by Edward Cupps and Dustin Evermore
It was nearly midnight the evening Fianna came looking for her new apprentice.
With the recent excitement, and the fact that the first Bàs Filidh
was asleep in a death-like trance after being greivously injured in a battle
with the Sabbat two weeks ago, February had barely even seen her. By now,
February had heard some of the others talking about her new mistress in
hushed tones, speaking of how Fianna had been adopted by the Tremere and
not truly one of them. These rumors were never spoken loudly enough for
the elders to hear, for they knew that the criticism was unpopular with Roma.
Fianna had been up and about for a few days now, but presumably she
had been pretty busy. February had heard another rumor that Fianna had been
attacked by an ally, who was mostly responsible for her being so badly
injured. It left her wondering how bad of a mood Fianna might be in, and
she didn't relish the idea of being around an irate vampire.
February sat in the library reading a large book on the history of
the Indians of the Louisiana Purchase. Some of them were woodland Indians
and others plains Indians, but it was interesting because most of Fianna's
"tribe" was made up of these people. It also described in great length the
history of the Cherokee people, which was very fascinating to her, since
she was half Cherokee and half Irish. That made her eligible to claim native
American status, and hopefully would also be readily accepted by both Fianna
and her tribe of people. Fianna had mentioned once that they were very
proud of their heritage and held little love for whites. That meant it was
pretty important that she did get accepted as one of them.
"I see you have been studying your history."
February jumped at the voice and looked around. She had been so wrapped
up in the book, she hadn't heard Fianna come in.
"Yes, Mistress Fianna. I always read when I can, especially looking
at both sides of an issue. My grandfather years ago told me how the history
books we're skewed. I've learned the truth in his words"
Fianna was smiling at her apprentice. Hair had fallen down in February's
face and Fianna caught the errant strands, pushing them behind February's
ear. "It's fascinating and inspiring, isn't?" said the vampiress. She pulled
out a chair and sat down next to February. "They suffered so much, yet they
endured. Many of them have shown such strength that they've retained their
language and a portion of their culture. It takes a great people to do
that in the face of centuries of being a conquered people."
Fianna put an elbow on the table and leaned languidly on her hand as
she looked at February. With a half-smile still curling her lips, she said,
"So tell me, my young friend, what have you learned over the past two weeks?"
To her relief, February didn't sense that Fianna was in a bad mood.
But there was something about her mistress that made her suddenly self-conscious
and a little bit nervous. Maybe it was just the usual nerves being around
a new teacher. After all, for February, this teacher was supposed to be
her most important one right now, and it was she that needed to be impressed
most of all.
"Mistress, I read all of your reports that I was allowed to read, researched
the history of the land you acquired for your followers, attended two ritual
castings to lend power, finished a dissertation for you on my family history,
life events and how the past affected my decision to...hopefully...be granted
the gift of immortality to study and master magick. Oh, and I settled
into my quarters and met the others."
February, freckled and happy, smiled back at her Mistress. She was
not the dour student of the arts or the typical gothic ghoul. She seemed
"Sounds like you have been busy," smiled Fianna. "I'm glad you finished
the dissertation. I'd like to read about your family history tonight."
Fianna paused a moment, watching February rifle through her papers
for the dissertation. "And how are the others treating you, February?"
"Quite well. I was the only woman other than my first teacher and
eventually Mistress Ashlynne joined us. The four of us get along well
enough. We mostly deal with Master Eisen. He monitors our studies and
since I'm the most advanced student, he generally allows me a bit of freedom
in my lesson plan. I haven't really spoken to any other Masters other than
yourself, Eisen and Ashlynne. They seem busy and unapproachable, especially
Master Raphael, who is in studies constantly."
"My, the most advanced student, are you?" Fianna said, still smiling.
"I'm glad the others have accepted you readily."
February handed over the papers, and the vampire took them. "February,
I think it is time for a field trip. There is a task I would like you to
manage and for that to happen, there needs to be some mutual understanding."
February stands up from her desk,"Of course ma'am, how can I help?"
Fianna stood up. "Come with me." The girl was surprised, and she looked
around at her studies, making motions to gather them up. "No, you may leave
them here, February," she told her, with hint of laughter behind her smile.
"And don't look so worried. You have permission to leave the Chantry
with me, for this special case." Fianna took her student outside the Chantry
and after a short walk, they arrived at a black BMW. It was already running
and the tall figure who stepped out of the driver's seat was unmistakably
native American. One hundred percent Lakota Sioux to be precise. He walked
around and opened a rear door for the two women. He looked February up and
down, and she could sense that he was judging every aspect of her physically
as well as watching her every move.
