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The Shadows ST

The Shadows "When the Saints Go Marching"

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Cara heard the door open and went down to have a look. On seeing her brother there she relaxed. A little bit.

"That took longer than I expected. Not too many dismemberings, I hope?"

His hands were clean when she glanced down at them. A curse indeed.

"So. Today's drama is making me think one or more Original may be taking an interest in New Orleans. Are there no witches elsewhere you can pester for a countercurse? Things are getting...messy."

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"No party time." Darrik chimed in. "I don't serve underage drinkers." When asked for things he would need, Darrik shrugged. "I imagine all the things she would need when staying over at someone's house. Change of clothes, toothbrush, the usual. A backpack to keep it in..."

At Karen's surprised look, Darrik looked back nonchalantly. "What? I have security covered. Trade secrets and all." He waved his hand and then nodded approvingly. "Melody's clean."

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"...I guess you're the expert," Karen replied after a moment of hesitation, lips quirked in honest confusion. She usually attempted to at least get a grounding in whatever obscure trade she was tapping on a given job, but between being caught completely flatfooted on this whole incident, her Father's ghost showing up, and an expectation of some kind of lightshow associated with wizards... Whatever. The full moon was coming. She'd wait and hope on this one.

"Appreciated, Darrik. I'll look forward to visiting again when the moon isn't calling. You run a good bar by the looks of it," she complimented with a nod and turned on one heel, offering Dan a 'Let's get going.' look over one shoulder.

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Dan nodded, knowing they'd really just have to take his word for it, and time was limited.  "Thanks Darrik.   Come on Melody, we're taking you home."   Without further argument, for the tone of his voice showed doing so would be unwise, the teenager followed Karen out.  Maeve got in the back of Dan's truck as Karen let Melody in the cab, and Dan got in to drive them to her home, then back out to his.   "This has been one hell of a day."

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With a nod to Darrik, Dan led Karen and the girls out of the bar onto the busy street. He frowned when he saw the police and a couple of news trucks down the street at the corner Starbucks. He exchanged glances with Karen as the entered the truck with Meave and Melody squeezed in between them. In moments they were driving past the crime scene at the Star Bucks and heading out of town.

***

Margarite was alone in her library where she did her research and private castings. Her home was in the Garden District and was a far cry from the shack she had grown up in out on the bayou.

The first thing she did was download the pictures from the phone then set the device aside, it may prove useful in the future. Then she studied the images for about twenty minutes before making some adjustments and printing them out in color. Once she had the prints she arrange them on a table so she could look at the full image of the young girl. She had noticed things immediately of course any witch from New Orleans would have. The majority of the symbols were from the various traditions all practiced by the nine covens and all having to deal with the veil of death or the essence of rebirth. But it wasn't a spell of that she was certain but what worried about it were the symbols she didn't recognize. To someone with no training , no real knowledge, they out of place symbology would have looked well out of place, maybe even fake. But not to Margarete. She may have not known the language but she recognized the precision with which they had been written. They symbols looked old even primitive.

She stood and walk around looking at her shelves pulled a book here and there and found nothing. She may be the regent, may arguably be the most skilled witch in all of New Orleans, but she didn't have the most complete grimoire. She needed to go back to to Darrik and find out where Dominique was. She needed to see Dominique's grandmother's grimoire.

***

They got Melody home and Dan explained the situation as best he could to a couple of her cousins who were in the know and asked them to keep an eye on her and that he would check back in in a day or so. Then they dropped Meave off at her place and he took Karen back to his house where they got ready for the full moon.

It was the true full moon tonight, that meant that the rage of the wolves be strong the need to hunt and kill the greatest so every member of the Bayou pack would meet in the deep marsh as far from people as they could possible get where they would hunt.

