Wolves at the Gate

4) Dusk of Unity
Lucian's Point of View

Depression kicked in as we arrived back at the house. I’d give anything to just lay in my bed and not have to deal with anything today, but never was I that lucky.

“I know you’re let down about the Pastor, but we have problems we need to attend to. So guys, how do we proceed with the church? We have a pact with the spirit of the church that we have to uphold, and that will be tricky now that the pastor is dead. Any ideas?”

No one spoke, all still mourning our failure. At least I was… “Well fine! If you refuse to talk about the church, then how about this to clear your minds. I’ve heard word that Pures has been crossing into our territory. Testing us. I am to believe that they told the Ridden where to strike to inject doubt into our pack. If you refuse you deal with the church, then let’s go deal with the Pures!”

He shifted into Urhan, and took off. How exactly were we to deal with the Pures? Judging by J.J.’s past I’d assume we were to bully them out. I’d ask, but I predicted J.J. insulting me in one form or another… ‘We are going to have a tea party with them and ask them politely to stop killing our church leaders… what do you THINK we’re going to do with them?’ I shook my head, and shifted the blood within me to only encompass that of the Wolf. Nope, I’d just follow up on whatever we do.

As we approached the neighboring territory, we had Carl set up in a tree, with perfect vision of the clearing we planned to speak on. He nodded then sat back, riffle in hand, while we proceeded on without him.

I grew slightly worried as we neared the clearing. What if something goes wrong? What if instead of talking, they decide just to ambush us. We had no plan going into this!

I went to voice my concerns, but before I could speak, J.J. Howled, to let them know he was here. I whimpered, but otherwise I prepared to go ahead. We waited patiently, until a howl answered us. ‘Go away! We have enough crazies, we don’t need any more!’

…What? J.J.’s head tilted, then he prepared to howl again, only to stop upon hearing a man yell out. “Wait!! Come on in! But bring some BBQ sauce with you!!”

My head tilted to the side, my ears at odd angles while I tried to comprehend that. Was he crazy? Who invites the enemy to speak with you just because you needed… condiments? This must be a trap…

J.J. had a thoughtful look on his face, then I visually saw him say ‘Fuck it’ and motioned for Raze to fetch some. Alright.

We waited while Raze was gone. I went to ask J.J. what his plan was, but he shushed me. I assume they had eyes and ears on us. So we waited impatiently until Raze returned, bottle in mouth. With the sacred peace offering, Worcestershire Sauce, we proceeded into the clearing, where a Pure waited for us.

He stood in Hishu, completely naked, so we followed suite. Erm… We shifted to Hishu as well, that is. We retained our clothing, thank god. J.J. held out his hand for the BBQ sauce, and upon retrieving it, lightly tossed it to the Pure, whom merely watched it as it fell to the ground directly in front of him. “Did you just throw Worcestershire sauce at me?”

“To you, not at you. A distinct difference. The name’s J.J, we need to talk.” And thus, they began speaking back and forth to each other. Seeking information while trying to offer little in turn. After a minute or two, another pure walked into the clearing. He looked… like he was from Texas… or maybe it was Arkansas I’m thinking of… Yeah, he looked like a hillbilly, is what I was getting at.

He stroded into the clearing, and asked us where was his BBQ sauce. We pointed to it beside the first Pure’s feet, and he grunted in surprise. “Why’d ‘ou give it to ‘em? I was tha one ta ask ‘or it.” J.J. simply shrugged and motioned for the guy to pick it up. I noticed that most of the guys teeth were gone, the one remaining black as sin…

He grabbed the sauce, then started talking to us alongside the original Pure. This guy was a nutjob… But I could see in his eyes that he wasn’t as deranged as he lead us to believe.


He was, but he still had intelligence in his eyes, he knew what he was doing, and it bothered me… While they each held their individual conversations, I witnessed a third Pure show up from behind us, with Carl in front of him. Well there goes our ace…

Carl shrugged to us and stood with us while Pure number 3 joined them. Their spokesperson took a keen interest in Carl. Offering him a chance to join their pack if he so choose. Vincint quickly came to his aid, saying nope, this guy is with us. They kept poking at us verbally, and analyzed our reactions. This wasn’t going well at all, They were making all the moves, and we were simply reacting. And badly at that, I must say.

I stood there at a loss. We weren’t bullying them into leaving us alone, we were politely asking them to back off or asking them to sign a peace treaty or anything… We kinda danced around in circles while they simply walked by us, intent obvious in their eyes. But what WAS our intention? All I heard was that we were to ‘deal with the Pure.’ Not how… I am assuming that everyone is distracted, still mourning the loss of the pastor and our failed mission. I know I was… But this really wasn’t the best time to do so! We needs to get our form together quickly, or end this verbal onslaught early and pull out while we could…

I felt an arm go over me, and thinking it was a pack mate, I attempted to casually move it, still lost in my thoughts. But it stayed where it was. I looked back and up to see whom it was, only to see a woman’s face a good foot above me. Damn… she’s tall…

The female Pure began casually speaking to our group, arm never leaving me. In a show of composure, I allowed her to stay there, as I relaxed and put my arm around her as well. Determined to not show that her presence this close to me bothered me. Which it did. Not only was she a Pure, associated with these psychos in front of me, but she was also naked and hanging on me, well inside my personal bubble.

J.J. asked why they were all naked, and the spokesperson replied that they were free people, no need to be held back by the limitations of clothing. Ok… The woman with her arm around me lightly hugged me tighter, and asked if them being naked bothered us. I chuckled while J.J. dismissed their claims, ‘It was unorthodox, but not distractingly so.’ Vincint spoke up, saying it was unusual for a woman to walk around naked amongst man. “How is it unusual for a woman, and not for a man?” She asked. “Please woman-” Vincint started. Then they began discussing the topic, Vincint dipping into the sexism pool slightly, in an attempt to bother her I assume.