"Is she the one?" he asked.
"Yes, she is. Strong Bow, this is my apprentice. The outside world
calls her February. But to us her name will be Lenuna." Fianna looked at
her apprentice. There was no name that fit her better.
The big warrior's recognized the name as a Cherokee one, although he
did not speak the language. "Ah. The little Cherokee." He looked down at
her without expression.
February (Lenuna) responded offering a hand, "Pleased to make you acquaintance,
sir. I'm a great ad..."
Fianna cut in, "Have the preparations be made?"
Strong Bow looked at Fianna, relieving the pressure of his gaze from
February. "Yes, Mika. They are waiting."
"Then we shall go," Fianna inclined her head slightly. She and February
got into the back seat while Strong Bow took the wheel. In a moment, they
were one their way, heading out of the city.
Fianna looked at her new apprentice. "I think it's time you met the
tribe. Once that is done, I have a very important task for you to complete
with Strong Bow over the next few days."
February caught Strong Bow's eyes watching her through the mirror for
a moment, before he returned his gaze to the road.
In Gaelic, February said, "I'm not terribly sure he likes me much."
Fianna responded in her old tongue. "Your Gaelic is good, but we will
have to work on that accent. And it's not that he doesn't like you. I think
he will, eventually. It's just that he thinks you might be competition for
my attention. He is also concerned about the little project I will have
the two of you working on together."
"I was wondering, if it's appropriate, what that project is? While
I have studied the Lakota and know a good deal about their history and the
like, I don't really know their rituals and ceremonies that well. A lot
has been lost, at least that's what I've learned. But, I like projects and
challenges, especially if I can get out of the stuffy existential lessons
of Master Eisen for awhile. Oh, and why does he call you Mika?"
Fianna nodded approval, and switched back to English. "Good. I want
you to ask. This is how you will learn the most from me. Your mind must be
open to the knowledge before you can truly embrace it. Therefore, if you
can phrase a proper question, I know that you can at least begin to understand
"Now, as to what the project is, that's quite simple. I need you to
work with Strong Bow to select a new Bear Warrior. He knows I expect a certain
level of martial prowess. I want you to make sure that the choice is also
psychologically capable handling the duty. They must be true to the faith,
the old ways, of course. But the candidate must also have a cunning intelligence,
capable and adaptable. The position is open to either gender. And I'd like
the selection to be finished within one week.
"In order for you to do this, my tribe must be familiar with you and
recognize you as my apprentice. If the introduction goes well, they will
then give you as much respect as they do Strong Bow and your task will be
"Tonight, there is no ritual. We hold a council with the elders and
the most respected members of the community. They will be allowed to ask
you questions, and also ask me to resolve issues that have come up. You would
be wise to listen carefully and learn from me how to speak to them with
wisdom and respect. This is a mutual relationship, Lenuna. They will help
us if we help them. "
Fianna switched back to Gaelic. "Never forget that, my young one. They
are human and we are not, yet they deserve respect and to be empowered
by hope. The point is to provide more for them than they need to provide
for us. This ensures their loyalty, and continuing work with them will
secure their faith in our power. And they are to have a choice." Fianna
looked out the window and her thoughts went far away. "A choice I never
had." She looked back at February. "A choice you should have had."
"You see, February, there are no stronger bonds than those of hope
and freedom. Dispense these things in the proper way, and your chosen will
never abandon you.
Fianna looked intently at February, and soon she seemed to fill all
of the younger woman's vision. "Doing this correctly is something that must
be done with skill and care, young one. If you are to become a Death Poet
one day, then this will be your second greatest tool, above even magick."
Fianna sat back and switched to English again. "Mika is my name among
the tribe. Fianna is what we use in the outside world. Mahpiya Winyam is
another name, but it is general, like a title. I am usually called Mahpiya
Winyam in formal circumstances or when there is a desire to show extra respect.
Otherwise, I like to be called Mika."
What Fianna spoke of was fundamentally different from the way the Tremere
usually worked. They tended to be introverted and had few people skills,
relying on Domination to get their way in mortal society. What Fianna showed
her student was a truly poetic way to interact, in comparison. It was manipulation,
but it was so gentle that it could almost be called benevolent.
