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@Afro Samurai

Something else to note, this is a sandbox style RP where the overreaching story has some impact on the characters, but the primary focus is building your own story and interacting with the world and other PCs by creating your own arcs that allow your character to grow through your own creativity or collaboration with other players.

As mentioned above, there are summaries listed on the first page of the OOC, and the only major story arc going on right now is the Hounds of Humanity, which has only just started.
<Snipped quote by Mercinus3>

@fdeviant, just as a heads up for you to be aware of as I didn't see a response to at least the earthquakes that have been produced :)

My current posts are a little dated so what's happening in the time of my posts isn't current time. The Hounds stuff, and consequently the Nexus's arrival, are all happening the day AFTER my latest post.

Full Moon Madness

The Investigation

Location: New York
Time: 10-11 p.m.

As Marie sped from the Hudson Valley Wyrd, the moon, in all her splendor, was slowly reaching zenith, silver light cascading over the tops of trees and falling into luscious pools of light reflected in the surface of the Hudson River. Where the lush greenery of the valley met the dense city, however, the moon’s light struggled for dominance, her radiance kept at bay by the blinding aura of the city.

From atop the labyrinth of structures, the White Witch scoured the streets and back alleys, searching for clues as the the whereabouts of the Alpha who had been terrorizing New York on nights like tonight. It wasn’t long before she stumbled upon a frightening scene, blood spattered across the street collecting into a messy trail of crimson that led into a tight crevice between adjacent storefronts. Police tape had yet to be laid down, but the flashing red and blue told Marie that a full investigation was soon to come.

With cunning and grace, she skillfully evaded the notice of attending officers and landed near a white sheet stained with fresh blood. A few feet away, another smaller sheet covered what Marie assumed was a severed limb, making her believe that she had found one of the Alpha’s recent kills, or that of a pack member.

Holt flew from Marie’s shoulder and with an outstretched talon, pulled the sheet from body so that Marie could examine it further and look for signs that might lead her to the Alpha.

”Oh my god . . .” Marie exclaimed as she turned her head from the gruesome sight for a moment, allowing herself to come to terms with the uncensored image of death and violence that lay before her.

The victim’s body was mangled beyond recognition, face and neck torn to ribbons, left arm painfully severed, pieces of viscera and broken bone strewn haphazardly about the body. The long hair and slender frame led Marie to believe it was a woman, probably in her mid to late twenties.

Marie turned back. This was no time to be squeamish. She had dealt with literal demons and otherworldly abominations, a dead body should be nothing. She resolved to move closer, kneeling down while having Holt examine the alley’s entrance in case the police forensic team was on their way.

”This was definitely a wolf,” Marie made the rather simple observation, noting the lacerations and claw marks along the chest and lower stomach as well as the shredded tissue on the face and neck where the victim had been bitten. The placement of the claw marks led Marie to believe that the victim had been taken unaware. She hadn’t been running away unless she was flanked, but if there was any sort of a struggle, Marie believed that the body wouldn’t be positioned so neatly on her back.

Marie then remembered the trail of blood leading from the street suggesting that the initial attack had happened there, but it didn’t make sense. She couldn’t fathom why a wolf would have been wandering along a busy New York street in its second state so brazenly. Wolves were quick, but one running around the city wouldn’t have gone unnoticed, even in the area where this particular attack had occurred.

Marie pulled the bundle of notes from her cloak and thumbed through them until she reached a small section on Alphas. There wasn’t much written as it seemed the only defining characteristics of most Alphas, no matter the breed, was their enhanced strength and ability to influence other wolves. However, the notes suggested that Alphas could change much more quickly than fledgling wolves. If that was the case, Marie reasoned, it could explain why the attack took place on the street. The Alpha could have shifted into their wolf form before the victim had time to react.

But what if Marie were wrong? It was certainly convenient for her if this attack was truly that of an Alpha and her logic had been sound, but it was also possible that a less experienced wolf had killed this woman, perhaps changing out of fear or surprise and attacking aggressively due to the strange environment. Marie reasoned that any fledgling wolves in the city would either be documented by the Agency, whom she had come to realize had a strong foothold in New York, or was a pack member of the Alpha, who wouldn’t have been far behind. Marie’s eyes went wide as she came to this realization, letting out a deep sigh as she thought on it more.

She had met with not one, but three young wolves earlier that evening, one of whom was completely new to lycanthropy and prone to changing form while under stress.

”Ben . . .” Marie said softly, Holt turning his head at the mention of the young wolf’s name.

”The wolf from the museum? Do you believe he had something to do with this?” Holt inquired, shifting his attention from the entrance, to Marie, back to the entrance.

”I’m not sure,” Marie shrugged, ”but I can’t rule it out. We saw how he reacted to seeing you at the museum. Who knows what could have happened between now and then. If something spooked him enough to trigger another transformation, he could have very well done something like this without knowing what he was doing. And if not him, maybe one of the other two wolves that was with him earlier.”

”You know that if they are truly responsible, they must be dealt with.” Holt stated with a cold conviction.

Marie sighed once more with a heavy heart.

”I know, but I hope it doesn't come to that. Our best bet at finding all three of them is to look for Ben. The twins seemed to know him so it’s safe to assume that they would be together, especially if one of them were responsible for this.”

”How do you suggest we find him?” Holt questioned Marie, taking his place on her shoulder once she had showed intent to leave.

Marie thought for a moment.

”He introduced himself as Benjamin Reeves, didn’t he? I remember seeing the name Reeves somewhere else on our way to the museum.”

”Indeed,” Holt chimed in, ”A flyer for Daniel Reeves was left outside the museum. A campaign advertisement for the position of District Attorney of New York.”

Marie chuckled.

”Should have guessed he came from money. He had that rebellious, neglected teen look when I first saw him. That’s the only lead we’ve got right now, can’t be too hard to find the newly elected DA’s house.”

Marie turned to leave the scene until a thought crossed her mind. To leave the body in the state it was could lead to exposure and unnecessary questions from the police and investigators. It wasn’t likely that they would pick up on a pack of werewolves running rampant in the city, but if there was even a hint of doubt as to the nature of this crime, a more magical task force might investigate and stir trouble with New York’s supernatural community.

With an outstretched arm, Marie issued a silent command to Holt, who felt her intent. He flew around the crime scene three times, enchanting the body with each pass. Slowly, the jagged claw marks were mended, appearing more like stab wounds. The lacerations across the face began to fade, the vague image of a woman returning to the victim’s face, the cuts on her neck forming into something slightly less irregular. The cuts along the arm began to appear more surgical and precise, making it look like the work of a serial killer rather than a rabid animal.

Once Holt had brought to life Marie’s vision, he covered the body with the sheet, took his place upon the mantle of her broom, and off they went into the night to locate the Reeves Manor.

Full Moon Madness

Part 2

Location: The Red Devil
Time: 8 p.m.

”What do you wish of me?” Holt inquired, bowing his ethereal body as a formal sign of respect to Puck, who looked amused by the gesture.

”Come now old friend, there’s no need for such formalities. For as long as I had known Joseph, I have known you. I would have thought that, after all this time, you had grown fond of me.”

Holt gave no indication one way or the other. He seemed to think on it for a moment, but kept his stoic expression (what little of an expression he could form) and rigid posture.

”No matter,” Puck waved away his last comment. ”I haven’t kept you here to discuss the complexities of our relationship. No no, we have more important matters to discuss.”

Puck sauntered over to a liquor cabinet hidden in the corner of his office, shelves lined with all manner of strange spirits, some aged well over a century, some not of this world. He collected a bottle of whiskey bought from a store in Lost Haven. It was cheap and tasted like acid, which Puck found most pleasurable at times.

