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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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THE ANGELO ESTATE

Marco was silent, uncharacteristically so, Colby waited a few baited to see if the brother had anything to add before turning his attention back to the sister. He gave her that wide smile.

“Now Cara you know silver is just a wives tale like garlic and crosses. No our,”he emphasized our,” boss has other ways to ensure our...cooperation.”

Cara felt her own anger rising at Colby's demeanor as if her were laughing at then like they were the punchline of some joke only he and whoever shared. “Then what is this person after,” she said an edge to her voice present that hadn't been before.

Colby tilted his head like a dog, which he sort of was, “Fair enough. The plan is to kill the Originals,” he said as unassumingly as possible.

The only sound was the crackle of the fire.

“The originals can't be killed...” Cara began when Marco broke his silence.

“Why would we help anyone do that? It would be suicide,” he said still as a statue.

Colby looked at the siblings. “They can be killed two of them already have. But you knew that didn't you otherwise you wouldn't have known about the link in the bloodlines.” Colby looked Marco in the eye, “What you don't know is that that blood link can be severed. That's what your being offered. Freedom”

 

THE MARSH

On 3/21/2019 at 4:36 PM, Karen Gaunt said:

"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?" 

 

Cabe chuckled “Sump'n like that,” he said as he stepped past Karen and Dan patting Dan on the shoulder as he went to greet more of his pack.

It grew darker food music and drink flowed it was like a country get together and no one seemed concerned about what was coming.

“Is it safe for all the non werewolves to be out here?” She asked of Dan at one point. He shook his head. “We all werewolves cher, just some are triggered and will change the rest won't. You'll see, when your a wolf you know, you won't attack kin. Not unless you mean too.”

Karen saw the youngest, teens still, mostly girls who would change drinking the juice as they called saw how it made them look pale and sick. Then all to soon she notice small groups of people breaking off and heading out of the clearing deeper into the marshland. She jumped when Dan touched her Arm “It's time.”

He led her and another small group including Meave into the marsh following the other groups the walked for about five minutes the sounds of the party behind growing dim the noise being absorbed by the trees and the hanging moss. Soon they came to another clearing this one was almost perfectly circular with the stump of a huge tree knee high in the middle all the other trees goon the stump was about eight feet across, and Cabe was standing by it all the rest circled around both him and the tree.

Once the people stopped trickling in, there were twenty-eight of them, about a third of the people who had been back at the party. Cabe raised his arms and stepped up onto the stump. The gathering grew quiet.

“It is a True moon tonight brother, sister, aunts,a uncles, and cousins, tonight we hunt as a pack, we move as fast as our slowest, we share our kill among us cause we are the bayou pack!” he raised his face to the sky and howled and the circling pack joined him.

Then he jumped off the stump and began to take his shirt off. All around the men and women began to undress and fold their clothes which they then laid on the stump.

Dan leaned over and gestured behind them to the trees. “You can go back behind those trees if you want. Just push your things out when your done I'll put em on the stump you can come out when we change.”

Karen looked at the rest no one was paying her much attention and no one else was going out behind the bushes. “No it's okay thanks though.” And she began to strip. Before she was done she began to feel the first stirrings of the beast. As the moon started it's rise.

The pack stood or sat each alone in their thoughts as the moon rose and her baleful eye looked down upon them then one or two began to groan and moan as the change started then another started in seconds the clearing was filled with the sounds of pain and anguish Only Dan and Meave didn't succumb to the torturous process as both of them had control of their change something few kin ever gained in their lifetime.

Meave looked on at the writhing bodies undergoing the cursed change and then she looked hungrily at Dan her senses heightened by the moon she recognized the superior beast throwing her head back she howled at the moon now cresting fully above the tress bathing them all in lunar light. One by one the newly changed wolves joined that howling. Dan held off till the moon was above the tree then even he could no longer resist and smoothly without the pain the others suffered he changed and joined his voice with the others.

Cabe, now a gray and black wolf, snarled and lept about barking until the howling quieted then his yellow eyes gleaming he darted into the deep marsh and the pack followed. The hunt was on.

Spoiler

Karen and Dan - describe your wolf forms and your change you can do a little hunt stuff if you want if you wish use a wolf pic for you description up to you.

 

THE SIMON MAGUS BURLESQUE AND ABSINTHE BAR

It had been a remarkably busy day which had slipped into night. Margarete had sat at the Bar while Darrik had made several call none of which were answered he both voice mail and text messages, still notheing. As evening approache and somewhat angry Marguerite stood and told Darrik, “Have her call me when she decides to show up back in the world.”

Darrik was too busy to think much but Dominique quiet did give him some worry plus the burden of doing everything was getting to be annoying.