The ride continued out of the city and soon they were passing into
the countryside. When they finally turned into a gravel drive, February
could see several campfires lighting the site. There were a few trailers
and several tents. There were also several very large teepees, meant to
shelter groups of people. There was no evidence of wealth here. In fact,
it looked to be in much the same condition as many Indian reservations across
the country. But there was something different in the way the people here
moved, in the energy and lively spark in their voices. These people had
something that many did not, even among the white folk.
All this was in the dark shadow of a large hill lit by a half moon.
It was on top of this hill that the largest fire could be seen, and the largest
of the teepees. Numerous shapes could be seen moving around up there.
Strong Bow parked and came around to let the women out of the back.
"This is it, Lenuna," she said in English. "This is our haven." She did not
call it hers, alone, a marked difference between Fianna and any other vampire
February had known. Fianna regarded this place as collectively owned.
February looked outside the window, "I look forward to meeting your
people, Mika, Strong Bow. I look forward to contributing to your tribe."
February, as ever, smiled and looked curiously around at everything.
Fianna smiled as Strong Bow dipped his head in acknowledgment. She
was already proud of her new student and looked forward to the coming introduction.
Strong Bow began leading them up the grassy hill and soon some people
came trotting down with torches to light the way. They continued up the
hill in a procession, and people came out with smiling faces to watch the
trio and their escorts walk to the meeting place. By the time they had reached
the top, a crowd had gathered. Men and women from the ages of sixteen to
late forties were assembled. There were no truly old people here, nor were
their children, but two or three of the women were pregnant. These were
carrying the first generation of the new tribe.
When they reached the top of the hill, excited voices surrounded them
for a few minutes. Then, one of the older men held up his arms. He told them,
"It is time for Mahpiya Winyam to speak. Let us hear silence first." In
short order the crowd became quiet and they sat down to listen. Soon, only
Fianna and February were standing with Strong Bow standing a respectful
distance away and watching the surroundings carefully.
Fianna put a hand on February's shoulder. "I have chosen my apprentice.
This is Lenuna of the Cherokee people." Whispered greetings scattered through
"She will be among you at times, when I do not have her studying. I
would like for you to accept her as you have me, for one day she may take
my place should I be struck from this earth." There was immediately some
shaking of heads and a growing buzz of conversation.
Fianna held up her other hand and they grew quiet. "But that is not
what I foresee. I believe she will be among us for a long time, and one day
when our tribe has grown large and strong, she will lead some to start a
new tribe as a new Sky Woman."
Someone in the front of the assembled crowd said, "But if the Sky Woman
is a spirit inhabiting a mortal body, how can someone who is mortal be
like her?" Whispered assent approved of the bold man's question.
"It is because she has chosen that at the end of her apprenticeship,
she will die and join her spirit to that of the Great Sky Spirit. Then,
once she has been purified, I will bring her back so that she can share
her new power with us."
Silence spread before Fianna like a hot wind, sapping all conversation
as they considered this. Finally, the man who had spoken up before, spoke
again. "Can you do this thing?"
Fianna nodded. "Yes, John Running Fox. But only after the proper preparation
and only my chosen one. I can not simply raise the dead; that is not my
domain." Many heads nodded, accepting the explanation, but a few still had
"You have seen me do many things. You have helped me do them. We built
this hill, burrowed through solid stone, made the stones shed light, called
the animals and talked to them like brothers and sisters, and many other
things. Have faith, this is a good thing. Lenuna can be with you during
the daylight hours that I usually rest, and it will be a long time before
she is ready to become a Mahpiya Winyam." Now they seemed to accept the
explanation gladly. It was true that with Fianna, they had worked miracles
they never thought possible.
"Now, come meet her and then we'll hold council with the elders in
the council chamber." They got up and began crowding around, introducing
themselves in a hopelessly confusing barrage of names, some of them shaking
her hand, others merely wanting to touch her hair and arms to see for themselves
that she was real.
After a few minutes, Fianna pulled her away and they made their way
part way down the hill.
In Gaelic, February questioned, "Mistress, I read your reports and
I wasn't sure of the degree of devotion you have built in your people simply
by faith. These people actually see us, well you at least, as the manifestation
of a spirit. Their spirit. You give them hope, maintain their ways and
our ways, and sustain your existance through ceremony and faith. Everyone
is happy and spiritually fullfilled."
"Yes," the vampire responded. "That is the point. We Bas Filidh operate
on the power of faith. So, too, is it our weakness, for we truly understand
the very real power of it. Yet, there are still challenges, even if you
are doing your job right. Watch and see..."
