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.
User avatar
Monkey Kitty
Steward
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:31 am

Re: Under the Bright Lights

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Ellen Greenway

"Hey Riff. Isaac. Sorry to bother you."

The connection was a little static-y, as it often was from out on Longhome Island, but they would be able to hear her clearly.

"Like I said, it's not a crisis. But we're... concerned. I think I told you that we set up wards, to protect the island and make sure nobody stumbles on us until we're sure we're not spreading supernatural diseases? Well. Someone has been testing the wards. I don't just mean someone blundered into one and got kicked back. Someone is checking them one by one. Methodically. Trying to find a weak point. We aren't sure who. Or why. We just thought you might like to know. In case it affects your Pack too."

"Thank you," Isaac said. "We'll help you figure out what's going on."

Whether or not it affected the Lycan group, the small island was a lot more vulnerable, and Isaac had promised to be their allies - he planned to follow through on that.
User avatar
Quaxo9
Secundae
Posts: 318
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 9:33 pm

Re: Under the Bright Lights

Post by Quaxo9 »

Riff

"Hey Ellen, checking one by one, like - in order? Can you figure out which one they'll check next? Maybe we can catch up with them find out what they're up to."

If Riff had to guess, he'd guess that some of the Fae community were following through on their report of a 'potential threat'. If they didn't respect Iphigenia, then it wasn't much of a reach to think that the sect of 'ambitious' Fae wouldn't respect Clare's report either. He hoped he was wrong, of course. There were those other mages around that were carving symbols into trees - whomever did that could also have the know-how to test wards. Until they knew for sure, there was no sense in voicing his opinions in case they were overheard as accusations. No, much better to know who they were dealing with for sure before doing anything rash.
User avatar
Monkey Kitty
Steward
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:31 am

Re: Under the Bright Lights

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Ellen Greenway and Isaac Fishblatt

"They've been showing up around midnight," Ellen said. "Give or take. We haven't managed to catch up with them yet. But if all goes well, they should be hitting the wards on the south side tonight. They don't go quite in order - they're too smart for that, it would be too easy to spot. There's a pattern, though. I think we can figure it out. If you would be willing... I mean..."

"Of course," Isaac said. He could tell Ellen was reluctant to volunteer the Pack - even if Riff already sort of had, which Isaac completely approved of - but these were their allies, and the people from the island needed to be able to rely on their new friends.

"Thanks," Ellen said. "Honestly. This... we really appreciate it."

"Any time," Isaac said. "We'll get there well before midnight, so we can have everyone in place."

Once they were off the phone, Isaac said to Riff, "We should prepare for anything. It might be the Fae, or it might be someone else. It seems we've had no shortage of threats in the past few days. Thanks for being part of this. You make a great Pack brother. We're lucky to have you."
User avatar
Quaxo9
Secundae
Posts: 318
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 9:33 pm

Re: Under the Bright Lights

Post by Quaxo9 »

Riff

The werewolf blushed, rubbing the back of his neck. He was completely unaware of having volunteered the Pack for this particular mission.

"Lucky to be here, honestly. But yeah...if it's the Fae, then we should ask Clare and any friends she might have to come along. I mean, I guess if it is the bunch that don't like her mom, she could be at risk - but also another Fae is our best hope of either talking them down or...not dying by a Fairy blast. If it's Cold Iron or something like that, we should be able to quietly handle them so no one gets hurt."

Riff looked pensive, opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it again.

"But what worries me a bit is that if someone knows enough to test the wards...won't they know that whoever set them will be able to tell? I guess...this could end up being a trap. If they're sneaky enough."
User avatar
Monkey Kitty
Steward
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:31 am

Re: Under the Bright Lights

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Isaac Fishblatt

"Yes, that concerns me as well," Isaac said, absently rubbing his chin. "Along with the fact that we've recently seen two different approaches to ward runes - this one, which seems at least somewhat knowledgeable, and the failed attempt at our campsite. Are we looking at two different groups or entities? And if so, are they connected, or is the timing coincidental?"

He sighed. "Unfortunately, I don't think we can know the answer to that in advance. We'll simply have to investigate, and be prepared for a trap if necessary. I hope this isn't too dangerous for our Pack - but we gave our word, and I would not abandon an ally in need."

Some hasty preparations were made, and the Pack members who had volunteered to help (along with Clare) made their way to the island, consulted with Ellen and Nick, and got into place well before the anticipated 'visitors.'

