Shadows over Appalachia

Final Journal Entry, Part 2

Dear Mom and Dad,

You’ll probably find this Journal on the dining room table, because that’s where I left it. Someone’s gotta know where things ended up, and how much trouble we’re all in. I guess I ought to explain what happened from the beginning. Well, if you’ve read the rest of this, you know that Freedom was hurt real bad by this Blackwolf asshole. Yeah. We ended up back at Ironknife’s place to go over what we all learned. The upshot is this asshole REALLY IS trying to wake the dragon and bind his power to himself. This is epic, cataclysmic stuff. Like, End of the World As We Know It kind of deep shit. You probably remember the phone call I made Dad. I’d like to apologize for that, by the way. I was out of line, but I was under a lot of stress. Anyway, Ironknife and the others talked magic stuff, while I went out shopping. I bought 40 boxes of Roman Candles, a few cans of red spray paint, some velcro, a cheap tac vest, and some belts. Why? Well, I got this crazy idea that I’ll rig it all to look like Dynamite, and use that to distract all the bikers and Blackwolf. Or maybe just hug them until they burn more than me. I told you I was under some stress and not thinking.

Anyway, when I got back, I took them all to the house. I used the emergency ward key to get them in. Don’t worry, I’ll rehide it when we leave shortly, so it won’t be known to too many. Besides, Ironknife’s a good guy, and I’ll have him seal everything back up. It looks like ya’ll have been gone for a while. Hope we didn’t leave too much mess. Frankly, I just hope we’ll be back to clean it up at this point. Anyway, we did some research on how to kill this guy, since he’s way above our pay grade. I found the old story of St. George and the Dragon, and while that gave us the idea to use mistletoe (kill the unkillable, right), it didn’t lead anywhere else. Oh, and Annabelle whipped up a potion to dampen Freedom’s werewolf-ish-ness so that Blackwolf can’t do horrible things to her. I let everyone rummage through the lab for some supplies, and they got all goggle-eyed over the rather elaborate circle down there, but I shooed them away from it as best I could and we left.

We ended up going to the Sunsphere to ask for help. We really were in a bind, and well, it’s better to be fae toys for a while than to let the world explode. Rookie started feeling kind of ill, which is probably when I should have realized he still had some Winter Taint from that crazy box spirit, but…I was under a lot of stress. Anyway, they show us in…and the Crone of Summer is there. Shit just got very, very real. Now, I’m not much for the whole NeverNever thing, but I’m pretty sure we just got in over our heads EVEN MORE. Weirdly, she was Extremely deferential to me and called me “Lord Oster”. Look, I sum up, ‘cause I don’t have much time. Rookie’s getting gun happy and Ironknife is rummaging around the house for “supplies”. I think he’s just poking around for no reason. Ultimately, we got the Crone to replace all the children that Blackwolf was planning on sacrificing with Changlings…hopefully temporarily, AND secured the services of a pixie guide to find Blackwolf.

While waiting for our guide, everyone started jabbering about “crazy magic power” in the circle. I told them to stay the hell away from it, but Freedom seems positive my “special power” is locked up in there. I don’t know what’s in there, but I’m pretty sure it’s not my Power Rangers Morpher. Whatever, not my business, but my friends are crazy. I guess that’s why I like ‘em. Well, our guide is here, and he’s gonna take us. I got my faux explosive vest full of Roman Candles, plenty of matches, and my trick cane. We’ll try and stop this bastard. I got a crazy, crazy idea to trick him into drinking that potion and turning him into a regular old wizard rather than a werewolf/wizard combo package. Wizards are powerful, but they bleed just like I do when shot. Or burned with Fireworks.

If we don’t make it back, let the White Council know what we’ve done, and that we tried to stop him. He’s determined to do this, and I don’t know how long our bargain with Summer will last once we’re dead. Seal the House, let loose all the magical guardians you have, and be safe. Tell my brother I miss him, and that I always looked up to him, even though I was mad at him being a wizard and me not getting my letter to Hogwarts, as it were. I love you both, and I’m sorry it had to end this way. No matter what happens, I at least went out trying to do some good.

-Your loving son, Cid.

Howling For Trouble

Dear Journal,

It’s been a few months since our encounter with the folks trying to wake the dragon under the mountains. I got back from Vegas and and settled in for some nice normal days. Ironknife, Nick (Rookie), Alan and Freedom all stopped by the bar so we could catch up on things. They were just starting to tell me about some weird ghoul thing when in walks a fairly attractive young lady. She talks with Big Don for a few minutes, then plops herself down at our table and asks Ironknife who he is. It was pretty brazen.

After some introductions and what not, turns out she’s associated with this new organizational network called ParaNet. Seems they are a bunch of small time talents who set up a phone network to spread information and keep tabs on folks. When the supernatural baddies start moving, it’s usually the small folks who get chewed up first. Seems like a great idea, and Ironknife was telling the lady (her name is Elaine, I don’t really remember when that was mentioned) about all the weirdness in this town, when guess who strolls in with a new posse?

Eddie Sledge is back in town and he’s got some more muscle in his gang than the last time we met. The upshot of his little visit was to try and get us to leave, especially Ironknife. Seems ol’ Eddie has hooked up with a new big shot who calls himself Blackwolf, and Blackwolf was “graciously” giving us a change to “leave town now”. Of course, Eddie threatens to burn Big Don’s down if we don’t. I casually remind him that Big Don’s is Neutral Ground, and of course he turns to threatening Sam. Freedom and Alan stalk out at this point, and while Eddie watches them leave, I snag his wallet. Ironknife tells him to get lost, and then we look over the wallet. It’s got a LOT of money in it, like a couple of grand in fresh bills, and a business card for a Nicholas Falls Down.

The rest of the group heads over to Sam’s ranger station, while I hit the police station to give them a heads up. Detective Jackson was super helpful as always, but as big a jerk as he is, he’s an honest cop with the best interests of this town in mind. He wasn’t too pleased with me (frankly, I don’t think he’s pleased about anything), but he put in the word. I drove to the ranger’s station. On the way, I hit this really weird fog, but I figured it was some magic stuff and just kept on going. As I pull up to the station, there’s this Indian, excuse me, Native American guy singing, and I can tell there’s a lot of magic stuff going on. Considering I got a call from Sam saying “Hey, we’re all going to die from these horrible spirits that are trying to eat our faces”, I was pretty sure he was not friendly. So naturally, I tried to run him over with my truck. That didn’t work so well, since it turns out, funnily enough, that he was a ghost. Oops. This ended with me putting my truck through the front of the Ranger Station. Still, I’m told that Freedom and Alan smashed a thing and that made it all better. I was a bit woozy at that point, but I recovered nicely.