Soon Fianna had led the girl to a hollow in the hill where, hidden
in shadow there stood a heavy stone door. Now, it stood open and after
the first turn, they could see. Within niches formed into the rock walls
were placed fist-sized stones that glowed brightly, providing all the light
needed. The short path ended in a large, circular chamber. A number of mature
men and a couple older women sat around what looked like a fire pit. In this
case, however, a small pile of large, glowing stones shed the light. One council
member was lighting a pipe.
February asked, "Are the stones your dweamor?"
Fianna nodded, responding in the old language. "I do not like fire,
but have the magic to provide light. I use stones because they are readily
available. Since the magic lasts a long time, we call a small council about
this size each week and use them to aid the magic. With their help, I can
create large piles of enchanted stone, without taxing my own energy reserves,
in only a few minutes. The ceremony is always amazing to them and is also
a good faith-building exercise." Fianna winked at her and said, "Plus, it
cuts down dramatically on the electric bill. We have to watch every penny
here. After all, the more self-sufficient I can help them be, the fewer there
will be trying to earn a living by hooking, theivery and the like. You have
to understand that a lot of these people came from the city, in very poor
Fianna led February to a rug and pillow that had been set aside for
them. When she sat down the softly smoking pipe was handed to her. She took
a puff and then handed it to February.
February nodded and took a drag on the pipe, it seemed as if she came
to this part quite naturally.
Soon more greetings were made, welcoming February, as Lenuna, to the
tribe. One of the first questions that came up was if she had had a chance
to make medicine with Mika.
February, not sure of whether there was a subtle meaning to their words,
answered, "I look forward to assisting Mika as I can."
Finally, Fianna opened the council for tribal business matters. A man
with greying hair, wide set eyes and a long mouth asked, "Over the past
two weeks the tribe worried about you very much, Mika. Why were you gone
for so long? What happened to Strong Bow in this time?"
"I appreciate your concern, Mathieu Rain Song," Fianna replied. "Strong
Bow and I had to go into the city and do battle with evil forces." She
sighed and shook her head. "You know that there are many spirits in this
world, some good, some bad, and some neutral. There are evil beings, similar
in some ways to myself, that arise from time to time. In this case, they
arose very near here on the outskirts of Ann Arbor. These beings do not see
the value in human life. They are selfish, evil, and extremely dangerous.
They believe only in violence and death, and live in the dark corners of
Fianna took in all the council members with a measured look, pausing
on each of them. "I felt it was my duty to stop them, so I faced them.
I had allies of like mind if not like spirit who understood that this evil
must be destroyed as well and we faced them. As the Bear Warrior for this
Tribe, I also took Strong Bow. He did well and showed a measure of bravery
beyond that of most men or women. I am proud of him.
"Yet, in the end, we both were nearly destroyed. It was a close battle,
but enough damage had already be dealt that it was very shortly after even
I fell that my side won. Both Strong Bow and I were grievously wounded.
I was gone all this time in recovery. This body is very difficult to destroy
permanently, but I was nevertheless nearly undone. Thus I took some time
before my spirit could re-enter it."
Mathieu asked, "This explains the wounds we saw upon your body when
you emerged from the Stone a few nights ago. We had thought perhaps you
had to fight a death spirit."
Fianna chuckled, "Mathieu, I'm surprised at you. You still believe
in the Grim Reaper? That is a white man's myth." The Indian's face reddened
in embarrassment. "No, no spirits or gods of death bar my way to this world.
Only the destruction of my mortal coil will prevent me from returning. And
even then, I shall return again in the eyes of a child."
One of the women spoke up. "You mean you could be reborn as a human?"
"Yes. It is a choice I could make."
The others seemed to digest this. The woman spoke again. "There were
horrible wounds on your back that only went away after the Gift of Blood
ceremony. I have seen those before. They are wounds from a shotgun, and
I saw silver shot come out when you healed. I have never seen such horrible
damage done to a body before. Can you speak to us about them?"
Fianna chuckled again. "Do you think I tried to run away Red Doe?"
Fianna laughed. "No, I have never fled from a fight. Although come to think
of it, perhaps I should think about that in the future." A couple nervous
chuckles echoed around the room. "No, there was an accident. An ally, enthusiastic
to reach the enemy, went through me first. His indiscretion is being dealt
Red Doe muttered, "I would like to deal with him, myself." February
heard because she was sitting next to Red Doe, but Fianna didn't seem to
hear. February leaned over to Red Doe and whispered, "Your enthusiasm to
help Mika is honorable, but Mika knows her way and the issue will be dealt
The man who had started the pipe in the begining of the meeting spoke
up. "I think this tribe would be lost without you, Mika. We all love you,
and the things you have done for us have bound us together and made all these
very different people into a community. It's hard to continue forward when
you are gone. It may be impossible if you are gone for months or years."