It was almost eight when he saw the blonde standing at the end of the bar. He had noted her when she came in alone about half an hour ago. She looked to be in her late twenties or early thirties but he could tell that with the right clothes or makeup she could pass for much younger or older if she wished. She wasn't tall and the clothes she had on a simple shirt and a a light jacket and slacks not jeans and a pair of serviceable Mary Janes. All quality but none of it fancy. She had sat at a table and from there Darrik had pretty much passed her out of his mind. Until now. When she saw that he saw her she smiled at him and her eyes asked if she could talk to him.

Spoiler

505c9213b9b38bd9a83fa73ee60240b2.jpg

 

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Dan's own clothes were neatly folded, It wasn't that he and Maeve didn't feel the Beast, they both did, but unlike others, they embraced it, not treating it like and abhorrent curse.   Through accepting the Beast, they gained more control.  He liked to believe he had a good mastery of himself, and the Beast was a part of him, so he had Dominance over it too.  

He was the last of the pack to change, not because he couldn't, he could easily have been first.  No, his cousin changed first, Leading the others.  Dan was the last because he made sure that no one else came upon them in this time of pain and weakness.  

As his body Changed, he could feel his senses expand, the familiar sensation something he was quite accustomed to.  It was like having his other arm untied from behind his back, he was stronger, faster, tougher, and more aware of everything, and at this point, it felt more natural to him at times than his human form, which had almost left him feeling crippled at first, after the rush of being a Wolf.  His Change was nearly instant, and seemingly effortless, The pains of the first change, or even of so many after that were gone, Replaced with exhiliration of being "whole" again.

  Most of the pack were of mixed colors, very few were solidly one color or another, and only one member of the pack was as Black as a moonless, starless sky.   That was Dan.   His luxurious fur almost seemed to shimmer once or twice in the full moonlight, a trick of the light perhaps, and then he would almost disappear into the darkness.     Often he was called the "Alpha's Shadow" as he and Cabe had similar builds.  Neither of them were the largest wolves there, but Dan was certainly the quickest, and while Cabe led, Dan served as a sort of enforcer.   Those who fought the Beast, they Talked as people.   As wolves, they submit in deference to the yellow-eyed shadow that stalked the marshes.  He knew the marshlands and bayous better perhaps than any member of the pack, and he never failed in leading them to prey when he was called upon to do so.


Once the Howl was ended, he made his way to his most accustomed hunting mate, Maeve, and found Karen as well.  He looked to the left flank of how the pack was moving after Cabe, and nodded, Then began to pad off into the marsh, knowing where Cabe was headed, He and his small part of the pack would scare up some deer most likely, or perhaps a hog or two if they were lucky, and drive them to the others.  This method wasn't something normal wolves did often, but when hunting with a pack of nearly thirty, you had to adapt to satiate everyone.
 

b1f532873fa5ec2c916f26306336b07f--wolf-p

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The lump of anger-concern-frustration had piled on layers in Darrik's mind, but one important skill he'd learned in his life, well already by the time of being a Nawlins stripper, was keeping internal concerns from your face and demeanor on the clock. Customers wanted gyrating and hot fantasy and that Darrik was almost theirs for the taking (no touching, after all), not even the slightest inkling of concern about if the landlord was going to get around to having the AC fixed (and if you had to place a curse on the dummy to make it happen).

It was a role, an act, same principle with the bartender. It was expected, and the customer was always right.

So Darrik moved along to the blond with a smile. "Hi. Do you need anything?"

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THE SIMON MAGUS BURLESQUE AND ABSINTHE BAR

"A job." the blonde spoke a little too loudly fearing the music would overcome her voice, "Wow, love the acoustics in this place very well designed." Darrik nodded the acoustics among...other things kept the sound level to where voices carried at least in the vicinity of the bar. He looked the woman up and down but before he said anything she spoke again.

"My name is Erica Linder, I have just moved here to New Orleans, I'm writing a book and it is set here. But i do need a job one where I can absorb the ambiance as well as make a paycheck. The rent is more expensive than I expected. I have experience. I have bar-tended before. If there is an application i can fill it out with history and references."

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THE MARSH

Karen Gaunt was a stunning woman in human form and an equally striking beast in wolf form. In between though? Not so much. There was nothing beautiful about the transition of a being between the Families Hominidae and Canidae, a consumptive cancer of sprouting fur and cracking bones that resulted in her losing a third of her mass and a few inches of length to her new form. 

There were a few park rangers in upstate New York that were very confused as to how a Red Wolf had apparently wandered so far from it's acutely limited range when none of the animals had been reported missing from the nearest zoos.

The mental transition was as rough as the physical shift, bestial flame leaping from thought to thought, a flashfire that left room for a much older, much more... direct mental forest to spring up. Karen tried to fight the urge to resist, knowing from experience that it would no good and cause much pain if she did so. Still, she did so, at least until the curse burned enough of her inhibitions to let her darkly rejoice at the loss, exalt at the anger.

