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Tecumseh
It’s a crystal blue day in early November, a pleasant rarity for this time of year in this corner of the world. In fact the weather has been suspiciously nice for the last few days, ever since you received word of this meet. There’s frost at night but during the day it’s sunny and dry, an Indian summer as some would call it.

It’s an unusual location for an unusual meet. The message got to you by back channels, a whispered suggestion from someone who knows you and knows what you do. Go hear what the J has to say. Maybe it pans out, maybe not. It doesn’t cost anything to listen.

So that’s why you’re standing in a field near the small town of North Bend, fifty clicks east of Seattle. The skyline is dominated by Mount Si, which towers a thousand meters over the river valley below. A branch of the Snoqualmie River runs nearby and the field is ringed with colorful trees that are still grasping their remaining autumn leaves. It’s a pleasant scene, somewhat at odds with the gruff character standing in front of you.

“I guess I’m the Johnson,” he says irritably through clenched teeth. “But let’s cut the bulldrek and call me Gunny instead.” He spits to the side.

He’s a human male who must be going on 65. He’s got salt-and-pepper hair (with salt winning the war) cut close in a buzz cut. He’s clean-shaven with a flushed complexion that’s either the result of his heritage or alarming hypertension.

“My mother was Salish, I’ll have you know,” he says defensively, looking around to see if anyone wants to challenge him on the point. “My father was a Son of a Bitch.”

What to make of him? He has obvious cyberware, including metallic cybereyes that look twenty years out of date. His skin is laced with thick dermal plating that looks just as old, judging by the various knots and irregularities protruding from his skin.

He folds his arms across his chest, flexing to show off his pecs. His arms bulge and he looks fit for his age, within reason. Either he’s gone a little soft in the middle or he has one giant abdominal muscle.

“I’m here to offer you a job,” he finally continues. “Take it or leave it, it’s all the same to me. I’ll find someone else to do it if you don’t. But whatever you decide, say so now.”

He looks around with a surly expression, sizing everyone up.

“It’s come to my attention that there is a coven of witches on the loose in the mountains south of here. I don’t know much but these these kooks call themselves the Three Weird Sisters or some other nonsense. They’ve been around for years, peddling their brand of modern mysticism and New Age bulldrek.” He makes a vague, dismissive gesture. “The locals have tolerated and even supported them until now but recently they’ve turned to violent eco-terrorism.

“There have been reports of attacks up and down the Cascades. Anything south of here and north of Tir Tairngire seems to be fair game. I don’t know what the elves have done to stay on their good side” – he eyes Elessar warily – “but they’re staying in Salish-Shidhe territory for now.”

He transmits a file to anyone with a commlink. The file contains a report on a series of strikes up and down the Cascades. The targets have been isolated houses and small communities, especially those in the mountains near the forest. The method of attack varies but generally seems to be magical in nature. One house was leveled by a freak storm while an isolated town was burnt to a crisp by a fire spirit. There have been casualties, the graphic evidence of which you see in the file.

“Response teams to the scenes say that the mana is twisted. They say the Sisters have become Avengers, and if they’re not checked they might turn down a toxic path.” He looks around meaningfully to make sure he gets the point across. “Regardless of your politics, the last thing we need in the neighborhood is a clique of Reapers or Havocs. That’s where you come in.

“I want you to find the Weird Sisters and stop them before they kill again. I’m offering a bounty of 15,000 nuyen per sister, due upon delivery of satisfactory evidence that they've been dealt with. They’re nuts and they’re tough but they can be cracked. If you have questions, now is the time to ask.”

He falls silent and waits for you to respond.
Faranji
"Nah it will be safe. Believe me. ... Yes."
Jeff sighs loudly and scratches the greasy hair below his aluminium foil hat. He scratches his paunch below the armor vest, shifts uneasily and shrugs his shoulders to adjust the sling of the heavy shotgun. Then he starts off over the field stiffly walking towards the man on the other side. Occasionally he squints back into the sun to get the reassuring glimpse of the muzzle in the gunport aimed at his back.
"Hmm. You think so? No, Würmchen's got our back. Yes and now PLEASE I have to concentrate!"