Moving back to his desk, Puck set down the alcohol and a single glass, a little larger than a shot. He poured himself a drink, taking more time than Holt felt was necessary. After a few sips, he moved to the edge of his desk and leaned against the corner, his full attention on Holt.

”I know of a coven operating in the Hudson Valley. German witches the lot of them, followers of Frau Holda. I want you and Marie to give them a visit as part of your Alpha investigation. They have a great knowledge of old world wolves and will be able to provide you with information enough to ensure your safety.”

Holt seemed puzzled.

”Could not you provide Marie with the same information more quickly? Why send her to a foreign coven when you have access to those same secrets?”

Holt was much more understanding of the cryptic nature of spirits and otherworldly beings, he sharing many of their virtues. But so too was he practical, as were the witches he served. It seemed odd to him that Marie should have to gain the trust of strange witches in order to receive information that could be more easily obtained from Puck.

”Indeed I could, but I have a theory that needs testing. Frau Holda is an ancient and beloved patron of witches, one of their blessed dead, a powerful ancestral spirit who leads their nightly processions, who sings and dances with them in their hidden groves and glaives, who governs and teaches their secret arts. By virtue of my birth, I have knowledge of many things and access to powers and secrets most attractive to witches, but I am not all knowing.

“Frau Holda’s vision stretches farther than mine, and it is my sincerest hope that in meeting with Marie, she might stir her latent memories and bring forth an image of Gwyneth, or reveal a hidden truth when two familiars meet.”

”If you suspected that Frau Holda could conjure memories of Gwyneth, why not tell Marie?”

”Because,” Puck sighed. ”With this comes a warning, one which I know she will not hear. There lies a danger in her path. Not mere obstacles, she will have no trouble navigating. The danger I see comes with the completion of her quest. If she is successful in restoring Gwyneth’s mind, and I believe she will be, a new threat may surface.”

Puck’s tone was dark and serious, ominous and foreboding. It troubled him to no end that he couldn’t see the exact ending to this story. Just knowing of a hidden danger wasn’t enough, yet it had to be. There were few in his life whom he would warn, but it was obvious that whatever he saw just beyond the horizon brought both fascination and fear to the meddlesome imp.

”Of course, you know as well as I that Marie is hell bent on completing this quest and would never heed my warnings. If I stood in her way now, she wouldn’t likely return or seek my aid in the future. She sees me more as more of a resource than a friend. But you, Holt, she sees as a companion, a trusted friend. You hold sway over her because she has an emotional investment in you, and despite your appearance of apathy, I know you feel the same. If you were to offer her guidance in my stead, she would have no choice but to listen.”

”I see,” Holt nodded. ”What is it you wish of me?” Holt repeated his initial question, now more informed.

”All I wish is for you to keep a close eye on Marie. When you sense that she isn’t quite herself, when you feel she has gone too far, guide her in another direction, lest my fears come to pass . . .” Puck looked away for a moment at a large, ornate grandfather clock adjacent to a collection of scrolls and other occult antiques on the outer edge of his office.

”Relay only what you must; do not arouse any suspicion that you know more than you say. And of course, be vigilant. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have important business elsewhere.” Puck gave Holt his orders then crept into the shadows of his office, fading into obscurity and off to attend to secret matters.

Holt drifted slowly from his place in Puck’s office to the hall outside before shifting into a raven and flying down to the workroom on the floor below.


Marie rifled through a large wardrobe filled with cloaks, coats, and all manner of dresses and gowns from late antiquity. It seemed to her that Puck was more of a hoarder than anything else. Still, she was told that her costume had been placed in the workroom. After what seemed like hours, she managed to pull the separate pieces from behind a jester’s costume, likely worn by some of the attending imps to amuse Puck in his spare time.

Marie marveled at the design for a few moments before adorning the improved garments. Originally her costume was more black than white and looked rather dated. However, thanks to the efforts of a Fey seamstress, her new costume had been modernized with hints of Elizabethan and medieval inspiration.

Marie looked at herself in one of several ornate mirrors that lined the walls of the workroom, twirling a few times for effect, allowing her cloak to fall around her dramatically and letting the silver buckles on her waist catch the flickering candlelight. She felt more like the White Witch now than ever before, and she certainly looked the part.

She hurried over to the wardrobe to grab her broom, which had also been redesigned. What was once a simple birch rob with hawthorn bristles was now a work of art, the mantle now curled into an attractive crook with a silver lantern hanging from it, which was equal parts aesthetic and practical. Not only did it provide light, it was also a spirit vessel for Holt. Instead of using the transvection ointments and oils she had used previously to grant herself flight, she could use Holt by giving him a space to reside on their journies.

Shortly thereafter, Holt arrived from his meeting with Puck. He quickly took his place upon Marie’s shoulder, who welcomed his presence.

”What was that about?” Marie questioned her familiar about his time with Puck while fidgeting with her skirts and adjusting the brim of her hat.

”Puck was providing me with more information about our ‘case’ as it were. He didn’t want to bother you with details.”

”Huh, really?” Marie chuckled. ”Since when does Puck care about not wasting my time?” It seemed an unfair question to Holt at first, but he soon realized that Marie was just making a joke at Puck’s expense. Despite what Puck thought he knew about Marie, she had feelings for him. Those feelings were just . . . complicated.

”What did the bossman say?” Marie continued, her voice carrying signs of subtle affection.

”He believes that a coven in the Hudson Valley may be able to prepare us for our encounter with the Alpha. They are witches of a German tradition that follows Frau Holda. Puck said they would know more on the subject of werewolves than he.”

Holt couldn’t tell if this were a lie or a stretching of the truth. EIther way, it didn’t feel right to leave out details that could negatively impact Marie, but if Puck had a reason for keeping things hidden, Holt was confident that those reasons were justified.

Marie didn’t seem phased by Holt’s message nor did she pick up on any of Holt’s uncertainty.

”Sounds good. The sooner we get this done, the sooner I can get back to Gwyneth. Let’s go.” Marie said enthusiastically, regaining a bit of her energy from seeing herself as the White Witch again. She couldn’t explain it, but there was something enticing about the idea of heroism. The costume reminded her of her involvement with Doctor Diplodoc’s arrest and how satisfying it felt to be part of a team who needed her abilities. She had missed that feeling.

But she didn’t dwell on this for long. After a brief nostalgic episode, she and Holt made their way to the ground floor. From there, they set off to Puck’s door and on to New York once more.

Deutsche Hexen

Location: Hudson Valley Wyrd – Hudson Valley, New York
Time: 9 p.m.

It was rare to find locations specifically dedicated to Puck and entrances to The Red Devil, but there in the Hudson Valley, just at the river’s edge and the foot of a sprawling forest, dotted by patches of green clearing touched only by moonlight, a grand stone wall, probably dating back to the original settlers of the area, was adorned with ornate drawings and inscribed with words and symbols of power that protected the wyrd and their land. And at its center, the framework for a door had been masterfully carved, Puck’s impish symbol fixed at the center.

The stonework began to glow with scarlet light, the stone slowly transmuting into a deep red wood, the fiendish imp’s symbol changing from carved marks to golden embroidery. The door crept open, revealing Marie, The White Witch, allowing her safe passage into the witches most sacred space. Through the portal she stepped, leaving behind the familiar sights and smells of The Red Devil and trading them for those of the forest and the river.

Before Marie lie an impressive settlement completely hidden from the eyes of mundane citizens. The rich green of the canopy was illuminated by a dozen structures all housing members of one of the largest covens Marie had come across, and every one of those cottages had a unique touch, but all bearing an antique colonial and medieval inspiration. Tall smokestacks rose from the cottages, intertwining with the rich vapors of giant bonfires lit in dedication to Frau Holda. Stone pathways twisted all about the forest, inviting any lucky enough to see the fantastic spectacle to enter and explore the witches domain.

