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
Alseyne frowned. “Do you refer to the information about Sanctuary that was revealed to me earlier?”
“Aye, ’tis the one.”
“I doubt it is Myrle’s part to decide our next move. If I read the Webs correctly, his role is to string us together… a difficult enough endeavor.” Arian tilted his head. He folded his arms and turned to face Alseyne, apparently satisfied that Claws would not attack now. “I am currently your retainer. As it appears Sir Yggthor and he-” pointed to Pip. “-are as well.
That got a raised eyebrow from Pip.
“And you have the air of authority with the other Fair Folk here, so I suspect you are of some leadership caste among them.” The Spider gestured to Sam and Falco, “They are the other two deciding ‘votes’, if thats what this has come too. The namebreakers operate together, it seems, and Sam represents the guardian we must protect.” He turned his cold gaze from Falco, then to Sam, then to Alseyne. Falco returned the gaze with cool indifference to the Spider.
“So what now?” Arian asked. His tone hadn’t changed a bit. Not from the suggestion of blowing up innocents to the protecting of the world. The Spider simply didn’t view things the same.
“Just a second,” Alseyne held up a hand. “I never claimed and do not claim to speak for all of the fae here. Some of us here do serve the same master and those I do speak for, as I could for you as your current employer, but Andali, Marlboro and Claws are allies who graciously consented to work with us. I do not claim to speak for any of them. I was asking Myrle more for a guidance opinion. My own is that the Kindred are not our top priority this night. I think our focus should be on the Red Talons or Kilarothes first.”
Arian nodded. “Very well. But if we are to hunt the wolves, I will first need my weapons. Which are held by the vampire king. I, naturally, don’t need to wait for my ‘guide’, I could find them without him. It would just make things easier…” He shrugged slightly.
“The Red Talons are protectors of Gaia,” Claws growled. “They are not fond of humans, but even less fond of those who would do harm to Gaia and her children. If we kill the one controlling the Talons, we gain a potentially powerful ally.”
“You believe the Talons can be rehabilitated?” Falco asked.
“That depends. If they are the garou they once were, we might be able to reason with or challenge them. If they are truly wyrm-tainted, there might be a way to free them if we know what has corrupted them. Either way, as Gaia’s children, they deserve the effort.”
” Agreed,” McAdoo said at once.
Pip leaned forward, “That would be a tremendous boon… But how could that be managed? How would we determine what’s corrupting them?”
Casey was beginning to feel a little out of her depth again. ‘Contaminated by the Wyrm’ was a phrase she instinctively understood on a basic level, but its deeper meanings were beyond her. Could someone — a group of someones — who’d become contaminated by the Wyrm be reclaimed? She wished she understood all of this better. A sharp pang of unhappiness twinged through her. This was the sort of thing she should have been able to ask Falco, instead of muddling around trying to figure it all out on her own. Learning that he’d been limiting her access to knowledge that might influence her actions was a disappointment amounting nearly to grief. She’d never be able to completely trust any guidance he might give her; there would always be part of her wondering if he was manipulating her choices with false information. It would take her a while to truly come to terms with that, and to stop feeling so angry about it.
But meanwhile, a cooler part of her mind pointed out that she couldn’t afford to pass up any potential source of knowledge at this point. She was too new to this world, and ignorance was too dangerous here.
She took a few deep, calming breaths, trying to clear her mind of emotion and tension. When she was about as composed as she can manage under the circumstances, she sent her mind to touch Falco’s through the crowd. **What does it mean to be contaminated by the Wyrm?** The question was as emotionless as she could make it, but just beneath the surface thought was a muffled layer of hurt and anger.
Touching his mind, she found that there was something soothing, calming about it. Like wading in still waters. It was unspoken, unexpressed — but there nonetheless. Almost against her will she felt herself relaxing, the anger draining out of her. This was exactly why he was so dangerous, she reminded herself: he could make her feel…safe, happy, tranquil…he could make her feel anything he wanted to. He was too strong for her; she couldn’t begin to resist his vastly greater abilities.
But knowing that didn’t change the fact that her mind clung to the psionic connection like a drowner to a life-raft. She let the peace soak through her, easing the ache in her chest. This felt so much better than facing hard truths.
