October 16, 2009

Meeting the Traveler, werewolves, and living dead

November 28th, 2009

When I got up everyone was, of course, already awake.

I lingered in the doorway for a moment, watching them all, before calling any attention to myself. "I'm going to find Joseph. Any takers?"

Everyone but Gio agreed immediately. He whined for a few minutes about roaming through sewers with a gimp leg. We told him to stop being a pussy. That settled that.

Nobody grabbed his night vision goggles.
"Do you have flashlights, Gio?" Nadi was looking over his shoulder as he rummaged through the lab.
"Doesn't look like it. Have these though!" He straighten and pulled two positively ancient looking torches from a cabinet.
I made a disgruntled noise in my throat. "Torches. Of course."
Gio just smirked at me. It wouldn't surprise me if he really did have flashlights, and pulled those out just to get me back for calling him a pussy. Fucker.

I unlatched the steel door and it swung slowly open, groaning on its hinges.
"I'll take point."

We stepped into the dark and dank sewer tunnels and Gio lit a torch. I was prepared not to flinch, but it didn't burn. It glowed, like a gas Coleman lantern, constant, unflickering, and very far reaching.
"Well holy fuck. That's a nice surprise." I said once I recovered.
Gio laughed at me.
I let my pupils widen until my eyes were completely black. Gio's torch cast a lot of light, but I could see further with my sight active. I just had to remember not to turn around with it up or risk being blinded.

We really had no idea where we were going. Nadi said she could work up something to keep us from getting lost. Strings of fate and all that. We wandered the tunnels for roughly an hour before anything out of the ordinary happened. Then, the smell hit me hard and I stopped walking. Becca nearly ran into me. It was coppery, sweet, and fucking intoxicating.

"I smell blood. Fresh." My voice had a rough edge to it.

Gio sounded perplexed. "That's weird, because I smell Italian food. Like..my grandma's Italian food."
Nadi quietly mentioned something about old library books and white wine. Rebecca and Nobody piped up with other completely different smells.

"Okay then, weird shit, this direction." I muttered and began walking again. We turned down the tunnel that the smells were the strongest in.

We walked for about 15 more minutes, the smells becoming increasingly stronger, when Nadi came to a sudden stop.

"Uh, guys?"

We stopped, I fought the urge to glance behind me and get blinded. "Whats wrong?"

"The floor.. its not concrete anymore.. and I think there is something buried here. Anyone have anything to dig with?"

I looked down. Sure enough, the floor was hard pressed dirt, not concrete.

I heard Nadi kneel down and start digging, I think Rebecca handed her the tire iron.

"There are bones here and.. huh.." Nadi sounded surprised.

"What?" I asked, unable tot urn around to look.

"It's a... bone flute. I don't know if the bone is human or not though..."

"Pass it up." I held out my hand.

Becca handed it to me to examine. It was slightly yellowed, and caked in dirt, but overall in good condition. There were holes whittled in the top, and even a carved out mouthpiece in one end. And it was definitely human.

"Looks like a human femur..."

Everyone waited expectantly, they knew what I was about to do. I held the flute with both hands and focused my thoughts. Using Auspex like this got easier each time I did it. However, that didn't mean that I wasn't about to get a psychic kick in the head from whatever this thing was about to show me. Seemed like I never got to use this on mundane items.. no, just the shit that makes me bleed out the eyeballs.

I was suddenly in a dark room. I was chained. And it reeked. I was looking out through someone else's eyes. The room was made of rough hewn stone. It was dank, dark, and cold. I looked down at the chains on my wrists, my hands were dirty and the nails were jagged and long. There was a heavy wooden door with a small barred window. I heard people crying, screaming, laughing, babbling incoherently... and singing. The singing was coming closer.

I heard a grunt, and a thud, and a face appeared at the window, peering down at me. Joseph Traveler. He was covered in fresh blood. He was talking to me as he opened the door.
"That is how we will tell them. That is how we will make them see."
He crouched down to my level. "Music. That is how we will do it. What is your name?"
My throat was dry, my lips cracked and caked with dried blood. I had not spoken in a long time. It felt unfamiliar and alien. I forced the air out of my mouth. It took several tries before I could use it to form words. "P...Polesky."