But the anger wasn't alone this time, the lust for blood tempered by the scent-sight-sound of other werewolves in shift promising something more, something the beast-that-was-Karen had tasted the night before with Dan, a thin broth of companionship compared to the impact of the full pack. Everything that followed was easy, the small wolf falling into place behind Dan's ebon form. He was dominant. She would follow. As long as his leadership fed her well, at least. 

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"Well," Darrik politely said, "drop off a resume and references tomorrow and I'll get back to you, Erica." This was more Dominique's side of the business - and of course she wasn't here. "Anything else?"

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"We have freedom," Marco said calmly.  Humanity was weird, it made him think a lot, a bit more than he was used to... okay, a lot more than he was used to.  "The Originals leave us be.  They don't give one whit about their progeny.  Look, you go after them and you're stirring up a hornet's nest."

It was mildly refreshing for Cara to see her brother being sensible.  "Colby, I've seen this before.  People rise up agaisnt the Originals and they lose.  In retaliation the Originals begin wipe us out en masse as punishment for trying to kill them.  I'd like to point out that they're kind of in the right as that sort of thing really hard not to take personally.  In the end, those that are left will pump their fists, refuse to accept any accountability for their part in it all and go back to screaming how 'oppressed' they are under the absentee eye of the Originals."

Marko shifted his weight, unfolding his arms and walking around the room a bit.  "I'm sure you think it's a great idea, and I'm sure your mysterious benefactor is sitting behind his desk toking an extra fat cigar and chuckling a meniacal chuckle at all these peons ready to die in his name... and I say have fun with it.  I'm not on the best of terms with Originals, the ones I know are assholes, and one in particular gives lousy head, but I don't think that's worth a death sentence.  Think about this Colby.  Think really hard."

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"Not to mention," Cara points out, "there's more than a little irony in claiming we're being offered freedom...while constantly implying that we have no choice. I recognize the value of a 'carrot and stick' approach to persuasion, but it's being very clumsily applied here."

She peered at Colby with genuine concern. "Dear God, Colby, what do they have on you to get you to do this? We haven't always seen eye to eye, but I've always respected you. You've never been one to knuckle under."

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Marko waggled his finger at Cara, then Colby.  "Mmm, yeah, that's a good point too.  All good points, sis.  What's the deal Colby?  You seriously can't be buying into all this."

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THE SIMON MAGUS BURLESQUE AND ABSINTHE BAR

Erica nodded and bent down to pick up her purse that she had set by her feet when she came up to the bar. “Any particular time?”

“I or my partner should be here by 10:00 AM, any time after that. We open for business at 2:00PM and it gets busy so let's say between ten and two.” Darrik waits for an acknowledgment.

“Alright I shall return after ten tomorrow. It was a pleasure meeting you...?” The question hangs between them for a second before Darrick gives her a charming smile. “Darrick.”

“Darrick,” she smiles back then turn and says over her shoulder as she walks away toward the exit, “Have a nice evening.”

Darrick watches her walk out then returns to tending the bar and the next problem.

 

THE ANGELO ESTATE

Colby cocks his head at Marco, as he, then Cara spoke, but he never takes his gaze off of Marco.”My this curse has really gutted you hasn't it. And no Cara there is no gun at my head other than the same one you two have. Whether they are here and in our faces or off doing whatever the originals have their fingers at our throats. Always have and always will. Unless they are gone.

Our boss has been seeking this very thing for her entire life and she has already set this in motion.

The fact that you came back to the one place in gods creation where your precious Kristen told you never to return too should give you pause. You know that wherever they are they know your here. Right this very minute one or both of them are probably on their way to full that promise he gave you when you pulled your little tantrum. What was he said...If you ever so much as pass by my city again I will show you such torments that will make the scholars of the world have to redefine the meaning of pain and suffering. Got give the little shit his due he did have a way with words.”

As Colby spoke Marco's hands tightened into fists white with the anger that was growing.

Cara spoke before he exploded.”She? This person commanding you is a woman then?”

Colby looked startled, obviously he hadn't noticed his slip. “Yes, she is.” He admitted realizing that trying to cover would be a larger mistake. “And she has been at this a long long time. Let me tell you a story that you have never heard and that you will never believe is true. But it is.

 

There was a witch her name was Claudia Santalo, she lived in Spain in the late 16th century about the time you two were being seduced and damned by the twins. She was good witch a christian witch actually the village she lived in had a small church where she attended mass and prayed. The peasants thought she was blessed by god the priest knew she was a witch but since she used her magic to help the peopled they looked the other way. Claudia's fame grew and spread to other villages who started coming to her for help. Being a good Cristian she always helped. This went on for many many years the priest of the village church grew old and passed away and the mother church sent a new priest who when he discovered Claudia's nature sent word to Rome.