He falls silent then, stumbling under the weight of the shotgun which seems way too big for a dwarf. When he finally reaches the man he stops at ten meters distance, rubs his neck and eyes the man awkwardly. Finally as if it suddenly crossed his mind Jeff says:
"Hi Ima Jeff."
He rubs his neck.
"Heard you need sommin done?"
He looks past the man to the woods and falls more or less silent for the rest of the meeting.

"You wannu see the darn witches ded, eh? If the witches desroy a villuge witha ghost uhmm... They are dangerus, eh? I and Würmchen burss a lot away but what if Würmchen gets blasted before we blast em? I needa repairem then and the parts out heer are expansive. I meen the witches destroyed the villuge - they can destroy ma doggy too."
He suddenly turns away to make a few hushing sounds.
"I think ima in." There's a fist sized mechanic frog clambering up Jeff's shoulders. "You gut any other infurmation?"

He looks around and suddenly seems to realize the rest of the group again. Jeff immediately falls silent.
Tecumseh
Gunny glances down distastefully at the dwarf, not making eye contact just in case some of Jeff's eccentricities are contagious. He addresses his reply more in the direction of dwarf's shotgun, which seems to be the larger of the pair.

"I said stop them. I'll leave the details up to you. If you want to lobotomize them and induct them into your secret tin-hat society, I'll be satisfied with that. As soon as you prove to me that they're no longer a threat, the bounty will be paid."

He puts his hands on his hips and stands with a wide stance. "They've been hitting soft targets, locations with no defenses. We don't know if they're practicing for something larger or if the target selection is tactical. The last spot they hit was a fire lookout, a simple watchtower to spot forest fires. Maybe they have a sense of humor: they torched it. The monitoring equipment in the facility was automated but there was a grad student using it as a base for his field research. He was sleeping inside and didn't make it out. Nasty business."

He spits again at the thought of it, then looks around the group for other questions.
phlapjack77
Smohalla's gaze fastened on Gunny from the moment he stepped into the clearing.

The Johnson's aura was damaged in places, warped. Important information.

Still peering at Gunny, Smohalla spoke.

This news is interesting to me. I will seek to find these women.

But hear me - I will not harm them on the weight of your words.

Too many have been hurt by those who speak falsely.

With the Great Spirit's guidance I will find out the full meaning of their actions.
Tecumseh
Gunny manages to not roll his eyes but he replies to Smohalla through gritted teeth:

"Far be it from me to interfere with your spiritual journey, but I don't think this can be satisfactorily resolved over tea and cookies!" His voice sharpens into a bark at the end before he regains control and returns to being merely sarcastic. "If the Great Spirit guides you to find these three, then schedule an appointment with them, and then sit down and share a bowl of Tofutti®, then you'll find yourself at a drum circle singing songs with three certified psychopaths!"

Gunny takes a couple deep breaths, his face eventually returning to its normal shade of red from the pre-heart-attack coloring it was just now approaching. He looks like he's used to giving orders to subordinates instead of hiring independent-minded outsiders.

Gunny looks down and lowers his voice. "These women have killed noncombatants in the name of their twisted beliefs and there's no reason to think they won't again. They could be at it right now while we're here jabbering. Find them, talk to them, I don't care, but expect them to be deceptive and remorseless. They'll say or do whatever's necessary to wage their war. They must be stopped."
AtroposReborn
Elessar waited patiently as the rest spoke, casually looking over the others that stood by him. Stooping to pluck a blade of grass he takes in the surroundings carefully. Having decided that it is at last his turn, he speaks.

"Well in that case I would say that we should be heading off immediately, supposing what you say is true."

He slowly rises with the blade of grass in hand, staring blankly at Gunny.

"I see no reason for the inhabitants at Tir Tairngire to support them. If so it would be for the safety of their people." Elessar pauses, watching Gunny's reaction. "You said that the local populace used to tolerate them. Do you know of anyone that may still be in contact with them?"
Tecumseh
Gunny says, "One way or the other, the elves seem to be undesirable targets. Either the witches don't have a bone to pick with them, or the elves are unified enough to keep them out.