Falco’s eyes had not moved from the others. To their perspective, he was completely engaged in the conversation there. But she could feel his attention on her. His mind… his powerful mind…:: The wolves and other skin changers characterize the Wyrm as the force of corruption, destruction, and decay. To be Wyrm tainted is to work for the Wyrm’s purpose… which essentially is to bring all things to a state of entropy. ::
**Can someone be…cleansed of the Wyrm’s taint?** This time the calm in her mental voice was genuine. For the moment, she was making no effort to resist his soothing effect on her. **Could the Red Talons really be “rehabilitated” if the cause of their contamination were taken away?**
:: I do not know. I suppose it is possible, but I’ve never known such to occur. ::
Casey sorted out everything she’d learned about this war so far. After a few minutes she spoke aloud hesitantly, offering her observations. “So, the Red Talons have decided to ally themselves with the Vampire Prince, who in turn has allied himself with an exiled demon prince, who wants to bring his army to this realm to wipe out mankind and claim our world for himself. The question seems to be whether it’s more effective to deal with our smaller enemies first, or go straight for the really dangerous one, this Kilarothes, with our full strength. Exterminate the Red Talons and Bronwen might just find new allies to do the work he’s given them. Convince the Talons that they’ve made a mistake, though…or take away whatever they’re being threatened with, if that’s the case…turn them against Bronwen…and our little army would be that much bigger and stronger. If it can be done. McAdoo’s fetish might shine some light on that subject too, if it can tell us why the Talons joined with Bronwen in the first place. I think the fetish should be a priority, just so we can find out whether it’s going to be helpful or not.” She looked around the group. There were other things happening too that she didn’t know much about. Myrle had mentioned missing Fae and murdered werewolves and a green-eyed mystery man who…collected hooves? Could that be the same terrifying figure she’d seen in Falco’s dark vision of the future? And then there was this ‘Blade Brotherhood,’ who would join the fight if Andali could…find their lord and convince him to ally with the good guys? She blinked, suddenly remembering something else. “Oh. I’m not sure where this fits in, but there’s a…a hired killer in town too. A vampire called Ronan Murphy. He looks really dangerous.”
“What all do you know about him?” Alseyne asked.
“Not very much,” Casey admitted. “When I saw him he was with a group; mostly other vampires, but a few like that too,” she nodded toward Trevor.
“Well dressed and damn good looking?” Trevor delivered the comment with dark humor.
That got a startled snort of amusement from Casey. The past half hour had dulled her disdain for the ghoul somewhat. Considering the basically amoral-by-human-standards nature of nearly everyone in the restaurant, selling one’s soul to a vampire in exchange for theoretical immortality didn’t seem quite as evil as it had before. Certainly not on a par with blowing up an entire high-rise building full of innocent people just to try to kill one enemy, anyway.
She tried to remember exactly what the killer had looked like, but in that instance her mind’s perceptions had overwhelmed her mundane sense of sight: she had only a vague, blurry memory of his physical appearance. “He has…long dark hair and was wearing a…a black trench-coat.” Somehow she didn’t think it would be helpful to describe him exactly as she’d perceived him.
Alseyne pulled a face. “Typical. I’m surprised he didn’t have a mustache that he twirled.”
“Oh! I think…I’m not sure, but I think it may have him and his group that burned down Houseman’s Archive. We saw him in that general area last night.” She paused, then added, “Falco told me he’s a hired killer,” as a minor disclaimer in case that information turned out to inaccurate. She believed it to be true, though: Ronan Murphy had looked like a vicious predator with a real relish for inflicting pain and death.
Arian nodded. “His group of mercenaries assaulted Houseman and myself on the way to his king. He should be given plenty of room, but I don’t believe him to be a huge threat alone. We dispatched a few of his warriors before we spoke with his king.”
“So Murphy’s working for Bronwen too, then,” Casey mused. “This Prince means business, doesn’t he?”
Pip shifted in his seat. “Sounds like it. The more we dig, the more enemies we find. Does anybody like us?”
“I am very fond of you,” Myrle offered.
“Thanks,” Pip grinned.
” He has a professional reputation.. ” the werewolf McAdoo grudgingly contributed, “and supposedly has a tendency to visit S&M bars, the last surveillance I’m aware of is that he was seen at a place called Sanctuary Austin. ” Pause. ” He’s very dangerous, forgive me for repeating this. ”
“Sanctuary Austin? I see…” said Alseyne.
“Sanctuary?” Casey looked over to Alseyne. “Isn’t that where you’re going tonight?”
Alseyne nodded grimly. “Looks like we’ll have to be on the lookout for him when we head over there.” She looked over at Arian. “And if he’s tangled with you before it is probably best if you don’t accompany us — at this point we don’t want to tip our hand and let our enemies find out anything more than we need to and they should not yet be aware of your affiliation with us.”
“It would be wise for me to be close by, should you choose to infiltrate this place,” Arian says. “I can slip inside should there be need in short order by Grandmother’s Webs.”
“I’m not sure how we’d signal you to move in if we’re inside. We all started out with cell phones but quite a few have been lost already and I believe we are out of new ones, aren’t we?” Alseyne responded, turning to Pip and raising an eyebrow inquiringly during the final portion of her comment.
“I don’t have any extras on me,” Pip said, “But we can certainly get hooked up.”
Alseyne looked back at Arian, “I agree having a back-up if there is trouble would be good. I’m just not sure how to get word to you. Or is there a way for you to get a message to you through the webs inside there if we can find any?”
Casey listened quietly to this exchange, an idea forming in her mind. If she were waiting outside with Arian, she could operate as a kind of communication device between him and Alseyne’s group. If any of them ‘called’ for backup she would know instantly…assuming that she could read minds as alien as these. She hadn’t made any attempt to do so; Falco had firmly impressed upon her the rudeness of dipping uninvited into the thoughts of others.
She didn’t speak up yet. Arian might have his own means of communication in this sort of situation, or his unique methods of getting around stealthily might not allow for non-spider company. She waited to hear his response before offering her help.