At the center of the settlement was a stone woman, presumably Frau Holda, and at her feet were many gifts and offerings. The statue itself was clad in a simple robe that left her shoulders exposed, her hair was neat and ethereally flowing, and she held a distaff in one hand and a sickle in the other.

Marie approached the statue slowly, mouth agape, eyes wide with awe at both the beauty of the statue and how, even in stone, her features seemed so real, as well as the size of such a coven and in such a populated area. It was a wonder that they had managed to escape early persecution and keep themselves separated from the toils of the mundane world. Yet it wasn’t so surprising to her given that these witches had been following a tradition that stretches back centuries and under the guidance of the witch, Frau Holda.

She also couldn’t help but marvel at the diversity of the witches she saw going about the settlement. Among them were men and women of various ages and races, and attired in strange mixtures of modern and colonial dress. Marie could also hear little bits of German here and there among the witches, but most spoke in English, she even heard the odd bit of Latin.

“Welcome,” an older woman draped in a dark cloak approached Marie from a nearby cottage, a thick tome held in one harm by her waist. Her hair was silvery white and her face was aged, but there was a beauty there still, a softness in the skin that was uncommon among women her age and a youthfulness in her step and voice. “We have been expecting you, White Witch of Lost Haven.”

Marie was stunned to be recognized as her alias by witches so far from modern conveniences, but perhaps she gave them too little credit. Though the string of cottages appeared completely antique, there were touches of the modern throughout. Tapped sewage mains and power lines delivering comfortable amenities to the wyrd, running water drawn in from the river and purified with a mixture of modern filtration and magical finesse, this wyrd had much more than Marie could have originally imagined.

”I-It’s my pleasure,” Marie stuttered, old insecurities arising once again with the unexpected wave of recognition. She cleared her throat before speaking again.

”How did you know of my and my arrival?” Marie asked with a clear voice.

“Many of our members frequently visit The Red Devil to gain supplies and information. Those among us who travel from the wyrd had heard of your exploits in Maine and the work you had been doing there and in The Red Devil under Puck’s employment. He’s taken on so many witches in his time, but I don’t believe that any of them were half as famous as you.”

The old witch’s words were so kind, genuine, and unexpected that Marie could feel herself becoming slightly emotional, her cheeks flush red. It was most unusual for her to hear any amount of praise. She rarely saw her customers at The Red Devil more than once and Puck wasn’t exactly known for handing out kind words. It was nice, Marie thought, but she also had no idea how to handle it, she’d never been good at taking compliments.

”T-thank you,” she replied sheepishly before changing the subject. ”You said you had been expecting me, do you know the reason Puck sent me to you?”

The old witch nodded, motioning for Marie to follow her further into the wyrd. She spoke as they walked.

“There are witches among us who have eyes and wits almost as sharp as Goodfellow’s. We have known for some time that a stranger would find themselves among us in need of aid, though it was only recently when we found out who that stranger was.”

She pointed at the charm around Marie’s neck.

“That little trinket right there has been causing us some grief in discerning who it was that would find us. At first we were worried, but once we caught wind of a witch working so publicly up north, we assumed it must be that same White Witch who would pay us a visit. And here you are.”

Marie smiled awkwardly, sorry that her glamour had given these witches trouble, but also slightly impressed at the strength of her charm.

Their brief walk ended in front of a large stone tower, the crenelated roof just shy of touching the tallest branches of the canopy.

“This is our library. A collection of all the knowledge we have received or been gifted over the past four centuries. Inside, there is a desk with notes pulled from various books of lore regarding werewolves, the subject of your inquiry. Please, take these notes for your investigation.”

Marie was again stunned by this witch’s knowledge. How could she have known that Marie was there to look into the Alpha attacks? She had NEVER met another witch with as much insight, even Puck was selective about how he dispensed future knowledge. Then she recalled the distaff held in Frau Holda’s hand. Marie knew little of the witch, but she knew that in legend she was often a protectress of the wild and patron of women’s crafts, spinning and weaving chief among them. Marie assumed that her association with weaving could very well tie her to divinatory practices given the symbolism of threads and tapestries with fate and the future. But even knowing this, it was till something else to experience such powerful divination first hand.

Marie nodded to the old witch before eagerly stepping into the tower, and for the third or fourth time, she marveled at the craftsmanship of the German witches. The tower itself wasn’t too large, perhaps three stories or so, and yet the inside appeared to be a labyrinth of shelves all completely filled with dusty tomes, massive manuscripts, and sealed scrolls. It was amazing what four centuries of witchcraft looked like in print.

Just as the old witch had described, a small wooden desk, one of many dotting the tower’s interior, was nestled in between rows of shelves, notes and alchemical diagrams detailing the physiology of lycanthropes scattered all around. Marie scanned the notes, information pouring into her mind.

There were details about the feeding habits and changing patterns of wolves throughout Europe, Africa, and the British Isles, as well as differences in breeds, the powers certain wolves held, the stages of lycanthropy in different parts of the world, the differences between fledgling and adult wolves, and a plethora of other information. Beneath the open tomes and foreign field guides was a concise list of general facts common to most, if not all, breeds.

Marie wondered for a moment why these witches would have such a vast wealth of information stored on werewolves, but then she was reminded of the roles that witches played in the old world during those early days. They were feared, yes, but their knowledge of the natural world was almost unparalleled. They held many charms and trinkets that would drive away most supernatural threats and werewolves were likely much more of a threat back when missing persons went more unnoticed.

Filing every loose scrap of paper into her cloak, Marie prepared herself for her investigation. As much as she wanted to stay and view the rest of the archives, Marie knew that time was of the essence. If the Alpha were left to roam for much longer, it would leave more bodies in its wake. Reluctantly, Marie turned to leave the tower, thank the witches for their hospitality, and begin her search for the Alpha.

But something stopped her . . .

When Marie turned from her place inside the tower, she did not see the exit, nor the spiraling stacks of books and scrolls, nor even the bare stone walls. Instead, she was greeted by a path of winding trees, gnarled branches curving overhead to form an archway. At the other end of the path, a figure slowly came into view, ushered in by an ethereal light and a thick haze.

This all felt strangely familiar to Marie. She recalled her last vision of Gwyneth; this was the place where they met. And yet the approaching figure looked nothing like Gwyneth. This woman, Marie could tell, was much taller with fairer features than her own. This wasn’t Gwyneth, but another spirit of equal or greater power, an ancient force, a patron and protectress. This was Frau Holda.

Welcome, White Witch. Her melodic voice echoed through the ancient grove.

Marie was in absolute awe. Never before had she been privy to such a being. Not even Bucca held such an aura of splendor, he commanded a more ominous presence than an awesome one.

My lady, Marie bowed her head, unsure of how to speak to such a one as the illustrious Frau Holda, patron of the Hudson Wyrd.

Holda smiled.

There is no need for such formalities. We are kindred spirits, you and I. We share a connection stronger than the pacts formed by my followers. That same cunning flame burns within us. You call yourself the White Witch, but I know your true name, the one you left behind all those years ago. I know you, Gwyneth Owens.

Marie was paralyzed by feelings of joy and shock. It should have come as no surprise that such a talented seer as Frau Holda would be able to peer through the threads of fate and see what was, even if it were hidden to all others. Marie couldn’t contain herself, she had to know more.

H-how do you know that name? What do you know of me? Can you tell me of my past, of the events which led to my death? What of the artefacts I scattered, could you find them? It all came spurting out at once, a series of questions Marie had longed to ask.

