Wolves at the Gate

1) Initiation

Lucian's Point of View

I never should have gotten on that boat…

I sat inside a Gas Station / BBQ convenient store at a table adjacent to strangers whom I was supposed to live with for the rest of my life, apparently…

I don’t know what sucked the most; that all I held dear got stolen from me and I had to leave to start a new life, that I was forced to leave my previous pack and their leader who took me in and helped me deal with the reality that I was now a predator who was destined to either hunt or be hunted, or that I crossed an ocean and half the continent of America with an Elder Were, and was gifted a unique attire, only to be ditched in a grotesque land labeled “the dump” with a ragtag group of misfits, one of whom was a nutcase who keeps bowing to me and calling me “King.” I don’t even KNOW the guy, nor am I a huge Elvis fan…

Sighing, I looked over my “pack mates” discussing our first course of actions. The lunatic was a guitarist named Vincint. “With an ‘I’ not an ‘E’ The name is V I N C ‘I’ N T, got it?” I supposed he felt it made him unique or something, did nothing but frustrate me… The guy next to him claimed he was a pit fighter named Raze. Vincint kept calling him my “second in command” but we have never met before either. “Nutcase…”

The way Raze’s eyes kept shifting, and the way his fingers seemed to have a mind of their own lead me to believe he had a side job as a thief or something. Duly noted… The woman next to him was a social worker’ named Ryven. She looked calm and impartial to all things. Level-headed, I would say. If we came to an argument, I feel I could trust her to look at it impartially and resolve it accordingly. Next to her was this wall of a Were named J.J… “Justifiably Jacked?” I think so… Our pack was going to be the laughing stock of the ‘Were World.’ All we need now is a baboon or a chimpanzee as a totem…

J.J; “A pack totem is a great place to start.”

Wha…? Oh yeah, our first course of action as a pack… I mentally shook myself as they nodded in agreement. So a trip into the Spirit World was in order, and these four strangers were to watch my back in that unpredictable place, Goodie… We all subtly began glancing at each other, gauging whom best suited to lead us to a Loci, I’d imagine. Raze kept his head down and his eyes to himself, the last one was what I thought odd. He felt he was best suited to the job, but would rather keep to himself and hide his talent pool from us. Wouldn’t it be fun to nominate him and ruin his day!

I opened my mouth to speak, but J.J. beat me to the blow. “Raze, you lead us to the Loci. Lucian, once across, you are to track down a suitable beast to represent us.” I raised an eyebrow at him. Oh really?

Raze got up without comment and walked out of the store. We made moves to follow. I stretched, glancing down at my white, Full-body attire complete with a hood. It was a stylish cloak that provided the needed protection from the sun. I finished my stretch and continued after them.

We patrolled back and forth, following Raze’s lead in the search for the Loci. I’d assume he had no clue what he was doing, but I myself was having issues zoning in on one. Finally, Raze’s attention jerked, and he headed towards a church in the distance. I nodded, following him. Found it.

As we analyzed the old church, raze walked up to a streetlamp located in front of it. The actual Loci. J.J. and Vincint were having a dispute about us just barging into the spirit world, or one of us lead to scout ahead to make sure it was safe, as well as the course we take once in the spirit world. They were almost literally bumping heads, each trying to assert their dominance over the other I’d imagine. I am not much of an Alpha kind of wolf, but I will make sure I have a worthy alpha above me, or I will assist in removing him from his throne.

As they continued to argue, I shifted my sight over to the spirit world to see what was up. Once my focus cleared, my eyes darted immediately to the church. There was a feeling of… ‘consumption’ coming from it. It was eerie, but not a hazard to us at the moment. I shifted my gaze and saw nothing else in the area other than the streetlamp. I returned my focus to the physical world and tuned in to them still arguing over the danger of barging in. “I just glanced to the other side. Besides the church giving off this eerie feeling of consumption, nothing is an immediate threat to us. We can cross safely.”

They seemed satisfied, and looked at me meaningfully. “Oh, right… On it.”

