Timeline: December 26th, 2008
When Michael crawled out of bed, showered and went downstairs, he found the warm, welcoming aroma of a breakfast of eggs benedict, coffee, and milk waiting. Ramiel had found his way there only a few minutes earlier, after having awoken in bed alone today. Lyla had left a note that she was going to chase down some breakfast because she had a busy early morning and that she’d see him around noon today. Therefore, he was curious who might be cooking.
To the surprise of both mages, it was none other than Tara Honeywell. She had already finished and was sitting back with primly crossed legs nursing a cup of hot tea. Aside from the two plates she’d laid out for Ramiel and Michael, there was a stack of toast to share between them, and whatever jams and jellies she could find in the refrigerator.
“Morning boys,” she said to the both of them. “Eat up. I think you’re going to need your energy today,” she said with a clever smile.
“And why are we going to need our energy today?” Michael said with a sly smile.
“Don’t get cocky. There isn’t any challenge in seducing the two of you,” Tara said bluntly. “Besides, I’ve already done that. No, this is about you two repaying the debts you owe me. And I’ve just thought of the perfect thing for you to do. I suspect it’ll be hard for you, but it’s simple in concept. The challenge is in the details.”
She smiled at them both. “Eat up. Then we’ll talk about what I have in mind.”
“Try seducing him as a man and he may prove more of a challenge,” Ramiel said with a laugh. Then he scarfed down is breakfast. “Well let’s get this started, I make good on my promises.”
Now that the men were finished with breakfast, the fox spirit wasted little time on other niceties. “Well it happens I was chatting yesterday with a certain spirit friend of mine down at the hub and the topic of werewolves came up.” The fact she said “hub” and not some place in the spirit world was telling. Whatever spirit she considered “friend” was dwelling on this side of the Gauntlet and, as Ramiel well knew, werewolves typically regarded that as a rather big no-no. Tara continued. “As you know spirits can be rather testy about the topic of werewolves, depending on who you talk to of course. But this particular one found something about them very amusing. Of course, I just had to know what was so funny and would you believe this spirit actually came out and told me? Such a good friend.
“Anyway,” Tara said, “it turns out there has been a rather huge joke played upon the the Young Father Bear pack by their elders. Now, I appreciate a good practical joke as anyone.” That in point of fact was one of the biggest understatements Ramiel and Michael had heard all year. “But it strikes me that as funny as it is, it might be so much more amusing to actually let the pack in on the joke. I mean seriously, this has gone on long enough. I think it’s time they know. And I’d like you boys to not only tell them what’s been done to them, but also prove it to them, too. Simple, painless, and let’s be honest. It’s only fair!”
“Well, Tara,” Michael began, “in order for us to tell them, it would be helpful to let us know what the joke is. Or are we to figure it out, then tell the pack?”
“That depends on how much lip you give me,” Tara scolded. “Now listen carefully. You may know that werewolves don’t mate with each other for fear of something terrible happening. They fear the creation of something called a Ghost Child. These things bad, I suppose, but only for werewolves. See, a Ghost Child, according to legend, will hunt down and kill its parents. And that’s true.
“But what the Young Father Bear pack believes is that a Ghost Child will result for any successful mating of two werewolves. And that my friends is the little lie. You see, the truth is that the possibility of such a thing happening is so remote, no one has heard of that actually happening around here in centuries! It was Ironclaw’s own father who told him that story for his own selfish reasons! He simply wanted his son to obey and enforce a foolish, vaguely worded, and horribly outdated oath that werewolf mythology has passed down for generations just as he had. Is that not ridiculous? Is it not the stupidest thing you ever heard?
“Oh and the best part, the funniest part of all — that’s out there for you to discover for yourself and then share with the wolf pack. Check down at the massage parlor at the hub and ask to see Cynthia. She is actually a spirit who has very special knowledge of these things — and also happens to have won special dispensation from the werewolf pack who leave her alone there. Your task then is simply to go and speak with her to learn the full details, and then make sure you let everyone in the werewolf pack know about it.”
“A massage parlor does sounk like fun,” Michael said with a smile.
Ramiel knew what she was up to, no good. It sounded to him that Ms. Honeywell was out to cause trouble. But he had given his word on it. “FIne let’s go get Spanky a hand job and some info.”
Michael looked over to Ramiel, and said, “Well McLovin, let’s get going. I always wanted to tell a pack of werewolves that something they thought was a truth, is indeed a lie.”
“Laugh it up fuzz ball.” Ramiel laughed, “But I know you want that hand job.”
The two mages, suddenly realized they were alone. Tara had made her exit and now it was up to them how they wanted to repay Tara for her favor.
“Let’s get a move on Michael, those young girls are in need of some bodies to rub.” Ramiel smiled slyly.
“Ok, let’s go get rubbed down then,” Michael replied with a sly smile.
