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[AP] Hunting Grounds: Cleveland

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  • [AP] Hunting Grounds: Cleveland

    I’ve been running a Werewolf 2.0 game for a couple of months now, and with at least two stories under our belt, I decided we had enough buffer to post up our sessions on the forum.
    The chronicle takes place in Cleveland, Ohio starting three days after Halloween, 2015. Without further ado...

    Welcome to the Sixth City.

    The Pack:

    Alexis Bailey, Storm Lord Irraka – Forged into bitter cold after the murder of her twin brother.
    Aldo “Burning Man” Ramirez, Bone Shadow Rahu – Ex Fire-Touched, atoning for the sins of his family.
    Finn McCain, Hunter in Darkness Ithaeur – One of Luna’s adopted, has made a few too many bad deals to get where he’s at.
    Markus Zilhmann, Iron Master Cahalith – A man with way too much fame and way too much money.

    Cass Wicker, Wolf Blooded – A runaway who finds solace in her second skin.
    Thir Han’zagar – The Pack’s Totem. A firebird spirit of death and rebirth.

    Themes of the Sixth City:

    Glitter and Rust - Cleveland’s a city desperate to stay afloat and it shows in the marketing and advertisements. It promises a ‘Come-Back City’ and a booming culture, but in reality C-Town’s on the brink of collapse. Leave the gilded main street and the blocks turn into war zones of drugs, gangs, and devastating poverty. In Cleveland, the Haves have everything and the Have-Nots fight over scraps.

    Raze The Earth - Cleveland has a sordid history with fire. No less than ten major disasters since the city’s official founding, and that’s only what was worth putting on the front page. It’s an alarming cycle of filth, fire, and rebirth that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

    Infection - Cleveland’s at the center of a Medical Mecca, but for every intensive and laborious advancement they put on display, hundreds die of neglect and disease in the streets. In Cleveland, it’s only the outsiders who think it’s safe to go to the hospital. Everyone who lives here has a story about a family member and the last time they were in the hospital.

    Leylines of Violence - C-Town is right in the center of an international smuggling route that has left a permanent stain on the city. Drugs, humans, art - you name it, it’s been trafficked through C-Town’s harbor and the families who control the trade will like to keep it that way. Step out of line, and you might wind up as one of the faceless missing persons.

    Who Are You? The People Change. It’s a constant since the moment Luna touches them with moonlight and they find themselves shifting between forms, lives, even genders. When everything that you are can be churned into something else at the drop of an essence, what exactly does that make you at the end of the day?

    The Protectorates of Cleveland
    Cleveland’s wolves run like the mafia never left town. There are five big contenders that rule the roost, so to speak.

    The Union Central Protectorate - The larger of two protectorates that patrol Cleveland; Union Central is made up of all the packs that lay claim to real estate along Euclid and Superior Avenues. The majority of the werewolves hold allegiance to either the Iron Masters or the Storm Lords. Union Central tries to keep most of downtown and Tower City neutral ground as long as visitors announce themselves and follow the rules: 1) Clean Up After Your Hunts and 2) Don’t Fucking Draw Attention to Yourself.

    Northcoast Nobodies - The joke is that the name came from an Blood Talon Irraka gouging out the eye of the Collinwood Neighborhood Watch Spirit while he quoted the Odyssey but the truth is the packs that make up the Northcoast Nobodies recruit from the poverty-stricken east-side and that in the grand scheme of things, aren’t much of anything outside of the neighborhoods they claim. Beyond the established Runs, ain’t nobody running through Northcoast without their say-so.

    I-90 Runners - Not big enough to be a Protectorate, but not small enough to be a pack, the Runners are a mixed bag of Bone Shadows and Iron Masters that have established safe runs that travel along the major interstates and avenues in Cleveland. Nomadic, the only territory they claim is a section of bridge that’s nestled right at Dead Man’s Turn - the rest is just under supervision.

    The Hounds of Saint Roch - One of the cruelest jokes in C-Town is that one of the most beautiful neighborhoods is currently locked down underneath the unmovable claws of a Pure Protectorate that has recently seen a change in management by a Fire-Touched Pack that has not only forced the Protectorate to take on their name, but aggressively recruits the numerous Ghost Wolves and unaffiliated Pure Packs to their banner.

    Bursu’idu The worst enemy is the enemy that used to be you. The Bursu’idu, or Moonborn Freaks, is a pack made solely of Predator Kings who have defected from the Tribes of the Moon. Their alpha is Nicolas Forever-Free, once the pride of the Storm Lords.


    Though the Protectorates have the power and choice territories, they’re actually overrun in numbers by the Ghost Wolf population. Something about Cleveland either draws the unaffiliated to the city itself, or influences wolf-blooded to undergo the First Change more than expected. The history between the Ghost Wolves and the Tribes is tense, and filled with aggressive recruitment and conversion of the Ghost Wolves by both the Forsaken and the Pure. One of the central themes to the players’ pack is how they adjust to this police state and if they stand with the oppressors, or rise up against what they’ve been taught was right.

    Next post will have the first session. While we run the game on Skype via text, and we do it in a narrative style, it is a far more daunting task to adjust the flow for five points of view without confusing myself or anyone reading this, so I’ll try to keep to the style that DaveB presented in his Mage APs.
    Last edited by Aynie; 02-16-2016, 02:14 PM.

  • #2
    Chapter I: Firefight
    Session 1.01

    Tiger, tiger, burning bright
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    Opening Theme: Jamie N Commons & X Ambassadors - Jungle

    It is 8:30pm on a Tuesday night and we open up to a motley crew of four loitering just on the far side of Quincy Avenue and East 55th street. Halloween still has a presence in the city, even though its three days past and stores have already moved on to Christmas.

    The pack has recently been commissioned a territory outside of the hard-lined rules and regulations of downtown Cleveland, but there’s a catch to it: it’s already owned by a pack of Ghost Wolves who have integrated themselves into one of the local gangs.

    I was encouraging an atmosphere of tension. I think this initial rush towards ‘need to do something now’ influenced some of the later decisions.

    Normally, C-Town’s wolves have to content themselves with their personal homes as the extent of what they can truly call their own with the rest of a Protectorate’s territory serving as a communal ground. Tonight, however, the Pack has been granted use of the Duaf’kisura Aduya, or the Rite of Consecrated Ground. Developed by the Union Central, it allows for a hostile take-over that won’t make the evening news. No cops, no curious bystanders. The only caveat is that whoever was being targeted must give up their territory in some obvious manner such as dying or being run off.

    Markus, the Pack’s Cahalith and the social media mogul has already pulled up information about the Ghost Wolves. Three teenagers: a Chicano pair of toughs who look brother and sister, and a white-boy wearing a faux-silver chain of first tongue runes.

    I allowed rolls before the opening post to see if any of the PCs could pick up leads before they hit the ground running. Markus’ player decided to hunt the G.W through Twitter.

    "We going carrot or stick on this? Either way, spend no more than an hour scouting the place out so we know where they will go when things get bad. They always run." – Aldo

    "Well, I'm always up for a little carrot, you know, but judging by what I saw of these guys, they're not just going to give up if we ask 'em nicely.” – Markus.
    "Carrot always tastes better after you've tasted the stick." – Aldo.