I have shifted realities plenty of times before. This was nothing new. But I guess I was more nervous leading our group in than I thought, for my attempt to shift us landed me crashing into a spiritual brick wall. I recoiled, dazed, as Vincint just laughed. He walked forward, stared at me, then successfully shifted us over… Dammit…

I glared moodily at Vincint, only to have my eyes widen in surprise. While they argued, the street lamp seemed to literally hover over their shoulders, listening in. I tried to focus on it, but it shifted back. It seems like I can catch it in my peripherals but no more. The others noticed it too, for J.J. suggested we move on and talk elsewhere. I agreed, tugging my hood closer over my head.

As we proceeded into the spirit world, I heard J.J. and Vincint’s voices raised aggressively yet again. From what I gathered it looked like they wanted to settle this Alpha dispute right here, right now. I moved over to the side, away from the fighting grounds, and was soon joined by Raze and Ryven. Seemed they either didn’t wish to be Alpha, they didn’t think they could best the others in a fight and would rather not try, or they were slowly plotting to become Alpha using a less barbaric means of diplomacy.

But for now, it seemed that our Alpha would be whomever was the victor in this scuffle. I moved to where I could still glance at the fight, but also scan the surrounding area for unexpected company drawn by the noise. And I was sure that there would be noise…

Seeing no one else was going to join the scuffle, they closed the distance between them and started throwing punches. I watched them duke it out for a little, then got bored and started scanning the horizon. A few seconds later I detected a sharp metallic scent. Is that.. blood? I glanced back to the fight and saw that Vincint had partially changed, his claws having extracted and tasted the blood of J.J.

Who Brings a “Knife to a fist fight” so to speak? But it mattered not, for next thing I knew, Vincint was laid out on the ground, unconscious. J.J’s eyes drifted from Vincint’s, to ours. We bowed our heads, accepting his victory, and thus his dominance over us. Nodding, he helped Vincint up, and announced that Vincint was to be his Beta. I guess we can try this out for a while. See if it works out or not.

After another round of confirmations, J.J. looked to me and stated. “You are best suited to locate a suitable spirit to represent us as a unified pack. Please proceed.”

The power of an Alpha was surrounding the nicely worded message, demanding obedience without appearing to do so. A neat trick… No choice but to comply.

I glanced at the group, then slowly turned as I tapped into my inner beast. Tipping the scale of Human-Blood to Wolf-Blood to the opposite side. Causing the Wolf to override the Human inside of me, and thus, shifting the outside of me to match. I caught sight of a few of their eyes widening as my white pelt shone. Oh how I enjoy this. If my pack would allow it, then I would stay in this form forever. It was a lot easier to forget the past when you lived only for the now.

In an attempt to be mocking and show off, I spun in a few quick circles. Chasing my tail, so to speak. I figured that I would either receive a few laughs, compliments, or irritated comments, any of which I would have been happy about.

Except… What is that?

My nostrils flared and my ears shot up. That is an unusual scent. Very peculiar and somewhat… Unnerving? Like a skunk in a perfume shop odd. Not necessarily a bad smell, just one that doesn’t really fit in with the surrounding area. The very existence of it in this terrain was odd enough to grasp my attention, even though the actual smell was so faint that the barest whispers of it graced my senses…

I pulled out of my circles and darted towards the scent trail. I had to be onto a spirit that would make a striking statement about our pack. Just wait until we have it backing us, we might actually become a pack worthy of legends. Wouldn’t that be nice? For the first time, I had a little faith that maybe being ditched here could possibly be a good thing. I’d just love for all whom I had to leave behind to hear that I not only survived, but joined a pack whom made it to the top!

I halted at the edge of a deep ravine, not even realizing we had left the city proper a while ago. I glanced back appreciatively at my pack mates, whom watched my back as I completely zoned out, putting forth my full senses to the task at hand. “Thanks, sorry for zoning out” I motioned with my body to get the message across, and received amused nods in turn.