Frau Holda smiled again, placing a hand on Marie’s shoulder.

Whatever I may know of your mortal life, it is not my place to say. However, it is not by your mortal deeds that I know you, Gwyneth, but by the threads of spirit which connect you to All. I appeared to you not as an informant nor an oracle, but as a friend who longs to see you at the end of your journey. Go with the knowledge that the witch-fire will bless you at the end of your path.

The fog upon the ground began to thicken, beckoning Holda back to her place. She turned to face a likeness of herself, a lifelike statue bearing all her same features. Holda began her retreat, her final words to Marie were thus.

I cannot say more, but you will know the truth soon enough.

Before Marie could speak, Holda was gone and the vast walls of books and tomes had returned. Marie rushed out of the tower to the center of the wyrd, catching a few odd glances along the way. When she reached the statue of Frau Holda, she wanted to continue her questions, bow at the feet of the witch and beg for answers, but she knew how difficult it was to elicit specific information from spirits, especially ones as ancient and powerful as Frau Holda.

Holt came flying after Marie, caught off guard by her sudden sprint from the library. He had not witnessed the same spectacle as she.

”What happened to you just then?” Holt asked with concern, perching himself upon her shoulder.

”I-I’m not sure. I’d like to think that it was a clue, something to lead me closer to Gwyneth’s memories, but I can’t tell.” Truly, Marie was at a loss. Was Holda’s message a riddle to be deciphered, a portent of doom, a prophecy she needed to fulfill? She shook off the thought, for now.

”We’ve spent enough time here. Let’s go find the Alpha, it’s likely to have done some more damage by now.” Marie looked up at the moon who was slowly reaching its peak, a beautiful and eerie reminder of her mission.

Astride her broom, the pair sped off into the night, away from the Hudson Wyrd and on to the city where they were met with a grim sight.

The Ambassador

Location: Hoover Dam, Las Vegas
Time: Evening - Night of the Full Moon

The gentle breeze rolling off the river was refreshing. Mandate, Odette and Bach had spent the past couple of hours taking in the view. After another fruitless goose chase, they decidedly took a break at the popular tourist spot. Odette sat on the edge of the concrete wall legs dangling. In her lap she had her grimoire open, idly flipping through it trying to think of another strategy. Bach was beside her while Mandate stood behind them.

Rubbing the heel of her hand against her forehead she grumbled, “I am open to some suggestions.

Bach had been throwing the odd seed into the water, willing it to grow to sprout before it hit the surface. “We can try searching for more local Fey, we might have more luck than following another location spell.

That would take another day.” She replied, closing her spellbook storing it away. Bach nodded his leafy head, browning at the edges from so much direct sunlight of the day.

He felt a sudden pressure above them, he snapped his eyes up in time to see a magical cloud of smoke descend upon them.

A pillar of black smog swirled violently overhead, crashing against the wall below. A heavy wind turned about their bodies, Odette and Bach caught up in the midnight torrent that threatened to rip them apart. But no harm came to them. Instead, they were carried through the air to the bridge overlooking the dam, gently placed on the cold stone and freed from the clutches of their ethereal assailant.

The smoke and shadows spun about a few feet away, a shapeless mass that slowly began to recede. As the smoke faded, two women appeared, one dressed in black garments with dark curls to match, the other in vibrant green with scarlet braids, both shining brilliantly in the moonlight.

”So this is the meddlesome ‘Ambassador’,” the darker figure spoke in a sultry tone.

”She’s a pretty one, and how lithe and delicate she looks.” The emerald woman responded, voice much lighter but carrying the same air of mystery.

”Don’t be fooled by mere appearances, my love. She has proven herself to be quite the troublemaker indeed.”

Disorientated at first at the sudden sweep of magic, unexpected with no time to brace nor ward against. Their eyes were filled with darkness while their feet found ground atop the bridge on the other side of the dam. Odette could see Mandate’s form, she imagined the golem would be panicking by now, her being spirited away by unknown assailants. Bach was reassuringly at her side, regaining his composure in record time, brushing his sleeves fixing the women with a level gaze. Studying them. The moon was on the rise behind them, a tiny bell in her mind ringing. Recognition but no name.

Magic seemed to surround them, unique but in a way only a certain few creatures or spirits could exude. The two women spoke of her as if she didn’t have ears. Regardless her first instincts kicked into action. They weren’t attacking so there was time for introductions, even if she was being forced to make them.

Lifting the hem of her skirt a little, she curtsied. “Good evening, I am The Ambassador of the Fair Folk. It is a pleasure to meet you, unexpected but a pleasure.

Bach bowed his head to them as well, remaining silent. The gears in his extensive memory working away. He was right about the witch presence but much like Odette felt the answer to the sudden strangers were right on the tip of his tongue. The way the pair of them dressed was telling of just how old they were. He kept his eyes on them even as he bowed.

The darkly clad woman gave a look of surprise. ”My my, how polite of you to offer such formal gestures. You are truly a diplomat, Ms. Ambassador, a testament to your name. As for mine, well . . . I go by many names.”

She drew nearer to Odette and Bach, the air around her shifting all the while, filled with an ominous aura that grew stronger with each passing moment. It was as if a shroud was slowly falling from around this woman, revealing her true identity.

”To the Romans,” she continued, ”I was known as Trivia. To others, I am Cthonia, Beldam, Night Mother, the list goes on. My associates know me as Lydia Valis, a little creation of mine, a form I assume in my waking hours. But by far my most favored name is the one given to me by the Greeks, Hekate. And the radiant picture who accompanies me is the great Medea. She is like a daughter to me, my greatest love.”

Medea looked at Hekate with awe, moved closer to her side, and took her arm.

Odette drew up straight as a board, her posture stiffening, drawn into Hekate’s gaze. Bach drew up in a similar way. The surprise in their expressions were unmistakable. As strange as their lives were it was a rare occasion to come to the attention of such legendary figures. Immensely powerful even before they knew their identities. Hekate had referred to her initially as meddlesome, they couldn’t be connected to the Barron… could they? The heist wasn’t quiet by any means.


Odette finally broke the eye contact, her stomach clenched. The words coming to her as second nature, but the sudden shift in power was like standing in quicksand. “Truly- an unexpected turn of the evening. I was not aware legendary figures, such as yourselves, had made your home here in Las Vegas. It’s an honour to be in your presence.

May I ask as to why?

Hekate took a moment to survey Odette and Bach. She could see their sense of wonder and amazement, but also their fear and respect. It was rather refreshing, she thought, to be once again seen as a goddess in all her facets rather than a thing to be gawked by the witches of Las Vegas or a minion to be ordered about by Barron and his men.

”You flatter me, Ms. Ambassador. As for my presence here, it would seem that you have upset a recent associate of mine. You are certainly familiar with the wealthy socialite, Barron Vanderbilt, and all of his wondrous treasures, yes? Much to your detriment, he and I have a contract of sorts, the details of which you needn’t concern yourself. But I could not in good faith allow my dear friend’s belongings be whisked away by a band of thieves, especially not magically gifted ones such as yourself.”

Medea moved closer to Odette, circling she and Bach once before returning to Hekate’s side.

”She’s a mortal, and quite a young one by the looks. How come you to know such powerful magic at such a young . . . ah, I see! Look there, my lady, a faery familiar, no doubt entangled in some mystical contract. You don’t see many sorcerers bothering themselves with the affairs of the Fey these days.”

Hekate nodded, remaining silent and giving Odette time to respond. She was intrigued by the Ambassador. Hekate could tell that she was smart, cunning; her time with the Fey would have assured that. She waited to see how Odette might try to dissuade Hekate or dissolve the tension.

