Mirrors, Monsters, and Misfits

Names for Groups of Animals
A Reference List

Credit to http://www.writers-free-reference.com/172groupnames.htm From whence this list was found.

Albatross come in groups called a rookery

Alligators come in groups called a congregation

Alpaca come in groups called a herd

Antelope come in groups called a herd

Apes come in groups called a shrewdness or troop

Antelope come in groups called a herd

Ants come in groups called a colony, army, swarm or nest

Armadillo come in groups called a roll

Asses come in groups called a pace, herd or drove

Auks come in groups called a colony, flock or raft

Baboons come in groups called a troop or flange

Bacteria come in groups called a culture

Badgers come in groups called a cete, colony, set or company

Barracudas come in groups called a battery

Bats come in groups called a colony or cloud

Bass come in groups called a shoal

Bears come in groups called a sloth, sleuth or litter

Beavers come in groups called a colony or family

Bees come in groups called a grist, hive, swarm or nest

Birds come in groups called a brood, clutch, flight, flock or dissimulation

Bison come in groups called a herd

Bitterns come in groups called a sedge, or seige

Bloodhounds come in groups called a sute

Bobolinks come in groups called a chain

Boar sounder or singular

Buffalo come in groups called a herd, troop, gang, or obstinancy

Bullfinches come in groups called a bellowing

Bullocks come in groups called a drove

Butterflies come in groups called a flight, or flutter

Buzzards come in groups called a wake

Camels come in groups called a caravan, train, or flock

Capons come in groups called a mews

Caribou come in groups called a herd

Caterpillars come in groups called a army

Cats come in groups called a clowder, clutter, pounce, dout, nuisance, glorying, or glare

Cattle come in groups called a drove, herd, or team

Cheetahs come in groups called a coalition

Chickens come in groups called a brood, or peep

Chicks come in groups called a clutch, or chattering

Chinchilla come in groups called a colony

Choughs come in groups called a clattering

Clams come in groups called a bed

Cobras come in groups called a quiver

Cockroaches come in groups called a intrusion

Cod come in groups called a lap

Colts come in groups called a rag, or rake Coots come in groups called a cover, or raft

Cormorants come in groups called a gulp

Cows come in groups called a kine

Coyotes come in groups called a band

Crabs come in groups called a cast

Cranes come in groups called a sedge, or seige

Crocodiles come in groups called a bask, or float

Crones come in groups called a cackle

Crows come in groups called a murder, horde, parcel, or storytelling

Cur Dogs come in groups called a cowardice

Curlews come in groups called a herd

Debutants come in groups called a bevy or soirée

Deer come in groups called a herd, leash, or gang

Dinosaur come in groups called a herd or pack

Dogs come in groups called a kennel

Dolphins come in groups called a pod

Donkeys come in groups called a drove, pace, or herd

Dotterel come in groups called a trip

Doves come in groups called a arc, dule, bevy, cote, dole, or paddling

Ducks come in groups called a floc, brace, or badling

Dunlins come in groups called a fling

Eagles come in groups called a convocation, or aerie

Eels come in groups called a swarm, bed, or fry

Elephants come in groups called a herd, or memory

Elk come in groups called a gang, or herd

Emus come in groups called a mob

Falcons come in groups called a cast

Fat men come in groups called a bloat

Ferrets come in groups called a business, cast, or fesnying

Finches come in groups called a charm

Fish come in groups called a draft, nest, shoal, school, catch, drought, or haul

Flamingoes come in groups called a stand, or flamboyance

Flies come in groups called a business, swarm, or cloud

Frogs come in groups called a army, colony, or knot

Fox come in groups called a leash, skulk, earth, lead, or troop

Game Birds come in groups called a volary, brace, plump or knob

Geese come in groups called a flock, skein, gaggle, herd, or corps

Gerbil come in groups called a horde

Giraffes come in groups called a herd, corps or tower

Gnats come in groups called a cloud, horde, or swarm

Gnus come in groups called a implausibility

Goats come in groups called a tribe, trip, drove, herd, or flock

Goldfinches come in groups called a charm

Goldfish come in groups called a glint, or troubling

Gorillas come in groups called a band, or troop

Goshawks come in groups called a flight

Grasshoppers come in groups called a cloud

Greyhounds come in groups called a leash

Grouse come in groups called a pack, or covey

Guillemots come in groups called a bazaar

Guinea pigs come in groups called a muddle

Gulls come in groups called a colony, or screech

Guinea Fowl come in groups called a confusion

Hamster come in groups called a horde

Hare come in groups called a warren, down or husk

Hawks come in groups called a cast, kettle or oil

Hedgehogs come in groups called a array

Herons come in groups called a sedge, siege, or hedge

Herring come in groups called a army, or shoal

Hippopotamuses come in groups called a bloat

Hog come in groups called a drove, or herd

Hornets come in groups called a nest, or bike

Horses come in groups called a team, harras, stable, troop, or stud

Hound Dogs come in groups called a cry, mute, or pack

Human come in groups called a clan, crowd, family, community, gang, mob, or tribe

Hummingbirds come in groups called a charm

Husbands come in groups called a couch or bench

Hyenas come in groups called a cackle

Impalas come in groups called a herd

Insects come in groups called a horde, nest, swarm, rabble, or plague

Jackrabbit come in groups called a husk

Jays come in groups called a party, scold, or band

Jellyfish come in groups called a smack, or brood

Kangaroos come in groups called a troop, mob, or herd

Kittens come in groups called a kindle, litter, or intrigue

Koala come in groups called a cling

Ladybirds come in groups called a loveliness

Lapwings come in groups called a deceit

Larks come in groups called a exaltation, or ascension

Leopards come in groups called a leap

Lice come in groups called a flock

Lions come in groups called a pride, sault, or troop

Lizards come in groups called a lounge

Llama come in groups called a cria herd

Locusts come in groups called a plague

Magpies come in groups called a tiding, gulp, murder, or charm

Mallards come in groups called a brace or sord

Martens come in groups called a richness

Mice come in groups called a mischief or nest

Midges come in groups called a Bite

Minnows come in groups called a shoal, steam, or swarm

Moles come in groups called a labor, company, or movement

Monkeys come in groups called a troop, barrel, carload, cartload, or tribe

Moose come in groups called a herd

Mosquitoes come in groups called a scourge

Mudhens come in groups called a fleet

Mules come in groups called a pack, span, barren, or rake

Nightingales come in groups called a watch

Opossum come in groups called a grin

Ostrich come in groups called a flock

Otters come in groups called a romp, bevy, family, or raft

Owls come in groups called a parliament, or stare

Oxen come in groups called a team, yoke, or drove

Oysters come in groups called a bed

Pandas come in groups called a bamboo

Parrots come in groups called a company, or pandemonium

Partridge come in groups called a covey, or bew

Peacocks come in groups called a muster, ostentation, or pride

Pekingese come in groups called a pomp

Pelicans come in groups called a pod

Penguins come in groups called a colony, rookery, huddle, crèche,

Pheasants come in groups called a nest, nye, nide, or bouquet

Pigeons come in groups called a flight, flock, or kit

Pigs come in groups called a drift, drove, singular, sounder, team, passel, drift, or parcel

Pilchards come in groups called a shoal

Platypus come in groups called a puddle

Plovers come in groups called a congregation or wing

Polecats come in groups called a chine

Ponies come in groups called a string

Porcupines come in groups called a prickle

Porpoises come in groups called a herd, pod, school, crowd, or shoal

Prairie Dogs come in groups called a coterie

Pronghorn come in groups called a herd

Ptarmigans come in groups called a covey

Puppies come in groups called a litter

Quail come in groups called a Bevy, covey

Rabbits come in groups called a colony, warren, bury, trace, trip, herd, litter or nest

Raccoons come in groups called a gaze

Rats come in groups called a colony, pack, plague, or swarm

Rattlesnakes come in groups called a rhumba or coil

Ravens come in groups called a unkindness, or storytelling

Reindeer come in groups called a herd

Rhinoceroses come in groups called a crash, or stubbornness

Roebucks come in groups called a bevy

Rooks come in groups called a building, clamor, or parliament

Ruffs come in groups called a hill

Salmon come in groups called a run

Sand Dollar come in groups called a purse

Sandpipers come in groups called a fling

Sardines come in groups called a family

Scorpions come in groups called a bed, nest

Seabirds come in groups called a Wreck

Seals come in groups called a pod, bob, harem, herd, or rookery

Seastar come in groups called a constellation

Sea Urchin come in groups called a vagrant

Serval come in groups called a sluthe

Sharks come in groups called a shiver, school, or shoal

Sheep come in groups called a drove, flock, down, hurtle, fold, pack, or trip

Sheldrakes come in groups called a doading

Skunk come in groups called a surfeit

Skylarks come in groups called a exultation

Squirrels come in groups called a dray, scurry

Snails come in groups called a escargatoire, rout, or walk

Snakes come in groups called a den, nest, pit, bed, or knot

Snipe come in groups called a walk, or wisp

Sparrows come in groups called a host

Spiders come in groups called a cluster, or clutter

Springbok come in groups called a herd

Squirrels come in groups called a dray, or scurry

Shrews (mouse-like animal) come in groups called a whisker

Shrews (women) come in groups called a quarrel or nag

Starlings come in groups called a murmuration, or chattering

Stingrays come in groups called a fever

Stoats come in groups called a pack, trip

Storks come in groups called a mustering, or muster

Swallows come in groups called a flight, or gulp

Swans come in groups called a bevy, bank, herd, wedge, or flight

Swifts come in groups called a flock

Swine come in groups called a sounder Teal come in groups called a spring

Termites come in groups called a colony, nest, swarm, or brood

Thrush come in groups called a mutation

Tigers come in groups called a streak, or ambush

Toads come in groups called a knot, knab, or nest

Toodlers come in groups called a tumble

Trout come in groups called a hover

Turkeys come in groups called a rafter, gang, or posse

Turtles come in groups called a bale, nest, turn, or dole

Turtle Doves come in groups called a pitying, or piteousness

Unicorns come in groups called a blessing

Vipers come in groups called a generation, or nest

Vultures come in groups called a venue or kettle

Wallaby come in groups called a mob

Walruses come in groups called a herd, or pod

Wasps come in groups called a nest, swarm

Water ducks come in groups called a raft, team, or paddling

Waterfowl come in groups called a knob, or plump

Weasles come in groups called a gang, colony, or pack

Whales come in groups called a pod, gam, herd, school, or mod

Widgeons come in groups called a company

Wild Cats come in groups called a destruction

Wild Dogs come in groups called a pack

Wildfowl come in groups called a plump

Wild Horses come in groups called a herd

Witches come in groups called a flight or cackle

Wives come in groups called a nag

Wolves come in groups called a pack, route, or rout

Wombats come in groups called a wisdom

Woodcocks come in groups called a fall

Woodpeckers come in groups called a descent

Worms come in groups called a bed, clew, bunch, or clat

Wrens come in groups called a herd

Yak come in groups called a herd

Yellow Jackets come in groups called a colony

Zebras come in groups called a Crossing, Zeal, Cohorts, or Herd

View
Decisions About The Past
Anna's Choice

Anna huddled on the back seat of the rental van as they drove to the airport. As much as she enjoyed the exhilaration of speeding down the road and weaving through traffic, her heart was not in it and she had tossed the keys to Simon before getting into the back. She was sure the other noticed but they said nothing. Some were thinking about Hipflask and Happy Hour and what happened to them; others, well who knows what goes through the minds of vampires at times like this. Anna was worried about Hipflask, especially Hammer, but the words the Great White Mouse said to her haunted her and her quest to find the Mouse Codex before Pentex or the Black Spiral Dancers could. His words opened up a flood gate of emotion that she thought she had buried.

“You have always known mice.”

Those words made her think of the home and the situation she escaped from all those years ago. Anna thought back to where she grew up. Nothing stuck out to her that would make her think about mice. The only thing that kept coming to here was the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father and the cult that call itself a church that she was raised in. Memories of her father abusing her mother and the cult leader using her as a whore for the last few years of her short life. Anna never hated her mother for committing suicide. She always believed that her mother was the lucky one, at least her pain ended. If Anna had not gotten out when she did she might have followed in her mother’s footsteps just to stop her suffering also.

She pulled the hood of her jacket up hoping that the others did not notice the tears that had started flowing. She tried to keep them wiped away with the jackets cuffs but the floodgate of emotions had opened. Anna dared not look around the car, she could not face a concerned look from Rose right now. As she silently wept over things long past she realized that the others knew she was crying, damn their enhanced senses. Why did she have to travel with were-critters and vampires, at least the mage was hopefully oblivious. She heard a window go down up front and a cigarette being lit, Frank was probably trying to help in his own way by masking the scent and sound of tears with smoke and wind.

Anna hated that she had always hidden her past from her Family. How could she tell the others where she came from, the pain and suffering she had to live with while growing up. How could she explain to her Family the cult that she was raised in.