The Hillbilly walked up to Raze and offered him some type of animal covered in BBQ sauce… Where and when did he get that?!? Raze shook his head, causing the hillbilly to raise an eyebrow. “It’s ‘ood! Try it!” raze shook his head again, stating “I hunt for my own food, it shows weakness to have someone else hunt for you.”

“Well ‘en set it ‘own an let it ‘un around a lil, ‘en pick it ‘ack up an eat it.”

Raze shook his head, but I grew curious. “What is it? And is it still alive?” The man looked at his own BBQ covered rodent. “It’s ‘ot twitchin’ any’ore, So I t’ink it’s ‘ead now..” He laughed manically, revealing his one black tooth, then tried to hand it over to Raze, whom denied it.

J.J. looked over to Raze and said “Eat the food.” Which Raze Shook his head and denied, yet again. Damn… He just disobeyed a direct order from his Alpha while standing amid a group of enemy Pures… J.J. appeared taken aback for a second, but quickly recovered. “Then give it here!” He grabbed the BBQ covered something and took a bite out of it. I turned my head to look away, and made eye contact with the woman with her arm around me.

she looked down to me and smiled, asking me to take a small walk with her. I didn’t know her intent, so I was a little hesitant, though I didn’t reveal it to her. The matter was mute, though, for Vincint walked up and told her that ‘he didn’t want to go, so get off of him.’ Dude… I got this.. You’re making her think I need protection…

The Spokesperson Pure started speaking to J.J. about us. “Is she bothering your pack mate? I can curb stomp her for you if she is. Do you want me to curb stomp her? All you have to do is say yes and I will…”

But J.J. just shook his head, saying that wasn’t needed at all. His eyes met mine, and I nodded. I made moves to turn and walk, and she quickly matched my pace as we walked out of the clearing. We stopped a little ways away, out of earshot but still within vision.

We began talking. Apparently she thought I was unique, and wanted to know why. I assumed she was fishing for my weaknesses, and I was determined not to reveal any. Thus, We began a mind-game where she proceeded to ask her questions about me being “unique”, and I skirted around them, giving vague answers when needed. Once I felt her attempting to box me into a verbal corner, I smiled at her and shook my head. Game was up. I began to walk towards the camp, and she followed. She seemed slightly let down that I wasn’t speaking freely with her, but I cared not.

We arrived back at the Clearing, where I witnessed the Pures having their way with our pack. Speaking casually to get a reaction out of us, which I was sure they were mentally jotting down whatever information they felt they were gleaming from us. Seeing our return, J.J. shifted attention to himself while he made moves for us to depart.

“I just wanted to let you know that if we catch you in our territory, we are obligated to attack you. I fully expect you to do the same to us should you catch us on your land, as well. With that being said, I bid you adieu.” I nodded to each of their members, and then we left.

When we were a safe distance away, we shifted to Urhan and sped away. I dropped back into my mind to think, as we ran. That did not go well. From their perspective, they probably gathered that J.J. was the alpha, though we didn’t listen to him. I was the baby brother of the group that needed protection. Carl was a sniper without the proper training, Ryven was a wallflower, not speaking to anyone and just standing back by the trees, Raze was an undisciplined pup whom refused to follow orders, and Vincint… They probably viewed him as an open book, revealing all our secrets at the drop of a sentence from them.

But now that I think about it, it could be viewed another way:

They could think that we put J.J. as our chosen spokesperson, hiding the true alpha. Which is why Raze merely shrugged him off when he made demands to him. We could have put Carl in that tree as a test. If they found him, then they passed, if they failed to notice him, then it showed weakness in them, and they deserved to be sniped. They might view me as the Alpha, since I was the one in the background, though still taking part in the proceedings. And with the whole ‘Vincint rushing to my defense thing,’ they could view that as him being the omega. A pup whom thinks he needs to defend his alpha when the woman got too close. Me glaring at him might be read as my annoyance that he is blowing the plan, revealing me as the Alpha in front of them.

It was an option for them to consider, to say the least. Now they had to make a choice. Do they think we are a bad pack, selecting the first scenario, and risk playing into our trap? Or do they think of us as an appropriate challenge, selecting the second scenario, and making the safest play. I don’t know, personally. They seemed crazy, and might just pick scenario 1, trusting their individual abilities will thwart us even if it was a trap…

As we neared home, we all kinda just stopped. No one seemed to want to return yet. At a loss, I tried to think of something for us to do instead. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anything, it was that there was far too much to do and I was failing to prioritize which to do first.

Raze suggested we go claim the remaining Loci’s he scouted before, and the group seemed to think that was a great idea. According to Raze, one was in a Crossroad’s gas station towards the edge of our territory, the other was in a Library in the middle of town. J.J. suggests we split up into 2 teams. Vincint, Raze, and Ryven were to go to the Gas Station Loci, while the rest of us were to head to the Library. We nodded our agreement, then headed towards the church Loci. Once we shifted over to the Spirit world, we scattered.

As we neared the main part of town, we shifted to Hishu and continued. We arrived at the Library a short time later
As we walked in, I zoned in on a book display case. There were 3 books inside it. I heard thunder in the distance as a presence seemed to strangle my mind, yelling at me that they were not Twilight books. I didn’t even SAY anything. 

Shaking my head, I looked around. If I had to guess, it was the Librarian spirit we’d have to do business with. I pulled the group aside and asked them what information I should present to the spirit, as I assumed it would ask for some. But they granted me no answers, just telling me to gain control of the Loci. Great..

So I walked up to the Librarian Spirit and started to negotiate with her, only to be shushed. “This is a Library, keep your voice down…” Alrighty then..