Odette steeled herself, slowly peeling back her fear. Her eyes shifted to Medea as she spoke, again as if she wasn’t there. That irritated Odette to some degree, nor did she like being analyzed. With some thought, Medea was only able to glean the obvious. Bach’s connection to her was clear as day to those who could see. Hekate confirmed she knew of the heist, quite plainly making it clear she was connected to Barron. No point in lying, she could take the blame while protecting Silence from Hekate’s attention.

Her arms relaxed, holding her hands at her waist. “Wondrous treasures that now have a new home. The Fey don’t see lifting items from the undead as ‘stealing’ per se but simply…” She pursed her lips allowing the pause to think, “Finding a new purpose for them. What purpose comes to a vampire stockpiling herbs and ingredients? Beyond selling them, of course.” She replied turning her eyes on Medea next. “You are quite right, Bach is my dear friend and partner. Those very same sorcerers dismiss the Fey because they ultimately lack the patience and ambition. While they had their noses deep in a tome I staked my claim on Paris.

She spread her hands open, a slight shrug. “Unfortunately we no longer have anything to return. What I can offer is my apologies, one must make friends and allies where one can. I can say quite honestly that I understand that sentiment more than you can imagine. Unfortunate is your contract with Mr. Vanderbilt marring this first meeting indirectly.” Odette bowed her head.

Hekate and Medea each offered a soft laugh.

”Very good, Ms. Ambassador, but you needn’t lecture me on the topic of grey morality. A witch uses the left and the right hand, the right gives, the left takes away. Your apology is appreciated . . . but irrelevant.”

”You obviously hold sway over the Fey in Paris to be dubbed their Ambassador. You are an enemy to Mr. Vanderbilt, and by extension, so are your associates whom you would gladly gather in arms against Barron should you ever feel so inclined. The truth of the matter is, Barron has a hand in all that occurs in this city, including the affairs of witches.”

”That’s right,” Hekate took over. ”And as should be obvious, the affairs of witches are of the utmost importance to me. Wherever I find myself, I try to elevate them and their positions in society, grant them greater power that they may be free of any and all oppression, that they may have power over any foe. I have entered into a contract with Barron that insures my loyalty in exchange for the services he provides my witches, and surely the first thing he is to do when those pitiful louts he calls mages fail at protecting his estate from magical harm is to call upon the powers of my witches. Neither myself nor the Fey courts of your country could afford an assault on one another, and I cannot be certain that you will not perform a similar crime, or worse, with the aid of your Fey allies.”

The Ambassador listened intently, she shared a look with Bach before replying. He nodded, encouraging her. Hekate’s intent was now clear, graciously giving Odette headway. The Goddess was drawing boundaries, a line in the sand warning Odette not to cross it. At least not without accepting certain consequences. It would be a matter of assuring Hekate and Medea Odette had no intentions against the witches, just inciting rivalry against the undead.

Odette nodded, understanding warming her expression considerably. The tension in her body language melting away. “I would never dream of moving against the witches here. There is no love loss between the Fey and witches.” She echoed words she had once used with Puck. How sincere would her words ring to the likes of Hekate, she wondered. She continued, “That much has been made very clear when I have interacted with the local Fey populace. There is a great respect, a symbiosis within the magical community here. To upset a balance like that would indeed be a crime in of itself. I agree, neither of us have need nor want of a fight like that. My stint against Mr. Vanderbilt was sincerely a one time affair, that I can give my word on.

Is there anyway I can assure you both that my intentions are not hostile?

Hekate remained silent for several moments. She could tell that Odette was sincere, but did she care about sincerity?

Medea pulled her aside for a moment, speaking in a hushed tone.

”My lady, she speaks in circles.”

”Perhaps, my love, but I wonder if she could be useful to us.”

Medea looked puzzled. ”My lady?”

Hekate gave Medea a knowing look before turning her attention back to Odette. She looked her up and down, silent all the while. Something stood out to her, the touch of something familiar. Hekate labored to understand this feeling, eventually coming to an interesting conclusion.

A wide grin appeared across her face, seductive and sinister.

”Perhaps it is against my better judgement, but I believe you, Ms. Ambassador. You have studied this city well, know the delicate balance between all the hidden folk within, and I believe that you mean this no harm. It is for this reason that I have decided to drop the matter entirely.”

Medea looked shocked despite being aware of her lady’s ulterior motives.

”And to show that there is no bad blood between us, I’d like to give you a gift. What say you to that?”

Odette’s nerves ramped up during Hekate and Medea’s private chat. The Ambassador knew she was grasping at straws, quite literally toeing a dangerous line of irritating a powerful goddess. She could pull nothing meaningful from her silence upon their return to the conversation. Odette knew if had she been prepared she wouldn’t have struggled half as bad. At least, she liked to think so. Her luck held, Hekate let her off the hook but not quite so easily.

Merci beaucoup, Mademoiselle. Would it be out of place for me to ask what you intend to give? I’m sure you understand my wariness of gifts.” Odette ventured masking her fear with curiosity.

Hekate smiled. Odette was smart for not wanting to blindly accept a gift from magical beings, but it was something she’d likely have learned in her line of work.

”Well, I suppose it’s equal part favor and gift, but I can show you nonetheless.”

Hekate turned to Medea.

”That box I asked you to hold for me, could you bring it out?”

Medea nodded, ”Of course, my lady.”

Medea held out her hand, an ornately designed box materializing in a quick flash of light and red mist. She handed it to Hekate, who presented it to Odette.

”I’ll be quite honest, I haven’t the slightest idea what’s inside. I never managed to pry it open so its contents and purpose are both unknown to me. However, I believe it may be of use to you. If you would but hold on to this for me and discover its mysteries, I would be forever grateful, and I believe you would be all the better for it. What say you now?”

That is neither helpful nor comforting that I will know as much about the ‘gift’ as her, Odette thought begrudgingly squinting at the mysterious box.

Reluctantly Odette held up her hand, it glowed a light misty blue as she whispered a small ward about her hand. Experience also told her not to ever touch magical objects directly without knowing their true nature. “It reminds me of the little trunks Earth Fey store their memories in. How could I refuse a Goddess a gift or her favour? I accept.

Hekate smiled, dropping the box into Odette’s palm.

It certainly felt magical, though gave no indication of being cursed. The outside was a worn by time, the intricate wooden details and knotwork faded slightly, the brass lock at the front rusted and greyed. The box itself was a little larger than a small music or jewelry box, offering little space inside for anything that wasn’t incredibly malleable or flat. On the underside was an ashen symbol that had withstood the test of time, highly ornate, resembling many warding sigils that had been used throughout history, but with small alterations here and there to make it personalized to whomever had inscribed it.

”Whatever it is, may it bring you great insight and direction on your current path.” She turned after she gave Odette her blessing, letting the words sit for a moment.

She felt a little bolder now, her warded fingers thrumming across the wood. “It is no coincidence you should give me something that will guide me after the day I have spent without it. I do not pretend to understand the mysteries that drive magic but coincidences do not exist here... So, thank you.

Hekate turned from Odette for a moment, taking Medea’s arm in hers and preparing for their departure. A slight breeze pierced the still air atop the bridge as the two witches met. Hekate turned briefly to face Odette once more, a wide grin her lasting expression.

”I can tell that you are the adventurous sort, Ms. Ambassador. Creative, cunning, and curious, virtues I seek and foster in those whom I teach the ways. But be careful of how close you let your hand wander to the hearthfire, my dear. A burn like that is likely to stay with you. Farewell, Ms. Ambassador.”

The breeze became a raging torrent, calling forth shadows and ethereal clouds of black mist that enveloped Hekate and Medea, ushering them away from Odette, away from the dam, and into the night.

