Wolves at the Gate

2) Behind Closed Doors

Lucian's Point of View

Well this should prove to be an interesting week…

My Alpha, J.J, left to go speak to, or gain info about the neighboring territories. And while he does that, his Beta, Vincint, is to take charge of the pack. It goes without saying that Vincint will use this time to attempt to “win us over” and have us vote for him as pack Alpha. While at the same time, not look like he is directly doing so, thus sparing him the fallout should he not gain our favor and we speak up to J.J. about the attempt. Interesting week indeed…

We gathered to discuss the next step the pack should take in making this territory presentable. We each had different opinions about what needed to be done first, but most of our ideas involved bartering with spirits. Ryven and I announced that a lot of deals needed to be made with spirits to get what we wanted without resorting to force, and we lacked a steady flow of essence to do so. With that knowledge, Vincint suggested we go and claim a Loci for our own. We have only found one so far, so he figured that our best bet was to wrest control of the church-bound Loci from the grasp of the local spirits before we tackle anything else.

Vincint then suggested that we split up. Raze was to shadow the trailer-park people as they left, to try and see if they convened somewhere together, while Vincint, Ryven and I were to head to the streetlamp Loci at the church.
We bantered at the idea, of a mind that splitting up was a bad idea. I personally felt that if we were to wrest control of a Loci, then we needed to be there at full force in case a fight presented itself. We were already a man short, not even factoring in that he was our strongest fighter. Why cripple ourselves further? Not to mention that people were becoming aware of our presence here. It was risky for someone to split off and go solo wandering through the street.

But Vincint would have none of it. He raised his voice and stated that his plans were laid out, and he was ready for us to challenge it if we thought we could do better. None protested. We would test out his plan, and ridicule him should it fail.

So we bided Raze good luck and proceeded to the church. Upon arrival, we shifted over to the spirit world. Luckily this time my pack mates were wearing the animal hides that Vincint made for them. Sure they looked like primal Indians from back in the olden days, but at least they were clothed. I still had on my Full-Body White Suit complete with a cloak and hood to block out the sun’s dreadful rays.

I looked up and saw my group staring at the church. I turned and felt the feeling of consumption that I felt before. But now that I was actually looking for it, I saw that the Loci was in the firm grip of some presence coming from the church. Vincint walked into the church, so we followed him. I couldn’t pinpoint where the presence was coming from exactly, nor could I see very well. Shadows seemed to plague the place, extinguishing the incoming light well before it should be able to affect it. Vincint suggested we return to the physical world and grab a flashlight. I told him that it would merely disappear when we try to enter the spiritual world. I told him I could dedicate the flashlight to him if he wishes, and he said aye. So we retreated back to the physical world.

We scoured until we found one, and I took a moment to dedicate it to him. Upon permission, I manipulated my blood in order to shift to Dalu, and then I cut him with one of my claws. Afterwards, I smeared his blood on the flashlight, drawing a circular pattern. At the end of the ritual, the flashlight absorbed Vincint’s blood, leaving no stain or other sign that blood has ever marred its surface. I nodded and tossed the flashlight to him. I made sure that the batteries were included in the ritual too.

I looked up to the sky, eyebrows raised in mockery. I shouldn’t have to do so, but some people can be dicks. So it was best to be safe, yes?

I returned my gaze to Vincint, a self-satisfied smirk on my face. Vincint raised an eyebrow, but didn’t comment on it. “Let’s return to the church, and grab us a Loci!”

So we proceeded to travel to the church in the physical world, shifted over to the spiritual world, and tested the flashlight to make sure god was Just, and not an absolute dick. It worked, so yay us! 

We walked into the church and flipped on the mighty producer of light, only to have its beam travel a few feet before it fizzled to darkness… Glancing around, I began to get this ominous feeling. I still couldn’t pinpoint the presence within the church. It felt like it was encompassing us from all sides, which had me worried. Perhaps the spirit was not residing in the church at all… Maybe the spirit is….

