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 The Changing Breeds

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PostSubject: The Changing Breeds   Sat Mar 22, 2008 2:02 am

Man has almost ruined Nature, inside-out. His boundless ego, carelessness absolute conviction that he is the center of his universe have torn the wild world apart. Forests fall. Oceans become cesspools. The weather itself screams in protest, and while it's fashionable to blame outside entities for this catastrophic state of affairs, human greed and stupidity are the real demons here. And now Nature has had enough.
For almost three millenniums, the clever monkey has had his way. Now, with life unbalanced and Man broken from his animal self, Nature wants her world back. Inside some human hearts, she rises. Her instinct becomes a storm. Folks with an affinity for animals find how deeply that connection runs. The inner animal comes forth, and the resulting beast is neither animal nor man but the best and worst elements of both.
Shapechangers are not fluffy critters. The most notorious combine human and animal predations, and even "innocuous" ones such as swan-maids or mice-men can be VERY dangerous. In ancient lore, folks who could assume animal forms were forces to be reckoned with. They might command strange magics, summon hordes of beastly allies, seduce you off in the night or simply tear your throat out. Even their human forms were disturbing... often beautiful, always unpredictable. Just as their animal kin, they were passionate, direct, temperamental, and uncannily aware. Deeply in touch with the living world, these people seemed equally at home in either skin, yet restless in both. Now, with a cruel divide between humanity and the beasts, these folks seem more restless than ever. Yet for all their fearsome power, the changing breeds are no arbitrary monsters. Truth be told, they seem perfectly natural. And for other, "mere" human beings, that fact may hold the most terrible kind of charm.
Each culture features legends of animal-folk. You can find spider-women in China, shark-men among Pacific islanders, werewolves in German myth and werebulls in ancient Greece. They all, however, share distinguishing features that set them apart from other supernatural creatures.

A Member of "The Changing Breeds" is a person who shares a metaphysical connection to an inner animal. This connection allows that person to shift between human and animal forms. The connection is innate, primal, and mysterious. No one knows really why or how it happens, but once opened, that bond cannot be broken except by death. They can change shape into a single animal or hybrid form, heal at a phenomenal rate, go Berserk if pushed too far by specific individuals or by the depredations of Man to Nature, are vulnerable to silver, and cannot be clearly remembered or recorded by fragile human minds or electronic devices, which instead blur or come up with some other explanation for a human turning into an animal, a process known as the Delusion. Also known as ferals, nahuals, fera, two-hearts, skinwalkers, and much more, they all experience a frequently emotional and/or painful transformation between childhood and adolescence, though there may be earlier signs for those who know where to look and what to look for. After this initial uncontrollable transformation, they work to find an accord - a spiritual harmony composed of longing, awareness, hunger, and rage, combining human consciousness and animal instinct, forming one of five different Archetypal "roles": The Den-Warder, the Heart-Ripper, the Root-Weaver, the Sun-Chaser, and the Wind-Dancer. These roles shape, but do not define, the nature of each werebeast, allowing them to find a philosophy and lifestyle that fits both halves of their soul.
However, despite their common goal of natural protection, they don't share a common culture or laws. They possess feral hearts, which make them seem different - quick to love, quick to bolt, quick to anger, charming, puzzling, terrifying, touchy about pollution and human carelessness, with strange ideas about hygiene and personal space or a strange sort of attraction. Their inner beast, or Nahual, is a sort of spirit self or guardian animal that manifests in subtle clues... slightly shiny eyes, glossy crow-black hair, growls and purrs, physical tics and postures, and so on. The shapechanger meets the Nahual in dreams and shares an affinity with it in the physical world. Beings who can see auras note the shadow of the Nahual hovering around the human form, and sometimes it can even appear to mundane eyes.
Each shapeshifter has a few specific forms he or she can take. All possess a human form and at least two others: a slightly-larger than normal example of the animal, and hybrid form that mingles human and animal together over their entire bodies. Some also possess other forms, such as a much larger and more ferocious prehistoric or "dire" example of the animal, or a mostly human form with noticeable animal traits like claws, strange eyes, feathers for hair, strange teeth, scales, or skin/fur markings. Certain ferals (fish, horses, lions, goats, snakes, etc) possess other forms instead, such as a "tauric" form that is mostly human above the waist and mostly animal below. Others (mostly insect or bird or arachnids or rodents) possess the ability to disperse into a swarm or flock of regular-sized animals of their type. A rare few possess mystical forms that combine with other elements and aspects of nature, or that resemble creatures of myth.

To play, you will need to post your character's Name, Human Appearance, Breed and Species , Other Forms, Accord, Favors (three natural abilities as their particular animal), Aspects (unusual abilities given to werebeasts by Nature or other sources), Early Life, First Change, and Changing Breed Life. You might want to answer the following questions as well, though this is up to you.

How Old are You?
Are you a kid? Teen? Young adult? Elder? Have you been feral for awhile, or are you on the cusp of Change? How older were you when the Storm (the wild emotions and situation that brought about the first change) hit? What have you done since then? Are you established in your life, or is the future one big possibility?

How do you appear?
Hair, skin, features, clothes? Tall, stout, muscular, thin? Stylish, or definitely not? Granola or McDonalds? Bare feet or Manolo Blahniks? What's the impression you give, and how much of it is intentional?

What do you want?
What motivates you? Why/ Do you have drive or simply follow events? What causes or activities do you feel passionate about? Do you have hobbies? Vocations? Ambitions? Are you in lover, or is there something you have sworn to do before you die?

What keeps you from getting it?
What stops you in your tracks? Fear? Addiction? Self-doubt? Peer pressure? Have you suffered physical or emotional injury? What steps (if any) have you taken to recover? Are you too poor or too rich to be truly free? And how do you get around life's obstacles?

What's your name?
Do you still go by your given name? Or have you chosen a new moniker that suits your feral nature? Is your name "normal," or were you raised by... "creative" parents? Do you have two names, one for each aspect of your personality? Or do you hold onto your old life by every shred, including your birth name?

When and how did you cross paths with the mystical world?
Have you had visions? Odd experiences? Did your parents wonder what was wrong with you when you were a child? Were you bitten by a mysterious beast, or lured into the woods by a ghostly stranger? Were you raised among pagans or tribal mystics, or is this whole "were-thing" deal a new experience for you?

How did you meet your animal soul?
Was your first impression of that beast a nature program? Stuffed animal? Nickname? Have you always been wild, or did you clamp down on those feelings into adulthood? Do you dream of your Nahual? Did you meet the beast in a zoo? When and how was your kinship forged, and what have you done to sustain it til now?

Do you like animals?
The answer isn't always "yes". Do you perhaps fear your inner beast? Were you attacked by animals? Do you know someone who was hurt or killed by one? Do you have pets? If so, what kind... and are they related to your soul-beast? Do you feel more comfortable around animals than people, or vice versa? And what would you do if you saw someone being cruel to an animal... especially if that "someone" was a person you cared about?

Do you like humanity?
Do people suck? Or do you truly like people and their ways? Does Man's world entice you, disgust you, or leave you wanting more? Do folks find you friendly, or would you rather just kill 'em all?
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PostSubject: Re: The Changing Breeds   Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:36 am

Accords:
DEN-WARDER: The Keeper - The den is the heart of safety in the wild. Therefore, the den must be nurtured and protected. Just as the mother bear watches over her cubs, the Den-Warder guards his protectorate. He may be devoted to friends, family, animal kin or even complete strangers; in any case, his devotion keeps them alive.
In an uncertain world, this accord reflects stability. He's the bulwark against chaos, whose strength safeguards the weak. Both provider and protector, he feeds others with his labor and wards their future with his life. Honor is his birthright in human and bestial forms. If a Warder offers you his word, he may die to keep that oath.
That's the ideal. Here's the reality: Den-Warders are people embodying animals. Den-Warders are fallible and weak as anyone else. The principles of a Warder echo through his heart, but that heart --- just as all others --- is flawed. He may mean every word he says, but his ability to live up to it may or may not last. Still, he MEANS well, and that sense of purpose exalts him. A Warder may seem stuffy and priggish by certain standards, but without him the world would be a crueler place.
A common accord among bears, horses, lions, canids, and herd animals, this feral is extremely social. Without someone or something to protect, he feels like nothing. He may step into an Alpha role, or support the one who does. At heart, a Warder is often temperate, not flashy or extreme. Don't piss him off, though --- that's dangerous. No beast, save perhaps a predator, kills more often to make a point.
Every Wader has an oath: a promise he's made, if only to himself. This oath might involve being a loving parent, neighborhood protector, poacher-killer or tough provider. That oath becomes his "den," a protectorate even if there's no physical territory involved. A Den-Warder bull, for example, may guard his herd as they wander; a Warder dolphin may rescue human swimmers. The oath's particulars are rooted in personal experience: the dolphin might have been a surfer whose lover drowned beyond the reefs; the bull may have seen his family gunned down in the barrio. For whatever reason, the Warder feels he can make things BETTER. His loyalty serves greater purposes. That sense of purpose drives him, too... sometimes even to destruction.
Similar to the Knight who inspires his human element, the Warder bears an armored burden. Sometimes that burden sits heavy on his back, leaving him snappish or tyrannical. At his best, this werebeast is brave company, hoisting a beer a chasing a meal with gusto. If he falters, though, this beast can be a martyr... or a demon. "Am I good enough?" is a constant question with such a person, and sometimes the answer sounds like "no."
People who assume this accord are often social from childhood onward. Many times, they genuinely like people, and feel deep affection for their friends and families. Even as kids, Waders protect smaller things, and can be aggressively territorial about their toys and playmates. During the First Change, a Warder often grasps onto a sense of purpose to assert stability in his life. As his beast-life deepens, he believes in that sense of purpose to keep him sane.
Respect: Loyalty
Musical Tone of Voice: Harmonious