A few moments after the wind finally settled Odette let out a long exhale, relieved that conversation was finally over. She patted her chest, her heart thrumming hard, a little rush of adrenaline. “At least it wasn’t a prophecy.

Bach looked about as relieved but brightened at the box, “That’s got to be Gwyneth's ‘Sight’. Insight? Direction? Look at the symbols.” Bach chatted excitedly about the little gift as they made their way back to Mandate’s side. To soothe the anxious golem and examine the box. Odette felt a tiny pin prick of foreboding, similar to how she felt after speaking to Puck. Hekate may not have revealed vague glimpses of the future but such gifts were never to be taken at face value nor lightly. She knew better than that, now more than ever.
Witching Hour, Part 2

Witching Hour, Part 2

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, The “Wyrdhouse” – Warehouse #475
Time: Following the Events of The Heist

Marvelous . . . Hekate looked in awe at the work of her witches. In just a few short months, she and the Five Families had been able to coordinate the organizational efforts of Barron’s original mage staff and create veritable works of art with his plethora of resources.

This warehouse in particular, affectionately referred to as the “Wyrdhouse” by the mage staff due to its large collection of witching items and attending witches, was Hekate’s favorite. It housed a strikingly large collection of materials for witchcraft ranging from specialty herbs and reagents uncommon to the practices of other sorcerous folk to the personal journals, grimoires, and formularies of long dead witches of myth, not to mention a small fortune’s worth of magical trinkets crafted by those same witches.

”It is a sight to behold, My Lady. Though I’m not surprised, you have always been an excellent leader.” Medea expressed her adoration from behind, waltzing through the through the front entrance to the main floor, dressed in flowing, emerald garments that called back to renaissance dresses, with a modern twist, and auburn hair pulled into intricate braids, held in place by golden bands and circlets.

”Medea, my love. How you flatter me,” Hekate turned with great haste at the sound of Medea’s voice, drawing her in for a long embrace before kissing her twice on each cheek, ”but you give me far too much credit. It was the cunning and intellect of the local Covens which brought all of this to fruition, and let us not forget our gracious host and his lovely wife for allowing us access to this rich foundry of knowledge and art.”

Medea’s expression turned sour at the mention of Barron.

”I have been meaning to ask, if I may, of the exact nature of your contract with Mr. Vanderbilt. Why ask and deal for what you could gladly take? He has no power over you, and I doubt that even the strongest magician in his company could match your strength. Why . . .”

”Medea,” Hekate interrupted, ”you know as well as I that in the wake of a changing world, one must find new ways to go about one’s business undisturbed. A tenet of the witch is to be silent, is it not? Such hubris would surely lead to our downfall, regardless of the power of those with whom we contract.”

Medea bowed her head.

”I am sorry, My Lady. I did not mean to speak out of turn.”

”Oh, my love, you have not offended me nor angered me with your inquiries. No, I encourage such discourse. It is wise to question the motives of those in charge, though I must remind you, I am not your superior nor your commander. As a witch, you are free to do as you wish. Think of me not as your leader, but as your patron; one who guides and keeps a watchful eye, who steers from danger, but who will respect your wishes and allow you to make the necessary mistakes.”

Medea and Hekate shared another embrace, Medea becoming slightly emotional from her lady’s wise words, wiping away her tears on an emerald, silken sleeve.

”And besides,” Hekate continued, ”it is not a matter of whether I trust Barron. He is but a means to an end. I have done all that he has asked to ensure his peaceful cooperation, but I would be a fool to think that he was not, at this very moment, searching for ways to protect himself from me and my influence, or worse, ways to end me should he feel threatened. That is precisely why I have provided his wife with a bit of . . . misinformation.”

Hekate gave Medea a knowing grin.

”How do you mean?”

”Well, Mrs. Vanderbilt came to me in search of a way to protect she and her husband from Greed, Broker. It would appear that he is attempting to form some sinister cabal of ne'er do wells and criminals for whatever reason. I showed her the recipe for a Mesopotamian Spirit Vessel and claimed that it could entrap the Broker’s essence, but of course, it cannot.”

Medea turned her head in pondering and, unable to come up with an answer, questioned Hekate further.

”But why, My Lady? Surely this will damage Barron’s trust. Why place a wall between you two?”

”A lesson in greed,” Hekate confidently replied. ”Barron truly thinks he stands a chance against one such the Broker. He is arrogant and prone to fits and childish outbursts. This will certainly be his undoing. My simple yet tactful betrayal will, once discovered, show Barron that he cannot win in a battle against ancients. We are far more clever and skilled in the art of deception than he. If this damages his trust, so be it, but our contract doesn’t condemn strategic lies when they are needed.”

Medea gave Hekate a wicked grin, now fully informed and in tune with her lady’s plans.

”How cunning you are, My Lady. Truly the wisest and greatest among us.”

”Oh, enough flattery,” Hekate smiled playfully, taking Medea’s arm in hers and walking her around the warehouse, ”and enough talk of Barron and his dreadful empire. Come, let us instead explore his treasures and see what we can’t find. Mrs. Vanderbilt gifted us the privilege of taking some of these trinkets for our own use.”

The two of them glided merrily about the warehouse, stopping and marveling at priceless artifacts from their days in Greece that had managed to surface once again, old world charms that had scarcely been seen since the days of early American settlers, and mystical tomes and manuscripts of varying ages. Their browsing was interrupted occasionally by a chatty witch or two, all of whom Hekate was more than pleased to accommodate, and the conspicuous glances of mage workers, some of whom looked at Hekate in awe, others in disgust and disdain of her and her craft, seeing it as a lesser discipline.

They came to a far wall where pallets and trucks were filled with curious items that had yet to be organized or shipped out. One trinket caught Hekate’s eye, a small ornate box fashioned from ancient wood, worn carvings and embroidery snaking its edges. It felt familiar.

Hekate picked up with wooden box, slightly larger than a normal jewelry box, and turned it over in her hands, listening for the rattle of its contents, but hearing nothing. She went to open the weathered latch, but stopped before touching the simple copper lock.

”Is something wrong, My Lady?’ Medea asked, taking note of Hekate’s strange behavior.

Hekate said nothing, instead recalling a memory of days prior. The box had an aura about it, something strong, something hidden. A spell had been placed in the box, the magic keeping its contents undisturbed reminiscent of the power she felt surging from the witch she had observed through the Graeae’s Eye. The two were linked.

Hekate turned to a worker nearby, presenting him with the box.

”Has this item been placed on your inventory list?”

The worker looked at her for a few moments, surprised that she had thought to ask him anything. He then removed a folder from a bag around his waist and searched its pages for an item matching the box’s description.

“N-no ma’am,” he stuttered, “I don’t see it anywhere. Would you like me to add . . .”

”That won’t be necessary,” Hekate cut him off, handing the box over to Medea. ”Please keep this with you until I ask for it again, and do not let your curiosity lead you to opening it. Will you do this for me, my love?”

Medea gave her a confused look, but nodded anyway.

”Of course, My Lady.”

Hekate smiled, then turned back to the worker.

”Thank you for your assistance, that will be all.”

He looked at her for a few moments, pondering whether or not he should take note of the box somewhere on his record. Then, after an impatient look from Hekate, decided to let it go and hastily walked in the opposite direction.

Shortly thereafter, a tall, slender Elven woman and a fair witch came rushing into the warehouse. The mage workers started in their direction with the intent to stop them, but Hekate waved them away. These two obviously came with urgent news.

“My Lady,” the frustrated witch began, dark hair falling in messy curls over her round, pale face. She was out of breath from her sprint to the warehouse. “I’ve just heard news of two separate attacks on Barron’s men, one in Maine a few days ago, and another a few miles from here last night.”

