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Ashringa: 6 Horses of Fire= a Setting

Ashringa: 6 Horses of Fire= a Setting

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Published by Tamara Henson
Part 6 of my Ashrings Werehorse breedbook for Werewolf the Apocalypse. This chapter details the Death Valley for the World of Darkness.
Part 6 of my Ashrings Werehorse breedbook for Werewolf the Apocalypse. This chapter details the Death Valley for the World of Darkness.

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Published by: Tamara Henson on Mar 10, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Werehorses for White Wolf’s Werewolf: the Apocalypse
By Laura M. Henson © 2005
Werehorses for White Wolf’s Werewolf: the Apocalypse
By Laura M. Henson © 2005
Chapter Five
“Indian riddles, teleporting rocks, unidentified flying objects, Charles Manson-this area has had a lot more going foe it than merely the lowest elevation and the highest temperatures.” 
- Jim Brandon, about Death Valley National Park in “Weird America”.
This chapter is a sample setting for Ashringa characters set in thedeserts of California and Nevada. In it you will find all the information youneed to run a chronicle in Death Valley National Monument and itssurrounding areas. Death Valley was known to the Shoshone Indians asTomesha, a word which means “the ground is afire”, and it is a land knownfor it’s extremes in temperature, abundance of paranormal phenomena, andcolorful history.The Death Valley area includes most of the parks in the Great Basin desert. Laying between thecities of Los Angeles on the west and Los Vegas on the east this area adds up to 3.4 million acres of designated wilderness, an area of land that is actually larger than the entire state of Oregon! Within the park are ten named mountain ranges and several large valleys, many of them unexplored. In addition the sheer size of the area (the National Monument itself covers 3,000 square miles) ensures that several AshringaDwells can inhabit the setting with room to spare!Death Valley is famous for being the hottest and driest pace in the world. It averages only 1.8inches of rain a year and summer temperatures in the valleys commonly reach 128 F while in 1913 thehottest temperature ever recorded was 134 F -in the shade! In 1972 the ground temperature actually reached201 F, which is hot enough to boil water! At night it ranges from 90 F in the summer to a record of 65 F inthe winter of 1913 (and yes the coldest and hottest records were on the same year) and it often snows in thehigher elevations.
Death Valley’s History
Human History
One cannot truly understand this land of extremes without first knowing its history. During the lastice age Death Valley was a cool land of woods and plains that surrounded a large lake called Lake Manly.
Lake Manly was about 116 miles long, 12 miles wide and 600 feet deep. Beginning about 11,000 years agothe lake began to turn brackish and dry up, by 2000 years ago it had become a mere 30 feet deep. Today itconsists of the many, seemingly unconnected rivers, streams, and hot pools found throughout the park.Water (as you can see from the color map) is not uncommon in Death Valley. Indeed, one is rarely morethan 15 miles from water, the trouble is finding it! Many streams and rivers dry up in the summer or flowcompletely underground while others are so contaminated with salt that they are un-drinkable. Today theonly evidence that lake Manly ever existed is the extensive salt flats that cover what was once the lake bedand the unique flora and fauna of Death Valley, many of which are descended from aquatic ancestors.At least four Indian tribes have lived in Death Valley.The first of these tribes is known only as the
 Nevares Spring 
culture that entered the valley about 7,000 years ago. Other tribes were the
Mesquite Flat 
culture (3000 to 1 B.C.), the
Saratoga Springs
culture (900-1,100 A.D.), and finally the present day Piute speaking
Nation who entered thevalley about a thousand years ago. Today the Shoshone live in amountain reservation to the south east of the valley. The moderntribal members are essentially similar to their white neighborsand know little of their history and lore, indeed their last Shamandied out in the 1950’s.The first white men in Death Valley stumbled into the desert by accident in 1849. Several familiesled by the Bennett and Arcan (sometimes spelled Arcane) were on their way to the California gold fieldswhen they left their guide to take a shortcut. Twenty seven wagons went into Death Valley but only onecame out. On the way out the departing survivors of the Bennett-Arcan party stood upon a hill overlookingthe valley which had nearly become their grave. “Good-buy, Death Valley,” murmured one of the womenand the valley receivedthe name it bears to this day.Eventually some of the ’49ers returned to the valley in order to prospect for minerals. Prospectorssearching for gold, silver, copper, and lead were doomed to failure for the valley’s ore was too difficult to prospect in quantity. More profitable were those who came to mine for salt and borax. Borax was a popular cleaning agent at that time and the famous 20 mule teams were created to haul huge wagons weighing asmuch as 36 ½ tons from Death Valley to the railroads in Mojave. This trip took 10 to 12 days one way andcovered 165 miles. Several towns were erected in the valley most of them with reputations as dreadful asthe climate. The boom years were short, within five years a market panic scared off investors and the minesclosed. Today the only reminders of Death Valley’s Wild West days are crumbling ruins, rusting pipes, and