So I began speaking to her in a whisper. I told her that we were the new pack controlling this territory, and we needed this Locus. I stated that I was prepared to be civil about this, so how can we go about sharing this Locus with her in a peaceful way? She asked if I had a Library card. I raised my eyebrow and stated that No, I didn’t. But it shouldn’t matter.

After much discussion, I finally agreed to get a card, and she handed me a blank piece of paper and a pen. “Sign.” I took a few steps away from her and glanced at the paper. I could tell that once I signed my name, information would appear on it, like a ‘User’s Terms of Agreement.’ I walked out of earshot of the Librarian Spirit and the others followed. I then handed the paper and pen to J.J.

“You’re the Alpha, so you should be the one to sign it. Once signed, information will appear on the paper.” He looked at me, and called me a coward, saying I was just scared and didn’t want to sign it.

“Not at all, Alpha. I am but a minor member of this pack. If the information on this paper will affect us all as a pack, then it needs to be the Alpha, not a minor member, whom signs it. I will be happy to sign the paper, with your permission, assuming you choose not to sign it.”

H just stared at me, then signed the paper. I couldn’t help the smug feeling that enveloped me. Information appeared on the paper. J.J. held it up to read it, finally handing it to me. “Read it out loud in English…” I smiled then accepted the paper. Upon reading it, we discovered this place was like a bank of sorts. You borrow essence, then pay it back within a week. A loan. J.J. disagrees, and rips up the card, demanding I make a better deal with the Librarian Spirit. So I ask for us to have a group meeting.

We discuss the options available to us. I can tell that the Loci is small, granting maybe 3 essence a day. I state that I could work it so we get:
1 essence a day, and do a minor task.
2 essences a day, and do a major task(s)
Or 3 essences a day, and I’d have to see what that would cost us.

J.J. shook his head, saying we already owed too many favors, and didn’t have enough essence income. He wanted me to get us access to 3 essence a day. With no task required. I laughed. “That leaves us with two options, then. We storm the place and take the Loci by force, or we tell them we are taking over the Loci. They can stay here under our protection, but the essences is ours alone.” I was joking, naturally, but J.J. said either one works for him… Oh shit. He was serious? But the Alpha already gave his command. I sighed, and nodded.

We break, and I walked up to the counter. I looked the Librarian Spirit dead in the eyes as it looked up. Intimidation pouring from me. I give it the two choices, and advise them to consider the less brutal one. The Librarian Spirit said: “Ok. By any means, we don’t want trouble…”

I looked around, sensing malice coming from all the spirits around us. They weren’t giving up, they probably planned to steal the essence out from under us every opportunity they could. We’d see how long that lasted. J.J. checked the Loci, determining that it was empty. He joined up with Carl and I, and together, we walked out of the Library.

We traveled to the Church-bound Loci and shifted over, finding the rest of the group waiting there. It turns out that Vincint roweled up the whole place, trying to pick a fight with them. He almost botched the mission, but Ryven saved it, making a deal with the Commerce spirit after Vincint got told to take a walk. Seems Vincint and I should have been swapped. I fitted better with the peaceful group while he fitted with the group whom wanted to thrash the place.

According to Ryven, We got 2 essences a day from the Loci, but we were to give it a unique essence each week, in addition to the 1 essence it gets a day from the Loci. Manageable. We decided that we needed to step up patrols, to accommodate for the Pure pack as well as monitoring the Library Loci. Seemed we were to put 2 on patrols while 4 stayed off. I’d prefer for it to be 3/3 or maybe 4/2. Less gaps for the Pure to slip by us. Not to mention that we had to watch the spirit side as well as the physical, since I’m sure that’s how the Pure will choose to invade us.

We really needed to have a chat, now that I think about it. We are slouching as a pack, and people are starting to walk over us. Everyone wanted to be called Alpha but none seemed to want the duties that came with the Title. While at the same time, we are showing a lack of respect to the title of Alpha. I think it’s time We all sat down and had a long talk.

But before we do so, I wanted to gather some information on the Pure pack. So I broke off from the group and went to return to the spirit world. I’d find out who it is that threatens us, then I will have a nice, long chat with my allies…

3) Dawn of Doubt
Lucian's Point of View

Well… J.J. is pissed…

He returned from his scouting, not too happy about the media circus. And he went downright ballistics when he heard that we not only practically formed a band, but also listed him as a keyboardist. Guess he was a guitar kind of guy or something…

He has been drilling us for the past thirty minutes. And I felt that it might have lasted twice that, but his harangue cut off as we all looked into the distance. Raze, out on patrol, was softly howling. It wasn’t a sign to alert us of danger, it seemed more… questioning? Something was amiss, and he wasn’t sure why.

He approached a few minutes later, and informed us that he felt a spiritual disturbance at a compound near the border of our territory. They were excited about something. J.J. looked at Ryven and me, and motioned for us to go check it out.

We nodded, then simultaneously shifted the blood in our body to go full Wolf. We turned and darted off into the woods, looking like Ying and Yang.

We stepped over to the spirit world through our loci, nodded to the church spirit, then moved off in the direction Raze mentioned. As we neared the compound we noticed spirits darting about. I analyzed them for a few seconds and didn’t see anything necessarily trying to harm them.

We reverted the blood in our bodies to shift back into Hishu, and walked into the clearing. I saw one spirit kinda off by itself and I approached it. It looked up at me expectantly, and I smiled at it. “Greetings, I offer you an essence to inform me of the conflict that caused you spirits to gather in mass.”

It nodded and accepted the essence. “We are gathered because Luna is blessing someone and there will be an explosion! She is…. Wait… Did you say conflict? I didn’t know about the conflict… What kind of conflict is it?!? Is it a fight? Oh man I bet it’s a fight! FIGHT!!! AN ALL-OUT SLAUGHTER! WAR IS UPON US!!! AHH!!!” And it stormed off, screaming hysterically.