"What support the Sisters have among the community is an open question. As environmentalists they were welcomed by many locals, but whether or not that support has shifted due to their violent change in tactics isn't known for sure. I'm certain you'll find supporters that will try to throw you off their trail, as well as others willing to help you track them down. If they're readily employing violence then it's safe to assume that they'll sow fear and confusion among the locals to keep them in line."
pbangarth
As Gunny fills the team in on the particulars of this run, Stogie bends and scruffs Jake's ear. Jake leans in to Stogie's leg, optimizing the angle for petting pleasure.

The flushed look to Gunny suggests some physical problems to Stogie. He opens his view to the astral to see what's up. Yup, the old man is clogging up like an inner city sewer.

"I know someone who might have a line on who these people are. I'll check with her to see what she can tell me. No news to most here that I don't mind a little payback on the environmental front, but this sounds like something has gone drastically wrong. If these women are killing farmers and townspeople, they're no better than the damned corps.

"While we take care of this problem, Gunny, you might want to talk to someone about that blood pressure of yours. It can take you down as sure as a bullet."
Tecumseh
Gunny grunts but lets the comment about his blood pressure slide. He seems somewhat mollified to hear that Stogie might have a lead. He looks down at Jake and his mood eases a bit more.
phlapjack77
Smohalla turns to Stogie and says in Salish:

Ah, Shepherd. It's good to see you again. I'm very glad we can work together on this.

I'll also make inquiries about these women. Together I'm sure we can figure out what's going on.
pbangarth
{Salish}
"Sky Father, yes it's good to be working together again. There is no telling yet what will come, eh? It might be that our senses and talents beyond the world will be tested by these women. When the magic goes bad, all suffer."

{English}
"Gunny, I'm in, and ready to roll. I'm a little concerned about the fine points of your business offer. 'Stopping them before they kill again' may be difficult if their next strike is planned for ten minutes after we take the job. Technically, that could void the contract. Can we pick a time limit, and say we get them by that time to fulfill the contract?"
Tecumseh
Gunny rubs the bridge of his nose, slightly exasperated.

"I'm sorry, I left my law degree at home," he says under his hand. "I was speaking figuratively to convey a sense of urgency in the matter. The bounty will be paid whenever it is fulfilled."

It appears that he's trying to minimize the acid in his voice. "I'm not interested in loopholes or technicalities. I want to pay you for saving the day. I know good deeds aren't always your paydirt but don't let that put you off." Whoops, some of the sarcasm slipped back in.

Gunny looks like he's about to leave. "That file includes my contact information. Don't keep me waiting." He turns to go.
AtroposReborn
Ellesar watches quietly as the others talk among themselves. He listens intently at the language he finds foreign, mentally noting the body language between the two strangers.
As Gunny turns he waits to see if anyone will make the first move as he shifts through the file on the witches nonchalantly.

pbangarth
Stogie nods to Gunny. "Just makin' sure."

He sends a call to his acquaintance in TerraFirst. <<Rosie. Stogie here. I got a line on a trio of women working the Cascades from the Tir up to North Bend, near Seattle. Call themselves the Three Weird Sisters. They have been around for years, doing what you and I might call the good work, and supposedly with the support of the locals. Allegedly they have turned to willy-nilly violence, hitting hard the kind of people who should be protected. You know anything about them?

On the matter of that book, Better Living Through Plastic Explosives, yeah sure, keep it as long as you want.>>
Tecumseh
Rosie answers. It sounds like she's at home, maybe in the kitchen. You can hear the sink turn off and on a few times.

<<Stogie. Good to hear from you. I digitized that book so you can have it back whenever. Unless you already got it memorized? In that case I'll loan it out to one of the younger operatives. Spreading the gospel, as it were.>>

<<I've heard of the "The Sisters", which I'm guessing are the same gals. I only know them by reputation; I've never met them. Righteous chicas, from the stories I've heard. You'd probably like them. I'd expect you to be looking them up to coordinate some work.>>

She answers your questions readily. It sounds like she's telling it to you straight, sharing what she knows off the top of her head.

<<Williy-nilly violence doesn't fit with what I've heard about them. They seem like the types that would have a plan. They're too good at what we do to be simple vandals. If they're breaking eggs, I'm guessing it's to make an omelette.>>

She pauses for a second before continuing. <<But, as I said, I've never met them. Some of the higher-ups might know more but I don't think The Sisters have done any work with TerraFirst. Same goals, different tools, that's all. They're spirits and mojo, we're gasoline and dynamite.>>

<<You should track them down. You've got a foot in each world; you should broker a joint project for us to work on together!>> She seems pleased with the thought.
Faranji
Jeff looks around the group.
"Somebody wanna lift? Ima drivin to town - we can plan there, ay? 's a good bar with booths."

