Prologue: Drury Lane, Scene III (Michael)

Prologue: Drury Lane, Scene III (Michael)

December 9th, 2006
After Dusk

Green Park was one of the Royal Parks of London, an oasis of greenery that nestled between Hyde Park and the gardens of Buckingham Palace, the three of them together forming one long chain of nature within the depths of urban London. But whereas the gardens were always the preserve of mortals, too-closely watched for the supernatural to risk more than cursory visits, and where Hyde Park was a grand neutral ground under the dubious oversight of the faerie, Green Park was a fell place.

In the 15th century, there had been a leper's burial ground here, and for the next three hundred years it was one of the most dangerous places in the then-outskirts of London, a place of murder, robbery, and rape. Humanity had fenced in and gentrified the area, but the spiritual desolation of Green Park was not so easily healed. For long, it had been the domain of spirits too violent for most werewolves to bother with, though a few years ago a pack of the Pure had taken Green Park and put it under their dominance, claiming the Locus at its center. That locus, an ancient Yew tree within the confines of the park, was said to possess so dark an aura that birds wouldn't nest in its branches, and the homeless refused to sleep beneath it, for fear that they would never see the light of morning.

In short, it was a dangerous place for a meeting, and doubly so given that Michael and his Pack were violating another pack's territory. For this reason, it had been decided that Michael should be the only werewolf going in directly, and the others would hang back, close enough to rush in and help, not so close that it would cause trouble they were hoping to avoid.

I leave to Michael to decide whether or not Ilkin accompanies him. Wits+Politics if you want to see what else you know about the local werewolf pack. If you have any Pack members detailed, you can have a second werewolf with you as well.

I'll assume Kage is coming, and that they'll talk together afterward, like he wanted to in scene 2. Also, when I get home, I will be writing up the Pack, so I'll say there are some members hanging back, but I'll be non-specific.

As Michael stood in Green Park, shadows surrounding him, he shivered. It wasn't cold - in fact, it was a fairly warm night. No, it was the fact that he was standing in the territory of a vicious rival Pack. He had heard of their leader, Cinder, by reputation. They said she was a vicious bitch, leader of a Pack of four werewolves. And they made their home in this Park - the Yew tree in the center was a powerful locus. So Michael was standing as far away from it as it was possible to be while still being in Green Park. It gave him the creeps. Fortunately, he had a Pack brother with him. Not that it would do much good if Cinder and her mutts found out that Michael was here - two against four were not good odds, especially given the rumours of Cinder's power.

Well, it wasn't quite two on four - Jack Clements was here, too, standing with Michael. After they had shared some details about the previous day, Jack had decided to come with him. He was a Mage - whatever that meant. There hadn't been a lot of time for explanations. Michael had a Pack Meet, but they'd decided to share information after the meeting with Penrose. She'd probably chosen this place because of the rival Pack, the manipulative bitch. Michael's Pack hadn't been too happy with him for getting involved with a Mage and whatever Penrose was, but they'd agree to hold off on any punishment until after it was all over. Michael had tried talking Jack out of it, but he knew Penrose, apparently, and that was an advantage Michael sorely needed in this meeting. So he waited quietly, patiently - and nervously, sweat practically dripping off him. How the hell did he get himself into messes like this?

Grant Fortune's Protection (Ilkin, Michael and all of Michael's Pack gain 5 Armor)
Bestow Exceptional Luck (Ilkin, Michael, and the Pack gain 5 rolls they can use 9-again on)
Mental Shield (2 Armor vs. Mental Attacks, Ilkin Only)
Sense Consciousness (Potency 3)
Honing the Form (+3 Stamina)

"I've only met Ms. Penrose once," Ilkin explained, "But I've seen her twice. The second time, I witnessed her taking part in a blood ritual. It involved her and her cohorts cutting a living man open. It has been years since I met her, though. She is involved in a rather dark organization that steals souls and so forth. I don't recall the details, but it is unfortunate that a charming man like yourself got wrapped up in her machinations."

The Mage glanced around and let his mind reach out to the park. Suddenly he became aware of every consciousness nearby. The insects, the spirits nearby, any passersby. At least this way they were less likely to be surprised.

"Cinder is different," Ilkin said, "She is a Paladin, I believe? She appreciates and respects the truth and has no love for lies. This makes her and Sophie natural enemies. If they are both here at the same time, it may work to our benefit. If you want to improve chances of getting away from her without a fight, the truth is the best way to accomplish that."