    The rest of the pack takes copies of the photograph and each decide to uncover more information in the ways they knew best. Finn and Aldo decide to chat up the local spiritscape and get a feel for how the Ghost Wolves are with the local population. Alexis chooses to spend her time scouting the neighborhood out, and Markus chooses to schmooze up the locals.

    Finn and Aldo play good cop/bad cop with the spirits of the neighborhood. They encounter rebellion spirits, addiction spirits, murder and pain spirits. There’s a startling number of apathy spirits that just drift away even with the Rahu snarling at them. Finally, they reach an accord with some of the stronger violence spirits who agrees to give up insider information for a chance to feast on the inevitable confrontation. Agreement reached, they head back to the meeting spot.

    Markus hits the bars, plays up the image of a slumming college kid from CSU trying out the taste of the ‘real city’. He manages to convince a bartender at one of the dive bars that pumps out loud, tasteless music that he’s looking for a certain girl; she’d dropped out of a class and thought to have landed with the wrong crowd. He was the social worker looking for her. After getting a name and a location: Theresa Ramirez and the back lot of the Holy Missionary Baptist Church.

    I had Markus roll two rolls here. One was a Manipulation + Socialize which he scored a decent amount of successes. The second was a Perception check which he failed. Thus, he noticed that the dive bar had several Cutters in it after he spilled his story about looking for the girl. Unfortunately, he notices as they leave – probably to warn said girl.

    Alexis spends her time mingling with the crowd and picking up on the fact that the Cutters were a reasonably sized gang, at least fifteen loitering on corners or lounging on front porches. She notes that all of them avoid the large cemetery that makes up the heart of the neighborhood – and a quick glance Across shows that it’s a locus, but drained of color and life. Alexis makes notice of it but doesn’t pry. Once she’s picked up the generic numbers, she heads back. She’s the last to return.

    The pack spends a couple of minutes trying to figure out a plan of attack. There’s consideration that the Ghost Wolves already knew about the Pack and drained the locus in preparation. No consensus on how to open up the fight until Finn chimes in:

    "Our totem is a spirit of fire meant to burn away the old and usher in new growth. It would make sense to use that imagery to our benefit. Most gang members won't be willing to brave an inferno." – Finn.

    The totem agrees to this plan. Its ban for the pack is one sacrificial fire burned every month that cannot be extinguished early. If the pack lights up the Church, two birds with one stone.

    I should clarify now: Cunning and Honor aren’t going to be the primary renown for these fellas.

    Scene Theme: John Legend - Who Did That To You?

    The Holy Missionary Baptist Church is one of three different gospels all crowded onto the same corner just north of Woodland cemetery. A small red-brick building, it looks unimpressive against the overgrowing trees on its eastern wall. A fenced in lot stretches along the west wall, leading to a sheltered lot about a good acreage wide.

    Music drips through the air, hot and heavy despite the chill of the night. The lot is half-full, more than what this church ever gets on a Sunday. Voices filter through underneath the heavy bass, loud and garbled as people switch between languages and tones without a care for any one listening in.

    At first glance, without a good overlook, the count is around thirty folks at what seems to be an ordinary backyard barbeque. To either side of the church and lot are buildings that look like they were pulled from the cement mixer, shapeless, concrete blocks that each read the name of another gospel over their doors.
    When the pack rolls up, Aldo starts the show by immediately shifting to Dalu and calling upon Totemic Empowerment. He becomes covered in flames and launches the first attack by throwing fire at the roof.

    I had Aldo’s player roll to ignite the church roof. He scored an Exceptional Success – though I cannot recall the Condition he picked up.

    The Pack pours out of the pickup truck they arrived in. Each of them is in Dalu. Finn, Markus, and Aldo square off and block the entrance while Alexis burns the Irraka ability to get up close and personal to Theresa who sits on the open tailgate of another pickup truck, this one rusted. The girl looks barely legal enough to buy alcohol, but the look in her hazel eyes is the hard-worn stare of a predator long in the tooth. Her black hair is cut ragged, a shaggy pixie-cut that exposes the tattoo of a raven-skull imprinted over a tread pattern that dominates her throat. She’s wearing canvas cargo pants that sling low on her hips, exposing her stomach in a strip of dusky skin. A leather jacket is layered over a gray zip up hoodie, over a baby-blue camisole. Dalu gives her an extra three inches of height, and her shoulders are broad and knotted with lean muscle underneath her clothing. Her features are lupine-sharp, and her eyes are losing their hazel coloration to a burning amber.

    "Gonna give you one chance to fuck off back to the Zoo." – Theresa

    Alexis attacks, but Theresa notices the daggers coming at her just before they connect. Alexis then has to dodge herself as the Ghost Wolf Irraka, the lanky pale creature pulls the same stunt on Alexis.

    The final Ghost Wolf, the one that looks like he can be Theresa’s brother, decides to take on the Urshul form. By now, Lunacy has infected the crowd and the mundane humans bolt for their lives from what they think is gang warfare. Honestly, they’re not that wrong.

    The pack prepped to fight three Ghost Wolves. They called in Spirits of Violence to deal with the other guys’ totem. They deliberately went for Lunacy to scatter the herd. They just forgot to check for one thing. I’d had this guy waiting in the wings while the pack were making their rolls. None of them bothered to check if the Ghost Wolves had Wolf-Blooded in their midst. It’s a mistake that nearly killed them.

    Remember that white-boy wearing the faux-silver chain? He doesn’t bolt with the rest of the herd. He doesn’t shift up into Dalu or hunker down into the monsterous Urshul. He pulls out a semi-automatic rifle and aims it down the line towards the trio at the entrance. The bullets graze past Aldo, warped by the intense heat. Three more slam into Markus, gouging out a chunk of his shoulder, puncturing a lung, and piercing through his gut.

    Finn though gets the worst of it. Bullets riddle through him like he was tissue paper. Lungs, ribs, liver, leg.

    I don’t have the exact numbers with me, but this was another exceptional success. I believe the final total after automatic weapon successes was 7L done on Finn? Thankfully, Finn not only has the Giant Merit, but a fetish that grants him additional armor. He doesn’t go down in one hit.

    Instead, Finn decides that the best course of action is to show off what happens when a regular guy standing 6’6’’ or so without shoes decides to turn into a Gauru. Time crawls to a standstill as the Killing Form takes center stage in this brutal play. Standing nearly ten feet tall, the Gauru that is Finn is a terrible sight to behold. The screams from the Cutter gunman that he buries his teeth and claws into is perhaps worse. The screams echo, breaking through the radio still blaring, cutting off into desperate sobbing panic as the man's entire left side disappears into Finn's jaws.

    Then the panic hits. The mob flees everywhere. Twenty-five bodies all scrambling over the cars, the tables, the grill that collapses over, shoving their way just to get out. Coals scatter along the concrete, burning anyone unlucky enough to be shoved over onto them.

    As Finn tears into the gunman, Aldo charges and meets the Ghost Wolf Urshul head on. They wrestle for control, the Bone Shadow Rahu pinning the larger creature, the concrete lot shattering from the impact.

