountable task, I was convinced. There was absolutely no way I was going to be able to keep my promise, and I felt a bitter fool for making it in the first place.

I was at my lowest point, sitting on a pile of bricks outside what had once been a beautiful mosque—five hundred years old, the pride and joy of thousands of the faithful, now destroyed—with my head in my hands, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t take it anymore. Rage swelled in me, and I hurled a chunk of rebar through what was left of a stained-glass window. Throwing my head back, I cursed the night sky above, dark and full of twinkling lights. “Sirius!” I shouted, “I’m one man! How the hell am I supposed to find a single star in all this?” Najima, you see, means star.

I guess the old hound was listening, because a minute later, I heard a low growl from behind me. I turned, and standing there, completely unafraid, was a mangy old mutt, his fur black and matted, bones lean, covered in scars, with a white splash across his forehead.

We locked eyes, and then he turned and began to walk away.

I followed him.

I followed him three miles outside the radius I’d been searching, past the husks of old apartment buildings, the ghosts of marketplaces and squares. I followed him inside what had been an ice cream shop, through the wreckage and down into the basement. I followed him through a hidden access point that led into a series of smugglers tunnels, and just when I thought I was going to collapse, I saw it: a faint ficker in the darkness.

I moved closer, and sitting in the far corner of the tunnel was a little girl, dirty and hungry but unafraid, and in her hands was clutched a tiny ball of starlight.

“Najima?” I said.

She was wary of me at first, but the dog who’d guided me to her stepped forward, and she went to him willingly. Kneeling down beside her, I asked if I could see what she was holding.

She handed it to me, and as it landed in my outstretched palm, I felt something…alive. A tiny heartbeat.

Without considering the consequences, I stretched my soul to meet it, offering it the last of what connected me to Gaia.

Words can’t describe what happened next. I can tell you that the little jewel, fading and tired, burst suddenly to brilliant, blinding life. I can tell you that it took off, streaking down the tunnels with what anyone would recognize as happiness. I can tell you I snatched Najima up and ran, and the dog ran beside us, and we came out under the night sky and raced as fast as we could in pursuit.

And I can tell you that when that little star finally came to rest outside the city limits, rocketing into the sky in a barren place no human or Garou would have thought to look for hope, I felt something stir beneath my feet.

If you have never felt a caern waken, then you have never known true magic. I felt Gaia’s breath move through me, and fierce joy like I’ve never felt in all my life. It rippled outward, and I could feel it calling to every good, true thing in this world: I am awake. Come home.

Later, Najima’s mother told me this: that a hundred years ago, the enemies of Gaia had struck, and in the battle, had stolen the totem of the Sept of Twilight Wisdom. Darkness had overtaken the caern, and all who defended it were lost, for with the star went their brightest hope. Those who still remembered the story always assumed it had been destroyed, or else perverted for some evil purpose.

That night, hope came back to Damascus, and in the years since, a new sept has been founded. It is small, but growing, and they devote themselves fiercely to the cultivation of hope in that war-torn place. They inspire mankind to dream, to voyage, to reach beyond, and high above them, the star shines, a light in the darkness when all other lights go out."
Joyjah "Joy" Abascal, "Leads the Exodus"
Homid, Philodox, Silent Strider, Adren

PB 2 | SH 3: Mole | Rage 3 | WP 8
Perception 5 (Sharp Hearing, Uncanny Instincts) | Dexterity 4 (Sure-Footed)
Alertness 4 (Hidden Dangers) | Stealth 4 (Silent Movement)

Merit: Barrow Sense | Flaw: Dyslexic
Accent: Belizean Creole | Languages: English, Spanish, Belizean Kriol, French, Brazilian Portuguese
she/her, ace/aro
Limits: Rape, Transphobia

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