World of Darkness: Denver

World of Darkness: Denver / Games / Werewolf: The Apocalypse / Setting / Sept of the Cold Crescent

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Werewolf: The Apocalypse

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          Sept of the Cold Crescent

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He's texting, after all, and spellcheck keeps telling him it knows better than he does, when it does not. It does not at all.

Sept of the Cold Crescent


Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?
 
-- from 'To the Moon', by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Details
Floors: 43 (above-ground)
Parking: Valet + the Welton Street Garage (no parking garage; no street parking)
Building Hours: 6am - 6pm Mon-Fri / 8am-1pm Sat
Access: A key card is required from tenants for after-hours and Sunday entry.  Floor 35 and above, as well as B1, are accessible only through a dedicated, camera-monitored elevator.
Gauntlet: 6
 
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Description

When 1999 Broadway was being planned, it was set to share a plot with the Holy Ghost Catholic Church, a historic building that could not be demolished or moved.  As a result, the building has an iconic triangular shape with a 'scoop' taken out of one side to accommodate the church.  The building seems to have two pillared 'arms' that extend slightly around the cathedral, and the courtyard shared by the two structures is a semi-circular path that is surprisingly well-hidden from the street.

Despite the light rail train passing right by on 19th street, the courtyard has a tree-dotted, park-like atmosphere and it actually manages to be quite serene.  Looking up from the church grounds and courtyard, the curve of the glass-curtain building creates a constant crescent against the night sky with a slight blue-silver gleam.  Across one street is One Lincoln Park, a trendy, 32-story residential high-rise.  Across another is the Federal Building and U.S. Custom House.  1999 Broadway also stands next to the second-tallest building in Denver, 1801 California.

Floors 1-34 are leased to businesses, law practices, and even Denver's IRS office.  The standard high-speed elevators do not go above floor 34.  The stairwell doors to every floor above 34 are locked by code and monitored by security cameras.  Officially, all the office space above that is leased, with tenant contracts and billing contacts to prove it.  The tenants are just engaged in highly confidential work and this sort of superb security is just one more perk that 1999 Broadway offers.  There is a dedicated elevator that goes directly from the lobby to these upper floors without stopping, but only for certain guests [see 'Defenses'].

Unofficially, Floors 35-37 are completely empty.  Floor 38 is also empty, but is reserved as a 'greeting area' for the Warder; should questions need to be asked of a new visitor before they are allowed into the sept proper, this is where it's done.

 

Residences

Floor 39 has been renovated into small, dormitory-style residences.  The floor is equipped with 2 full kitchens and 2 smaller, office-style kitchens (meaning no stove), as well as a cafeteria-esque dining room with long tables and simple stools.  The rooms usually have a couple of twin beds, a writing desk and chair, a small dresser and an equally small closet.  [Floorplan and occupancy limitations to come.]

The 40th and 41st floors are reserved for permanent residences of sept leaders, including the Warder and Guardians.  These residences are larger, more private, and are essentially at the same standard as a luxury apartment.  These floors are considered the marked territory of sept leaders, and wandering around without reason or trespassing is treated as the Litany breach that it is.  As it is difficult enough for the higher-ranked Garou of the sept to share the space without bloodshed, those just passing through are warned not to risk it.

 

Assembly Areas

Floor 42 is composed of sept offices.  All mundane and even most supernatural sept business is dealt with here.  There are thirteen corner offices on each floor due to the unique shape of the building, though the Sept Leader occupies the one at the apex of 1999 Broadway's 'triangle'.  The Warder's offices are, however, perhaps the most expansive.

As soon as visitors step out of the elevator onto the 42nd floor, they find they are standing in the center of the building's crescent, looking at the curving glass wall of an office that stretches to either side like the horns of the moon.  Inside there is a screen for every security camera feed the building has, the interface screen for the palm-scanner fetish -- though the text on this is gibberish to anyone who does not know Spirit Speech -- and controls for fire suppression, lockdown, and other security measures.  Should the spirit wards at the corners of the property be alerted to the presence of hostile entitites, many of these procedures are automatically activated.  The Warder is usually found there with at least one or two Guardians, managing the screens and communicating with their packmates throughout the city.