”What has this to do with My Lady? Does not Barron have men of his own to deal with such disturbances?” Medea spoke before Hekate could respond.

The Elven maiden stepped forward, an ethereal glow emanating from her translucent wings.

“We would not have come to you were it not for the presence of Fey magic in both cases, the likes of which rivaling some of the noble faerie sorcerers of the highest courts.”

”I see . . .” Hekate had not been tasked with keeping Barron’s men safe, not directly anyway. But with such powerful magic involved, the assailants could become a threat to her own self interests.

”Have you any leads?”

The Elven maiden nodded.

“A group of Sylphs under the agency of the Five Families intercepted a sprite working for the culprits. She identified herself as an affiliate of The Ambassador of the Fey, a French national who works in close proximity to the lower Fey courts in Europe.”

Hekate nodded. She did not wish to disturb the Fair Folk or meddle in their affairs, though she assumed that even the lowest courts would have no cause to attack Barron’s men. If this Ambassador had gone rogue, she could be a threat to Barron in the future, and by extension, Hekate.

”Has she been captured?”

“Our divinations and subsequent reports from survivors confirm that The Ambassador and others were held captive for a time, but managed to escape with a collection of magical reagents. The local Fey could likely lead you to her, assuming she’s still around.”

”Well, we can’t have some faerie sorceress wandering about and meddling in our affairs. Medea, shall we pay this ‘Ambassador’ a visit?”

Medea nodded, a wicked grin streaming across her face.

Hekate waved away her informants, took Medea’s arm, and away they flew in a torrent of black smoke to find the troublesome Ambassador.

Full Moon Madness

Part 1

Location: The Red Devil
Time: 8 p.m.

There was nothing more inviting or more familiar to Marie than the smell of The Red Devil, not because it was particularly pleasant, but so much of her time had been spent among its diverse patrons, performing magical services or dispensing her knowledge to the plethora of other witches in Puck’s service. So accustomed was she to the atmosphere of the bustling tavern and Puck’s habitual, and somewhat obligatory, mingling with patrons that she was surprised to see him confined to his office, peering down at the growing stacks of contracts that eternally collected on his desk.

Puck, feeling Marie’s prying eyes, turned his attention to the tired, young witch and her ethereal companion, his signature grin at the ready.

”My darling Marie, I didn’t think I’d catch you snooping around my tavern until you’d finished your quest. Has something happened?”

Marie rolled her eyes lovingly and waltzed through the door to his office, taking off her long coat and resting it on the back of the chair opposite Puck before taking a seat.

”Let’s skip the part where I pretend to not know that you watch pretty much everything I do in that mirror of yours out front.” Her tone was impatient, but only because she had been through quite the ordeal this evening. She gave Puck an apologetic look before continuing.

”But no, everything is fine. It wasn’t nearly as smooth as I would have liked, but I should have expected as much. Still, I found Gwyneth’s Eye. A simple hagstone, but something powerful enough to help me locate her other items . . . at least, I hope it can.” Marie sounded more than a little dejected. Since receiving the hagstone, she had gained no further insight from Gwyneth. No visions or whispers, no surfacing memories, nothing of any substance. She counted the Eye’s retrieval as a win, though she worried for the future of her quest.

Puck noted Marie’s looks of desperation and responded with a little more warmth in his voice than usual.

”Worry not my dear, I have complete confidence that you will succeed. And, on that note, I have a little information that might be to your benefit.”

Marie perked up slightly.

”There have been several disappearances in New York as of late, many bodies turning up with missing limbs, large claw and bite marks, some not appearing at all. It would seem that an Alpha wolf has been increasingly active in that area, but none have been successful in tracking him down.”

”Wait,” Marie interrupted, head tilted and voice filled with utter confusion. ”What has any of this got to do with Gwyneth? I thought you weren’t sending me to complete contracts right now.”

”It’s less of an order and more of a suggestion.” Puck replied with a wide grin, eyes turning back to his desk, hands fumbling with papers.

Marie sighed.

”Puck, I don’t have time for this. What aren’t you telling me?”

Pucked amused himself with signing papers and making revisions as he spoke. ”My dear, what I’m not telling you could fill volumes. It’s what I am telling by not telling you that’s important. If you wish not to busy yourself with the affairs of werewolves then by all means, end your quest now and return to work.”

Marie looked furious, but there was nothing to be done. There was nothing she could do to keep Puck from being as cryptic as demonically possible. But she had learned to interpret a majority of his stops and pauses, she knew that everything he said held double meaning.

With much hesitation, she stood up, dramatically pulling her coat from the chair and stomping over to the door.

”Fine, I’ll go find the suit and send White Witch to investigate. Just, give me a little more to work with when I come back.”

Off she went to the workroom to change. Holt, who normally follows Marie closely, stayed behind at Puck’s request to speak of private matters.

Sixth Sense

Part 7

Location: American Museum of Natural History, New York City
Time: Late Afternoon

Marie let out a sigh of relief. The day’s excitement was finally coming to a halt. She relaxed her tense muscles, brushed off bits of dust and viscera left behind by floating displays and Ben’s transformations, and took a moment to herself.

”Marie?” Holt’s voice melded with her thoughts, the ethereal and familiar raspy tones soothing her even more. ”Are you alright?”

Marie chuckled softly to herself, hoping the others weren’t paying attention. Holt’s concern was always genuine and appreciated, yet, given his stoic nature never ceased to surprise her.

”Yes,” she responded internally, ”I’m fine . . . for now. I’m more concerned about Ben. He’s been through a lot today and he won’t remember a fair portion of it. Can’t be easy living like that, not knowing where you go when you lose yourself.”

”It will come to him with time. Such is the way with werewolves. They rely upon instinct. The more he learns about himself, the sharper those instincts will become, not unlike your instincts as Gwyneth, which you have clearly displayed this evening. It is no small feat, compulsion, and to coax a werewolf into its human form . . . that is a power the likes of which I have scarcely seen, certainly not in this century. Have any memories returned?”

”No, unfortunately. But the power was familiar; it comes in waves. I can’t imagine what Gwyneth must have been capable of at full strength.”

It was both an empowering and deeply troubling thought. It occurred to Marie that, aside from the glimpses she had been granted of her former self, she knew nothing of Gwyneth’s character. If she possessed great power, how did she use that power, to what end?

Marie dwelled on this thought longer than she realized, for her pondering was interrupted by a small knocking on the storage room entrance. This was, undoubtedly, the caretaker Ben had mentioned earlier. He was from the “Agency,” if Marie recalled Ben’s words correctly, an organization about which she knew next to nothing, but one who had a reputation for meddling in the affairs of magical folk. However, seeing as this caretaker was here to help Ben, not contain him, Marie felt no need for animosity.

”Holt,” Marie engaged her familiar silently, ”Go to the Red Devil and bring with you a few of Puck’s imps to help clean up this place. I don’t want him or this Agency thinking that I’m incompetent enough to risk exposure.”

Holt gave a silent nod before fading into the shadows of the room. As time passed and the group readied to leave the museum, feint whispers filed into the space followed by a slight chill, broken statuettes, pedestals, stone flooring and pieces of the wall slowly being mended by invisible agents of The Red Devil.

Sixth Sense

Part 6

Location: American Museum of Natural History, New York City
Time: Late Afternoon

Marie let out a long sigh of exasperation after Barron’s departure, too mentally fatigued to notice the guardsman who had wandered in and left under the effects of Barron’s powers. She fell to her knees, burying her hands into her face and taking a moment to rest. All of her muscles were tense, this was the closest she had come to exposing herself. She lifted her head and swept back her hair just to do something with her hands.

