Natural Spirits

Rank 1
Lesser Gaffling

Dunn Blue
Dunn’s Salamander

Ubiquitous throughout the forests and wetlands of Northern California, Dunn’s Salamander is a lungless salamander that feeds mostly on small invertebrates.

Linked to a highly successful species, Dunn Blues are fairly successful little spirits. The more rural the spot in the Hisil, the less likely you can turn your head and not see one of these dull blue little fellows scampering up a tree or out from under a rock.

Dunn Blues are quiet and opportunistic, feeding on nearly any spirit they can without becoming Magath. They will eat any insect or reptile spirit; anything except other Dunn Blues.

Their willingness to go outside their normal court or prey does risk some mutation, and it’s not uncommon to see a Dunn Blue with segmented eyes or more robust, reptilian bodies.

Masked Garbage Men
Urban raccoons

Humans leave a lot of food uneaten, so it’s no surprise that many entire species of animals have adapted to live off the discarded waste of mankind. Perhaps the most famous culprit is procyon lotor, the common raccoon.

Masked Garbage Men are the spirits of the urban raccoons so infamously ubiquitous around garbage bins at night, their long-limbed, not-quite-cat shadows stretched long in the lantern-light. They appear larger and rangier than flesh raccoons, their backs arching dramatically, eyes crafty and clever, their masks hovering an inch above their flesh.

These little spirits are opportunistic and aggressive, but they know discretion is the better part of valor. They know that humans fear raccoons not out of atavistic terror, but a lack of desire for an unpleasant encounter that ends in rabies shots. If angered, they flash their teeth and make their mouths froth. They like to travel in packs for security.

Used to a hardscrabble lives, Masked Garbage Men become grateful and affectionate if given uneaten, packaged human food. They know much that goes on in a city under cover of darkness, and are well worth asking.

Shinzō no shukketsu
Bleeding Heart flower

Lamprocapnos spectabilis, or the common bleeding heart, is a beautiful and distinctive flowering plant from East Asia. Dozens of soft buds droop from its long, arching fronds, each shaped like a red, pink, or white heart. As the spring wears on, the flower blooms by “bleeding” out the bottom of the heart, twisting it inside-out into a radiant bloom of another of those three colors.

Popular during the Asian gardening craze of the 1970s, these plants sprung up wherever hippies or western Buddhists have green thumbs (nevermind that such ostentatious flowers have no place in a Zen garden). Finicky and thus easy to control, these little fellows almost never grow wild, and their spirits are likewise well-behaved little fops.

Met in the Hisil, the hearts are larger, more vibrant and more pronounced, and jingle together to create soft, bell-like voices. The fronds move like arms in affected poses of deference, grace, and arrogance. They speak with mild Japanese accents, and when hungry, feed by splitting their heart-flowers into little toothy maws.

Shinzo no shukketso are self-effacing flatterers, who have largely seemed to miss having werewolves around to both clean up the spiritscape, and to chat with.

Speaker on the Stormwind
Black storm-petrel

Speakers on the Stormwind have angular wings and long, hooked beaks, and can be seen dive-bombing fish-spirits all along Hisil of the northern California coast. Like the black storm-petrels they represent, Speakers are keen-eyed and graceful, always delicately balanced on the updrafts from the sea.

Like all sea birds, storm-petrels see far, and while eagles are too proud to say what they’ve seen, and gulls too stupid to understand it, petrels are chatty creatures. Speakers on the Stormwind are aptly named, and many a werewolf has sought them out for gossip about goings-on along the coastline.

Speakers do like to be paid for their information; a bit of fish, or shelled mussels won’t go amiss. But they’re always squawking; just follow along behind one as he flies and he’ll tell you what he’s heard of late. But like many coastal bird-spirits, Speakers know that they live on the border of the spirit sea, and do not like to talk about the dark things they sometimes see stirring beyond the continental shelf.

Rank 2
Greater Gaffling

A rare Catalina Ironwood

Northwest of Ukiah, halfway up the Sierra Foothills, is a unique little copse of Ironwoods. Sticking out like a sore thumb from the low-rising white flowers of the Santa Cruz Ironwoods is the only Catalina Ironwood this far up north.

This Ironwood’s spirit, called Bark Unbreakable, has slowly been worn down by his neighbors into a shadow of his former self. Once, the proud sapling was the envy of the stunted trees around him, but they entirely hem him in, trap and entangle his roots, berate him with their constant gossip about his lack of flowers, his gangling stature.

Still, he is a proud spirit, unbowed even as he daily loses ground. He knows that one day, the Santa Cruz Ironwoods will choke out his roots and starve him to death, and would do much to push them back, but for now he behaves as if nothing is wrong, as if they are mere nuissances trying to deride his magnificent stature.

In the Shadow, Bark Unbreakable is even taller and straighter, his leaves all pointed out like blades to fend off attackers, his bark giving off a gray iron sheen. Still, when no one is around, you can hear the secret brittleness of his leaves, smell the slight rot of choked roots, and hear him gasp for sustenance. But he will never show weakness to anyone’s face.

Pacific Mountain Beaver matriarch

Unique among beaver subspecies, Pacific mountain beaver colonies are matriarchal. Highly social and organized, beaver colonies resemble little bucktoothed work crews, their matriarchs directing the labor of assembling their systems of sluices and dams.

The Gnawdam is the spirit of just one such mountain beaver matriarch, a fat, fussy little gray beaver with a shred expression and a tendency to chatter her teeth when angry.

The Gnawdam actually rather misses having werewolves around, since they kept the local spirits in check, just as she does with her colony. She wouldn’t mind if they put a hurting on the local weasel spirits, of course, since she doesn’t like them preying on her people.

Her true dream, of course, would be to dam off one of the streams that leads to the East Fork Russian River, which feeds into the Mendocino dam. Some few of the electrical spirits of the dam know this and, unwilling to let go of even a bit of water pressure, wouldn’t mind if someone took a bite out of Gnawdam and shut her up.

Rank 3
Lesser Jaggling

Rank 4
Greater Jaggling

Vito Vite
Negroamaro grapes

Vito Vite is the oldest and most powerful grapevine spirit in Mendocino County, and runs the Mafia-like Vite Family. While other Grapevine families in Sonoma and Napa are more powerful than the Vite, none have such a ruthless stranglehold on their communities. This is largely thanks to Vito.

Vito was actually “born” in the old country, as a planting culture of a renowned negroamaro vintage brought all the way from Puglia to Mendocino by the Brutocaos. He immediately began to outdo his progenitor vines in size and health, and helped make Mendocino into a second wine country.

That Mendocino is not nearly as well known as Napa bothers Vito Vite not at all. Black and bitter as his grape, he prefers a quiet, insular community where he can work unmolested by the petty concerns of tourism.

Vito is a harsh and merciless taskmaster who brooks absolutely no defiance or disobedience. Anyone who threatens his family’s dominance over Mendocino agriculture is dealt with, harshly and immediately. He then, reluctantly, plays the patient patriarch, and accepts the transgressor back into the fold. Well, the transgressor’s next of kin, anyway. No one who crosses Vito Vite directly survives.

Like all the Vite family, Vito appears as a powerfully built man in a pinstripe suit. He looks the most human of them all, with an actual head instead of a sprig of grapes, though his skin is dark purple and his eyes are constantly flowing cascades of wine. The pinstripes on his suit move like grapevines, and he has a sprig of negroamaro grapes cascading from his coat pocket.

Rank 5
Major Jagglings and minor gods

Rank 6+
Gods and Incarna

Natural Spirits

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