HEART-RIPPER: The Predator - Any beast can kill. A Ripper ENJOYS it. A predator to the teeth, she makes no excuses for her appetites. Born from the cauldron of human bloodlust and bestial hunger, this accord embodies challenge. The Heart-Ripper lives for the look in the eyes of her prey. In their pain, she finds peace with her beasts.
The Ripper's CRUEL, but not always EVIL. The distinction is lost on those she destroys. To her, life is a garden of pain; you've got to be tough to survive it, and so (she insists) her predatory nature helps other people endure. Perversely, many victims agree. They shower this beast with submissive adulation. She's compelling in a predatory way, and to some folks, that's the ultimate allure.
Despite her bloody reputation, the Ripper doesn't always kill, literally. She couldn't survive long in Man's world if she did. Her specialties are fear, pain and challenge, and her hunting grounds are everywhere. From boardrooms to bedrooms to distant jungles and island depths, her shadow falls on the weak. She mocks, blocks, frustrates, and enslaves --- and often makes folks love her for it. This beast dares people and animals alike to be strong or be prey. If they can't stand up to her, they're not worth her respect.
Rippers come by this accord honestly. Most endure hellish childhoods before the eventual Change. Crime zones, war zones, domestic battlegrounds and the gangrenous underclass teach such people to bond with their darkest sides. A handful come from privileged society, but even these folks grow up by the law of the claw. Power, they learn, must be taken, not surrendered. Those who can't claim power deserve to be claimed in return.
Whenever possible, this accord Alphas her band. Her personality won't let her give in easily... if at all. She grants respect only to those strong enough to take it from her. Dominance fights, in her world, are bloody affairs. Other "leaders" she might tolerate but never submit to.
This accord draws the ultimate predators: Tigers. Sharks. Wolverines. Falcons. Every so often, though, this accord manifests capriciously in animals you'd never tag as vicious: A horse. A hare. A dolphin. A dove. Such predators can be more dangerous than the others because they seem so innocent. Given trust, this Ripper betrays it; given love, she exploits it and then demands more. She's a sweet killer, the walking heartbreak whose scars burn on the inside but leave the outside clean. There are many ways to rip one's heart, and this beast knows them all.
Why tolerate such a creature? Because Nature isn't kind. There are times when it's good to have a demon at your back, and the Ripper is an HONEST demon. She's not without love or compassion, though she has odd ways of showing them. Deep down, she might even know remorse. Don't expect that from her, however --- expect defiance. This accord lives to challenge you. To survive her, companions must get tough or die.
As embodiments of challenge, Rippers tend to be survivors. Many grew up among abusive or dysfunctional homes, or in bastions of walth and privilege where superiority over others was assumed. As children, Rippers tended to be popular or outcasts, rarely anything in between. No matter where or how the Heart-Ripper grew up, she stood out from an early age, and has only strengthened that impression with experience.
Respect: Ferocity
Musical Tone: Sharp or ominous.

ROOT-WEAVER: The Builder - When Man conquered fire, most beasts ran and hid. Most, but not all. The curious beasts gathered close, hoping to discover this strange new secret. Clever and industrious, they soon mastered secrets of their own. Their inheritors carry on that tradition. Like them, the Root-Weaver pursues his craft without fear of shadows or flame.
Steady and methodical, this accord appeals to beasts with calmer temperaments. Beavers, monkeys, crows, even rats are drawn by this path's restless curiosity. Among people, his accord calls to inventors, artisans, designers and construction workers. The Weaver asks "WHY?" then answers his own question with hard work and a ready mind. Sometimes imaginative, other times industrious, this beast dares the fire to this day.
Other ferals seem puzzled by the Weaver's work. Although the human side understands its value, to the animal side, the Weaver's work just feels... wrong. Isn't the whole point of shapechanging to get away from the trappings of Man? Not at all, this accord answers. We are the best of both our breeds. If pressed, a Weaver will point to ants, birds, beavers, and spiders. Aren't they building? Don't they invent? Don't you think that deep inside they might take pride in the work they do? To this accord, it's self-evident. Man doesn't own the patent, so to speak, on industry.
A Root-Weaver could be cool and assured, or fraught with endless imagination. He might work with his hands the old fashioned way, or spin networks of virtual webbing. It's not the tools or materials that matter so much as the building. This beast likes things that last. He'll point to the pyramids and wonder if Egypt's beast-gods were architects as well as avatars of that age. Gazing at a beaver dam, he'll point out the brilliance of the construction. Endlessly entranced by the works of Beast and Man, this artisan works fluently with both. Similar to the Warder, the Weaver's often a team player --- not in charge, but an asset nonetheless.
Just as another Clever Monkey, this beast sometimes goes too far. His insight doesn't always match his imagination. He'll whip up a device, then ponder what to do with it; or spend months building a house, then go live in the woods instead. To many Root-Weavers, the work matters more than the result. The fact that a Weaver's inventions can be dangerous or strange doesn't matter nearly as much as the challenge involved in making them.
Yet for all of a Weaver's flights of fancy, he's a grounded beast. He favors things that last. Whether he's a wandering ox or a dedicated ape, this feral's rather practical. Endlessly searching for material and projects, he bores easily. Perhaps he finds more peace in Man's restlessness than in the Zen perfections of his Beast.
Weavers are curious folk, problem-solvers with skilled hands. As kids, they share an aptitude for putting things together or taking them apart. Excellent spatial relationship perceptions often overtake their social acumen, though. A few might feel easy in good company, but others balk at the constraints of human frailties. That same impatience rarely translates to animals, though. A Root-Weaver can be entranced by the artistry of a garden spider or the labors of a tribe of ants.
Respect: Cleverness
Musical Tone: Fugues and complex harmonic patterns.
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PostSubject: Re: The Changing Breeds   Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:37 am

SUN-CHASER: The Rebel - There's a feather on your bed in the morning. Your best jewelry's gone, along with the stranger who charmed his way home with you last night. On the bathroom mirror is one word, written there in toothpaste: Sorry. He's off to chase the sun again. That's his way --- and your regret.
This beast is beautiful wreckage, a fox who keeps chasing his tail long after his fur's gone gray. In his prime, he's the coal-black slickster whose kisses warm like burnt brandy. Later, when the petals have fallen and dried from long-dead stems, he's still out there ranging, casting what he swears is the final crap-shoot of a lifelong game. His beast-side is the vulpine grin in a thicket, the kitten whose whiskers drip with cream. Let the hounds yowl as they search for him --- he's long gone. Again.
The sun never stops moving, and neither does this feral. Of course, the sun does NOT move --- the rest of the world moves around it. This could also be said of a Chaser, who's dedicated to the passionate exploration of pretty much everything. He spins the world on its axis with a smile, hoping you won't feel the vertigo. That laughing blur is the Chaser's element, and in it, he's a master. Later, when the queasiness sets in, he's nowhere to be found. Unreliable? Probably. Predictable? In his own way, yes.
As an accord, this path blends Man's rebel nature with the Trickster's cleverness. The Chaser's a crow picking at the carcass on the roadway or a jackal licking lion-blood from his chops. To him, rules weren't meant to apply. Gravity never seems to bind his wings. His wit will see him through... or so he thinks. The Chaser's tricks hold the bent wisdom of a soul sharing a mirror with you, yet oblivious to its own reflection. Though he's never half as clever as he seems to believe he is, he manages to get by. The endless bloody noses and five am fights just convince him to try harder next time.
There's wisdom in a pair of spinning dice, a reckless disregard for morality or virtue. That intoxicating moment of endless potential is the air a Sun-Chaser breathes. For a time, he can share it, too, and this makes him the most charming kind of beast. That which is arduous seems like ecstasy when he's around. He always seems three steps ahead of the pack, and if they're baying at his heels, it just means he'll run faster and take you with him. In the end, though, the only sun he's chasing is his own.
"Better that you had some fun." That's the Sun-Chaser's motto. This beast knows that life is temporary, and he savors it like fresh honey. With keen teeth and an eager grin, he smiles and snaps at his own shadow. All his playfulness, however, can't hide his agile mind. He thinks around corners like the wall's not even there, and for a time he's a walking good luck charm.
That one word, "Sorry", is his epitaph. So many of his kind end up in ditches at the side of the road, their fur matted by the one car they couldn't dodge. Bullets, teeth and broken hearts are his final legacy. But before that last run with eternity, you can see the sun catch every perfect grin. Long after he's gone, the smiles still remain.
People drawn to this accord have depended on fortune all their lives. As children, they took dares and always collected on the outcome. They're often the first kids to chance a kiss or cop a feel, and the teachers knew better than to turn their backs on them. For all the Chasers' bravado, there's a sadness about most Chasers. It's as if they've known from birth they'd never catch the sun, but that certainty never stopped them from trying.
Respect: Passion
Musical Tone: Light and airy, or low and seductive.

