To Learn the Dance of Shadow and Spirit

Timeline: January 29, 2009

Ann-Marie and Anu/Jesse had spent quite some time together learning the mysteries of the spirit world. The more she learned, the more confident that this was the path for her. While relaxing after a lesson, Ann-Marie turned to her friend and teacher, a question on her mind, “Jesse, I must ask. While we were gone, what happened with the werewolves? You are here, so obviously it went somewhat well, yes?”

“We set an ambush, killed some deadites and then followed the spirits back to where they were nesting. They may be faster than your human friends,” said Jesse, “but they are not faster than certain werewolves. When we cornered them, they fled to Shadow. We hunted them down and destroyed them.

Jesse smiled a smile that was not Jesse at all. In fact, it was a bit scary. “They were delicious.”

“You ate them?” Ann-Marie said somewhat surprised and a bit unsettled. Then thinking about it she couldn’t find fault in it, as she did much the same to mortals, “But of course you did.” She continued not waiting for an answer, “And the werewolves, they accepted you?”

“For the moment, we’ve reached an understanding,” Jesse nodded.

“That is good to know. From what I’ve been told, that is not easy for them to do,” she commented. “May I ask what the conditions were?”

“No,” said Jesse. “Are you ready for your lessons?”

Ann-Marie was taken aback a bit, surprised at the short answer. “No? That’s a bit quick don’t you think? Please my friend, what happens to you both (Jesse and Anu that is) is of concern to me. I’d like to know what would put you and well, myself in imminent danger as it concerns the werewolves. If you think it is fine, I’ll trust you; but I believe I deserve more of an explanation than a pat ‘no’.”

Jesse sat back onto the couch in which she was nestled. When Ann-Marie had found her, she was curled up, writing in a journal. She closed the leather-bound book now and hunted about on the small lamp stand next to her with her hand until she found the power bar. She calmly opened the wrapper and took a bite, then looked at Ann-Marie. She smiled.

“The werewolves do not represent a threat to me,” she said simply. “Be careful, Ann-Marie. If I did not know better, I would think you believe you are in control here. Remember – I am the teacher. You are my student.”

Ann-Marie hid any emotional response, for it would serve no purpose. She replied carefully, “I mean no disrespect my friend. It isn’t a question so much of control for me; but a question of concern, for you both and by extension all that I’ve built here. For the purposes of my learning you are the teacher and I respect that.” The last was said with utmost honesty. Ann-Marie obviously still held reverence for the spirit which in her belief was a manifestation of the will of the Morrigan, but the words of Chaska and her fear of losing Jesse forever were in the recesses of her thoughts as well. She quickly moved on to defuse any awkwardness, “I see you are keeping a journal.”

She put the journal aside and came to her feet in a fluid motion. The spirit did seem comfortable in her new body. She touched Ann-Marie’s face gently for a moment, then drew away. “You may refer to me as Anu when we are alone. There are not two people within this body anymore, only one now.”

Anu turned slightly and then bent to retrieve the journal. “This is to be your text book.” She held it in front of Ann-Marie and flipped the pages quickly so she could see. “It is not yet finished, but when it is, it shall be your Blood Grimoire. It is a Tome of knowledge written in the First Tongue. You see the symbols herein. Their meaning will one day be clear to you, when your training is complete. You will not be able to speak it, but you will understand it and you will be able to decipher the symbols.

“Although the first language has no true written counterpart, the symbols I am recording do have meaning and a direct relation to the First Tongue. The concepts here are powerful. They are for the eyes of Kindred, only, though only those Kindred trained to understand them will be able to read it. However, there are other beings that could read this book and take from it power they should not have. So, when the time comes that I should give this to you, you must protect it.”

With happiness and reverence toward the gift she replied, “I will. Thank you Anu, this is most wonderful. I shall go to great lengths to protect this. I already feel the power and possibilities of my training from you. It is a path I feel is close to my heart.” She paused and asked, “What if I must depart for a time?”

Anu frowned slightly. “Depart? Why?”

She answered, “I haven’t decided yet whether I will or not. My brother got himself in a promise and he may ask me to help him. I could take me away for three months. It is not something I wish to do, but I may feel obliged to do.”

“It will hamper your progress and almost certainly force us to revisit some subjects,” Anu pointed out. “What will you do about your cultists?”
“I’ve been considering that. You have been helping me so far, I would likely ask you to continue doing so. But, in truth I haven’t made the decision yet. My brother is a big boy and he made his deal on his own. It’s not as if he will be alone, it’s just that a part of me feels I should help him, though I myself am not in any way part of the debt. To be honest, I really don’t want to go somewhere and be someone’s servant.”

Anu looked at Ann-Marie for moment, then said, “Nor would I.”

Anu let silence hang for a long, pregnant moment. Was she hinting at something? Anu continued before Ann-Marie could ask the half-formed question. “Yet, is it not the nature of your breed to serve the greater good of your Covenant? Were you not created as generals and warriors to fight and die for others? This is what I made you. If you see yourself a a true representative of the Children of the Morrigan, then you are by default my servant.

“But think carefully on that another time. My point tonight is that you are in fact a servant of some kind. Whether you embrace this fact and accept it, and whether or not you decide to serve those for whom you have no true allegiance, are both your decisions alone. We, speaking as the Morrigan, have allowed our children the power of choice. In the end, you are allowed to choose whom you will serve — and what.”

“You cut to the cusp of it. I must serve someone, that is true. But so far, no one here has deserved my devotion save for the Morrigan herself. I serve my Hierophant periodically and I serve the Morrigan. I look to find a place with the others, accept the challenges presented to me and help out, but I often find myself outside far more than in. So much so that I have pretty much given up trying and decide to do my own thing. I am an ally, but little else (with exceptions of course). I see Johnny in this situation as well, but being mortal he is better accepted.”

“But concerning leaving, what I mean is that I don’t what to go and serve someone I know nothing of and isn’t a friend, goddess or kindred.” she paused, “and I know what you are getting at my Teacher. Jesse was my loyal friend and student. Anu was the hand of my goddess made manifest, someone I hold in awe. It has been difficult to reconcile the two. I must do so as such I apologize for treating you like a servant. You both, you as one, have been nothing but kind and honorable in our dealings. It is a friendship and mentorship I value.”

Anu smiled and took Ann’s hand in both of hers. “You understand, then. I am your only true friend and ally,” she said softly. “The only one who can understand your nature, your ambitions, and your desires.” She held Ann’s hand a moment longer, then let her go.

“Ann-Marie, you have already made your decision,” said the goddess in flesh. “You do not wish to go.”

“It is true. I do not. Michael is not going either, or so I hear,” replied Ann-Marie.

Anu nodded and returned to her seat, considering the matter settled. “Perhaps then you should rest now, or say goodbye to friends that are leaving. Tomorrow I shall take you to the cemetery to the west of this territory and from there we will enter Shadow, where I will teach you some things.”

“Sounds fine. I will first talk to my brother, I have some related things I wanted to check on first. I don’t think he’ll ask me to go anyway. if he needs me, despite my desires I will go. If not, then I won’t and instead ask the goddess to give him the will to make it through this trial.”

Anu nodded and Ann then went to speak with her brother.

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