The top floor of the Sept of the Cold Crescent is not just empty, but all non-supporting walls have been knocked down, leaving a vast open space where the night sky and city lights shine in through the outer walls on all sides.  This is where the Garou meet in between moots, where they train and worship and gather for the dead.  It is, at the top of a downtown skyscraper, a pocket of primitive energy.  The challenge area and graves are here [see below], as well as shrines to the totems of tribes and packs.  At the apex of the triangle, directly above the Sept Leader's office, is the shrine to Luna herself.

The 43rd floor can be a place of raucous celebration, sacred contemplation, or vicious infighting, depending on the mood of the Garou present.  As brawling is as likely to break out as sudden epic songs, drum circles, or lectures about the Litany, it's advised that Kinfolk be accompanied or escorted by a trusted Garou while on the 43rd floor.

 

Challenge Floor

At the north-pointing corner of the 43rd floor there is a large space where specialty mat flooring has been laid down.  The surface is vinyl, textured to resemble tatami, and beneath that there is re-bonded polyurethane open-cell foam.  The surface does not absorb water and moisture evaporates quickly, and the foam provides shock absorption.  The challenge floor is used for everything from regular exercise and training to the most dire of formal challenges.

Granted, even the most friendly wrestling match between Garou can cause a great deal of damage, so some time ago the Keeper of the Land -- sick and tired of replacing individual mats in the floor as they became torn up by claws and stained by blood -- performed a Rite of Awakening over the entire area.  The Awakened challenge floor is now self-healing and while it can still become stained, it seems easier to clean.  In fact, cleaning the challenge floor is a primary task of the Keeper of the Land, as well as a chore that is often given as punishment to Garou who disrespect the spirit by entering into dishonorable challenges.

Thanking the spirit before and after stepping onto the challenge floor is rote in the Sept of the Cold Crescent, and those who forget to do so often find themselves slipping and falling at the worst possible times.  The spirit is well-tended with the cleaning and polishing it receives, as well as the many feats of strength, dominance, and self-perfection that are performed on it, but as a result, it is also a bit vain.

 

The Cemetery

Supposedly, 1999 Broadway has no basement levels that aren't pure concrete and steel.  It's one of the building's failings, in fact, that it has no parking garage of its own, and that nine floors are off-limits to regular tenants.  However, there is an accessible basement level to the Sept of the Cold Crescent.  The elevator that goes straight from the lobby to the sept also goes one other place.  Deep enough to also serve as a heavy-duty (if temporary) shelter from even a nuclear assault, there is a large empty space surrounded on all sides and pillared through with concrete and steel.  It extends beyond the footprint of just the building and takes up most of the block upon which it stands with the Holy Ghost Church.

The ground is earthen, the soil very dark and very rich.  There are low-wattage lights hung at the corners of the ceiling, but many Garou who visit the graves choose to do so in absolute darkness.  The concrete walls and pillars are scattered with hand-carved glyphs.  Mementos sit against walls and against small tombstones.  Bodies are buried here.  Ashes, too.  Sometimes, when there's nothing left, all that's buried is some beloved object, or some collection of items brought by the fallen's packmates.

While only the rarest of Kin, often those whose death directly contributed to the protection of the caern, are given to the Gravestone in the Sept of Forgotten Questions, any loyal and honored Kin of either sept may be interred in the Cemetery.

 

The Pit

The Cemetery also contains access to the lowest, once-hidden levels of 1999 Broadway.  In one of the darkest corners there is a covered hole, mostly hidden by dirt, though the cover is not difficult for a werewolf to move.  The hole is rough-hewn in the concrete, and there is no ladder, only a fall into dimly-lit darkness.  What light there is is a faded, undulating glow, colorless in the way that white light seems colorless but is everything, all at once, blurring to a pale haze.  There is no buzz of electricity down there.  The light, whatever it is, has another source.
 