WIND-DANCER: The Seer - The gnarled hands and calloused feet of this mystic bespeak a wandering life. Beneath boots or hooves or leathered soles, she's trod a thousand paths to Nowhere. She knows her way around a whittling knife or the soft smoke of a tobacco kiss. Beneath her skin, owl feathers sprout and bison run thick on the plains again. She's been named for the wind, and with good cause. The breeze speaks her name, but only gods know what it means.
As a point of pride, each Dancer takes a new name when she embarks upon her road. She might have been wandering before her First Change began --- may have come to it, in fact, through a vision on the road. One and all, Dancers ramble. No glade or doorway knows their shadow for long.
A walking crossroads with a devil in the distance, the Wind-Dancer sees more than should perhaps be seen. With keen senses and eyes that look right through you, she seems eerily alert. Folks with secrets to hide feel disturbed by a Dancer's presence, as if at any moment every skeleton in their closets could spill out in a heap. Most folks blow right past omens, but Dancers live among them. To her, each broken twig or passing bird has significance. Fortunately, her perspective often includes a rough sense of humor, too. Without it, she'd driver herself and others near her nuts.
If the drifting life bothers her, you probably won't hear complaints. A Dancer keeps most thoughts to herself. A stoic path, this accord blends lone-wolf courage with human restlessness. She might join a band or teach a newblood, true, but only on her terms and at her convenience. Her fellowship may be brief, but it's memorable. For better or worse, she sees through drama and scrapes off bullshit.
Present yet always faraway, this path calls to harbinger beasts: ravens, horses, owls, wolves. Such creatures have fabled ties to the Otherworld, and for the Dancer, those tales may be true. More than any other path, these seers deal with ghosts or cross over into the weird spirit realm. Chances are good that our Dancers bears a pouch of questionable contents and a flute to whistle up some company.
Company may be hard to come by for this feral. Her constant visions and otherworldly sight make her a bit crazy. She could be charmingly eccentric or flat-out bizarre. Maybe she hands out candles to everyone she meets, or whispers fortunes to the birds. Every so often, she seems delusional, talking or lashing out at things no one else can see. Are these visitations real, or just the products of a half-mad animal? Not even the Dancer knows for sure.
Despite her eccentric ways, a Dancer can be social. She's got a knack for SEEING people, and folks often like to be noticed. To the waitress at the cold cafe or the clerk in the stock-it-all store, a Dancer's soft words and firm handshake can makes a person's day. It's a survival trait, of course, for a beast in a world of strangers. But more often than not, a Dancer's praise is honest. She can see the bad folks and seer clear long before they cross her steps.
Weatherworn even in youth, the Dancer knows the elements. She's no fool for comfort, and often pits herself against the wind with little more than a rucksack and some spine. Her brave spirit and keen insight make friends and foes alike; from necessity, she'll ask for help but can "go it alone" when need be. Authorities of all kinds distrust her. Winds blow across all sorts of little secrets, and their freedom makes certain folks nervous. Sometimes, there's a good reason for that, too: a Dancer who goes bad is a dangerous breed. She'll play with your head, open your heart and leave your life an open book before heading off again.
This accord calls up the wanderer in Everyman. A person drawn to this path has been a loner since childhood --- not unfriendly, but just ... different. By adulthood, she's probably calm even under stress, although her insights might make her seem eccentric. Then again, she could be downright mad. A Dancer could come from any social background. Whoever she once was, she's her own person now.
Respect: Insight
Musical Tone: Low and lonesome.
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PostSubject: Re: The Changing Breeds   Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:09 am

Favors: Inborn aspects of a creature's breed, these traits reflect the obvious characteristics of that breed. Favors often are limited to primal, dire, or hybrid (war-beast) forms (or any other form that is noticeably animalistic rather than human). You may choose three of them (though you may choose others as aspects).

Aquatic
Bioluminescence
Darksight
Echolocation
Extra Limbs (trunks, tentacles, tails, etc)
Fang and Claw (Talons, Claws, teeth, horns, pincers, hooves, antlers, stingers or other primary "hand-to-hand" body weapons)
Limbless (serpents, fish, etc)
Many-Legged (suitable only for walking or climbing, not manipulating)
Musk
Natural Armor
Needleteeth
Quills
Razorskin
Size (becoming unusually large, perhaps even for a large animal)
Speed
Water breath
Webbing (cannot be "fired," but can be laid as a trap, and cocooned at leisure)
Wings

Aspects: As highly diverse creatures, ferals enjoy a wide range of unusual abilities. Some of these Aspects begin with an innate ability writ large, while others are personal quirks or learned tricks. All aspects set the character apart from normal human beings, yet most Aspects are individualized enough to be accessible to any werebeast while being innate to none of them. In shapechanger lore, many of these abilities are considered "tricks." Chameleon, for example, kept the secret of blending all to himself until Young March Hare came along and tricked Chameleon out of it. Although such magical thinking is considered more legend than fact, feral tricksters often prove otherwise. You may select up to seven of each listed Aspect, with as many sub-categories (like Beast Magic spells or Spirit Gifts or Keen Senses) as is appropriate for your character. Note that some Aspects might need to be explained (if your character is a Japanese Kitsune, for example, it might need an explanation as to how it was blessed by a Wildfire Spirit to make foxfire, and a shapechanger with Territory bond should really explain how that territory became so linked to him).

Alarming Alacrity: Doubles the werebeast's speed in ANY form.
Asthmatic Reaction: Many folks are allergic to animals... or, more often, to animal saliva. This trick takes advantage of that reaction. Characters spit opponents with no immediate damage, though shortly thereafter the target is overwhelmed by a powerful coughing fit, which feels as though his throat is closing, though this is not actually the case. This fades after a few minutes, though the target DOES take damage for his powerful, wracking coughs. Not fun.
AWWW!!!: Some critters are too cute for words, even if they can rip your arm off. A feral with this talent can cute her way out of most kinds of trouble, and increases her skill in social situations. This ability is available in all forms, though it is only half as effective in human form.
Bare Necessities: Shapeshifters can't afford to be modest. Most cannot change into their animal forms unless they're naked or wearing full leather or fur garments. Sometimes, though, there's just not enough time to strip before you change. A character who knows this secret, though, doesn't have to worry about it. Her clothes, pocketed possessions and anything else that's touching her skin effectively transforms with her, though none of them are accessible until human form is resumed. Some masters of this skill can even manage to take additional items, such as weapons of backpacks, along for the ride, though items more mechanically complex than a watch might malfunction after experiencing such a transformation.
Beast Magic: Magic is the power to alter the nature of reality itself through secret knowledge of its workings. While most ferals shun these strange arts, certain species --- cats, baboons, goats, foxes, cranes, spiders, frogs, ravens, and even bison --- are strongly attuned to magic, and in their human forms, are often drawn to occult practices. While Fera cannot use magic as true mages can, and it may not be as powerful, they may learn specific spells (each one spell counts as taking this aspect again). The shapechanger must perform a ritual with specific tools, incantations, and gestures that suit the character and the story... a Tothian Baboon might call on Egyptian secrets drawn from ancient papyri, while a Klinkerash werecat might employ trappings of medieval German folklore.
Beast Surge: By staring into another shapeshifter's eyes, the werebeast with this trick can try to "surge the beast" and drive the other feral into one of his animal forms. This often comes into play when one werebeast wants to assert dominance, unmask a person who's hiding his true animal nature or remind a shapechanger who he really is at heart.
Birth Blessing: A fabled gift of magical beasts, this Aspect allows a feral to help a would-be mother (animal or human) bear healthy children. The shapechanger kisses the mother on her belly or kneels in animal form at the foot of her bed to activate it.
Blend In: Like a hare in winter, this character can shift her skin or fur to blend in with the dominant surroundings.
Burrowing
Carnivore's Puissance
: Allows the character to regain essence (the power of the feral heart, used to activate abilities, by devouring some other creature's heart.
Catwalk: The feral moves without a sound on bare feet (also provides an animal-like toughness to human soles in human form).
Clamber: Like a money, this character climbs and clambers about with surety and grace.
Clever Monkey: The agile mind of this shapechanger can assess a situation and fit together (literally or otherwise) the pieces involved. The puzzle involved must have obvious "pieces" and a clear and achievable goal --- this trick can't puzzle out peace in the Middle East. Would help to repair an engine, master sudoku, or solve a logical mystery. Works in all forms.
Culling the Weak: This character can take stock of a situation and determine the weakest character involved, or whether someone is suffering from an illness. Note that this ability CAN be tricked, and that the weakest-looking character is not necessarily so.
Durga's Blessing: When the goddess Durga rode into battle on her tiger, she conferred her immortal ferocity upon his descendants. This power allows a shapechanger to regenerate almost immediately when wounded in battle.
Earthbond: Allows a feral to be even more attuned to his surroundings than usual. Scenting the wind or feeling the trembles of the earth, he can "scan" his surroundings for trouble.
Exoskeleton
Extraordinary Specimen: Embodies her totem animal, appearing as one of the biggest and strongest representatives of her race.
Foretelling: Character receives visions of possible futures, which, though vague and unreliable, are somewhat accurate regardless.
Fortune's Favor: Supernaturally lucky.
Grave Misfortune: Let's the werebeast grant BAD luck (a la a Black Werecat)
Gross Eater: This character will never starve to death. She can eat anything organic, living or dead. It is all nourishing to her, and she is immune to any diseases or health problems because of it. Some (such as weregoats) have mastered this skill enough to eat inorganic material as well.
Hare Heart: Character is more likely to flee (Rabbit Run) when berserk than attack (Tiger Storm).
Hound's Honor: Can identify, recognize or track a particular scent.
Hybrid Forms: Grants additional hybrid forms (beyond the human, animal, and one mixed form).
Hypnotic Allure
Invisible Marking
: With a touch, the character can leave behind a marking invisible to all human senses, but noticeable to other members of the shapechanger's breed or band, with can be a mark or a single word or name.
Keen Sense: (any sense)
Leap
Long Life
Magnificence
: Her fur or scales shine, her eyes glow, an aura of sublime presence surrounds him at all times. People and animals instinctively revere the character, as she seems more like a totem spirit than an actual beast.
Mercy's Touch: Certain animals --- cattle, hares, dogs, frogs, bears, and serpents --- are renowned for healing powers. The feral licks, lays his paw upon or wraps himself around a sick or wounded friend, healing bashing damage and curing poison or disease, given enough time.
Mimic: Allows the character to mimic another's voice, coloration, or scent (or all three, if a master of this skill).
Mindmap: The character is never truly lost thanks to her instincts.
Mindspeech: Allows one character to communicate with another despite linguistic ability or distance without making a sound or saying a word, though the characters must know the same language.
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PostSubject: Re: The Changing Breeds   Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:39 am