She knew what the town was like about ten years ago but had no idea how it had possibly changed. The town was the cult from what she remembered, there was nobody living there that resisted it. Her Family had been in many bad situations and were able to come out in one piece but to her this was different. Anna felt a dark cloud over her soul and a chill to the bone thinking about that place, this made her fear for her Family more so than when they faced down the Black Spiral Dancers. Something has been growing in that town for over thirty years and she had no idea what.

She wanted to run and hide away from the world and all the bad things that seemed to keep finding her. Taking off and starting over someplace where nobody knew her and there were none of the night folk. A lovey dream but one she had to forget. She had started a family and found good friends that she would die for and did die for. She wasn’t exactly like them but she always felt safe when they were near. She had made a home, not one based on blood that always seemed to betray and abuse her but on choice. It was being threatened and Anna could not stand for that. She had found others like herself that need her help, their ingenuity and innocence made Anna want to protect them from the dangers heading their way. She had friends and a lover that needed her in what was coming and she could not let them down, not after everything they had been through together.

By the time they had pulled into the airport the tears had stopped and a decision made. She would tell her Family about her past even though it would be painful. They need to know what they could be walking into and what to watch out for. Their safety was more important to her than her own insecurities. After they figured out what happened to Hipflask they would have a long talk and decide together how to proceed. Anna felt a weight lift from her and her heart lighten, she still had her fears about what they would find but they would face it together as a Family.

Anna jumped out of the van and turned to face the others,” Alright people we got a plane to catch. Let’s get moving or I’m leaving your asses.” Giving them a wink and a smile Anna turned and walked into the private plane terminal. She had some fast talking to do to get them out of New York.

View
In Walked A Chameleon
A spirits gift

I was tired, the family had been on the move for several days with little to no rest. I crashed onto the bed in the room I shared with Rose at the La Quinta in New York. As I let sleep take me I could hear Rose cleaning guns over on the coach. The smell of gun cleaner was somehow comforting as the world faded to black.

“Anna hurry, we must not dally here!”

I ran down the forest path. The damn lizard was always getting too far ahead. How did he expect me to keep up, the path was little more than an animal track with branches and roots always ready to grab at and trip me. I barely made out the tip of his tail moving down a side path and I darted after him. I burst through a bush and found myself tumbling down a steep hill. I saw the shadow of the lizard disappearing up a tree as I crashed into a table and send the food upon it flying. As I was trying to pull myself together and pick myself up off the ground I felt a sharp blade at my throat.

“What do we have here,” came a voice a little way away. “Bring the urchin here so we can have a look at her.”

I was grabbed by rough hands and pulled from the ground. The two men holding me up were dressed in chain mail armor and were armed with spears which explained the blade I felt. I was dragged over and dropped at the feet of a woman in royal robes. The head of her scepter roughly lifted my chin and I met her gaze. Cruel dead eyes glared are me. I was shocked by tight gaunt skin that stretched across the bones of her face. The royal finery upon her body fit loosely and was moth eaten and faded with age.

“What a scrumptious little morsel you are, we will have you replace what you spoiled for us. Guards, prepare her.” Her voice was raspy but still had an air of superiority. Flicking her scepter I tumbled backward and landed on the grass as she turned and strolled over to her throne. Looking around I saw that the table I knocked over had not been filled with food like I thought. Platers of human limbs and organs lay shorn around the ground. Several wine urns had spilled their contents of blood on the ground and were quickly soaking in. I realized that my body was to replace the meal on the new table the guards were setting up.

Thinking quickly I spoke up, “Your majesty, I beg your forgiveness for the terrible accident I have caused to befall you. I hope to not speak out of place when I say that I am just mere skin and bones compared to the feast you had set. Would not one or two of you plump muscular guards be a much better meal for one such as yourself?” I got to my feet and curtsied to the undead creature.

She seemed taken aback that someone would address her. Sitting upon the carved gilded throne she stared at me for a minute before responding. I stayed curtsied not sure what to do, when I heard her speak I slowly stood up and looked at her. “So the urchin has a tongue in her head. Why would we listen to advice from the destroyer of our feast? One so young should be seen and not heard.”

“Your majesty, my size is confusing to most. My people are all small in stature, I’m much older than you think,” I did my best to keep my voice even and keep a small smile on my lips.

“Your people you say, just whom are they,” her voice became a little higher. I can tell that I’m starting to annoy her. I need to sooth her ego a little.

“I am a Minjur your majesty. My people are not local, I have been on a long journey but got lost in the woods when I was separated from my guide. I feared something after me and that’s when I ran and fell upon your table.” That’s it I can see a little interest in those dead eyes. “Why I trusted the guide to get me through the woods I’ll never know. He did seem trustworthy but, oh I’m sorry your majesty I did not mean to ramble about my insignificant problems with your lovely feast ruined.” There is the look I wanted, I set the hook now to reel her in.

“Tell us of your people and your journey. It amuses us to hear,” she said leaning back in her throne.

“Well your majesty, my people live far from here in a giant machine. Our towns slowly rotate on enormous gears while we travel between them on springs and sprockets. The machine alters its form from time to time so we are always having to find new paths between the towns, the gears themselves being the safest places to live. Some of my people have learned to talk to the machine, they help us rediscover the paths and lead us to the hidden treasures that can surface. Others have learned to channel the machine elements like metal, steam, and lightning, these people help to protect. The machine is beautiful but deadly if you don’t pay it the proper respect and attention. Some say that an ancient god sleeps at the heart of the machine and the changes in the machine are its response to the gods dreaming,” I spin my tale and see that I have amused the undead royalty. “As for myself, I travel to a hidden library in the east seeking information on the god that might sleep in the machine depths. The times between the changes have been growing shorter and more violent. There are those among my people that believe this means the god might awaken destroying our world. I seek knowledge on how to sooth the god so he can sleep in peace. I thought I had found a trustworthy guide in the town at the edge of the forest but, well, you know what happened with that your majesty.”

“How interesting my dear, to think you might not make it. Your people will surely mourn you if you don’t return,” licking her lips as she speaks I can see the hunger fighting through her interest. I need to act fast.

“Your majesty must be hungry, allow me to help.” I give a small curtsy to hide palming the dagger from my boot but don’t hide the picking up of a goblet from the ground at my feet. I lash out with my dagger severing the throat of one of the guards. Following the body down, I filled the goblet with fresh blood and quickly offered it to the royal before the other guards responded. The undead greedily drank deep and I could see some satisfaction in her dead eyes. I needed to keep things rolling my way, spinning around I addressed the guard that was about to lunge at me,” Just what do you think you are doing? Can you not see that your mistress needs taking care of? Go prepare the body before you are taken in its place.” I had to make this work as I stared down the guard and spoke my eyes went white and a predatory aura filled the air around me. The guard shrunk away from me and with the help of another guard drug the body away to prepare it. My eyes returning to normal and with the predatory vibe quickly dying down I returned my attention to the throne. “There you are your majesty, I think I have solved your problem.” A slightly wicked smile crossed my lips.

She laughed, I had not expected that. She wiped a blood tear from her eye and tried to calm herself down. “You are a treasure my dear. We have not been so amused in so long. You must come visit us when you come back this way and tell us of your travels." With a wave of her hand a path opened in the hedge surrounding her banquet.

“Of course your majesty, it would be my pleasure.” With a quick curtsy I quickly turned and headed down the path.

The path became foggy the further I went. I soon could no longer see the path but I tried to stay straight. I must have done something right because the fog started to clear and I found myself walking down a path in an ancient wood. There was bright moon light filtering through the branches that cast eerie shadows among the trees. I felt like I was being watched but I kept moving, I needed to. I started hearing panting in the woods around me. Then I saw shadows moving, matching me on both sides. I came to a fork in the path and not knowing the way I decided to ask those that followed me.

Spinning around I called out into the shadows,” Hello, maybe you can help me. I’m a little lost and am looking for the path to the east. I’m in an offal hurry so any help would be much appreciated.” I saw the movements in the shadows stop. “Really now, don’t be shy. It’s not polite to keep a girl waiting.”

There was a flash of movement and suddenly before me were four enormous wolves that towered over me. Their mouths snarled back reveling long sharp dagger like fangs. They stood close enough that I could feel the heat and moisture in their breath. Their coats were an almost impossible shade of black and their blood shot eyes glowed an eerie yellow. One of them took a step forward and lowered his head to look me in the eye as he ran his tongue across his teeth.

Reaching out I thumped him on the nose letting loose a jolt of electricity. He jumped back startled giving me a little breathing room. “Now that is no way to treat a guest. Have you no manners?” The shocked look on their faces was priceless but I did not let up. “Do you not have anything to say for yourselves?” I took a step forward wagging a finger at the group. Two of them started having the look of kids caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Taking another step forward I grabbed the wolf I shocked by the scruff of his chin and pulled him back eye level but on my terms. “Where is your alpha? An alpha would have better manners than the runts of the litter I find before me.” Pushing his head down and away from me I spoke again,” Go bring me your alpha so I might have a proper conversation.” I had put as must authority into my voice as I could and it worked. They turned and disappeared into the woods. I thought I was a snack but my luck held.

I turned to look at the forked path again to contemplate what to do when I felt eyes on me again. Turning around there was a wolf sitting there watching me. He was similar to the others but a little larger and with some gray on its muzzle. His eyes were calmer and had an air of authority.

“So you are the Little Red terrorizing my pack.” His tone had a bit of amusement in it.

“Terrorizing is a little strong, I just did not feel being anyone’s meal. Forgive me if I overstepped my bounds but they were being rude to a fellow child of Luna.” I gave the alpha a little smile.

He shifted back into his human form. He was tall and pale with a thick head of black hair and gray beard. “Just what child of Luna are you Little Red. You don’t have the smell of a wolf.” His nostrils flared as he took another deep sniff of the air.

“Luna blessed more than just the wolves. She also blessed cats, bears, horses, and many others including,” I quickly shifted into my animal form" the mice." He looked shocked for a few seconds then fell over laughing. “Now that’s just rude, I expected more from an alpha.” I hopped over and nipped him on his nose sending a powerful jolt of electricity through his body.

Rolling away from me he came into a crouch already reverted back into a wolf. “What sort of creature are you?” He bared his fangs and prepared to pounce.

Quickly shifting back into my human form I raised up my hands palm out and tried to calm him. “Calm yourself alpha that was just a spirit gift to get you attention. I just wanted to show you that even ones so small can take care themselves. You would not want one blessed by Luna to be weak would you?”

He relaxed a little and gave me a quizzical look, “So child of Luna why do you pass through our territory?"

I relaxed a little and spoke, "There is a danger that could destroy my home and possibly my people. I was sent to the east to find a library that we hope has the information to save us. I must hurry in my travels or I might be too late. I only do what I can to help my people, would you do any less?”

The alpha walked up to me and sat. He placed a paw on my shoulder and looked deep into my eye for a minute. I could feel some spiritual power being used on me. As the power faded he spoke, “I believe you Little Red, take the left path and may Luna’s blessing speed you on your way.”

He took his paw down and I threw my arms around his neck. Giving him a quick hug I turned and headed down the left path. The path became a cobble stone road and the forest around thinned until it became rolling grass lands. As I kept walking a fog rolled in and soon I could barely see my hand in front of my face. It felt like I was still walking on the road when I bumped into something wooden. Looking around I found that I was alone in a small walled courtyard in front of a large stone tower. I had run into the big double door to the tower. I reached up and swung the door knocker. Striking the door there was a huge
hollow booming sound.

“I hear you, I hear you. Don’t swing that damn knocker again, hate that damn thing…,” the voice from the other side of the door trailed off to a mutter. The door cracked open and a man with wild brown hair and beard stuck his head out. He looked me up and down through comically thick glasses. “Whatever you’re selling we don’t want any.” Then he tried to close the door on me.

Placing my hand on the door I looked up at him with the biggest puppy dog eyes I could muster, “Please sir I have traveled a long time and faced many dangers to gain access to your library. It might hold the knowledge to save my people.”

His pressure on the door relaxed, I had his attention. “What do you mean might hold the knowledge? THIS IS THE GREATEST REPOSITORY OF KNOWLEDGE THIS WORLD HAS EVER SEEN!! You have no idea the power it holds.” His voice boomed as he spoke, his passion was almost a visible flaming aura.

“I mean no disrespect, this is the fate of my people I’m talking about. I must be sure.” I put a nice edge of distressed maiden in my voice hoping that might help sway him.

“Why should I care about the fate of your people?” He raised one eye brow as he spoke.
Good I still had him talking, “I live far to the east….”

“Already board,” is all I heard him say as he glided backward and an unseen force slammed the door in my face. I heard his laughing fade away as I stood there.