We headed back to Ironknife’s place, and then Freedom, Alan and I went to talk to Carl Two Feathers. Basically, this Falls Down guy has been around for a long, long, LONG (like wizard life long) time, is a werewolf, and pretty much wants all us non-Native American folks to be dead or gone. Real friendly chap, let me tell you. I send Alan and Freedom on to do more research (Freedom mumbled something about some missing kid) while I head over to the Greenway. I stopped at a gas station to get a couple of six packs, and picked up a nice pizza as well. That weird homeless guy, the one who always seems to know what’s going on? Yeah, he’s getting the hell out of dodge. Turns out this Blackwolf fella is a bad, bad man. Took down a lot of Wardens in his day. I left him with the pizza and half the beer, and sought out Dum Dum. Nice guy, so long as you aren’t a small child and have food and/or booze. Dum Dum basically let slip that the Faeries had their hackles up over this guy. When the Faeries are scared, you KNOW it’s bad.

I get back to Ironknife’s place just in time to get the low down on this Blackwolf fellow. He is Grade A Evil, with a capital Kimmmler! I mean, one of Kimmler’s followers in KNOXVILLE of all places. His plan is probably to try and wake up the dragon and then steal/bind/something it’s power for himself. As we are pondering this, we hear about how some little kid has gone missing…right from his back yard and nobody saw anything. Yeah, that’s not weird. Especially since Freedom tells us that according to her research all the bad stuff that’s been going on happened right as a small child disappeared. We head out that way to investigate.

I sort of bluff my way into the journalist reception area, and come to find out no one saw anything at all. Except maybe this weird old guy. Freedom has been nosing about in wolf form, and we approach the makeshift tent where he’s been living. He seems…odd. Kind of like the Greenway Guy, and knows Freedom is around. So, she pads over, and the guy…stands up. I’m not a small man. I’m a good 5’10" or so. But this guy, he was HUGE. Of course, he drops all pretense of idiocy when he does that. Yeah, it’s Blackwolf. For a man who wants to rip my heart from my body and feed it to me, he was pretty amicable. Of course, Freedom goes for his throat the second he reveals himself, and he just…ignores her and slaps her aside like she was nothing. She, wisely, retreats for a moment.

Blackwolf wants me to deliever a message for him. That Ironknife and the rest of us should get out of town NOW, or we are all going to die, and our friends, loved ones, pets, and so forth. I counteroffer with “maybe you should go away”, but it’s a token thing and we both know it. He then says he has one other message for Ironknife…and strides towards me, probably about to crack every rib in my chest if I’m lucky. Freedom just…goes crazy and attacks him, and he just sort of…half shapeshifts and claws at her, leaving a long gash. I try my old reliable Flash Powder trick and…yeah, he just ignores it. In fact, he pretty much ignores me. Freedom tries a fighting retreat, and I try to step in front of this guy, but he just leaps over me and despite my desperate scrabbling he…really gouges a chunk out of Freedom’s leg. He takes it with him, stating “now I can always find her”, while I call for help, screaming my fool head off in a very manly way that wasn’t at all panicked. The cops show up as Blackwolf just…fades out, and I tell them about the crazy homeless guy attacking me. They buy it, and I find Freedom hiding in the bushes, bleeding. I tear up some of my hankerchiefs and bandage her up as best I can, but I’m going to need a needle and thread to stitch it up right. Good thing she’s a werewolf. That would have torn my leg off.

This might be my last entry, since this guy is not playing around. He’s worse than even the Loup-Garou AND the Hexenwulves put together. God help us, but we’ve got to stop him. No more kids gonna disappear on our watch!

Sleepy time for dragons.

So, there we were, with a giant helicopter overhead and CIA guys (or I guess it’s called Majestic, whatever) in the bushes, and we’re all stuffed in Alan’s poor wounded car. So do we surrender? Of course not! (I mean, they probably would have wanted to put Alan and me in the werewolf box next.) Of course, there wasn’t anything I could do about the situation without getting out of the car, and that didn’t seem like the best idea, so I just hunkered down. Cid started yelling about grenades, and Annabelle pulled off some neat spell that made all the leaves from the forest floor start swirling around. Alan took off, but then bullets started coming in through the roof, and Cid fell over, and there was blood everywhere, and for a few minutes I didn’t think we were going to make it. Good thing Cid is tough. He wasn’t dead. We managed to get to this tunnel, Annabelle veiled us (yay!) and IronKnife put up a shield for the bullets that they were sending in after us. I think Rookie was doing some magicky stuff too. Uh oh, I’m going to forget his real name if Cid keeps calling him that. I bandaged Cid’s head up with a never-ending handkerchief, which looked very festive, but I wasn’t sure it was doing any good. Synthetic fabric like that is just too flimsy… We grabbed the winter box and Cid and took off. Poor Alan, we got his car killed.

We managed to get to a ranger station, and who should we meet there. Sam, naturally, why wouldn’t she be there? She’s actually very nice, drove everyone to the hospital and everything. They got fixed up surprisingly quickly, even though who knows what damage the antibiotics will do to their systems, and the hospital didn’t say one word about probiotics or arnica or anything. We got a rental van and some food, and some clothes, while we were at it. People give you very strange looks when you go into a clothes store with your current clothes all ripped to shreds. Well, why do you think I’m here, people?

We didn’t feel like we had much time left after all that, but IronKnife managed to pull off a tracking spell with that spear head. Very useful – but it turned out things weren’t happening in the park at all, like we thought. We ended up reaching the Lost Sea, an underground cavern system. We tried to go in the back entrance, but there was a guard. We took him out pretty quickly, though. I grabbed his gun (it’s a nice tactic, disarming someone without hurting them, but it doesn’t work so well when they just pull a knife or something), and we took him down, tied him up, and stashed him in the parking lot. Then we headed into the caves. Luckily they weren’t off in some obscure cave offshoot somewhere, even IronKnife’s tracking spell might have had a hard time getting us to them. We found them and heard a guy on his phone, saying that all he had to do was to put the blood on the bowl at midnight.