Mother's Fury: The character becomes an exponentially better fighter when defending family, lover, or children.
Mythic Form: The feral becomes not a natural creature, but a related and legendary creature. For instance, a Japanese werefox might be able to grow to the size of a horse and sprout nine tails, an arabian wereagle might be able to grow to the size of a roc, a black weredog with spirit sight or Beast Magic might sprout two extra heads, and a komodo dragon might resemble a dragon of legend. They might also become a creature that is partially elemental in appearance.
Nine Lives: The character can die, but then reawakens and can begin healing normally, even if they suffered terrible damage (burns become only as bad as cuts, cuts as bad as bludgeoning damage, etc). Each time this ability is used, however, it becomes more difficult to return to life. Death cannot be escaped forever.
Pack Bond: Allows the characters in a group to communicate with one another empathically and move and react together.
Partial Change: Allows you to change a small portion of your body (i.e., a hand into talons in human form, or a human mouth onto a dog's face to communicate with others).
Piggyback Passenger: Allows the feral to sense the neural network of all animals within a square mile of less-than-human intelligence and then piggyback on the senses of one animal within range.
Resilient Form: Allows small animals to toughen up and resist damage.
Righting Reflex: Halves the damage received in a fall by righting themselves as they fall (commonly appears in werecats, who are supposed to land on their feet).
Sense of Familiarity: Potential witnesses either don't notice what's going on when a feral commits obviously suspicious or supernatural actions or convince themselves that what they are seeing fits into the natural order of things.
Sexual Dimorphism: Certain animals possess extravagant plumage or other physical features that seem to be reflected in all of their forms, making them unusually attractive (or intimidating).
Shadow Bond: Allows the characters to cross over into the Shadow, the Spirit World, by stepping sideways at a spiritual locus... a place of mystical power, allowing him to fade from this world to the next. Then things get weird.
Skin Double: Allows the feral to kill a person and assumes his identity by skinning the body and preparing the hide and donning it, allowing him to assume the dead person's identity with only minor clues... memory gaps, strange mannerisms, a slight scent of animal. Wolves are fabled for this talent ("the better to eat you with my dear").
Slumber's Touch: Puts all characters within 300 feet of the werebeast and 100 feet of each other feel sleepy and begin to fall asleep.
Snatch and Carry: Allows a shapechanger to prepare an object (often in blood, urine, or saliva) and merge it into his body when transformed, carrying it safely and unobtrusively.
Spinebite: A bite that severs the spinal cord or tears out the windpipe... instantly fatal.
Spirit Animal: The Shapechanger has the favor of an animal or spirit outside her Nahual breed, or shares an affinity for multiple kinds of animals (a Komodo dragon, for instance, might also share an affinity with salamanders and chameleons). This grants them an appropriate skill that resembles the animal (such as increased athletic ability when climbing or swimming for the salamander, or stealthiness for the chameleon).
Spirit Gift: Nature spirits occasionally offer gifts to shapechangers. These gifts are supernatural powers and blessings that must be taken one at a time, and are usually reminiscent of the spirit that gave them. Those with Spirit Gifts may not have Beast Magic, or vice versa (magic disturbs the spirits, and those who rely on spirits cannot work up the mental acuity necessary to use magic).
Spirit Secrets: Spirits whisper secrets in the ears (or point them out to the eyes) of werebeasts.
Spirit Sight: Allows the shapeshifter to see and sense spirits, ghosts, and areas of supernatural activity.
Spook the Herd: Crowds of people or animals can part and flee in terror before a person with this Aspect.
Stampede Rush: When attacking, the character's speed and strength increase, though they must be in a form with hooves, horns, antlers or a very thick skull.
Stash: Allows the shapeshifter to hide someone or something if an appropriate hiding spot is available, though the person or creature hiding must be silent and motionless. Think squirrels with nuts or dogs with bones.
Swarm/Flock Form
Sweet-Voiced Fiend
: Always thinks of JUST the right thing to say, and his voice goes down like wine, making him almost impossible to resist, sometimes despite the target's awareness of this.
Swift Wing: Increases a winged creature's speed in combat.
Tell: An identifying characteristic --- physical or psychological --- that betrays a feral's identity to anyone perceptive enough to pick up on it. Could be a lazy eye that manifests in human and animal forms, or a tendency to sneeze when nervous. Could also be a heavy musk or stink of offal that hangs off him like a coat. The tell does stick in a person's mind, perhaps irrationally so, making it so that she begins to form connections between the lazy-eyed dude in the corner and lazy-eyed bear on the trail.
Territory Bond: The character can spy on her domain as long as she is within 10 miles of the territory, allowing impressions to filter back to her from scents or sounds on the wind, psychic visions or bird-, bug-, or beast-messengers. This information is extremely unclear ("a group of men in hunter's garb moving through her domain) but still a good "heads up". Some can even turn the land to their purposes, causing mists to rise to obscure vision, make odd sounds echo through the area, causing trails to disappear or shift direction, winds and weather to shift in distracting ways, roots to trip trespassers, and so forth. Although these shifts remain subtle, they're still enough to give trespassers a VERY hard time.
Tiger's Heart: Character is likely to go berserk, and more likely to rage and attack (Tiger Storm) than flee (Rabbit Run).
Totem Guardian: An animal Totem (usually that of the Feral's Nahual) favors the character or his band and sends dreams and visions, leading them to mysterious adventures.
Truth Sense: Can spot a lie, spot a con, debunk a tall tale or look through an illusion in his immediate vcinity.
Twisted Tongue: Allows the shapeshifter to speak any language they know in ANY form.
Unnerving Cry: The Shapeshifter can release a piercing sound --- perhaps related to his Nahual beast, perhaps unrelated to anything natural on earth, and wherever this cry is heard (within 200 yards) everyone is struck by fear and must struggle to keep their resolve, making their next actions more difficult.
Unsettling Eye: In a staring contest between two people, the werebeast with this aspect can make his opponent feel as if he were being stared down by a spider, wolf, shark or other terror, not a mere man, and suddenly decide to back down.
Unspeakable: Hideous or terrifying beyond words, this creature sends people screaming in utter, madness-inducing horror (only in war-beast or animal forms).
Venomous
Wallwalking
War Heart
: The character gains strength from the damage he receives.
Warrior's Restoration: Allows a character to double his rate of healing from damage.
Weatherskin: A feral with this aspect resists the effects of extreme temperatures. He feels the weather, but short of fire or ice, harsh climates do no harm.
Weaver's Wisdom: The character excels at building and designing things, especially with natural materials, and only when using his hands and physical skills, not advanced science or abstract technology.
The Wild Cry: The character can communicate with wide varieties of animals. Basic levels of this aspect allow her to communicate through an empathic link with creatures in one animal kingdom. Next comes the language of one general type of animal (cats, corvids, cattle, etc). Then communication with whole herds, packs, swarms, flocks, or schools. Then calling animals to aid her as long as they remain safe. Then calling them until they are dead or the feral herself attacks them.
Blank Burrow: Ducking into a hole, niche, or other hiding place, a trickster literally disappears from there and reappears in another niche nearby (within fifty feet of the last one).
Brave Escape: For a few seconds, the werebeast becomes the slickest, coolest, or most dangerous creature around. Then, while his pursuers reel from the shock, the trickster runs off at twice the normal speed.
Pearl of Great Price: The trickster takes some worthless item or collection of items and enchants them to look extremely valuable or desirable, and then finds some mark to give it in exchange for something that is actually of greater value. The illusion wears off in an hour or so.
Tar Baby: With a few found objects, a bit of sticky stuff, and a heart full of spite, the trickster whips up a semi-convincing simulacrum of a person or animal, then breathes in the face of her creation and leaves the scene. The resulting "tar baby" will pass for a living thing in very dim light. And even though the tar baby cannot move in any way or make any noise, it exudes a faint aura of mockery. The longer someone is in its presence, the more he focuses on it, growing even more riled up and angry, and allowing the trickster to escape or put into motion her next trick. If (or when) the target does strike the decoy, the tar baby collapses into a puddle of vile goo.
Toss the Scent: This trick allows a trickster to throw his scent in the opposite direction, allowing him to escape all trackers dependent on smell, though some especially good tricksters can throw their scent onto another creature for a time.
Animal Companion
Beast-Kin:
the Changing Breed runs in this character's family, and he has relatives who are familiar with what is going on, and even those who are fully human are allies and someone with whom he can speak with.
Den: A place suited to the feral's species where he can be himself in all forms (secluded meadow, rambling old farm, warehouse on the bad side of town, a job at the aquarium, a ranch in the middle of nowhere, or a penthouse apartment --- for flying species). Secrecy and security are vital parts of this den.
Pack: A number of animals that follow your character around, ready to attack (not as clever or controlled as an animal companion).
Predator's Bearing: A scary (but sometimes intoxicating vibe) emanating from a natural predator.
Socially Small: Allows a character to blend into the scenery socially-speaking, letting him or her be overlooked, unnoticed and discounted as a threat.
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PostSubject: Re: The Changing Breeds   Thu May 15, 2008 8:32 pm

