CAST OF PLAYERS:
Ezrandi Shadowheart……Andali…………………………………Eshu Changeling
Mia Schubert……………….Marlboro…………………………….Satyr Changeling
Jera Morrison……………….Alseyne Aulaudin…………………Sidhe Changeling
Carol Hart…………………..Janneth Jones………………………Troll Changeling
Kendall Nye…………………Joseph McAdoo……………………Ronin Garou
Rob Bennett………………..Arian Plicare………………………..Ananasi
Suz Dollar…………………..Samantha Reese…………………..Human Guardian
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
Falco and Casey returned to the car.
Cerberus was at the end of the alley, watching the street. Pana sat in the car watching the opposite end. Her tail thumped happily at the sight of Casey.
Falco and Cerberus locked eyes. Casey sensed something passing between them.
:: Talons :: It was Pana’s voice in her head. :: The Wolves are all about. Tonight’s a dangerous night for traveling. ::
**Wolves? You mean, werewolves?** Casey looked around, half-expecting to see glowing eyes lurking about in the shadows.
:: Yes… They are running wild this night. ::
Falco climbed into the car, “It will be necessary to obscure our passing.”
After a short drive he parked the car at a Whataburger, finding a spot up front. He glanced to Casey, nodded.
“Stay,” he directed the two dogs as he climbed out of the car. He and Casey entered the restaurant.
Casey stopped in her tracks just inside the door, staring at the astonishing variety of weirdness before her. She glanced uncertainly at Falco.
“Crowded,” he commented. He hooked an eyebrow, looking over to the dragon seated atop the table across the room.
A purple dragon — about the size of a small terrier — sipped on 44 oz. soft drink, the straw hanging from his mouth. His butterfly wings flapped lazily.
“You see that too, right?” Falco whispered to Casey.
She wasn’t sure which “that” he was referring to. Her eyes tracked slowly from one end of the restaurant to the other, immensely grateful that at least Falco’s gift had supplied her with a frame of reference for what she was seeing. That was a troll…and those were satyrs, and those were fae…the big sabre-toothed tiger was sentient, and could take other forms…the damp man in the bathrobe was a werewolf. Funny, he didn’t look all that violent, she’d pictured werewolves as wild and vicious. Her eyes fell upon another fellow and struggled for a moment to “see” him properly. Part of her saw a slender Asian man with terrible burn scars covering the right side of his face and neck. The newly-awakened part saw…extra limbs…and…spiders. He seemed to be made of spiders. She shuddered, and continued her inspection of the room’s occupants.
Her gaze jerked to a halt on a suited man. He looked human, but his tainted blood, and everything it implied, was instinctively repellent to her. She looked around for the undead abomination that he served, but there were no vampires present. With a last wary glance at the unholy minion she resumed her sweep. That was a Sluagh — creepy — and that was a dragon of course, rather smaller than she’d thought one would be…
A young woman sat next to the dragon, an uneaten Whataburger with cheese before her. Casey looked at her with interest; the silvery aura around her was quite pretty. — Guardian,— that new part of her mind supplied helpfully.
The Sluagh, a smallish goth-looking woman, observed, “Hey… none of the employees are moving.”
That was true. They all seemed frozen. Some of the customers, too.
“What witchery is this?” A huge blue troll growled, hauling forth his axe.
Snarling, the tiger rose up with claws and teeth bared, his massive form shifting into something that wasn’t human or feline but somewhere in between. ‘Crinos’ was the word that whispered in Casey’s mind.
Startled by the tiger’s transformation, the human-looking werewolf crouched to the balls of his feet.
“Och,” the dragon said in a thick brogue, “That’d be me, laddie. Ye kin put away yuir hatchet. We’re all friends here.”
The were-tiger’s eyes narrowed at the dragon and he looked from the dragon to the Troll warrior and back again.
The Guardian girl picked up her burger and took a bite, chewing carefully, her eyes inspecting every detail of the room and its occupants.
Spider-guy rubbed his nose as if he smelled something offensive and looked over the dragon, lofting his unscarred brow. “Are we? Curious….” he intoned in an emotionless, sterile tone.
Casey took an involuntary step closer to Falco when the axe was brandished. “Is that true?” she whispered dubiously to him. “Are we all friends here? I’m not being friends with that guy.” She nodded toward the ghoul, frowning.
Guardian girl overheard the comment and raised her eyebrow, but remained impassive otherwise, watching.
“He is one of Houseman’s men,” Falco whispered. :: Magic. Be careful of the dragon. :: Then at a more conversational volume, “I believe what he’s suggesting is that we all have common cause.”
“That’d be it,” The dragon nodded. “Me name’s Myrle.”
“I am called Falco, but I sense you already knew that.”
“Does Mr. Houseman know he’s got some bloodsucker’s toady working for him?” Casey whispered to her mentor. She looked closely at the dragon. **He claims to have brought everyone here…but you and I came on purpose, didn’t we?** She thought about that for a moment. **Why *did* we come here, anyway? You said we had a meeting…is this where you meant to bring us? You don’t really strike me as the Whataburger type.**
:: Houseman wanted to meet here. Reasons of his own, I suppose. I was hoping a few of his men might show. ::
“I see,” commented a tall, strikingly beautiful fae woman — a ‘Sidhe,’ Casey’s mental filing cabinet offered — who was moving purposefully toward one of the booths. “So are we all physically here or is this more of a mental gathering with some physical aspects to it?”
“I’m here,” the dragon laughed, “Physically *and* mentally.”
“Right — so you are at the restaurant we all appear to be in. My question was whether the rest of us are really at the restaurant or whether we’ll suddenly wake up back where we all were when all of this started.”