Not long after that Rome sent priests and soldiers to investigate. The investigation was a sham the intent had always been to kill the witch. But one of those that Rome sent was Beck Magnuson, who had insinuated his way into the mess that was the church during this time. Of all the Originals he was the one that reveled in it by all accounts he was a truly horrible monster who brought all the terrors that vampire would become known for to life.

They slaughtered the whole village even the priests and burned the church, saving the witch til last Beck had her tortured and raped by his men, limbs broken he and his vampire disciples fed on her, then he would give her blood to heal her so they could torture her more. It went on for days until Beck got bored and so they chained her to a stake and burned her as the sun went down. As she burned she screamed and called on god but god didn't hear her cries so being a witch she turned her pleas to curses and swore that she would burn them as she herself was burned in the unholy fires of hell. Now Beck was an original and he and his followers all had sunlight rings so they were immune to the sun, or so they thought. The witches pyre burned through the night and was smoldering as the sun came up Beck and his crew had watched and partied through the night they had taken more captives from one of the neighboring villages many of whom were now dead but some the vampires hadn't gotten too yet. As the sun rose suddenly the pyre began flaming again the the surviving witnesses claimed they heard the witches voice screaming curses at Beck and his men then suddenly the vampires and all the men Beck had brought with them from Rome burst into flame. Beck being an original was tougher than the others and didn't actually catch fire immediately. He fled into one of the last remaining buildings thinking that it was the ring that had failed and the sun was burning him. It wasn't. Now as the story was told there was a little girl hiding in the house where Beck fled into and supposedly she saw the ghost of the witch confront and burn Beck to death. Burn him to where even his bones where ash. In fact every man and vampire that came from Rome had been reduced to nothing more than ash.

But not Claudia's bones the tale says that her skeleton was still intact, chained to what remained of the stake that they had put her on.

Course that might just be a story but within a few hours every single vampire sired by Beck desiccated and died. That's how the bloodline link was discovered.”

 

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The Pack was all, even when it was a pack of three.  Though Karen had never really run with Dan and Maeve, not like this, she moved instinctively, following the lead of the veteran wolf.   They came upon a large hog, and yet, he passed it by.  It was a large boar, and wasn't likely to run rather than  fight.  While they could have brought it down, it was far from enough for the pack.   No, Dan wanted four or five of them, or a herd of deer.  

The cool night wind brought him the scent he was looking for soon enough.   Moving slowly to keep them upwind, he stalked forward, having to temper the beast's desire to strike several times, even for the other two with him, snapping his fangs in front of them.    As they neared a small creek, they came upon the source of that savory aroma.  It was a small herd of white-tail deer, A single adult buck, half a dozen adult  females and a quartet of yearlings.  This would feed the pack.  

His body language was clear, they'd course the herd towards the main Pack, Maeve would take the middle, to keep them moving and Karen anchoring them, keeping them from moving back south or towards the river.  Dan would take the northern edge, to put his scent there, and because he was fast enough to get there to keep them from escaping.  The hardest part was actually Not catching them, as he could easily catch any of them.    

Once the trio were in position, Dan let out a long howl which immediately alerted the Deer to their presence.   Maeve and Karen jumped out, and the deer bolted.  Dan's howl coming from the northwest, they sought to head northeast, but his smell was already being carried to them from that direction and so they head due east, moving as a herd to lessen the chances of any particular deer being picked off.
Dan's howl served another purpose though.  It alert Cabe and the rest of the pack that Dan had found worthy prey, and would be bringing them to them.  As they coursed the herd, Dan continued to howl, giving directions and trusting his cousin to set the ambush.

It wasn't long before the deer entered into a large clearing, actually a hunter's rice plot in the season, and that was when it happened.  from the east and South the pack erupted, slaughtering the deer.   Not to be outdone, Maeve and Karen joined up to bring down one of the larger doe.   The big buck was out to save himself, cutting due north, trying to escape the killing field, A grey and black wolf along with two others in pursuit.  There was a slight gust of wind, and then a black mass hit the buck from the north side of the field, brilliant white fangs flashing before they sunk into the neck of the buck, Dan's yellow eyes gleaming in the moonlight.

The black wolf shook his head and continued to squeeze, tearing the buck's throat out in a spray of of hot blood, dropping it to the ground dead, in a single flawless attack.  The two female wolves with Cabe actually demurred and backed off, clearly intimidated by the show of predatory perfection, and then, in what surprised many, Dan backed away from the buck, and lowered his head, though his ears were still up.  It was a surrendering of the first to feed to the pack's Alpha, even though it was his Kill.  To that end, no one had actually begun to eat, and the entire herd had been brought down.  Cabe nodded once, and then lifted his head back to howl, in which the entire pack joined, before he tore a chunk from the deer and ate it, nodding to Dan, who came up, tearing the whole right hind leg away, and leave Cabe and his she-wolves to the rest.  