I blinked once… Twice… A third time… Annnnnd… once more for good measure. “What in the hell just happened?” I looked over at Ryven, but she wore a dumbfounded, shocked expression on her face that I knew must have matched mine perfectly. My gaze slowly drifted to the other spirits darting around, and realization hit me. “That must have been a Lune… Damn, I forgot how crazy they were.” I needed to clear my head, and stay mentally focused when I negotiated with the next one.

I shifted my cloak, and started to head towards another Lune, only to notice the absence of footsteps accompanying me. I turned, and saw Ryven still staring where the Lune had been before it darted off. “Ryven?” Slowly she turned her head towards me, and then she began to follow.

We approached the next Lune and it glanced at me hesitantly. “Hello, I offer you an Essence to tell me what caused you Lunes to gather.” This one accepted the essence as well, and I mentally braced myself as it spoke:

“Luna is blessing someone, yes she is! Not only that, but someone is about to EXPLODE! Also, did you hear about the fight? A total war was happening somewhere!” It slowed down it’s verbal tirade and eyed me. “You are not part of the fight, are you?”

I quickly dismissed the claim, and tried to steer him back to the topic at hand. But somehow it got into a conversation about a guy named Carl who makes a mean grilled cheese, and asked if I knew him. Finally I managed to get him back on track:

“Oh, yes. Everything in the physical world has a matching spirit in the Spiritual world. Yup, yup. Everything, that is, except humans. No, humans carried theirs around with them. Queer creatures… yes, they carry them around with them, and sometimes they grow. Grow and grow and grow! They grow until it reaches the point where they explode! A lot like you did, yup yup.”

Say wha…? I glanced at Ryven, but she was at a loss, still dazed by the previous Lune I’d imagine. I looked back at the Lune. “I… I exploded..?”

“Oh yes. Yes! Big bang, lots of blood afterwards. I got pictures, wanna see?” At my nod, it looked dismayed and stated that it didn’t really have them. And then it went on and on about camera phones not being cherished enough to make spirits, unlike cameras in the olden days. No… they were amazing with all the attachments and-

I was mesmerized by his speech, but in the back of my mind it felt like J.J. was screaming at me to get him back on track. I shook myself, ashamed of my mental lapse. But looking at Ryven, I guess I wasn’t the only one.

“You were saying something about an explosion..?”

It looked at me, then continued with the original topic. He explained that some humans explode, like me, then anger and violence occurs, Usually followed by deaths…

Seems very familiar… I had a hunch what was happening, and after bidding the Lune farewell, I left with Ryven in tow. We shifted to Urhan, then left to talk to the group. After that, I think we needed to each go somewhere quiet to clear our heads. Lunes…

We arrived back at ‘home-base’ and the pack confirmed my suspicions when I relayed the details of my day. Someone was about to make their first change. And since it was in our territory, it was our responsibility to deal with it. As they discussed the news, I took my leave to go meditate in quiet under a tree. After communing with Lunes, I needed to clear my head.

Blessed silence… I sat there in a peaceful state of tranquility. Birdsong a pleasant backdrop noise. Normally I disliked falling back from the world and retreating into my mind, lest I drown myself in my painful past. But this blissful state of in-between nothingness was alright. It removed the need to think. I could ignore all the problems surrounding us and just be me. To just sit here and exist was enough for me in this state of mind. ‘There was only one issue with it’, I thought, as footsteps intruded and broke my meditation. “It never lasts…”

The pack appeared and said it was time to go. Together we left for the compound, me in a much better state of mind. They informed me on how they planned to deal with the aftermath of the future Uratha after it changed, then they began conversing among themselves. Even that dwindled down to a brooding silence after a bit.

I began to think back upon my first change. It was a traumatic experience that left scars upon my life. I believe the attack on my family that night caused me to shift earlier than expected, not having help from the territory’s Uratha pack until after I killed all in the vicinity. That was not going to happen this time. I was going to make sure this one was assisted even before the shift came.

We arrived at the compound, and scanned the area. The ‘target’ was standing on guard, alone and looking mad at the world. Good, we’d made it. J.J. and the rest shifted to Urshul, but I remained as Hishu, should conversations prove mandatory.

I glanced at him. He was military, and he looked the part. I waited until his gaze shifted, and walked out and stood in one of the entrances to the compound, in perfect view of him should he look. I stood slightly sideways, with the wind blowing my cloak. J.J. howled in the background. An eerie backdrop to the moonless night.

The target’s eyes shot towards the sound and his eyes widened upon finding me there. I lifted my hand towards him, as the rest of the pack stalked forward, standing around me. The target’s face filled with absolute and utter terror and took off. I wondered how we looked exactly, considering he was military grade and still not only broke his composure, but took off rather than fire at us.

The dire-wolves around me took off, and I ran forward. I leaped off a ledge and completely shifted my blood to only contain Wolf. I left the ledge on two feet and landed upon the grass on four. I took off, to catch up with my allies.

I caught up to them shortly after, and noticed the target was also in Urhan form. I completed the box we had around him, and we ran with the guy, content to stay with him until he passes out from exhaustion. Much like how the Uratha pack had done with me.

After a while, he slowed down. Exhaustion taking over as he lied on the ground, panting. We stood over him as his consciousness slowly lapsed, shifting him into Hishu.

J.J. looked at him then announced that we were to camp here until he awoke. “Get the lad a blanket, then make yourself comfortable. Raze, you can continue your patrols, then meet back at the house.”

After we covered the Military-Man and set up a makeshift camp, I Shifted into Urhan and lied close to the guy, keeping watch over him. I wasn’t really ordered to, but being this close to the borders bothered me greatly. But it proved unnecessary, because he awoke about an hour later.

