By Alejandro Melchor (email@example.com)
"Are you sure of what we are doing?" whispered Pedro, the Bone Gnawer who had agreed to guide the foreign Garou into the bowels of the museum.
"Of course I do," answered Listens-at-the-Winds, leading her pack of four other werewolves, plus Pedro, to steal a fetish most precious: the Moon herself.
Listens checked her pack one last time. Jazz, the Glass Walker of the group, was clad as if he was starring in "Mission: impossible." As much as she disliked him, he had played the vital role of getting the pack free rides to Mexico and disabling the museum's security system. Eagledancer, her fellow Uktena, eyed her closely, always looking for a chance to relieve her of the burden of leadership. Marion and Sally, the Black Furies, were wary of their surroundings; since their arrival in Mexico City, they had claimed that the entire city reeked of the Wyrm and the Weaver.
"I feel the stone," said Eagledancer, "it's just ahead".
"Of course it's just ahead, gringo estupido", Pedro rebuked, "As I told you, it's right at the front of the building; we just entered from the back".
Listens could only hide her smile at the mongrel's humiliating comment. Eagledancer was not happy though.
"There She is!" Marion ran ahead to gaze at the enormous round stone.
"Yup. That's Coyolxhauqui, Rattles on Her Face", commented Jazz.
Listens-at-the-Winds was not listening; she was content on just feeling the raw power coming from the stone; it was clearly Luna's Fetish. And it was hers to claim.
"You can't take her, Garou", a strange voice boomed in the darkened halls of the museum.
"What...? Who dares...?" Eagledancer was prompt to draw his gun; though he was not Ahroun, Listens knew he had enough rage to try to take a Nexus Crawler by himself.
From the shadows emerged a towering silhouette, a Crinos surely, thought Listens, for no homid could achieve the height and build of the figure coming towards them. The stranger was covered by a yellowish fur with black spots and stripes, his head that of a feline.
"Werejaguar! A Balam!" cried Listens at her pack.
"It's of the Wyrm!" shouted Sally.
"Ay, guey!" Pedro cowered behind Listens, "that's no Balam, sister, that's a Nahual! I'm outta here!"
"Balam or Nahual; it's the same to me", growled Eagledancer as he changed his shape to that of the feared man-wolf. "I'll spit your innards, pussycat!"
The werejaguar stood impassive as the werewolf charged, then simply jumped over his enemy with feline grace and speed as its shape disappeared only to reappear landing directly in front of the Black Furies.
But the Nahual was quicker; before either Sally or Marion could attack, they were swept back by an intangible force.
"Sientan el poder de Yaolli Ehecatl!", it shouted.
"What did he say?", Listens asked the Bone Gnawer, who shook violently.
"He's calling the Night Wind! Your friends are lost! Lemme go!"
The grip on the mongrel was lost as Listens watched her packmates writhe in pain on the floor, shouting and howling.
Eagledancer had taken his portable mirror from his pack, and was staring at it intently.
"You coward!" shouted listens as she began to call upon the Earth Lords to help her carry the stone while the jaguar was distracted.
"The spirit realm is closed to you, cub", hissed the Nahual just as Eagledancer began his transference to the Umbra, "instead you'll see your heart's true reflection".
"Nooooo!", cried the Uktena as he grabbed at his face, eyes wide with horror, tearing fur and flesh with his claws, "it can't be!, that's not me!"
A silent curse crossed Listens' lips; the stone was loose and in her telekinetic grasp; she hoped she had time to escape.
A shot echoed in the halls, Jazz was blasting at the werejaguar with a shotgun he had retrieved from his backpack.
The pellets tore into the creature's shoulder, flinging it back and making it lose it's balance.
"Good work, Jazz! Keep him down while I take the stone to safety!" Escape was a more likely word, but Listens-at-the-Wind felt her obligation to her Tribe and had every intention of abandoning the Glass Walker.
"Stupid dogs!" the werejaguar was up again, and dodged with ease the shotgun's burst.
"Oh, shit", cursed Listens, she now knew that only by working together with Jazz they had a hope of defeating the creature. She commanded the spirits to drop the stone on the Nahual.
But the spirits weakened their grasp as a loud roar came from the werejaguar's throat. Listens could barely hear the whispers of similar roars in her mind's ears and her Theurge gifts allowed her to feel the coming of a horde of hostile spirits...