    Another Wolf-Blooded, this one a woman looking to be in her late twenties, swings up a shotgun as Finn tears into the first gunman. She’d managed to sneak up in the panicked crowd and before Finn – or any of the others can react, she lets loose a load of buckshot that sprinkles along Finn's right flank, peppering along muscles, nerves, burying into bone.

    Its silver, and the only saving grace Finn has against the attack is that he’s currently in Gauru and has more health than God.

    Seeing his packmates fight with such ferocity made Markus' breath come quick and his blood pound in his ears. But the situation was still on the knife's edge. Finn was taking a beating. With a thunderous roar, charged right at the wolf-blooded woman with the gun. The instant before he hit home, Markus instantly grew into a ravening brown beast of claws and teeth. Blood splashes over the crowd. It's hard to stay clean when the intention is death. Teeth sink into flesh that tears open into wolf-fur that tears open into muscle that splits like pulled pork. Markus' claws sink deep into the flanks of the woman, hefting her up like a rag doll, the shotgun falling, forgotten on the floor.

    Three more bursts of gunfire, three sets of widened-eyes that are steeled against the horrors of the Killing Form but know that it's now fight-or-flee.

    Make that two pairs of eyes. One kid, looking barely older than middle-school, drops the gun that's far too big for her hands and bolts down the back way, leaping over a trampled man, darting underneath the legs of another.

    The other two spray and pray in the direction of the two monsters, not caring if their clips empty. They know what happens if you don't knock the beast down immediately.

    Alexis decided to clear out the Wolf-Blooded rather than stick around at Theresa’s flanks – especially since it was the gunfire that was shredding her pack to pieces. She slips through the crowd and slams a dagger into one, wrenching it deep enough to cut kidney.

    “Run.” – Alexis.

    Theresa sits on the pick-up truck. Out of what? Fear? A lack of concern? It's impossible to read her eyes as she tracks the formation of two Gauru ripping into the Wolf-Blooded members of her Crew so easily. She rolls her neck, pops the spear to full-length, then moves into the fray. Her body burns amber as she channels ulal into her muscles, making her stronger, faster.

    "Take down the Ithaeur. He's the weak link." – Theresa, right before she impales Finn, bringing the Ithaeur up to nearly full aggravated.

    The spear-tip is not silver, but being impaled isn't fun regardless.

    The naturally thick fur embolden by the spirit of Finn’s fetish staves off most of that initial thrust, but not all of it. The spear does sink in an inch just underneath the bottom-most rib, and it's followed immediately by the slice of a blade along the underside of Finn's throat. But the carotid death knoll is little more than a coagulated mess as the pale Irraka's timing is off.

    The two wolf-blooded grappled, struggling and squirming. One desperately risks going for Finn's eyes but can't reach around that snapping, slavering muzzle. The woman twists, trying to slam a jagged shiv into Markus' face but misses the angle, shaving off ruff instead of flesh.

    For a "weak link", Finn isn't exactly easy to bring down. Neither the spear nor the knife seem to affect him at all. But, in the vestiges of rational thought, he realizes that his priorities have shifted, and that he couldn't fight the wolf-blood without killing him. So he relinquishes his squirming prey. No, the primary target is the one giving the orders, and his head surges forward as he aims his open fangs for Theresa’s neck.

    Meanwhile, though the spirit world bubbles and rages around him, guns fire, and buildings blow up, Markus is having a marvelous time. The battle sings in his blood, and the pinprick blows of the enemy can deal no lasting damage to his flesh! He dropped the limp body of the Wolfblood he had shattered, then leaned forward and raked his claws down the torso of the one Finn had released.

    The dice were being brutal on both sides. Finn was eating an average of 3-4 L each turn and even though he was Gauru and healing it, Aggravated was starting to catch up.

    Aldo is an absolute savage once he’s on the field of battle, and the monstrous strength that he brings to bear upon the horse sized beast is staggering. With one hand he captures the Urshul's leg and heaves the entire beast through the air, only to bring him crashing down against the ground with a thunderous boom.
    So casually does he manhandle the other werewolf, that he strides across the battlefield and drags the burning and frantically clawing beast along with him. With a mighty heave the burning man swings the Urshal around and brings him crashing into the side of the church wall, shattering redstone brick and caving the side of the building in.

    Speaking of the dice being brutal, Aldo’s attack? 16 successes.

    The wall trembles as the two hundred pound wolf is thrown through the brick, ruining the outer wall. An entire section caves downward over the ragged creature.
    Time stops. Theresa's attention is diverted from Finn, casually avoiding the snapping jaws as lazily as a cat would an annoying kitten. The Irraka pauses as he goes in for another strike, eyes sharp on the pile of brick and mortar.

    One second. Two. Three.



    GWWAAARGGGHHHHH!! The Gauru hasn't fully healed yet as he shakes out the mortar dust from his fur. One side of his head is concave and cracking outward. An eyeball is reforming from the crushed pulp. The jaw cracks back into alignment.

    The rubble explodes outward as the world around the six of you turns into a gibbering mess of elated violence spirits all chanting one word.
    KuruthKuruthKuruthKuruthKURUTHKURUTH KURUTH.

    End Theme: Drowning Pool- Let the Bodies Hit the Floor.


    • #3
      Wow, it looks like your first session started off with a bang, all that blood and destruction.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Doctor Crimson View Post
        Wow, it looks like your first session started off with a bang, all that blood and destruction.
        During the character relationship ladder, I should have expected this sort of mayhem off the bat after what the players presented me. I think I'll post a who's who of Cleveland after the first story so when names are dropped it's reasonable why the PCs would know them.


        • #5
          Ah, Aynie's Cleveland Werewolf Game. Alternate titles include "When In Doubt, Use Fire", "The Dial Starts At 11", "Our Big Bad Is The Dice Roller", and "I Heard About Good Decisions Once, But I've Never Actually Seen One".

          I'm Griff, Finn's player. I'm glad this damn awesome recap of this damn awful series of events has finally surfaced (awful to experience, quite fun to play).

          I suppose I should give some background: Finn's an ethnobotanist, and while he's primarily a Mental-focused character, I invested most of his dots into all three Resistance Attributes (hence why he could take some hefty hits). Finn's also unique among the pack in that he was not raised in a family of Wolf-Bloods, but he had the ability to see Spirits from birth. If you want an idea of what Finn's childhood was like, just watch ParaNorman. The opening scene of that movie tells you all you need to know about his childhood.

          Anyway, Finn's not a local, he was born in Syracuse, NY, had a shitty childhood, but eventually grew past the stigma of being weird and potentially crazy and became a professor at a local environmental college. Unfortunately, once things were going well, the Spirits went totally bananas, haunting him, pestering him, denying him sleep or privacy. He eventually had a breakdown and had to leave, but his department head, taking pity on him, told him a colleague needed an adjunct at Cleveland State University and that maybe a change of scenery might help? Finn packed up and left, and had his First Change en route to Cleveland.