Garou who drop down the hole hit hard ground, uncovered concrete.  It stretches across the entire footprint of the building, revealing structural roots and pillars, but otherwise the entire center of B2's floor is gone.  It is as though a giant punched through the concrete, but the edges are ragged and charred.  Up from that enormous hole glows the shifting, volatile light, and hanging all around the edges of the broken floor are spirit fetishes, spent talens, painted symbols of binding and awareness and spellwork.  They are watchdogs and alarm bells and sometimes even just prayers of hope and strength.  Over the years, many Garou have tried to make a difference here, and who knows?  Maybe they have.
 
There is no ladder built from the edge of that hole into B3, where the pit truly is.  Just another drop.  The floor is not concrete but dark, nearly black earth, packed hard.  Out past the points where the walls of Cold Crescent terminate, there are tunnels leading outward, radiating from the pit.  Many of them have been blocked off, but those blockades do not seem to be permanent.  This place is naturally formed, 1999 Broadway built atop and around it, and has existed before the sept, perhaps before the city, perhaps as long as the caern.
 
The pit looks like water, but even dark water reflects whatever light is above it.  This pool reflects no light, shows no secrets.  No wind moves over the surface, yet the strangely shifting light seems to emanate from it.  It is light from lightlessness; looking at it is enough to muddle the brain and cross the eyes.  It begins to feel like one's thoughts are turning inside out, one's spirit squirming, one's skin crawling, to look at it too long.  The surface moves sometimes, rhythmically, in keeping with the odd shifting of the light.  Upon closer inspection, there appears to be something in the 'water' causing that, moving close to the surface here and there, but that surface -- the membrane -- never breaks.

Night and day, Guardians stand at the mouths of the tunnels and around the pit.  They take brief shifts, never more than a few hours.  But they are always there.

 

Territory

The Sept of the Cold Crescent does not have a bawn, but it has a large primary protectorate.  The generally accepted 'borders' of this protectorate are the Platte River/I-25 to the west and the north, Downing Street to the east, and 12th Avenue to the south (a little larger than 'Downtown Denver' in this map).  Naturally, the Garou of Cold Crescent consider all of the Denver metro area their responsibility, but these loose lines are where visitors and enemies begin to see glyphs of territory in the Penumbra and feel the sense that they are being watched.

Howls of entry are, due to the urban location, discouraged unless one is in the Penumbra.  The common gesture of respect is to simply enter the dedicated elevator in 1999 Broadway, look directly at the security camera in the corner, and introduce oneself.  Once a Garou or Kinfolk is known to and trusted by Cold Crescent's Warder and Guardians, the elevator will begin ascending as soon as one is inside and their identity checked by the camera.

 

Defenses

For a sept without a caern, Cold Crescent is remarkably well-defended.  Inside the elevator that only goes to floors 35 and above there is smooth metal panel where buttons would normally be.  With unknown guests (and occasionally with known ones as a 'spot check'), the panel slides out of the way to reveal a palm reader.  This is a high-tech fetish that performs a basic Sense Wyrm scan.  If passed, the scanner gives a welcoming chirp that almost seems to say Thanks, friend! and recedes back behind the panel.  If any taint is found, the scanner retreats instantly, the elevator is locked down, and further security measures are taken under direction of the Warder.

Nightly patrols are done of the sept's general territory, though any Garou and Kinfolk who live in or frequent the area are expected to contact the Warder (there's a hotline) immediately if they see anything suspicious.  Though the Warder never leaves 1999 Broadway, the Guardians roam the entirety of the protectorate.

While the sept's headquarters and territory are watched over by spirits and by more tangible guardians as most Garou territories are, the sept of the Cold Crescent also has one very unexpected ally: the Veteran.