No, I would not be stopped by this. Damn magi and their damn library, I will get what I came for. I went flush with anger then started looking around for another way in. Stomping around the towers base for a little while I came upon a small shuttered window. The window itself was too small for even a young child to get through but thanks to a damaged slat in the shutter that would be no problem for me. Reaching up and grasping the window sill I started pulling myself up. As I started coming off the ground I shifted into my mouse form and tumbled up onto the sill. I ran over and wiggled through the break and found myself inside.

It took only a second for my eyes to adjust to the dim light. I was in an enormous round chamber. Shelves wrapped the walls and went up multiple stories. Stairs, catwalks, balconies, and ladders wrapped around the shelves. The open area had tables and cases spread around. Little blue balls of light floated around dimly illuminating the area.
Staying in my mouse form for the speed it gives me, I climbed down from the window and scurried across the floor. I started my search for the magi. After running around in the maze like library for several hours I tracked the magi down to a balcony about three stories up reading from a large tome laid out on a table. I climbed up on the table and stormed over to the magi.

“That was very rude of you slamming that door in my face when I just wanted to talk to you!” I squeak out at him as my mouse form jumped up on him tome.

He let out a very girly scream and fell over backwards, “What the hell!!”

Bouncing over I looked down at him then shifted back to human form sitting on the edge of the table. “Now can we talk or do you just want to lay on the floor? Like I was saying I need some information and looking at this place I’m going to need your help to find. Now pull yourself together man.”

He pulled himself to his feet and adjusted his glasses. He reached out and pocked me. “What are you?” He seemed genially mystified by me so I had to use this to my advantage.

“I’m a Minjur wise magi. My people live far from here so you might not have heard of us but we have heard of your library," I gave him a little smile then hopped down from the table.

He looked down at me still confused but wanting answers. "I have records on all the lycanthropes but your aren’t in them , why aren’t you in them. "

“Now first of all lycanthropes are just wolves. The rest of us hate being called that. There are many others that are blessed by Luna that are not wolves. There are the different cats, the bears, horses, some birds, and many rodents including the mice such as myself. That is just to name a few.” I was amused by the look of amazement on his face.

“I must know more,” he reached out a grabbed my shoulders. “This could be a whole new field of study!” I could see the excitement in his eyes

“Calm yourself magi, I think we could come to a fair trade. I’ll share with you some information on my people and you help me with the information I came here for. " I could see the gears turning in his head. This was the bait I need to set my hook.

“Fine, I think we can help each other. Now tell me of what you seek.” The hook was set.
I told him of my home and the legends of the sleeping god as he lead me down a staircase and through the library. He asked me various questions and as I answered he altered our path. We finally came to an alcove with a locked cabinet. Taking a key from a pouch he unlocked it and pulled out the lone tome inside. Setting it on a table he motioned me to open it. I lifted the cover and the world went white.

I found myself sitting on a beach staring out at the sea. I reached down and picked up the beer I have been drinking and swirled what was left. From the trees behind me I heard a small rustle. Out wondered a small chameleon that stopped next to me and looked up. I wasn’t startled when it started talking.

“You are a little wonder you know that,” it said to me.

“So what does that mean?” I asked.

" You flutter around between the different night folk and make them comfortable with you. You have a way of making them work together. It is a rare gift. What a social chameleon you are." As it spoke it climbed up onto my lap.

“All I’ve done is what I had to do to keep my family safe,” is the only response I could think to say.

It licked its eyes with its tongue before continuing. "You have drown my attention and I want to give you my favor if you will have it. It will help you it your tasks and it would amuse me to help swing things in your favor. "

“Well with such a gracious offer how could I refuse.” The chameleon wondered over to my left forearm and dove into it. I woke with a start, Rose was snoring in the bed next to mine and I heard Simon banging on the door. I raised my arm to push the hair from my face before responding to the door 5rand that’s when I noticed it. There was now a chameleon shaped birthmark on my arm.

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NYPD Chinatown: Chapter 6

Chinatown Chapter 6

The clock on the wall of my apartment, as old as it was, came off as a prank played at me. It was one of those cat-shaped ones, black and white, a pendulum-tail counting the seconds with eyes swaying the opposite way. At least it didn’t meow at every turn of the hour. I didn’t bother opening the pouch before I left the apartment. The cat showed 6:30, and I had an appointment to make. I think…

The ride down the elevator felt like it went on forever, as tired as I was, even after a cold shower. It was like I pulled an all-niter like I’ve done back in L.A.

L.A…

Skinny, steely fingers wrapped around my arm, jolting me from my daydream, and I looked up to a pretty face with brown hair curled at her shoulders. Her hazel-orange eyes looked at me, concerned. That was when I noticed I had been standing right in front of the elevator, blocking anyone from going in or coming out. Apparently, the elevator sat in the lobby for a while.

“Getting off?” she said.

In the midst of trying to snap myself from my thoughts, my brain decided to go into Idiot Mode.

“What, no!” I said, pulling my arm from her grasp.

She cocked her head, the look the concern washed away and replaced with a fresh coat of annoyed.

“I mean, yes, I am. To the, here. Lobby.” I managed to utter an apology when I slid past her and out the door. I rubbed my eyes and smacked myself as I went to the antique store.

As soon as I got there, and back to the Umbra, there wasn’t a soul to be found on the roof. I stood on the edge of the the store’s roof, staring down at the spirits below. You can get a good feel for the state of the city by looking at the spirits they spawn. Spirits born of depression, malice, and hopelessness were common in big cities, even more so in other Chinatowns. These spirits were born of emotion brought on my the living expressing such things. Can’t blame them, I’d be that way, too, if I found myself here, stuck living in an overpopulated area with thousands of other Schmoes of whom all I have in common with can be easily found within racial profiles.

Even to the most seasoned Uratha, the spirit world can still be surprising. Turn the right corner in the Umbra, and you can find anything.

“Sweet!” said a voice from behind me. I turned and saw Chase with a proud-looking smile on his gave. “I like how the tables have turned here -with you there and me here, y’know. I almost didn’t think you got my message.”

“That was you with the sign?” I asked anyway, even though I already knew the answer. “How did you find me?”

“Heard the scuffle from the down the street, lots of people did. Kind of a good thing those guys nabbed you, it would be hard to explain someone falling that high up and surviving with no wounds to speak of within a day or two. I mean, if they hadn’t I probably would have pulled you to somewhere. Anyway, I hid and followed you guys to the island, which was not easy in the Umbra, man, seriously. With the sign, I knew it was a long shot, given the fact that you would have had no reason to look there, but I thought there was a chance. Besides, it’s kind of your job to look at everything, right? Hey, thanks for before, with that spirit, man. Fucker was playing me and I didn’t know it.”

Jesus H. Christ. “Alright, slow down.” I said as I stood up and stepped away from the ledge. “You’re acting like I’m the only Uratha you’ve seen around here.”

“Dude, I’m just stoked to see a new face. I know the stories say we’re mostly in the countryside and not so much in the city, you know. Anyway, you kind of are.”

What? “Come again?”

“Yeah, dude. That’s why I stood for hours holding up a sign, hoping you’d see it. You got thrown into a sea of shit with the City’s Vamps and I figured would probably want a rundown of this mess.”

“Start with them. Who are they?”

Once Chase got going, he often strayed and spoke little of the main points. He went on for several minutes, all the while with me ignoring half of what he was talking about, numerous tangents and tangents off tangents. I jotted down the important parts.

Vamp. Group – The Black Rose
The Black Rose also a Night Club just south of Chinatown
Leader(?) – Morgana Rose
Enforcer/Patsy – Troy, alias “Jekyll”
Unknown number of other vampires, somewhere within a dozen.
Ghouls unknown.

Not bad for recon work. This must have took a little while to get, considering how tough it can be to perceive through the gauntlet.

“How can there not be any other Uratha around?” I asked. “Cities around here packed full of people, and not one Pack around here?”

He shrugged. “Not sure. Maybe vampires muscled them out? Killed them off? Haven’t been able to find much.”

“How long have you lived here?”

“A few months, I guess. Never was good at keeping track of time.

“I think I have enough, Chase. I’ve burned up enough daylight as it is, need to start my shift.”

“No sweat, Frank. I’ll try to keep my eye on them.”

“Fine. Just keep yourself safe, alright? You know how dangerous these people are, so I don’t want you risking yourself. Ok?”

Chase shot me a half-salute. “Yeah, I know the drill, don’t you worry about me, boss.”

I stepped back sideways and walked back to the apartment. The thought of calling it “Home” felt weird, and I’m not sure if it will ever be called that.

The streets bustled with life, especially in the market part of town. Most were enjoying breakfast, others on their way out of town to work. Not much different compared to L.A. in a general sense, just grittier and not as flamboyant.

A ruckus in the distance, the sound of shouting drowning out another voice saying “please”. Down the way was this pawn shop, small but filled with many things on display. One of them, an old box television, shot out of the front window, shattering the glass. I peeked in to see a man at the shop’s counter, angrily screaming at the owner on the other side. The owner had his hands up ready to defend himself with whatever the man decided to throw next. Luckily, both hands were empty.

I swung the door open and propped it with my foot. “Police,” I said with my badge held up and my free hand pressed against my holstered.

“Thank God,” said the owner. “Officer, help me, this customer is dangerous, telling my I’m ripping him off!”

“Shut the fuck up!” Said the customer, pounding his fists on the glass counter.

It didn’t worry me that he was angry, as this was familiar territory during my patrol days. What worried me was his wiry-looking fellow’s pounding fists cracked the thick glass.

“I need you to calm down, sir,” I said. “Okay? I’m sure we can talk this out and get to the bottom of this.”

“I want my fucking money. Now!” He pounded his fists again, cracking the glass further. I picked up a soft pop among the pounding, sure that he just broke something in his hand, but his composure never wavered.

“Noooowww!” He turned to his left and stepped further inside, grabbing the closest thing; a thick, ceramic vase the size of a chair. I gripped the handle of my pistol while he lifted it with ease.

“Sir..! Put that down!” I said as he held the vase over his head. By this time my gun had already been drawn and was aimed right at him.

“Put it down!” I warned once more as he turned. I looked into his eyes as a light blue shine reflected in the light. He wasn’t going to stop and my Right Words Gift apparently wasn’t working.

I let off a shot as I tried to jump out of the way of the extremely heavy vase flying in my direction. With laser precision and the speed of a boulder, the damn thing smacked me dead center in the chest. It was like being hit with a wrecking ball as I felt the air leave my chest and myself leave the pawn shop entrance.

I probably landed in the middle of the road, luckily devoid of oncoming traffic. I found myself scrambling to a nearby parked car as soon as I stopped tumbling across the pavement. The crowd dispersed in all directions and through the screaming, I could still head the anger of the customer. And anger that went beyond rage into something uncontrollable. I pressed my back against the car, my chest pulsing with piercing pain that made it especially hard to breathe.

The sounds of angered heavy breathing got close as the man stepped out of the pawn shop, grabbing a chunk of the now broken ceramic roughly half the size of the original. When my vision cleared, I noticed a stream of red spurting out of his arm like a bag of oil that had just been punctured. And that shit ain’t normal.

Every visible vein in his body popped, his face red and the reflection in his eyes glowed brighter.

I found myself cornered once again, against someone that shouldn’t be gaining the upper hand. Though I’m still trying to suppress the Beast, it was so tempting to say “fuck it” and unleash on someone, regardless of how much Lunacy spreads around.

I clenched my fists, my right hand wrapped around a wooden grip. Then I realized I somehow still had my revolver. My attacker held up the broken ceramic weapon while I took aim.

Blam! Blam! Blam!

Craaaaash!

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NYPD Chinatown: Chapter 5

I stood outside on the sidewalk of a familiar neighborhood, looking up at narrow, two-floor houses sandwiched next to each other in a seemingly endless street. The houses themselves couldn’t have been wider than half the width of an average home, with no space between them. It looked to be nearing the evening, the sun almost halfway down the horizon and not a cloud in the sky.

The house in front of me was painted a familiar shade of peach. The numbers on the door read ‘627’.

I’m home.

I glanced down one end of the street and saw kids playing jump rope four doors over. Down the opposite way, a dog-walker was trying to free a tangled mess of leashes. That was when my heart jumped into my throat and I made a mad dash to my front door. I grabbed the doorknob and twisted, but it was locked. I searched my pockets for my keys but found none, so I screamed into the house, pounding my fist against the door.

“Hey! It’s me! Open up!” When there was no answer, I began slamming my shoulder against the door to try and break it down. Several hits in, the door didn’t budge. I took a step back and launched my foot towards the door with all my strength. The wood finally gave way and split open in front of me as the rest swung open wide.

The moment I stepped inside, my heart sank at the sight in front of me. On the opposite end, a figure in a dress lay next to a dinner table set with three plates and a large, blood-spattered turkey in the middle, still letting off a bit of steam.

“No!” I ran to her and knelt down. “Mom! Wake up!” Claw and bite marks riddled her body, soaking her clothes in blood.

“Frankie!,” said a voice behind me, from the front door. I turned to see me Dad walking towards me.

“Dad?” I almost smiled, but then I noticed he was clutching his throat.