He held a large iron ring with many keys. He reached over and unlocked my chains.
"We will have to make you an instrument." He turned and walked out. I followed, pausing at the doorway. The guard was laying against the wall, blood coursing from the gaping wound in his throat, pulsing out in tune to his heartbeat. His breathing was shallow and his eyes darted frantically. His leg was twisted at an odd angle. I reached down and wrapped my hands around the limb and pulled, harder and harder, ignoring his fading whimpers. I felt it slide towards me. The guards eyes went glassy and blank.

I stared down at the old bone flute. I handed it back to Rebecca. "Can you play this?"
"N..Not really, I mean, I can get a sound out of it, but I usually stuck to strings..."
"Better than most of us would be able to do. Give it a shot." I tried to make my voice encouraging, like I wasn't asking her to put her mouth on someones femur.

She took the flute from me. I felt her hesitate before putting her lips to the mouthpiece. I'm sure playing a flute made from a human bone was disconcerting, but she'd get over it.

She must have been being modest, because when she started playing, it was beautiful. The flute made gorgeous music. In seconds we were enthralled with its tunes. The music brought back memories of one of the most trying times in my life, shortly after my embrace.

I remembered being on the edge and about to snap. My combat training consisted of Mona beating the shit out of me every night, without fail. Giuseppe denied me blood to train me in the Coils, asking me what seemed like pointless and impossible riddles that I could never answer.. night after night after night. It was weeks of physically, mentally and emotionally draining routine and I felt like I was on the verge of mass homicide, when one night Giuseppe was firing questions at me and I snapped at him, throwing an answer in his face... and instead of shooting me down, or following it with another, MORE impossible question, he paused and nodded. "Good."
And the feeling of utter relief and accomplishment was completely overwhelming. Had I still be living I'm pretty sure I would have balled my eyes out in sheer release.

That was how the music made me feel. It was intense emotion. I don't know how long I stood there, completely lost in the music.

I only came back to my senses when the music stopped. Gio was watching us intently and Joseph Traveler had the flute in his hand and was lowering an unconscious Rebecca to the ground. I cursed internally and prayed she wasn't going to be all crazy now too.

Apparently Gio had been the only one not overwhelmed by the music. He'd continued on without us.. like a dipshit... and had found Joseph playing a piano accompaniment to the flute. They had returned to save us. Apparently, if Becca had been allowed to continue, would've played till we all died and she starved to death. Creepy.

Joseph was definitely a little off, but not how I thought he would be. Rather than being perceivable crazy, he was more... extremely vague and figurative. Nadi had a difficult time talking to him, being such a literally minded person.

He told us the flute was made to make people remember. That struck home with me. It reminded me about what Sundown had said about encoding memories in blood. We questioned him about the glass harmonium, but he didn't have any information about it he was willing to share. The only instruments he took care of were the flute, and the piano.

We tried to ask him about the one who created him, but he just spoke about someone who had no name.. because the person had eaten it... he was the Eater of Words... which sounded like a name to me, but apparently not. It wasn't very clear to me.

I wasn't very hospitable to him. He either didn't notice, or he didn't care. We asked him what he had done to us, why he'd infected us, and he told us it wasn't madness. Maxwell just misunderstood it. He had given us what we needed to face what was coming. He had given us change.

Like I said. Vague.

He insisted that he'd given us change to help when 'he' returned. He was messing with things 'he' shouldn't be.. we would need help defeating 'him'. From what we could tell, the 'he' was Stone, but Joseph never actually said Stone's name.

We walked away without many questions answered. I was frustrated. I carried Rebecca back. I was concerned, but her aura seemed normal. I put her in her bed once we arrived.

After I put Becca down I noticed my phone was flashing. Voicemail from Tommy, telling me to call him back when everyone was there. I told everyone to meet me in the internet room, and I dialed Tommy and set him on speaker phone.

