(510-06-1) Coelwulf Rite of Manhood
Summary: Coelwulf engages in a late coming of age rite with the Druids of the Twilight Sect
Date: 510-06-1
Related: Related Logs (None)
signe coelwulf 

This scene actually takes place in the Summer of 510

It's a ripe time of year, with the trees heavy and the brush thick. Still the twilight has brought with it a slight chill, with fog already beginning to curl into the air. A strange and heavy mist. Two men and hoods had met Coelwulf at the dawn, and remained with him throughout the day. He had been instructed to fast, to spend time in personal reflection. He was to know himself that night, face something that left some trembling and unable to go on. So they said, anyway. Some people will say Druids are full of such claims and it's all nonsense.
When the shadows grew long, they were already on their way to Chute Forest. No particular reason was given for its choosing, but upon arriving, another man in a dark cloak, hooded, waits.

Coelwulf is dressed for whatever may come, sturdy tunic of wool, pants to match, his feet encased in high leather riding boots (no spurs) Coel approaches the cloaked figure. His face shows determination, he is ready for what will be asked of him. (or he thinks he will be)

The gloom of the forest is a darkness in the twilight blue of evening by now. It is an ancient wood, with dark murmurings. Rumors stir in the villages nearby, like the murmuring of the leaves now.
The cloaked one lifts a hand, and the two hooded companions dismount, and lead all three horses away, assuming Coelwulf doesn't protect. Of course even if he protests, there will be only a chuckle as they continue. He'd have to bodily stop them.
"Coelwulf." The voice coming from the hooded figure is rich, masculine, commanding. It has the sound of a man in his prime rather than an aged sage.
"What brings you hither tonight? Do you not know who hunts this night, what game is afoot?"

Coel watches his mount depart, his hand tightening on the shaft of his hunting spear, he draws a breath, "I have come to hunt." his voice steady and as calm as he can manages, "Who else hunts these woods?" he asks in that same low steady tone, his eyes looking to the dark woods now.

A low chuckle emanates from the cloaked figure. He lifts a hand a gestures sweepingly. "One who shares your lust tonight. Do you truly think that one such as you is worthy to hunt in his woods, track his chosen prey? Do you think you can pry it from him? Move more swiftly, track more clearly, kill more cleanly?"

The words make Coelwulf bristle, his chest puffing up, "I am Coelwulf of Shrewton" he eyes the dark forest again, "Tonight these are my woods, my Prey, and it will be my Kill."

Amusement colors the druid's voice when he answers in the gathering gloom. "Twilight is upon us, the time of transition, transformation. What waits for you I do not know, but you had best get to it, boy. You will be changed tonight— one way or another." The sinister promise remains in the air, but the druid has faded into the darkness.
And in the distance, the sound of a hunting horn rings sudden and clear.

Coel is not a man given to many words, at the sound of the horn he makes for the gloomy woods at a jog. Picking his way along a game trail, working his way in the direction of the horn, who horn? This one of many questions that would be answered before the nights end.

Within moments, the forest seems to surround for miles. Even a seasoned pathfinder, a consummate hunter would find himself mysteriously engulfed in a wood that seems bizarrely unfamiliar. The fog curls in a peculiar way, like tendrils of smoke but cool and damp. An owl calls from startlingly nearby, and suddenly the moon is out where before it was not. Has time passed? It seems like mere moments.
But the horn calls again, from deeper in the wood than it had before.

Coelwulf pauses, looking back the way he had come, then forward, knowing he is well and truely lost. Now the sound of the horn all he has, so it is to the horn he moves. His feet stepping with care now, spear held at the ready as he moves.

It may go on like this for hours, for minutes, for minutes that seem like hours. Is this really Chute Forest? Nothing is familiar, and it seems perpetually twilight. That time of day when it's hard to make out anything, when one's eyes don't know which way to adjust. But there is moonlight. It only adds to the confusion. The horn sounds again, seemingly from an entirely new direction.

Coel stops now, he kneels in the forest litter, his hand upon the earth now. His eyes closed now, he listens, nostrils flare as he tries to pick up a scent on the breeze, He had heard tales of the fairie wood, woods just like this one…where a man might lose his life, or his mind.

It is true, the druids cannot always be…trusted. Their ways are not the ways of the average man, their plots are thick and twisted, their powers esoteric and fear-inducing. There is compassion, at times, and they are said to walk the line between worlds, so their demands and advice must be heeded. But it's certainly not easy to just trust that one will be alright just because one has followed a druid's instructions. The danger is real, the reality is ominous.
Suddenly— the horn sounds again, it feels almost as if it is at Coelwulf's ear, shattering him. There is an otherworldly quality to the sound, and in the same split moment, the wood is alive. In the gloom ahead, a shape emerges. Tall, lithe but powerful, bare-chested and astride a beast that might be a stag. And the rider is horned as well. It springs into the thicket ahead. But did he really see it?