          Of course, life didn't stop turning completely to shit once he got there. The new Ithaeur was skilled with dealing with Spirits (particularly plant spirits, hence being an ethnobotanist) and could make Fetishes (such as an armadillo skull amulet (●●●) Finn wears around his neck, which grants him 2/2 Bulletproof armor for a Scene if he spends 1 Essence). So he was approached by an established wolf named Drake the Horned Serpent. Drake convinced Finn to help him subdue a Spirit that was hanging around the hospital, and use it to make a Fetish for him. The spirit in question, Finn soon found out, was an infected, rotten mess that reeked of toxicity and disease, and so he agreed, and after a lot of effort, the Spirit was broken and removed.

          Unfortunately, Drake was too cunning and Finn too inexperienced to understand just how badly he'd screwed up. The Spirit wasn't one that caused disease, it was preventing them. As a result, the hospital's already-high infection rate soared. Finn's naivete was the reason Drake was given the lion's share of the blame for the situation, but that basically just means Finn wasn't killed as a result.

          So, that's Finn McCain. A very tall adjunct biology professor who moonlights as a werewolf shaman. And, throughout the first session, ended up as the pack's bullet-and-spear-receptacle. Tune in next time for things to get worse!

          Brief Aside: Finn has the Nature Gift Pack Kin, which he rolled before the session and got an Exceptional Success. So, the pack is aided by a great horned owl. Who, in spite of Finn's wishes, everyone calls Hedwig.


          • #6
            Definitely watching this. And loving the fluff on Finn.

            "My Homebrew Hub"
            Age of Azar
            The Kingdom of Yamatai


            • #7
              Proof that silver is the wolf-slayer, for sure. Never underestimate the Wolf-Blooded. Start your games off with a 'bang.' Good lessons to take from this session.

              That was intense just to read. Bravo.

              Also kudos to someone's character being from New York without being from New York City, and to the big network of universities around here. Syracuse is a good fit.
              Last edited by Aiden; 02-17-2016, 02:16 PM.

              Revlid wrote:
              Yes, hollowing out your humanity to become an utterly utilitarian asura is the exact suggestion I would expect from you, Aiden.


              • #8
                What a ride! Can't wait for more. I'd love to hear more about the backstory of your other player's characters too, they all sound pretty cool.

                I am no longer participating in the community. Please do not contact me about my previous work.


                • #9
                  Had to do both a search and rescue for a missing kid and get some I sane homework outta the way. Next update will be posted tomorrow. I'm going to try and aim for every Thursday night as an update to keep pace with the game itself. We're on the seventh session this week, and about to head into the first Siskur Dah.

                  Thanks for all of the comments, and if my other players don't put up their backstories, I'll have some up as well after the next update.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Aiden View Post
                    Also kudos to someone's character being from New York without being from New York City, and to the big network of universities around here. Syracuse is a good fit.
                    Finn's alma mater is actually the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, a school I attended for a while.


                    • #11
                      I play Alexis, whose character concept pretty much popped into my head when I read the Luna's Embrace gift. I thought right away that it could be a lot of fun having a sole surviving twin who'd strongly resemble the deceased one when switching to the other gender, though it's something I haven't played around with too much in game yet. Perhaps it's something that'll rise to the fore a bit more once the pack secures a steady supply of essence. In any case, I ultimately made her the twin sister because having a guy driven on by the death of a woman close to him is perhaps a bit too overdone. You don't see it in reverse nearly as often.

                      She's a native daughter of Cleveland, a decision I arrived at when I was figuring out what her connection to the city was. I think that kind of connection can be very important in the World of Darkness. Whatever location a supernatural settles down, they're probably going to have to fight and bleed for it. So they need a reason to, the place needs to be important to them. So it's important to her because it's home. A bit more fleshing out during the relationship ladder and such yielded a young pup who’s a scion of a wolf-blooded clan whose roots run deep in the city. Both of her Grandmothers rank among the most influential wolves in the Union City Protectorate. Perhaps such familial connections could be parlayed into some form of preferential treatment, but she's never had the slightest inkling to make an attempt to exploit them in such a manner since her First Change. Trying to ride the coat tails of someone else in such a manner is a sign of weakness, as far as she's concerned. And she's sworn that off.

                      As alluded to in Aynie's introduction for the pack, the most influential event in Alexis's life thus far is the murder of her brother. They were always inseparable as wolf-blooded children. As time passed he became the one with dreams and ideals, as she began to drift through life. Unfortunately, his idealism earned him a few rounds in the back from a pair of corrupt officers when he dug too deep into criminal activities. She was there to witness it and took a round to her chest for it…beyond that she doesn’t remember much. But she knows she had her first change, and that one of the duo fell beneath her fangs and claws. She knows that the other one will to, eventually.

                      Now Alexis is all cold resolve and steely determination. She’s Storm Lord to the core. She will avenge her brother’s death. She will make the impact he no longer can. She will rise to greatness and leave her mark upon the city. Or she’ll die trying. Sometimes it seems like she doesn’t care all that much either way.


                      • #12
                        Nursing school slammed classes and assignments hard these past two weeks so I'm playing catch up. However, that means the next update will have at least two sessions to make up for the missed Thursdays!


                        • #13
                          Chapter I: Firefight
                          Session 1.02
                          Opening Theme: Barry Adamson - The Beaten Side Of Town

                          “Cleveland Police were called out this morning to the Holy Missionary Bapist Church this morning to deal with yet another attack on a church. What they found there will shock you. I’m Samantha Rivers, and this is the 6 o’clock news.” Already cranked up to an unhealthy level, the coffee-perked voice is equivalent to fingernails on a chalkboard to your senses. The source is an opened window of a two-story Victorian that looked taken care of back in the 1970s.

                          Stale smoke sticks to skin and shredded clothing like spider webs. Blood is wedged underneath fingernails and the taste of copper is on the back of tongues as the pack leaves the ignorance of unconsciousness and returns to the waking world. The sun won’t rise for another hour or so, but the city has been awake for some time. There’s the rumble of garbage trucks meandering through the broken streets, tires bouncing hard off potholes. There’s the soft undercurrent of activity as the Herd wakes up to their day of monotony.

                          The pack have awoken somewhere dark and dank, a bolthole that stinks of grease, rust, and human squalor. Crammed in together like a ball of rats, reality comes to in the form of aching bones, a desperate gnawing hunger, and the terrible blank slate that was the after-morning of Kuruth. It’s a cramped hide-away somewhere in the back of that giant two-block long factory that the pack recalled seeing 'Condemned' plastered on the walls every ten feet. A rusted, broken chain-link fence vainly struggles against keeping a pile of trashed furniture and rubble from collapsing upon their current resting spot. The couch is not so much a couch, but a shredded, stained mess of fabric and springs that could have once been a couch. There's no light here, only whatever streetlight poured in from the broken, dirtied windows high above one’s head.

                          Thir Han’zagar speaks in their minds, the totem’s voice like a summer’s breeze on the back of one’s neck – the spirit’s burning nature quenched for the next several days thanks to the sacrifice. [Cold’s-Daughter has been called by her Wolf-Mother to speak concerning an Iminir matter. She will return soon.]