So Michael and Ramiel left the house making their way to the massage parlor at the Hub. On the way Michael asked Ramiel, “What do you think Tara is going to get out of us doing this, aside from us paying her back?”
“A great deal of fun.” He said laughing. ” No doubt she is up to no good. Might as well do this one or the next one she chooses will be worse.”
Entering the places Ramiel looked around, it was a nice enough looking place, but then it had to be on the outside. “We would like an appointment with Cynthia.” Ramiel said sliding a 100 across the counter.
The dark-haired girl at the counter smiled and made the hundred disappear deftly. “Right this way, sirs.” She led them down a clean white corridor to a back room. She opened the door for them and then stepped aside. “Enjoy your stay, sirs.”
The room was dominated by reds. It did indeed have a masseuse table, incense sticks and a variety of tools of the trade. Seated at a modest desk was a person draped in red silks that hid her form all the way up to her eyes, which were a brilliant green. She looked up at them as they came in.
“Ah,” said a strangely genderless voice. “So glad you could drop by. Ms. Honeywell said you might stop by today. Please have a seat.” She offered the bench as a seat to one of them and gave up her own chair for the other. She stood, folded her arms, and leaned against a set of drawers. “How can I help the two of you? I trust this is not about a massage?”
Ramiel smiled, “I see no reason not to mix business and pleasure.” He leaned against the table.
She laughed. “You humans amaze me. You do recall our meeting in the spirit world when you journeyed to the old one’s Tower, yes?” Her eyes narrowed in amusement, though he could not see the rest of her face. “But perhaps you weren’t referring to me when you ask about pleasure? There are some young things here that know how to make a body relax, if you so desire.”
“Though a massage would be nice,” Michael said with a smile. “You are correct that is not why we are here. The task that Ms. Honeywell has sent us after is to search out a truth, with our starting point being you.”
“She can be terrible vague, can’t she?” said Cynthia. “I have discussed several things of interest with her. What, exactly, is it that the two of you wish to know?”
“Well,” Michael said, “it has to do with finding the truth about a Ghost Child and Urathra. Then telling the local pack that they have been lied to about them, and inform them about the truth of it.”
“Ah, those truths.” Cynthia chuckles softly. “Of course, I will tell you the truth but I will not discuss it directly with the Uratha. They are too… temperamental for my tastes. And after that perhaps you might wish to indulge in pleasures of the flesh as you said.”
Cynthia began to speak. “You must understand that I speak the truth here. I have no reason to lie or exaggerate. In point of fact, it is my particular purview that allows me insight to such things and I can only benefit from telling the truth, not lying or keeping silent on this matter.
“The truth is that there is indeed such a thing as a Ghost Child. As the young werewolves believe, such a being is created only as a result of successful mating between two full-blooded werewolves. I say full-blooded as a point of clarification, which I will get into in a moment. But this much is true and is what the werewolves here believe.
“However, the devil is in the details, as they say. All werewolves are especially fertile beings and share a passion for lust and sex that I truly admire. Thus they are more prone to pregnancy or more likely to impregnate mortals. Normal birth control is still effective, but not quite as effective as it is for normal humans. For instance, if we assume that hormone pills are 99% effective, then for a werewolf it is only 90% effective. So, in that sense a werewolf has ten times the fertility of a normal human. This does not answer the question of the Ghost Child, but I submit it as a fact to establish the background to what I’m attempting to tell you.
“Now, certain werewolves know a special rite called Bar to Birth. This is 100% effective in any intercourse between werewolf and human. Normal contraceptive methods are about as effective as you’d expect.
“Let’s say, however, two werewolves have intercourse. Your alpha was taught by his father that this is a violation of the Oaths of the Moon and so it is. The Uratha have been cursed only to mate with humans, you see. But they were cursed so by Luna in a fit of rage when they killed her husband, Father Wolf. Luna is… capricious at best. And, so is her curse. The part that your alpha does not realize is that as such the curse is inconsistent. Even more, it is said that each time a werewolf mates with werewolf in true love, the curse is weakened as Luna sees their love and is reminded of the love she shared with Father Wolf instead of her anger at his murder.
“This means that today the odds of producing a Ghost Child offspring are only perhaps 1 in 10 without the use of birth control. With the use of the special rite called Bar to Birth its only perhaps one in a hundred. Further, the more werewolves mate with werewolves, the less important that particular Oath becomes. Ultimately, they may become free of that restriction and free to mate.
“However, there is a curious result of the merger. Werewolves still only really breed true with humans. The result of indulging their carnal pleasure with others of their bestial, lupine nature, is a child called a Vargr. Far from being the evil threat that a ghost child is, Vargr is a different kind of werewolf, one capable of shifting into a dire wolf, but lacking the spiritual side. Vargr can never be true Uratha and are often abandoned by them to make their own way in the world. But then, that is the way of the Uratha, is it not? To always abandon their children so that they will be safe from the rage of the Uratha.”