***

For the second time in one day Margarite stepped into the Simon Magus Burlesque and Absinthe Bar. It was late afternoon and the place was already full of revelers. She was alone this time she didn't want anyone to know she was here or what she came for. This was dangerous move and without really knowing who the players were that were involved Margarete had to be careful more than one regent had ended their tenure violently and she didn't want to be one of them. She made her way to the bar and got Darrik's attention.

Once he noticed her he grimaced but went over to her. He really didn't want to get embroiled in the politics of the situation. “Can I help you,” he asked her.

She leaned over close to him, “We need to talk.” Darrik nodded called over Janice and told her to watch the bar, then led Margarete into the office.

Once the doors close and the thump of the music became muffled he offered her a seat. Margarete sat. “I checked out the girl, didn't find anything.”

“That is not why I'm here. I need you to get a hold of Dominique, I need her here, now.”

***

Cheyenne opened the door and looked up at the well dressed old guy with the long crazy white hair and bushy mustache. She didn't know him. She blew a bubble then smacked her gum after it popped, “Yeah, can I help you?”

Colby smiled at the girl, blond, chubby, dressed like a cheap whore, and young too young. He took in her scent and felt the desire his kind always faced. “Well aren't you a sweet little thing.”

Cheyenne was totally creeped out and suddenly very self conscious about the way she was dressed. She didn't say anything she was too scared to speak. “Don't you worry child I have had plenty of time to learn restraint. My name is Colby Walker and I'd like to speak to Marko and Cara if they are home.”

Spoiler

post away

 

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The cold wind of the gathering dusk faintly the bits of Karen's exposed flesh despite the layers she was bundled up in, one dark eye on the moonrise timer ap on her phone and the other alert for the return of her host. A boat, their transport for the coming evening to the gathering, bobbed faintly up and down, bird song transitioning from the day chorus to the evening chorus. after the nonsense of today, the leeches who filled her with righteous ire despite herself and the witches she didn't know right from left about, she was... looking forward to this. Honestly. And as soon as Dan got back, she'd help lever the cooler full of supplies down into the boat, and be on her way with him and whoever else he brought.

At least the girl was apparently safe now. That had brought a genuine smile to her face. If her family didn't post a few guards with whatever you needed to kill witches and vampires tonight and tomorrow... She couldn't even...

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Dan had spent the Afternoon making calls, getting everything ready, and ensuring that his cousin was fully informed of what they knew.  He'd grown weary due to having to be around vampires and witches today, preferring his own kind, or no one at all at this point.  He'd have hunt alone if forced, but that wouldn't be the case tonight.  He'd gone to fetch Emily as well, per her earlier request, and she waited patiently with him, noting that he'd not foregone all the things of civilization, which was a good sign.  The tell-tale signs of a gifted trapper and swamper were everywhere around his home, and reinforced the value he seemed to place on his heritage.

He smiled as he saw her with a cooler of supplies.  "I don't know why you're bringing that, not like we're gonna need it, where we're goin', or with what we're gonna be doin'."  he said with a smile.  Still he'd helped her with it anyway.   something good and normal to eat after waking up with the taste of the evening's festivities wasn't a bad idea really.  Miss Emily chuckled.  "Not the first one to think of it."  She herself had made some sandwiches for in the morning, placing them in the cooler.

Maeve had shown up as well, just before they were preparing to leave. The Three older werewolves weren't left alone, and so, the quartet took the ride out further into the marsh.   Without any frame of reference, Karen would probably be unable to find her way here again, and soon they came to a small gathering of boats,  which were all mostly empty, many of the other members of the pack.  Only Emily and Dan could likely find their way here on foot, or as he was clearly doing now, from actual memory.  The Full moon was a social occasion, just not quite like it was for regular people.

Dan helped them out of the boat, and tied it off to the steel tie bar the other boats had been tied to, and chuckled.  Few places but the marsh would anyone just leave their boat with keys in it.   Here though, everyone knew everyone, and the first one to cross any of them would feel the full fury of the Pack.