“We need to get out of the church, now! I believe IT is the spirit in control of the Loci.” The others nodded in agreement and moved to leave the church. Once outside, we turned and analyzed the church. It didn’t seem to breath or anything, but then again most spirits didn’t need to. “How do we proceed in dealing with a church?” Vincint asked.

I glanced sardonically at him, then turned to the church. “Greetings, Church Spirit. We have things to talk about.” Vincint looked askance at me, then his eyes widened when the Church Spirit responded. “Why do you wake me? What business do thou have with me? Speak!” I looked at Ryven, figuring it was best to be diplomatic before I proceeded to bully it into submission.

So Ryven began to discuss with it the need for it to release its hold on the Loci, lest her ill-tempered pack-mate burned down the church in the physical world to make the matter mute. She glanced at Vincint as she spoke about him. He didn’t fully understand what she was saying, her language of choice being First Tongue and all, but he smiled anyways in a not so nice way. I felt the Church Spirit focus on him, then dismiss him within the same breath. “The Were of whom you speak of is no Alpha. Why should I fear his word?”

Ryven glanced at me, then stated; “True, he is not our Alpha, but he is the stand-in Alpha while the true one is off doing business elsewhere. Until the time which our true Alpha returns, his word is law.” The spirit Chuckled, then retorted;

“I witnessed your pack entering this territory. I watched as you fumbled around, clueless as to how to proceed. True you managed to get your pack totem, but it was amusing watching you flounder on your journey even then. You have been here a week, and nothing has been done to show your worth. I expect your pack to die out soon enough. Until then, I await a worthy pack to come and do their dealings with me. Not you. You are merely a group of pups, fumbling around in the land given to them for free.”

I felt the spirit laugh. A truly horrible feeling. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was like liquid fear leaking from him, attempting to affect us all and remove our courage and confident. But it had the opposite effect. It merely made my anger grow. I Looked at Ryven, then stepped forward. My turn…

“What you say is true, but that is the exact reason why you should take us seriously. We have been trying to find a good starting point to set up our foundation, and rise up as a dominant pack. We are eager to prove to the world that we deserve recognition, and in our eyes, our hold on this Loci is the starting foundation we have seeked. So we are more than prepared to “Overkill” the situation to get what we wanted. It would be no loss to us if we lose a church to gain a Loci. Sometimes, sacrifices are necessary when looking at the bigger picture. Are you prepared to take that risk?”

It took that in for a moment, then stated that the people needed it. That its physical representation was a meeting ground for the townsfolk and none would be happy about us burning it down. Ryven translated this back to Vincint. He shook his hand and demanded that; “the place was full of lies and gossip, and perhaps it would be better off if he burned it down, since the spirit’s corruption was tainting it so.”

Ryven translated what he said, but I felt the spirit gathered most of it. It spoke to Vincint, Proclaiming that it consumed what was given to him, and that he had no control over what happened afterwards. Once translated, Vincint looked ready to make a smartass retort, but I spoke up. “It’s right. The essence it consumed morphs him into what it is. The Church Spirit is not one whom affects the physical world in a negative way; it is the other way around in this case. At least for the most part.”

Vincint got a thoughtful look on his face, and asked what would happen if he changed the atmosphere to the church. What if he made it a bright and fun place to be? What if he removed all the lies, gossip, and overall dark thoughts and shady dealings from the church? Would it change the resonance of the Loci in a way that would affect the Church Spirit in a positive way?

Both the Church Spirit and I voiced our affirmation. The spirit thought for a moment, then gave us his ultimatum. “I will lower my consumption of essence to 2 a day; the third is free for the taking. You will manipulate the environment of the church in a positive way, purifying the essence generated by the Loci. In return, I will protect this Loci from anyone else looking to scavenge its essence.”

Vincint seemed unsure about only receiving one essence a day, but Ryven pointed out that the Loci can grow exponentially. Even when the Loci has the possibility of generating 15 essence a day, the Church Spirit will still only consume 2 a day. AND he will protect the rest of the essences from potential harvesters. This is truly a great deal if we dedicate ourselves to make this Loci Grow.