 
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In the courtyard between 1999 Broadway and the Holy Ghost Catholic Church, there is a very tall plinth made of smooth, dark, weather-oxidized stone.  Lying atop the plinth is a bronze sculpture of a figure wrapped in a tarp, with one limp arm hanging down.  Only the figure's boots -- combat boots -- extend beyond the tarp, feet awkwardly crossed.  An infantry helmet rests beside the tarp on the figure's left side.  There is no plaque.  There is no inscription.  The sculpture does not belong to the builders of 1999 Broadway or its current owners, nor is it associated with the church.  In fact, when researched, the sculpture is given conflicting information as to its creator, its commissioners.  Its meaning, however, is obvious enough.

The Garou were occupying 1999 Broadway for almost a year before they realized that the eerie statue also housed a ghost.  Even in the Penumbra, he moves little more than his physical counterpart, and does not speak.  The tarp seems as much a part of him as anything else, as he always remains covered.  Occasionally his hands or feet stir, or he makes a low, gasping sound in response to those who speak to him.  For the most part, the Garou left him alone, unwilling to risk angering or disturbing the strange spirit.

However, in the bleak midwinter of 2009, in the middle of an early attack by a pack of Black Spiral Dancers, the Veteran rolled from his resting place, bronze hitting marble with a clanging thud, and he strangled the Dancer's Theurge with heavy, angry hands.  With the Theurge's spirit-aides fleeing upon his death, the battle turned in the Garou's favor.  They found the Veteran trying in vain to climb back up on his memorial, making no more sound than a dry, plaintive rattle from behind the tarp that covers his face.  The Garou lifted him to his place once more.

He moved again, briefly, when the Beloved Horror infiltrated Cold Crescent's Guardians, but did not move.  It was discovered in late 2013 that his purpose -- though his origins remain unknown -- is to protect the Holy Ghost Catholic Church from the natural yet sinister energies of the Pit beneath 1999 Broadway.  He has no allegiance to the Garou, only to the church and the mortals he protects.  He will only stir when some conflict within Cold Crescent, whether related to the Wyrm or not, threatens his true charge.

 

 Chiminage

As the Sept of the Cold Crescent has no caern or totem spirit to nourish, chiminage is given to the sept's elders.  This is often in the form of gifts, favors, or a period of  service.  The greater one's rank, the greater one's chiminage is expected to be in order to be accepted by the sept.  Some Garou, particularly Ahrouns, Galliards and Theurges, are asked to spend some time talking to the Veteran to help maintain goodwill between the sept and the ghost.

 

History

While not strong enough to become a caern, there was a distinct knot of spiritual energies at the site.  The Garou leading the movement to establish an urban sept already knew that there was something strange about the Veteran's Memorial sculpture, something eerie that both drew and repelled human begins.  The Garou also knew that it was a seat of power in both the mortal and the spirit realm, standing in the midst of the central business district and built with three sides... into which were carved a crescent.
 
The leadership of this movement, helmed by Curved Sky, investigated further and discovered that the building also had 3 underground levels hidden from human knowledge.  In the lowest level they had found the source of the strange energy around 1999 Broadway, an enormous 'pit' that was neither spiritual nor aligned clearly with any member of the Triat.  Covered by a milky membrane that bulged and shifted at times with unknown entities on the other side, the leaders of the nascent sept experimented at length but determined that it could not be destroyed and that intelligence could not be gathered by probe or proxy.
 
Fearing that widespread knowledge of the pit would kill the very idea of Cold Crescent before it had a chance to establish itself, Curved Sky and those closest to her kept the pit and the two lowest levels of Cold Crescent a secret, even from their allies.  
 
Through Kinfolk channels, the nation purchased the (somewhat depressed) property in 2005 and began to renovate and revitalize it.  The top nine floors were emptied out, the lobby remodeled, and the Garou began to move in.
 