Bastet
Rajanya (Tiger)
Bubasti (Kyphur Cat)
Hatara (Lion)
Bahgrasha (Leopard)
Balam (Jaguar)
Cait Sith (Fairy Cats)
Qualm'a ni (Puma/Cougar/Bobcat/Lynx)
Klinkerash (Black Cats)
Swara (Cheetah)
Smilodon (Sabretoothed Tiger)

The Land Titans
Azubuike (Vengeful Rhino)
Jhaa (South Asian White Elephant)
Mhole'-Rho (African Elephant)
Iravati (Indian Elephant)

The Laughing Strangers
Minjur (Rat)
Baitu (Hare)
Archunem (Raccoon)
Reynardi (Fox)
Mistai (Coyote)
Wapathemwa (Opossum)

The Pack
Maerans (Dog)
Riantes (Hyena)
Vargr (Wolf)
Warrigal (Dingo)

Royal Apes
Hanumani Brahman (Indian Macaque/Gibbon/Langur)
The Order of the Luminous Way of Sun Wukong (Buddhist Simians of any breed)
Abathakathi/Inzinyanga (Mandrill Witches/Mystics)
Tothians/Babi-Ahsh (Baboon Wizards/Sorcerers)
Hugranjah (Huge, mysterious Man-Apes)

The Spinner-Kin
Nanekisu (Spies and information-gatherers of any spider breed)
Carapache'(Recluse/Tarantula)
C'hi Hsu (Asian Vampiric Spiders)
Sicarius (Black Widows and other venomous spiders)
Aqrabuamelu (Scorpion)

Ursara
Yonah (Black Bear)
Nanuq (Polar Bear)
Storm Bears (Grizzly/Kodiak Bear)
Arctos (Brown Bear)

Wind-Runners
Uchchaihshravi (Eurasian Horse)
Alces (Elk/Moose)
Flidaisin (Deer)
Takuskansa (Native American Horse Shamans)

Wing-Folk
Gente Alada (Aztec Quetzal/Hummingbird/Butterfly/Owl Warriors)
Corvians (Crow/Raven/Jackdaw/Rook/Magpie)
Chervaliers Rapace (Eagle/Falcon/Kestrel and other birds of prey)
Vagahuir (Bat)
The Strigoi (Owl)
Brythians (Swan)

The Cold Kings
Whiskey Croc (Crocodiles/Alligators)
Mokole-Mebembe (prehistoric reptiles/alligators)
Varanidae (Monitor Lizards and Komodo Dragons)
Gila Men (Gila Monsters)

The Horned Folk
Mendeans (Mystical Hermaphroditic Goats)
Aries (Ram/Mountain Goats)

The Oceanborn
Rokea (Shark)
Olutakami (Dolphin/Orca)
Monoceros (Narwhal)
Tako (Octopus/Squid/Cuttlefish)
Djullanari (Tropical/Mediterranean fish)
Hippocampi (Seahorses)


The Riverkin
Liyu (Carp/Koi/Catfish and other freshwater/decorative fish)
Kinno'balo (Poison Dart Frogs)
Xuan Wu (Turtle/Tortoise)
Bradan Feasa (Salmon)

Serpentines
Melusine (Biblical Serpents)
Nagah (Cobra)
Lernaean (Manyheaded serpents)

The Swarm
Mimma Lemnua (Beetle)
(Locust)

The Taurae
Yumni (Bison)
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PostSubject: Re: The Changing Breeds   Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:16 am

The lights whirled across the music center and a hush descended over the crowd, as Evan Adams, pop-star, poet, and humanitarian glided onto the stage, his shoulder-length red-gold curls twining and coiling down his shoulders and his arresting (and some fangirls claimed, LUMINOUS) emerald eyes reflected the smile his perfect white teeth flashed into the audience. He was wearing a skintight, sleeveless white t-shirt that showed off his tight musculature and 6'4" tall broad-shouldered but lithe build of coiled muscle, along with a pair of perfectly casual cargo pants that actually managed to obscure his feet as he moved across the stage. A murmur of surprise rose from the audience as they saw that he also wore a pair of large anamatronic white-feathered wings strapped to his back so that they unfurled and flapped as he strummed the first chord on his electric guitar, the lighting directly on him like a halo, and the rhythm seemed to move down his fingertips and through his entire body before washing over the throng of fans like waves, accompanied by the band in the background. He began to exercise the long-practiced, perfect choreography accompanied by the backup dancers, before reaching the moment for the first words of the song from his second album, "Red, Delicious" and parting his lips.

"Once upon a time,
So the story goes
About a wicked crime,
And a girl as white as snows"

"I don't need a mirror,
To see one more fair than me,
'Cause I don't deserve to be with her,
As any fool can see.
I'm just the hunter,
Who should never get her heart,
But I don't care -
It'll take more than
Dwarfs and Princes
To keep us apart
To keep us apart.

I put my life, my soul, my career
All on the line,
For red lips to disappear
As poison takes what's mine.
But this isn't the story
Of me, the prince, the dwarves, the witch, at all.
It's all her choice, her glory
Her name, the Fairest of them all.

Life is not a fairy tale,
But it can be really grimm
Will my sleeping maiden,
Wake and go to him?
'Cause I'm not the guy
Who deserves this wedded bliss,
But lucky me, no apple could knock her out,
Half as well as my kiss!"

The song continued into the night, and was followed by others... "MacIntosh", "Keep the Doctor Away," "Johnny Appleseed", "Idunn," "Eris", "Atalanta", "Hesperides", "Rome Beauty", "Winesap", and "Center of Gravity", to name just a few. The crowd was eating it all up, and Evan grinned at them. His words, the lyrics which he spent long bus trips cobbling up and hammered out with editors for long, long nights in the studio, were reaching them and wrapping around their hearts and minds, for now, at least. They wouldn't realize it, but for the rest of the night, they take his words to heart, and maybe some of them would take that first step towards wisdom. He hoped so. By the time they acted on it, though, he would be off to the next city on his tour. It was a price to pay, being called on the wind, but hey, it was better than breaking (and possibly eating) their hearts. His music, his wandering lifestyle, the lyrics, all were part of his accord with his inner beast, and he was (he believed) one of the luckier ones.