I further pointed out that the more positive essence the Church Spirit consumed, the quicker it would affect him in a positive way, which was beneficial to us as well.

Vincint nodded, and stated he approved of this deal. The Church Spirit approved of it as well, and thus the oath was created.

We left on good terms with the Church Spirit, and began to head out. I walked towards the streetlamp, but halted when I saw Vincint walking in a different direction. “I want you two to help me arrange a negotiation with a spirit. I wish to know more about this China Doll spirit haunting our trailer park.” Well this should be interesting…

Dealing with spirits took a certain kind of patient grace that Vincint lacked. It also required a delicate mind game based on how you phrase your words and finding flaws in the spirits statements. But he seemed unsatisfied with the way we have been handling things so far, so why not let him see for himself? I adjusted the hood of my cloak, hiding my smirk as I followed him.

He walked up to a secret spirit and told Ryven to offer one essence to it in return for the knowledge of what the China Doll will NOT do. Ryven glanced at me, knowing that the amount he offered would get them nothing, and the way he phrased the question would get them an irrelevant answer. Smirking, I shrugged and motioned for her to go ahead with the silly request.

This Secret spirit was different than the other one I spoke to. It seemed a lot more… Creepy. Its voice and the way it enunciated its words leaving me feeling… mentally raped, if that makes sense. True to form, Ryven stated she was performing a deal with it for her stand in leader. She motioned for Vincint to step up. “I am doing this exactly how he told me to. Spirit, I offer you one essence to tell me what that China Doll Spirit will NOT do.” The secret spirit raised its nonexistent eyebrows, and accepted the essence. It turned to Vincint and motioned for him to come closer. He eyed us, and stepped forward. The spirit motioned again, and when he seemed hesitant, I proclaimed that: “He has been paid for a service. He cannot harm us until the service is complete, go to him.”

He eyed me, then got close to the secret spirit. To which it replied: “The ‘China Doll Spirit’ absolute and positively will not, under any circumstance whatsoever… Burst into flames when coming into contact of the sun!”

I laughed out loud, but Vincint didn’t find it funny. He snapped, grabbing the spirit by the neck and demanding answers. The spirit calmly replied “Secret for secret?” Vincint squeezed harder, and in a half gurgled voice the spirit repeated “Secret for secret?” I was laughing hysterically now. Vincint let up enough to hear him, upon which the spirit let out a sigh of relief. “I don’t even know why I did that. I don’t need to breath to speak. Ah well, you want a secret? Come closer.” Vincint shook his head, demanding answers, but the spirit merely motioned for him to come closer. Finally Vincint listened and moved closer. The spirit moved its nonexistent lips to Vincint’s ear and replied “Those pants make you look fat”

I was all but rolling on the floor at this point. Vincint moved the spirit away from his ears, and squeezed until the spirit dissipated.

My laughing immediately cut off when I felt the presence of the Creepy China Doll’s focus narrow onto us. I turned and saw it slowly making its way towards us. Vincint said “Alright! Let’s end this! Right here, right now!” But the second the Creepy China Doll opened its mouth and revealed its razor-sharp teeth, I took off towards the Church-house Loci.

Fuck. That.

Upon arriving at the Loci, I shifted to the safer side, and sat down. I felt something shifting over after me, but my tension eased when I saw it was Ryven. She was a smart one, too. We weren’t ready to directly oppose that thing. My outlook on Vincint becoming Alpha was waning. He was too hard headed, throwing us into situations we are not prepared for. But in all honesty, the point might be mute. It has been a few minutes, and he still hadn’t showed.

A few minutes later, I was in the process of suggesting Ryven call a friend and ask if they knew a Cahalith whom needed a new pack, but I paused as I felt Vincint shift over to our side of the gauntlet.

He… was not very happy with us. 

He chewed us out, calling us wimps and asking where our pride was. But he soon stopped when he realized his words were falling upon deaf ears. We felt our actions were justified, and thus, his words meant little to us. Irate, Vincint suggested we reconvene with Raze.