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Cheyenne was totally creeped out and suddenly very self conscious about the way she was dressed. She didn't say anything she was too scared to speak. “Don't you worry child I have had plenty of time to learn restraint. My name is Colby Walker and I'd like to speak to Marko and Cara if they are home.”

"It's all right, Cheyenne," came a female voice from further inside the house. "You can let him in."

As the girl opened the door up and stood aside, Cara Angelo sauntered over to it, not quite giving Colby enough space to come in without pushing past her. She looked the werewolf up and down.

"Look at you," Cara said with a smile. "All grown up with a pack of your very own. Is it everything you thought it would be?"

She stood to one side and gestured, inviting him in personally.

"I wouldn't have expected you to pick this particular night to pay a visit, but do come in. Can I get you anything?"

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***The Angelo Estate***

Colby steps inside and takes his cowboy hat and grins at Cara, "No longer, Miss Cara, I am retired." He shakes his head still looking at Cara his eyes crinkled at the edges, the grin even bigger than before, "And you are still the most beautiful creature I think I have ever seen." He looks beyond her, "Is your brother here, the three of us need to have a talk."

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"None as powerful as the ones here," Marko said quietly to his sister.  "I'm not fond of Originals coming here either, considering they all hate me one minute and love me the next.  I'm gonna get changed, I think I have brain on my shirt.  We'll talk about this later, definitely.

*****

"Colby, you son of a bitch!"  Marko skipped down the stairs, pulling a fresh shirt over his head.  He passes Cheyenne and gave her a look.  "Put some clothes on, you look like a whore."  He kept walking barely acknowledging she existed and missing the double birds she gave him as he walked passed.

Marko's hand smacked firmly into Colby's with a greeting he wasn't quite prepared for.  He gave the ancient vampire an incredulous look.  "You okay, son?  You seem to be..."

"Feeling?"  Marko laughed.  "Yeah, something new I'm trying.  Long story."

"Curse, I heard."  Colby nodded his head.  "Bad business, that.  Whole of New Orleans knows at this point.  You think it was wise to alert everyone to your, condition?"

Marko shrugged with a sarcastic smirk.  "All the thing does is make me a nice guy.  I can still defend myself and others if need be so all it'll do is encourage the stupid ones to cross the line and we all benefit from it when I thin the herd.  Bourbon?"

Colby laughed and shook his head.  Marko's head for strategy left a bit to be desired.  "I would love some."

"So," the vampire poured out three glasses of very old, very expensive bourbon for them.  "What's up?  What's so ominous that has you creeping around our door?"

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"Let me guess," Cara said, closing the door behind Colby and watching Marko and the old wolf quizzically.

"The witches of New Orleans aren't too keen on helping you figure out who who's behind this whole 'evil magic ritual' that nearly had us all snapping at each other's throats. They said something along the lines of 'don't worry, we'll handle it,' and left you dangling."

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THE ANGELO ESTATE

Colby, still smiling that annoying smile takes the glass and makes a long slow pull, savoring the rich taste of the whiskey, "Damn that never gets old." He takes a deep breath taking in the aroma of the whiskey then smiles some more and shakes his head at Cara's comments. "No darling that is not actually in question, I would be the one responsible for that little theatrical display. No i am here to fill you two in and give you your marching orders."

 

THE MARSH

DUSK

Dan cut the motor draping the boat in a cloak of silence as it slid the remaining few yards into the grass lined shore. With deft movements he made his way with little rocking  or upset of his passengers to the bow where he stepped off onto the soft but dry ground. it was quiet as he and his crew,  Karen, Meave, and Emily left he confines of the boat with their ice chests and other things.

Nearby Karen noticed other small boats tied to the wooded shore and in the distance she heard music.

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Cara felt a fist around her heart. Was Colby about to blow off his own head with a silver bullet now? For one, she liked him...as much as one could a man who transformed into a bloodthirsty monster, which she did have some experience with...and for another, it would absolutely ruin the foyer for a week or more. And of course, there was no way to set off Marko faster than to imply he had 'marching orders.' Which she was sure Colby well knew.