He made his way to where Karen and Maeve had brought down the doe, and were sharing with two of the younger females.  Even as they moved to make room for him, he took several bites of the leg he'd brought, and then offered it to the others.   The buck was the leader, and they'd at least earned a piece of it too in his mind.   Maeve, having hunt with him before, understood and took a portion, leaving the rest for Karen and Dan, before going back to the doe.   Karen took the meaning and ate, and Dan himself devoured the rest.  The two younger females, and younger was relative, they were not quite so young as Maeve, but they'd been a wolf for less time, so were less accustomed to this, seemed to not understand, but wisely made no issue of this seeming favoritism.  They had heard stories about the Alpha's Shadow, and knew that they owed such an easy feast to his expertise and efforts.  On nights where they'd not relied on him, the hunt could last far longer, and usually consisted of many smaller hunts.

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"Hey, Colby, look, I'm not saying don't do it, man.  Your little anti-Original Witches cult thing sounds like a blast, it does.  They say 'the sun sucks' say 'yeah, fuck the sun, I fucking hate it too, long live the fucking beast'.  I get it, I'm down.  There's a girl you wanna meet there and you get a free hair cut, groovy.  Have a blast."  He was trying his damnedest not to toss Colby out on his ass, but his fuse was getting shorter shorter.  "I know what was told to me and know at some point I know I'm going to come face to face with one of them, and you know something?  I'm welcoming it.  But until then, I'm keeping a low profile."

Cara snorted at him keeping a low profile, her lips curled into a suppressed smirk she tried to hide by sipping her drink.

"Oh, shut up," he tossed her a wayward middle finger.  "Colby, this curse hasn't weakened me.  It's awakened me.  I went unchecked for over a century, the longest any of our kind, that I know of, to ever keep their humanity off and survive for that long.  And there's a reason for it, we don't suffer monsters like the one I was to live for very long.  The depravity, the horrors, Colby you don't want a man like me, like the one I was, on your side.  I would win you the day then burn everything you worked for to the ground with no other reason than to watch the flames flicker in the moonlight.  You don't want a gut like that on your side, Colby.  I want this curse broken, I do, but as long as it's on me I'm forced to see every day the monster I am, I was.  The very same monster you accuse the Originals of being.  What to happen to me when we're done, hmm?  Dispose of me too?  I say let them come.  Let the Originals come before me and demand punishment for what I've done.  I deserve it."

He took a deep breath then straightened up.  "Whether it's death, or a thousand years of agonizing torture, rest assured Colby, my sentence will be far less excruciating and thousand fold more merciful than wht they are going to do to you."

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Cara watched Colby as Marko went off on him. Things were starting to line up.

"That's what this is all about, isn't it? Marko's curse...not just an act of revenge, but a way to draw him here. And by drawing him here, drawing me here. And then the pitch...after a petty sacrifice to show they mean business. It's not...the local witches though, is it? They weren't expecting us."

"Does this dovetail with that attack on your pack, I wonder? Colby, my dear...what have you gotten mixed up in?"

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THE ANGELO ESTATE

MOONRISE

Colby sat through Marco's bluster shifting his eyes over to Cara once or twice, his breathing even and thoughts unreadable. But Cara saw something in his eye that Marco was missing. He wasn't afraid of them.

“You didn't let me finish my story, I'll be quick.

The vampires didn't have any clue what had happened to Beck's bloodline but when word got to Annika, the oldest Original and the smartest one of the bunch from what I hear, she set out finding her brother and sister. For the first time in years and years all of them were together except Beck so they found a witch to find Beck and found nothing.

It was your boyfriend who found out that the church had sent Beck to Spain so He went there and found out what had happened. All that took a couple of years. Montero's skeleton had become a relic to the people around there her bones collected becoming talismans and made into amulets. The peasants claimed that they held powerful Magic. And apparently they did.

The second original died about a hundreds years after that.He was killed when a stake made from a femur from Montero's skeleton was driven through his heart and he burned to ash. And a few hours after that his line died. Leaving only four left” He chuckled and pointed a finger at Cara,” If I recall my little history lesson, you were making your second attempt with lover boy Erik, well we all know how that turned out. But you Marko were with the twins still and rode a wave of terror all through Northern Spain for the better part of a year. They never told you why you were in Spain never revealed what they were looking for what they were collecting That they had been sent there by Annika Magnuson. Her pet witch had revealed the bones for what they were and she knew that they had to be found and destroyed. Erik didn't want anything to do with it he wanted the curse to end but didn't have the guts to do it himself. So she sent the twins and they brought you their rabid little attack dog. While you were raving the countryside killing they were locating the bones of Claudia Montero, collecting as many as they could and with you distracting every official in Spain with your depredations they found damn near all of them. They were supposed to bring the bones to their sister, instead they brought them to America along with you.”