I raised my head, as the Military guy stood up, sporting a blanket. Irrationality was obvious on his face, as Vincint attempted to rationalize to the guy that the world is occupied by far more than he ever knew. Oh goody…

I stretched and padded nearer as Vincint went on this long, complex monologue that had me confused, much less leaving the new guy at a complete loss. J.J. stepped in and gave him the neat, short description on how his life has changed. The guy looked bothered. That was good. Hysterics showed his mind couldn’t comprehend the unnatural. Choosing the comfort of a lie rather than trying to rationalize the truth. Being bothered was a rather nice reaction that showed his military training. But under it all I still saw a trace of doubt.

He introduced himself as Carl, and everyone else introducing themselves. Once it got to my turn, I calmly walked towards him. Once I had his absolute attention, I shifted all the blood in my body to go full Human. The guy’s eyes widened as the snow-white wolf altered form, slowly contorting until I stood where it was in my full body White attire. “… And I am Lucian. A pleasure to meet you. Are you perhaps the Carl that makes fantastic Grilled cheese for crazy Lunes?”

He didn’t answer, nor did he make a move to shake my hand, figures.

Over the next half hour, I helped clear out the signs of our camp while J.J. taught Carl the basics of being an Uratha, and thus the importance of being in a pack. “I will allow you to join our pack, seeing as how you shifted within our territory. You do not have to join us, though. The compounds are close to the neighboring Pure pack. If you wish, you can stroll over there and see if they either induct you into their pack, or kill you. I’d pray for the latter, if you ask me…”

Carl accepted the offer to join us, and together, we returned home.

Upon arrival, we showed him where he was to sleep. And then we passed out.

The sound of hammering caused me to awaken. I glared at Vincint as I walk into his room. “Who remodels at noon-thirty..? People are trying to sleep!” Vincint shrugged, then grabbed a pair of animal hide clothes he made during our last hunting trip. Walking past me, he gave them to Carl and explained the laws of shifting and the usefulness of natural animal clothing. Carl questioned why I was exempt from the rule, and I started explaining about my rituals. But partway through the conversations, the lights suddenly turned off…

“Be right back guys, I have to go kill some guy at the light company…” J.J. called, then walked out the door. Goody… But a minute later, we were called outside. Upon arrival, I saw an axe stuck through the power box… Why would someone DO that..?

Raze pulled out the ax and attempted to pinpoint the scent of the attacker. J.J. looked at us and spoke: “Carl and I are to return to the compound and grab his gear. The rest of you, follow the scent trail.” At Raze’s nod, we split into the two groups and left.

We followed Raze as he tracked it to the end of our territory, where it continued onto the next. After a small discussion, we realized we had no clue whom’s territory we were about to enter. So Ryven howled to get J.J.’s attention. We conversed casually while waiting for the two to join us.

J.J. and Carl appeared, and as they joined us, J.J. looked off into the distance. He knew immediately why we called. “That is someone named Phase’s territory. I don’t know much about him.” And with that illustrious description, we ventured into the next territory.

After a bit of walking, Raze lead us to a big city. Oh sure, we live in the dump, and maybe an hours walk from us is this huge city with a nice, quiet community. So unfair…

A short ways in Raze announced that tracking the scent is nigh impossible from this point on. While we were discussing our next course of action, both Vincint and I spoke at the same time, with the same idea leaving our mouths. “We should introduce ourselves to the territory’s leader and ask his opinion him upon the matter.” J.J. nodded, and we made our way into the city. Asking around lead us to a predominately empty bar, containing only us and the barkeep. There was a set of stairs on the opposite wall, leading up to a second floor.

Vincint shrugged, and walked up to the bar, ordering a brew. His face slacked with contentment upon consumption. Curiosity won over, and we followed suite. The guy didn’t even I.D. me. Either he was an indifferent human, or he knew I was more than my appearance revealed. Either way, the brew was excellent.

J.J. walked up to the barkeep and demanded to talk with the patron of the bar. The barkeep remained calm as he rejected the demand. “The man you seek will be down in 30 minutes. I will have to ask for you and your party to wait down here until that time arrives.

J.J. shook his head, then predictively grabbed the guy buy his shirt and made his demands again. Finally the guy looked at him, and shrugged. “You may proceed if you wish.”

J.J. smiled, and sat the guy down. Patting him on the back as he made his way to the back. Upon reaching the base of the stairs, he stopped. He stood there for a few seconds, then returned to sit beside us. All eyes were on him as he said: “It’ll be rude to wake him up prematurely. We’ll wait the 30 minutes, like the nice barkeep asked.” What sorcery is this? But J.J. just sat back, consuming his brew. Okay……

So we waited until a man descended the stairs, stopped at the bar, and began to eat a plate of eggs that the barkeep handed him. Odd considering we have been here for the last 30 minutes and never saw the guy make any. Were they made before then? Ewwww…

But as I focused in on the guy stuffing himself with the eggs, my eyes widened. He had energy simply pouring from him. I glanced at the party, seeing that none seemed to notice. “Guys-” I warned. “The man has energy practically leaking from him. We need not to be foolish in our discussion with him…”

J.J. smiled, then suggested that: “Perhaps I’m not the best man suited to talk with the man, then.” I barely caught my laughter in time. Yeah he had a point… So we got up and converged onto the guy.

We introduced ourselves, and when asked for his name, the man stated. “Many have been killed seeking the very information you ask. No, my name is knowledge that I shall keep to myself. Though, you may call me ‘Phase’ if you desire. Most do.”


We told the guy why we were here, describing our current situation about the attacker fleeing into this territory, and everything else we considered ‘need to know’.