"As Tezcatlipoca was cast down from the skies", said the Nahual in deep tones, "in anger and revenge He sent a thousand jaguars to devour all that was. Thus was the end of the First Sun."
The roars were clear now, even Jazz could hear them. Listens tried to exorcise them before they gained in strength, but she lost her concentration as she felt thousands of claws slash her flesh. She could hardly hear the Glass Walker's screams amidst the storm of feline roars and her own anguished howls.
When it all ended, she was barely alive. She felt the night's breeze caress her skin. She was outside. She dared rise, her whole body ached. She saw the bodies of her packmates: Jazz was in a poor condition, the Furies were unconscious, but alive; Eagledancer was shivering, hugging himself and rocking back and forth. She heard steps. She could see the hem of a security uniform.
In front of her was a man, bronze skinned and somber faced. An owl was perched on his shoulder. She knew he was the werejaguar.
"Coyolxhauqui was brought down from the heavens by Huitzilopochtli's might, as was my Lord by Quetzalcoatl. When She fell she broke and was left at the foot of the Temple. That is her place". The Nahual's voice was chilly, carrying with it pieces of contempt, pride and condescension. "But She is indeed powerful, and rules in hiding, letting everyone believe She had fallen. The night is Her place. This domain is Her place. This is our domain. Don't ever come back".
He left and disappeared into the shadows. She collapsed. When she heard more footsteps she was hurting too much too rise.
"Aqui estan," it was Pedro, the Bone Gnawer, he had brought another man with him.
"Es un milagro que esten vivos," she heard the other answer as she felt the stranger's hand over her. The wounds began to heal.
"Don't worry, guera," the Bone Gnawer said, "Bernardo here is a Tlaloque; best healers around".
"Don't move, please", Bernardo hushed her, "I've seen the wounds from this particular Nahual gift before, they heal slowly".
"What are you?"
"A Garou like you, from the Tlaloque tribe. Your friend there was subject to the Smoking Mirror; his mind must be healed. The Ehecatl tribe know of that Gift too well."
"Tlalokae? Aehecatl? What the hell is going on?"
"They are tribes that live only in Mexico", answered Pedro, "You Garou gringos are too self-concerned to notice they are here."
"But I thought only Balam and Bone Gnawers..."
"The Gnawers and the Glass Walkers stay in the cities; the Balam keep to the southern jungles. There's a whole lot more of Mexico out there," Bernardo added, "and that includes the Nahual. Come on, it will dawn soon."
Listen-at-the Winds helped the Mexican Garou carry her packmates to safety; she dared a glance back at the museum. Through the glass front she could feel the Coyolxhauqui stone back at its place.
She thought she heard the faintest of roars.
It's not known when they turned from Gaia, but it must have been very early in history, as they engineered the downfall of Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl from his throne, thus gaining the eternal emnity of the Ehecatl Garou. The Nahual obey Tezcatlipoca, god of evil and mischief, patron of sorcerers, thieves and merchants. Brother of Quetzalcoatl, he is Yaolli Ehecatl, the Night Wind. Many Garou who learn of them feel an instant hatred for the traitors of Gaia, and will call them servants of the Wyrm. But that's far from the truth. They serve the Darkness, not the dark corruption of the Wyrm but the dark side of Gaia, or Coatlicue, as they call her, as Tezcatlipoca is her son. However, their dealings with dark things have given them a feel around them that can be picked up with Sense Wyrm; they sense like Wyrm, but in a strange way and not completely.
Scheming is almost second nature to them; they have shrugged off the prejudices of the Bete regarding civilization, and have entrenched themselves in positions of power ever since the Aztec Empire.
As many Garou have found out, the Nahual are formidable enemies, mainly because they prefer to attack with sorcery and plots rather than with fangs and claws. The curiosity of all Bastet is ever present in the Nahual, who hunger for the secrets of magic even more than the Uktena, and they have achieved results that shock many and outrage even more.
The ultimate goal of the Nahual is domination. The first step is to recover Mexico from the Technocracy and the Sabbat, and to subjugate Garou, Mage and Kindred alike. Sometimes Garou are admitted in their trust, but they must overcome a gruesome Rite of Passage that will pit the Garou against her inner darkness and glimpse the face of Tezcatlipoca.
