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.

Well…

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…

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