For obvious reasons, this caused some problems with the Sept of Forgotten Questions as the as-yet nameless sept began to establish itself.  Some Garou thought it would only drag wolves away from the old sept, leaving the caern's defenses thin.  Others thought it would get the more city-minded Garou off their backs and out of their hair.  In the midst of this, Garou who had worked together to bring the entire project to fruition were fighting amongst themselves for positions of authority and power.  There were many battles, within both septs and between the two.  Some battles were those of will, and dominance was determined by who had more political or economic clout.  More than a few were fought with tooth and claw.
 
The Garou, being creatures of hierarchy and pack, eventually settled into their new structures, though it was not easy.  Several Garou still carried bitter grudges against each other, but after some time had passed, there was little infighting between Forgotten Questions and the Cold Crescent.  They learned, all too well, how deeply they needed to rely on each other.
 
--
 
For several years, a large, roving pack of Black Spiral Dancers had been known to the Garou in the region.  They raided septs and caerns in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.  Packed under Green Dragon and led by a high-ranking Ragabash named Th'nak'vis, they called themselves l'horreur bien-aimée: the Beloved Horror.  Despite the ferocity of their totem, they had no problem turning tail when fights turned against them, and they were strong recruiters of lost cubs and metis outcasts, as well as frequent kidnappers of breedable kinfolk.
 
In early 2012, they turned their attention on the still-young Sept of the Cold Crescent.  They were systematic in their attacks, going after Garou who were alone or in small groups, picking them off piecemeal to weaken Cold Crescent's defenses.  The Beloved Horror had discovered the pit beneath the sept and learned that if they sang to it in the language of their tribe, the membrane would birth monstrous beings.  Though no friends of the Wyrm, these creatures would cause destruction and chaos, spreading terror among mortals.  Even then, Curved Sky and the other sept leaders told no one why the Beloved Horror was so fixated on getting into 1999 Broadway.
 
The Garou fought, but the Beloved Horror had become impossibly strong.  Th'nak'vis and more than a few of his packmates had become Elders.  Green Dragon seemed to have blessed them incredibly, and they spouted apparently endless green fire, had access to some form of mind control or possession, and had gained extraordinary strength and speed, even for shapeshifters.  They engaged in ritualistic murders, arranging dismembered body parts after killing groups of humans and lone Garou they'd captured.  They ate hearts and tied bodies together using intestines.  For a while, cubs and even Cliaths were sent to other septs, escorted around the city by higher-ranked Garou, and given curfews that banned them from patrols, the fear was so great.
 
Forgotten Questions sent reinforcements.  Many Garou died fighting them off, and in the end, they only killed half of the Black Spiral Dancers before the Beloved Horror finally fell back.  The dead were mourned, the graves on the first basement level were filled, and though the Beloved Horror was pursued, the pursuit was half-hearted; the septs were exhausted.  At this time, the other leaders of Cold Crescent urged Curved Sky to tell the septs what was beneath them, what they were guarding, but she threatened their lives and the lives of their kinfolk if they spoke of it.  They kept silent.
 
--
 
In May of 2013, l'horreur bien-aimée returned.  They announced themselves by taking a metis Cliath named River of Clouds, murdering him, and arranging his body impaled in a wheel made of body parts of six dismembered humans... less than half a mile from Cold Crescent.  After run-ins with lost cubs who had been recruited by the Beloved Horror and a harrowing attack where a Guardian named Champion of Honor was kidnapped, the Garou and Kinfolk of Denver, long kept in ignorance, slowly began to uncover the secrets that had been held for almost a decade.
 
When Champion of Honor was found and returned, he was catatonic, until one night he rose from his bed, possessed somehow after his imprisonment by the Black Spiral Dancers.  Through his pack bond, they infected every one of Cold Crescent's numerous Guardians, who began to kill each other and themselves on the 43rd floor of 1999 Broadway in front of a small group of Cliaths.  The Cliaths managed to survive, if barely, and Cold Crescent was evacuated except for those of highest rank and those helping spiritually cleanse the area.
 
