Under the Bright Lights

The war between Vampires and Lycans has ended, but an even deadlier threat has risen: Humanity. The world of immortals is a secret no longer, and terrified humans seek to exterminate the source of their fear. Vampires, Lycans, and other immortal species now hide themselves, struggle to survive, and fight back. Their future and their very existence are at stake.
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Quaxo9
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Riff

"So, I'm not the only one getting the 'weird and potentially bad news' vibe? Whew."

It was almost a joke and Riff did chuckle, but the earlier news about the Iron Brotherhood being around still had him on edge and this unknown thing...wasn't helping. Like Clare, he couldn't put his finger on why the symbol's presence made him uneasy. It was a feeling not so much like one on the edge of your senses like when you had the feeling of being watched - it was more visceral. A deep-seated unease. He was about to wipe out his drawing on the ground when a thought occurred to him.

"Hey, anyone got a phone? I'd be willing to hazard a bet that our new friends might know something about runes. Whaddya say we send a snap to Ellen and Nick?"
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Ellen and Nick Greenway

"I have cell service at my campsite," Keisha offered. Isaac had made sure of that while choosing the site - as a doctor with other patients outside the Pack, Keisha couldn't just disappear off the grid. The Pack leader had situated Keisha and her son nearest to the access road, in case she was needed in an emergency.

As soon as Riff had sent the picture, the phone rang. Ellen and Nick were both on the other end of the line, apparently on speaker.

"They're definitely Mage symbols," Ellen said. "Nick, they're not something abyssal, are they?"

A faint rustle as her husband shook his head. "I don't think so. They seem to be of this dimension. I can't quite read it. It says something about Fae, I think..."

"Do you know of any other Mages in the area?" Ellen asked curiously. "We aren't familiar with any. It worries me that they would mark your campsite. That seems unlikely to be a coincidence. It looks like some sort of ward against Fae, perhaps - do you know anyone who would want to do that? And does it seem to be working?"
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Quaxo9
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Riff

"Uh, that's a nope on it working. I mean...there's Fae inside the sort of area and Fae outside the sort of area...yeah. Nothing keeping anybody anywhere. As for mages - I dunno - you guys?"

He posed the question to people who'd been living in the area the longest. Riff didn't want to give out misinformation. Though..speaking of misinformation...

"Hey, could you hold on a sec? That was just my drawing on the ground - I'll get a pic of one on the tree where we found them. Maybe that will help. The call might drop...just so you know."

The werewolf dashed down to where he'd found a symbol, snapped a pic, then followed Gilda's directions to the one she and James found and took a picture of that one too. Maybe they were slightly different and he just couldn't tell. When he returned to Keisha's campsite, he was slightly out of breath, more due to excitement than exertion. Sending the pictures, he waited for a response from the Greenways.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Ellen and Nick Greenway

The Greenways called back almost instantly upon receiving the picture.

"Well, we can tell you why the ward didn't work," Nick told Riff.

"It's not empowered by anything," Ellen explained. "It's a Mage symbol, but it wasn't done by a Mage. It wasn't given any energy. Even the most green, inexperienced caster would understand that it isn't going to do anything. Is there anyone around who would know enough to know about the supernatural world to want to keep Fae away, but not have a willingness - or maybe ability - to employ an actual Mage? If so, that's where I'd start looking."

Nick nodded his agreement. "Sorry not to be more specific, but we aren't familiar with all the groups in play here yet."
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Quaxo9
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Riff

It struck him as a bit funny that less than an hour ago, he'd have had to say 'no' to the Greenway's question. But now, well, he had a pretty good idea. Exchanging a look with Maria, Riff spoke into the phone even as he held it out in front of him so that anyone could pipe up and have a say.

"Well, actually, funny you should mention. We have heard that there might be some Cold Iron Brotherhood around here. They'd definitely have the lore part down, from what I've seen of them, but maybe they didn't know that they had to power it up. I don't really like that they seem to know where we were going to camp...but anyway, can we destroy these symbols? I mean, I don't want to inadvertently make things worse, but I do want to make sure that if they find a mage, they can't suddenly turn them on."
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Ellen and Nick Greenway

"I'm not familiar with the Cold Iron Brotherhood," Ellen said. "But I can guess. With a name like 'cold iron' they must be seeking fae, or perhaps demons - or maybe they make little distinction between the two."

"You could destroy the wards," Nick told Riff. "It would not cause any negative effects. As of right now, they're no more than ordinary symbols carved on trees. But I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing so. The wards are harmless - but whoever placed them has surely not forgotten them. Right now you have an advantage in that you have more information than this Brotherhood can know you have. They don't know you've found the wards, or identified them, or sought help from Mages. If you destroy them, you tip your hand. Then they'll know you're onto them."