He bends to pick up the frog drone that fell to the ground and landed on its back to place it back on his shoulder.
"Aye haha. 's right.. ehehehe. And then we burss the darn witchus to hell! Uhmm.. Yes. Perhaps we can get a Chopper, eh?"
AtroposReborn
"I shall join you dwarf. Might be that someone around town may know something about the witches."

Ellesar follows Jeff to his ride, fidgeting with his camera as he walked.

"So do you mind me asking what's up with the foil hat?"
phlapjack77
Why go in to town? We have all we need around us.

Fresh air, clean water, the sky looking down on us, protecting us.

We can safely hold our meeting right here.
Faranji
Jeff looks around and lowers his voice.

"They are watching us. Scannin our brains - readin us like books. They almust got her but I savud her - didn't I darlin?" He sighs at this point. "They try to find us - find me. But they can't find me becuz I have the foil hat. It reflects the brainscannersearchrays so they can't find me. And now I'm gettin cold. And thirsty, eh? Würmchen's hungry too."

Jeff commands the Tata via Matrix to honk.

"Tata's waitin."
pbangarth
"Good food and drink are in town. I think some of us could use some cooked food, Smohalla. Right, buddy?" Stogie scruffs Jake's fur. Jake barks and starts for the Tata, then turns, expecting everyone to follow. He runs a circle around the group and ends back in front, waiting.
Faranji
Jeff mumbling to himself: "You didn't say anything about a cur, Tila... Schnuffi will not like this"

He then walks over to the Tata, commands the drone back into it's rack and gets the car started - honking again for the rest to catch up.
Tecumseh
You drive into town in the Tata, Jake happily sticking his head out the window to enjoy the wind flapping his ears back. Earlier in the century North Bend was a exurb town, a bedroom community for commuters working in Seattle, Bellevue, and, to a lesser extent, Tacoma. When the territory reverted to the Sinsearach they flattened the cookie-cutter housing developments to allow the surrounding forests to reclaim the land. The town population is lower now but the modest downtown core is still intact with many small businesses, including candy stores, restaurants, grocery stores, and an old-school fitness center.

You pull up to a local institution, the cryptically-named Mar-T Café. The sign out front includes a large, red, neon T, as well as a line bragging about it's "Damn fine cup o' coffee!" The coffee is actually soykaf but it does have a reputation for being surprisingly good. The proprietor is also justly proud of his cherry pie. Cherries are grown just over the mountains to the east and are an important agricultural export for Salish-Shidhe. The harvest ended months ago but you can bet that the owner stocked enough away in the freezer to last him through the winter. His establishment has a reputation to maintain after all.

The inside of the diner is a throwback to the last century. There's a counter with stools in the middle and booths lining the windows along the outside edge of the restaurant. A glass case on the counter displays the available pies. The rest of the menu features all-day breakfast, big burgers, sandwiches, and homestyle dinners. The portions are generous and a sign near the entrance promises, "No one goes away hungry!" A basic selection of beer and wine are available, plus the usual assortment of juice, soft drinks, and milkshakes one would expect to find at a café. And, of course, coffee.

It's late morning now, still a bit before the lunchtime rush. A handful of customers are scattered about, minding their own business. There's a booth in the back corner that looks both private and inviting.
phlapjack77
I will reach out to see if those who are friendly to me know anything.

Go first - soon will I join you at this restaurant.


Smohalla walks off into the trees. Upon reaching a small well-hidden area, his form shimmers and warps, shifting to a large golden eagle.

The eagle takes off with a cry, the clothes dropping off the new form as wings beat furiously to gain altitude.

Upon reaching a tall tree, the eagle lands on a thick branch and closes his eyes. His spirit flows from his body, questing on the astral for those who can help him.
pbangarth
"Jake, you stay in the car and let me know if something or someone gets too interested in the car." Stogie hand signals Jake, thought the mental connection they have is more than enough. Old habits die hard.