Then a guard heard us. Alan and I managed to hide, but he saw everyone else and started shooting. I bit him… I feel kind of bad for hurting him, and some of the other guys, during that fight, but it didn’t seem like we were going to make it through if we held back, and we had to stop the dragon from getting woken up. I don’t think I did any permanent damage, at least. Next thing I knew, he grabbed his belt and turned into a huge, funny-looking wolf. Not a natural wolf at all – Hexenwulves (wulfs? I don’t know German) are much meaner-looking, with these giant bat ears, and smelling all wrong. And did I mention big? I didn’t much want to tangle with him, so I went straight for his belt. I found it in his fur still, with my teeth, but he started thrashing, pulling me around so I couldn’t get my weight under me to yank the belt off. It must have been IronKnife who did something to the floor – it started clinging to the Wulf’s feet like it was mud, but didn’t affect me. I braced myself and gave a really good chew, and off came the belt. When he turned back to human, he just collapsed. I ran for the cavern.

When I got there, things were pretty bad. Two other Hexenwulves were in there, though it looked like maybe IronKnife and Annabelle had them handled, and I just had time to see Alan collapse off a pedestal in the middle of a silver circle. He hit the floor and didn’t move, and this big golden bowl went rolling across the room. Cid was on the ground too, like he’d been crawling along, with a blood trail behind him, and the only human guy in the room was standing there pointing a gun at his head. I skidded up to him, but I didn’t dare try anything. That was pretty scary, we couldn’t let Cid get shot again, but if they woke up the dragon, who knows how many people would get killed, not to mention the damage to the forest… But then IronKnife came through again, with a stone wall between the gun and Cid. Yay! I ripped up the guy’s arm – and he still tried to shoot Cid! Really, there’s a wolf with her teeth in your arm, and you shoot somebody else? So I bit him again. But then Cid did something. For some reason he had the spear head… and I guess he had a plan… but he stabbed it into the bowl, and I guess the energy passed through him and into the guy in charge. They both fell over. Both Hexenwulves were down around that time, and the new kid was talking crazy. Not sure exactly what happened, things were really confusing, and I think my wolf side had taken over a bit more than usual. Anyway, we won the fight. But.

The whole cavern was ringing like a bell. I figured it was all going to come down on our heads any minute. I’m no wizard, but the bowl and spear head were just pouring energy. I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to let those two things come into contact. I was hoping that since the bowl was out of the circle, and it wasn’t midnight, and we didn’t say any words or apply our wills or anything, that the dragon wouldn’t wake up, but it didn’t seem very promising. I pulled the spear head out of the bowl. Owie. I knew it was going to burn me like last time I touched it, so I used my left hand (well, it was a hand and not a paw by the time I grabbed the spear), but owie. It was worse than last time, it was like huge amounts of power were flowing through me, and I wasn’t equipped to handle it. My eyes got all funny – when I had a second to check I found that there was blood on my face. I gave IronKnife the spear, and that’s when I saw his poor hand. It was… chewed. He’d lost parts of his fingers. I nearly cried right there. But he obviously didn’t want to talk about it right then. I gave him the spear – it seemed to weigh more than those rocks IronKnife tosses around – and then HIS eyes started bleeding. I tried picking up the bowl, so we could take it out before the ceiling collapsed, but it froze my hands right to the bone. There was no way I could carry it far, so I dropped it again. No wheelbarrow or anything…

Then IronKnife started getting a brave and noble look, and I could tell what he was planning. He started telling us to run, and I had the feeling that if we did, he wouldn’t be following us out. No good. So, I managed to find a cart, and we piled Cid and Alan on it as best we could, just hoping their spleens wouldn’t fall out, and I helped Annabelle and the Rookie get them to the stairs. But then I snuck back to the cavern. IronKnife was there, sitting in a circle made of his own blood, and still dripping blood everywhere from his poor hand. Thank goodness, he hadn’t sacrificed himself somehow while we were gone. He wanted me to leave, but I was pretty sure he needed help. At the very least, I could carry him out if he needed it after he was done doing his wizard stuff. But things didn’t look good. I couldn’t tell what was happening, really, but he looked like he was fighting something. I hunkered down right outside his circle, and did my very best Reiki energy-sending. I know other people can help wizards power their rituals sometimes… I just don’t know how! I’m not sure if I was any help or not, but after a minute he opened his eyes and said he needed the others to come back.

I ran for them, and it was only when I got back that I realized that he’d managed to get rid of me. But he and the cavern were still there. He’d figured out how the ritual worked. Seems that when the dragon was first put to sleep, there was a willing sacrifice involved. I think people were hurt and upset enough by that time to actually consider using one of the Hexen-guys lying around, but that would have been a terrible idea, of course. Besides the fact that you just can’t go around sacrificing people, it might have damaged the ritual if the guy wasn’t willing, and the Council would probably chop IronKnife’s head off if he did something like that. But I’m sure he wouldn’t have.

So there I am sticking out MY arm. Great planning, Freedom! I had grabbed a big nasty knife off one of the Hexen-guys, but naturally, we had to use the spear head. Ouch, I knew that wasn’t going to go at all well. My skin tried to crawl away as that spear came closer, but I gritted my teeth and managed to keep my arm mostly still… and then I COULDN’T pull away. There wasn’t that much blood, but it was like my life, my soul… everything was getting pulled out through the cut on my arm. I saw IronKnife standing there, looking like the most tragic dark wizard, and then I didn’t have anything left.

I’m pretty sure making IronKnife use us in the ritual was the cruellest thing we could have done to him. He kept on trying to get us out and keep us safe, and we forced him to sacrifice us instead. But it seemed to work. If it takes one person’s life to put a dragon to sleep, looks like it only takes a few days out of three people’s lives to keep one from waking up. :) We all woke up in the hospital. Amazingly! I really figured we’d all wake up in some secret Majestic hideout underground, ready to get trained to eat political dissidents or something. Someone looked out for us. And I’m reeeeally glad we told TwoFeathers and Sam about the poor loup-garou guy down the hole. We’ll have to track him down and get him some more help.