As a kid, Evan had traveled extensively with his wealthy, if distant parents (a surgeon and an anthropologist), as one of few times in their busy schedules that they could share with their quiet, shy, and distant child. It was the trip to India where that all changed, when they took him to see a fakir use music and dance to entrance one of the most dangerous creatures on the planet, a regal King Cobra with gold, black, and white scales and dark, perfectly round eyes that followed the entertainer's every move. As the crowd dispersed and Mr. and Dr. Adams went to look at a woodcarving and herbalist cart, respectively, Evan asked the fakir "Sir, is she supposed to still be out?" The startled mystic turned to see his "pet" rearing up in front of the American boy, only to lean forward and extend her tongue to the child's forehead in silent, but potentially deadly benediction, before allowing the fakir to contain it safely. In halting English, the fakir turned to Evan and prostrated himself. "You are blessed and beloved of the gods... Vishnu the Preserver, Shiva the Destroyer, Mother Ganga the River, Lady Devi, the Moon, the Sun, the Forest, and the Great Wani dragons of the storm! I have encountered but a few of your kind, the Nagah, in my life. I am Harij, or "Forest-in-the-City" of the Vanara, a member of the Hanumani Brahman. Look for me tonight out your window, and I will take you to our people... you will see me as the golden langur who waves for you to follow. But now you must rejoin your family. Oh, and my friend who kissed you here," the fakir waved towards the sleeping pet, "... said that your true name was Whisper-Of-Rainfall." With that, the mysterious man disappeared, and Evan rejoined his parents, though he could still feel the tongue where it flicked against his forehead, and the new name hissing through his mind. And that night, there was a golden monkey, who helped him slip out of the hotel window safely and led him to a gathering of tiger-men, bird-women, monkey-men, cow-women, rat-children, and one very ancient woman with dark skin, wrinkled skin wrapped in a flowing sari with slitted eyes who nodded her gray head in a gesture of kinship and taught him what he would need to know later in life when he went through his first change as a teenager. After that, he was a changed person, and he would break his silence with words that struck at the most vulnerable parts of people's souls, before he learned to harness what he saw and sensed through song and dance and connections.

It had been a long tour, and he was ready to meet with the other shapeshifters, letting his body flow with power into a form that seemed more real... and a world of silence and rhythm. He was scheduled to complete the tour after a few more towns, which would let him attend the next gathering of the ferals deep in the Colorado wilderness. He wondered who all would be there as he flashed his perfect smile, folded his wings, walked offstage, and signed whichever autographs were offered, before bidding the staff goodnight and retiring to his hotel room to relax and unwind.


Last edited by Joy&RaptorsUnrest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:38 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Changing Breeds   Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:45 pm

((Yay for character revisions at 2 in the morning! Hope this version works out better than the last.))

The trouble with schools is,
they always try and teach the wrong lesson


A few light, airy steps across the floor, accompanied by three quick shakes of hips that couldn’t exactly be called slender, but weren’t very wide, either, in time with the beat. The wood of the dance floor was smooth, but not slick; the jaunty gold carpet around it comfortably plush. The interior of the Ozdust Ballroom was distinctly Rococo in design, with pale pink walls lined with swirling gold who’s graceful lines paled in comparison to the figure moving around the floor.

Believe me, I’ve been kicked out
of enough of them to know.
They want you to become less callow,
less shallow;
But I say why invite stress in?
Stop studying strife,
and learn to live
the unexamined
life...


The steps slowed, becoming more fluid and less jumpy, while she slowly raised herself on the balls of her feet, spinning slowly and letting her waist-length, golden-brown hair flow around her like a cloak. What did it matter that she had no partner? Every eye was locked on her – she could feel their envy, their enmity for her, but she didn’t care. She was here to dance, and dance she would – their opinions be damned.

Dancing through life;
skimming the surface,
gliding where turf is smooth.
Life’s more painless
for the brainless.
Why think too hard?
When it’s so soothing,
dancing through life;
No need to tough it,
when you can slough it off as I do!
Nothing matters,
but knowing nothing matters:
its just life,
so keep dancing through...


The dancer smiled, a little sadly, but nonetheless a smile. How she wished that were actually true! Still, she found her own ways to muddle along in life. As long as she had her camera, everything would turn out all right. At least, that’s what she kept telling herself…

Dancing through life;
swaying and sweeping,
and always keeping cool.
Life is fraught less,
when you’re thoughtless:
those who don’t try,
never look foolish
dancing through life;
mindless and careless.
Make sure you’re where less
trouble is rife!
Woes are fleeting,
blows are glancing,
when you’re dancing
through life...


The sudden opening of the door caused the dancer to stop, the vapid excess of the Ozdust Ballroom dissolving as reality crashed back into her mind. Slowly, she reached up and removed her headphones, turning stoically back to the microwave that sat in the makeshift kitchen of her dorm’s hallway and waited for her hamburger to finish defrosting. The kitchen area was set up in the small common area each hallway shared, with only four rooms to a hall with two toilets and showers. Sandra Connor knew she was lucky to get into these suite-styled dorms, especially as a freshman, but she didn’t have a problem with the dorm itself. It was the seven other girls she shared the hallway with.

They were entering now, tittering on about some concert or other they had attended last night – something Adams, she thought. She’d heard of the guy, but her taste was more classic or alternative rock, a few musicals, and soundtracks. She didn’t keep up much with current music trends.

The microwave dinged, and she grabbed a couple heat pads and stood once more on the balls of her feet to reach the plate. For the briefest moment, her golden eyes were reflected in the mirrored surface of the microwave oven. Most people assumed they were just colored contacts – and she did wear contacts in the past – but only she knew their true origin, and the reason she no longer needed contacts.

She’d always been a photographer; ever since she was young, she always wanted to be the one taking the pictures instead of being in them. Perhaps it was a result of being an only child – photography was a solitary occupancy, something she could do to amuse herself while her parents did…whatever it was that they did. Perhaps it was a way to escape the drama of her friends, between whom something always seemed to be brewing. But no matter how much Sandra tried to smooth things over, to play the peacemaker, the mediator – no matter how much or how sincerely she tried to make everything better, she had always, always inevitably ended up making it worse. Eventually, she just stopped trying, and retreated further into her realm of capturing memories – while all the while slowly fading from those of her friends.

Often, she would go out into the massive, 3-acre backyard of their country home with a disposable camera, taking pictures of all the birds and scenery she could. It was one of the few natural areas left that she knew of, and she was in love with it, trying to capture every bit of it so that she could take it all inside and remember. Eventually, her parents simply got her a digital camera so that they wouldn’t have to keep buying disposable ones.

Her skill at capturing photos grew, until finally, at fifteen, she made a fateful decision. One of her photographs was entered in a competition – a landscape picture of the stream which ran through their yard, surrounded by forest her parents had yet to order to be cut down. The grand prize for the top five entries was a trip to Africa, to visit one of the last remaining nature preserves on the continent.

She’d placed second.

Her parents were reluctant; they’d always been overprotective to the extreme, never liking her to go further than their yard, and were dubious about her passion for photography. Her father, a banker, wanted her to go into business, while her mother, a lawyer, wanted her to follow in the footsteps of the law, like she had. But Sandra was adamant, and finally, they reluctantly allowed her to go. It was the first time she’d ever won an argument with them.

At first, the trip seemed uneventful. But on the third night, she awoke to a strange noise outside her window. It sounded like an animal – a hurt animal. Hurriedly, she slipped on her shoes and reflexively grabbed her camera before slipping out into the African night. Though she tried to follow the sound of the animal, she promptly got thoroughly lost. But, continuing to hear the cries, she pressed on until she could no longer see the place where she and the others were staying.

Suddenly, the calls stopped, and after a moment of silence more horrible than the calls themselves, new noises crept out to fill the void: the ripping of flesh, and the crunching of bone. Horrified, but also fascinated, she crept towards the new sounds. There, ahead of her, was a pride of lions feasting on a freshly slain zebra. The pride leader, a majestic male with a dark golden mane, was leading the feast, while the other females and cubs sat by, watching their king eat with intense eyes. Finally, he backed down and let his females eat their fill.

Awed, Sandra knew she had to get a picture. But as she stepped forward, camera raised, the tall grass rustled noisily, and suddenly every fiery eye was turned directly towards her. She stood, frozen not in terror but in sheer amazement, as some of the lionesses slowly approached her, sniffing and snuffing at her curiously.

When she awoke, it was late the next morning, and she felt uncomfortably full – as though she’d eaten three times the portions she was used to. The faintest scent of dried blood clung to her clothes, and when she licked her lips, she could taste it as well. It tasted just as it smelled: rusty, almost like old iron, but also salty. Yet somehow, the blood was the richest, most exhilarating smell she could imagine, and the taste…! Smoother than the finest wine, and a hundred times more intoxicating. Shivering lightly, Sandra had closed her eyes and moaned softly in the sheer pleasure of it all.