In the end, half of Ilkin's preparations proved needless. Though his mind touched on every consciousness nearby, when company arrived, it did so openly, and feeling their minds proved an unnecessary precaution.

Company took the form of a tall, powerfully-built woman, an inch over six feet in height, dressed in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt with a sports logo. She moved with the casual, easy grace of the consummate predator, the sort of effortless dominance that conveyed more clearly than words that a depth of fearlessness, control, and insanity. She was either supremely self-confident or deeply deranged, and the difference between the two was difficult to gauge.

It was easy to see just where Cinder got her deed-name. In other circumstances, she might have been attractive enough, with long, luxurious red hair, a heavy dusting of freckles, cornflower-blue eyes, and a snub-nose. Even now, she maintained some of the 'tomboy-next-door' vibe, but it was subsumed by her most notable feature. The entire left side of Cinder's face was covered in burn scars, a mass of hideous, 2nd degree burns all over the left half of her upper body. The brilliant red-hair was combed so as to fall over it, but at close distances, that red, splotchy tissue and the blinded blue eye was terrifyingly visible.

But Cinder was used to her deformity, strolling up to the two werewolves and the wizard, her hands stuffed into the pockets of the sweatshirt, and pausing a few feet away from them. She looked first at Ilkin, a surprised expression flickering across her face, before turning to Michael and his packmate, levelling that one, healthy cornflower-blue eye on them.

"You're trespassing."

"She is still a Pure," Michael said in response to Jack. "She hates my kind more than anything. I doubt even Penrose would do much to deter her... but I'll give it a shot," he said, with a weak smile. He was out of his depth on this one. He was the most junior member of his Pack, and not only was he about to confront a vampire, but it was taking place on the territory of a Pure werewolf Pack. Speaking of which, here she came...

Despite having two friends with him, despite the magic that Jack had worked, despite the fact that they were close to the exit, when Cinder appeared Michael's heart started to race. She had a seriously bad-ass reputation, and Michael could see it was true in the way that she moved, in her domineering presence, and in the burns covering her. It was enough to make him wish he'd brought the whole Pack - even with just her, he felt exposed and vulnerable. Michael wouldn't help wondering what she had done to earn those scars. Had her name come from them? Or did she have powers over flame, like Michael did? He would likely never know. She was a Pure, so she wasn't likely to talk to him about it.

"Yes, I am," Michael answered, trying to keep his voice even. It was like dealing with a real wolf - show no fear, or you'll get mauled. "Someone requested I meet her here. A vampire by the name of Sophie Penrose," he continued, pausing a second to see if Cinder had heard of her. "A manipulative, nasty bitch if there ever was one. I'm here to tell her to stay out of my life. Then I'll be out of your hair." Michael had no idea if it would work. The pessimist in him tended to doubt it, but he hoped it would. The last thing he needed was a werewolf grudge match in a public place.

"Were you going to tell me you were here, Michael?" The Paladin said calmly, sitting on the edge of a park bench. It was impossible to say if she accepted Michael's logic, and was just needling him for her own amusement, or whether Michael was about to be in a great deal of trouble. "Or were you planning to sneak through and hope I don't notice?"

"I was planning to sneak through and hope you didn't notice," Michael replied evenly. With Cinder being a paladin, honesty was literally the best policy, since it was the only one that might not lead directly to evisceration. "I didn't expect it to work, but I didn't think you'd find out so fast. I'm impressed," he said, meaning it. With such a small Pack, he had thought it would take at least ten or fifteen minutes for them to realised - he'd hoped Penrose would already be there. But he'd have to deal with it, hopefully finding the right mixture of bravado and humility.

"I live here. It's my home." Cinder said, gesturing to the park. Judging from her attire, it seemed vanishingly unlikely that Cinder lived in any of the nice houses along the edges of Green Park. No, she must have lived in the park itself, a homeless guardian of her territory. "You can stay for the night."

Cinder shifted on the bench, and stared off into the distance, seemingly dismissing Michael entirely from her mind. She was watching the distant people bike in the park, or walk their dogs, or otherwise go about their business unaware of the dangers that lurked beneath the surface. Cinder was one of these dangers.

"Ilkin." Cinder said suddenly. "I'm ready to call in my favor."

Ilkin watched quietly as Michael parlayed with the paladin and released a silent sigh of relief when Michael told the truth. He supposed they should have contacted Cinder first, but hindsight was always 20/20 and Ilkin tended to take life as it came.

Then she mentioned the favor. Ilkin was rather hoping it wouldn't come up here and now.

"What is it?" he asked quietly.


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