Their rise in power has been slow but steady: in the Aztec Empire they created the Jaguar Knights and took over education of the common populace. They worked along with Clan Huitzilopochtli, but planned to betray and destroy them in the long run. The Conquest halted their plans as they had to adapt to the new society. It was from this time that they came in contact with the European Kindred and Magi, and learned from each what they could.
Later in history, they backed up many reformist movements so as to never let anyone have a firm hold over Mexican politics, influencing through their Pride or directly themselves.
One of the mysteries surrounding these Bastet is the fact that Nahuals of high rank practice the vampiric disciplines of Thaumaturgy and Necromancy. Garou Philodoxes assure that they obtained that dark knowledge from dealing with the Wyrm, but rumor says that they have captured and tortured vampires who knew those disciplines and extracted the knowledge from them. Any Tremere will corroborate the rumor along with an oath to exterminate the Nahual.
Sphere Magick is barred to them, much to their chagrin, but they have found a way to go head to head with any mage, be it Tradition, Technocracy, Marauder or Nephandi. Benefitting from the magical forces that struggle naturally in Mexico, the Nahual have forced Paradox Spirits into fetishes, ready to release them when a Mage throws magicks at them.
Homid (monkeychild): Gnosis 2
Metis (halfbreed): Gnosis 4
Oncas (wildcat): Gnosis 6
All Garou: Ignorant, primitive, self-righteous fools.
Black Furies: Pitiful feminists.
"Death to the Wyrmspawns!"
Bone Gnawers: You must be joking.
"I'm outta here."
Children of Gaia: Misled do-gooders.
Fianna: Ignorant and pompous.
"Come and get it, kitty."
Glass Walkers: They may have a clue, but still they are Weaver-fascinated idiots.
"I don't mess with them."
Get of Fenris: Barbarians.
"You are dead meat!"
Red Talons: Primitive savages.
Shadow Lords: Egomaniac amateur powermongers.
"They too will fall under our might."
Silent Striders: Too afraid to stay in one place
Silver Fangs: Brain dead and the most self-righteous.
"They are a blemish on Gaia; death to them all."
Stargazers: Too afraid to touch the darkness they see.
Uktena: Most likely to talk to us; still they are neophytes in the Secrets.
"I want what they know."
Wendigo: Racist extremists; rejects of August Derleth.
"They must die!"
Mexican Tribes: see each tribe's stereotypes.
Kindred: Useful toys of the Dark. A power to be reckoned, though.
"Come to the Dark Side, Luke...mmph! Ha, ha, ha!"
"Powerful allies, worthy enemies."
Mages: We can admit envy; that pitiful homids should master Reality itself. . .
"I really don't want to know."
"A Darkness so dark it might actually shed some light."
"Minions of the Nephandi, no doubt."
Summon the Night Wind (Level 3)
Nahual power the disciplines with their Gnosis, rather than with blood, although experiments on the use of extracted vampire blood are underway.
Hedge Magic is purchased as a Gift and is available at Rank 1.
Unlike the Totems, the nahuals are real animals, existing in the real world. The animals are special in their own way, as they are infused with a strong spirit force coming from the Wyld and the Nahual's own soul. The animal can travel to the Umbra and has the standard Charms of a normal dweller spirit. By using the Gift of the Nahual, the werejaguar can enter or shapechange into his nahual.
A great advantage is that the nahual, whether it's present or not, aids the bondling by granting her strength in whatever the nahual is strong. This translates in game mechanics as providing a Dice Pool according to the nahual's nature. This number of dice in this Pool is set as the Nahual Background rating; a rating of 4 will put four dice in the Nahual Pool. The Nahual Pool is used similar to the dice pools in Shadowrun II, but is restricted depending on the animal. A coyote nahual's pool is used to aid in rolls that involve Wits and Dexterity, a hawk nahual's in Perception; an owl nahual's in Gnosis, a wolverine in Rage, etc. Be creative.
The Pool only refreshes at the beginning of a new day.
A major disadvantage of the nahual bond is that damage to either bondling is suffered by the other as aggravated damage. That is why Nahuals keep their nahuals very well protected and a secret to even her fellows; you kill the animal and you kill the werejaguar. The animal has the same health levels as the Nahual; regardless of size or species.