                          Normally I don’t like doing any sort of Fade to Blacks, but with Kuruth, and the first Kuruth of the game, I decided to allow that combat to fade into uncertainty for two reasons: 1) It creates an uneasy ‘what just happened’ mood, and 2) Alexis’ player wasn’t able to make this week. So they wake up with a nasty hangover and completely not sure what the hell happened last night.

                          Markus slowly roused to wakefulness, wearing the stained, greasy remnants of what was the day before quite valuable and expensive clothing. He tried to speak, found an impediment in his sinuses, then hawked and spat. A gobbet of red-brown goo streaked with solid chunks wobbled to a halt on the wood floor in front of the couch where he had awoken. He stared at the gobbet in dumb silence for a long moment, then looked around the apartment.

                          "What the fuck happened last night?" – Markus

                          "Guy didn't like being thrown through a church wall. Shit escalated from there." – Aldo

                          “Yeah… Still, that was pretty bad ass. In fucking Dalu, man? Through a *wall*?” – Markus grins and flashes a thumbs up.

                          "Yeah, from that point on, the violence spirits decided to hijack our affairs..." – Finn, coming to and remembering his entire left flank is riddled with silver buckshot.

                          "Looks like the police are saying it was a dog fighting ring. A fight started after a bad dog fight...but no mention of bodies. Did I use the carrot? Oh, and it looks like there's a Taco Bell and a Burger King. I vote Taco Bell." – Markus, swiping along local news updates on his phone.

                          "It could just mean that their remains weren't found yet... I couldn't care less which fast food restaurant we choose. It's all garbage food and depression spirits." – Finn
                          Conversation turns towards breakfast. The aftermath of Kuruth has left nearly everyone craving an entire twenty-course meal when Aldo catches on to Finn’s hesitant movements. Aldo only now notices the curious scent upon the air. His nostrils flare as he glances around for the source of it.

                          "Why does it still smell like silver?" – Aldo

                          "Got some buckshot in my arm thanks to one of the Wolf-Bloods, but I'll live." – Finn

                          "Dammit man, say something if you've been shot! Need someone to pull it out?" – Aldo

                          "It'd help. I was planning on doing it myself once I got my hands on some supplies..." – Finn

                          Aldo rumbles to himself even as he stalks over towards Finn, then crouches down to peer at him more closely.

                          "Alright, show me where it went in. Also, Taco Bell is fine with me, and we can eat the depression spirit too." – Aldo

                          "Alright. Also, are you sure you want to do that? I can text Bianca, have her bring a medical bag from the shop with tweezers and alcohol and everything." – Markus

                          Bianca is the Wolf Blooded that Markus’ character developed. She’s his personal assistant and does much of the day-to-day running of his business. Think Emily from Devil Wears Prada.

                          The burning man tenses every muscle in his body as his mass blossoms out -- his features becoming more savage by the moment, until every inch of his body is a tightened spring of steel. And then he plunges his fingers into the softer flesh of Finn's side, skin tearing and blood gushing out. At first he does not quite find what he is looking for, but after a moment of twisting his fingers around in agonizing fashion he rips his hand out.

                          The thick chuck of viscera, torn flesh, and blood does indeed contain a few pellets of buckshot. "Got some of it." Grunts Aldo.

                          [Aynie:] Wits/Intelligence + Medicine -1 to remove the silver buckshot.
                          [1/1/2016 8:49:48 PM] Aynie: Iry, Wits/Intelligence + Medicine -1.
                          [1/1/2016 8:51:45 PM] Aynie: that a dramatic failure, Iry?
                          [1/1/2016 8:51:55 PM] Iry: Yes.
                          [1/1/2016 8:52:11 PM] Spider Ham: Should have waited for Bianca!
                          [1/1/2016 8:52:13 PM] Spider Ham: You foooool!
                          [1/1/2016 8:52:31 PM] Aynie: The silver is shallow enough to dig out with fingers.
                          [1/1/2016 8:52:37 PM] Aynie: Griff! You are at 6A right now. You have another Condition:
                          Eviscerated: Finn's horrible attempt at surgery has left you with a gaping wound. -2 to all Physical rolls and 2 aggravated due to the open gash.
                          Resolution: You will heal the 2A once you resolve this condition. (Get patched up, get the silver out, ect.)
                          [1/1/2016 9:03:02 PM] Griff: Infection rates are through the roof
                          [1/1/2016 9:03:07 PM] Spider Ham: You're a werewolf.
                          [1/1/2016 9:03:17 PM] Aynie: You're a werewolf. What's a little MRSA to your immune system?
                          Yes, Iry did a dramatic failure on that medicine roll. If Finn did not have the extra health levels from Giant, he would probably have died.


                          "Huh. That usually works. Let's get some Taco Bell in you, and you'll be fine in no time." – Aldo, peering very intently at the gaping wounds leftover from his surgery.

                          ["You have provided further essence for the local Suhu Farak , honoring the agreement from last night. Green-Wolf, your sacrifice is noted and accepted."] – The totem offers up its own approval. Finn doesn’t give a shit.
                          Markus shoots off a text to Bianca. "Please bring medical bag from shop to Taco Bell at this location." He copied the location into the message, then sent it off. A second later, another message: "Screw the medical bag. Do we know a very discreet doctor or an excellent vet?"

                          The Olympian Medical building was at the corner of E 55th and Broadway, about ten minutes south of your neighborhood. Red brick like most of Cleveland’s architecture, the office was on the far eastern end of the complex. The place was built out of the decaying remains of an old apartment complex that still lingered like forced jigsaw pieces into the otherwise rectangular building. Dark soot smears over the old brown brick, suggesting the reason why the homes had been left and sold for commercial space.

                          Bianca sent directions for the pack to pull into the back lot, a mostly empty concrete parking area with high, overgrown bushes to provide some privacy from the nearby street. She’s already there when everyone arrives, hair swept into a professional bun and her most charming smile in place. She speaks with a man who’s a little on the rotund side dressed in a doctor’s lab coat with a cigarette dangling from one hand as he laughs at something Bianca mentions.

                          Markus smiled and waved at the two as he pulled up. He steps out of the truck and heads over to the door where Finn sits, opening it as well for his packmate.

                          "Thanks for the short notice help, doctor. He's a little stressed right now, so don't mind the language." – Markus

                          Language appears to be something Finn has lost. If the sounds coming from the large man's mouth were intended to be language, it would be profanity so strong it would make stoic men faint. Finn doesn't so much take an offered hand as latch onto Markus' shoulder with his right hand and drag himself out, slumping along the car as he does so. His previously pale, haggard self looks utterly retched after the blood loss.

                          The doctor looks to be descended from eastern European stock. Rotund, with a healthy glow to his skin, his eyes are a lively hazel that skirts over the lot of you as you approach before dropping down to Finn and the injuries the Ithaeur bears. He takes the hand of anyone who offers it.

                          "I guess you're my 8-a-clock appointment, yes? Dr. Jurik, but you may call me Vito. Your assistant here has explained that this is to be very, very discreet; and that the payment will be determined based on what we will need to do." – Dr. Jurik, His voice is peppered with a faint accent, much like his thinning hair is peppered with grey.