The scent resumed on the other side of the ravine, but I didn’t see an easy way across. Looking down, I couldn’t see the bottom, and it was a good 100yds across. After a questioning yip, I scouted a ways left and right of the ravine, trying to find a way to cross. But no luck. Upon returning, I heard them discussing possible ways to cross. Vincint joked around about simply being able to jump across. “It’s only roughly 100yds… Come on!” J.J. suggested he could attempt to throw someone over the ravine. “You may not reach the other side, but it’s a sacrifice I’M willing to make.” I chuckled, sounding like a forced pant.

Vincint suggested cutting down a tree and using it as a makeshift bridge. “Surely they look taller than 100 yds.” I turned to him and let loose a menacing growl, baring my fangs. “NO! These are not really trees, but the spirits of trees that reside in the physical realm… No harm will come to them!”

I don’t know how much of my message he got, with me growling and using body language, but he backed up from the tree and started discussing other options, so I guess it didn’t really matter. I heard Vincint suggest that Raze go Urhan and run towards J.J. so that J.J. can use his forward momentum to launch the lighter wolf across. Raze glared at Vincent and began stalking towards him, intent of violence in his eyes. I think Raze took the statement as “Go jump off a cliff”

I sat on my haunches and let loose a wolfy grin as the two neared each other. But just before they got in striking reach, J.J. stepped forward and demanded they stand down, immediately! They obeyed without question. Hell, even my ears went back and my head lowered submissively. His words were heavily laced with both the dominance of an Alpha, and the raw power of a Rahu Storm lord. Intimidating…

Uncomfortable, I turned to look down the ravine again. Now that I think about it, there are a lot of handholds along both sides of the walls. Perhaps we were to climb? J.J. stood next to me, and nodded his agreement. “Get ready to climb down, guys” I nodded, then regretfully shifted out of Urhan. Altering the blood in my body to become mostly Human, with a healthy amount of Wolf. Finalizing the shift, I felt my body change, growing taller and much more human-shaped, though still retaining some wolfish qualities. Urshul form.

Raze and Vincint had partial changed their hands to include claws, and they started down after J.J. Ryven and I were last. As I started to climb down, I began to think to myself…

Were we hunting this spirit, or were we being manipulated to follow it? The spirit’s scent obviously didn’t belong here, yet I was able to detect it’s fragrance when no nose should be able to. And I was sure the spirit’s trail went right across to the other side of the ravine, unhindered. Yet we were forced to climb down and back up it. Was the beast manipulating the spirit world to test our endurance? Our determination? Our will to continue on…

Caught up in my musings, I didn’t notice the handhold I was grabbing for was not at all sturdy enough to hold me. It ripped from my grip and I slung down, holding on my one arm. I panicked and reached up to save myself, but the attempt was too much for my other hand-hold, and with a snap, I plummeted to the ground!

“Ow…” I opened my eyes and just laid there for a second. J.J. and Raze were looking down at me, seeing if I was alive. I glanced at their faces, then looked past them. Above us, I witnessed Ryven lose her grip and fall down the ravine after us. I raised my hand to point it out, but she had already collapsed next to us. Vincint attempted to catch her, but she ended up just landing on top of him. They helped us up, then we started talking.

It seems they shared my thoughts that somehow we were being tested. But they brought up a different point. Where I believed we were merely having our tenacity testing, they went further with the thought and figured that we were being tested as a pack. A true pack helps each other no matter the cost. “A pack was only as strong as their weakest member” as the saying goes. We have been acting independently thus far, each doing our own thing to progress. Perhaps we needed to change that in order to progress…

So J.J. went to help Ryven, as Vincint stayed by me to help out. And together we all went up. But in all honesty, it bothered me that they felt I needed someone to help me climb up. I understood that we were being tested as a pack, but I feel that a mere accident on the account of me being lost in thought was the only reason I fell. J.J. was helping Ryven out, Vincint and Raze were staying back in case any of us needed help, so I felt it was time for me to prove that I was not a weak link. When Vincint reached down to grab my hand to help me progress, I accepted it, and used it to catapult myself upwards. As I reached up, grabbed a hand-hold, and physically leapfrogged up the ravine in a few great bounds, doing a front flip as I advanced over the edge of the ravine. (Very exceptional success. Rolled a 9, then like a 4 on the second roll.)