"Tommy. Whats up?"
"Hey Harper, is everyone else there?"
"Yeah, you're on speaker. Whats so important?"
"We think Stone is trying to do a repeat of Chicago down here in Mexico." Tommy said slowly.
We stared at the phone in silence.
"You guys there?"
"Yeah, we're here. What the hell makes you think that?" I asked.
"Talked to some locals, apparently Stone has been buying up Aztec blood, usually used for rituals..." he hesitated. "Seems like he's already completed one ritual..."
"What ritual?" I asked suspiciously.
"You remember the temple you fought on in Mexico?"
I rolled my eyes. "No, not at all, its not like I died up there or anything significant like that."
Tommy ignored the sarcasm and continued. "There was a ritual set up on the temple top. One that could only have been completed with a large human sacrifice..."
"You have GOT to be fucking with me." I gawked at the phone.
"'Fraid not."
"That goddamn sonofaBITCH." I yelled and slammed my hand on the table, making the phone jump. I was seething. The others looked concerned, but not all that upset. Of course, they hadn't been there. None of them had contributed to the dozens of brainwashed teenager deaths that Tommy was referring too. None of them had drank any of those kids dry in the initial hunger frenzy following the embrace. "I'm really get tired of being used for these fuckers' games." I said in a voice that was more growl.
"Mmmhmm." Tommy agreed.
I rubbed my eyes and tried to calm down, stay focused. "You find out anything else? Have you seen the Nahuali?"
"Not yet. But I thought maybe you should know. The only other piece of information that I think you should know is that the god he seems to be after this time is Tezcatlipoca," He said it slowly to avoid tripping over the unfamiliar word. "the god of death, night, jaguars, ect. ect..."
I frowned. "God of night?" I looked at everyone else. From their expressions it seemed like they had come to the same conclusion I had. "Is anyone else detecting a pattern here?"
Gio shook his head in amazement. "He's trying to defeat the sun..."
"Do you need us down there?" I hoped he'd say no. We still had things to do.
"No, We're good for now. We're headed out to Mexico City tonight."
"Okay. Stay in touch, let us know if you need us down there."
"Will do. Adios."

He hung up.
I frowned, leaning back against the wall. "So how many times do you think he can do this? Is he just going to keep doing it until the one time we can't stop him?"
Gio shrugged. "Maybe. We need to get ahead of him."
Nobody spoke up for the first time. "That's hard to do when we can't find him."

Stone had been a thorn in our side for over a year in one way or another. I wondered if Giuseppe was having anymore luck than we were on the issue. He seemed to be in the loop on what was going on, or at least faked it really well...

I went to check on Becca again. Nadi said something about looking over the folios from the mage's house. Nobody wandered off to do whatever it is he did in his spare time. Gio mentioned wanting to go out later and track down the guy Maury had told them about, the homeless guy with the sign. Everyone agreed to go once showers had been had. Everyone smelled like sewer.

I showered and threw in some black hair dye. I wasn't going to be left out this time, but I wasn't going to go out without at least trying to disguise myself a bit. When I finished, I went to collect Nadi. She had a habit of losing track of time when she was researching something.

When I walked into the study, Nadi was staring off into space with the three folios spread out in front of her. her hands were open over two of them, hovering just above the pages. She wasn't responsive. I frowned and concentrated on her aura. Colors flashed across it, mostly fear, and it was curling up from the folios... as I watched, the color began to stretch out from her, slowly coming towards me. Very weird. I just watched, letting her aura snake towards me. It wrapped itself around me, gliding across my wrists, down my arms.. When it touched me I felt compelled to move closer to Nadi. It was weird, creepy, and seemed like a bad idea. But I was curious. This was something new and interesting.

When I took a step forward, the aura yanked me from my feet. My body started a slow crawl towards Nadi. I realized at once I wasn't in control of my limbs anymore. That was enough to make me abort my brilliant plan. But I didn't know how to do so. The only thing I could think of was to shut off my visual.