After such devastation, such violation, no one was willing to remain in the dark.  Kin and Garou alike used every resource at their disposal to find out what was beneath Cold Crescent and how the Beloved Horror had become so powerful.  They learned of the hidden levels and the pit, they learned that the architect who designed 1999 Broadway had also designed the Denver International Airport -- another place rumored to be host to strange and alient creatures in the underground.  The leaders of Cold Crescent were declared to have failed by the Great Alpha of the Sept of Forgotten Questions and removed from 1999 Broadway, the Sept of the Cold Crescent officially closed.
 
Lacking leaders who would guide them, or even speak to them, a group of Fosterns and Cliaths continued to patrol Cold Crescent, investigate the Beloved Horror, and study their rituals and the pit to see how this could all be stopped.  They learned at the Beloved Horror had made some kind of pact with Green Dragon, sending their own spirits into half-sleep in their bodies so that they could be filled with their totem's power, giving them their incalculable strength.  And then, attempting only to study it, they descended into the lowest level of 1999 Broadway.
 
The Beloved Horror was right behind them, but the young Garou were -- as much as anyone could be -- prepared.  They awoke the slumbering souls of the Black Spiral Dancers while also exorcising Green Dragon from their bodies.  They called upon the dead in the graves of Cold Crescent, offering them final vengeance.  They stopped the Beloved Horror from opening the membrane of the pit again.  And in the end, though they barely survived themselves, they killed three of the six members of the Beloved Horror.  The Alpha, Th'nak'vis, escaped with his Philodox Beta D'stok and the Theurge Je'nash, and have not been seen or heard of in Denver since.
 
--
 
Curved Sky and the other leaders of Cold Crescent were not spared punishment for their failure, though.  The Garou and Kin of both septs were summoned together under a crescent moon on November 1st, 2013 to witness their fates.
 
Hunter of Peace, Goddess's Silence, Keeper of the Land of Cold Crescent, was judged for abandoning his wildness and his instinct but given mercy.  He was sentenced to remain in Forgotten Questions for 12 moons, keeping himself in lupus, hispo and crinos only.  He would hunt to eat, seek a pack, and assist the Keeper of the Land of Forgotten Questions.  After thirteen full moons he would be free to move on if he wished.  Retribution's Fist, Master of Challenges of Cold Crescent, was ostracized for half a year, unable to remain in the protectorate and banished even from his mate.  Forge of Nótt, Ritemaster of Cold Crescent, was punished with the Stone of Scorn and the Voice of the Jackal and required to teach anything she knows without earning chiminage or renown until she showed enough honor to reclaim her true voice.  Warning Threshold, Warder of Cold Crescent, was stripped of his wolf until he atones -- knowing that he may never be able to.
 
Curved Sky, Sept Leader of Cold Crescent, confessed her deception and her crimes before the gathered Garou and Kinfolk.  She accepted the burden of all the lives lost and lives ruined.  After her confession, the Great Alpha and the leaders of Forgotten Questions enacted the rite of Gaia's Vengeful Teeth and harrowed the former leader to her death.
 
Not everyone agreed that these punishments were just.  But they were done.
 
--
 
It took many arguments and several months to convince the Great Alpha that Cold Crescent should be allowed to re-open, but those in favor succeeded.  Given the history of independence gone awry, it was decided by the Great Alpha that Cold Crescent would not have a separate Sept Leader but a 'Moonwalker' of sorts who would speak on the Great Alpha's behalf, serving as a liaison between the two septs.  The only Athro to throw his loyalty behind Cold Crescent was named the new Warder, and other sept leaders were chosen from among the (mostly young) Garou who stood forward to protect the urban sept.
 
There is more opposition against Cold Crescent than ever.  There is still a pit in the lowest level that must be guarded day and night.  Three of the Beloved Horror, though disempowered, still walk the earth.  But to those who call the city of Denver their protectorate, Cold Crescent is their home.

 

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