The rest followed up soon after and just gave me a look. I shrugged, as if to say “what?” Then shifted back to Urhan. Muuuuch better! I quickly caught the scent again, then continued to track it. I lost track of time while I followed it, but after a while, I felt a hand on my back, stopping me. I blinked, and looked up at J.J. His gaze was forward, and I followed it to find us back at the city where we started at. How…? I looked back and saw us on relatively the same path we took out… I looked at J.J. and shrugged. “The Spirit World is a mind-boggling place, huh?” He chuckled and continued on. It was then that I noticed that everyone in the pack but I had turned Hishu, and… they were stark naked. Hmm, when we get back home, perhaps I should dedicate some gear to them, for my sake if nothing else…

I caught up to the group and we walked forward. I traced the trail to a rather tall building. J.J. peered into it while the rest of us sat back, nervous about what we will find. Except for Vincint. Technology spirits bothered me, but either they didn’t bother him, or he was too clueless about them to be worried… Either way, he merely stroded in, and held the door open for us. Fair enough.

As we walked in, I quickly found they the place was pretty much abandoned. The scent sent us to a winding staircase, winding upwards. I looked at the elevator a mere 2 feet to our left, and quickly dismissed it. With how the rest of this journey has gone, I assumed we were to go up the stairs, and the elevator was temptation best avoided. The others must have agreed, because none bothered with the elevator as they climbed up.

We climbed what seemed like thousands of stairs, but time seemed to stand still. We didn’t grow tired, nor did my bodies seem to be repairing itself from my rather unhealthy fall. After what seemed like forever, but felt like no time at all, we emerged at the top of the staircase. I wasn’t even panting yet… We gathered around the door, and as one Vincent and J.J. opened it. We all emerged outside and saw… snow?

I blinked once. Twice. A third time…
And… One more for good measure…

Why were we at the peak of a mountain? I looked and saw the pack staring at me. I glared right back at the group, as if to say; “What? You cannot blame me for this. This is the spirit world, and thus, oddities like this are NOT my fault!”

I walked past them and continued to track the spirit. Further and further down the mountain we went. I noticed the group casually conversing behind me, but something felt wrong. I had put myself into a tracking trance. Step, Step, Sniff. Step, Step, Sniff. Rinse and repeat. But for some reason, I have come out of it prematurely. I stopped, and glanced around, to see what was up. I still smelled the spirit… We were still on its trail… I don’t understa-

My eyes widened and my ears perked up. Oh… The scent of the spirit was all around us. It surrounded our group completely. I almost panicked and told the group that we were about to be attacked from all sides, but the rational side of me kicked in. We were merely in the spirit’s territory. The scent surrounded us because the spirit physically lived here. There was only one spirit, not 20 about to mob us.

I altered my inner blood flow to shift into Dalu, and announced that we were here. Everyone else shifted into Dalu as well, and J.J. took the lead while I backed up. We eased forward, all fully alert, but we didn’t even see the spirit move. I heard J.J. cry out, and looked at him with an eyebrow raised, only to gasp and step forward… He had a Honey Badger attached to his side, gnawing profusely. J.J. reflexively swatted at it, knocking it off for the time being. Vincent, J.J., Raze, and the Honey Badger all prepared to square off, but Ryven and I stepped forward. “Wait!”

All eyes turned to us two. Ryven’s eyes met mine, and I nodded in agreement. Diplomacy first, threats second. And if worse came to worse, then we would result to physical violence. Ryven stepped forward and the Honey Badger shifted his gaze to her. She apologized for J.J. hitting it, proceeded to tell it the reason we were here. The Honey Badger stated that we were here to hunt it. “THAT is why you have been tracking me!! Is it not?!?!”

“No!” She cried out. Then she made it aware of our journey. She described the hardships we faced, the endless trials that tested our determination and tenacity. Ryven described how we started out as strangers thrusted together for convenience sake, but now we have grown into a working unit. We had become what a pack is all about! Now, we required a totem, so that we could stand toe to toe with the other packs in the area and hold our heads high.