Before long, the Pack would see - and smell - some unpleasantly familiar Fae quietly put a boat ashore and approached the warded area along the edge of the tide line.

Clare swore under her breath. "Apparently my mother has completely lost control of this lot," she whispered to Isaac and Riff.
User avatar
Monkey Kitty
Steward
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:31 am

Re: Under the Bright Lights

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Asif and Lina

Though they were exhausted from their long trip, the Zaidi family quickly settled into what was to be their new home. It seemed... pleasant. Welcoming. Safe. Asif could finally let out the breath he'd been holding and relax a bit. He hadn't been sure what to expect. He had seen some of the worst Lycan-kind had to offer, in the past - and though he trusted that Riff would never bring them anywhere so horrible, this exceeded even what little Asif had allowed himself to hope for.

The people were kind. Truly generous. Though Marek got a few wary looks at first, as soon as people realized he wasn't there to start a one-Vampire genocide of the Lycan population, everyone seemed to accept him without issue.

Taara got to meet Sofie again; she had been told that the two girls were friends as babies, and was excited to have a playmate. Asif was glad of that for her. Taara was a happy child, but children needed others their own age to play with. Asif was worried that Taara had been too much with just adults. Now Maria was suggesting that Taara be enrolled in kindergarten with Sofie, and Asif could breathe a sigh of relief that their daughter would have a chance to socialize and learn with her peers.

The older girls - young women, now, Asif reminded himself - also had an opportunity for friendship, as it turned out. Isaac's two foster daughters had come to say hello, and it seemed they were off to a good start getting to know each other. Asif beamed quietly, noting with pride how poised and gracious his nieces had become.

Lina was clearly exhausted. Travel had taken a lot out of her, in her condition. Asif helped her into their bed to rest, then lay down with her for a moment. Her belly was too round for them to easily lie face to face, now, but he wrapped his arms around her from behind and kissed her neck.

"You are so brave and patient," he told her. "I'm sorry such a long trip was necessary at such a time."

"It will be worth it," Lina assured him. "A little tiredness now, for all that we have gained. All our family has gained."

"I agree," Asif said, and meant it wholeheartedly.
User avatar
Quaxo9
Secundae
Posts: 318
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 9:33 pm

Re: Under the Bright Lights

Post by Quaxo9 »

Riff

He'd really hoped that people in question wouldn't turn out to be Fae. A vain hope, he realized, as he silently counted the members of the raiding party. This was the more difficult of the two options he'd thought of - mostly because the Iron Brotherhood were an enemy to all immortals while these Fae were part of a community they had some peaceful relations with. Of course, these particular members had sworn they'd wanted to purge the island of one or more of its inhabitants, so it wasn't like he wasn't prepared for an altercation. He'd just hoped it wouldn't come to this.

"So, are we going to just remind them that she said to leave them alone? I don't think we can be here and just let them off the hook...if their minds are set, they'll just come back when we aren't here to help."

Left unsaid was that he didn't want to simply mete out force without giving the other Fae a chance to reconsider. He hoped that was obvious.
User avatar
Monkey Kitty
Steward
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:31 am

Re: Under the Bright Lights

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Isaac Fishblatt

Isaac sighed and rubbed his eyes. He wasn't entirely surprised. He... wasn't surprised at all. But this put the Pack in a rather difficult position. He had promised alliance to both the Fae and the Mages on this island. On the surface, that now seemed to conflict - but not really, because the true leader of the Fae had forbidden an attack on the island, and he couldn't imagine that she had changed her mind.

That meant these interlopers were, of course, acting without permission. Which both simplified the situation, and made it more potentially violent. That thought was distasteful - Isaac loathed violence of all kinds. His Pack led a peaceful life, as much as they could. But sometimes violence was the only way to prevent a greater harm being done.

"Yes, Riff," he said. "We will try speaking to them. For now. I think we have the greater numbers. Perhaps we can convince them to walk away. In the long term... well. That's going to be more complicated."

First things first, though.

Isaac stepped out of the trees. "You've made a mistake in coming here," he said calmly. "You were commanded by your queen not to..."

How the Fae would have responded, though, would never be known. Because at exactly the moment Isaac showed himself, the sharp crack of an explosion echoed from further up the coastline, the air crackled with static electricity, and for a moment, Isaac's eyes were blinded with blue light. He blinked, seeing stars. He wasn't hurt, he realized... but something had happened.