I was a little surprised when that actually worked. As soon as I couldn't see it anymore, the pulling sensation ceased. I guess there is something too hiding from the monster under the covers sometimes. I walked over and stood behind Nadi. I shook her. Nothing. I checked her pulse... it was normal. She seemed fine, except for being completely unresponsive. I touched the folio under her right hand. Nothing. I started to slide the folio out from under her fingers. As I did so, lightening arched out from her immobile fingertips and zapped me, dancing across my hand and all the way up my forearm.

I cursed and jumped back, cradling my arm. The flesh was blackened and peeling up from the muscle in a jagged pattern all the way up to my elbow. The stench was awful. Nadi still hadn't stirred. I'd never seen Nadi do anything like that before. As far as I knew her powers were Death and Fate related. Good Lord.

I exhaled slowly. I had one more option, but I didn't want to do it without someone else there. I could hear the shower still running in Gio's room, so I went and knocked on Nobody's door.

"What the hell is that smell?" He opened the door and grimaced. I held up my arm. The skin was slowly knitting itself back together and the scorch marks were fading, but it still looked terrible. "Nadi is zoned out over those folios. She shot lightning at me when I tried to move one of them."
"I didn't think Nadi could do that."
"Me either. I need to see whats going on in her head."
"Fuck that, I'm not jumping in there."
I frowned at him, my voice dripping with sarcasm. "You're so chivalrous. Don't worry. I'm going to do it. However, I'd rather not do it without someone there in case I get attacked."

We went back into the sitting room. Nothing had changed. I stood a few feet away from Nadi and concentrated, reaching into her mind, scanning her surface thoughts. I had a bad feeling about this.. but I was doing it anyway. That probably says something negative about my metal health.

Suddenly, I was standing in the middle of a large battlefield. I looked around the valley and saw two armies on either side of the field. One was vast and darkened the side of the valley, the other was sparse but seemed confident and better equipped. All where dressed in armor that hadn't been used in centuries. They reminded me of Vikings.

Atop one hill, a woman came out of her tent. She looked a bit like Nadi, only harsher and more weathered. Perhaps older, but it was hard to tell.

She looked at me and spoke. "You do not belong here." She raised a hand, and the small army charged. A larger part of the vast army charged to meet them, and I was caught in the middle. When they collided, everything went black.

Thankfully, I was only out for about an hour. When I came to, I was lying on the floor of the sitting room. My face was, once again, a mask of blood. Nobody had been a real help. Fucker didn't even catch me when I collapsed...

Nick was sitting in a chair across from Nadi, watching her intently. Nobody and Gio stood in the doorway. Gio tossed me a damp towel and I started to mop the blood off my face. "Is she okay?" I muttered through the wet cloth.

Nick responded without looking at me. "She's fine. She's learning..something. I don't know what, exactly. I'm going to stay here until I can be sure she's alright."
I nodded.
Nobody chimed in, "What is she learning?"
Nick seemed slightly annoyed. "Look, I don't mean to sound condescending, but it's not something that I can explain in a way you can understand."
But Nobody was persistent. Or stupid. Take your pick. "Yeah, mage stuff, but can you at least explain the gist of it?"
Now Nick seemed very annoyed. He turned stared at Nobody. "Look. I don't mean to be condescending.. but this is not something you will be able to understand."
Nobody started to protest again but I interrupted. "We'll leave you to it. Let us know if you need anything." And Gio and I left the room. Nobody got the hint and followed us out.

I stopped into the bathroom to wash the rest of the blood off my face.

"So are we going to find this homeless guy or what?"
Gio looked at me, started to say something, paused, looked over his shoulder at the room Nadi was in and considered it. I waited with my arms crossed for him to realize he needed my help, especially since Nadi was indisposed, and that he wouldn't be able to talk me out of going anyway. Finally, he nodded.
"Yup. Lets go. This might take awhile."