Behind Colby Marco and Cara could see that the moon had risen, a full moon, whose light shined down bathing the old werewolf in blue light.

Suddenly Colby moved but it was only to take something wrapped from his pocket. He smiled at both of the vampires and unwrapped it it was part of a skeletal hand, most of the first two fingers and part of the thumb, the bones yellow with age. He lays the fingers on the coffee table and slides them to you.

“She said you wouldn't believe me. So she told me to bring you this so you can have it checked out. There's more to the story. But it can wait. Check that out, call me and Ill finish it. One way or the other she's going to kill them. You can either help her and yourselves in the process or you can die when they do. She doesn't care about y'all she just wants them dead.”

Colby picks up the glass of whisky and downs it. The two siblings can see the large ring on his ring-finger with a prominent blue and white stone, a moonstone.

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THE MARSH

UNDER THE FULL MOON

The pack feel upon the kills and played their dominance games once the formalities were over they gorged themselves on the fresh bloody deer for long minutes the only sounds were the rending of flesh and the crunch of bones the sounds of wolves feasting.

But that soon gave way to other sounds the youngest grew full quickest and their playful nature was expose d as small groups began play and there was always one or two of the female who were in heat and so another type of play began but that which should have lasted until exhaustion and sleep was cut short.

Cabe, the Alpha, and Dan caught the scent of the intruder first Cabe stood from where he had been lying with another wolf a close friend whom had born him children even though their human lives rarly crossed. Others caught the sudden alertness of their alpha and stopped their own play. Meave had been annoying Dan the youngster had made it known that she had set her sights on the older more powerful wolf Dan pushed her aside but she came back and he growled a warning at her low and full forced with his dominance. Meave growled back not willing to cower but then they heard more growls and she looked that way.

Many of the pack had stood and came to stand beside yet still behind Cabe all faced to tress to the north Dan stood and so did Karen and Meave but all three stayed where they were. The growls of warning intensified and Cabe lowered himself in preparation of attack teeth bared the growl of war being picked up by those nearest and rippling through the pack and then the other stepped out of the trees.

It was white, almost pure white, but Dan and the girls could see from an angle where they stood that it had an unnatural blue streak through it's fur on it's back. A streak that looked like flames from a race car on it's left hand side from it's hind hip to just below it's shoulder. As a specimen of wolf it was perfect it was also the largest wolf any of them had ever seen it was the size of a pony. Dan could see that there was blood caked around it's jaws and its paws were blooded too. It bared it's fangs at the pack and a low growl of warning sounded from deep in it's chest It slowly cam fully out of the treeline several of the pack backed away Cabe didn't his growl intensified.

The white wolf swung it's head too and fro more of the pack backed away. Cabe still stood his ground he was alpha, but Dan saw a shiver run through him. Then the white wolf looked at Him Karen and Meave their eyes met and Dan saw the vision again, this was the wolf he had seen when he met Colby. But it couldn't be Colby this wolf was female.

Karen saw it too saw the same vision she had seen when she met Colby but she saw more she saw the dead spread across the land at it's feet and she saw the dead's faces. The faces of the pack.

Spoiler

pivotal moment

 

 

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RANDOM "HOT GIRL'S" BEDROOM

Dominique rolled over in the bed and cracked an eye open to look at the cheap clock on the nightstand. She huffed to blow one of her dreads out of her view.

Seven thirty-something it read.

She shifted her gaze to the window, who's curtains were just barely opened and noted the sunlight was a dim. She smiled. Mmm... breakfast. She always enjoyed a good breakfast. Sweet and savory all in one meal and it always left her feeling comforted and she knew the best place in town to go. 

"Hey." she said, turning her head back the other to lay on the pillow and look at the sleep form next to her. She nudged the vaguely humanoid lump and asked,

"How 'bout we go an get some breakfast?"

The other form shifted a little, letting out a groan before peeling the comforter away to reveal the dusky skinned girl laying next to her from the wasit up in nothing but a St. Christoper medal nestled in her cleavage.

"Breakfast for dinner? Coo." the other woman said, which made Dominique smile.

Wait. Did she say dinner?

Dominique flipped her head back again to look out the window and the dim light, and only then did she notice the shadows. They were falling in the wrong direction.

"Damned time change!" she cursed, hitting the pillow in light frustration with a hammer fist, causing the other woman to laugh.