I was fine, of course. As soon as I was conscious again I was good to go, the burns and frostbite on my hands weren’t that bad, and the cut on my arm was nothing at all. The others weren’t so lucky. I visited them… I think things would have gone better if we could have gotten them out of the hospital and off to the commune for some laying on of hands, though. I’m sure they’ll all be okay once they get moving again… and IronKnife’s fingers might grow back with time, he’s a wizard, after all. Haven’t had the chance to really talk with anybody without nurses and people popping in and out, though.

But hey, we saved the world! Or at least this side of the continent! Go us!

It's Tough To Play Hero

Dear Journal,

It’s kind of hard to write this, since…well, I’ll get to that. Have I mentioned that Alan is an excellent driver somehow? Anyway, we’re trapped in the car and there’s a helicopter and soldier looking guys are dropping out of it via ropes. In a fit of inspiration, I grab a…bottle? Maybe a soda bottle, not really sure, throw it out the window and say “Fire In The Hole!” About this time, Rookie mutters something under his breath and all this wind whips up around the place! The air is full of sticks and leaves and other junk, and Alan guns the car. Turns out I was right, and that mini-gun DID jam…which was lucky for us. We speed down the road, but that chopper keeps following. We quickly decide to head for a tunnel and then have Annabelle Veil us so we can escape. Sadly, the chopper gets ahead of us, and the soldier guys in it fire on the car! It gets pretty smashed up, but Alan just keeps driving! Rookie pops a couple of shots off at it, but I don’t think it did anything. The soldiers opened fire again, and that’s when it all went dark.

I woke up a while later in an emergency room. I’m pretty sure the others tried to explain to me what happened, but I was on some pretty nice painkillers. Apparently, I got shot in the head, but it just grazed me so I’m not dead. Hooray! I’m not sure how we actually escaped, but I’m given to understand that we ended up in the tunnel, though Alan’s car got totaled, and then blew up. I think Annabelle veiled everyone and somehow we got to the hospital. Anyway, while the Rookie and I were getting patched up, Ironknife and Annabelle worked up a tracking spell to find us where the ritual was going down, and to stop it. Alan rented a van as well. In a fit of brilliance, the Rookie figured out we were headed for the Lost Sea. We went around to the “night visit” entrance, and I got the guard to come back to our van. At that point, Rookie drew down on him, and I acted like I had a gun. Honestly, I figured he’d surrender at that point. I ended up being wrong. He gets all Jet Li on our asses, and even tosses Freedom and Alan around a bit. He punched me in the throat, and boy did that hurt, but I managed to grab his gun away. He then did some crazy move that ended up with him shooting the Rookie in the side. Freedom took a nice bite out of him, and then this HUGE rock hit him in the chest and knocked him out. I think it broke some bones too. I patched him up none too gently, and treated the Rookie too. He was hurt, but he’s tougher than he looks and was almost chipper after a few more Codine. I manage to pocket the spearhead when Ironknife isn’t looking. I mean, I needed a bargaining chip if we got into a tight spot, and hey, what Ironknife doesn’t know can’t be ripped from his skull via mental wuju, right?

We go in, and we get to the place. There’s a gold circle of magic on the ground, with this HUGE golden morter and pestle thing in the center. A few rough looking trooper types and a suit were in there. Rookie says something stupid, and one of the guards checks it out. I tried to tuck myself in a corner and look inconspicuous, but that doesn’t work. That’s when I got shot again. He got me good in the side, and that hurt a lot. It’s not like in the movies, when the hero just shrugs off a flesh wound. No, it really, really hurts. Rookie, Annabelle, and Ironknife all do their wizard thing and the bullets just bounce off their magic shields. I don’t even know where the wolves ended up. Sucks to be me sometimes. I tossed a glow stick in the face of the guy, and then Alan just zips into the room! We couldn’t see what was going on, what with the fight and all, but a couple of gun shots went off soon after, so it couldn’t have been good. Freedom bites the hell out of the guy, and he does some weird thing with his belt and turns into an ugly wolf. Hexanwulf are bad news, but not quite as bad as the Loup-Garou. Still enough to scare the hell out of me. He tussles with Freedom for a while, and Annabelle and the Rookie face it down. I crawl up behind Ironknife so we can see what is going on in the main room.

Oh boy, two more Hexanwolves. That’s all we need. Alan is in the middle of the golden circle, and is sort of holding onto, and hiding behind the big bowl thing. He looks like he walked through a wall of fire, and that’s when I realize that circle is probably a warding circle. That’s when the Hexanwolves jumped on Ironknife and I. I tried to get away, but that thing just tore into me. I have never felt such horrible pain in my life. The damn thing picked me up by my leg and shook and shook. I heard and felt something tear away, and my leg stopped working at all. There was a lot of blood and it was incredibly painful. Ironknife dealt with his wolf, and a big rock hit the one on me…twice. I managed to crawl into the chamber. I figured I could use the spearhead to blow the warding circle. It would probably hurt me pretty bad, but at least we’d be able to get at Alan, and he could get away with the bowl.

Best laid plans, eh? Just as Freedom comes trotting in triumphantly with a Hexanwolf belt in her jaws, the suit draws down on me and threatens to shoot me if no one stands down. Alan, with some last effort, hurls the bowl out of the circle and within reach. It is VERY cold, as I get chilled just being near the thing. Freedom puts the belt down, but hovers near. Then, this big sheet of earth goes over top of me, and I hear a gunshot! Ironknife to the rescue! It doesn’t last long, but Freedom bites the crap out of the suit. Who suddenly isn’t paying attention to me. I grab his ankle, and in a fit of heroic stupidity, I jam that spearhead right into the bowl. Bone-chilling cold flows through me…and into the suit! Ha! I got that bastard! Then, I heard a shot ring out, and it all went black. Again.

I woke up in the hospital, again. This time though, I was in a nice hospital bed. I went back to sleep. Eventually, I woke up again, and Dr. Fitz-Hume was there. I was actually glad to see him, since it meant that I was probably not dead. I then thought maybe he was there to shoot me. This…turned out to not be the case. He left me with some vague threats, but also that most of this would be swept under the rug so that certain governmental agencies (I’m guessing Majestic) wouldn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of having been thwarted by 3 Wizards, 2 Werewolves, and…me. I can only assume we won the day, since I’m not dead and the world didn’t explode.