“Frankie…” He said before his hands fell limp, releasing a wave of blood that gushed from his throat that had been torn out.

He fell to his knees when I ran to him. I caught him before he hit the ground, one of his bloodied hands clutching my shoulder. “Dad, no!” I pressed my hand to his neck to stop the bleeding, but it was so thin I couldn’t hold any of it back no matter how much pressure I put on it.

“Stay with me, ok? Stay with me!” I could see the terror in his eyes, his mouth open as if to say something. But nothing else came out, save for a sickening gurgle. In an instant, the life in his eyes disappeared and glazed over. I screamed at my Father as I shook him, thinking he would wake up and tell me everything was all right. That it was all just a stupid joke. But he didn’t.

“Frank?” I heard a voice echo through the house. It was Heather’s voice. My beloved. As my thoughts turned to her safety, I shot to my feet. I called out her name as I looked through every nearby room, but didn’t find her. I ran upstairs and immediately checked the bedroom. She wasn’t there, but the bathroom door was closed with a sliver of light stretched across the carpet. The smell of lavender and honey-scented soap soaked the air. A shadow moved across the sliver, and a hum emanated from the bathroom. Heather!

When I opened the door, the world felt like it slowed down. I gazed at strawberry-blonde hair draped over her shoulders and into the bathwater. The soft, supple skin of her arm draped on the rim of the rub. Her finger was pressed against the top of the rim dragging around a rose petal. The room was littered with petals, covering the water as it floated above the surface and all along the bathroom floor.

I let out a breath of relief when she looked back at me and smiled.

“Baby, we need to get out of here.” I said, making my way towards her. “We’re in danger, and we need-” I was just a couple feet away from her when I suddenly collided with something flat that almost toppled me over. It was like an invisible barrier, like glass but it didn’t give off any reflection. I traced my hands around it, over the tub and along the walls. That entire corner of the bathroom was encased in this barrier. I slapped it with my hands, feeling the solid material, though with each hit, it didn’t make a sound no matter how hard I punched it.

“Heather!” I cried out. She just stared at me, smiling. She raised her hand and kissed her fingertips before pressing them against the other side of the barrier. Her eyes then drifted away, looking off to the side as they went cold. Just like my Father’s.

I continued to cry out. “No! Not again! Please! Heather, stay with me! Please!”

HEATHER!

All the rose petals melted, turning the pale, cloudy bathwater a deep red. So did the petals on the ground, the crimson spreading across the floor. I watched helplessly as her amber eyes turned to white, her strawberry-blonde hair turned to grey, her supple skin turned to porcelain, cracking on the surface. Red seeped from her eyes like tears down her face.

Suddenly, I was thrown across the room, slamming into the mirror with a huge hand gripping me tightly by the neck. I struggled to get free, but the grip was too strong. Standing in front of me, a hulking werewolf with dark brown fur streaked with grey smiled. A large scar was drawn across his face from his forehead down to his nose where it looked like a piece had been carved out. It smiled at me with eyes of red and gold.

As it spoke to me, blood poured from its mouth.

“Son.”

My screams must have escaped into reality as I was awakened by a rush of cold water. Instinctively, I jerked back, but something restricted my movements, scraping against my skin. The funny thing was I felt rope, but couldn’t see it. What I did see was what I could only describe as a cocoon of white fabric not unlike a straight jacket, though I couldn’t see the sleeves. The wrapping was thick, maybe by a few inches as I couldn’t move my arms or legs. Cold metal touched the back of my head and neck, probably the place’s support beam.

The room felt like it to be about the size of an average basement, with two light sources. One light was just above me, dimmed with a brighter light a few feet in front of me. Concrete floors, probably no windows. I’ve only been in rooms like this a few times, though I’ve rarely been the one strapped down.

Standing in the middle of the other light was a man holding a bucket. “Rise and shine, sleeptalker.” Guy was big enough to be a linebacker, though when he set the bucket down, I barely heard the metal hit the concrete floor. When he stepped out of the light, it looked like his body blended in perfectly with the darkness.

Beyond the light, I saw nothing in the darkness, even with my enhanced vision. So, it certainly was a surprise to see the big guy step out of the light, literally disappearing in the dark only to see a much slimmer figure walk into the light seemingly from out of nowhere.

Her skin was like mocha, her hair short and curled, eyes looked like they could castrate a man from fifty yards if they wanted to. Her heels clicked as she walked, stopping a few feet in front of me. She wore a teal dress with gold ribbon curving under her chest. Beautiful and dangerous, and both made me uneasy.

She held up a leather wallet with my badge reflecting the light in my face. “Frank Marlowe,” she read off my license within the open billfold. “Coming from the City of Angels, you certainly are a long way from home.”

My first instinct was to play the hapless cop who was only doing his job. After all, I really was investigating a simple case that happened to turn violent with (a vampire) some dude who was hopped up on (fresh blood) PCP.

“Listen-”

-was all I could say before suddenly, what felt like a cinder block almost knocked my head off. Cobwebs filled my head as I saw blurry doubles, my ears deafened with intense ringing.

“I am talking here,” I heard through muffled ringing. “That means you listen. Do not interrupt me.”

When everything began clearing, I couldn’t see who or what hit me, not a damn thing outside the light. Only her, where she stood in the middle of that fucking light. All I could do was glare at her, a low growl escaping through my teeth.

She stepped close to me and bent down to meet me at eye level. “You settle yourself down, wolfboy,” she said, tapping on the chest part of my “cocoon”. “That ain’t exactly rope you’re tied to. You monster out, and silver razor wire here will turn you into little wolf filets.” She stepped in closer, her breath strangely warm against my neck. I tried to look away, but an eyeful of cleavage pressing against me said otherwise. “And it has been such a loooong time since I’ve tasted a wild animal. I almost want it to happen.”

As much as I liked to call bluffs on most things, doing so here would’ve been reckless. I slowed my breathing and felt my heartbeat calm down.

“Now,” she said as she pulled away and turned to walk back into the middle of the light. “My men picked you up all strung out on that green shit that got into your bloodstream. I know you’ve seen what happens when a mortal gets his hands on one of those and shoots up. Fucking junkies. And you being what you are, you seemed able to toughen out the strain it puts on the body.”

From behind her, a chair slid into the light and she sat down. “Or whatever you mongrels do.” She crossed her legs and tossed my wallet at my feet while pulling a small metal box from her purse. Inside were matches and cigarettes, and when she struck the match, I noticed a distinctive flinch from the sparkling piece of wood, though she retained her composure.

“You do not want to lie to me about who you are. I know you’ve walked in the daylight, you don’t have the firepower of a hunter, and you’ve survived a five-story fall that would otherwise flatten anyone mundane. Truth be told, I’ve wanted to enjoy this wonderful conversation the moment you set foot into my town. I’ve seen too much bloodshed between us to take any chances.”

She exhaled a cloud of cigarette smoke in my direction. Ugh, the air smelled of menthol.

Well, its good to know she doesn’t want to kill me. Yet. Though I hate the fact that I find myself at someone’s mercy. Again.

“May I speak?” I said.

She waved her hand that held the cigarette before pressing her lips back onto the red ring she already made around the filter.

“I get why you’re cautious. After all, I did just move in from the other side of the country with nothing but my name and reputation.”

“Of which you have little to none, except for that one little murderfest. At least, I’m calling it that. The news, however, calls it a “horrible animal attack”. Pretty convenient, don’t you think? It’s amazing what you can dig up with just the click of a few buttons these days."

“…Be that as it may, I’m sure there are better ways to get in to contact with me. A simple meet and greet would suffice, honestly.”

“If we are speaking honestly, Mister Marlowe, I don’t…terms…only..”

My head suddenly felt foggy again, but this one was different, like a tide coming in. Her voice cut out like a bad phone connection. The room’s light slipped into a blue-green hue, and shadows took on a grey outline. A howling wind blasted through my ears, though I felt none of it. The black outside the light lit up a bit, and within it a familiar figure stood. He held up a piece of paper with ‘Antique, Dawn’ scrawled on it.

Reality flashed back like a switch. The woman looked at me with an annoyed look on her face. “Detective.”

I looked around the room for the figure, but blackness concealed everything again. Then it flashed back on me, causing me to flinch and squeeze my eyes closed before snapping them back open again.

Another flash back to reality, silence spilled back into the room. What the fuck is happening? Gotta roll with the punches.

“Well um…I’m alive, which means you need my help. But why me?

“Because you’re the only furball I know with a badge. I want you to track down this poison. It’s already got two of my people killed.” She flicked the cigarette butt to the side of the room. The lit end of the cigarette reflected against the floor in a disc of light before a boot snuffed it out. Or, at least I thought it did.

“You know, those two you have on file?”

On file? The ones I have back at my place?

“The tattoos?” I asked.

“Indeed.” A hooded figure leaned into the light and whispered into her ear. She nodded and stood up. “Seems our time is up, Mister Marlowe.” She turned and stepped towards the darkness. She got halfway through when she turned to me. “Oh, and make sure tonight doesnt wind up in your report. Some cases are best left on ice.”

“Hey, wait a minute! I don’t know your name.” I called out into the void.

“We’ll keep in touch.” She said from across the way, though not exactly from where.

“Are you guys going to get this off me?”

The lights in the room cut off, leaving me blind in the dark. I heard the sound of a metal door creak open. The moment it shut, my darksight finally kicked in and was able to see the room around me. It was as I gathered, a concrete floor and no windows.

As I pondered the predicament I was still in, I felt the metal support beam behind me rattle. I turned my head to an odd angle so that my ear was pressed against it to listen in. Within the beam came more rattling and then a few clicks.

Before I knew it, the cocoon gave way and split open. A wave of cold air blasted over my chest and I shivered. The shirt I wore that had my blood and the spillage of that green shit was gone. The wound closed up nicely, as those usually do, with only a few bits of glass I had to brush off. Thankfully, my pants and shoes were intact. I got up a looked back to the contraption, the cocoon itself attached firmly to the beam. I picked up my wallet from the floor and my jacket from the other chair (was that there before?).

A flight of stairs led up to set of steeply sloped metal doors. I threw open the doors and saw the Atlantic ocean. The wind blew ferociously, my hands dug deep into my jacket pockets. Judging from the hues of blues and purples stretched along the horizon, the day was maybe an hour away from reaching dawn. Next to the set of doors was a house, though it looked to be abandoned and in disrepair. I looked up and saw the Statue of Liberty not fifty yards away from me.

“Ma’am.” I said as I nodded at the ol’ girl.

“You done, yet?” Shouted a voice from behind me. I turned and saw a man He held a hand to his head to keep his cap from blowing away.

“I’m sorry?” I shouted back, closing the distance between us.

“With the tour. Your friends already left, said to pick you up later when you’re done. We can’t stay here long, this kind of thing ain’t exactly being done anymore.”

“Y-yeah.” We left the island from his boat, a twin-engine fishing yacht. We made our way back to the mainland, where the pilot stopped me as I set foot on the dock.

“Before I forget,” he said as he pulled a zipped leather pouch from the boat’s floor compartment. “Your buddies forgot this. Make sure they get it, ok?”

“Uh, sure.” I said as I glanced down at the pouch. I looked back up and saw the boat was already backing up out of the pier.

I hitched a cab ride back to my place, keeping the pouch close to me the whole way. With a night as shitty as this, some clean clothes and a shower would do me a lot of good. I tossed the pouch onto the table. The shower itself was a quick one, since there didnt seem to be any hot water. The sun slid through the blinds, and another goddamned weird day began.

And this one began with what may or may not have been a hallucinated figure holding a sign.

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Sanimbathra-Sakh, Kamsatilu! Lahaf-Namsu, Camazotz-yuf!
Instinct, o bat-host! Wisdom, o were-bat!

Sanimbathra-Sakh, Kamsatilu! Lahaf-Namsu, Camazotz-yuf!

The Unwelcome Messenger was never without his mask. Nor, since his arrival at Zotzilaha, his umbrella.

The cavern was poorly lit, a gloomy half-glow of clinging lichens. Far away, the walls and roof of the vast cavern-realm seemed to reveal softly glowing veins in the stone – no brighter than the smeared after-image of the moon, after blinking on a dark night.

Messenger’s golden eyes met large, black ones, shining darkly in a smudge of black, stepping from a shadow. The shape belonged to a Corax, gangly but crouched suspiciously.

The Nuwisha affected a smirk, though he was impressed by the stranger’s stealth. He waited for the Corax to speak.

“Ina.” One word: ‘Leave.’

“I have business.” Unwelcome Messenger couldn’t help but lift his lip in a toothily lopsided grin – the Corax challenging him lifted his head, seemingly offended by the speech of humans in this place. “I didn’t catch your name, friend.”

The other shapeshifter lifted its stance, feathers fluffing, seeming to swell and bulge from the shadow he was standing in. “Zotzilaha engum.” A guard of this place. “Ina. Nuku ina.” He repeated, his voice betraying anger and the hint of violence.