A swift breeze passed over the group and when Marie’s eyes settled upon the wolves, a third had arrived. She bore a striking resemblance to the other girl. Assuming they must have been sisters or in some way related, Marie didn’t lash out at the newcomer.

Instead, she looked up and, in a rather sarcastic tone, asked, ”Anyone else?” It seemed that this was to be the final arrival for the moment, but it was imperative that those present remedy their immediate situation and remove themselves from the museum, lest the threat of exposure greet them once more.

Marie stood up and walked slowly over to Ben and the twins.

”I would love to make time for some proper introductions and other pleasantries, but with our luck some other other beast will come barging in here at any moment. We need to change him back into a human and get out of here before things escalate. I’ll explain the circumstances that led to Ben’s transformation once we’ve relocated.” Marie kept a level head as she spoke, knowing that the key to keeping Ben calm was to keep herself calm.

She looked at the twins, recalling the first’s earthen barrier and the gust of wind that come from the second’s arrival. ”I saw what you did back there, the stone wall. That you have some level of control over the elements means you’re no stranger to magic. I have a few magical skills at my disposal, one of them being a very limited power of compulsion that I used to delay Ben’s transformation. I’m hoping that I can tap back into that power enough to convince Ben’s human form to emerge.”

Marie turned from the twins and knelt down to Ben, gently extending her arm to cup his snout. She looked deeply into his eyes, calling to his human half. He had entered her mind before, a broken voice following a disheveled train of thought, but she had heard him nonetheless. Marie hoped that she could reach out to him through that connection they shared and lull the wolf back into its slumber.

Medea’s Flight

Location: Aeaea, Capital of Colchis, Ancient Greece
Time: Midnight

Historians, philosophers, and tragic poets have long told the tale of my flight from Corinth. Most famously, Euripides wrote of my husband’s betrayal, my agony and longing, my deceitful murder of his bride to be, and the murder of our sons by my hand. None of this, however, is to be taken as truth.

Indeed, ‘twas I who dismembered my brother so that Jason and I could flee Colchis together, I who, with all my magic and cunning, gave Jason his fame, and I who, in my desperation, turned the people of Corinth against me. But it was my vile husband, Jason the Argonaut, who murdered his “beloved,” who slaughtered our children. Their deaths came by way of my craft, but were caused by his infidelity. And though it was common for Greek men to take more than one wife and custom for the first wife to sit idly by with his children and wealth, I neither was nor am a Greek. I am Medea, daughter of Aeetes and princess of Colchis, granddaughter of the Titan, Helios, and descendent of the mighty Gods, niece of Circe and sister of her mighty art, and humble servant of Hekate, the greatest of the immortals. I was no mere woman, no simple wife, but a witch. I would not be treated as anything other, but my damnable husband cared more for his culture than the one who pledged her eternal life and love to him . . . but I digress.

I wish not to speak of my woes, for those have been extensively documented by men of many creeds, but to speak of my ecstasies and triumphs that followed soon after. These same men would have me bounce from one city to the next; from Corinth to Thebes, from Thebes to Athens, always chased away by the denizens therein. Some say that I helped the famed Heracles escape a curse from the Gods, others that I became a being of worship in Iran and other places. There is some truth in this. I did happen upon the demigod in Thebes and did bear a son in Athens. And I did return to Colchis with that son, Medus, who slew my traitorous uncle that had usurped my father’s throne. But then what became of me? Poets lost their muses, the Greeks lost their faith, and so the mysteries of the ancient world were no longer scribed. Yet I lived on, blessed by the agelessness of my parentage and my craft, and so follows the story that has never been written.

Two parts powdered mandrake, one part ground rosebuds . . .” Medea recited the formula from memory, dropping the reagents into a large, bubbling basin. Her auburn hair fell in tight curls over her exposed, pale shoulders. She wore a simple white tunic with a scarlet sash and went barefooted around the marble palace.

Two crushed myrtle berries, seven drops lavender oil . . .” she continued, walking clockwise around the mixture as it boiled, dropping in each ingredient with care, stirring gently and taking in the sweet aroma. It filled the palace’s halls, grand structures built by the ensorcelled sailors who passed the island by, drawn in by siren song and bewitching nymphs, kept there in suspended age in forms alien and primal.

And three strands of a maiden’s hair. Simmer, strain, bottle, and bathe in the Moon’s rays at the height of her ascent for three nights.” Medea did just this, setting the mixture on a balcony overlooking the sea, midnight cascading across the rolling waves, bouncing off the glistening walls of polished marble. Below, wolves howled in a jungle scene, but they did not run nor stir in excitement. Instead, they stood idle, on trace of the wild left in their veins.

A love spell?” the question echoed through the halls and spires, rich, sultry, and highly melodic. In the corridor stood the sorceress, Kirke (Circe to the Romans), dawning a luxurious emerald fabric draped elegantly around her torso, a golden sash around her waist, with hair bright and golden like the son kept in place by a jeweled circlet. “Dearest niece, there are no men on this island, and the affections of the attending nymphs needn’t be gained by magic.

Medea laughed as she moved about the room, resting on a comfortable bench near the balcony. “’Tis not for my personal use, but for a friend.

Kirke scoffed. “Friend? What friends could you possibly possess?

Medea looked hurt, briefly, then waved the comment away.

Oh, I meant nothing by it.” Kirke apologized, sitting next to Medea and placing a hand on her shoulder. “But given your colorful past, I had reason to doubt that any would still call you their friend.

’Tis for the daughter of an old maidservant of mine. Her mother has taken ill and she hasn’t the money to see her well.

Kirke squinted her eyes in confusion. “So you toil over a love potion instead of bringing the girl a medicinal salve or tonic?

Medea nodded. “The mother did not wish it of me. She asked that I grant her daughter peace after her death, so I shall do both with one spell. I shall give the daughter this potion before her mother’s death, have her woo whatever prince or warrior she desires, and with his fortune, aid the sickly mother. All are happy.

Kirke grinned. “How cunning you are, Medea. Quite the testament to our kind.

It is the work of our Mistress for gifting us such an art. To her I give all of my thanks and praise.

The two took each other's hands, raised their heads, and closed their eyes, sending a silent prayer to the Mother of Witches. Soon after, a warm breeze entered the palace, bringing with it a piece of the night, a shadow given life.

My beautiful daughters” the familiar voice emanated from the thick shadows, becoming a dark apparition, then turning swiftly into a most beloved form. Hekate had come to visit her most favored followers.

And so Medea and Kirke received her well, and the pair become a triumvirate of witches. They spoke of those things that were held in the night, their midnight arts and craft of the wise. They sang and reveled in each other’s company, dancing to the rhythm of the waves crashing onto the land and the dull roars of docile beasts. They flew above Aeaea with bliss and ecstasy, filled with all the powers of heaven, earth, and sea. Such was the witches way.

Such was our way in those forgotten days of old. Such was my night after my return to Colchis, the truest account of my flight from Corinth. This was how my days were spent after ridding myself of the loathsome Jason; in the company of those I held most dear. The next three centuries I spent here upon Aeaea, dancing the nights away with my aunt and our patron, selling my gifts to those whom I had known or those who knew of me. But eternity there grew tiresome.

So I traveled. Riding upon the sands of time I spiraled on in a different guise, stopping in each new century to sing the praises of my lady and grant the needy or willing the knowledge of her art. I led many a wyrd in those years under different names, inspiring new poets with my magic, becoming their muse. Such was my way until the new millennia when I once again longed to be held by my greatest love, my mentor and mother in the craft.

I sought her out and found her among her kind, and now we are together again. What magic will we unleash upon this new world? What is my lady’s greatest desire?

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