                          "Yeah. We're not exactly sure what's wrong with him, so maybe you can figure it out. But seriously, whatever else you do, there's some buckshot that needs to come out. Absolutely necessary." – Markus jokes then drops the smile and looks Vito dead in the eyes as he spoke, trying to impart the severity of the request.

                          Silver? That will cost more to fix. Come, let us set up inside. Bring him into the first room on the left, ok?" – Dr. Jurik glances from Markus' expression, over to Finn, then back to Markus. He steps back and gestures for the lot of you to head within the back door.

                          The interior of the medical office is a long sepia-painted hallway that stinks of antiseptic and coffee. Beyond the smell of bleach and other chemicals, the place looks to be clean enough that Finn probably won't walk away from this with infection. There's little personal inflection to the office hallways, instead generic paintings and posters of vague uplifting quotes litter the walls. Down the way, towards the front of the medical office is the sounds of life. Phones ringing, people chatting, a child crying.

                          The room Finn is directed to enter is less a doctor's room and has the look more of a morgue. A steel slab is bolted to the floor in the center of the room with trays of wrapped equipment nearby it. Attached to the slab and the ground are thick leather restraints reinforced by double-linked chains bolted into the floor as well. The walls in here are white-painted brick, and bare of even the small slogans.

                          Finn is dazed and confused, the pain at the forefront of his mind at the moment. But even so, he catches that the doctor mentions silver. And of course he notices the room. While beggars can't be choosers, he looks at Markus and Aldo.

                          "Be alert, ‘cause I can't be.” – Finn

                          "Can do, man. Don't worry, we're right here. The totem's with us, too. Hey, once you're all healed up and we've got the territory secured, we'll have a big party, eh? Ring it in properly. Thanks for finding this place, B. Really appreciate it. Things went kind of sideways last night, getting the new territory. Kuruth. Pretty sure we came out on top, though." – Markus to Finn, then heads over to Bianca to fill in the Wolf Blooded member of their pack.

                          All during this scene, everyone is chowing down on XXL Breakfast Burritos. It makes for an amusing image because the intent of the conversations are tense and wary.

                          Aldo furrows his brow and glances around the room, searching for spirits or other things that might present themselves as a danger. Only once Finn is lead into the room and lied down upon the slab does the hulking Hispanic man place a taco upon Finn's chest. Then he offers a bag towards Markus.

                          "Eat up. You never know the next time you may have a chance at a meal." – Aldo

                          Dr. Jurik waits for Finn to settle upon the slab, and the restraints to be set upon him. One for each limb, and one restraining his head like a vice.

                          "I am sorry for the imposition, but treating your sort tends to come with very dangerous risks. I do not know if you will swing at me, and if you are infected by silver, then you will need to be very still. If you two can hold him steady for me as well, I can begin." – Jurik looks to Markus and Aldo.

                          Dr. Jurik nods once the pack has crowded around the slab and lent their own strength to the restraints. He approaches the table and presses play upon an old cassette player. ACDC is the backdrop to his work. For the first hour, Finn struggles and writhes as Jurik's tweezers and forceps work through the mangled mess of the ithaeur's body. The clock ticks over slowly and motes greedily slither up the slab to try and steal a piece of the healing work for themselves.

                          It's not just surgery, its butchery. Every step Jurik makes, the healing properties of the Uratha flesh causes him to take three steps backwards in progress. As 8 turns to 9, there's very little beyond blood and gore splashed onto the table and surrounding floor.

                          The next hour is a breakthrough. As Highway to Hell runs through a guitar riff, Jurik reaches the tangled mess of muscle fiber and silver buckshot and begins to remove the many pieces, finding through the use of Doppler ultrasound, X-rays, and simple tracking the poisonous red burning that indicated silver was in direct contact with flesh.

                          It's when 10 rolls around that the very last piece is pulled through ropes of myofibers tangling themselves back into a semblance of functionality. The white-hot pain of silver deadens into the churning aches and sharp stabs of your natural healing state - without the silver, your body would recover.

                          Jurik drops the last tiny piece of shrapnel into the kidney bowl and looks up to the two holding Finn down. Sweat pours from his face, but his expression is proud.

                          "You can release him now." – Jurik

                          This was a series of rolls, each taking up an hour. Markus and Aldo needed to make Strength+Athletics checks to hold Finn down during the surgery. If they succeeded, Finn got to make a Stamina+Resolve roll to try and slow his healing down so the doctor could work. Only then did Jurik get to make his medicine rolls.

                          "Damn. That was intense. You feeling alright, Finn?" – Markus

                          Aldo and Finn both offer thanks to Dr. Jurik. Jurik takes the praise without aplomb and looks down to the silver pellets in the bowl. He offers the silver to any of the pack who wants it. Aldo does. Dr. Jurik hands over the kidney bowl filled with bloodied silver pellets without complaint and proceeds to the sink in the room to wash his hands. As the water flows into the drain he asks over his shoulder:

                          "So, normally I do not ask because is more trouble than worth, but are you Union or Preachers?" – Jurik

                          "The Union. We're...well, we haven't picked a name yet. Why do you ask?" – Markus

                          "Always smart to know who I'm fixing up and if anyone will approach me later angry about the assistance." – Jurik

                          "A dangerous game to play, but not at my hands. It's your choice. My thanks was sincere." – Aldo.

                          "I am one of few doctors here who handle silver. I sign up with anyone and suddenly I am commodity to be fought over, stolen, or even killed so one side cannot use it. I stay middle-man and I do not get complications." – Jurik folds his arms, defensiveness rising from him like steam after a rain-shower.

                          "Feeling good enough to get out of here? I don't think our bill covers room and board, and we need to get back." – Aldo.
                          Praise to my players, but as soon as Jurik revealed that he worked for both the Pure and the Forsaken, all their defenses went up. They’re probably going to keep Jurik on retainer, but now they know that he’ll happily fix up anyone they hurt so long as the price is right.

                          Without Alexis providing you with a constant feed of intel, the only lead you had to broach discussion with the Suhu Farak was the drained locus located in the center of the Woodlands Cemetery itself. The center of the neighborhood, Woodlands was once a cemetery for the respected solider coming home from war, but had fallen into neglect as the hardships of the 80s and 90s devoured the neighborhood and drove away the caretakers. No one’s dead, not even the veterans, were worth the risk of being caught in the middle of a drive-by. Thick with trees barren of leaves, and crawling with upturned roots and untended grass, Woodlands dominated Quincy Avenue with a resounding sentiment of entropy. Here, in this place, everyone knew what was waiting for them at the end of the road – so why bother? The ennui dripped into the cracks of reality and left its mark on anything that existed within the neighborhood.

                          There was no main entrance, just numerous gates around the entire block each suggesting that visiting hours ended at dusk. Woodlands Cemetery has one road that goes straight through it. Small enough for a single-filed hearse line. At the center, was an oval and within that oval was a raised circle of dirt and grass with a plaque on it. Dedicated to Those Who Fought it reads in weathered font over the chipped stone. From what little Alexis told you, and from the way the Twilight shifts and moves in currents, that was the locus.