We went down and began canvasing the streets near the river. We wanted to be more efficient, but didn't really know how to go about it. We were walking the streets for a couple hours when Giovanni spotted someone he knew. He crossed the road and started talking with the guy. It took me a moment to realize that it was Deuce Carter. I took the fact that I wasn't fending off attacks as a good sign. I didn't know what they were saying, but at the end of the conversation Deuce nodded in my direction and handed Gio his baseball cap.

Gio limped back over and tossed me the hat. "Deuce said you're hair is obvious. Hide it so you don't stick out so much."
I twisted my hair up and hid it under the hat, pulling the bill down over my eyes. I looked over at Deuce and nodded to him. He returned the gesture.

It was nice to know I still had some allies in the kindred community up top. Or at least vampires that wouldn't try to kill me on sight.
"What did he say?"
"He said there is a guy that sounds close to who we are looking for. Said he can't get close to the guy, that you may not be able too either, but he doesn't know why. This way."

We took off down the street. We'd walked about half a mile when we noticed a few people acting suspicious. Three people were half dragging their drunk friend down the street. A man with paler skin than mine, and white hair, a woman, and a guy with so many piercings he looked like he'd had a fight with a tackle box and lost.

It was normal enough in that area of town.. but something about the way they were looking around tipped me off. I paused and watched them, pretending to be talking with Gio and Nobody. They're movements were nervous. Eyes darting back and forth, body language tense. The person they were dragging wasn't drunk, but completely unconscious, nose bloodied. Reading their auras gave me the final clue.. werewolves. They ducked into an alleyway.

We exchanged looks.
Gio disagreed before anyone even said it. "It's not our problem."
Nobody, obviously, disagreed. "No, but there's a slim chance that person they were dragging is the one we're looking for. Besides, I'm curious."
I frowned. "But they're fucking werewolves. And we don't know the situation. That might not be some innocent victim...I'd rather not get into a fight we aren't going to win."
"And if its our guy?" Nobody objected.
I frowned. "Nobody, play fly on the wall? No harm in measuring the situation. Just don't let them see you."
He grinned and nodded, "You act like I wasn't going to do that anyway." Smart ass.
Gio just shook his head.

He walked about a block up and crossing the street. He went down another alley, and if you looked hard, you could see him scale up the wall, across the roof, and start down the wall of the alley the werewolves were in. We could see the pale skinned man near the mouth of the alleyway, presumably keeping watch.

Gio and I stayed put and pretended to be loitering innocently. We tried not to stare down the alleyway. We waited for Nobody to come back. Instead, we both got a text at the same time.

'RUN!!!!! Really pissed off doggy! I'm OK'

That same moment we heard a familiar and blood chilling sound, the roar of a rampaging werewolf.

"Shit!" We said in unison.
"We can't leave him there." I said, eyes trained on the alley, waiting for the wolf to appear.
"Fucking of course not. Goddamn it Nobody, what the fuck did you do?" Gio cursed.

We expected to see the werewolf tear ass out of the alley, instead, we heard sounds of a scuffle as we were crossing the street, and I picked up the faint sound of ripping flesh. We stepped into a shadowed alcove as the pale skinned man walked out of the alley supporting a "drunk" friend, still slightly furry. This time it was the pierced up guy. He was shrinking rapidly, but no one else was around to notice. The pale guy hid it well, but we caught a glimpse of his friend's face. His jaw had been ripped clean off. I smelled blood. There was no more sounds of fighting. What the fuck happened?

We waited for the guy to get about a block away before we slipped into the mouth of the alleyway. The woman was crouched over the unconscious form and I could barely make out the figure of Nobody on the wall to her right, about 15 feet up. She wasn't in her war form, but she looked bigger. Gio and I decided to play concerned couple.

"Hello? Is everything okay?" Gio started down the alley.
The woman paused. We could tell her hand was still on the unconscious body, but she wasn't going to murder someone with witnesses.
"Everything is fine. My friend is just drunk."
I followed after Gio. "We heard fighting, are you sure everything is okay?"
We were walking closer to her, now about half way down the alley.

Nobody decided right then would be a great time to get into a fight with the fucking monster. He launched himself at the woman, I saw the glint of silver in his hand just before the knife bit into her shoulder and he used his momentum to drag the blade down through her body.