Phase nodded, then stated that he sanctioned the attacker as much as he sanctioned us. There would be NO fighting while in his territory. If we could come up with absolute proof that revealed whom the attacker is without question, then he would deal with it personally. Otherwise, we were to investigate or leave.

J.J. nodded, then motioned for us to leave. We thanked Phase and said our goodbyes. As we walked out of the bar, J.J. suggested we run home, grabbing Carl’s gear along the way, then figure out what to do next. “Odds are we won’t find answers here…

I was told to stay out of sight when we arrived at the compound. Apparently my attire attracts unnecessary attention… Well who asked you!

Carl returned a few minutes. He answered our hail, but he seemed to be mentally distracted. Brooding over his past life, perhaps? We headed back in silence, showing respect to the loss he had recently suffered.

As we returned to the trailer park, we entered a random house to discuss our future in an air conditioned house. We went over many plans. From grabbing a random electric box and replacing ours with it, thus catching the perp in the act; to retracing the perp’s tracks, asking spirits if they were coherent and curious enough to be paying attention at the time of the vandalism… yeah that was dropped pretty quickly…

Upon discussing watching the house from the spirit world, someone suggested getting “Jaws Like a Vice” to watch it. Carl looked at us questioningly, and it dawned upon us that we never truly inducted Carl to the pack. Seems a trip to visit him was in order. Off we were to the Church-bound Loci then!

I was slightly worried about bringing Carl too deep into the spirit world this early, but my musings proved fruitless. Jaws Like a Vice must have senses our need of him, for he was waiting for us as we shifted over. J.J. hailed to him, then lightly pushed forward an understandably startled Carl to the bear-sized honey badger. “Greetings, Jaws Like a Vice, Meet Carl!” The honey badger eyed Carl; “You brought me food?”

J.J. blinked, and pulled Carl back slightly. “Uh, No. This is Carl. He experienced his first change like twelve hours ago. We would like to take him as our own. To induct him to our pack!”

“You wish me to bite him to induct him to the pack?”

“No biting desired, no…”

“But I want to bite him…”

They continued like this for a time, a rather bothered Carl between them. Finally J.J. said “-Fine. Bite him if you wish.”
Jaws Like a Vice Walked up to Carl, who predictive dodged back when the bear of a honey badger attempted to bite him. Jaws Like a Vice looked back at J.J, then began to question his integrity, Since one whom he wanted to induct refused to ‘follow simple orders.’

J.J. went to argue the point that while he said Jaws Like a Vice could bite Carl, he never said that Carl couldn’t dodge. “Him evading your jaws is all on you.” Jaws Like a Vice snarled, then pounced Carl. Carl tried to jump back, but he gasped as his side was ripped open by Jaws Like a Vice.

The Honey badger jumped off Carl, and walked towards J.J, Carl’s blood still on its tongue. Carl was panicking as he saw his side laid open. A faint oath escaped his lips as he witnessed his wound starting to stitch itself up. Upon which he just stared at it with wide-eyed amazement.

Jaws Like a Vice stood in front of J.J. and tasted the blood soaking his tongue. After a small amount of time, The honey badger proclaimed that Carl was alright, and had his blessing. We nodded our thanks and bided Jaws Like a Vice farewell, pulling a bemused Carl behind us. Him still absorbed in his rapidly healing side. We shifted over, and headed back to the Trailer park.

No one was really in the mood to discuss more plans, so we decided to simply invoke one already thought up. In the end, we settled on using bait. Replace the Electric box, set up sentries in both worlds, and perhaps catch the perp in the act of doing it again.

While we were getting everything ready, we heard a knock on the door. We looked up, startled. We were in a random house, not our own. There is no one policing the area. So whom is knocking? J.J. walked to the door, us right behind him. He opened it, and revealed a guy holding a miniature white board with the picture of a bunny on it.

My eyebrow rose… Jehovah Witness, perhaps? ‘I would like to use this time to ask you if you’ve met our lord and savior, Bunny Crist.

I backed up, barely containing my laughter. Oh god, I’m going to hell…

Vincint seemed bothered by the picture, but the rest seemed merely confused. The man began writing on the white board, then revealed it. ‘Hi’

Was he a mute? Or was he insulting us? At the obvious silence, he went and started writing on the whiteboard again. Revealing to us that he knew someone is hunting us, Which J.J. replied Duh. The Man stated that it was a Ridden, which immediately caused me to perk up. A ridden is a spirit whom invaded the physical world and hijacked a human body, essentially ‘riding’ them. He was either a human hunter, or perhaps he was some supernatural like I.

He was still writing on his white board, stating that he knew not where the beast laid hidden, lest he would have eradicated it already. It dawned on me that he was an Uratha, taking it upon himself to banish the spirits from this side of the lines.

Nodding, I looked to Raze and told him to fetch the Wooden Axe. (To fetch the “Stick” Hehe) and he left to do so. We went to introduce ourselves, and the man just stared at us. Then wrote down the question: ‘Your names?’ We raised our eyebrows, and started to repeat ourselves, only to be cut off by him shaking his head, followed by more scribbling. ‘No. Your DEED names?’ We stood there, a little awkwardly as J.J. explained how we were a new pack full of new Uratha, and thus didn’t have deed names just yet. We were formed a whopping ~12 days ago, and our attention has been occupied since day one. The man looked at us, pity in his eyes.

Raze returned shortly later and produced the axe, but it became obvious that it no longer retained a strong enough scent to track by, being handled by our hands and all. Now that I think about it, I should have been the one to grab the attacker’s scent… Worst case scenario, I could just share it with my pack-mates ritual style… Whelp, the opportunity had come and gone. No used crying now over missed chances.