“There will be fame and renown in it for you. We will grow to be a driving force in the world, and all will know that it is through your guiding hand that we are able to stay focused as we see our course through to its very end, no matter the hardships along the way!” Ryven proclaimed.

The spirit didn’t seem especially motivated to join us, but the fact that it lost all of its tension and drive to attack us said a lot. After a bit of thinking, the Honey Badger gave us its ultimatum. “You are to respect and honor me in every fight you get into. At least half of your members participating in a fight must taste the blood of your opponent.”

I relayed this to the pack, and all nodded in agreement. “You have a deal, spirit of the Honey Badger. Now grant us your blessing.” The spirit shifted its eyes to me, and I held his gaze. The spirit slowly started to disappear, its eyes staying til the very end to remain staring at me. But before they left with the beast, I felt a strange sensation take over me. I bowed my head as the spirit dispersed, granting us its blessing. And with that, any remaining doubt I had for my pack-mates evaporated. It was weird, my distrust evaporated, while my need to protect grew. With the acquirement of a totem beast, I felt the link between us strengthen. We were closer than family, united with bonds that no human could ever hope to comprehend.

I looked around at the grinning faces of my pack and couldn’t help but follow suite. We did it! “Congrats guys! Um… by the way, if you guys want, I can dedicate some clothes to each of you, so that you can retain them when you enter the spirit world and back.”

Vincint nodded and said “And if you guys need, I can craft us some pure leather that will also shift with us, though it doesn’t require a rite to do so. It just… itches… It will require us to go hunting, though.”

“A hunt is a great idea to get us closer united as a pack. Let’s go.” Proclaimed J.J.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ END OF PROLOGUE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We hunted throughout the night. We returned through the Loci at the church, where they all grabbed their clothes. While Ryven and I went to buy some necessities a household will need, Raze, J.J. and Vincent went to actually acquire us a house. I had no clue how they could get something within 30 minutes, but his phone call was right on time, and he gave us an address. Ryven and I followed it and ended up in a trailer park. Ours was the nicer doublewide house, but I use the word ‘nicer’ leniently. It was a mess, but compared to the rest of the trailers, it was heaven. We all entered, got our sleeping areas arranged, and crashed for the night.

I awoke to hearing Vincint confronting J.J. about this ominous dream he had. The rest of the house was awakening, so we gathered to listen in. ********** I WILL HAVE JOSEPH FILL IN EXACTLY WHAT WAS SAID HERE. **********

Well… that is rather unnerving… Perhaps we need to scout out our territory and see what we have to work with. J.J. agreed when I stated as such, and we were off.

I nominated to scout out the spirit world with my second sight, while they scouted out things on this side of the realm. We walked with them boxing me in, that way I could tell when we changed directions. And we proceeded like this for what seemed like forever. It was nearing dust by the time we returned home. In that time we discovered the entire place was in a state of poverty. There were also meth labs, Logging vs Tree Spirits, Nature vs Technology wars, A Creepy China Doll that will haunt my dreams, and many more issues that had to be dealt with. But something bothered me…

While we were scouting, I kept feeling this ominous feeling that some foreboding presence is encompassing our territory and much more. I feel like I should know what it is, but the knowledge remained just out of my reach… So it left me with a sense of unease as we progressed…

We had a small meeting about what we should tackle first, and no one really spoke up. But in the end we decided to hit the issues nearest to our home, and spread outwards. That would mean that the Creepy China Doll was first on our list, seeing as how it was present in the very trailer park we resided at… Goodie…

We decided to talk to our neighbors to get a sense of the community. There must be something here that is attracting the creepy spirit… But our efforts proved fruitless. We went to knock on the doors of our neighbors in the trailer park, but none stayed to talk. Either slamming the door in our face, yelling at us to go away from behind closed doors, or not answering at all… Vincint and J.J. wanted to simply barge down the door and demand answers, but we managed to contain them…

Vincint kept trying to get Raze to go Wolf to spy on the neighbors from under the house, but he simply ignored him. So Vincint said “fuck it” and did it himself.