Her reaction was immediate. Before he even landed his blow her hands had grown wicked claws. She used the same momentum to tear furrows across his chest and stomach. He hit the ground hard, and didn't get back up. She was pretty fucked up herself, and would have finished the job had we not stepped in. Fucking Nobody...

As soon as Nobody had struck Gio had shifted. He was taller, more commanding, and stood without help from the cane. He also had large black wings, but they were mostly concealed by his coat. He slid his shotgun from his coat and fired into her back all in one smooth motion. My two shots landed right after his.

Her body jerked at the impact, and when she turned to face us we could tell she was panicked. I was slightly surprised at that, but the wound down her front was gaping and jagged, pouring blood at a pretty steady rate. She wasn't healing it quickly like they did most wounds. She melted into the form of a wolf. Gio took aim again, and I switched from my gun to my combat knife. I'd learned from experience that guns were mostly ineffective against most supernaturals. I had to get up close and personal to do any real damage.

Right as Gio was about to pull the trigger a white blur came out of nowhere and knocked him off balance. He didn't fall, but his shot went wild. The other werewolf had come back. We could finally tell why he was so pale... he was albino. His wolf form was covered in snow white fur, and his eyes were pink. The woman took that opportunity to blow past us both, going at a all out run to the mouth of the alleyway. The albino and Gio began to circle each other.

I hadn't wanted to get into this fight for two reasons. One, we had no idea what was going on. For all we knew that person they were harassing deserved it. Two, werewolves are fucking dangerous.

But these two were just trying to get away. For a brief moment I considered letting them go, avoiding taking any life tonight, but it was a short lived consideration. If we let them go, they would come back with friends later. And the last thing we needed was a bunch of pissed off werewolves looking for us.

I burned the blood and took off after her. She was fast, but I was faster. I caught her before she made it to the mouth of the alley and shoved my blade into one of her kidneys (I think.. I'm not as familiar with wolf anatomy as I am human anatomy). She was already badly injured. My hit put her over the edge. She collapsed into unconsciousness. A glance told me Gio had locked eyes with the albino, and neither of them were moving. I turned back and raised my knife, about to bury it in the back of the unconscious werewolf's skull when I suddenly found myself frozen, unable to move, with a hand on my shoulder.

I looked behind me, and there was a homeless man.

"You do not want to do that, miss."

I slowly lowered the knife, and he turned towards Giovanni, who was still staring down the other wolf.

"You take yours and I'll take mine." Gio's voice was deeper than normal as he spoke to the white wolf. Gio and the wolf started to circle each other again until the wolf's back was to me, to the entrance to the alleyway. Once Gio wasn't standing between him and the exit, he bolted, taking his unconscious companion with him as he went. I let them go. The homeless man made sure of that.

Once they were gone, I sprinted to the end of the alleyway, where Nobody lay unconscious and bleeding profusely. I started using his shirt and anything else I could find to do some quick patch and fix work. I had a small kit with me, not the monstrous one I usually carry, but enough to keep him from bleeding out. Gio looked between me and the homeless man that was watching us.

Nobody's eyes fluttered open and he groaned.
"Nobody. can you hear me? You okay?"
"Ugh..yeah.. I'll live. I think."

And I slapped him across the face. "What the FUCK do you think you're doing?! Werewolves? I had half a mind to let her fucking gut you!"

"Had to save the girl... beating up on her."
Funny, I'd never really thought of Nobody as a humanitarian. Its not unheard of that he'd have a gracious side, but I found it highly suspect. But then, I'm paranoid, and I don't particularly like the fucker.
Gio piped in. "Yeah yeah..noble cause and all that shit. Not really buyin' it you crazy asshole."
Nobody started to protest as he did some of his own changeling magic and made the wound shrink a little, but he caught sight of the homeless man and the words got lodged in this throat. His eyes widened to a look of complete and utter shock and he started shaking. I looked over, but the man just stood there, watching us. I chalked it up the possibility of hemorrhagic shock, but with changelings, who knew.