"We been here all day. Don'chu remember?" the woman asked chuckling.

"Actually..." Dominique replied, turning her head back to look at her companion, "..it's all kinda blur to me. A good blur, but still..." she said as she rose up slightly and leaned over the woman, giving her a small kiss before adding, "That's... except for that one thing ya did. I'll be rememberin' that for some time."

She smiled and kissed her again, this time a lingering kiss. When it finally broke they both had smiles on their faces and the other woman asked, 

"You got somewhere you need to be?"

Dominique sighed and shrugged. 

"I suppose I should head inta work. I mean, I am a partner an all." she answered with a grin as she flicked her head, tossing her long, narrow dreads over her shoulder. "It's cool though. We can still get breakfast first. My treat."

 

THE SIMON MAGUS BURLESQUE AND ABSINTHE BAR

Dominique came in the back door to the club, as she often did after her little unexpected vacations. She knew Darrik would be irked, he always was when she pulled this stunt, but it never stopped her. It was something she just had to do on occasion. She was so accustomed to living on the street, on her own, coming and going as she pleased, that the stress of the business and the daily grind would always catch up to her after a while and she would just need a day or two of freedom to do as she pleased, away from the bar and her phone. She knew he understood though, he was probably the only person that did, but she knew it still annoyed him and she could not blame him for that. She still wanted to avoid his irritation for as long as she could though.

She nodded staff and customers who knew her as she made her way in and slipped behind the bar, causing a small cheer from some of the patrons when they spotted her. She was beautiful and was a natural performer. When combined with her magically boosted attraction and actual skill at bartending and mixology it made for quite a show that had made her quite popular and brought patrons back time and again.

She could feel Darrik's eyes on her, causing her to wince slightly.

"Where ya been?" he asked, his voice laced with his mild irritation.

"Just.. out. You know." she said with a shrug, trying to play it off like she always did. "I left the bar stocked. You should'a been fine with me out for a day or two." she added, trying to downplay her escapade even more.

"I've been texting you, you know?"

"Oh sorry. Battery musta died." she said as she looked over the bottles, checking the stock and trying to avoid his gaze still. "Why? Is something wrong?" she asked.

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THE MARSH

UNDER THE FULL MOON

 

Dan's growl wasn't aggressive, more frustrated.  He went silent as he walked up beside Cabe, who was already showing every sign of making a terrible decision.  Then he did.  Cabe  snapped at Dan, a command of both dominance and for the younger male to back down.   The entire time, the White wolf didn't break eye contact with Dan, even as Cabe grew more agitated.  He was demanding the attention of both of them, ready to attack either if they didn't yield.

What happened next was something that some would say had been a long time coming, or on the flip side, the biggest surprise ever.  Any who'd seen them knew Dan was a superior werewolf to his cousin, and what's more Cabe probably knew it too.  Yet until now, Dan had always been the obediant enforcer, a loyal subleader of the pack, but no more.   

Cabe had surrendered to the Beast, and was going to get them all killed, Dan acted to stop that with blindingly quick decisive action.   There was no indication that the black wolf was going to strike, but he did, ducking under Cabe's snarling jaw, his own pearly white teeth gleaming in the moonlight, as his mouth closed around the other wolf's neck.  using Momentum, he shook his cousin mightily, throwing him bodily to the ground, with a thud everyone heard.  Still holding Cabe by the throat, he put a paw to his side, letting him feel the claws there to go with the fangs holding his throat, and he growled at him an unmistakable message.  "Yield."

Shocked from his rage by the impact, and the fact his cousin had him pinned by the throat, knowing a twitch would kill him messily, Cabe's eyes flashed a myriad of emotion.  Surprise, a tinge of betrayal, and most important, Acceptance.  He'd always known Dan was a stronger wolf, that he'd make a good Alpha, and yet his younger cousin had always deferred.  This time, he didn't, and he wouldn't deny a mix of relief, and pride, that Dan had finally stepped up to his potential.    The older wolf whined his capitulation, and Dan withdrew his jaws from his neck, and motioned with his head for him to rejoin the pack.

He looked back to the blue-eyed white wolf, she was the biggest he'd ever seen, dwarfing any of them, and smelling of human blood.   At least the blood didn't smell like anyone he knew.

He growled, but not at the white wolf, this was for Karen, summoning her forward.  He hoped she'd guess his intent, and bring up some of the deer she and Maeve brought down, a peace offering to this new wolf, now that the immediate threat of violence had passed.

Standing there, unchallenged by any other member of the pack, the new Alpha waited for the interloper to state her intent, ready to buy them what time he could if that's what it came to.  His Stance was one that spoke of concern for his pack, not himself.  There was no overt dominance play, just the same resolute steadfastness that Dan had become known for.