"I have another idea," Ellen mused. "It's slightly more risky than just leaving the wards, but it may be worth it. Instead of destroying the wards, you could alter them very slightly. Add a small line, say, or an extra loop to a circle. Someone who is inexpert enough not to realize the wards aren't empowered probably won't notice at a glance, and that would prevent them from finding some rogue Mage to do it on a whim. It wouldn't stand up to scrutiny, but it would fool a casual glance by someone not familiar with how wards are supposed to look."
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Quaxo9
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Riff

While Nick's plan sounded like the safest in terms of tactics, Riff couldn't bear the idea of leaving a ring of wards just lying around in the woods, waiting for a mage's input.

"Maybe we can just add a little line to a couple of them, just to break up the line. That way, we might have the best of both worlds. I just...can't bear the idea of these wards all of a sudden all being activated...not when we don't know where they all are. Thanks for your help, both of you. It's good to know what we're dealing with."

He said some goodbyes, then hung up, feeling that familiar weight on his shoulders.

"So, I guess first we need to figure out just how extensive this network is - and let the rest of the Fae community know. And...we might have to ask your brother's friends some questions, Declan...I just...don't know how to do that nicely right now. What are we gonna do?"
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Declan McDermott

"Uh... not sure how we're going to accomplish that, mate," Declan said, shoving a worried hand through his hair unconsciously, as if trying to stimulate his brain to move faster. "I don't know who my brother is friends with, and he and I aren't exactly on good terms. Last time I saw him, I punched him... and the police came... and I ended up with his kid. I don't think he's going to spill his guts to me about who he's hanging out with."

He grimaced. "I'm worried too. I don't want anything to happen to Clare and the girls - or anyone else. I'm just not sure how to move forward with it. Maybe Elijah knows who they are..."

Elijah was sitting nearby with Keisha's son, poking sticks into the small but growing campfire. The boy had not been appearing to pay attention, but when his uncle mentioned him, he shook his head. "Dad never told me any of their names," he said. "Sorry. He'd always make me go in my room when they were over to the house. I'd recognize them, but I'm not sure how to find them."
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Quaxo9
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Riff

"Well, just because we don't know their names doesn't mean we can't find them." He tapped the side of his nose and winked, on his way to regaining his usual jovial self. "But I guess right now we can just muck up their plans a bit so we can get back to having a nice camping trip!"

Riff went back to the mark he'd found and made a tiny nick in one of the circles. Like a squirrel had run up the tree and flicked out a piece of the bark with its claws. At least, he hoped that was what it would look like if the maker came by to check their handiwork. The meticulous creation before him made his skin crawl - that someone would take so much care in bringing about the destruction of others was disturbing.

His task complete, he loped back to the campsite. The central fire was burning brightly now and all manner of food was dangling on the ends of sticks over it. Perfect. It'd been years since he'd had a wiener roast. He managed to only drop one into the ashes - he ate it anyway, of course. Afterwards, the fire was still going too hard to toast marshmallows, so he pulled out his guitar and began strumming some familiar tunes to see who would join in. He certainly hoped their new Pack was musically inclined - at least a little.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Isaac Fishblatt and Clare Murphy

Isaac would have loved to go join Riff for campfire songs - and would, but he had another duty as Pack leader before he could settle down and just enjoy the trip. He had to engage in some diplomacy... and for that he would need help from Clare.

"Clare, I need to tell our Fae allies about this," Isaac said. "I don't want them to think we're holding out on them. Our Pack will share information with them, as a gesture of good faith. But..." He trailed off.

Clare finished for him, "But you know that if you approach them, they're just going to take off, and you may never see them again."

"Exactly," Isaac replied. "They have made very clear that contact will be on their terms. I'm fine with that. I need to convey a message, though, and unfortunately we don't have time to wait until they're comfortable with us."

"Agreed," Clare said. "Come with me. I'm their queen's daughter. They won't run if I'm with you."

Together, Clare and Isaac walked about twenty meters into the woods.

"They can hear you," Clare said. "You won't see them. Don't expect a response. But you have their attention. Say your piece."

Isaac felt a little self-conscious addressing what appeared to be empty forest. This was what was needed to strengthen the bonds of their alliance, though. "Friends and allies of the Fae court," he said. "There is something I need to tell you. We found runes inscribed around our campsite. We believe they were left there by a group that is hostile to the Fae. The runes were not empowered, but you should be aware that a threat has been made. Um. That's all, I guess."

Clare nodded approval.

"They heard that?" Isaac confirmed.

"They did," Clare told him. "You can go back to your camp now. They'll decide what to do."

"Okay. Thanks, Clare."

Isaac returned to the campfire and took a seat by Riff.

For awhile, nothing happened. Then the Fae scents shifted. They were still a distance away in the woods - but now they formed a ring around the Lycan camp.

Clare smiled. "Rest easy," she told Isaac and Riff. "Their magics will confuse any intruders who wander into our woods. We're safe for tonight."
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