J.J. Watched him settle in under a house, then decided that our best bet was to split up. Vincent had his job. Raze would work the streets, gathering information while traversing from group to group. Ryven went to study up at the local Library, and scour the Newspaper stands to get a gist of the local history / gossip. J.J. was to travel with me to the world of the spirits once again, but this time to converse with the Creepy China Doll. Aw…

We made it to the Loci and stepped through without issue. Upon arrival back at the trailer park, I saw the Creepy China Doll in person, and I balked. No way! Hell no! I am NOT talking to that! J.J. sensed that I was reluctant, so he offered us to talk to neighboring spirits to get the gist on the Creepy China Doll. I nodded, anything but that. I knew nothing about it, and knowledge was power in the spirit world. Of course, sharp teeth were power too…

So I lead us to the nearest minor gaffling and I demanded it tell us why the Creepy China Doll was here. But it calmly knocked aside my demands and stated. “Secret for Secret?”

I leaned near it and said “Ok. Here’s a secret. If you don’t tell me what I wish to know about that Creepy China Doll, then I will stuff your little spirit soul into this here pen. Got it?” It shook it’s head and calmly said, “Secret for secret?”

I sighed, and J.J. asked me what was up. I relayed the Secret spirit’s bargain, and looked at me like I was being stupid. “Well… tell him a secret then! We don’t have all day…” I sighed then reverted to speaking in the First Tongue. “Ok. So If I tell you a secret of mine, then you will tell me a secret concerning why the Creepy China Doll was here.” The spirit nodded, then looked at me greedily. I couldn’t help feeling a bit the same. I rather enjoyed knowledge. And it was all the better because it was knowledge that could unravel the mystery surrounding the Creepy China Doll. Maybe it would be less frightening then…

I glanced at J.J, then turned to the spirit. It leaned in as I stated; “When I was young, I had a traumatic experience that left me with the fear of drowning.” The spirit nodded eagerly, looking for more. “If you wish to learn what ordeal caused this fear, then that will cost you another secret.” The spirit grumbled, then said solemnly. “They prey upon the children…” he then walked off…

They… prey? “Who is they, and how do they ‘prey’ upon children?” But the spirit had left. J.J looked at me expectantly, and I relayed the message. He seemed bother by the statement. But alone, it opened more questions than what we began with. Seemingly unsatisfied, he stated: “Can’t you find out more about the spirit?”

“You can offer up one of your secrets to get information if you wish.” I replied smugly. He nodded then marched off to find another spirit. I blinked. Ok… He took my offer seriously. I moved to follow him but he motioned for me to stay put. Fair enough. Wouldn’t be a secret if everyone knew about it.

He returned a minute later and said “They all know, but none of them will tell.” I assumed that was the message he received, and not that no spirit would tell him anything. So They preyed upon children, they all know about it, and none of them will tell. Also something to note was that the Creepy China Doll allowed these Secret Spirits to live around it. I got the feeling that this information was important, but I had no idea how it was connected. J.J. Said “Come on.” And walked towards the Creepy China Doll. Whelp, time to confront it I guess…

I walked up to it, and it looked at me expectantly. I demanded to know why it was here, and it replied because the environment was right. “Plenty to feast upon.” I asked what it was that it feasted on, scared it would say the children. It chuckled in an eerie way and stated. (I CANNOT EXACTLY REMEMBER, SO I WILL TRY WHAT SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT) “Despair. Desperation. Fear. Shame. If you wish for me to relocate, then find a habitat like this one that is more suitable for me to move to, otherwise, you waste my time.”

I relayed to J.J. it’s demands and he said “suuuuuuuuuure… lets regroup with the rest to see what they’ve figured out.”

So we journeyed back to the physical world. I never expected my life to end up like this. Trying to bully the supernatural into fearing me and doing what I wanted. It was a rather drastic change from my formal life. I am not sure if I am comfortable with how things turned out, but I couldn’t dwell upon such thoughts. This is what my life is, now, and the best I can do is make it as enjoyable and happy as I possibly can.

But that was asking for a lot, living in this world of darkness…



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