The doctors say I might regain 80% use in my leg someday…after a lot of physical therapy. Maybe. I’d say it was a fair trade for saving the world. Ironknife came by to visit. His hand is all wrapped up and he said he got bit pretty bad too. He’ll eventually heal all the way…in a few years, it’ll be as good as…well, it will work. He’s a wizard. They just heal you know, eventually. Freedom looks none the worse for wear, as does Annabelle. Except for the weird scars they had on their arms. They don’t talk to me about that. The Rookie stood up surprisingly well. He’s mostly bruised and battered. Alan I heard bought a new car three days ago, and despite a little blistering will be okay. I think I’m going to pick out a cane. Maybe one with some magic tricks in it. After all, I’ll need some more tricks to keep up with the rest of these people. I have to. I mean, who else is gonna keep them from killing themselves?

Another Bad Day

Dear Journal,

After our escape from the loup-garou, I sorta passed out asleep. Next thing I know, I wake up in an unfamiliar hotel room, and everyone else is arguing about what to do next. Rookie is all about dealing with the dragon, while Ironknife and Alan seem bent on finding the loup-garou while he or she is in human form, so they can stop it from doing bad things later tonight. Eventually, we decide to go get Alan’s bumper and then see what we can do to track down the loup-garou.

We head back to the park, but there’s a LOT of police activity and we don’t really want to get involved with them right now. For one thing, explaining why all of us are around here, with a torn up car, when there’s been a horribly violent occurrence would be difficult at best. Luckily, I know an old logging road that isn’t on the maps and isn’t used much, so we enter the park.

Alan and Freedom go back to the clearing we were at last night and they bring back the remains of the transmitter. It’s got some blood and fur on it, so Annabelle does her tracking spell and we set to tracking this thing. We find the poor guy trying to make his way back to civilization. Ironknife decides we need to help him, since this whole mess is probably not his fault. Of course, Ironknife is right. He’s usually right, and that is very frustrating at times.

Anyway, turns out the poor sap is a researcher out at Oak Ridge, or was one back in the 90’s. The feds were experimenting with a ritual that grants the curse of the Loup-Garou to people when it backfired and the good doctor here ended up the recipient. Ever since, they’ve kept him in a cage and let him out to kill who they want to kill. Used in Afghanistan and other war zones. Nasty stuff.

Turns out, the government agency known as Majestic is responsible for this and other experiments. Been doing it for years, since at least the 40’s, probably longer. This is some seriously bad stuff, messing with magic like this. The good doctor did let us know that there ARE ways to shield oneself from the magic glitching field in Oak Ridge, so that’s something to file away for later. I bandage up the man, and after some decisions, we decide to seal him in a place for tonight, and that we will get other resources to bear to hopefully cure him. We found a cave with a deep pit and walls slippery and fragile enough that the loup-garou ain’t getting out of that pit any time soon. We set him up with some food and clothes from a stockpile Ironknife had out here, and we started heading back to the car.

That’s when the hillbillies with guns showed up. At first, they thought we were werewolves. Then Freedom, in an astounding display of…you know, it’s best to just skip that part. Anyway, Freedom tries to tell them what’s going on, and they don’t immediately shoot us, so I figure maybe they speak Greek. I mean hey, Carthaginians and all right? That goes poorly, and gets me tongue tied. The rookie says something really stupid and I lose my shit right there. That’s when they decide to just shoot us. Rookie gets shot in the leg, while Freedom manages to dive out of the way and shift into her wolf form. That’s when one of them decides I’m a prime target and shoots at me! Somehow, he misses me. At point blank range. I’m not normally a religious man but I’d call that some sort of miracle. Annabelle vanishes right quick into thin air, and Ironknife, eschewing subtlety, just clobbers one of them with a big rock. That probably cracked a rib or three. Rookie shoots back at the guy who shot him and clips him in the shoulder. Freedom-as-Wolf wrestles away the gun from the guy who shot at me, who then draws a freakin’ KNIFE and tries to cut me! And succeeds! Ow! I throw some flash powder into his eyes to disorient Knife Guy, while Alan just pounces on one of the guys and sits on him. Ironknife envelops Knife Guy up to his neck in the ground. Freedom snags another gun away from the really hurt guy, though he gets another shot off at the rookie, who is missed, but Rookie clonks his head on a rock and is down for the count. In short, we eventually get their guns away and they are subdued.

Ironknife interrogates them, and they are out to kill the loup-garou for killing their kin. Understandable. Ironknife tries to convince them that the Feds are the real enemy here, what with the dragon going to wake up and all. I don’t think they bought it, but we let them go after taking away their guns. I hope they don’t shoot us in the face next time we see them. Of course, by this time we hear helicopters, and we figure they are probably tracking the collar, so Alan tears off into the woods with it, while we run to the car. We pile in, with Alan in tow just as a chopper tells us to freeze! They rotate the mini-gun on the side to point at us, but I see some sparks and I think it jammed, so that’s good, but I still don’t know how we’re going to get out of this one!

Bad to Worse

Dear Journal,

Well, we managed to get out of Big Don’s without too much trouble, if you call “being pursued by a rogue government agency hit squad” not too much trouble. Still, we needed to get out of the building and not draw too much attention. I set up a little smoke bomb thing. Nothing much, some sparks, a lot of smoke, and nothing left. I tossed it in a frying pan and set it off. Pulled the fire alarm, and then we all trotted out and scattered when the rest of the complex emptied.

We met up at the rookie’s place. It’s pretty basic stuff, lot of Target furniture. Looks like a college age bachelor pad. Rookie keeps a nice place. We eventually hash out a plan to retrieve that metal box that Freedom and Alan found underneath Mr. Goins’ trailer. We get out there, and the place is crawling with angry Melungens. Eventually, most of them leave but the 20 or 30 that remain behind are more than enough to fill us full of holes. Ironknife and Annabelle did their magic thing, and Veiled themselves. I didn’t see much, but I HEARD it when one of them dropped something heavy. That perked up the matriarch of the guards. Freedom and Alan let off wolf howls from somewhere nearby, and I tossed a rock as far away from where I thought Ironknife and Annabelle were. Between the three of us, it did the trick. Ironknife and Annabelle got back to us, and we hustled off to the Ranger station to open the box.