Coelwulfs eyes flash, the Huntsman! he joins the hunt sprinting after the horned rider, his eyes sweeping the foggy wood seeking the prey, boar or stag…something fantastic, perhaps a Unicorn!

More indeterminate passage of time. An hour? A minute? A heartbeat? Creatures spring from his path. A fox leaps into the brush. Bats swirl through. Deer bolt before him. Life teems now, but nothing seems quite right. The horns sounds ahead, near, very near. Howls and hoots and a nightingale, a wind, a stirring—
And suddenly he will stumble into a shrouded glade.

His heart hammering in his chest Coelwulf draws several deep breathes spear held at the ready, nut ready for what? He looks about him, eyes wild, the thrill of the hunt upon him, the fear of the fog, and the dark forest still in his mind as he looks.

In the gloom two eyes blaze, and in a sudden stillness, there's a low, throaty growl rising.
Looming almost five feet high at the shoulder, a shaggy black wolf stands over a pale and fallen form. All that can be seen of the latter is a grey cloak that covers it.
And nearby, afoot now, and with a grin that cannot be seen but can be felt, a man of at least 6 feet, lithe and horned, can be seen, his spear at the ready.

Coelwulf looks to the prey…a person. He lets out a rumbling growl of his own as he circles trying to draw off the hunter and the Black wolf.

The Hunter watches, perfectly assured that he will be the victor, no matter how long he tarries. His eyes gleam through what must be a mask, and flowing midnight hair stirs around him in a wind from a distant place.
The wolf shifts to follow Coelwulf's movement, its grow gaining volume. The rhythms of life suddenly cease, all is a ghastly silence and stillness while beast and man circle, and the One that is neither beast -nor- man watches.

Coel's gaze is upon the wolf, he circles until just the two of them square off in the center of the mist shrouded glade. The mans muscles tense and he springs, the night will end in blood, the fates have woven the tapestry of his life, hiding or cowering will not bring you one more moment, not let you draw one breath more. His muscles tense and he springs intent of killing the great wolf, striking it before it has a chance to strike him!

The energy of the coiled wolf is suddenly let loose, and the beast vaults into the air, leaping toward Coelwulf with fury. The pair clash, the beast's size, bruit strength, and lust for blood enough to bowl over an old oak. Its snarl rends the night and its teeth flash, gleaming impossibly white canines, a single one of which could tear out a man's throat.

The steel tip of Coel's spear is thrust as the pair slam into each other, blood and fur, steel and fang. Coelwulf's war cry echo's through the foggy wood, may the gods protect the brave, and the foolish!

It can be no easy task to bring the beast down. The hunter will vie with death in a twilight between worlds, and if he loses, where might he go? To a perpetual place between? A great deal more than his mere life is at stake, for what he accomplishes tonight will transcend simple survival.
In time, the struggle will end. In time, the wolf lays upon the ground. In the distance, the horn sounds.
The dust will settle slowly. A figure now stands over the dying wolf, a ghostly figure in a cloak of grey.

Coel looks up from his kill, panting covered in blood, his own and that of the beast. He looks to the grey cloaked figure, his eyes still wild with battle lust. He pulls his broken spear from the dying black wolf.

It speaks. She speaks. A shadow is cast over her face from the hood that hangs low around it. Like the horn, the voice sounds otherworldly, piercing through the gloom to become as a whisper from lips directly at his ear.
"Where is my Lord? You have stolen his kill."

The huntsman! Coelwulf looks to his shattered spear. He looks from the grey cloaked woman, and casts about ready to defend his life, and his kill, the kill wrested from the hunter god. "I am the hunter" he rumbles, "his kill is mine." Coel's free hand reaches to his long knife.

"Where is my lord Arawn?" she asks again. She spoke his -name-, or one of his names, a daring and dangerous thing to do. In answer to the name, the horn sounds again. The god of lust, of the underworld, of revenge— and of the Great Hunt.
She cants her head to the side, still for as long as the sound of the horn fades. The twilight persist, the strange betweenness. She produces one hand, pale and bare, delicate, and from within her cloak she draws an ancient stone blade.

Coelwulf slides the long knife from it's sheath casting the broken spear aside. He wets his lips, tasting the bitter coopery taste of blood settling into a ready stance near the dying wolf, the grey cloaked crazy woman now has his attention speaking the name of the hunter god, she must be insane, surely they would both pay the price.