As the team enters the cafe, Stogie waves at the waitress, who recognizes him as an occasional customer. "Coffee, boys?" she says. "All around, thanks." He replies. "Some of that damn fine stuff, dear."

He heads to a vacant booth in the back and slides around to make room for the others.
AtroposReborn
"No coffee for me, thanks." Ellesar told the waitress. He then proceeds to walk to the booth and slides into a seat.

He pulls out a small, gunmetal gray camera and begins to examine it thoroughly. Seemingly speaking to the camera he asks, "So, does anyone have any ideas as to where we should begin looking for information?"
pbangarth
Stogie sips the hot coffee, slurping a bit to cool it as it enters his mouth. "Not bad.

"I just got a reply from a contact of mine in TerraFirst who knows about eco-activists. She says the Sisters have been around for a while, and have a reputation for planning, not random violence. Her opinion is, if they are attacking people in what looks like a random way, there is a reason behind it. She doesn't know what that reason might be.

"So. I guess we need to know if there is a pattern to the attacks, or maybe whether there are some unrelated attacks in the mix to cover one or more real targets. Anybody got a way to figure that sort of thing out?

"Heh, my contact suggests I connect with them to set up a joint operation, either with me or with TerraFirst. I suppose this might be a way to get a meeting with the Sisters. Who knows, maybe that is all we need. I wouldn't want to do something that gets TerraFirst mad at me, though. They're kinda handy with gasoline and dynamite."
Faranji
Upon sitting down Jeff places the shotgun on a seat next to him and leaves the cap on.

"Coffee eh? Irish please. You too? No? Hmmm... 'n s for the sisters. Why don't we find out what they attacked first? And THEN find the pattern, eh? They ain't too intelligent if they're messin with civilians so the pattern shouldn't be hard either, eh? Or they gone mad and it IS random!"


Jeff takes a deep gulp out of a pocket flask and whipes his mouth afterwards.

"I don like workin with darn terrorists. This will bring us into shit up to our heads eh? Can't have all the officers lookin for me cause they think Ima terrorist, eh?"
AtroposReborn
"I agree. We shouldn't be associating ourselves with arsonists just yet. I'm sure there are other ways to get to the bottom of this. I say we check out the previous targets and ask around the local populace."

Ellesar fiddles with the camera film, loading a fresh roll into the device. He takes a quick picture of the cafe and prepares the camera for the next shot, placing it carefully back in his bag.

"We need to feel out the situation before we do anything too rash."
pbangarth
Stogie sips his coffee. "No problem. Just puttin' it out there." I'll give the info a glance while we talk here and see if the locations mean anything to me.
Faranji
Jeff seems to loose track of the conversation while he is searching the Matrix for information on recent terrorist attacks in the salish-shidhe council.
Faranji
"Hey! Found sommin! Look at tis!"

Jeff presents the following article on the terrorist attacks:
"The house that was hit by a freak storm was in Cle Elum, a town about an hour southeast of where you currently are (North Bend). The house belonged to Paul Longshanks, an ork who worked as an overseer for a nearby mine on Cascade Ork land. Paul's wife and four small children were in the house with him. They were all crushed when the house collapsed.

The town that was burned by a fire spirit was the small community of Greenwater. Only ninety people lived there; most of the local economy was connected to outdoor activities for tourists. You find listings for guides to lead rafting trips, or bird-watching tours, or hiking expeditions. The online reviews for these services are generally positive.

The student that died in the firewatcher was named Timothy Higgins. He was pursuing a degree at Evergreen College, in Olympia (just south of border between Seattle and Salish-Shidhe). His coursework included classes in "Outdoor Leadership and Education" and "Sustainability Studies", plus courses in geology and physics."


"And also Gunny didn't mention is specifically but I found reports of an attack near the town of Lester, another tiny drop of civilization. It wasn't the town that was attacked but instead the nearby airstrip and helipad. There were no reported casualties but the airstrip and helipad were rendered inoperable, which was a significant setback for the town. Prior to the attack, the helipad had primarily been used to conduct sightseeing tours of the nearby mountains. Similarly, the small airstrip was used by ultralight aircraft, 1- or 2-person airplanes enjoyed mostly as hobbies rather than for actual transportation."
pbangarth
Stogie holds the hot mug to one cheek. "You know, many if not all of the targets were in a position to travel through or look out over some of the wilderness in the area. Like tour guides, a fire watch tower, an airstrip in the area. Maybe the Sisters are trying to keep some location secret, and are eliminating anyone or anything that saw or could aid in seeing something going on in the woods.