But strangest of all, she was back in her bed. She didn’t remember coming back last night. As she rose, a few long, coarse, tawny hairs fell from her sheets, and one look in the mirror showed that her normally dull brown eyes had taken on a golden shine, and that she didn’t need her contacts to see it. On her camera, there was only one photograph: a shot of the entire pride of lions lounging after their feast, taken from ground level almost as if accidentally. But the pride had one extra lioness than she remembered initially seeing.

Sandra had kept silent about the whole affair in the three years since, not knowing exactly what it meant, but only that it was important. All she knew was that she had matured significantly; she no longer backed meekly down when someone confronted her, no longer just stood there and took it when her father screamed at her, no longer stood stupidly by with nothing to say to comfort her mother when she broke down to tears with the constant fighting between her husband and her daughter. They were blood, but not family; a house, but not a home, no matter how much Sandra tried to make it so.

She’d lost all confidence since her then. It had been with a heavy heart toward her mother and a vehement “Good riddance!” toward (and from) her father when she left to come here, to this small college somewhere in Colorado, but it still pained her to know that she hadn’t been able to make her house a home. A lot of her boldness had disappeared – when her hallmates threw one of their wild parties (as they did at least once a week), they always left the place in ruins for Sandra to clean up, because they knew that she would. Oh sure, Sandra would do it with a snarl and more muttered curses than a dictionary had words, but above all, she hated mess. And they knew that, they used that – much to Sandra’s ashamed disgust.

Even now, as she rose from the beanbag chair she’d settled on, empty plate in hand and with only a few tidbits of meat too small to bother with left, she could see them planning for another of those drunken orgies they called parties. The meat seemed tasteless, unsatisfying; Sandra couldn’t remember how long she’d been craving a thick steak, dripping with flavor and sending her senses into an overload with the texture and with that heady thrill of blood. Just the thought made her close her eyes and once again shiver ever so slightly. She felt like a vampire sometimes, with these cravings, but she couldn’t help it. The until-recently frozen hamburger patty would have to settle her for now. At least she never hungered for human blood – though she had a pretty good idea of who her first targets would be if she ever did.

It wasn’t as though Sandra hadn’t tried to work things out with the ones she shared the hall with – really, she had. She’d tried to get into their music while politely introducing them to hers; she’d tried to go out to parties with them and have a good time while attempting to convince them to stay sober; she’d tried not to make the same mistakes she had before. But she just couldn’t fit into their lifestyle – it was as though they were the Galindas to her Elphaba, only without the chance of them becoming friends. Still, despite the futility, Sandra tried.

Failure once again loomed, inescapable, but she still tried.
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PostSubject: Re: The Changing Breeds   Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:17 am

She'd been driving for about six hours now. Just as she'd hopped from radio-station to station on the drive south, she'd hopped from interstate to interstate, and was currently on I-76, a straight ride from Nebraska into Colorado. Originally from a small town on a reservation in South Dakota, Amy Red Eagle (her license said Amy Brookridge-- her capriciously Christian mother, who constantly drank, forged the “more Christian-sounding” name) trudged on in a beat-up, hardly-red, 1977 Ford F-100, with a couple--very real--bullet holes in its doors. The thing, with straining, whirring components beneath the hood heard clearly in the cab, smelled of smoke, booze, peyote… and perhaps a couple other things not worth finding out. Not that Amy did any of those things: the Ford was something she'd scouted out in a rather disagreeable neighbor's yard, with a half tank of gas and easy to hotwire.

She was running, away and towards, an entity she couldn’t identify at the present moment. It shouldn’t have been hard to sort things out-- as far as life plans, Amy didn’t have one except to get out of the town she’d grown up in. Anywhere but there, she swore.

In actuality, if the state of nature and her own children, the wild things of the world, had been changed for the worse, then the real state of native American affairs on government allotted reservations and rations hadn’t changed much at all, not since the 70’s. The braves, the men, still raced by on hardly-paved roads in old cars, filled with booze and blues, unemployed, with nothing to show for their warrior’s spirit except slugging another’s lights out. They had turned from lions to tomcats, from defending their homes to ‘hopping in the sack’ with every girl they saw, impregnating and leaving ‘their girl’ to raise the child on her own.

Though racism and segregation of whites and reds had been significantly minimized, there were still those old folk who taught the young folk that there were inequitable superiorities of whites over reds, and therein lingered the ancient hostilities. There were reports, stories, mainly among the reds, of young Indian women arrested and raped by white policemen, mostly in the one-horse towns where time seemed to be trapped in the twentieth century. There were still those places where whites had the power to shoot natives ‘on their property’, and not take a lick from the law, where if a red so much as lay a hand on a white man the brave would be sentenced to at least a year in jail. The list went on.

Amy was from one of those time-left towns. Her mother never talked about her father. Though she knew a couple friends who had been raped, she herself never was, fortunately, though nearly. A six and three quarter inch folding knife she’d gotten on a rare trip to Rapid City saw to that. Amy didn't take shit from anybody-- she was fifteen then-- and was promptly arrested due to the serious injuries she'd inflicted on her attacker, though her mother was able to 'bail' her out of the jail before daybreak. She always carried the knife with her ever since.

She attended a all girls’ Christian school run by three very old fashioned nuns. Established on the reservation during the late 70’s, it accommodated kindergarten to 12th grade, with about 47 students in all. Amy learned lessons not in the Bible, but how to hold her own against larger, bullying girls, how to hold a pint, and from the nuns, how to take hits. They were the old fashioned kind of sisters who pronounced that the devil himself would come take them away, if they even talked too close together.

During her would-be sophomore year, Amy received an invite from a close friend to attend a naming ceremony, a friend-and-family event where a boy or girl would receive their fullblood name and an eagle feather from an older generation, most likely a grand- or great-grandparent. The eagle feather was a symbol of accomplishment, bravery and spirit. The invite also requested that, for the acquisition of a feather, that Amy bring one of the birds needed. This surprised her, as not many people, if any, knew of the small rescue she and her mother had established in the back of their small allotment for a home and ‘yard’. They took in smuggled raptors (they were supposed to be federally protected), stray dogs, and the like, but more often than not priority went to the raptors-- the strays became the raptors’ meals. The raptors themselves were essentially illegal property, and the friend’s family couldn’t afford to go through the BIA for the feathers.

Amy complied, and accompanying her to the small ceremony was an amiable, rather pitiable, mangy golden eagle they’d named Richie-- an eagle nonetheless, who’d been with her for over two years. He couldn’t fly anymore, but could flutter and hobble around when he felt: he’d been severely abused before arriving at the rescue, and was left with badly healed wings, a crippled foot and a couple bald spots. He was entering an advanced age, but took things in stride, and could still present an intimidating figure with a six foot wingspan.

The naming ceremony had been uneventful, yet peaceful-- it was nice, for a change. And a nice look into a tradition a few centuries strong. They’d easily gotten the needed down feather’s from Richie: he shed them all the time. Amy’s friend had been named Mah’tho Toh Wiyo’peya ta, “Blue Bear Who Goes West,” and Amy herself was given Chan’wape Kah’Sna wi, “Moon of Falling Leaves,” from her friends’ grandparents.

Leaving the ceremony in high spirits, Amy had coaxed Richie back into his accommodating carrier in the back of her mother’s early 90’s jeep. It was only around 7 pm, but it was October, and night fell fast and hard on the reservation-- not to mention the cold. It was another of those nights where a group of young men were driving recklessly, boozed up and out to riot. They zoomed by Amy and Richie in the jeep once, on the dirt road, sending clods and the like splattering everywhere. She could hear the eagle’s distressed cries in the back of the jeep, but she’d covered him so other’s who did pass by couldn’t see him.

The group raced past a second time, from the opposite direction, then a third, until finally they decided a game of chicken was in order. There wasn’t any place to get off the road-- on either side were ditches and fenceposts with barbed wire. Amy couldn’t stop the car either, though she thought that would be her best bet-- the men might just blow past, but that wasn’t to be the case. They were closing in fast, faster than she had first perceived. In a panic, more for the well-being of the raptor in her care than for her own safety, Amy slammed on the brakes, though in the process of slowing, the jeep was hit partially headlong on the driver’s side. Seatbelts weren’t a big concern in the 70s, nor were they then, so needless to say, Amy didn’t remember much of the ‘accident’ after that.

In actuality, it seemed the crash was more of a bad dream, than the alternate timeline she’d experienced shortly after. It was a ‘replaying’ of the naming ceremony, only in earlier times, before the advent of the white man and his taxes, when Ghost and Sun Dances were rampantly practiced. The same golden eagle was present to give a feather, though healthy, young and regal. This time, however, the elder who presented it was in full regalia, a fully feathered headdress and even an eagle-wing fan at his side, as warrior décor. His eyes were familiarly fierce, russet-golden, his proud, distinctly redskin features purer than the face of a newly minted coin. ”Your name, wi’cin, is Strikes the Dark Wind.”