Fianna nodded. "I know it would be unfair for me to leave you all without
warning and without guidance. I am sorry it happened for these last two
weeks. I never mean to worry you. But given the risks that I have to take
lately, I think now it is appropriate to bring on Lenuna. Also, I wish to
annoint another Bear Warrior."
Several tried to speak at once. "Please! Let me say something," said
one over the others. It was the one who had started the pipe again. "Mika,
why do you not call more of us from the tribe when you go to face these
enemies? Why must there be only a few against so strong a foe?"
"I appreciate your willingness to help, Cloud. But if I did that, the
authorities would take note of a small army of armed people moving through
the city. This is not a war in the open, no matter how the enemy might wish
it. I can't afford to risk revealing our real power to the world. We are
not ready. We are not nearly ready. Remember that powers of evil have influence,
too, and should they find a way to hurt me through hurting all of you, they
will do it."
"But are we not prepared?" Cloud gestured to the back of the chamber,
through a heavy granite door that February had not noticed before.
"This place is a fortress, that is true. But would you give up freedom?
Would you give up the right to enjoy the land we have? To even ever see
the sun again? And that is only if this place could hold them out forever.
It is very strong, but it could not stop a determined effort. They could use
bombs and dynamite. I say again, open war with all the powers who might oppose
us is not our way. This is the lesson your forefathers were taught. It is
our duty to learn it without having to die for it if we can."
Cloud, now mollified, was quiet.
The other woman spoke up. "Who will you select to be bear warrior?
Can only men have this title?"
"To answer your second question, Willow, the position is open to any
who can fill it. I have decided to accept the candidate that Lenuna and
Strong Bow will choose by consensus."
Willow turned her attention to the girl. "Lenuna, welcome to the tribe.
I believe I know what qualities Strong Bow will look for in a candidate.
What do you look for?"
"I look for loyalty, wisdom and faith. The ceremony of the blood will
attend to strength. But a strength of purpose and piety to the ancient ways
is essential. A believe a Bear Warrior should be not only a warrior of
battle, but a warrior of the spirit. I see Strong Bow as a good example
to follow, but he is not the only possibility."
Willow smiled and looked to Fianna. "She is wise for her youth, Mika."
Fianna nodded and smiled. "Yes, her soul is older than her body appears."
She looked at February and gave her a pleased smile. The answer she gave
pleased the vampire druid as much as it did the members of the tribal council.
Fianna continued, "Is there any other business?" A few more mundane
items came up, but it soon developed into simple conversation and discussion
of hopeful plans for the future with regard to the new settlement.
Fianna stood, "I'm afraid I must take leave now, but I will return
before the evening is done." She gestured for February to stand, too.
February smiled and got up, "Yes Mika."
Amid the expected polite protestations, Fianna bid them farewell for
now. Many of them would be well asleep before she came back to rest.
"Now that they know you, you may come and leave as you will, Lenuna.
I hope that you will choose to spend a little of your days with them. They
are good people who were just lost for a while. They need people like you
"So, in a way, we're doing what the Brujah always talk about, but usually
fail. we're guiding these people and giving them hope," said February enthusiastically.
"Do they indeed?" said Fianna with a hint of laughter.
She continued, "And I know they will want to know more about you, and
perhaps even want to ask you personal things about me." She stopped and touched
her student's arm. "Now you know them and will be trusted by them. I will
trust that your answers to them will be the right ones. After all, failure
here does not just hurt you and I. All these people are counting on us."
Fianna watched the younger woman's reactions carefully.
"Failure simply isn't an option my mistress. We have time to make things
good for these people, and give you the sustenance you need. If I may be
so bold, I think you love these people, and that gives you greater sustenance
than any vitae. If I can, I'll help build their world and be a teacher
to them by day, as you are by night."
"You have it right. You have it exactly right," Fianna said. The two
left the site and soon returned to the Chantry.
At the Chantry, the teacher and student were met by Ashlynne while going
through the great hall. "I hope the night went well for you Fianna. February,
Master Eisen wishes you to complete your lesson before the end of the week.
Off with you now."
February departed, turning her head and giving her teacher, Fianna,
a smile. Tonight had been a good night.