Then again, this might be something else. Maybe best not to assume?

"Well, lets start with the filling in then," she said, trying to cut in ahead of Marko's reaction. "I think we can all agree it's far past time for that."

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"Well, in that case," Marko smiled and took Colby's glass from him.  He turned and poured the old werewolf a triple.  "I agree with my sister, let's get to the 'filling in' part."

Colby held in the chuckle but wore his own reply of a smile wide and proud under that thick mustache of his.  "Lemme guess: this is the marching orders' 'get fucked' complimentary drink?"

"Damn, that never gets old," Marko offered him a raised glass and a polite nod.  "So, what's got everyone's panties in a knot?"

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THE MARSH

DUSK

"Is that music'" asked Karen?

"Haha, course it is dear. Tonight's the True Moon. We don't let events like that pass us by. One thing you learn living with the curse, is you got to live or you will die." Emily had answered as Dan hefting the ice coolers had led them into the maze of cypress, oak, and marsh grass. The shadows from the setting sun danced amid the eerily bent limbs of trees which would have been frightening to a lone person but seemed welcoming in company. Then they reached a clearing and the music was suddenly louder brighter and it was full of people. At least thirty or forty members of the Bayou Pack, both triggered and untriggered filled the clearing, the perimeter was lined with five foot poles with cups containing some sort of slow burning oil lighting the area. People were talking laughing, some were dancing a little three piece combo of guitar, banjo and drum was playing lively music, food was being cooked on little portable barbecues or on open fires, and everybody had a beer. As Karen looked on in a sort of dazed wonder more people joined the gathering.

Emily smiled up at the wide eyed California girl, "And this is living hun."

THE ANGELO ESTATE

Colby set his empty glass down and his smile while still glued to his face seemed to reflect something other than humor. He moved to a sofa and sat crossing one leg over the other and resting his left hand on his knee while throwing his right arm across the back of the sofa, all the while eyeing Marko. measuring him. "It's a long story kind of involved, you may want to sit and get comfortable." He glances over at Cara, "We ain't gonna be interrupted by those kids are we?"

While Cara checked on the girls and made sure they understood not to bother the adults Marko poured another drink then sat in a well worn wingbacked accent chair, when Cara returned she sat in the other wingback.

Colby took a deep breath. "So after the little test this afternoon, our...boss sent me here to, tell you two whats expected of you and answer questions, probably not all of them but some."

Marko was quiet. Cara spoke first. "Ok who is this person and why the games?"

"The boss wishes to remain anonymous for the time being, the games as you say, were two fold one to muddy the water sow confusion, misdirection, whatever you want to call it. And to see if Marko's curse was the real thing."

"

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Cara watched Colby intently. The little pause before 'boss' spoke of things unsaid.

"Are you serving this 'boss' willingly?" she asked, "Or are there guns with silver bullets waiting to go off if you don't? You don't have to tell us who this is to tell us about them."

In her head she was making a little list of the things they already knew...with the caveat that they may well be things revealed to mislead. The possibility of using compulsion on Colby loomed, but there were any number of ways that could go catastrophically wrong, depending on who they were dealing with. Especially on this night of nights, with a werewolf of some age and ability in their house. She thought Marko and herself should be able to handle him, but there was absolutely no room for error with werewolves once they changed.

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When Maeve made her own way into the festivities, and soon Emily was met with the welcome wagon who knew her well, that left Dan alone with Karen, and he smiled. He motioned to where they could leave the cooler, and once they had things situated, Dan made the rounds, introducing Karen to many who were there.   The last one, however was his own Cousin, and current leader of the bayou pack, Cabe Lowery.  "Karen, I don't reckon I introduced you formally, but this is my cousin, Cabe Lowery, the Alpha, if you will of the the pack."  Sure she'd run with them, but that was purely on Dan's good word.   Here and now she was getting to meet the big boss himself, and finding that at least in human form, he didn't look the part, or really all that different from anyone else that was gathered there.   With a beer in one hand, and a smile on his face, she could tell he lived his life the way he wanted, and that when all was said and done, there was more to him than what he showed.