The knife she draws is large for her hand, but she wields it well, moving to the dying wolf and kneeling before it. Suddenly, the knife is thrust into the beats. Blood pours over her hands and forearms. She cuts deep, clean and well.
And then she has risen, turning to Coelwulf. Her hood has slipped back and he will see a spectral pale face, eyes rimmed all around in some darkness, perhaps soot or smeared coal. Within the black rings, the orbs are silver-grey. Within her gory hands, she holds a large heart.
"Eat the heart of your kill, warrior." She presents it to him.

Coel's takes the bloody offering, and bites into the heart, hot blood running from his mouth as rips blood chunks from it, wolfing it down. A Tradition the young man knows well, but never has his prey been so fierce, never has a druid offered up the prize to him. His eyes as he swallows down blood and raw meat, this a moment he wishes burned into his memory, a moment he wishes never to forget.

The strange maiden observes, like a spirit lingering with him between plains, all but for the vivid red that drips from her finger tips. In a moment when the hot blood runs down his chin and down his throat and drips from the girl, there is a change. The sound of crickets in the wood, the call of an owl, the rustle of a breeze— and moonlight. Actual moonlight from an orb that has risen high. The twilight is gone.
And she is still there.

Coelwulf looks to the moon, then back to the girl, "Who are you?" he asks, looking to his hand, was any of that real? He touches his own face now "Where are we?"

Though the night is upon them, the transformation seemingly complete, it doesn't seem time yet for answers. She holds the knife, as if she would stab with it, and lifts her other hand to lay her bloody palm against his chest.

He looks down at her bloody hand, then to the knife. Coelwulf draws a deep breath and awaits what is to come, his icy blue eyes meet her grey/blue eyes.

The knife stings as she presses the sharp stone tip to his skin and draws it across his chest. One. two. Three. Four. His blood mingles with the wolf's as she leaves 4 slashes deep enough to scar, marking him forever. She dips her already bloody index finger into his blood, and then lifts her hand. Down his nose, one streak. Across each cheek, and finally over his brow.

She ends by tapping him under the chin, which somehow seems less ritual and more congratulatory.

The man makes no sound as the tip of the knife kisses his flesh, his face does twitch with each cut. , then she paints his face with his blood, mixed with that of the wolf. As the last line is drawn, Coel understands, he belongs to the old gods, the Christians one god and his paradise would be forever beyond his grasp. He waits now, no one could have prepared his for what would come to pass tonight. His fingers twitch as he watches the woman before him.

Her hand drops, and she lifts the knife to run her tongue against the blade before sheathing it.
It seems done. Normalcy has fallen upon the forest, and nearby, the sound of running water, a small brook rumbling over stones. She turns and makes her way to it. The full moon streams into the little glade, which now seems rather pacific except for the corpse of the dire wolf. She begins to clean up in the water.

He stares at the wolf, it was real…then he too walks to the stream settling to his knees beside the priestess. He dips his bloody hands into the water, letting the cool clean water wash over his hands. "who are you?" he asks again in a whispers, as if the sound of his words may have no place here.

Yes, wolf and maiden seem real, though whether anything else in the wood— aside form the danger— may not have been. Could that really have been the Horned Hunter? Or just an avatar, a druid in mask and crown. Or nothing at all?
She works at her hands, the water clouding as they become clean, and half looks at him sideways with a small smile.
"Signe," she replies.

The warrior dunks his head into the cold stream "Coelwulf" he says as he shakes out his blond mane. "I…" he begins then stops, "What happened…did I see what I think I saw?" he asks, his nostrils flare, the slices in his chest still stinging, "was it real?" his hand, cold from the stream catching hers, "Was this supposed to happen?"

"Was what real?" she asks, a smile that is subtle, but which might be maddening in its very existence. She lets him catch her hand, and even grasp it for a moment before she draws it away to continue washing herself, soaking her sleeves but diluting the blood that has touched them.

Coel stays pretty bloody "The wolf? was it.." he stares at the womans smile, it is maddening "The hunter gods hound?" he asks in a reverent tone. "Why was he hunting you?:

"Don't you know?" Her tone is almost teasing. "The answers are within you. But our Lord would never let you slay his hound. It is the beast that would have haunted your every step had you failed. Your greatest nemesis. Your fear and doubt. Do you not feel transformed?"

He thinks a moment, "it seemed like a dream" he whispers softly, a glance back to the wolf "Yes..I feel different" he admits, "I feel like I cannot fail, I will not fall" he touches his bleeding chest, "This is to remind me?" he asks, but it might sound more of a statement. "Thank you." he says with a touch of reverence.
"You are marked now," she tells him. "You have taken from the hunter, and he has given to you. You belong to him now." Her voice is very matter of fact. She sits back on her heels, shaking her fingertips at the brook, scattering droplets of water. "As do I." She rises.

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