Marche du Nain Rouge
March 26th, 2017 – Waning Crescent
Cass Park, Detroit – Taunt the Red Dwarf, and chase him away for a year. That's what draws people to the park every year. It's a young tradition, meant to defeat an old foe. Families come for the spectacle, businesses come for the money, and the city's elites come to watch someone else take the blame for another year of Detroit's malaise. For a single day the fallen fortunes of the Motor City can be blamed on an evil spirit.
The crowds are thick, with people circulating around the park, the parade route, and every path into the festivities. No one pays any special attention to the jogger who decides to take his cooldown walking through the mobs. Nor do they see the street kid stealing an unguarded paper tray served from one of the food trucks. Either might as well be the guy stalking though the tents, looking at all the "weird Detroit" memorabilia. So many people, so many faces to forget.
They pass each other, unaware of how their fates will intersect. The jogger takes in the view, looking over a thousand heads and dozen balloons at Old Detroit's buildings. The urchin draws a pinch of their loot into their mouth, more concerned with the loitering security than with the colorful floats puttering down the closed streets. The med student, the one trying to figure out the voices in the back of his head, looks at the capering Red Dwarf, the Nain Rouge, and wonders exactly who is talking to him. Suddenly—
The Morning After
May 18th, 2017 – Waxing Crescent
A man names Isaac wakes up muddied and bedraggled. As he starts piecing together the circumstances that brought him here, two voices ring out from beyond the trees. He recognizes them as two of his packmates, Ky and JT. Packmates is a strange name for it, and the ramifications of what that means is not yet clear, but what is clear is that pack means something.
Ky and JT find Isaac easily. The tracks he left were not hard to follow. Both parties relate the events that led to this early morning jaunt. Excusing himself from a celebration, Isaac went outside for a breath of fresh air. Alone he was unprepared for the vision he saw of a terrible creature, shadowy and indistinct, except for the spines that covered its body. It did something, something twisted and unnatural enough to break Isaac's grip on his rage, sending him into kuruth, the Death Rage. Through some miracle, the rampaging beast that had been the newly minted ithaeur met nothing it could kill, but left a visible trail. His packmates would follow in due time, sent by the elders who had come to welcome the fledgling werewolves into the fold.
Late April 2017 – New Moon
It's getting late. JT is driving his truck down a back road. Isaac is riding shotgun, while the kids Ky and Amina are in the back. It's been hours of driving, but the trip is nearing its end. Finally JT sees the sign he's been waiting for: Welcome to Banques.
Banques is a far cry from Detroit. It's tiny, isolated, and not much more than a few shops that may be little more than repurposed outbuildings. The only signs of life are a few good old boys swigging Schlitz in the gas station parking lot, and the lights inside the convenience store. Close to their destination, the travelers get out to stretch their legs and get their bearings.
Isaac fuels up the truck as JT and Isaac go inside to grab a few snacks and a map, as requested by Amina, the only one who has any clue to where they're going. Ky and the clerk strike up a conversation. The clerk is a young woman wearing a head covering, unexpected here in northern Michigan's farms and game preserves. She casually talks about how the "thing in Detroit" has made things a bit harder out here, indicating her hijab, although she seems to believe in the safety of her Lucite booth. With a hint of conspiracy, she lowers her voice and asks if Ky and company are "Grrrr!", while feigning an angry snarl and curling her fingers like claws.
Outside JT rejoins Isaac while he finishes refueling. Amina is awake and limbering up, wearing her sunglasses even as the sky is darkening…