Monday, July 6th, 2015
It was well into evening by the time Ryder, Avery and Dana returned to the farmhouse with the papers from Ron’s house, and the pack decided the next step was to head out the site where Ron was murdered in the physical world to see if they could pick up any clues there.
The pack climbed into cars and trucks and drove down to the site of where the town of Alva had once stood, and then drove up into the hills a ways to where Ron’s truck had been found before fanning out into the woods. It wasn’t long before they found the fluttering remains of police tape near the area where Ron had been found just five days previous.
It had been raining most of the weekend, leaving the forest unpleasantly humid, as well as wiping away most of the evidence of what had transpired there. But the wolves started trying to trace back Ron’s path – before, Avery had focused on Ron’s attacker, whose scent disappeared almost immediately, but Ron was a bit easier to find, though the intervening time made the task very difficult even for a pack of werewolves.
They knew they’d been on the right path – heading up from the hollow onto the mountain ridge – when Dana spotted a brass casing, probably from Ron’s rifle, along with a little bit of the smell of blood and signs of an altercation. Whoever had been after Ron, he had managed to delay them here by at least a little bit with that shot, it seemed.
As they continued to trace back Ron’s path – up along the ridge dividing the hollow where his truck had been found from the nearby Lucky Star #5 Coal Mine – Sharon’s sense for the territory detected a large predator nearby, further up the ridge. As the wolves moved towards it, it started to move away, and when Ryder broke into a sprint after it in wolf form, the creature took off running.
As Ryder headed over the ridge, with Avery and Sharon following close behind, also as wolves, he saw what looked like a large black bear but which smelled very different – smoke and char and old coal dust. He leapt forward without hesitation, biting hard down into the bear’s flank, and tasting as much coal dust as blood. Soon Avery and Sharon were beside him, with Dana and Rosie trailing on two legs.
Sharon snapped at the creature while Avery leapt at the creature and misjudged her aim, the thing slamming her into the ground with a shoulder before tearing into her side with its massive teeth. Sharon tried to drag Avery away while Ryder moved fluidly into Garau , attacking it in a fury, finding the thing felt less animal-like and more like rock with every chunk he tore from it, opening up smoking fissures in its side.
As the bear-like creature staggered under the assault from the wolves, it burst into flame, burning Ryder, Sharon, and Avery. Avery cried out and recoiled in pain, badly injured, as Sharon flew into Kuruth. Sharon and Ryder tore at the thing, opening more fissures in it, now flaming, until the report of a rifle rang out and Dana downed the creature.
Immediately climbing out of the mass of bear was a spirit now in twilight, that looked like a black, rock, squat humanoid, smoke rising from fissures in its skin. It immediately started to take off, but the wolves pursued it and tried to question it. Rosie divined its name – Smoulderblack, and its bane – it was weak against damage done by a pickaxe. The pack tried to pry more information from the spirit, threatening it, and it blustered back saying there were both more bears and more wolves on the mountain, and saying that the other wolves didn’t care if it ran amok. Before more information could be gleaned, the spirit fled back across the Gauntlet.
Dana and Rosie rode up the road a bit to Pathfork to try and get a pickaxe – Dana initially broke into someone’s garage, but when someone came out of the house to investigate the noise, Rosie came up and started spinning a story about a flat tire, having helpfully popped one of Dana’s tires to collaborate the story. Thus, by the time they finally got back to the rest of the pack, Avery was almost healed from her injuries.
The pack decided to explore the nearby Lucky Star mine, heading over the ridge and into the old coal mining area. It was obvious the area had been in operation a long time, but it had also been a long time since it had been functioning – it looked like everything had more or less been left to sit and rust for the past couple of decades. The most recent sign of activity was the hand painted signs of warning near the old main shaft, which looked like it had lost its main elevator cables years ago, and probably violently too judging by some of the damage to the winch machinery. Examination of the Shadow nearby showed there were signs of a lurking spirit there – a thing made of chains and cables and bells and lights, hidden and secluded amongst the rusted machinery. Most of the other spirits nearby were not especially active, barring a couple of mutated spirits of industry warped by the sparse pickings of their preferred Essence.
Knowing the shaft was likely hundreds of feet deep at the least, the pack decided against trying to explore down it at all, and returned to the farmhouse – many of them were badly in need of Essence as well. Some of the other Uratha took a bit, but left the reminder for Sharon – only to find that the Locus was dry. Someone else had taken some. Certainly, it was not impossible or even unlikely that a spirit might have stolen some, but when the paranoid wolves searched the area they found the faintest traces of the same scent Avery had picked up on Ron’s body five days ago…