I told Gio where to apply pressure and went over to the unconscious form. It was a young woman, and they had done a number on her. I did what I could, but most of the damage was blunt force trauma. She probably had a few facial fractures, and I could only do so much for that in an alleyway. I did manage to get her conscious.

"Hey! Whats your name?"
"K....Karin..." Then she muttered something in a language I didn't recognize, but sounded Russian or something, and fell unconscious again. She was probably going to be okay, I didn't see any evidence of bruising indicative of internal bleeding.. it looked like they focused mainly on the poor girls face.

We all stood to face the homeless man. We kinda figured he was the one we'd been looking for. He regarded us all with a stony expression. "Think about what you have done. When you have finished, you can find me by the riverbank."

As he turned and walked away we were all overwhelmed with a sickening sense of guilt. It was so powerful it was literally staggering. I leaned again the wall and held my head in my hands as the memories of all the bad things I had done in my life and death ran through my mind. The sense of guilt, regret, and shame was immense. Lives I had taken, even in self defense, injustices I had committed, even inconsiderate actions (of which there was a metric shit ton) all hit me between the eyes like a sledgehammer.

I think we all stood there like this for a good 15 minutes before we could move again. Nobody and Gio seemed even more floored than I was by the entire experience. Mainly indicated by the fact that they were both actually floored. They had to pick themselves up off the asphalt.
I inhaled and exhaled slowly.

"Everyone okay?" I asked.
"....more or less." Nobody grunted.
"Yeah, lets go get this over with..." Gio replied.

We walked out of the alley and headed for the river. I carried Karin with us.

He was washing his hands in the water when we walked up. His aura was odd. He was a vampire, yet his aura looked MORE saturated than a normal human's, instead of pale. It also looked almost gilded around the edges. Like no aura I'd ever seen, especially on a kindred.

He looked at us expectantly. "What problem do you have with the Pure? Why did you attack them?"
"They were beating up on this woman.. and..to be honest.. we were looking for you, and thought it might be you. So we intervened."
He turned and regarded Nobody, seemingly ignoring Giovanni's explanation.
"Why did you save her."
"She was getting the piss beat out of her. It reminded me of my old life... before coming through the hedge. I couldn't just sit there and watch. I would've just grabbed her and ran, but I didn't think I could do it and not get noticed, then attacked. So I attacked first. I had too."
The man didn't look surprised. If anything, it was like he already knew what Nobody was going to say. He gave Nobody a nod of approval, then he turned his attention to Giovanni.

"And why are you seeking me."
We let Giovanni take care of this one.
"I am looking for the blood of the living dead, and someone pointed us in your direction..."
He narrowed his eyes and regarded Gio with more than a little suspicion. "And how were you planning on obtaining this blood once you found me?"
"Well... I was planning on asking you for it."
The man considered Giovanni a moment before taking out a knife. "Do you have a container?"

Well that was easy..

Gio produced one from his coat and handed it over. The man placed the blade against his palm and met Gio's eyes solemnly. "If you use this as Al-Makkour did, to protect those who cannot protect themselves.. we will have no issue. However, if you ever use this blood for evil pursuits, be assured, I will find you, and I will take it back, and you will be punished."
Gio nodded. "I understand."
The man slit open his palm and his blood flowed into the container. I averted my eyes. I needed to feed.
He looked at each one of us in turn as the wound knit closed.
"You know where to find me. Come by again."

I had had millions of questions to ask him, but at that point, I couldn't form any of the words. I had just stared at his aura, trying to make sense of it. I made a mental note to find him again later, once I actually had my wits about me. We made our way back to the car. It was a long walk. Nobody could move on his own at this point.. but it was pained. His wound was more manageable now though. Faery voodoo. I carried Karin.

"So what the fuck happened Nobody? What was with the rampaging werewolf?" Gio asked as we walked.
"I don't know! He just went nuts and started screaming at the woman, then attacked her. She fought him and tore his face in fucking two."
"What set him off?" Gio prodded.
"No idea! He just flew off the handle! Started screaming at the woman, saying she was mouthing off, but she hadn't said a word."