So we were back to square one, only this time we had a mute Uratha willing to help. We began discussing what to do next, when Ryven asked why not investigate the church, since it got broken into. All eyes turned to her. “… Did no one else notice it but me?” I just stared at her. “It was when we went to meet Jaws Like a Vice, kinda obvious if you were looking. :P ”

I winced, feeling the sting. “Yeah, I’d say that is worth investigating.” J.J. proclaimed. He looked at the Uratha, and the guy motioned for us to proceed, so we headed off towards the church. The Uratha motioned that he would meet us there, and took off. Damn he’s fast… Vincint attempted to match his casual pace, but it wasn’t happening.

So We continued on like this, The Uratha jogging in the lead, Vincint all out sprinting behind him, and the rest of us running a steady pace in the rear. I stared at the Uratha. Now that I’ve had the time to study him, I believe I recognize him. He seemed familiar, like a story book hero. Wait, could he be… Yes, he is!

He is Caleb, aka Vengeance-With-Mercy. He was the Bone-shadow Rahu that the ‘Elder’ kept referencing. From what I recall, he was in the Harbinger Lodge. Wonder why he is here, because I doubt it is to eradicate the Ridden. Moreso he is using the excuse of the Ridden to interact with us…

That I’d Believe.

We arrived shortly at the church. Neither Caleb, nor my cluster showed signs of fatigue. Vincint, on the other hand, stood there panting hardcore, a slight moan escaping his lips here and there, though he took a stance like it affected him not. Riiiiiight…

We went in. While J.J. and Vincint confronted the pastor, the rest of us glanced around the room. The place wasn’t thrashed per say, but there were empty spaces where electronics once stood. From what the pastor was saying, some expensive T.V.s, and 3 blue-ray players had been stolen. Pretty high-maintenance equipment considering the area’s state of poverty currently…

We thanked him for the information and bided him farewell, saying we’ll let him know if we find anything. We got out the door and J.J. said we were going to check the local Pawn shops. If this was just a casual theft for cash then the equipment would turn up to a pawn shop eventually. Seemed reasonable enough. My family spent much of their lives hawking stuff to the pawn shop for temporary cash. It worked, I guess…

We walked into a pawn shop a few minutes later, and miraculously, found the equipment just sitting there. Well… that was easy. J.J. walked up to the guy standing behind the desk, and dinged the bell a few times, much to the guys annoyance.

The guy just stared at J.J. “Do you really have to do that, sir? Can I help you?”

J.J. asked whom sold the missing gear, and as the man shrugged his question off, J.J. slammed the man’s head into the bell, producing a clear ‘ding’ sound. Holy shit…

J.J. spent the next few minutes trying to get the description of whom sold the equipment, banging the man’s head when he didn’t produce answers J.J. wanted. The side of the man’s head was bleeding slightly as he stated that the one whom sold the gear wore a hoodie and glasses, but he saw the man had goat-like eyes.

“Contacts. Kid’s these days and their Halloween costumes… It’s not even October, haha.” I proclaimed, giving the man a pleasant lie to wrap his mind around, ignoring the ugly truth of the matter. Vincint asked if they had a security camera. “Yeah, but the man came out as a blurred image. Much like you guys now that I look at it. Why are you guys blurry when my image is crystal clear?”

I casually reached over and shifted the screen he was staring at. “Smudged lenses, and shoddy equipment. Being a business, you really need to invest in better equipment in case a situation happens like it did today.”

“But it worked perfectly bef-” Vincint leaned forward and rung the bell, causing the man to flinch. J.J. asked if they had sales logs, and the man nodded to a book. “Get the serial numbers on the stolen gear, and lets cross match them.” We did, finding that the gear was the last transaction made. J.J. looked at the names, and stated that they were fake, naturally. If only we were so lucky…

Vincint told the guy to inform the police about the stolen gear being sold to him, and we moved to leave. We stopped, looking at Caleb’s widened eyes. “What?” J.J. asked amusement coloring his voice. ‘vengeance-With-Mercy’ shook his head, then moved to doctor the man’s head. I wasn’t too fond of the methods we used either, but J.J. is the Alpha and he seemed happy with how he went about things…

When we got outside, Vincint called the pastor to inform him about the gear. He had a strange look on his face as he spoke, finally shutting the phone off. “Ty Honey; I will when I get home; I love you. He kept saying that in response.”

“He isn’t alone…” We all said simultaneously. He was being held by someone, and didn’t want them to know whom he was speaking too. Curious. We rushed back to the church.

As we neared, J.J. gave the commands. Carl and Vincint were to go to the left, Raze and Ryven were to go to the right, and J.J. and I were to go through the front. Once all were in position, we charged in.

Emptiness. No one was in the church besides us. Raze and Ryven walked up and stated that the pastor’s fancy blue car was gone. Damn, they must have grabbed him and drove off in his car… How would we follow them now?

We discussed for a few, then came up with a course of action. The car was a newer model, according to them. Thus, perhaps it had OnStar. Vincint called OnStar and filled them in on the situation. Raze recalled most of the licenses plane numbers when asked. And when matched with the car’s description, they were able to piece together and find the car. They informed Vincint that they would phone the police and get the pastor the help he needed. Then they hung up.

J.J. smiled, and said “Then we shall follow the sirens.” I nodded.