“Long as there’s no Necromancer with green glowing eyes making an appearance,” the werewolf muttered.
“We’re here,” Casey offered hesitantly. “Mr. Falco and I. We drove here.” She looked around, realizing for the first time that most of these strange creatures were wondering how they came to be here at all. She looked back to the dragon, suddenly rather intrigued. “Did you bring the rest of these…people here? For a…” she glanced at Falco, then back at the dragon with a half-smile. “A meeting?”
The lovely Sidhe reached the booth, and now Casey saw that someone was lying on the seat. A young female troll, bound and gagged. The fae pulled the gag down and began to untie her, muttering to the girl. “Since I doubt very much that you left us and decided to take part in a bondage experiment on your way to do laundry I assume you were captured. Are you hurt in any way?”
The troll’s eyes were wide with fear and anger. “I was stabbed…with a knife…iron…I think I heard them say something about iron…and then…a net fell on me… that’s the last thing I remember…until suddenly I’m here. How did I get here?” She was trembling with fear and anger. “I thought I was dead,” she said, searching her side with a baffled expression.
“Apparently the dragon brought us here,” the fae answered in low tones as she pulled the clothing out of the way to check the young troll’s side. There didn’t appear to be a wound there.
“The Lady Jasmine has the right of it,” the dragon responded. “It was myself who brought this unlikely group together. I am Myrle.”
“Would anyone care to start introductions? ” The werewolf glanced at the ghoul and the large blue troll. ” I know a few of you.. but not all. ” He nodded to the Sluagh.
The spider-guy turned to the ghoul. “Where is Houseman? Has he died already, or was he still in existence last you saw?”
“What are you talking…?” His eyes widened.
“His house was burned down tonight,” Casey offered what she knew. “By vampires, and others like…that,” she indicated the ghoul with thinly-concealed distaste. “Mr. Falco says he’s not dead yet, though.”
“His house burned down the other night,” the ghoul responded. “That’s old news.”
“No,” Falco shook his head. “The Archive. The Archive was in flames when we left it.”
“No….” The ghoul appeared as one struck in the chest with something heavy. Like a car.
“Yet?” Spider-guy replied to Casey. He nodded once, “Then the Talons have yet to find him. Pity.”
“You really are an ass,” another Fae beauty (‘Eshu’ whispered in Casey’s mind) said to him.
Casey blinked, not sure she’d heard the spider-guy correctly. She hesitated, unsure of her place in all of this, then said with the faintest trace of pique, “It’s a pity that Mr. Houseman isn’t dead yet?”
He just regarded her with cold, unblinking black eyes. After an uncomfortable moment, Casey’s gaze dropped. The spider soul behind the seemingly-human eyes was disconcerting to her newly-awakened perceptions.
He didn’t seem to care one way or the other about her comfort. He wasn’t trying to intimidate her, he was simply being. “It is a pity that his suffering is not yet at an end. Between his king’s betrayal, the Talons, and whatever force that is controlling both that has decided he will die… I suspect the remainder of his time in this existence will either be exceptionally painful, or spent in servitude,” he clarified monotonously.
That was basically the same thing Falco had said: that Houseman’s final time would be spent in suffering and humiliation. She frowned. “His…Houseman’s king?” Clearly there was more to the balance of power here in Austin than she’d yet suspected. “I’m Casey, by the way.”
He nodded to her ‘king’ comment but didn’t clarify. He bowed slightly, obviously to an inferior, but at least it was polite. “I am called Arian Plicare.”
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Plicare.” She looked over to the werewolf standing next to Plicare. -Garou- she corrected herself. Falco had said they preferred the term ‘garou’. No sense offending someone who may or may not be inclined to eat humans. “Are you a friend of Mr. Plicare’s?” she asked very politely, still trying to sort out who was who in this exotic menagerie.
“We are acquainted professionally. ” He stood a little straighter as the weretiger hadn’t made any hostile moves. ” I’m Joseph McAdoo. ”
“Oh!” That seemed a good place to start sorting everyone out. “What profession is that?”
“Personal security. ” McAdoo said with complete lack of expression.
“Oh….” Good heavens, that must be an interesting job in Austin. She turned to Arian. “Are you in security too, Mr. Plicare?”
Arian again fixed her with his black eyed, unblinking stare. “I am currently on retainer,” he stated blankly.
“Oh.” In her own job she’d come to recognize answers that were intended to give no real information, and she accepted their disinclination to share personal information. But it rather put a damper on her efforts to find the common threads in this group. She nodded politely to both of them and fell silent.
The fae the dragon had called the Lady Jasmine picked up the thread. “Since Arian has already introduced himself…My other companions are Claws…” she indicated the massive were-tiger… “Yggthor…”
The huge male troll nodded his head in a polite, reserved fashion.
The sluagh looked about the room, her eyes taking the measure of each.
“This is my squire, Janneth,” she gestured to the young female troll. Then she nodded toward a satyr seated at the booth, across the table. “Pip.” The satyr was wearing brown herring bone wool trousers that flared just below his knees allowing a full view of the curly fur of his goat legs. His heavily starched white shirt had the top two buttons open revealing a thick nest of chest hair as well as a necklace fashioned out of a leather strip on which hung a pale blue jewel. A comfortable dark brown leather vest was worn over the shirt. He had a wiry build, curly hair topped his head, sideburns framed his face. He was brilliantly attractive — and exuded sex. “And I am Alseyne,” the fae finished.
Casey nodded to each in turn. “Casey Gavin,” she offered when the introductions come back around to her.
The Eshu woman smiled at Pip, Yggthor, Claws and Wynne, mumbling something under her breath about Wynne running.
A second satyr sauntered over toward Wynne with a wicked grin, “Come here love… I gotta bone ta pick with ya.”