                          North of the cemetery, by the Holy Missionary Baptist Church a gaggle of police and firemen loiter in the side-lot. Media crews are perched on the side of the road like vultures waiting for a scrap of flesh. The inhabitants of Quincy though? Are mostly quiet. There’s the occasional pedestrian, and somewhere on E 58th is the sound of yet another block party spilling music into the air. Cars passed in a hurry, hoping to get through the area as quick as possible.

                          Markus pulled the truck up alongside the entrance to the cemetery furthest from the fiasco at the church, then gazed out over the neglected ruin of the cemetery.

                          "This has got to be something we fix, first. The physical environment being so damn shoddy around the locus can't be improving the overall emotional tenor, you know?" – Markus

                          "Yeah. We need to figure out what happened last night, and start... plucking the weeds." – Aldo

                          Finn gives the locus a once over, frowning as he does so. For a locus to be as drained as Alexis stated was a terrible thing. Finn took some small bit of comfort in the fact that, if they were this negligent, then there was some level of rightness to the pack claiming this territory as their own. Finn's eyes shine, the retinal shine of a carnivore's eyes in the night. He takes a step back as he looks around.

                          "Holy Christ on crepes, this place is filled to the brim with entropy and decay spirits. Mostly small, but across the Gauntlet... They're huge, waiting. Ambush predators waiting to strike. All color, all life drained... the ground cracked and broken, black pits... The graves... the graves have been disturbed here on this side" – Finn

                          "Wait, what? You mean these idiots just let the spirits go wild? Were they policing the shadow at all? Fucking hell." – Markus

                          Aldo catches a whiff of something upon the air, and the slow thunder within his mouth comes from the grinding of his teeth. But the primal strength that flows through his body regrows the enamel as quickly as he wears it down.

                          "Then we need to step across somewhere else -- approach this twisted nest from the side." – Aldo

                          "I don't know that we're in position to make a big move like that yet. Finn's still fucked up, and we haven't got Alexis with us till she's finished with her Iminir stuff. We still don't even know if the Cutters are really gone." – Markus

                          "Hursah over there. Hursih over here. They've gone quite feral. I'm not sure if letting this linger much longer will make it worse or no, but the disturbed graves... there might not be time. There might be something terrible happening." – Finn

                          "Were the graves disturbed recently? Is this something they might have done as a "fuck you" to us before they left?" – Markus

                          "No, been happening over a period of time. Some are fresh, but one of them? Grass has grown on the upturned soil. Not sure why, but the reason can't possibly be good.” – Finn

                          "Fuck. We still need to find out what the fuck happened last night. Maybe we cross over elsewhere, try to make for the church, and ask the spirits there?" – Markus

                          "Possible. It's localized to the cemetery, but the entropy curls outwards, like rivers draining from a lake.” – Finn

                          “It's our territory now, and our problem. If the Cutters come back, we can deal with them then.” – Markus

                          The pack wavers between dealing with the cemetery and dealing with the mystery of the missing Cutters. As they ponder this, Finn decides that he’s going to make an official sort of statement about the pack’s claim.

                          Finn evens his breathing and he begins to chant low and garbled. As newly changed wolves, the three of you only have a cursory introduction in the first tongue, but Finn is speaking a ritual taught directly to him by a tutelary spirit. You get hints of the words "protect" "walls" and "boundary" before Finn stops, and you feel a tingle of Essence hum all around you, as Finn spreads his new Ward as far as it can go.

                          The sensation of the Boundary is a strange one. It feels like the surface of a placid lake, the tension trembling but not breaking as it courses out from Finn in waves, like the Ithaeur was a pebble dropped into the middle of a stone. Outward it spreads, reaching the fences (and Finn can sense momentarily the three of you standing there in anticipation. It spreads further out, and there is one blip, at the very edge of the boundary as the wards settle into place a full two miles in every direction, beyond even the neighborhood designated to be yours. It covers everything. Except the cemetery. At the fences, the ward only spills in two hundred yards, leaving the center of Woodlands a desolate wasteland.


                          • #14
                            Interlude 1 - Cold Welcome

                            Scar Tissue. That’s how one Bone Shadow put it. Stepping Sideways was like pushing through the scar tissue of the world, left behind when the two places were forcibly ripped apart. What was left was this thick, fleshy material that you couldn’t see – no, but you could feel it closing in around you, pressing hard against your rib cage until breath was a distant memory. There are rumors that the Gauntlet is called that for a reason: that it’s a fight to pass over and wolves have died in the attempt.

                            Cleveland was miserable enough when looked at through the smog and haze of the Flesh, but the Other Side? The Other Side was a blasted wasteland of rusted skyscrapers that stretched upward to the sky, innards spread open and gouged hollow by the howling wind that ripped through the high altitude. Whatever ‘skin’ was left had the appearance of wax, melted and misshapen as the skyscrapers constantly shifted, the wax trying to form a mockery of a building before melting into nothing. The wax spreads from the center of the city, where the Union has their Den, outward over the suburbs and neighborhoods like a thin, hopeless veneer of normalcy. And though you couldn’t see the highway from where you stood on the Flesh-Side, here the Interstate was a constant that dominated the cityscape. A coiling, shifting snake of crimson and bone, it undulated throughout the corpse of Cleveland, never stopping. The noise of traffic was a droning monotonous buzz that itched at your skull and set your teeth on edge.

                            Even out on the open water, the noise of the Interstate was a continuous hum underneath the howling winds and crashing waves that stretched as high as mountains. Lake Erie was the shallowest of the Great Lakes - but also the most dangerous. In the Hisil, the Cleveland Harbor Lighthouse was forever encased in permafrost with the lake around it cracking and creaking as currents rocked the thick ice sheets that layered up one over the other. This was where the local Iminir met - an homage to the icy tundra that Skolis-Ur prowled. Your breath steams and your body bleeds heat the moment you wrench yourself through the Gauntlet. On the Other Side, the pack of your Grandmother stands tall in the howling gale. Seven strong, and Blessed, they were the heart of the Union Central Protectorate and intrinsically bound to Cleveland. They aren’t alone though. Scattered along the frozen ramps and landings are most of the Iminir - only a few missing since your Initiation.

                            Your grandmother, She-Whom-Devours-the-Lost (or Angela Bailey as you knew her) still looks like a woman in her late forties, though you know she’s much, much older. Her features are haughty, and despite the powerful guise of Dalu, she still looks ready to launch into boardroom politics. Elodath, she’s one of the Anabes Sunudu - the Divine Senses - the council of the most respected elders of your tribe. She is the one who Listens, both to the tribe, and to the Winter choir. You recognize many of the others. The Irakka, Jessicka Smooth-Waters who applauded your decision during your Rite, the brawny Anderson who loomed as a ebony-furred direwolf right by the open door.