Ironknife put up a circle around it just in case, and said it was safe to try and open it. I, uh, gave it my best shot. I’m more used to fiddling with standard locks, not these old timey ones and it was TOUGH to boot! I resorted to the crowbar. Yeah, that didn’t work either. Eventually Ironknife magic’ed it open. That’s when it all went bad. SOMETHING tried to get out of there, and the rookie jumped on top of the box to shut it. This proved to be a mistake. A nasty spirit, one tied to Winter, let loose on him and started trying to bind itself to him. Of course, the poor kid panicked and ran out of the circle. This complicated things. The wolves wrestled newbie down and I tried to get him calm again, while Ironknife threw some kind of barrier around him. That seemed to help, but the kid was pretty upset at this point. Luckily, Ironknife whipped up a nice binding and we shoved the spirit back into the box. Ironknife also had the foresight to throw whatever was IN the box out of it. Annabelle opened it up and showed us a very old, yet very shiny bronze spear point.

Near as we could figure, this little beauty was someone from way back when. Ironknife got on the horn with the White Council and told us that in order to wake the dragon, the bad guys would need something used to bind it originally. Three guesses what that spear point is. We heard some motor bikes and hustled out of there…and then we heard the gun shots. We got back as the bikers were leaving. The ranger was busted up pretty bad, but I managed to get her stable and conscious. We called the paramedics, and made a war plan. We were going to find these bastards and give them what for.

We found ‘em alright. Big clearing, helicopter, lotsa bikers and paramilitary types. A couple of suits as well. I saw them talking, and eventually this HUGE metal box opened up, and let out a monster. A literal, real, pants-wettingly terrifying monster. A loup-garou. I had read about them in my parents’ library when I was younger. You do NOT fuck with Loup-Garou. It was clearly being controlled by this techno-gadget thing around its neck. How do I know that? Because it didn’t immediately start killing everyone around it.

Freedom hid behind a tree, and gave us the low down. The suits were government types, and had hired Eddie Sledge to look for us. They knew we were around, and that we probably had something they wanted. They roughed up the Ranger (Freedom was particularly agitated at this, and pretty much wants them dead…well, more than usual), and Ironknife went really, really quiet. That is not good news. Then, something happened I can honestly say I did not expect. Rookie mutters something under his breath, and the lovely blue LEDs on the color go out, one by one. One of the suits looks up, and almost seems to look right at us…and that’s when all Hell broke loose.

I admit it, I ran. A loup-garou is way, way, WAY out of our league, and now any possible control that was over it was gone. It would just start murdering in a spiral and take out anything within reach that it can hear, see, or smell. Sadly, it was REALLY good at all of these tasks. Alan bolted past me as a wolf, with the rookie and Annabelle right behind me. Freedom and Ironknife were farther back…at least I prayed they were back there. We hit the car, and my mind had only a few seconds to recognize that Alan was in the front seat, completely naked. I shoved Annabelle up front, crammed the rookie into the back, and hopped in myself. Alan tore off…towards the valley. I heard the thump of the helicopter, and some screaming. Well, Sledge’s boys certainly would get more than they could handle tonight. Alan skidded to a halt and turned the car around, only getting it right way just as Freedom and Ironknife skidded to a halt. I pulled Ironknife in, and Freedom leaped across all of us.

Alan punched it…and never have I wanted a car to go faster in my life. I heard the oncoming death…and it was LOUD. thump, Thump, THUMP. Alan skidded out a few times, but he got traction and we finally started hauling. Too bad the loup-garou got to us first. I thank whatever person bolted on Alan’s bumper, because when the loup-garou tore open the trunk and shattered the back window, the bumper came off and tangled it up for a bit. Alan sped off, and we seemed to be gaining ground. That’s when I realized the trunk that we bound that spirit in was bouncing around…with precious little between it and getting jostled out of the hole in the trunk. I did something REALLY stupid. I leaned out the shattered window, and held on to that trunk. Then, more death approached. I saw that loup-garou, really saw it up close. It is like NOTHING you will ever see. I thought I was going to die. My life flashed before my eyes. That’s when I did the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I said something stupid like “Wanna see a magic trick?” and dumped about half my stash of props into its face. 52 cards, an old hankerchief, and one of those super long knotted bits of cloth all flew into its face. This caused it to lose focus for just one second, and it slipped on some gravel and fell over the side of the road, down the mountain. We sped off into the night, me clutching that box with one hand, half stuck out a window, Freedom growling at the last howls of frustration from our foe. We had escaped!


Okay, so we had to figure out how to stop the CIA from waking the dragon. We figured that box was important, so we waited until nearly dark, then headed up to the trailer park. We left the car and snuck up, in case someone was there who would want to shoot us. Ironknife and Annabelle put up some pretty good veils – I could tell where they were, but I’m pretty sure it’s only because I’m a werewolf. Alan and I watched from some trees, just in case the Malungens saw through the veils too. We figured we could start howling and have them come after us if needed, but I was hoping we wouldn’t have to, because then we’d probably have the whole set of the ones who were left coming after us with their guns. I think one of them heard something, but Cid threw a rock and distracted her. So we got the box, threw it in the trunk, and took off.

We stopped at the ranger station, and Sam wasn’t too happy to see us, but we barged in and proceeded to wreck the place. Cid brought her flowers and chocolates, but she kind of ignored him and kept blaming IronKnife for everything. Hmmm… The magical types put the box inside the circle and pried it open. I think maybe we should have made sure they were not in the circle when we did that. Things got confusing then… The room got really cold and everyone was yelling, but I couldn’t see a thing. The new guy jumped on the box, then ran out of the circle, which I’m pretty sure was a bad move. I had no idea what to do. I wasn’t in wolf form because there was nothing to bite, and I don’t know magic… Alan and I tackled Nick, so he wouldn’t do anything crazy, but I guess it was a little late for that. He started freezing. I guess there was a spirit of winter in the box. Cid was waving a fake flower around, and then he set off a flare in the middle of the room – trying to warm things up, I guess. I should have tried some focused imagery or Reiki to transfer some heat, but it didn’t occur to me at the time. Maybe a little Ayurveda would have been helpful. IronKnife didn’t panic, though. He got the circle redrawn and forced the spirit back in, and even remembered to get the OTHER thing out of the box first. It was a bag. I was going to open it, but it was tied with a silver cord, so I gave it to Annabelle instead. Inside was a big spear point made of bronze or something.

Way too late, the phone rang with the call from the White Council we’d been expecting. Whoever it was said that the CIA would need something from the original ceremony to break the dragon’s enchanted sleep. He also had the name of the dragon: Primanox. I guess we could use it’s name to bind it again, if it weren’t the size of the Smokies and ready to eat this side of the US. So I guess we should have left the spear point in the box with the big scary winter spirit to protect it. Oops. But how can we NOT open the mysterious hidden box?