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While not what she was expecting from a werewolf gathering, Karen had navigated enough social gatherings on her own form of 'hunting' to adapt, extending one hand to the Alpha. Never shit where you intend to sleep for long, and make nice with the locals. The simmering rage invoked by the, for now, absent moon had no aim at these people to her very much surprise despite what Dan had shown and told her, despite last night, and that felt good, good enough to put the social gamesmanship that was second hand to her on the back burner.

"A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Lowery," she greeted back, smiling warmly, "Karen Gaunt of California. Thanks for having me. I brought some sandwiches, not that I made enough with everyone here... The Bayou pack is bigger than Dan here described."

Her melodic laugh flowed out softly, voice going serious in a heartbeat, "...Not to ruin the mood, but with all these people here, did you have enough people to spare to keep an eye on Melody? In case they try again while we're dealing with our aler… Heh. Curse. I mean, curse. So weird to not have to lie about that to someone." 

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"It's just Cabe darlin', or sheriff, when i'm working," he chuckles and smiles a dazzling smile, "but really we don't much go in for all that mister and miss stuff, we all just folks here." He continued smiling at her, while older and not as ruggedly handsome as Dan he did have a sort of country boy charm and his presence was unmistakable, Karen found herself wanting to be accepted  by him. His smile didn't waver but he shoock his head. "Naw, most of this is just family, they only about  two dozen gonna change. All them here to socialize and be here for us in the morning when the moon let go. It's a True moon tonight, gonna take a lot out of us, especially the ones who take the juice."

Karen was puzzled and it showed on her face. "True moon? Emily said that earlier too, what does that mean and whats juice?"

"Well yesterday was waxing, tomorrow be waning, neither one of those be a full full moon you only get one a those every twenty-eight days. Not running with a pack you may not have noticed the difference but the true moon is longer in the sky and it's hold is stronger. Under the true moon we are stronger and the urge to hunt and kill is stronger, among other things. Running with a pack is different than by yourself, it's more rewarding but it takes a lot out of you."

"And the juice?"

"The juice. Like I said the urge to hunt, the urge to kill it is strong strong under the true moon. Some of us we, don't like losing themselves to the beast, so they weaken themselves by drinking a concoction of herbs and whiskey and wolsvesbane. The herbs lessen the the effect of the bane, the whiskey makes it drinkable. But while it makes being the wolf, less than it would without It takes a toll. Ain't nobody who take bane juice worth much to nobody the next day."

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Dan shook his head.  "No I don't take it, never have."  It was clear he didn't think less than those who did.  He knew several of the women did, and a couple men, but just the smell of it was enough to make him say no.  He accepted the Wolf, and that was part of why he could do what he did when others couldn't.  He wasn't about to start  changing that now.  He chuckled softly.  "I can attest to the aftereffects, most of those who take it say the worst of hangovers ain't got nothin on it.  Like someone took a hammer to your whole body for an eight hour shift."

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Blech. Like being the one of the designated drivers at a tailgate with the 'perk' of having everyone else's hangover, too.

"...I'll pass, thank you," the pretty brunette answered just a bit more sharply than she intended, a fullbody shiver making it way down her body, "I can only imagine going into a... change was the word you used, right... while in that state tomorrow can't be fun."

She left unspoken the fact she liked the loss of control, not being able to give a shit even if she wanted to give a shit, no past no future, just one long now until moonset. Wasn't like she hadn't hurt people before and wouldn't hurt them again in her trade... Just... less suddenly 99% of the time. Anyway... "So. Mingling. Friends. Family. The whole jazz. And then we strip naked just before moonrise and run off into the swamp? No rituals or anything?" 

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