"Maybe if we got some info on where the tours are going, and what the viewshed of the fire watch tower is, we could narrow down some places to check out."
Faranji
Jeff nods vaguely.

"'s possible. But what with the mine, eh? Gimme a minute. Ima try find sommin on the tours."

Once again he starts searching the Matrix, this time for information on the tours that ran from Greenwater and Lester.
pbangarth
"Mining usually includes surveying." Stogie frowns as memories of the survey teams that came to his farm flood back. If only he had shot a few of them then...
Faranji
Jeff marks the targets of the attacks on a (digital) map in appropriate scale.

"Hrmmm... Look at tis. 'S make sense?
Perhaps in the middle, hu?"

Jeff points to a spot which is vaguely at the center between the four points.
AtroposReborn
"I agree," Ellesar proclaims, "either they are hiding something or they're beginning to act territorial. I don't see why they would do that though, so they must be hiding something. What could they be hiding though? And why all of a sudden? They haven't been bothering anyone up until now so what has made them resort to these tactics?"

Ellesar shifts in his seat, now staring at the dull ceiling. His eyes wander aimlessly.

"Maybe they found something that they don't want anyone else to know about. Maybe they've created something that people wouldn't be too passive about. Maybe they're doing some less-than-legal activities. Too many possibilities, only one way to find out. We need to go check it out ourselves.
Tecumseh
Faranji's search turns up everything that is available publicly about the attacks under discussion.

The mine overseer, Paul Longshanks, was popular with the miners and considered a strong manager headed toward executive management. The article detailing his demise noted that Paul had been credited with several improvements at the mines where he worked. Under his tenure output rose, safety lapses fell, cost targets were met, and worker morale improved. Several unidentified sources gave favorable quotations to the reporter but declined to be identified by name, citing concerns about the suspicious circumstances of his death.

Greenwater, the town that burned, was largely dependent on tourist activities. Upon further inspection of the comments you notice some isolated criticisms that the tours were too popular and were beginning to impact the local ecosystem. The critique doesn't seem to be well-founded as many other reviews compliment the eco-conscious nature of the tour companies and the outings they led. Regardless, all tour activities are currently suspended. It's unclear when, or if, they will resume, given that the town would need to be rebuilt from scratch. The nearest town, Enumclaw, is 20 minutes away but is across the Seattle border, which makes it more difficult as a departure point for guided tours.

Timothy Higgins, the student that was killed, was writing his thesis on the sustainable use of natural resources, particularly power generation. He seemed to be following in his father's footsteps, who is a mid-level executive at the headquarters of Gaeatronics in Olympia. Timothy's thesis adviser considered him a bright student and felt that several parts of his thesis were intriguing and warranted further study.

The airstrip and helipad near the town of Lester were mostly used for recreation. The ultralight gliders and aircraft were not required to file flight patterns so it is unclear where exactly they went, but the obvious attraction would be Mt. Rainier (often called "Talol" or "Tacoma" by natives) just to the south. The town itself is barely significant. It almost certainly doesn't have the resources to rebuild the airstrip and helipad and, since many of the same services are available in the town of Easton, which is easily accessible via Highway 90, it is seems likely that Lester will turn into a ghost town.
AtroposReborn
Ellesar whistles.

"From that perspective they seem like ill-informed eco-terrorists with a vendetta against anyone that spits on the wrong tree. I'd be willing to bet it's just a front for something larger though. But like I said earlier, too many possibilities and not enough tangible evidence."
phlapjack77
Smohalla's astral form took wing from his material body and flew over the landscape.

His travel took him to the home of one Grugnir, shaman of a small clan of the Cascade Orks.

Finding Grugnir in the middle of dinner in his own small teepee, Smohalla manifested his human form inside.

Hello and good evening, Grugnir. I come to request information from you.