On the way to the trailer park, I noticed quite a few animal bones. Well maintained to the point that they were polished to smoothness. Interesting… I shall pocket these. I noticed Ryven gathering some as well, smart woman.

We met Raze at home-base, and he announced that though he was stealthy and erred on the side of caution, he felt like he has been… followed as he proceeded. He felt like something was stalking him slowly. He led it to an alleyway and hid for a good hour, but nothing followed. Nervous, he returned. It reminded me of the ominous feeling I felt when we were surveying the land. I didn’t like this. Not at all.

Vincent was a little more focused on the now, though. “That’s great. But did you learn anything about either the trailer park people, or the China Doll?

Raze responded “No. No one I shadowed really communicated with anyone or met anywhere. They attended to their desired task and then returned home without unnecessary confrontations.”

“Children are being preyed upon, and we have learned nothing to help!” Vincint’s annoyance and impatience grew. The frustration that none of his plans were bearing fruits tipped him over the edge, until he finally said: “FUCK IT!” and stormed towards a random Trailer in the corner of the park. He was banging on the door as we caught up with him. Well… this should be interesting…

Roughly 45 seconds passed before the door opened slightly, still on the chain. Vincint grabbed the door, and pulled it open… right off the hinges… The boom of a shotgun shortly followed the rip of the door. Oh shit!

Vincint was knocked back a step, but otherwise he was still standing, much to the gunman’s surprise. Vincint smiled, happy that the situation turned to violence I suppose? He grabbed the gun, and attempted to direct the barrel away as Raze ran up and grabbed the man himself. They tipped over and began rolling on the floor.

Ryven ran in and took in the situation. I glanced at the world behind me, then calmly picked up the removed door. I walked into the house, and turned to prop up the door where it belonged, sealing out the outside world and potential onlookers. A ping from a chair in the corner showed whom I presumed is the man’s wife wielding a pistol. By Vincent’s jerk, I assume he had been hit again. But upon closer inspection, I could see the hole instantly seal up, spitting the bullet out. I was sure none of the humans saw it, but it was still a risky move to reveal he was a Were like that. Ryven reached the woman, and wrested the pistol from her, motioning for her to sit and be still.

During the ground scuffle, I noticed the shotgun had been dropped and then kicked away by Vincint. I eyed the hysterical children in the corner and made my way towards them, jumping over the ground bound fight as I went. Once I reached them, I light put my hands behind their backs and demanded that the fighting cease at once. All eyes turned to me, and the fighting stopped. My allies knew I meant that not only were there innocent children in the room, but also the humans were unarmed and defenseless. Now was the time for questions.

The humans, on the other hand, were probably thinking I hat was holding the kids as hostages. I wasn’t, but if it got them to be still… I didn’t mind a little lie if it was for their own protection.

Vincint got up, and proceeded to empty the weapons of their ammo. Then he made a show of handing them back to their owners. “I am sorry about barging in, but we wanted answers.”

He proceeded to ask questions, which the couple evaded. They continued this dance while I turned the T.V. on for the kids, and flipped it to SpongeBob. Oh sure, that seems appropriate given the situation.

A few minutes had passed and still they danced to the tune of questions and vague answers. I finally got tired of it, and wanted to get the “show on the road.” I got up and left the crying children, to approach the group in the next room over. Their eyes darted to the abandoned children, then drifted to me. Their eyes widened at my ‘no nonsense’ attitude I knew I had on my face.

“Listen! Children are being preyed upon… YOU know what is happening to them, and yet you remain silent… Speak!”

I glared at them while they remained silent. They shifted nervously, uncomfortable under my packs combined stare. Finally the man glanced at his wife, and his resolve shattered. Seeing it, I harrumphed and moved to the kids to corral them into what must be their bedrooms.

As they entered the room, I tried to make them content and less stressed, while subtly weaving questions into the soothing. They were slowly relaxing, but not quite opening up to me. Before I could work anything meaningful out of them, Vincint called to bring in the children. I sighed, then smiled at them. “Want to go talk to Mama and Dada? They’re asking for you!” They smiled, but I could tell that it was empty. We walked into the living room and Vincint announced that the wife and kids were to be released. He asked me to walk them out, and I complied.

