Timeline: May 5th, 2008
Chaska spent a couple of hours resting and healing. He was hurt in the fight but nothing that couldn’t be healed in time. The others seemed intent on Michael but it seemed to be a Mage thing and one thing he had already learned, he would never understand the mages.
Morning came fast and there was no time to lose. Chaska had no idea how they were going to get out of this mess but he was clear on one thing… they needed to find out fast. The only place he knew to start that made sense was to go back into the lion’s den. He needed to speak to the Pure again. They were the only ones who knew the area and might have answers they don’t realize they have. Lyla might not like his choice of action but he could think of no other.
He went to look for Lyla.
She wasn’t far. Although she’d ostensibly gone to sleep in the same room he was in the night before, she had at some point in the night, slipped out and let herself into Ramiel’s (supposedly locked!) room. Looking through the window, he thought he spotted her curled up next to him on top of the covers. Ramiel did not appear to be aware of her and didn’t react when Lyla, who was not asleep looked up at Chaska’s shadow through the window. She slipped off the bed and padded silently over to the door, quietly opened it so the two sleeping men would not awaken, and looked up at Chaska. She was, as usual, shameless about her lack of attire.
“Chaska?” she whispered.
Chaska got straight to the point. “Lyla, I know you saw it last night. You saw that thing through the gauntlet. No?”
Lyla paused, the leaned to the side. She produced one of Ramiel’s long shirts and slipped it on, then stepped outside with Chaska and closed the door behind her. “Yes. It was… horrible.”
“Well that is the source of our problem. It’s created a wound at that spot that you saw it. This is a problem that may be beyond our skill or even out entire pack’s skill unless we can find a way to deal with it indirectly”. Chaska paused with his mouth opened as if in midsentence. He closed his mouth and pursed his lips. “Shit!” Chaska ran his fingers through his hair pulling it back. “This is some mess.”
She reached out and grasped his shoulder. “Yeah,” she said. “We can’t get help here, except for our friends. And asking them to try to help us could mean they might die. Worse, we’ll be slowly running out of power the more we fight it which means we’ll have less with which to fight off the Pure when they come for us. But there’s just one thing that I have to wonder…”
Chaska fumbled in his clothing looking for something. “What do you wonder?”
“I don’t know what came first,” she said softly. “That magath, the twisted spirit? Or the Wound?” She shrugged. “Either way, I’m with you.” She glanced back toward the room she’d just left and folded her arms beneath her chest as if feeling the cool air for the first time. “How do you want to do this? What’s your plan for meeting up with the Pure again?”
Chaska found what he was looking for. He pulled out the ceremonial knife that Lyla recognized immediately. “We’ll need to find a safe place for this. It looks like we are going to have a need for a bit more essence”. He put it back in his sack. He looked up again at Lyla. “Well I think the simplest approach will be the best. We should just go back to the last place we saw them and howl. It worked like a charm last time. I think we should do it alone though. I don’t relish the idea but I think we should do it as soon as possible”.
“It’s morning,” Lyla said the obvious. “You suppose they’ll be awake? Then again, they told us not to try to leave. That probably means their watching us anyway. Maybe we won’t even need to howl very loud.
“Gimme a minute,” she said as she headed back to the room they’d originally rented. Once there, she ditched Ramiel’s shirt and pulled on some jeans, a tee, and a sweat shirt from her bags. It was about all she had left that was clean after a week of travel on the road. When she finished, she put on her hiking boots, tied her hair back and stepped back outside. “Ready.”
Chaska and Lyla traveled back to the place they last met the Pure pack. Lyla, not wanted to shred her clothes, let Chaska do the howling. It wasn’t long before someone appeared. Apparently it was true that they were being closely watched by the Pure.
A low growl from the brush announced the arrival of the first of the Pure. This one remained in his timber wolf form and paced forward with steady, hate-filled eyes. Another approached from deeper in the woods. This one was definitely rough around the edges, a girl who’d had a tough life before she became Uratha. And then there was the one who spoke to them the previous night, the one who looked like a leader and held himself like a man confident in his power.
He cut directly to the chase. “What is it this time, Forsaken?”
Lyla didn’t like the tone she was getting from the Pure here — things could go downhill very quickly and Chaska and she could not afford that. She attempted a little diplomacy first. “We have a few questions, but first we’d like to know who we are dealing with. My name is Shadow Claw.”
“Angel of Winter,” he announced himself. “The others you’ll meet when we free you from your auspices and become our brother and our sister.”
Lyla winced. But at least he was talking. She left the way open for Chaska to ask his questions.
Following suit, Chaska also introduced himself as Changing Bear. He then paused briefly but with confidence started in. “We have come today because we believe that you may have information that may expedite the resolution of this ‘problem’ you have. I suspect you have seen the magath and it explains why you are willing to let us deal with it before purifying us”. Chaska waited to see if there was some kind of reaction in Angel of Winter’s response.
“Yes. You are expendable,” Angel replied coldly. “If you fail, then at least you might weaken it or find its ban. Or perhaps you’ll discover why the Wound is there. Either way, we win. What you should hope for,” he said with a wicked grin, “is that you survive and have some success. Because if you do well, your purification rites will go more swiftly.”
Chaska smiled slightly. “Well, yes, I think we are both aware of that. However, its ban may prove to be elusive for quite some time unless you know something already and are willing to share. It is quite possible that one of the Soulless tribe may be its ban which is an interesting thought considering it would mean one existed in your very presence. Assuming you believe they exist, of course.”
“You speak of a Bale Hound,” Angel said. “If there is one there, living within the Wound, then you’re right. We would not have found him because the taint of the Wound would keep any sane creature away. As for its ban, you’ll probably have to do some footwork on that. Of course that means you may have to speak with any other residents of that Wound and they won’t be friendly.” He shook his head. “I wouldn’t do it that way if I were you. Instead, I’d try to find out how the Wound was created in the first place. For that, you might have to do some research. Once you know that, you may have a chance at figuring out what you need to do.”
Chaska thought for a moment and then asked. “How long has it been here?”
Angel considered. “A few years at least. But not more than five.”
“Well then, I think we have a good enough place to start.” Chaska turned to Lyla. “Did you have anything else to add?”
“Yes,” she said. “Can’t we just be friends? You don’t need to do this purifying thing to us. I mean, you can just let us go after this, can’t you?”
“No,” Angel stated firmly and with enough menace to make both Chaska and Lyla very nervous.
Lyla immediately turned to Chaska. “Nope, no other questions, then.”
As they turned to leave Chaska stopped and turned. “Oh, by the way. We have given our friends the option of leaving since this is really between us. Is it not? However, they have opted to stay and fight whatever this is but what you hold against us should not extend to the others even if they are our friends. You may think differently but the two of us are well aware of the seriousness of what lay before us. The others do not.”
Angel of Winter looked at him and wore a crooked, evil smile. “If they interfere with what we have in store for you, they will die. I’ll be sure you both bear witness to it. Beyond that I make no promises.”
“I guess that is about as good as we will get from you.” Chaska turned again to Lyla. “Lead the way. I guess we have work to do.” After a pause he murmured something only Lyla could hear. “Besides, the stench of our company is getting overwhelming”. Then a little louder. “We need to pay a visit to a library.”
Lyla turned and without looking back at the hated Pure enemies behind them, led Chaska back toward town.