She’d woken up in her own room, the smell of breakfast (toast and stale coffee) in the air and a nice headache to boot. The feather she’d gotten from the naming ceremony her friend had shared was distinctly less grand than the eagle feather she now possessed. Amy found out that the Jeep had been totaled and Richie hadn't survived the crash, but she herself had amazingly escaped the wreck with only minor injuries. Grieved at Richie's loss, and because she strongly believed he had a hand in her safety, she made a small burial mound for him in their yard, and made small offerings of food and such every day, wherever she was-- as was a Lakhota custom to offer such to friends or family who had passed on.

That was four years ago. Amy hadn't changed much in the way of personality, though she valued her life a little more than back then. Her coal black hair was now down to her waist, usually kept in a rather luxuriously thick, single braid. She looked indian-- the slanted, darkly colored eyes suggesting pre-ancient Mongolian descent, high cheekbones, and the naturally tan skin tone that gave birth to the native slang term, redskin. Having picked up a few oddjobs here and there allowed her to change her wardrobe, from ratty handmedowns and church rummage sales to a decent pair of blue jeans rolled at the hem (she stood a menacing 5' 3" ), a white, fitted tee, and black-and-grey striped light, button-down sweater on top of all that.

Presently, with the Ford getting a measly 13 miles per gallon, and her wallet feeling alarmingly thin, Amy thanked the Creator that she’d at least reached a quaint, and kinder looking town before the gas ran completely out. She did notice, however, that there seemed to be more cars than would be residents-- perhaps an event or gathering had taken place, as per usual reason for transportation proliferation in a small area. Well, okay, maybe the place she'd arrived in wasn't exactly a 'town,' but a small city. There were a couple billboards about, one especially well-lit with the ad of someone named Evan Adams. Checking in to tiny inn, Amy would decide what her next move was later. Right now she needed sleep.
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PostSubject: Re: The Changing Breeds   Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:26 am

Sandra sat in a half collapsed position at her desk, wondering if it would be worth the effort to get up and get into bed so she could sleep. 'Man...I never knew it was possible for someone to have this much homework...'

Riiiing....

Riiiing....


Sandra groaned, her hand flopping over in the general direction of her phone. After a couple tries, she finally caught the vibrating device and flipped it open, putting it to her ear. "Moshi moshi, Sandra's phone."

"Sandy? You sound tired, dear."

With a slight groan, Sandra straightened up and sat back in her chair. "Just a lot of homework, Mrs. Peters. Do you have a job for me?"

"Really, Sandy, you shouldn't be straining yourself so. Sometimes I wonder if this job isn't too much on a girl like you..."

Sandra smiled slightly. "I'm fine, Mrs. Peters, don't you worry." Just after moving into her dorm, Sandra had managed to get a part-time, entry-level position as a photographer for the local newspaper, the Highland Times. Her manager, Mrs. Peters, was a slim, elegant woman with a sharp eye for detail and a no-nonsense attitude. But she had a soft spot for Sandra, it seemed; though she'd never say it out loud, Mrs. Peters was like a second mother to her.

"Well, alright Sandy, if you say so. I figured you'd like this one -- there's going to be a concert in town tomorrow evening, and I want you to cover it."

"Who're you putting on the article?"

"Just Casey -- you shouldn't have any problems. The name of the guy performing is Evan Adams -- have you heard of him?"

Sandra winced slightly. "Yeah...I've heard of him."

"You don't sound too enthused, Sandy."

"My hallmates are just obsessed with him, that's all. They just got back from his concert tonight."

"You mean the one in Denver? How the devil did they get there?"

"They left Friday night, and from what I can gather took a total of three busses, four taxis, and a train there. Maybe two trains. I don't know." A low whistle sounded from the other end of the line.

"What, are those girls just made of money? Damn."

"They apparently got pretty good seats, too." Sandra continued, a little sardonically. With a small sigh, she continued "Yeah, Mrs. Peters, I'll do the job."

"Great -- I don't know what I'd do without you, Sandy, I really don't. This could be your chance to make it big -- I'm glad you're taking it. I've got your backstage press pass here at the office. I also got you a ticket to the concert itself, since I thought you liked him, but if you don't want it --"

"I'll take it." Sandra cut in. "He may not exactly be my style, but why not?" Mrs. Peters chuckled.

"You're something else, Sandy. Come by and pick them up tomorrow around 5 -- the concert doesn't start until 7, but it'll give you time to get in and get a parking spot."

"Am I meeting Casey there or at the concert?"

"He's going there separately -- you two won't be meeting up until after the concert, unless you see each other there."

"All right. Thanks, Mrs. Peters."

"Hey, don't thank me, thank yourself. You're my ace photographer, and you earned that position. It's just a shame you can only work around your school schedule. I'll see you tomorrow -- 'night, Sandy."

"G'nite, Mrs. Peters." Sandra replied, snapping her phone shut after she did so. Then, with another sigh, she heaved herself up and hobbled over to her bed, plummeting down face first onto the sheets. She was asleep before she hit the mattress.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

Sandra drove slowly over to the newspaper building the next evening, yawning widely as she came to a stop at a red light. It was Sunday; she hadn't had any classes that day, and she was still exhausted. 'I swear, I've got to start getting some more sleep...' she thought to herself as she looked out her open window at the reddening sky.

This was a mountain city -- rather small, but still large enough to call itself a city. The population consisted mainly of students of the university, the staff who worked there, Native American locals, and windblown travelers who's wandering days seemed to be behind them. The area was still heavily forested, and Sandra loved it all. The wild beauty of this place, it's lush greenness, and the sense of majesty that the mountains gave off. As soon as Sandra had stepped off the plane that had brought her here, she had known that this place was special.

'Now if I could just stay awake to see it.' Sandra thought, yawning again as the light changed and she gently tapped the gas pedal of her golden '03 Toyota Rav4, turning onto the main road. She began to sing softly along with her CD, hoping to keep herself awake.

I'm feelin' mixed up
A little bit confused,
When everything is left unsaid.

I'm feelin' left out
A little bit concerned,
I'll play it out in my head.

But I'm still afraid,
That you haven't changed
Give me a reason
To pull off your T-shirt.

But I'm still okay
And I don't know why
Tell me your secret
I won't tell your boyfriend now.
When you say that,

You're mixin' me up, now
You're pullin' my teeth out
You're wishin' my argument away.
I'll follow direction,
I'll stick to your reason,
This isn't the season to be running away


Before she knew it, Sandra was pulling up in front of the office, and Mrs. Peters was -- to Sandra's great surprise -- standing out front to meet her, with ticket and pass in hand.

"I knew you'd be on time, Sandy." she told her surprised photographer with a smile and a toss of her short black hair. "You always are -- stop acting so surprised that I'm out here and get going, the park's going to fill up fast."

Sandra gave a small smile to her employer. "All right, Mrs. Peters, I'm off."

"Are you sure, Sandy? You're looking awfully tired..."

"Really, Mrs. Peters, I'm fine." Sandra replied.

"All right, just be careful -- you know there was another sighting of that mountain lion last night? That's the fifth time this month, and they're saying it might not be just a cougar, either."

"There was?" Sandra asked with another small yawn. "I'll be careful, I promise. See you tonight with the pictures!" With that, she drove off.

Mrs. Peters stood there for a moment, staring contemplatively at the receding car. "Hm...maybe, just maybe..." she muttered under her breath before turning on her heel and striding back into the building.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

The throbbing mass of bodies closed in on her, constantly moving and smelling strongly of sweat and hormones. It was all Sandra could do to keep from gagging. Still, she managed to get some decent shots of Adams on stage -- he was quite the showman, complete with a pair of mechanical wings on his back and a heart-melting smile. 'Spare me...' Sandra thought, aiming her camera up for another shot. His music style was nothing she hadn't heard before, what with her hallmates playing his songs constantly, but this seemed to be a new set of songs for him. The lyrics were certainly interesting, even if Sandra did think that the background music wasn't as loud as it could be to compliment Adams' voice.

It was two long hours until the concert finally finished, but Sandra sighed, knowing she wasn't done yet. At least she looked somewhat like a professional, and not just some random fan wanting to get backstage; she was wearing a black collared shirt, with the sleeves and chest being grey with a large plad pattern of dark grey and purple, a pair of darkly washed jeans, and black tennis shoes. Most of the other girls she'd seen were much more scantily clad, despite the slight chill of the night.

She raised her pass as she approached the guard. "I'm a photographer from the Highland Times -- my pass is right here."

"It's in order." the guard replied after he inspected Sandra's pass. "Go on ahead, Ms. Connor." Sandra nodded her thanks to him as she walked past, hearing the disappointed sounds of fangirls behind her.

She soon came to Evan's dressing room, and knocked softly before opening the door slightly. It was smaller than she had thought, perhaps ten or eleven feet square, but there was a lot packed into such a small space. In the middle of it all sat the man of the hour himself, in front of a large mirror. "Mr. Adams? I'm a photographer for the local newspaper, the Highland Times. Could I get a few pictures?"

((Wanna hear the whole song? go here:
http://www.quietdrivemusic.com/music%23watliy" class="postlink" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.quietdrivemusic.com/music#watliy]http://www.quietdrivemusic.com/music%23watliy ))
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