pathetic holes dug in the rocky walls by desperate prospectors.The most famous resident of Death Valley was undoubtedly Walter Scott, better known as “DeathValley Scotty. “ In his youth Scotty traveled with Buffalo Bill Cody’s “Wild West Show.” eventually hemarried a woman in New York City but by 1905 he had left her to prospect for gold in Death Valley. Later that year he came out of the valley carrying suspiciously refined looking gold which he claimed to havefound in the Grapevine Mountains. Critics claimed that the gold must have been stolen but they never found any proof. In the contrary whenever Scotty came to town he caused a great uproar by hiring a personal train called “the Coyote Special” for $5,000 to carry him to Los Angeles, where he tied up traffic by throwing gold coins out the windows of his hotel room! How Scotty avoided the heat and deadlyquicksand of Death Valley amazed everyone and when asked all he would say was that the mine’s locationwas known only to him and his burro.In 1924 Scotty became friends with a shy insurance millionaire named Albert Johnson. Together they built a two million dollar Moorish Castile in Grapevine Canyon to the North of Death Valley. Thecastle was massive with a huge swimming pool, ancient medieval furniture, and even a clock tower! Scottyclaimed the money came from his mine but critics said it came from Johnson. When the Great Depressionhit in the 1930’s construction ceased on the castle when Scotty’s ex-wife and the old grubstaker (who hadfinanced his show business act) tried to sue him for a part of the mine’s profits. In addition the
Government, who wished to turn Death Valley into a National Monument, tried to evict Scotty. Scotty gotout of the difficulty by claiming that there was no mine (and indeed the mine has never been found) so hiswife could not claim a share of money that did not exist! As for the Government they were flummoxedwhen Scotty invoked the old homesteader laws to keep the castle. Scott and Johnson lived in the castle for the rest of their lives, still coming to town, throwing gold about, and making people wonder.Death Valley was designated a national monument in 1933. In 1984 it was recognized as aBiosphere Reserve due to its many unique plant and animal species. It was finally enlarged and upgradedto National Park status in 1994.
The History of the Ashringa in Death Valley
The first Ashringa in Death Valley were Nhurim who were the kinfolk of the
 Nevares Spring 
culture and the Arctic tarpan. These ancient werehorses opened the Grace of the Ancient Waters on theshore of Lake Manly about 6,000 years ago. As the tribes came and went from Death Valley the Nhurimstayed to care for the dwell. At this point the extinction of their horse kin combined with the disappearanceof Lake Manly and the actions of the prospectors caused the bão to abandon the Dwell.The prospectors did not come alone, however. With the miners came the “miner’s canary,” thelittle gray donkey, that carried the prospectors ore. The abandoning of Death Valley after the boom daysresulted in the abandonment of these burros into the park. With the burros came the Nimbi, includingWalter Scott and Albert Johnson. The two Nimbi used their connection with the Faerie folk to borrow goldfrom the Elvin city of Shin-au-av. When the government and Scotty’s wife threatened both the Nimbi’s andthe Fae’s safety the two Nimbi traveled deep into the Umbra where they not only awakened the originalDwell’s totem but also brought forth the spirit of The Great Spotted Roadrunner who was only to happy togive them advice on outwitting their opponents.Called by the feelings of fellowship from the newly reopened Dwell, the Nhurim came back toDeath Valley and joined their small cousins. Eventually, as the number of immigrants increased inCalifornia, the other bãos also came to the valley. Some of them promptly opened minor dwells in the greatwilderness but all acknowledged the authority of the old dwell and eventually formed the Tomesha Councilto govern Ashringa affairs in the United States.The American governments attempt to exterminate wild horses from the National Parks wasfinally enacted in the 1980’s. Between 1983 and 1987, over 6,000 burros, 87 horses, and 4 mules wereremoved from the park. The government claimed that the equines were overgrazing the grass eaten by bighorn sheep and fouling waterholes. When naturalist disagreed, pointing out that the sheep inhabitdifferent mountain ranges than the burros and that burros actually dig waterholes that benefit wildlife, thegovernment simply claimed it was attempting to make the park look the same as it had before the 49ers hadarrived. To the dismay of officials however new burros and horses moved in from the surrounding parks.Attempts to remove these horses however have been stifled by the Ashringa who hide the herds whenever aroundup is scheduled. Today, despite removal attempts, about 200 burros can be found in Death Valley andan unknown number of burros and mustangs inhabit the neighboring parks.
Flora & Fauna
The abundance of plant and animal life in Death Valley and its surrounding parks is surprising and, as if to remind visitors that this area was once an inland sea, alarge number of species seems more suited for a wetlands habitat instead of a desert.This is most obvious with the animals which include six species of pupfish, a shrimp,and a sea snail which are found nowhere else on Earth. In addition to physical life thelocal Indians also peopled the valley with many spirits, most of them of the faerie type.As for human life, it is mostly confined to tourists.

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