                            Angela doesn’t apologize for the summons - but instead opens up with a congratulations on a sloppy, but secured acquisition of real estate.
                            The cold was a cutting knife, an almost insidious thing that leeched at her life and tried to draw her into a never-ending slumber. It was also a patron, a brother, and a test. Alexis welcomed it with bare arms, jeans and a thin tank top the only protection she brought across as shelter from the elements. She would not hide from it, she would endure it using just her natural tenacity and her ability to hunt beneath the iron skies.
                            But even the wintery bite couldn’t distract her from the state of the Hisil. Growing up, she’d long heard about how apparent the suffering of the city was shown in its spiritual reflection. Even that hadn’t truly prepared her to see it as she had these past few months. There was a lot of work to be done.

                            Soon enough the young wolf who is so reminiscent of Skolis-Ur reaches the meeting ground of her tribe. She exchanges greetings with all who offer them as she approaches. But even so hardly slows her approach towards the woman who had summoned her. She doubted any of them would blame her. Even when Alexis had been but a mortal and Angela had been but her Grandmother she very rarely dared to keep the woman waiting any longer than necessary.

                            Even if she tried she doubted she could have suppressed a grin a the congratulations. Praise from her was never a small thing. And, of course, there was that excitement at having territory to call her own. “Thank you, Elder. It may not have gone according to plan...we managed in the end.” That was what mattered.

                            “I came as quickly as I could manage when I received your summons.”

                            Angela nods at the mention of urgency, things were as they should be, and there’s little more to be said on that front. “This is not a formal summons - merely a request for those of us that lead our respective packs to commune over a growing problem that can no longer be set aside as a quirk of the Beshilu’s incessant gnawing.”

                            That was one of the quirks of the Iminir, a quiet insistence that your tribe was the leading tribe, though it was strongly encouraged to never be mentioned outside of events such as this one. It was an attitude that led to the acceptance of you being placed in a multi-tribal pack rather than being set up as a cub within the Union itself.

                            “It’s an unfortunate reality of this land that we have a bountiful selection of prey. Though our younger cousins do their best to cull the population of rats, it is simply not enough. The duguthim are a constant we will always have to plan for, but there have been sightings of something troublesome.” Angela nods for Jessicka to speak.

                            The wiry, youthful Irraka throws everyone off-guard with her carefree attitude and tendency to pass as a college freshman straight outta high school, but you remember her looking the exact same when she babysat you about twenty years ago. With pale blond hair and piercing green eyes, Jessicka seems lost in the wintry environment, washed out against the translucent ice. She swings her legs over the railing and hops down to the level where you stand. “So, remember your Initiation Rite and how you managed to somehow secure free, uncontested passage through the Pallid One’s domain?” She doesn’t wait for an answer. “We might need you to do it again.”

                            A part of her wondered how her pack would think of that insinuation from Angela. A reqeust for those who led their packs....hers had never really formally figured that out. But that was also neither here nor there, there were more important matters at hand.

                            Jessicka’s proclamation certainly has Alexis’s eyebrows arching in surprise. If dealing with him as a necessity...then something big was going on indeed. “Just uncontested, not free. He just hasn’t collected yet. I could certainly give arranging something like it again a shot.” She shrugs, a wry grin on her lips, “After all, he can’t just try and kill me on sight without the risk of losing a favor, right?” Which, interestingly enough, meant she might well have a better chance at walking away from a meeting than most wolves in the city would.

                            “You didn’t come out with a shiny new scar and traumatic memories like the last Irraka who ran through there. I’d say it’s free enough.” Jessicka grins, teeth unnaturally sharp even in Hishu. “Still, we need information. Pictures, if it comes down to it.”

                            Angela coughs, and the pale Irraka jumps. “Right. The ‘why’ is important. So. We’ve been sorta keeping it quiet because ever since most of the Talons bolted for the middle of the freaking desert, we don’t really have the body count to deal with werewolf-issues.”

                            Werewolf-Issues was the “polite” way of how most tribes contracted out the Blood Talons when a hunt was focused on another one of the People. Jessicka continues on. “However, a recent skirmish is leaving us to think that it’s more up our alley. Down by Boneclaw Mother’s territory, we were chasing a pack of fire-spirits that managed to possess some of the homeless. Warmth in exchange for loss of free will, the usual barter. Anyways - they had backup. Like, the sort of backup that flies into a frothing madness and can twist it’s shape and reflection to match ours. At first we thought it was a Fire-Touched Fade, but now… we’re not so sure.”

                            Angela interjects once more. “We believe that the duguthim of Ox Bend have managed to possess one of the many Ghost Wolves Boneclaw allows passage through her area. We can’t say for sure because the creature fled south - into the Steelyards and though relations are ...cordial … any access by one of the Union Protectorate will be seen as a breach of the truce. You, on the other hand, have the opportunity that we do not. I would like to tap into that potential.”

                            “Give it time, he might leave me with a new one to show off before things are settled between us.” Then she quieted down to listen to the explanations. It certainly did sound like a thorny situation. Though if they were lucky the Pallid One might simply have killed it for trespassing. Not that she expected they’d find themselves that lucky.

                            “Right. Talk to the Pallid One again, get him to let me roam around a bit, and see what I can find out about a ghost wolf getting too...close with the duguthim.” A fine mess to inject herself into the middle of. “And take pictures if I can. Does that about sum it up?”

                            Of course, that summary made it sound much easier and simpler than it actually would be. But she wasn’t about to stand around and bitch in front of the whole tribe about being asked to do something difficult.

                            “We know that this is a complication upon the establishment of your newly-conquered territory. We will reward you, and your pack for the assistance. In addition, it will allow us to gain not only knowledge on whatever it was that fled into the Steelyards, but update our files on the Pallid One himself. It has been nearly twenty years since someone last managed to gather anything of use concerning the Steelyards and I think we’re overdue for a briefing on that situation.” Angela offers you a grim smile, an expression that acknowledges the situation you have been thrust into, and offered empathy for the situations that it will continue to place you in.

                            Then she turns to the assemblage. “This is not just a meeting for Alexis, but a reminder to all of you. There is a new sort of duguthim in Cleveland and it is not born of human bodies. Keep extra eyes upon your territories and report anything unusual as Luna begins to veil her eyes for the coming month.”

                            In the Hisil, Luna always watched. Her gaze always made it through even the strongest cloud cover. Tonight, her Judging Stare illuminated the meeting, casting everything with a silvery gleam. However, when time came for the New Moon, for those three nights, the Hisil was left without light, and it was said that the strangest hunts occurred only when the Mother could not watch.

                            In truth, she’d have done it even without the promise of a reward. Partially because the good graces of the Protectorate was certainly a good place to be. And partially just to prove that she could handle what was asked of her. But the offer of a reward, the knowledge that the Protectorate would help instead of just use, was very welcome.

                            The news that spirits seemed to be riding a werewolf? Much less welcome. If she’d have been asked about something of the sort just half an hour ago she’d have likely simply replied that such a thing was impossible. But...apparently that wasn’t the case. Just another issue to deal with.
                            She waited to see if her grandmother had any more official business to cover this night. If not, she still lingered to mingle with her tribemates. It was one of those chances to spend time with like-minded individuals after all. That, and she wasn’t going to be the first to retreat from the bite of winter that laid so thick around this place.
                            Last edited by Aynie; 03-01-2016, 12:35 AM.