Down At The Lake
Late April 2017 – Crescent Moon
Lodge of the Wendigo – The wolves are coming out. Azhar breaks down Uratha culture into nice digestible bits. Werewolves are a thing. They're big bad killing machines, in case anyone was new to the legend, but they have a purpose to go along with it. The Sacred Hunt. The Oath of the Moon. The Forsaken and the Pure, their Tribes, and their spirit allies. Oh yeah, spirits! The Storm Lord gathers up her charges, and herds them down towards the lake.
The cove lurks out of view of the lake, where the water is dark and stagnant. The trees stoop low, and their roots twist up out of the mud and the water. With hushed tones, Azhar speaks a strange tongue, and despite its alien sounds, the meaning can be felt. Silently and without disturbing the water, three childlike figures rise out of the water. They look like waterlogged corpses, and when they speak, lake water spills from their mouths. Azhar greets the spirit, called Setting Quiet, and in honor of old bargains, offers it an article of clothing, in trade for use of the locus it sits on. Quiet accepts, and welcomes the strangers. It then begins to retreat beneath the murk. A curious Isaac escapes Azhar's notice, and creeps up to the water's edge.
As soon as his toe touches the water, three tiny hands seize his ankle and pull him into the water. As Isaac fights to keep his breath in the struggle, the face of one of Quiet's avatars emerges from the gloom in front of his own. "Change." The word breaks the last tether on the Wolf inside Isaac, and it tears through his skin and clothes, and bursts out of the lake, surprising the rest of the pack.
JT and Ky instinctively shield Amina, while Azhar scrambles to her feet, trying to stay ahead of the mad beast's teeth and claws. Still, she's no novice, and before long she has the nusuzul out of his rage. The pack returns to the cabin, for a few more lessons on what it means to be a werewolf.
(SOMEWHERE IN THE CHAIN OF EVENTS)
Amina shares her story. A year ago or so, Amina was a promising high school student, getting good marks and staying out trouble as best as anyone could expect. Then, she witnessed what she now understands to be werewolf violence. Her life began to spiral after that. She couldn't concentrate in school, she fought with her family, and she fell in with a bad crowd. That crowd turned out to be the fringe members of a pack of the Pure, and they took her in. When her pack discovered her nose for the soon-to-change, they conscripted her to hunt for new recruits.
Whatever misgivings she had buried when she first joined up were unearthed when she witnessed what it meant to become Pure. She saw the cubs beaten and tortured, some of them having their skin flayed off repeatedly. When she was forced to hunt among the wreckage of the Marche Du Nain Rouge, she finally decided she had to get away.
She played along until she saw an opening, and made for territory believed to be held by a pack of Forsaken. She found a lone Wolf-Blooded member, named Jefferson, who told her where to find his pack, which had joined another in hunting some powerful prey. On her way out of Detroit, she felt the weight of her responsibility to warn the unsuspecting nusuzul she had alerted her former packmates to, and turned back. Three of the four she had discovered were with her now, but there was a fourth who distrusted her.
(OH BOY ANOTHER NARRATIVE JUMP)
Fresh off of breaking in three new werewolves, the pack decided to track down the missing Wolf-Blooded. Azhar bound the others in a ritual, with a battered Teddy Ruxpin and an oath to hunt the lost cub. The pack members could feel their blood quickening, and everything took on a strange aspect as their senses searched for their prey. Azhar mounted her motorcycle, and the rest got in JT's truck, and they five of them rode back to Detroit.
March and April
The Marche is always a good time to catch Detroit's civic luminaries among the rabble, and Zach was making the most of it to squeeze whomever he could get on record. The spectacle of the parade made for a good distraction, as his subjects would let their guard down whenever a new float came into view. The quotes he scribbled down were rambling, true, but a confirmation here, or a lead there was worth their incoherence. Hearing a commotion, Zach looked up from his notebook—
A week later and Zach's nursing a hangover. He's no longer sure what's killing him: missing work, or the nightmares. He's hiding from both in a bar, and if his wife doesn't find him, so much the better. A young girl slips in unnoticed while the bartender is occupied, and slips him a phone number, before dashing out. He follows her out, and she asks him cryptic question about how he's feeling, and tells him to watch out. His phone rings, but he's no longer sure whether his editor's name in the caller ID is a mercy or his doom.
A good reporter doesn't make himself a part of the story, but he also gets the story. Zach's account of the Marche attack was disjointed and unusable, which displeased his editor Vic to no end. When Zach appeared in cellphone footage at the event, with a near-severed arm and what could only be described as monsters in pursuit, he didn't have much choice but to put Zach on the career suicide track. He gave the reporter a week to prove the video was tampered with, or to come up with an angle that kept the newspaper's name in good standing.
The video was blasted out to all local media, but other outlets had dismissed it as a hoax. Zach ran it by video analysts and computer geeks, and none of them could find clear evidence of manipulation. Zach tracked down the source of the video, a youTuber named Kevin McLeod who records a weekly conspiracy show called They're Real. Kevin's a true believer, but he's also and eager sort of skeevy, and manages to out his own source, a personal friend named Pedro.
His personal life is falling apart, and his wife Ellen goads him into a dinner date. Zach is on his way when he realizes he's being watched. It first manifests as a creepy sensation like a nearby construction pit was watching him, but then he notices a man following him at a distance. A confrontation occurs, but the other man deescalates it, and disappears into the night. Zach joins his wife at the restaurant, and the two argue over their marriage, the tape, and Zach's deteriorating state of mind. Ellen tells him she's going to stay with a friend for a little while, until he gets his issues sorted. He's more relieved than he will admit to her.
Through good old research, Zack locates Pedro, and the worst possible answer is confirmed: the video is authentic and unaltered. Pedro was at the Marche, he saw the whole thing, and he taped what he could until he had to flee. Defeated, he turns to drink, and returns to the bar, where a strange kid approaches him, with less guile than the girl before. He looks around and sees how packed the place is with strangers, and excuses himself in a hurry.
Outside, he sees the girl he met at the start of it all. She tells him he's a werewolf, that the strangers who followed him out of the bar are werewolves, and that worse werewolves are after him. The pack browbeats him into coming with them back to the Lodge of the Wendigo, and under grudging grudgey assent, he follows them.