“That’s a title, not a name.”

The Corax took a half step forward. Messenger couldn’t help but imagine the man-bird snarling – if only he had lips. “You, hombre, can call me ‘Murder.’”

Other shadows in the near-pitch of the cavern shifted. They were just a bit too far to see, and in the murky echoes of the cavern, too subtle to count.

The Unwelcome Messenger chuckled at the lame double-entendre. He got it: a Murder of Corax guarding the Umbral realm. His chuckle soon blossomed into a belly laugh when he realized that the whole bunch of them must have practiced the whole routine in advance.

No matter how far he bent to grab his belly and laugh, Messenger damn well never let the umbrella be swayed from above his head.

The guardian refused to be drawn along with the Nuwisha’s shenanigans. He waited in his advantageous position for the laughing to subside. “This is why b’rer Coyote gets his-self kill’t a lot.”

Corax, Messenger thought to himself, are rarely such serious people. “All-right, alright?” he cantered. “I’ll jes’ go on out the way I done come in…”

The guardian and his b’reren watched the Nuwisha turn and step away. Several pair of black-shine eyes couldn’t help but follow the bob and twirl of the gaudy umbrella. It was easily the brightest colored thing in the realm.

The Nuwisha stopped in his tracks. “It’s too bad!” he said, in a quiet voice addressed to no one in particular. “Camazotz athi koth lahaf namsu. Manabozho sanimbathra-sakh hithim luzak Camazotz idigathim karbhar-niha. Inim, inim sirikha.”

The Unwelcome Messenger had been heard by, perhaps, a half dozen Corax. And he had been heard by, perhaps, a half million spirits Kamsatilu, the Bat Host… and quite a few Camazotz themselves, hidden among them. It was said that no place in Zotzilaha was beyond their hearing.

He had just spoken to a million eager ears, telling them that he had returned from the desert of ignorance, bearing the lost lore of Camazotz.

Messenger glanced over his shoulder. He offered a sly wink at the inky patch of darkness, and let the umbrella sink low around his head.

Just in time.

A near-silent swish of fleshy wings flitted by, barely missing the gaudy umbrella.

Then another.

Then another hundred.

The Unwelcome Messenger laughed his belly laugh again. He spun his umbrella after a few moments, when it started to feel heavy in his hands. He took a deep breath through his mask, and howled the first chorus of his great ghost-dance. The million in his audience would hear the knowledge they sought, hidden in between his barks and his howls.

Somewhere in the near-pitch darkness, Messenger imagined what guano-frosted Corax would look like.

What a dreadful shame, he couldn’t hear their swearing, or see the looks on their faces.


Camazotz (were-bats) have five shapes.

(Please choose Metachiroptera or Megachiroptera. Not both. This will be what all other Camazotz have)
(Also please note that both of our protagonist Camazotz have Extra Limbs to account for detached wings. It’s unknown at this time if this is a common trait or a unique one!)

Homid: This is the basic human shape we’re all familiar with. No modifiers.

Apterous: This is the “throwback” or Glabro of the Camazotz. Apterous are near-human, but skeletally thin arms and legs, somewhat distorted face. Flight is relatively clumsy in this form, but they are otherwise excellent athletes.
Strength +2, Stamina +2, Dexterity +1, Health +1, Speed 5 (species factor 5), +1 Athletics.

Crinos: This is the “war form” of the Camazotz. It uses the common term, “Crinos”. This form looks like an upright, bipedal rodent, with long arms and legs.
Strength +3, Stamina +4, Dexterity +2, Size 6, Health +5, Speed +10 (species factor 5), Manipulation 0, all Perception +2, +1 Athletics

Metachiroptera: This is the “dire beast” or Hispo equivalent of the Camazotz. Unusually for shapeshifters, this is a swarm shape. This swarm of tiny bats is individually weak, but very difficult to significantly injure, short of explosives or gases. It also fills a large area, and is excellent for perceiving everything in it’s volume (option 1)
Strength -2, Stamina +2, Health +3, Perception +3, Manipulation 0, Speed +5 (species factor 10)

Megachiroptera: This is the “dire beast” or Hispo of the Camazotz. It appears as a huge bat, with a 5-foot wingspan. (option 2)
Stamina +1, Dexterity +2, Size 3, Health +2, Speed +5 (species factor 10), +2 all Perception, Manipulation 0

Chiroptera: This is the “spirit beast” or Nahual of the Camazotz. It takes the form of a normal sized bat.
Stamina +1, Dexterity +3, Size 1, Health +2, Speed +5 (species factor 10), +2 all Perception, Manipulation 0

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NYPD Chinatown: Chapter 4
Umbral Perceptions

The moment I was shouted out of the Captain’s office, I was flagged down from the other side of the room. Two older guys sat at their desks, the one with his hand up leaned back in his chair, the other hand pampering his blonde toupe. The other had his nose to his computer screen.

“Over here, Cub.” said Mr. Toupe.

Cub? Just as well, I guess. I’ve been called worse.

“How’s the Freezer?” he said.

“Freezer?” I said.

He pointed to the ceiling, that’s when I knew what he was talking about. “Ah, yeah. Still cold, not warming up anytime soon.”

“Maybe it’s for the best. We’ve all been there at one point. Anyway, I’ve forgotten your name. Martin?”

“Marlowe.”

“I’m Miller. The one glued to Netflix over there is Natty.” He turned to his partner across from him.

“I’m telling you, Gus, this thing’s gonna take off. It hasn’t been around very long, but this stuff’s gonna make waves.”

“Yeah, wake me up when the ‘tsunami’ hits, will ya?” Miller shook his head as he turned back to me. “Whatever happened to old-fashioned television?”

I shrugged indifferently. “To each his own, right? So, I’m told you guys need help on a robbery?”

“Ah, yes,” said Miller. He grabbed a file and shoved it into my hands. “Local Minimart got hit, and this one’s got us baffled, so we need a fresh pair of eyes. Have fun.” He turned back to another stack of papers on his desk.

“Have fun?” I said, staring at the two-inch thick file in my hands. “Thought I was supposed to help you, so we can investigate this together?”

Miller and Natty both laughed. “Together?” said Miller. “Oh no, Captain’s got us on another case. This is all you, kid.”

“Seriously?” I said. Miller didn’t answer, just looked over a couple photos on his desk. Natty continued to watch the computer screen.

Great.

Lee was finishing up cleaning the office when I got there. Only a few boxes remained to be filed, which were lined in shelves places against all the walls of the office, as well as in the middle of the room. The place looked like a tightly packed library. In the far corner looked to be the last pile of boxed to be sorted. The desks were setup to the right of the entrance, where the wall was only several feet to the door. Past the desks was a door with a window, where I saw a couple of small TV screens.

“Wow, I can actually see some of the room.” I said.

Lee smiled. “Give it just a little more, and I’ll be ready to not see another evidence box for a loooong while. That the latest one?” He pointed to the file in my hands.

“Hopefully not, this one’s still warm.” I opened the file on one of the desks and spread out the papers, where I found what was making the file look as big as it was. A VHS tape.

“They still haven’t solved this one?” said Lee.

The tape was labeled with a date from three days ago and the word “Register” under it. “What do you know about it?” I said.

“What I heard was a few nights ago, someone broke into a convenience store and made off with an ATM machine.”

“They got nothing?” I said. “Not even a license plate?”

“I asked Miller more about it, but he just said ‘you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.’”

Looking over the scene photos, it matched up. Door was smashed to bits, and there was a huge torn-out hole where an ATM used to be. Witnesses saw it as a one-man job, but no license plate was given.

I picked up the tape. “Only one way to find out. Happen to have a VCR around here?”

Lee led me to the door I saw earlier with the TV screens on the other side. We popped it onto one of the tape machines and watched the black-and-white security footage.

The angle showed the front counter, with the store’s entrance just out of view, though we could see the ATM against the wall clear as day inside the store. Time stamp showed just after 2am when the incident happened, while the store was closed for a few hours. Glass flew into frame from the entrance, a bent door frame swept just into view, and in walked a figure dressed in tattered clothing. He walked up to the ATM and dug his hands into the wall around the ATM. He pulled on it and after a few seconds, the whole ATM gave way. He turned around for a split second and leaned back, grabbing the machine from behind him and tearing the ATM from the wall as he and the machine left the same way he came in.

Both of us sat there for a moment, long after the screen filled with static.

“Well, that’s one way to do it.” I said.

“Yeah, sure,” said Lee, “why hook an ATM to a car when you could just tear it off the wall with your freaking hands?”

The first obvious human thought was drugs, since you’d have to be a strongman in order to naturally pull an ATM out of the wall. The silhouette wasn’t nearly as muscle-bound to pull that off naturally. On the supernatural side, though, the suspect could be a vampire, though I find it hard to believe one would act this blatant. Ghoul, maybe? A werewolf could do this, too, but I’ve never heard of one able to retain strength of a war form in human form. Not to mention there weren’t any clues pointing to the other forms.

First thing’s first, we visited the crime scene. When we got there, the door had already been repaired, plus or minus a couple dents. The hole where the ATM was, however, remained. The manager was friendly enough, at least to Lee, who questioned him while holding up the clearest picture of the suspect’s face from the recording. I glanced at the security camera as I scoped out the place, replaying the video footage over and over again in my head.

The place took a big dent in structural damage, the debris already swept up long ago. Some shavings remained underneath some of the shelves. I looked underneath them, and saw a thin, square-shaped piece of plastic. I winced when I grabbed it and felt something sharp dig into my hand. I held up the name tag in my hand, the name “Ben” printed above the words “Wu-Wu’s Auto Repair”. The metal pin on the back was clean, but bent as if forcefully pulled off the clothing it was on.

From overhearing the conversation, Lee wasn’t getting any more from him than the detectives got, which the manager kept bringing up. “I think I got something,” I said to Lee. I handed the name tag to Lee, who recognized the logo.

“I know it, it’s not far,” said Lee

As we made our way down the road to the auto repair shop, we heard commotion from a couple of blocks down the way. A woman crying “Help! Thief!” and a man in a hoodie running our way from a patrolman. Once he saw us, he turned around and ran the other way, deftly dodging the officer who slipped on a patch of ice. I let Lee start the chase, while I ducked into a nearby alley and hid behind a dumpster. I took a quick look around the area to make sure there were no prying eyes about and turned into my Primal Beast form.

Time to kick ass.

I charged out of the alleyway with my increased speed, jumping over a few noodle and hot dog stands, making the customers jump back with hot food in their hands. I already flew past Lee within a few seconds. I enjoyed this freedom my curse granted me as I galloped with the cold air flowing over my fur coat, not biting at my face as much as it would have if I were in human form.

The runner in the hoodie was wearing metal cleats, which explained the quick movement. He almost rounded a corner when I leapt onto his back and brought him crashing onto the ground. The snow itself didn’t do much to shield his face from the pavement. How unfortunate. He turned around and froze in fear when he saw me snarling at him with bared teeth just a couple inches from his face.

As soon as Lee and the officer made it to me, I stepped off him and disappeared down the way. I managed to circle back, change back into human form, and catch up with them, acting out of breath and holding my side.

Lee turned to me while the officer was arresting the runner. “Did you stop and have some noodles or something?”

I breathed between a few spoken words. “Slipped. Damn ice.” I looked over to the officer. “You got this?” He nodded and lifted the perp off the ground, the look of fear still across the runner’s face while me muttered “Dog” over and over.

“Well, that was a refreshing.” Lee said. He pointed to the open shop across the street, a hole-in-the-wall looking cafe. “Lunch?”

We spent the afternoon eating and “resting”, as I did take a nasty, um, fall on ice. Mainly, I just wanted to listen in to any chatter across the way. Seemed my recent activity went unnoticed, at least none that linked back to me. Stories back and forth of what they saw almost made me laugh, though I was able to stifle it behind the cafe menu. Hearing the words “Rin Tin Tin” between Mandarin words was pretty amusing. As soon as we were able to go underway, we headed to the auto shop.

It’s good to work with a local, who especially knows all the shortcuts to places. It wasn’t long before he pointed to a big sign with “WU-WU’s REPAIR SHOP” printed above the garage doors. The shop’s owner was one of the Wu brothers, a short portly guy with a comb-over from hell. We showed him the name tag and the photo from the recording.

“Yeah, I think that’s him.” said Wu. New guy, did good job while he was here. Haven’t seen him in days, though."

“Do you have an address we can pull up?” I said. “Maybe from his application?”

“Sure. Hang on.” Wu turned and flashed a gigantic and very tough to miss crack from hell for a split second before he pulled his pants up. I’ll need some bleach after that one. We jotted down the address and left the shop. With all that’s happened, this is going to be one long day of paperwork. I was able to pull an apartment address and the name Benjamin Dixon.

The shoddy apartment Ben lived in stunk of mold and body odor. Either the people here couldn’t afford to pay for water, the pipes burst, or they didn’t care enough to bathe. Lee didn’t seem phased, though.