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Darrik understood that Dominique needed these outings, it was like she was a cat in that sense, staking her independent spirit out there. He understood and respected that, but would it kill her to at least send some kind of notice? Because after all, today was a day that had left him fearing the possibility something terrible had happened to her. "Office." Darrik softly said, walking past her without meeting her gaze.

For the second time this day, Darrik entered with a second person to have a second private chat. Dominique entered, watching Darrik shut the door behind them. It was only now that she noticed the tension or lingering signs of it anyway, that had laced Darrik's form. "In answer to your question today turned out to be... not the worst day... top five - certainly top ten minimum," Darrik's hands flashed the numbers, "for you to pull your disappearing act, Dom."

Dominique only permitted 'Dom' to be used by close friends, like Darrik, and even then the understanding was that it was reserved for when it was serious. "How bad?"

"Let's see. I come in this morning to open, only to find Joe Jones rudely waiting and demanding I set up a meeting for Lilith and the Regent. Enter timely a pair of elder vampire siblings, the brother of which, one Marko Angelo is an utter asshole. Who also demanded to see the Regent. She arrives then and there as if she planned it. Marco apparently, is some kind of old foe to the Nine Covens who practically threatened war if they didn't help remove this curse placed by one Mother Walters. Which ironically enough, appears to be forcing him to be a good person. And apparently, his appearance is an omen of catastrophe enough for Lilith to decide to violate the rules and attack him on sight. Got her ass kicked, serves her right." Darrik muttered that last comment more darkly before resuming his diatribe of diabolical daily discoveries.

"Once people actually start doing something like behaving, we learn the reason Lilith wanted the meeting. Witches, unknowns, kidnapped a relative of the Bayou Pack, were killed by a rescuing werewolf, and the whole thing happened on vampire turf. Oh, and someone had sent people to ambush Psycho-Marko clumsily made to look like Lilith's orders. I oversee the return of the werewolf girl to the bar, making sure she was clean magic-wise and giving the nod for her family to leave with her. The Regent comes back a bit later, and in this office says she wants to see you and was willing to wait for hours before giving up. Marguerite didn't say why until while leaving, asking if I'd seen your grimoire. I said I'd seen it, but I haven't seen it. If I had to guess, it had something to do with those symbols in the photos of the Rosemary's Werewolf scene. No more problems for the rest of the day - except of course my ever-increasing worry that our discord-spreading troublemakers might have jumped you. Any questions?"

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THE MARSH

UNDER THE FULL MOON

The white wolf never took it's eyes away from Dan's yet it watched as Karen dragged the carcass to them. The rest of the pack stood back grouped together, some still were aggressive but most seemed submissive all were confused. Cabe slunk to the back of the clearing and those wolves he passed stepped away from him. A few bared teeth at him.

Meave had followed behind Karen and was tensed if shit went down she was ready.

The white she wolf with the blue marking bared her teeth as a warning to Dan then broke eye contact with him and stepped closer to the dead deer and Karen. She lowered her head and sniffed at Karen.

Karen had never seen a creature like this she could feel the power coming off it like heat from a car radiator in the California desert. She couldn't help but tremble at the beasts closeness as it moved it's head closer to hers and sniffed her, black lips pulled back revealing glistening fangs. Karen felt rage and fear, she wanted to bolt but she also wanted to sink her own teeth into this things flesh and rip it's throat out. It moved it's head and it's blue eye now stared into hers. Karen's heart thumped in her breast. It knows what I am thinking.

The white wolf steps back and places a paw on the deer it sweeps it's icy blue gaze across the pack and settles back on Dan. Then it's chest expands as it draws in air and raises it's head toward the moon and bellows a howl the likes of which none of them have ever heard

The tress reverberate smaller ones whipsaw back and forth leaves cascade and swirl as if in a wind storm. Most of the pack fall to their knees whimpering only Dan, Karen and Maeve remain standing. Then as the howl fades the white wolf is gone as if vanished into thin air.


 

THE SIMON MAGUS BURLESQUE AND ABSINTHE BAR

Dominique opened her mouth to answer Darrak when the lights flicker and an unearthly howl could be heard. Both witches left the office the howl still crying in the night but no one other than them seemed to hear it, the music still played and the mortals oblivious still drank and danced. Dom and Darrick went outside through the side exit. They could still hear the fading howl could feel it in there bones. They looked at one another.


 

THE MARKO ESTATE

Marko had just about had enough. Cara tentatively picked up the finger bones and just then the lights flickered and a howl came from the night. At first it sounded distant but as it grew it sounded like it was coming from right beside them. The windows rattled as if from a strong wind and Colby smiled and stood.

“That's the boss, I better get going now,” he tosses a card with his number onto the table. “Call me tomorrow or the day after. Don't wait too long.”


 

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