Disclaimer: I’m ad-libbing from memory on stories that happened almost two years ago. If there’s errors, let me know and I’ll ammend them.
Disclaimer 2: This chronicle is for mature audiences only.
Val saw the sign and turned her truck off the dark road. Younger kids would note it as somebody’s wierd tag, if they noticed it at all. Older folks would shake their head, seeing spraypaint on a public sign as a dark omen of the times and a waste of their tax dollars. Werewolves, even those like Val who had limited understanding of the First Tongue, recognized the marker for ungin. It spoke of a neutral meeting ground for the People.
“Looks like I’m first,” she mumbled to no one as she pulled up an empty gravel driveway. There were no lights inside the small cottage, a Mount Laurel Realtors sign said that it was available for purchase. Reaching into her back pocket, Val pulled out the letter her alpha had handed to her months before.
How had she found her? How had this Stone person known she didn’t fit in with her pack? A pair of headlights and the sound of crunching gravel pulled Val away from the letter and her thoughts. A man stepped from his car, “You Stone?” Val shook her head, “Then you got a letter?” Val nodded, “Me too, name’s Anthony.”
“Val,” she said simply, not offering her hand. Anthony went inside the cottage, exploring for any clues to their mysterious letter sender. Another truck pulled up to the cottage, this one had four passengers. As they piled out, she could see blood on the driver’s shirt. “Hey guys, you get a letter too?”
Introdutions were made and Anthony, Val, Jake, Ken, Troy, and Elisha met for the first time. Shortly after, five heavy motorcycles led a black sedan onto the gravel lot. The bikers looked like a hard lot, all full of thick beards, tattoos and leather. The wind carried the subtle scent of their People upon it and something more to Val. One of the bikers smelled of blood, kin, and she had to execise all her will to restrain herself when he took off his goggles and helmet. He was the very vision of her father, but he couldn’t be, that bastard was in jail. The man moved forward, as if to speak to Val, but halted when the sedan’s door opened.
The hairs on everyone’s arms stood on end when the woman in the dark blue business suit placed her foot on the ground. All present could feel the spiritual energy emanating from her. “Gemstone,” Troy breathed out quietly. He had seen her once before, back in Philadelphia. It was those dominating grey eyes that spoke of dire peril and the need for unity to the Liberty’s Sentinels. He had remembered his alpha’s hands on his shoulders. ‘Keep watch, we shall return soon,’ it was the last he heard from him. Then, after, she had come to tell of their aid in the defeat of a powerful evil and their deaths at the hands of Toth-Culthos’ minions.
The others did not ignore Troy’s recognition. They looked to him, “Her pack was the only ones to survive the fight with Toth-Culthos.” The others had all heard the story through the word of mouth channels of the People. An idigam had risen in central Pennsylvania and a union of Forsaken and Pure packs had defeated it, but at a great cost to both.
The woman gave a slight nod and the bikers opened a path for her. “Thank you, my friends, and welcome to new friends. I am Alex Stone, once ‘Gemstone,’ now called ‘Heart-drinker.’ I hope this night finds you well.”
“Just great, except for the Pure,” Elisha says cynically.
“Nearly ruined my hat,” adds Jake.
“Burned my Jeep,” Ken finishes, sensing a growing humor of the situation.
Alex Heart-Drinker looked over to one of the bikers, arching an questioning eyebrow. Turning back to her guests, “Such are the dangers of our lives, and it is the reason why you all have been invited here.
Since the devastation of Toth-Culthos, the land has been without her defenders. His pestilence has corrupted the land, taken territory from our People. We call it the Lost Ground. Near its border, in Tioga county, there was a pack known as the Serpent’s Creed. I want to offer you a chance to forge your own pack and decide the path of your own fate here in Pennsylvania.”
“Why us? And what do you get out of it?” Ken asks.
“The Cahalumin granted me a dream, a vision of the future. It spoke of horror to befall our People, one we would not be able to withstand unless we stood together. My vision gave us the power to defeat Toth-Culthos. However, the dread from that vision still chills my spine, as if the danger yet lingers in the Lost Ground. Why you, you ask? Simple, through our People’s channels I have found many without a true pack, including you six. As for my benefit, I want an oath of loyalty from you all, that we will stand as one. Should ever there arise another threat like the Uncounted One, you will join with me and my Legion to defeat it. And to aid in our fraternity, it is my wish that we gather together once a year to speak of our deeds to one another.”
She holds out a thick manilla envelope. “Here is the deed to the Creed House, should you wish to accept my offer.”
“How do we get in touch with you, if anything like your vision shows up?” Troy asks.
“There’s information in that envelope which will help you reach me. There are also these gentlemen,” she waves her hand back at the bikers, who chuckle at her comment. “They are the pack of the Five Ardent Spirits. They claim the path of Route 6 as theirs. They have agreed to be messengers for me.”
Ken remembered the maps he poured over on the trip here. “That Route runs right through the middle of our territory. It’s not theirs.”
The other five werewolves stepped in line with Ken, almost instinctively. The bikers responded as well. One, probably their alpha, stopped leaning on his bike and walked forward, his pack in tow. He paused only a foot away from Ken. “And who’s going to keep it from us, pup? You?”
“Let’s go right now and we’ll see who’s the dog!” Jake clenched his fists, ready to defend borders of a territory he had never seen, ready to stand with werewolves he had barely met.
Both groups of Uratha shifted, ready to fight, even under the light of Luna’s half-hidden face. “Enough!” The Heart-Drinker growled, stopping everyone in their intents. “This is what drags us down,” she spoke with heated passion. “We rage at petty things. This mine, that is yours. We will all fall! The Spirits claim Route Six and only Route Six, you will have more than enough to deal with in the rest of Tioga.”
The two groups of wolves looked at each other. “We’ll see if they can keep it,” Val spoke in a low growl.
“Any time little girl, any time.” The lead biker calmly rebutted.
“I suppose then that we have an accord?” Alex Heart-Drinker held out the manilla envelope once more. This time, Ken took it.