We heard motorcycles coming after that and threw everything back into the car. We wanted to clear out so we wouldn’t bring any more trouble to Sam. We figured whoever it was would follow us and leave her alone. But instead they broke in and beat her up. We turned around and came back, but I guess we were a little too late, they had already driven off. Nothing was going quite right that evening. Luckily Cid knows first aid. We called an ambulance – looks like she’s going to be okay. Everyone was feeling really heavy after that, though.

IronKnife did a tracking spell and we followed the bikers – looks like it’s the lycanthropes from the Dragon’s Tail. I’m going to need to talk to TwoFeathers about the ones who are left, we don’t need that kind of trouble in our park. When we found them, they were talking to the CIA guys from the helicopter. I could hear them reporting. Looks like they were supposed to find us, but when we weren’t at the station they just beat Sam up. They were pretty awful, planning to go back and hurt her some more too, and I was in wolf form – I was ready to go kill them right there. shiver I’ve got to work on that. Even the worst people are still children of Mother Earth. They can’t be all bad. Maybe if we got them to sit down and really talk about their feelings, they wouldn’t do things like that. Maybe an empathy session.

Of course, most of them won’t ever get the chance to change. There was a great big box in the helicopter, and this horrible THING came out of it. Not really like a wolf. More like a nightmare of a wolf. It was huge, and extra creepy. It had some kind of collar on, with blinky lights and stuff, and the CIA guys said they’d worked out their control issues from “before”. But we got a whole new issue. Somebody did something – I think it was Nick – and the collar started fizzing and smoking. No more control. The loup-garou (that’s what Cid says it is, and he doesn’t seem to think we can fight it at all) roared, and then just started eating people. Their guns didn’t seem to affect it at all. Cid said something about silver hurting it. I guess they didn’t think it would get free, or they would have made sure they had some. It killed a bunch of them, but it didn’t get all the CIA guys. They took off on their helicopter while most of the bikers jumped the monster. A few of the bikers, who were still on their bikes and drove away really fast, made it out, but the rest are done for.

Cid and the others had taken off for the car by this time. IronKnife was hanging back, planning something, and Alan and I were playing rear guard, figuring we could give it a good run and lead it away from the others if it came for us. It did, too, but IronKnife stuck it to the ground somehow, for a minute or so. We had time to make it to the car. Then it came and ripped our bumper right off. I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to try biting its claws out of the window, or jump out and try to lure it away, but Cid kind of saved the day. He threw all his magic stuff right in its face, and it went skidding off the side of a cliff. I guess cards are slippery. So we made it out, but odds are it will be back tomorrow night. And who knows what the rest of the CIA are going to be up to.

Super Moon!!

Okay, so the other night was the Super Moon. It’s the time when the full moon is closest to the Earth, and it’s really super cool, and it has a great big spiritual meaning too. The universal healing forces of Virgo and Pisces really start to flow, trolls disappear, greediness wanes, and all kinds of stuff. Plus – werewolves, giant full moon, you know? Twofeathers threw a big party up at Cade’s Cove – everybody was there, except for the folks who were doing night sadhana, of course. There were big bonfires, and food and dancing and drums, and it was all really groovy.

But before things really got going I noticed there was this chilly breeze blowing, which was weird with it being so warm. I looked over and saw Annabelle talking to this kid – which was weird, he wasn’t anybody’s kid that I knew. So I went over, and he wasn’t a regular kid. I wasn’t sure at first, but it’s pretty clear now he was a ghost – Cid didn’t even see him. Anyway, he said there were some people over somewhere needing help, suffering. Naturally we went to go see. I like the tall grass in that field, not only can I shift easily, I can leave my clothes up on the grass and they don’t get wet from the ground. It was nice, running under that big moon… kind of made me want to hunt… ugh, I need to do some more guided meditations with Sapphire about that, still feeling really conflicted. Somebody was already hunting that night, though. After a ways I started to smell blood, lots of it, yuck. We came to a clearing – Annabelle and Cid and Alan were following along, and there were these dead bodies all over the place, ripped up all horrible. I’m glad I was in wolf form, stuff like that just doesn’t affect you the same. I would have been crying all over the place in human form. There were six men and one woman, I think, and they had these old fashioned guns – the smell of them was all over the clearing. They had been hunting something, and I could smell it – like a wolf, but all wrong. Not a werewolf like us, something different. I’ve never smelled it before.

We poked around. Alan found footprints, and I was able to follow the smell off down the hill. Cid went back and found IronKnife, which was good. It’s nice having a real wizard like that around. He knows all kinds of stuff, and he’s really deep, too. He got a very serious heavy look when he got to the clearing, but he didn’t say much, there was serious wisdom moving there. I took off down the trail, watching all around in case the thing was still there, but no luck. The tracks led to an island in the middle of a stream, and then just stopped. The last track looked more human, like the guy (Have to think back on the scent, was it a guy? Could it have been female?) was shifting. There was this funny smell around, like exhaust or something, but I couldn’t figure out what it was… reminded me of an airport. I could hear this thumping noise just for a second before it faded, too. I was pretty confused, but Alan came up and looked around. I ran around a bit and made sure the tracks didn’t start back up somewhere, scratched around the island bank just in case there was a secret door or cave or something, but nothing. Talked with Alan and we think the bad wolf guy probably got picked up by a helicopter, crazy as that sounds.

Twofeathers came out to look over the site, and brought this idiot cop with him. He was getting all accusatory at IronKnife, just because he’s a Native Person, ugh! We really need to hold a sing-in down at the local precinct or something, the police around here could use some spiritual light. I had to stay back in the trees, of course, since my clothes were still back at the bonfire, but the police had all brought lights and night-blinded themselves anyway, I didn’t have to stay so far back that I would miss anything. Twofeathers had it under control, though. We headed back to Big Dan’s after that. Wow, it’s nice that Cid wears such long coats.

There was this new guy at Big Dan’s, trying to get into the back. He’s really funny, but I don’t understand a word he says. Looks like he’s going to be the real thing, though. He’s probably clued in to some mystic wavelength that I’m not getting. I bet IronKnife understands him. I wonder if he’s going to be his apprentice. Or is Annabelle going to be, now? Poor Annabelle. :( :( :( :*( The guy started following us around after Cid let him in, maybe he’s going to be part of the gang now.