Ben’s place was on the second floor, up a couple sets of creaky, soft stairs. We stepped to the apartment door and knocked. “Mr. Dixon?” I shouted through the door. I picked up the scent of old food and…spoiled milk?

NYPD, we just want to ask you some questions.” said Lee.

I held my ear to the door, and heard nothing, not a single sign of movement from the other side. I looked at Lee and shook my head. I stepped back and we both drew our weapons. With one kick from Lee, the door flew open. The aroma of spoiled milk hit us like a slap in the face. It didn’t smell as bad as a burning or rotting corpse, but close enough to contend as number three. Dozens of Chinese takeout containers littered the tables and floors, along with a half-dozen empty gallon containers.

“I’ve heard milk doing a body good,” said Lee, “But this is ridiculous. Jeez, smells like a dairy farm gone sour.”

The spoiled smell faded somewhat when I got closer to the bathroom, that more familiar rotting smell seeping through the closed door. I motioned to Lee and we were both at each side of the door.

What we saw next we could not even begin to comprehend. Laying in the bathtub was a body with light skin, dressed in blue coveralls with Wu-Wu’s Auto Repair Shop’s logo on the back. His figure, to say the least, looked.. wavy. The body itself looked like it had collapsed, but it also looked deflated, like someone reached in and removed his bones. One of his legs hung over the edge of the tub like a leg-shaped blanket, its shape curved along the tub’s edge.

I grabbed a handkerchief from inside my jacket pocket and took the body by what I thought was the shoulder, turning the body over. I felt his flesh squelch through the cloth, like grabbing a hunk of jelly encased in a layer of skin. Ugh.

When its face looked up at us, Lee lurched towards the toilet and tossed out today’s lunch…and maybe even breakfast, too, from the sound of things.

I could best describe the face as one of surprise and horror. His eyes looked like two broken eggs with white yolks that seeped out of his skull and into the bathtub. When I finished moving the body, I heard a clinking sound when one of his hands revealed a small broken ampule. I grabbed it and looked at dried green residue lining the glass inside.

“You gonna be OK, Lee?” I said.

Lee wiped his mouth and flushed the toilet. “This is fucking unreal, man. I’m gonna go step outside and call this in, if you don’t mind.”

“A’right. I’ll keep looking around.”

Right next to the bathroom was the bedroom, where on the bed, lo and behold, sat a giant ATM with money strewn all over the bed and floor. I felt almost tempted to collect some ‘extra pay’ from here, but decided against it. Didn’t feel right before, and it still doesn’t.

The rest of the apartment didn’t hold anything else special, as Ben was struggling to make ends meet just like the rest of us.

The rest of the afternoon was with the forensics team and officers setting the perimeter. Following behind forensics was Chinatown’s most revered robbery revelators, Miller and Natty.

“Good job, kid.” said Miller. “Been trying to bust this case for the past two days, and you two tackle it within a single afternoon.”

“All in a days work, gentlemen.” said Lee. “It only took us doing out jobs, doing the real detective work, that kind of stuff.”

Natty looked like he was ready to sock Lee, but Miller grabbed him by the shoulder, stopping him. Miller put on a shit-eating grin. “That’s cute, son, but playtime’s over. We do appreciate the assistance, but you two’s job is done, so…we’ll take it from here.”

“Done?” I asked. “We basically worked his case for you guys.”

“And we’re very grateful and all that.” said Natty. “But if you don’t mind, we’ve got a crime scene to comb over, evidence to, uh, collect, and reports to write. I trust you’ll return the case file when you’re done, right?”

“We’ll make sure to put in that you two helped out in a strictly supportive fashion. Now step away, we’ve got a crime scene to look over.

Bastards. I wanted to punch him right then and there, but I don’t want to add any weight to the thin ice I’m already standing in.

When we left the apartment building, Lee kicked the curb. “Good for nothing sons of bitches! All that work, and they take all the credit.”

“Not all of it.” I said. “Can I see your phone?” I called the station and talked to Narcotics about the vial, dropping Natty and Miller’s name along the way. Lee and I each picked up had a fresh bag of popcorn and stood a ways as two from the Narc team arrived; Detectives Vergisson and Syrah. We happily ate while the two teams argued as to whose case it was, but I knew once drugs are involved, Narc gets jurisdiction.

At least either way, we didn’t have to do much paperwork. We went back to the station to do the report on the thief. We agreed to simply put in the fact that the suspect tripped over the dog (me), pissed it (me) off and we got there just in time for the arrest.

It wasn’t til around midnight I was finally able to investigate a lead on the cold cases I studied. The apartment building Larry Po lived in was decent, still on the cheap side, though a sight better than where Ben lived. I managed to catch the landlady on her way out of place and asked her about the late Po’s apartment.

“Corner apartment,” she said. “Big pain to try renting to people. No like spirits here, like dead man.”

“Spirits have a problem with corners,” I said. “They can’t navigate them so they get stuck, right?”

She nodded. “Very good, gwailo. ’bout time someone knows a little culture.”

“I’ve had some experience with another Chinatown. Living here is not my first one.”

She frowned. “So you not here to rent, eh?”

I shook my head. “I’m sorry, no. I was wondering if I could take a look around it. I’m investigating Mr. Po’s death, and maybe his place would give me more information.”

The landlady shrugged, turning around to get back into her office. “Don’t know how. Cops cleaned it out weeks ago.”

“You never know, ma’am,” I said, “sometimes I find things that might have been overlooked the first time.”

After a moment, she gave me a key and up the building I went. At least this place has an elevator, ’cause I would have a time going up to the 5th floor by stairs. Had enough of those for a while. The apartments were quiet this time of night, not a stir from any of the rooms I passed along the way.

When it comes to my own place, Ben’s place, and this one, this one’s probably had the best upkeep. Ben’s was more spacious, but shoddy and falling apart. Mine was in somewhat better condition, but smaller. This one’s in much better condition, but is much smaller than my own. It looked like a hotel room, but with a closet-size space just big enough to fit the toilet and sink side by side. The rest of a room was big enough to fit a bed, a fridge, a table, maybe a TV, but not much else without climbing over stuff. The far side of the room had a single rectangular window a few feet long and a couple of feet wide, providing such a fantastic view of the bland apartment building next door.

The landlady was right about the room. Couldn’t make out a single hint of dirt on the carpet or markings on the wall. Clean and pristine for presentation. Still, wouldn’t hurt to look around some more.

After concentrating a bit, I peered into the umbra. The place took on a similar wash of colors as last night, though the room appeared more furnished. I saw spaces of filled colors indicating a bed, a table, box-shaped television, and a dresser. Spaces like this made me think that they’ve been here for a long while, years at least.

And, obviously, true to superstition, a few low-level spirits are stuck in the corner where the building’s corner would be, unable to figure out how to go back.

The moment I took myself out of umbral perception, my eyes fell on a metal vent just above the carpet. That wasn’t there in the umbra…

I bent down and looked at the cover, not feeling any air coming out of it. I took out my aluminum Barista Guild Member Card from my wallet and removed the flat-head screws holding the vent in place. I looked inside and saw that this was a false vent. Nothing more than a place to stash stuff without needing to worry about cold or hot air hitting said stash.

I noticed a small glint at the very back of the compartment. I reached in and grabbed at the glint, pulling out the same ampule I saw at Ben’s place. This one, however, was filled with the transparent, dark green liquid.

Jackpot!

I slipped the ampule in my inside jacket pocket and went to leave the apartment. The moment, I opened the door, I was met with a man’s face looking up at me. Pale skin, dark short hair, slender figure in a snug trench coat. He looked at me with irises rimmed with red and a fanged grin.

The punch he threw I didn’t see coming, and it sent me reeling with my hand on my nose.

“Sorry. Didn’t see you there.” He said, stepping up to me.

I tried throwing a punch of my own, only to feel air and the sting of another fist hitting me again, one to the face again, and the other to the gut. I stood there, stunned and seeing a haze of stars.

My heart raced in my chest. My throat growled. The beast wanted out, ached to get out, shed blood of enemy combatants. But I wouldn’t let him. Too many people around, too much suspicion.

The herd must not know.

“You need to go, now.” His slender fingers grabbed me by the jacket and threw me against the window. I bounced off the glass, hearing it crack.

“Allow me to show you out.”

It was like getting hit with a battering ram. The glass shattered as I flew through it, and I fell through the air frantically grabbing at anything.

You’d think the snow helped a fall like this, but below the piles weren’t not big enough to provide a cushion. Maybe it would if it were a blizzard, or somewhere more north, where is snows all year ’round.

Either way, I didn’t hit any snow piles at all.

Instead, I slammed into a closed dumpster bin, bouncing off it and then smacking into every side of concrete that didn’t have much snow. I was on my back once the entire alleyway stopped spinning. My vision grew more hazy as pain shot throughout my body. I couldn’t move my left arm, and the right I could barely move. I tried to look around and saw the broken window above me. A head poked out from the hole and sunk back into the building just as quickly.

My chest and limbs suddenly went numb, and a slight warm streak traveled up to my neck. I looked down and saw bits of curved glass stuck in my shirt, a red and green patch surrounded the fragments of the ampule.

The ampule, it…

The world suddenly felt like it was unhinging itself from reality. That familiar rustic smell crept up my nostrils. The moon was immense now, much bigger than ever possible. Ethereal beings hovered over me, a sea of whispers invading my head.

…Where? They said

…Who? They said

…What? They said.

This view shifted back and before between it and reality as fast as I could blink my eyes. I caught glimpses of two figures, one average build, the other almost herculean. They looked down on me and they’re lips moved, but no sound came over the barrage of whispers.

One of them bent down with an outstretched tree trunk for an arm. I felt my jacket tighten with the grip before I lost consciousness.

View
NYPD Chinatown
Chapter 3
The sound of cheers echoed through the darkness, soon illuminated by the explosions of fireworks. I found myself among a crowd dressed in colorful flowing robes. Some of the men and women wore hanfu clothing while others wore suits with lotus shoes and qipao adorned with dragons and chinese characters.

I couldn’t tell where I was as I looked around the crowd and saw only vague silhouettes of buildings. Everybody’s faces were blurred and indiscernable. The crowd then moved like an ocean, curving from side to side before parting completely. Through the parting came a large ceremonial Chinese Dragon, dancing like I’ve never seen. It was made of all the typical costume material; bamboo, cloth, and paper, though there were no performers moving it from below. I observed at least twenty joints among the entire cosume, and was in awe at how elegant it moved, far more than I’ve ever seen with performers. In the air it seemed weightless as it floated and moved like a snake towards me.

Chinese New Year.

The Dragon roared while it danced towards me. It lifted its head and prepared to lunge, but was tackled by a large blur in front of me. Claws and teeth tore into the Dragon’s paper flesh, and wooden splinters sprayed in all directions. The Dragon couldn’t fight back as pieces of human organs and limbs spilled out of the torn holes within its paper flesh.

The brutality felt like it lasted for hours on end as I couldn’t do anything but watch.

When the Dragon fell, its silken head landed upon a pile of guts and splintered bamboo. That was when the blur shifted and I saw the Wolf’s head. It looked me with one blue eye and one gray eye, its fur bright red and dripping, its amorphous form stepping slowly towards me.

I tried with all my strength to move, my heart raced, my body chilled to the bone.

The Wolf stopped within an inch to my face and opened its mouth. Blood poured from its mouth and streamed from its eyes.

“Son.”

I awoke in a cold sweat, ready to tear apart the first thing I saw. When I realized it was a dream, I looked down at the bed’s aluminum railing. My hands gripped around it so tight it made imprints in the metal. I got up and went to the window in the tiny kitchen, my head pounding with every step. I lifted one of the blinds and peered through, looking passed the red neon sign just a few yards away. Still dark.
I flipped open the luggage bag, and threw on some clothes and a leather jacket. I needed to clear my head.

New York’s Chinatown was a lot quieter than I was used to, which I didn’t mind at all. It was good to be able to hear myself think and not have to resort to the spirit world every night. Be that as it may, I still needed to seek a way in.
I peered through every other alleyways to see how much people strived to survived, dozens of the impoverished huddled in whatever fire pit they could get going.

I searched the streets for about ten minutes to find a locus. I stood at the entrance to an antique shop, looking at a small set of wooden whindchimes. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the appropriateness of it, given the fact that the umbra tends to appear like I’m in the past, despite the distortion.

Although the open streets seemed devoid of people and prying eyes, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched. The looked up at the apartment complex built on top of it. Maybe the Gauntlet was thin up there too. I noticed the alleyway next to the building was empty, but I figured the roof would have a much less chance of being seen by a wandering civilian.

I entered the alleyway and went up the fire escape, careful not to make too much noise as the metal stairs creaked and jangled with every step. As soon as I made it to the roof, I checked the Gauntlet again.

Good, still thin.