The Three Weird Sisters - do you know of them?
Faranji
Jeff chuckles lightly.
"'s right. hehehe... But what's me supposed to do eh? Why don't YOU tell us what those women are up to. You should know eh? 's not what women normally do... torch houses, huh? YOU don't do that..."
Tecumseh
Grugnir stands slowly at the arrival of his guest. He doesn't respond immediately. Your question has generated an emotional response from him. He's feeling wary and rather angry, which he tries to suppress. He folds his arms across his chest.

He joins you on the astral plane, his perception shifting to see both physical manifestation and your astral presence. You get the feeling that he is assensing you, trying to determine the motive behind your question.

"Aye, I have," he says at last with a curt nod. His tone is grim. "Witches, the three of them."

He speaks slowly, carefully formulating his words. He replies guardedly.

"They have been here on my lands, although they are no longer welcome. They have threatened my people and struck out at those who oppose them. What they cannot do by fear they do by force. They killed a man in Cle Elum not long ago, and his family for good measure. I myself visited the scene; the mana there was twisted and foul. It turns my stomach to remember."

His lip curls up at the thought of it. He gauges your reaction to his answers, watching you for signs.

"I do not see the same mana around you, Smohalla, and for that I give thanks. What the witches do is not so different from what you yourself have done in the past. I confess that my people are not always responsible stewards of the land with which they were entrusted, but it is my duty to defend them and I will do so until I can no longer. This is my ereth, and the witches are my zakhan," he says, using the Or'zet words for home and enemy, respectively.

"If you wish to join them, I will try to stop you. My people are afraid and the fear is poisoning their lives. The witches know that the surest way to halt the logging and to close the mines isn't to destroy the machines or to fill the holes, but to stop the workers. That outcome may please you, Smohalla, but these people have little else. Winter is coming, and it is cold in the mountains."

He narrows his eyes and waits for your response.
phlapjack77
Smohalla considers this information in silence for several moments. Then he replies,

Mother Earth cries out in sadness to hear such things.

Magic should not be used for twisted purposes, disrupting the very Nature it should be protecting.

Nor should it strike out at those who are innocent.

I thank you for the information Grugnir.

In trade, I will tell you that a human calling himself Gunny has attempted to hire me and several others to find and stop these Sisters.

If you hear any information that can help me in this, if the Sisters are sighted on your land, contact me.


With this, Smohalla lets his manifested form ebb away, slowly fading from normal sight.

Taking wing on the astral once more, he sets out to rejoin the group.
Faranji
"Sooo... let's go blast em to the hell they came from, eh? You coming with us? 's good to have a girl telling us what the witches think, eh?" Jeff chuckles again and says to the group:

"Women... always think they know better... Sooo... What are we gonna do? Take a hike at Greenwater?"
phlapjack77
Finding Jake was no difficulty for Smohalla - animals always made stronger mental impressions for him than metahumans.

Manifesting in the seat next to the others, he spoke:

My friend among the orks tells me that these Sisters are killing without regard for Mother Earth and her inhabitants.

They are using twisted mana in their attacks.

At the moment they are not welcome in the lands of the Cascade Orks.
pbangarth
Not even blinking at the antics of Smohalla appearing to them, Stogie remarks, "Well, from our investigations, we have an idea where to look for them. How should we get there?"
Faranji
Jeff jumps from the seat and reaches for the shotgun as Smohalla appears next tto him. He does recognize him after a second though and slowly puts the weapon back down.

"Never. Never do that again, eh? I almos blew off your skull!
Ima go buy some fuel and then I drive there. You can... " Jeff sighs "come with me. But keep that dawg under control, eh?"
pbangarth
"Heh. Jeff, you know 'that dog' is under better control, self-control, than most people."
AtroposReborn
Ellesar watches the others interact, quietly taking in the conversation. He takes a moment to look around the cafe and then proceeds to stand up and stretch. Avoiding the glances of the other patrons he walks outside to wait for his fellow adventurers.
pbangarth
"Let's go then." Stogie follows Ellesar outside. Jake wags his tail when he sees Stogie.
Faranji
"... only that you don't have fleas, Tila." Jeff picks up his gear and follows the rest out of the café.

"So it's Greenwater then?" He opens the back of the Tata thus releasing Jake. "Your... friend needs you, dog."
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