"The wards are down," one of the Fae commented with a smirk, confirming Isaac's guess.

One of his comrades, though, looked less confident that a good thing had happened. "I think we may have more company than just these mangy wolves," the other Fae said quietly. "That? It wasn't us."

It would be obvious where the ward was broken - though whoever had done it had quickly moved on. Several pine trees were scorched, bent, and toppled. A body lay motionless where the ward had been. It was the corpse of a teenage girl, face-down in the mud.

Tragic, Isaac thought. But one thing about the scene stood out as odd, besides just the loss of a young life. The girl hadn't been killed in the blast. Based on the state of decomposition, she'd been gone for awhile.

So how...?

Well, Isaac didn't understand wards or magecraft. He just knew there was now a third party in play on the island... and they probably meant no good.
User avatar
Quaxo9
Secundae
Posts: 318
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 9:33 pm

Re: Under the Bright Lights

Post by Quaxo9 »

Riff

As much as he hadn't been able to sense the magical barrier when it was up, he could feel its absence after the explosion. It was strangely unsettling. As though he himself had made a wall just to have someone tear it down and expose him to the world. When his vision cleared enough to see the body at the centre, he initially panicked. His first thought was that Seraphina had somehow gotten close to the barrier and had been killed...if that was even possible...but the girl's trademark green hair wasn't there. In spite of how horrible it was to see a young life snuffed and used in some magecraft, he breathed a sigh of relief.

Unfortunately that relief was short lived. Whoever had performed the rite was gone and he could very well guess where they went. He leaned closer to Isaac, his face turned away from the opposing Fae, and murmered, "Do you got things here? I better catch up to whoever did that before they get to the house. Can't leave them on their own."

Of course, he probably could leave them on their own - Ellen the mage and Nick the Hellboy guy would likely put up a good fight. But what if they needed help? Plus, there were the kids and all the other people on the island. The Greenways would be trying to protect them too. Riff was more than prepared to follow the trail of the miscreant mages on his own. He'd worn an old shirt for a reason.
User avatar
Monkey Kitty
Steward
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:31 am

Re: Under the Bright Lights

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Isaac Fishblatt

"Yes, good idea," Isaac said. He wished that wasn't necessary, but they appeared to be facing two threats at once. Whoever had destroyed the wards, obviously - but also the renegade Fae group that had also come to the island with worrisome intentions toward the inhabitants. Splitting up was their best bet.

Isaac didn't want to fight the Fae. He didn't want to fight anyone unless he had to, and stirring up trouble with the local Fae was the last thing the Pack needed. But he couldn't simply allow his islander allies to be attacked. If it came down to it, he would do what was necessary.

Clare remained at Isaac's elbow - a very visible reminder that their queen's eye was still on these Fae via her daughter - while the Lycans wordlessly moved into an approximately even split, with half of the group reinforcing their leader while the others went with Riff.

Well, time to try some weapons-grade diplomacy...

As he was about to speak, though, Isaac's eyes drifted back to the corpse. He wondered who she was - or rather, who she had been. The daughter of one of the local families, perhaps? If so, once this was all over he would make sure her remains were returned. Or if they couldn't find her parents, he would see to it that the Pack provided a decent burial. It was the least they could do...

Isaac gasped with shock.

No. It couldn't be. He couldn't have seen what he thought he did.

He'd... he'd thought he'd seen her hand move.

But that wasn't possible. She was dead. She smelled dead. Decomposition was setting in. She couldn't have moved. It was just his imagination...

Even as he told himself it was impossible, he knew he had to be sure. He knelt beside her, gently rolled her over on her back, and wiped the mud off her face so he could see her features.

She opened her eyes and blinked at him.

Isaac tensed in shock, but managed not to withdraw the hand that was supporting her. The dead girl's mouth worked like she was trying to say something, but her jaw was no longer hinged quite right and all Isaac could hear was a soft hissing sound.

"It's... it's going to be okay," he promised. "I'll get help for you. I... honestly don't have the faintest idea how to help you myself, but I think I know some people who do."

Isaac heard the rustle of the Fae moving closer to him, and as he looked up, he saw them standing around him menacingly. His own people quickly moved into a defensive position behind him.

"I think not," one of the Fae said icily. "No, we certainly can't allow you to do that."

Meanwhile, as Riff probably expected, his group would quickly pick up the trail of a number of humans headed straight toward the Greenway farmhouse.
Post Reply