For a few minutes, I concentrated, bringing my spiritual aspect to the forefront. Soon, the physical world faded like one of those slow film transitions, only a lot slower. The scent of the city began to face with it, the new smell slightly more rustic.

The Umbral side of Chinatown looked like I was sent back a few decades. The newer, modern building designs were gone, reverted back to their previous materials. I looked over the edge of the building. The sidewalks looked more plain and roughly constructed. Neon signs were gone, metal and wooden signs took their places. I could hear faint sounds of wooden carts rolling along the pavement, people conversing in Mandarin over various things. I scanned the area and saw various spirits, though I didn’t see any other Uratha about.

Until one stepped up to the ledge of the building next to mine. Still in his human form, he looked young, maybe late teens, early twenties. He didn’t seem to notice me as his gaze was cast down to the street. I figured he was looking down and admiring the view, but then I saw him raise his arms up like your stereotypical jumper would do before letting gravity do the rest.

I didn’t want to assume anything and jump to conclusions, pardon the pun, before I had a chance to talk with him.

I carefully made my way over to him, jumping over the gap to the building he stood on. He looked over to me when I landed on the roof he was on. There was maybe 30 feet of space between us when he noticed me. I could see the look of sadness on his face.

“Hi,” I said.

His eyes diverted back to the streets below. “Go away.”

“My name’s Fank.”

“Fuck off.”

“‘Fraid I can’t do that. What’s your name?”

“If you think you can talk me out of jumping, it won’t work. Sure, people like us could probably survive a fall this high, but if I hit the pavement just right…Splat!” He laughed nervously. The way he spoke, I could almost make out hints of second thoughts.

“I’m not a psychologist or anything like that.”

“Yeah? What are you?”

“Detective.”

“You mean like in CSI?”

I sighed. “Something like that.”

He let out another nervous laugh. “You’re early. Wait a few minutes, you can go to work.”

All this while, I was taking baby steps towards him, and already closed the gap between us by 10 feet. “At least tell me your name. You know us cops and paperwork. Just something I know I can fill out later.”

He glanced to an area behind me to my left before looking back at me. I didn’t see anything when I got here, but my gut tells me somebody must be hiding somewhere on this roof. I couldn’t hear any breathing, though, except for the faint hissing of the steamy a/c unit. Maybe a spirit or some sort? Either way, stopping this guy from jumping is more important.

He finally spoke up. “Name’s Chase. Now go away, will ya?”

“Why are you doing this?”

“None of your goddamn business!”

“Fair enough.” I got to the roof’s ledge and put my hands on the concrete guard “Do you mind if I sit here? I just want to talk to you.”

Chase shrugged. “I guess. Just don’t try nothing.”

“I understand. Believe me.” I hopped up and sat on the roof’s edge. “You know, you’re not the first guy to think of this. Everyone’s got problems, especially with a shitty season like this one.”

“You don’t know shit!”

“Wrong, pal. You’re wrong.” I reach into my jacket and take out my wallet. “I almost tried this once, too. Seriously.” I opened up the folds and looked at the edge of a picture. My hand stopped when I pulled out the picture halfway. I hadn’t seen her face in quite a while, and just seeing her brought back painful memories. I noticed me hands shaking a little bit when I held it up to Chase.

“Wife?” asked Chase.

“Fiance.” I took another moment to stare at the photo again.

“What happened?”

I put the photo back and put away the wallet. “She was killed. Murdered.”

“They ever catch the guy?”

“Yup. Got the death sentence.”

“At least your life got some closure.”

I looked up at Chase with a glare. “Closure? You think that just because the bastard got what he deserved, that’s going to make things all better? No. It won’t bring her back, it won’t make me forget the time we spent together, and it certainly didn’t make me happy. Not by a long shot.”

I stood up and took a step towards him. He took a step back. “Whatever fucked up shit you got going on, doesn’t mean this is the way to go about it. Do you understand, Chase? I chose to live and continue to do my job. All the things that happened, I still gotta live with that. I still choose to live with that. And while I’m still here, I’m still going to help people. That’s not just my job, it’s my life.” I held out my hand to him. “So what do you say? Let me help you? If it turns out I can’t, you can throw yourself off later. Hell, I help you.”

Chase took another look at the other side of the roof area and then to me. He t

I heard a hiss coming from behind me, both of us turned to face the sound. Up from the far side of the roof, behind the air conditioning unit, a large glob of a spirit rose up, it’s amorphic face curling itself into a snarl.

“Ghssssst! Damn you, interloper! How dare you ghssssinterfere with my emotion fea-ghsss-st.”

“Ardor?” said Chase. “What are you doing?”

“I’ve been trying to get thissss kid to jump for a while now, he was thisssss close to jumping, if you hadn’t ghssstepped in. It would have been ghssss-glorious!”

I should have known. “I had a feeling something was helping out.” I hopped to my feet and charged, going into my War Form. The spirit threw small blasts of steam at me, burning my flesh. I powered through the barrage to strike at the spirit as hard as I could. He put up a surprisingly good fight, but after a short exchange of blows, the spirit exploded into a large cloud of steam. It would seem manipulation was better than his hardiness.

When the fight was over, I looked over to Chase to find he was long gone. What the hell was that all about? I looked over the burn marks on my skin from the steam. Not life threatening, but will certainly take a couple hours of healing.

I made my way back to the streets when I heard a voice from the antique shop.

“That was impressive!”

I turned around and was met with a spirit near one of the items behind the display window. A statue of Buddha. “I hate seeing today’s youth in such a depressive stupor. They have much to deal with, and shouldn’t commit to such shortsighted decisions. I liked how you talked him out of it, especially since that other spirit put such an influence on him. Tell me something, did that story you told ring true? Or was it something you conjured up to tell people thinking of jumping?”

I nodded. “It’s true. I had the picture blessed so I could take it wherever I go.”

“And this murderer you spoke of. Did this person-”

I cut him off right there. “Is there a point to these questions? I’m not exactly in the mood to talk much right now.”

“Not really, I’m just curious. But you are right. The reason I’m speaking to you is I thought I would like to bestow a gift to you.”

“A gift? Don’t you need some kind of chiminage for that?”

“Already been done, my boy,” said the spirit. “Just witnessing such a sight was good enough for me. You possess potential for conversing with others, and this gift I have will help you in choosing…The Right Words.”

I spent what early morning I had left in the umbra before going to work, not able to catch sight of any other Uratha. Just as well, it would be nice to get to know the place before possible territory disputes happen, I suppose.

I took the bottle of scotch from the table and set it on the of the fridge. I again looked over the two files I swiped from the office, sipping on a somewhat fresh cup of coffee. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get more from these files that I already have, at least not in terms of coming up with theories. Nobody was written down as having known the victim. I needed more information, and right now my only lead were where one of the victims, Larry Po, lived. The other victim had no listed address.

As soon as I got in, I saw Lee and Fiona chatting.

“Hey, Frank,” said Fiona. “You look better like that.” She pointed to my simple shirt and jeans combination.

“She’s right,” said Lee. “Suits don’t look good on you.”

“Gee, thanks.” I said. “I thought I looked all right.” Really, I did.

Both of them went “meeehhh”, and I rolled my eyes.

“So, Captain wanted to see you when you got in,” said Lee.

Swell. “Did he say what about?”

“Just that he wanted to see you, and only you.”

The Captain was in the middle of slamming his phone on the desk when I got in. “About time you got in.”

After the ear-full I got from him the other day, I didn’t say anything.

Captain Gaska just stared at me. “…‘And a Good Morning to you, Captain. How’s the ex-wife and kids?’ Oh, they’re fine, the kids. The ex-wife’s a pain in my ass, but thanks for asking anyway! How are you this morning?”

I spoke up. “Uhm-”

“Shut up! And sit down.” He continued as I took a seat. “As I understand it, Lee’s a good way through with sorting those files. So, I’ll be moving your ass onto something else. One of my Detectives, Chris Topher, was investigating a robbery and hit a dead end. I need an extra set of eyes on this case, so go see him when you leave here.”

“May I make one request?”

“Do you think you’re in such a position to make requests, Marlowe?”

“Just hear me out. I will help with this case, because you told me to. But as soon as this one is finished, I would like to work on a murder case gone cold. It involves a tattoo I noticed on the victims as well as on a couple of people around town.”

“Is is that case that had you manhandling civilians the other day? Are you out of you’re damn mind, thinking I’m going to let you try something like that again?”

“Maybe I am, sir, but the fact remains that I think there’s something more to those two than it looks, and nobody put two and two together since they were separate incidents done by different detectives. At the very least, I’ll be working on a case that will be out of your hair, and you won’t need to see me again until you awant to. What do you say?”

Gaska hesitated as he glanced to his desk. Apparently, my new Gift was working, because he looked like he was pondering. After a moment, he looked back up at me. “I’ll think about it. Right now, you focus on helping Topher and only that. You got me?”

“Absolutely, Captain.” For some reason, I thought about trying to repair the beginning of the conversation. “By the way, how are the kids?”

That didn’t help. “Get the fuck out of my office!”

“Right away!” I was out in a split second.

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Welcome to Mirrors Monsters and Misfits
A synopsis for those joining in our second story arc!

Here’s a short synopsis so far.

I know this is TLDR, but bear with me!

I’m not going to attempt to share details of our stories. That is best done in person, or in our adventure logs.

Arc 1: Smith and Jones

Our first story arc was the conflict between two vampires, Smith and Jones.

“Jones” was the alias of a Russian Graf, who stepped into his unlife in the mid-to-late 1800s.

“Smith” was a British soldier during WWI, who became a vampire in the trenches.

The two of them had met and become friends, but Jones took an interest in blood tainted with chemical weapons. Their conflict came to blows and they battled for their lives, but both of them survived the fight in the trenches.

Smith slept in Torpor for a long time, only awakening rarely, and feeding minimally. His supernatural power did not grow much at all. During the course of one of his wakeful periods, he met Raul (later to be one of our mostly-unnamed-pack’s allies) and fought by his side in the Spanish Civil War, trying to defend the faith against the Communists.

Jones went east, and found himself in China. His interest in and skill with poisons led him to meet Wong Fung, master of a coterie of jiang-shi, kung-fu practicing vampires.

Where Smith was terrified of his curse and his unholy condition, Jones embraced his mad depravity, and fell further and further away from any shred of his humanity. In his paranoia, he dreaded Smith’s oath during their battle that he would kill Jones, and this dread became an overshadowing obsession.

Our pack met each other by chance – something that seems to often happen in the footsteps of certain Magi we’ve come to meet. By happenstance or contrivance, they met and fought side by side when some of Jones’ minions attacked them. We would find out much later that Jones had been consulting with gypsy fortune tellers, trying to scry Smith’s whereabouts (hiding in Torpor in Indianapolis, in the basement of St. Mary’s Cathedral) and thought to eliminate any allies that Smith might have.

It was a self-fullfilling prophesy: Jones’ attack brought the pack together and roused Smith from his slumber. They all made friends and allies (or re-united, in the case of Raul’s frienship with Smith) with the other night-folk of Indianapolis and set to work figuring out what was all going on and why they, and the fragile Garnet Wind Pact, were being attacked.

Almost forgot to mention: Indianapolis has long been a crossroads for the supernatural (crossroads may be a theme you see again in our Chronicle). In the late 1800s several groups of night-folk forged a pact, declaring Indianapolis to be neutral ground, where any could pass through so long as they brought no trouble. At various points in the pact’s history, it’s been well organized, and also neglected, until, at the beginning of our Chronicle, almost forgotten and observed by only a few. The spirit known as Garnet Wind is the totem (patron spirit) of this pact, and uses his Influences, fueled by gifts of Essence, to reinforce the pact.

The alliance in Indianapolis (our pack, along with other werewolves, vampires, and magi) crossed claw and fang with the minions of Jones, Wong Fung, a turncoat minion of the Prince of Indianapolis, and a strange mercenary vampire. I’ll let the table share stories of the particular adventures, and also draw your attention to our write-ups. I’m sure my recollection pales in comparison to the actual telling of stories by those who shared them.

Late in the first story arc, the Prince of Indianapolis held Elysium, styled as a grand party to which many were invited – including all of the troublesome characters in our tale. We found out that not only did Jones have some history with Smith (and was deeply into his own obsessive manias) but that he had history with the Prince as well. The social battle at Elysium was a Pyyhric victory: Wong Fung agreed to step aside from the conflict and leave his friend, Jones, to his own devices, and the Prince declared that there was no profit for his mafia getting involved, if his own properties were not damaged.

Shortly thereafter, the conflict was unavoidable, and the allied forces on both sides clashed in the Battle of Indianapolis. Smith knew he was walking to his death, but did so with a proper stiff upper-lip, dueling Jones mano a mano. Jones set his minions to attack the rest of the city, however, thinking to distract Smith’s presumed allies and also bait them into drawing Wong Fung and his disciples into the battle.

The pack, and our allies, refrained from escalating the battle any more than it had to be, but Indianapolis was savaged. Many hundreds dead, many thousands crippled or injured, before the dreadful night was through.