Next day I wanted to go run around Cade’s Cove and see if anything turned up, but everybody had to work and stuff, the Man strikes again. But in the afternoon on the news in the student lounge I saw that all the people who got killed were in the same family. Super sad! :*( There was just one guy left, Scott Goins, and we went to see him. When I got out of the van and walked up to his trailer he got ready to shoot me! How did he know??? Not like I’ve got a single eyebrow or anything… Cid made me get back in the van. I went because it looked like the guy might shoot me, and we wanted to talk with him, but sheesh, Cid, cut the paternalism! I felt like I was getting sent back to the kitchen. :P~~

At least Cid got through to the guy. He eventually let us in, didn’t even spring a booby trap on us. He had silver and weapons all over the place, kinda scary, and a cool-but-icky silver circle set in his linoleum. Once he saw we weren’t going to eat his face he stressed less and gave us all beers!!!11 So weird, I didn’t know what to do with mine. That kind of stuff really pollutes your chi, but I didn’t want to be rude, so I fiddled with mine. He said his family hunted werewolves and stuff, but he didn’t have any real info on what the thing was that got them. He did mention that 200!!?! of his best Malungen buddies are coming to shoot up the woods. Malungens are the people who came here before everybody else, or something? Dunno, but it makes it really hard to go look for the bad wolf, which is hunting the Malungens, because they’ll shoot Alan and I if they see us, maybe even the others if they’re not careful. But if they all split up in the forest on a full moon I have the feeling they’re going to get picked off a few at a time. No good, not sure what do do! Disaster!

We left and Cid went to talk to the head OR nuclear guy. IronKnife and Annabelle went to go see if the Summer Court knew anything useful. Oh, I forgot to mention, when I was heading to Big Don’s the other day on the greenway I ran into that guy who’s always down there. I traded him an Odwalla bar for some info and he said that the Summer Court all holed up in the Sun Sphere while the supermoon was out, like they were scared. Cid found out that a government agency is probably behind the bad wolf, and Iron Knife and Annabelle I think found out that there’s a dragon sleeping under the mountains, and the bad wolf is trying to wake it up for some reason. I guess the Malungens are its sacred guardians? The day got a bit confusing.

It was soooo sad, we heard on the news that after we left, someone killed Scott! :((( We should have stayed and staked out his place, he just seemed so scary that we figured he’d be all right. I don’t think wolves did it, though, looked like government guys just came in and shot him. That’s the kind of the the CIA does all the time. And of course they pinned it on us. Not sure if they have all of our names and faces. They definitely have some. Maybe all of us should lie low for a while.

But I had the best idea ever, for us to check out the place for clues. Cid disguised himself, he’s good at that, and Alan and I pretended to be dogs. We were super cute, too. He just walked us right up to the police line and started vhatting, and we went romping all over the place. There was so much going on, they didn’t even kick us out. Maybe they were too busy planting evidence. Good thing wolves don’t leave fingerprints. But I guess we were there already in human form earlier, oops. Sadly, we didn’t find much. We did get under the trailer and find this metal box, which I bet the CIA was looking for, but it didn’t have any handles, so we couldn’t drag it. And right then the giant cavalcade of Malungen doom arrived with all their guns and stuff, and I figured they’d know Alan and I on sight and start shooting, so we got out of there fast. I guess we’ll have to try to come back after they leave to find out what’s in the box, and hope the CIA isn’t around. Still no idea what we’re going to do about the rest of it.

Oh yeah, and after that we were at Big Don’s, and someone cut the lights and started trying to break down the door. !!!! With civilians in there and everything, I bet if it was the CIA they just would have made them disappear, or brainwashed them or something. I was hoping it was the bad wolf and we’d get to fight… I was in wolf form by then. But IronKnife did some cool super-door spell, and Cid showed us the back way out, so we all got out without getting shot or something. Secret tunnel, secret tunnel, secret secret secret secret tunnel!

Just Another Day
Super Moon

Dear Journal,

It’s been a pretty rough couple of days. You’d think it would be good. Two-Feathers invited me to one of his big parties, to celebrate the arrival of the “super moon”, where the moon is closer to the world than it’s been in…uh, 18 years I think. It was a helluva party. Plenty of food, lots of booze…attractive werewolf girls in skimpy outfits, you know, a good party!

Of course, all good things must be ruined completely. Freedom turned into a wolf, as she does, and bounded off into the woods, leaving Annabelle just standing there. I trudged after her. Why? I’m not sure. I guess I’m an idiot. I mean, why do I always follow the supernatural types? Stupid I guess. Anyway, of course she finds a pile of bodies. Bodies! Torn to pieces! Then she just bounds off, as if expecting the rest of us to follow. Ironknife shows up, because that’s sort of his idiom.

Turns out, these things were torn apart by something that’s using bad juju. Ironknife actually looked worried. That’s not good. When a real wizard looks upset, it’s time to be worried. Those poor people. They were out hunting. And they certainly found something to hunt.

We went and saw Scott Goins. He seemed like a nice fellow. Melungan, or Carthanginian as he said. Old, old people. A little touchy around werewolves. Gave the new kid a beer. Nice fellow. I gave him my card. This may have been a mistake.

We went our separate ways. Ironknife and Annabelle went to see the Summer Court. Alan and I went to see Fitz-hume. Let’s just say he ain’t a fan of ours now. Maybe I should have been nicer. Still, found out he’s not responsible, but SOMEONE in the government is. Probably a rogue agent. I hate rogue agents. It cost me any good will I might have had with Fitz-Hume, but hey, it’s better than nothing.

Annabelle and Ironknife discovered that the villains in our little saga want to wake a dragon. This is a Very Bad Thing. Sadly, the rogue agents I mentioned earlier? Yeah, they pulled my business card off of poor Scott Goins’ corpse. Right after they shot him, the bastards. They came to Big Don’s, looking to take no prisoners. We managed to bolt out of there, but now we’re on the run. And of course, Ironknife is wanted for questioning. Because my life can’t be simple. Well, between the three wizards and the two werewolves, and the rookie’s NRA arsenal in his jacket, I’m hoping we can get out of this mess. If not…well, it’s been a hell of a run.



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