After the sojourn through the Shadow, the pack and its elders slept in the cabin. Isaac woke to the wet touch of a childlike hand, and looked into the face of one of Setting Quiet's child-forms. The words literally spilt from its bloated lips, "It's here, at the far side of the lake." It then dissolved back into the Shadow. Isaac woke up the others, telling them what he saw.
Azhar and Teddy decided to take a look, suspecting it as some big bad that haunted the interior of Michigan. Ky and Isaac came along, with the warning that, if they saw anything, just run. JT and Simon gathered the Wolf-blooded and started to decamp, on the chance that if this thing had found the lake, it might be looking for the cabin. Simon told the scouts to meet them back at the diner from the morning before.
A Change of Scene, With No Regrets
Late April – Crescent Moon
Azhar rode ahead on her motorcycle, while Teddy drove the cubs in the rental. This creature, he told them, was a werewolf's bogeyman. The People held Michigan's industrial south, and its remote Upper Peninsula, but Northern Michigan was mostly devoid of werewolves. Since the late Sixties, packs claiming territories in the area gave up shortly, disappeared, or ended up grisly remains. What Teddy understood was that there was some sort of giant monster that was easily the match of a full-strength pack, but no one had a good idea just what it was. He further theorized that the packs Amina had followed to the Lodge of the Wendigo might have been hunting it, and that maybe it tracked them back to Hay Lake.
It wasn't long before the hunters found the best place to search. A public recreation area, with a boat launch and nearby campgrounds, fit the description best. The werewolves split up, with Azhar and Teddy heading one direction, and Isaac and Ky the other. Shifting down into urhan, the two stalked into the still-heavy woods. Minutes later they found spoor of something large, huge gouges in the dirt like foot prints, and broken branches nearly 20 feet above. They followed the trail, past a cluster of campsites, to find another parking lot, packed with cars and boat trailers. They set eyes on a dark shape among the boats, watching as it lifted the prow up off its trailer, like it was looking at bugs under a rock. Ky and Isaac moved in for a closer look, but did so without any grace, and the beast spotted them immediately.
The creature dropped the boat back on its trailer, and leant into it to take a closer look at the interlopers. Two rows of orange lights shone, coursing down its shoulders like the straps of a backpack, and its body and face were twisted knots of steel. In a split second, it sidled out from between the boats, and started taking colossal strides towards the Uratha.
Ky and Isaac were already running and howling. They skirted the lake, hoping the undergrowth would slow down the monster, but it still closed in. The chase led back to the parking lot, where the colossus took a bad step and fell to the gravel. Teddy and Azhar emerged seconds later, and as they piled into the rental, Azhar fired her shotgun at the creature, startling it, maybe injuring it, before she climbed in too. Teddy punched the gas, and the car fishtailed out of the lot and up the road. A deep breath later, Azhar's abandoned bike came crashing and rolling just feet behind the car. The twists of the road soon hid the monster and the werewolves from one another.
The party took a short breather, once enough distance had been made. Teddy was excited, for this was the most that had been seen of the creature, that he knew of. Azhar seconded this, though she was preoccupied with her Harley's fate. Some ideas were tossed around, but the consensus settled on the creature being some sort of possessed vehicle. "The militia have a mech!" Ky (might have) said.
After a healthy wait, the crew returned on foot to the scene. Azhar hid her bike off the road to recover later, while the others retraced the trail. Although some tree spirits were coaxed into aiding their search, the trail grew cold at another access road that returned to the highway. Spent, the werewolves returned to town to find their friends at the diner.
The others listened, half-asleep, as the events were recounted. Simon agreed with the hunters' idea, that the thing was somehow a machine in nature. He also agreed with the idea that the whole group abandon the cabin, and head to the Lodge of the Sleeping Bear early. At least there they would have greater numbers, and the Lodge had seemed to avoid the wrath of this creature, if it was indeed the threat Teddy had suggested.
When dawn came, the crew first returned to the cabin, where every sign pointed to the beast having found it. The door had been splintered, and the roof partially collapsed, but the bramble binding the wendigo remained intact. Next stop was the rec area, to load Azhar's battered bike into JT's truck. With everything packed and ready, the motley crew drove northwest to find the Lodge of the Sleeping Bear.
A Chance To Watch, Admire The Distance
Late April to Early May - Crescent to Half Moon
Sleeping Bear Dunes and Glen Arbor - A convoy of well-used cars pulled into the lot of the Bufflehead's Roost, a cozy B&B right up the road from the national park. Eight bedraggled visitors filed into the too quaint, three-storey hostel, to meet Vikki DeLonge, one of the humble hosts. A bit surprised, she quickly got the visitors settled and assigned rooms, warning them that the only other guests were a honeymooning couple who "aren't quite like us." She then summons her wife Jill, and the two of them give them the lay of the land.
Bufflehead's Roost is a functioning bed and breakfast, but it serves primarily as a revenue source for the Lodge of the Sleeping Bear. Jill and Vikki look after the Roost, but most of the lodge's members work as rangers in the park during the day. The Lodge itself is sworn to win the alliance of the Sleeping Mother Bear, a powerful spirit enchanted to sleep until her cubs can be revived. The Lodge specifically wants her aid to fight the creature the pack believes they encountered. The new werewolves and their mentors are welcomed to stay until they can wrap up their initiation.
A few hours later, once the pack recovers from a week at the Cannibal's Cage, the pack visits the park, where the ranger station is. There they met Grady Anton, the leader of the Lodge. He greets them, and takes them on a driving tour of the park. Of primary interest, to him anyway, is what he calls the "sacred killing ground." Plenty of spirits end up on the lakeshore, attracted by the tourists, the Sleeping Bear, and the resonance of an ancient murderer's mass grave. He warned the cubs to treat every inch of the territory as sacred, and to be careful if they ever set foot on the holy killing ground, not just for its import, but for the traps and hazards as well.
Later that day Rick Amos and Geraldine Cass arrived. Rick is a Cahalith of the Blood Talons. He's friendly and talkative, but something of an instigator as well. He's small, and doesn't seem to be the warrior the others mean by "Blood Talon." Geraldine, on the other hand, is quiet and intense. She's tall and lean, and lives as a drifter in Ohio, hunting ghosts along the highway. Her auspice is Rahu, and her tribe is the Bone Shadows.
Over the course of the next week, the elder werewolves impart their wisdom. Isaac finds Simon and Geraldine to have the most useful knowledge. Ky and JT learn the ways of the Irraka from Teddy. JT spends a great deal of time with Simon as well, learning about the Iron Masters. Ky listens to everything and everyone.