Our pack got revenge upon the vampiric turn-coat – they took a few things rather personally. The rest of our allies battled tooth and claw (and MG-42) through the night, countering attacks of chemical warfare and ghouls and recently Embraced kindred. The risen sun burned away the ashes of both Smith and Jones, locked in an Ahabic grapple on the steps of St. Mary’s when the first rays found them.

Aside from introducing the system and the setting, there are a few main themes I wanted to hit during this Arc….
- Peace is rare and precious.
- The night-folk, of all kinds, are especially subject to quirks and insanities. Vampires and shapechangers are especially subject to their beasts, but all of them are stalked by their own shadows.
- I wanted to keep things local and intimate to our surroundings, and not introduce too many groups or NPCs.

Arc 2: Tales from the Crossroads

We picked up a lead from a story we’d started in the pilot-episode session. A girl named Kalyani had gone missing, perhaps abducted but no leads could be found.

We did find that she had a sister, Amina, who had also vanished, but seemingly people had trouble remembering her at all.

There was a lead that brought us down to New Orleans. It’s a very different place than Indianapolis: there is no pact, and the city is dominated by a Prince (nee Commodore) whose rule is seemingly as tyrannical as it is absolute.

There was a friendly (but creepy) subservient coterie of vampires there as well. And most troublesome, a pack of werewolves being bullied by others of their kind.

We discovered more about them. Called the Pure, they are the monsters of werewolf legend. They embrace the monstrosity of their condition, and deny both the benefits of civilization and the influence of Luna. These Pure were trying to coerce a local pack of stray wolves into joining their cultlike group.

Our pack dealt with the Pure and tried to teach the strays a few things about their own condition and circumstances, quite a turn-about from just a year before.

We found out along the way that the local vampires had more to do with Kalyani than we had first thought. They are the southern-end of a human-trafficking network, bringing victims to the Gulf for shipment around the world to their ultimate fates.

One side effect of that shipment was that certain special victims are brought in for more discriminating customers. Kalyani was one such. A strange deal had been worked between one of the enforcers of the Prince of New York, and a tiger shapeshifter who had had some ties in Indianapolis before vanishing. The local vampire Prince had facilitated the deal in his city. The enforcer left with a strange drug that seems to have some effect on the undead. Kalyani was left with a biotech subsidiary of the Pentex corporation and subsequently…. changed. The tiger shapeshifter had since then vanished.

When we left New Orleans, there was, perhaps, an attempt on the pack’s lives. By strange happenstance a flock of flamingoes flew into the jet engines, but our pack and their friends had missed the flight when it was about to take off. We arrived back home, equally glad to be there and not to be in New Orleans.

Toward the end of the first arc, we had taken a little detour out west. It turns out this was a preview of the second arc – we visited the town where Route 66 crosses the continental divide, a supernatural crossroads if ever there was one. We discovered that Garnet Wind has sibling-spirits, who hold council in that place. One of the spirits is yet missing.

When we returned home, we held council with the spirits, reuniting Garnet Wind with three of his siblings (the fifth of them remains missing) and revisited the supernatural nature of crossroads.

Other packs in the local sept had heard about the pack of shapeshifters, and had taken notice after the Battle of Indianapolis. Two of them had sent representives to witness the New Moon Council held by Garnet and his siblings, and also to meet and size up our pack.

One of them, rather unfortunately, cornered a mouse, who responded in her way, rather than in the way hierarchical shapeshifters do. The full fall-out from that has yet to be felt.

In the middle of the immediate aftermath, there was scant time to deal with it further, as there was a more pressing problem. We visited a local mad-scientist (ahem, archaeologist) with the intent to either convince him of his errors or beat them out of him. He was brought into the Penumbra (the spirit world adjacent to our own) but remained adamant about his dedication to science – even as he admitted his involvement in Kalyani’s tragic change.

When we returned to his lab, we discovered yet another problem. Something, or someone, had crashed its way out of the scientist’s experimental tank and walked straight through a wall to leave.

The themes I want to explore in this Arc, so far….
- Crossroads are magical. Indianapolis is one. Route 66 crossing the country has many crossroads. New Orleans is one as well. All of our decisions are as well. If you imagine a lore-improved PF ley line, you might not be incorrect.
- Did I mention that peace is rare and precious? What we have in Indianapolis is not unique, but vanishingly close to being so.
- There is a larger world around us, and we are taking our first steps into regional, rather than purely local, stories. But I do want us to keep our sense of location strong and keen.
- The conflict in the first arc was largely written from outside. Smith and Jones were already in conflict before we showed up. This arc, I’m trying to follow more of our character-driven stories. This is tough and I’m always messing it up as we go, but I’m OK with that, because it’s always building upon itself

OK, take a break, that was a long read. :)

When you’re back, here are some of the things we’re exploring quite a lot. I’m framing this in terms of the intent to go with vampires for the new round of characters. I don’t want to repeat the issue in PF where new characters came in but didn’t mesh in as well as we wanted. So, I want to try to chat through some of the pros and cons of adding a second PC splat. Bear with me.

Vampires and shapeshifters both have a beastly side, which can run away with them.

Both also have a constant temptation to slide toward the beastly side. I don’t like “humanity” or “sanity” stats too much so we play them down as “gotcha-stats” but I’ve been trying to improve them for adding coolness. See below.

Shapeshifters are beings of Spirit. A lot of what we do revolves around dealing with spirits, journeying into the spirit world, and so on. Vampires are almost completely incompetent at dealing with Spirits – though many of them are quite adept at dealing with Ghosts. The focus on spirits could be very tough for a mixed party to deal with (for example, -3 dice for somebody to pull you into the spirit world, and you have no intrinsic way of getting back!) It could also be an opportunity. It really depends how we play it up, but there is a potentially huge “decker problem” built in right here.

Our pack (now family) is held together by a spirit called a Totem. Totems don’t generally interact with vampires.

Vampires stick together because as the years wear on, they’re other familiar faces that will always be around. They construct elaborate social structures, and then proceed to betray and wreck them just to alleviate the tedium of existing. Not every vampire feels this way, they can be just as passionate and dedicated as any living human. But they all do feel the wear of years and the tides of time carrying away all of the living people they will ever care for.

I’m going to have to read up on some of the themes best suited for vampires. We’ve pulled from them some already, which is a benefit to our story so far and toward bringing PC vampires into the mix.

Also, we have a smallish number of house rules/clarifications we’re using.

We’re borrowing a post-GMC Werewolf second-edition idea of changing Harmony into a double-ended stat. Vampires will not have to worry with that.

We are also renaming the Renowns as Influences, because that’s essentially what they are. This won’t affect Vampires at all, but we will probably want to give the vampiric powers a small dice pool boost to match what we did with Influence.

Answering the question about what factions are presently in the Chronicle:

Indianapolis:

Our family: Anna, Rose, Frank, and Simon. Also hanging around are Darylllllll, Stephanie, and Blue Sky Princess.

Operatsiya, a Russian mafia clandestinely dominated by vampires. It is led by Prince Alexsandr, who delegates much of his special work to Raul and Gaspar. We formerly also dealt with Madame Ruby now deceased.

Hip Flask and Happy Hour, a pack of werewolves local to Indianapolis. The pack is traitionally made up of shapeshifters who work in service professions: police, medical personnel, firefighters. The current pack includes Iron Rain, Bloody Bones, Heaven’s Hammer, and Grace. They also keep an eye on Howlin’ Dawg local DJ and the “on the side” for Grace.

Open Source is a cabal of magi, who are centered on Purdue University. They are idealistic ivory-tower academics, mostly, but they have had their eyes opened recently. The current group is Riff Raff, Makarov, and Hailstorm.

Gichigami Council of the Garou Nation:

Silver Water, a large pack which dominates the Gichigami Council. They are led by a rather overworked, but level-headed werewolf named Miles. We have met King and Deadeye so far, with tragic results.

Duskfall Lake Prowlers, a pack who claims territory in Tennessee and Kentucky, and deals with problems coming from the troublesome Dixie Council. They are led by a werewolf named Silver, who is big enough to keep a name like that. We have so far met Kovo and Amaya.

Pentex:

You’ve met them, you just don’t recognize how many hundreds of things in your home are made by them or their subsidiaries. We have had run-ins with subsidiaries Tellus Enterprises and Magadon, Inc.

Watch out for the Fomori.

New Orleans:

Shark, the coterie of vampires dominating New Orleans. Named after their 17th Century pirate ship. Led by “Commodore” (Prince) Edward Bonney, with Martin Tew and others.

Claude Fontaine, independent internet security expert and vampire

La Rive, a trio of 18th Century prostitutes turned modern courtesans and tourist attractions. Rosemary, Edna, and Mary.

Jefferson Society, a coterie of Nosferatu in the Jefferson and Elmwood Town part of New Orleans. They detest Shark but are powerless to resist.

Backatown Gang, a mix and match mob of “gutter trash” vampires used and discarded by Shark as shock troops and food.

“Shades” a mix of uptown gutter trash vampires and ghouls sired from naive college kids at Tulane University and nearby. They become sources of revenue as graduates, or they become dinner if they get out of line.

Loaded Dice, the stray-dog werewolves. Moved to Indianapolis temporarily, then onward to upstate New York to visit Sven. Pierre, Taylor, and Diane.

Black Alder, the pack of Pure. Bryant, Jeff, Marion, and Ginger

Court of the Golden Crossroads, the spirit court at the intersection of Route 66 and the continental divide.

Kalyani and Amina. 37/8 and 39/8.

Arthur Winters, mage from Rochester, New York

Argus Baptist, taciturn ally of Arthur’s.

Kotoru Khan, the tiger shapeshifter

Watts, the enforcer for the Prince of New York

Sven, the were-bear shaman

Seraphina, equine shapeshifter and blacksmith

Wong Fung and his disciples

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Arise, O Menkaura

I float in the sea of time.

Oh, ancient Earth, witness of ages. The world of all ancestors lay against my back, as stars and gods rise and fall in the infinite arc above me.

My soul is a ruin of sand and ash. The stars tug at my soul, a tide, not of life-giving water, but of choking dust.

Strange alchemy stirs in my veins. Somewhere, my organs churn: a tugging, like a barge anchor tugging them from the black mud of the river.

The pain I felt when my soul was ripped from my body I now feel again.

My soul, seared and branded, is a thing of poison. Divine cruelty is the mandate writ upon me.

My body is no more than a dim reminder, a shell of mortality long shed.

I am wet. It is not the warm water of the river, but an unholy muck that envelops me. Through the muck I see and hear. There is a man, frail and mortal. He is greatly concerned, and right he is to be.

He sees me, through the muck and a shell of glass. He fears. He is not of my cult. I do not hear praise or devotion, but panic.

I watch him, and listen to his babble. My memory fails – his language is familiar but unknown to me.

I yearn. I rage.

The alchemy of the frail man is talented, but incomplete. The sacred alchemy churning in my body reacts, as if offended by the violation.

The frail man leaves. There is another voice.

I struggle, but cannot remember. I have a name, but it flees from me.

My organs are not here. I require them to become complete.

I have been robbed, and denied my cult. Rage rises in me like a tide of black bile.

The glass flies away from me. I do not know if I pushed it, or struck it, or commanded it with a Word.

I am out of the sarcophagus.

My hands are wrinkled. The damp muck falling from my form is slick and polluted with the funk of the grave.

Something is wrong. The tomb of my awakening is filled with fires behind glass.

In rage, I turn to face the sarcophagus of my escape. It is silver and gold, copper and pearl, and many metals besides. It bears upon it no inscription, nor any godhead.

I roar. My dead lips begin to utter a Word of doom upon the frail man and the owner of the other voice. My lips have chosen one that would rend him and their three generations.

I stop. The tools of the frail man radiate with a power I do not know. To pronounce his doom is to pronounce my own.

I must escape. I move to the wall, and find it to be flimsy.

It is night. The temples of this city reach to the sky, each one lit by soft fires inside.

People. There are so many people.

I am pursued. The temples of this city are stalked by the drinkers of blood, the streets are hunted by the wearers of skins.

Among the temples, I find the one that reeks the most of defilement. The scent of the damp funk still clinging to me calls out to this place.

It is guarded, but the guards are frail.

I strike, girded in the purity of my outrage. I must find the tainted heart of the wretched power encompassing the frail man. I must feed his soul to the scarabs of the deepest pit.

My pursuers follow me to the defiled temple. I do not expect this. The drinkers of blood watch from afar. The wearers of skins breach the defiled temple and aid its defenders.

The entrails of a guard reveal to me a vision. This place is Named.

My action dooms me. Lest I invoke Nomenclature, I hold fast the Word to sunder all of them.

I must return, whole and with my cult. I must remember my own name.

I roar my defiance. I cloak myself with the sand and dust of my soul.

Terrible claws crack and shatter the sand, but hungering fangs find no meal.

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