I made a disbelieving noise in my throat "Right. You're up there and he just HAPPENED to go into a fucking frenzy. That I believe."
Gio nodded agreement.
Nobody put on his innocent face. He was better at it than me.
"What?! What could I have possibly done to set him off? You saw! They didn't even know I was there!"
"Like I fucking know? But I will not for one second believe you had nothing to do with it." I scowled at him.
Nobody continued to protest, and Gio and I continued to not believe him all the way back to the car. I don't know what happened, but I knew he had to have been involved. It wouldn't surprise me if he'd done something like thrown his voice. I'd never seen him do anything like that.. but that didn't mean he couldn't.

I laid Karin in the back seat of the car. "What do we do with her?" Nobody asked as he lowered himself slowly into the seat beside her.
Gio shrugged. "Did she say anything else besides her name?"
I shrugged. "Something in another language." I tried to repeat it as best I could.
Gio thought a moment. "Sounds like polish. 'mother...' I think, hard to tell since you're pronunciation sucks balls." \
I just rolled my eyes and let him talk. "But that gives us somewhere to start. We know a polish werewolf."
I perked up. "Holy shit, we do. To the library then."

We rolled up to the library and decided against leaving Karin in the car with a guard. The Pure probably wouldn't hear about this incident for a few more hours, but we didn't want to risk it.

I carried her inside. We walked into the newspaper archives that Volkas usually hung around. He looked haggard and exhausted. He looked up and nodded to us. I don't think he saw me behind the others, because Gio began to speak, and Volkas' nostrils flared as he scented her, and he nearly bowled over Gio and Nobody to get to the girl I was carrying.

"Where did you find her?!"
"Being beaten half to death by a pack of Pure." Gio answered.
Volkas took her gently from me. "Her family was attacked. Her mother... my sister.. was kin. Not full werewolf. They made her watch as they slaughtered them. She ran, but they must have caught up with her...I did not know where she went...I could not find her."
I was perplexed. I wasn't very familiar with werewolf culture. "What set them off? Why would they attack her and her family?"
"It is not uncommon for Pure to seek out Forsaken kin and murder them all. They do not wish to risk any of them changing... sometimes its not even that logical. It is just a way to hurt the Forsaken...to weaken us.. to lower our moral. That is why they hunt down our kin." Volkas explained.
"One's dead. The others got away..." Gio offered as a consolation.
He modded absently. He only seemed to be half listening to us. His focus was on his niece. But I knew he'd be good and pissed once he knew she was okay.
"Thank you. I will do what I can for her. She will change soon. I must go. Thank you..." His gratitude was so sincere and heartfelt that it made me slightly uncomfortable.

We let ourselves out. Gio texted Bella with more than a little trepidation as he headed to the car.

From: Giovanni
To: Bella

-So...we may have caused some problems...

From: Bella
To: Giovanni


I didn't know that text messages could carry that much rage. Holy shit.

From: Giovanni
To: Bella

-Attacked a pack of Pure, mostly unprovoked. One dead, two escaped.

Gio waited for a tense moment that felt like 4 hours and was really only about 45 seconds for her pissed off response. He was ready for all hell to break loose.

From: Bella
To: Giovanni

-Want a raise?

Gio breathed an intense sigh of relief.

Nobody grinned at us. "See? We saved Volkas' niece! It was a good thing I attacked!" Gio and I smacked him upside the head to the same time. (player note: NCIS style!) "You didn't know it was his niece you idiot. You could have gotten us killed."
Nobody was unrepentant. "I couldn't just let her get the shit beat out of her."
I scowled and got into the car. I wasn't really that pissed at Nobody, but he was an easy target. I don't think I could have let her die either, even not knowing the situation... but I'm sure there was a better way to go about what he did. That and it was just too weird to seriously consider the fact that Nobody might honestly have a caring and compassionate side.

There was only so much mind blowing shit I could allow myself process in one night. We headed home.javascript:void(0)

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