A few minutes later, they had bags packed and I helped carry them out while she herded the children amid waves of goodbye to their dad. I put the bags into the trunk, then shut it, simultaneously getting the licenses plate number. I gathered the scent of their car as they drove off, while getting the model and description of it. If it came down to it, I could easily find them again…

I went back in, and waited for the man to begin, but became apparently clear that he wouldn’t speak until his family was a safe distance away. I nodded at Vincint’s glance, asking whether or not I could track the car if needed be. Content with the answer, we settled in to wait. Unaware, the man visibly relaxed, thinking his family would be in the clear.

15 minutes later, he proclaimed “No more secrets…” and directed us to a computer. He showed us a webpage centered around Child Pornography. He unloaded upon us how the trailer park denizens were desperate for money, and had to resort to child pornography to get by. He told us his shame about the deeds they did to their kids to put food on the table. Vincint started demanding answers about Who the recipients were; How they went about the transaction, if the trailer park people went through the same source to get their money, etc…

But I was still dwelling on the first comment he made… “No more secrets…” That line was vastly important, but I couldn’t quite grasp why. So I mentally went over all the answers we acquired, and all the info we unraveled ourselves…

“They preyed upon children.” The ‘They’ could either be the Trailer Park Denizens, or the ones whom purchased the child pornography,
“They all know, and none of them will tell.” The they here is the denizens, and the thing they won’t speak of is the child pornography ring. Except someone did. He revealed everything, stating “No more secrets…”
The entire Trailer park was part of this secret. And it showed thus in the spirit world! The only spirits that the Creepy China Doll allowed to live is the secret spirits. And when Vincint attacked one of them, the Creepy China Doll tried to attack us in turn. It wanted the secret spirits to thrive. Perhaps because they provide a livable habitat for him to survive upon! That means if we reveal the secret to everyone, it would be starved!

As I tuned back in, Vincint asked if we could be excused for a minute to discuss among ourselves. I revealed the revelation I figured out, and They nodded slowly, letting it sink in. Finally, Vincint grew serious. “Raze, Ryven, you two contact the FBI and get them out here. Lucian, I want you to get the Media’s attention over here. News crews, Tabloids, Internet videos, the whole package! This secret is going live!”

And thus, the next week involved us being questioned, and questioned, followed by some questions. And then there was the questioning where they asked us some more questions…

I think they thought we were part of the porn ring, and were just ratting out the rest to save our own hides… Distrustful people…

When we Finally got a few hours to ourselves, we went to the spirit world to confront the Creepy China Doll once and for all. I was ready this time. We got to the spiritual side of the trailer park, and found the china doll. My ire died when I saw that it was merely inches tall. Vincint said “Scram!” and scram it did. We cheered and gave each other handshakes. I noticed Vincint bent down near a bush, but when I approached, he was standing. I raised an eyebrow at him, and he shrugged before he walked off.

We returned home then, waiting for church to start. I fiddled around with the bones I found, and realized they were rabbit bone talons! When used correctly, they summon a spirit that can deliver short messages to a recipient I am familiar with. That could be useful!

An hour later, we gathered with the rest of the people at the church. Vincint went to chat with the pastor while the rest of us blended in with the crowds. Disrupting the gossip circles and bringing in the theme of companionship and contentment. We quickly squashed all the negativity that presented itself, while we mingled to get to know the townsfolk. The pastor called for attention, and I saw Vincint on stage with his guitar. He played a song for the congregation, which brightened up the people’s moods further. At the end, Vincint talked with the pastor about maybe forming a church band. The pastor approved of this, and asked if anyone wished to join. I quickly seized the opportunity to be the drummer. I’ve never drummed before, but the thought of beating things up with a pair of sticks enthused me to no end! Ryven and Raze followed suite, offering themselves to the band. We went ahead and listed J.J. as the keyboardist, confident that he wouldn’t mind 

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