We were alone at the church, so I went ahead and shifted the blood in my body to contain only that of the Wolf. I shrugged into my new form, and opened my ears to catch the whisper of sirens. The others were doing the same, and after a few minutes our ears perked when we detected the sound. We nodded to each other and took off towards the sirens. Caleb took off at a dead sprint, disappearing almost instantly from our sight. Damn that wolf could run… I looked over to Vincint, and saw he was content to stay with us this time. Smart lass…

After a while the screech of tires joined the wail of sirens, and we all halted when a car zipped past us, tailed by a few police cars and a supercharged Wolf. We charged after them, putting on a burst of speed upon hearing the sound of a crash. Please let the pastor be alright…

We were dashing full sprint, but as we neared a clearing, we yielded at the sight of police lights permeating the area. We approached the clearing and took in the situation: The Ridden was there, and he held a gun to the pastor’s head. A group of policemen had their guns trained on the two of them, though they fired not. Caleb was nowhere to be seen. My brief worry for him died when I realized that he must be holding back, prepared to witness how we handled the situation. It still bothered me that a Harbinger has taken an interest in our little group, But truth be told, this wasn’t exactly the best time to ponder on that. I would question him about that whenever all of this business with the Ridden was settled. Until then, I had to remain focused on the task at hand, which was securing the hostage…

We all fanned out, while J.J. jumped on top of the police car, gathering the attention of every humanoid in sight. The Ridden immediately shifted his focus to J.J, while the policemen talked among themselves, their aim drifting between J.J. and The Ridden, unsure whom to target. Carl, Vincint, and Raze were in position to attack The Ridden from all directions. I snuck behind the cluster of policemen and prepared to startle them, causing them to shift their focus to me while the rest of the group went in to take out the Ridden. All that we waited for now was J.J’s signal.

J.J. began growling at The Ridden, causing it to shift backwards, closer to the woods behind him. The very same woods that housed the rest of our pack, waiting to ambush him, I might add. Once he herded the Ridden as much as he dared, his ears went back and he bunched up his muscles to pounce. Game on!

I howled directly behind the officers, causing them to curse profusely as they all turned around. I then charged into their line while they panicked, trying to put the car between themselves and I. My pack mates were assaulting the Ridden from all sides. Raze managed to sink his teeth into the Ridden’s gun-arm. But try as we might, the Ridden managed to knock us aside mid-pounce for the most part. The Ridden attempted to shake Raze off, but he merely latched on harder. Vincint and Ryven both managed to sink their teeth into the spirit, but the rest of our attacks were evaded, deflected, and shrugged off. Though we tried our best to distract it, the sound of a gunshot clashed through my ears, causing them to lie back upon my head. Dammit!

We continued to mount our attacks even as the pastor’s headless corpse fell to the ground. Raze managed to jerk, causing The Ridden to lose his hold on his gun, as Vincint jumped onto The Ridden’s chest, sinking his teeth in and causing him to fall back onto the ground, gasping. I ran over and bit down on the creature’s neck, then I jerked to snap it. ‘Coup-de-Grace, bitch!’

Immediately we bolted out of the clearing as the policemen recovered from me startling them. Bullets sounded as we ran into the woods, but none landed. The fight had lasted less than 5 seconds. We were in and out that fast. Unfortunately, the victory felt empty since the pastor didn’t survive the encounter. We were all slightly depressed, while at the same time repressing anger. We weren’t skilled enough to stop the Ridden in time. Our ambush was flawlessly set up, but our execution thereafter was lackluster, and the Ridden took advantage.

The aspect of returning home to brood over the failed mission did not really appeal to anyone, so we decided to take carl out to his first hunt. What a great day it was for him… He finds out he is a monster, joins a group of monsters like himself to best deal with it, only to find out that being a monster wasn’t enough to save a life… If that wasn’t a downer, then I don’t know what is…

Perhaps we weren’t good enough to run this territory. Everything we try to accomplish seems to produce more trouble in the end. If it keeps up like this, then we may have to step aside and let a better suited pack take up the mantle…

I pray our time to shine comes soon…

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 

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…

My Own Tale
Meeting the Pack

The day started out like most other days. walking down the road with my guitar strapped to my back. The meeting place was set up to happen at a small convenience store close to the center of town. There i met the 4 people id call family. J J (Sean) was pretty big. and seemed like he wanted to take charge of the situation. We rubbed each other the wrong way at first. Lucian (Dawn) was rather quiet. Even after i tried making a joke about him using the underworld movie series. Raze (Kazz) looked a bit shifty in all honesty but seemed like a decent enough guy to have your back in a scrap. (Kalen) was the only female of our group but held herself like she could handle what ever you could dish out.

Our first priority was finding our pack totem. So in order to do that we needed a loci. after a little scouting we found one at a church. After hearing J J Spout a few to many orders my way i finally had enough. We had us a pretty good scrap. Not going to lie it was close but at the end he cleaned my clock. So he was a little tougher then i expected but after that i figured id follow him until he made some mistakes or lead the pack in the wrong direction.

After the dust settled we set of to find us a totem. Instantly Lucian picked up a trail and off we set. The trail lead us to a large ravine and we spent a few minutes trying to find a way to cross. after some discussion we decided climbing was the only solution. JJ and i had no problem with the cliff. the others were not doing so hot. (Kalen) actually fell off towards then end of the climb down. So on the climb up JJ helped (Kalen) and i helped Lucian. However apparently Lucian can climb up better then he can down because he practically flew up the cliff.

From there the trail led up to a tall glass building all the way to the top and threw a door. after going through the door we some how ended up on the top of a mountain. Do not ask me how that happened. Ether way down the mountain we went. After what seemed like hours we finally found the end of the trail. Or should i say it found us? Ether way this Honey Badger the size of a grizzly bear comes out of no where and latches on to J J. Instantly he hits it trying to get it off him but i don’t think it was letting go. But (Kalen) managed to calm the spirit enough to let it know we meant no harm. Informing it that we were just tracking an out of place sent seemed to calm it enough so that we could talk with it. After a long conversation i couldn’t really understand It seemed to think that we were worthy enough To gain itself glory Jaws of the Vice decided to become our pack totem.

After we trekked back home we did some scouting around for a place to crash and found us a trailer park with an open double wide. our new home sweet home.


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