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Renaissance of Darkness: Vixenburg Chronicle

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The air was crisp and cold, the clouds were the color of iron and had the disposition of an old wolf with a sour tooth. The wolves of the mountain were restless, something was coming.

The packs assembled at the Weeping Rocks Caern, each could see the space in the mountain where water trickled from the stone. The stone itself had long since eroded into the face of a sleeping wolf. The leader of Weeping Rocks sat on her scarred haunches and looked at the others, she could smell the anxiety, the bristling anger in the air.

"The spirit world seethes," she spoke, "we have all bloodied our claws in the flesh of the banelings and the scrags that swarm like cockroaches from the dark places," she paused. There were enough lupus among the caern that there was an unheard but assumed that humans would have been just as suitable an example of a swarming unwanted creature.

"We have not the strength to face this threat head on, alone," she said, her voice deathly grim. "It already the season of the falling leaves, and there has not come to us a single werewolf cub. Not a single one has lifted a new voice to Gaia. Our sisters the Black Furies have been equally silent, we have not been blessed with any proud male pups from their caerns. It is a a hungry year."

"How many have we lost this year? How many warriors, how many tricksters and teachers have given the final gift?" the Lorekeeper asked. The sept remembered, the packs that had been mauled in the fighting, the wolves who had been killed by claws and gaping jaws. They howled.


The airport in Van Buren City was a massive sprawling monster, terminals and causeways built atop each other. A wretched hive of humanity and engineering, and all of it reeked of technology, and the hidden venom of the wyrm pulsing through each monitor, for sale in every shop, and once he was outside of the airport itself, on every corner. This was not the America he expected, it was crude, smashed together without a care, and then it was plastered with for sale signs. Belgorov watched the scenery roll by, after an hour of sitting in traffic, looking at concrete and steel, buildings dating back a century or more sandwiched between gleaming steel and glass monsters, all brightly lit.

But then the scenery changed abruptly from city to wooded rolling mountains, and scattered small farms and ranches. The line between the city and the country was very severe. There were small cities and towns, barely noticeable from the main road, the driver stopped in one of the smaller 'cities' barely worthy of such a name. The car was refueled and he had the opportunity to peruse a convenience store hot food counter. It seemed that his choices were either covered with a vinegar pepper sauce, or deep fried in an oil that seemed to permeate every square inch of the store.

He could all but taste the Wyrm. It wasn't a fallen place, and the fat woman behind the counter was no formori. This land, the very soil itself had once belonged to the Wyrm. He knew of the Uktena werewolves, how they centuries ago defeated the wyrm spirits and buried them in earth, binding them to the bottoms of lakes and in deep seemingly bottomless pits. How many miners had burrowed into some sleeping horror? And the American penchant for monster movies, slasher movies,how many could be traced to the horrors bound and sunk in the cold deep lakes?

Ahead it was the city of Vixenburg, Fox mountain, and the nearby Lake Croatan.

And there were plenty of wolves in those hills.


The camera panned across the inlet of Lake Croatan, the mount dutifully scanning the water at the rate of one pass every two minutes. The combination battery and solar panel kept the camera running for almost the entire summer, but now that it was getting later into the year it was time to go collect the assembly. There had been no lake monster sightings on his camera this year, there were at least 3 sightings and encounters around the lake. The Lake Croatan monster... Still, the real monster ended up being hikers and mountain bikers, one had a habit of breaking or stealing gear, and the other just typically ran over it, ate an energy bar, and pedaled off.

The drive from East Carolina University, home of the Fighting Ironclads, to the lake was tedious and long. 5 hours, typically, sometimes longer depending on the traffic heading out of Van Buren City. A pretty weekend was sure to see the roads clogged with caravans and campers, RVs and fishing boats, and all the other roadway nightmares caused by too many people deciding to all go to the same place at the same time. At least it wasn't a long weekend. Those brought out of state visitors to hit the mountain paths and fishing and hunting and all of that nonsense. And with all of those people, all of those cameras and camcorders, and cell phone cameras, no one ever saw anything then.

There was a sign by the road as he drove up: Beware of Wolves, Beware of Bears

Highway 28 was an old road, one that predated the national interstate system. Instead of six gleaming lanes of high speed traffic if was a four lane road, winding through valleys and across rivers and low points in the ridges. It was a quaint road, the sort that showed up in the travel magazines and road brochures that showed happy families fishing, and camping, and enjoying some costumed local tourist trap stuff. The majority of traffic heading west from Basin City and Van Buren City piled into great iron logjams on the I-28 or on the I-50. On those long weekends and summer holidays the drive to Vixenburg could double, with the extra time spent sitting at a standstill when some tourist decided to kiss one of the K-rails, or someone with an oversized RV overheated, or shredded a tire. In the winter it was the same, but instead dashing for the camps and marinas scattered around Lake Croatan, they made the drive up to Ober Vixenburg, a ski chalet nestled in the top of Fox Mountain itself. There were five and eight story hotels clustered around minimalls and more pancake and flapjack houses than a family could visit in two weeks of vacationing. Signs were blazoned across the front of every other shop, 'Homemade Fudge'  and 'Roasted Nuts Here' as well as plenty of Ye Olde Ober Vixenburg kitsche. But if the Van Buren City Ironsides made into into the BCs standings, then everything was draped with UEC navy blue and silver. Likewise if the East Carolina State was doing well. Finally, despite the lawsuits from DC Comics and Bacardi, the bat logo of the East Carolina Vampires professional Football team invariably can be found. Despite being a terrible team, little better than the Oakland Raiders, the Vampire's fans are a fanatical bunch, never afraid to show their team spirit.

Locals know to avoid most of these places, unless they are hard up for work. Instead of following the wide, stalled interstates, its quicker to travel the back highways.

Sitting at the junction of Co Rd 690 and Hwy 28 was a motley collection of buildings that masqueraded as the unincorporated township of Wynonna, East Carolina. There was a Super Dollar Store, with a cracked but still gaily yellow sign proudly proclaiming NOTHING OVER A DOLLAR!!!.  Sitting next to it was a small shack that passed for a restaurant, the sort that was serviced by a barbeque pit mounted on a trailer and some third hand patio and lawn furniture for seating. Across the intersect saw the Mount Zion Baptist Church of Wynonna and the focal point of the 'town', a convenience store. While the church looked less than a few years old, the Ready'Roll looked like it had been erected when Henry Ford was still in diapers. But it was about the last place on 28 for a traveler to empty his bladder and fill his car and cooler before getting into Hancock County and it's tourist tax rates and dry county status.

A trio of travelers, each in their own vehicles, and stopping for their own reasons found themselves pulling into just another crappy roadside gas n go.

(What are you driving, why have you pulled into this convenience station, and prepare for a brief round of IC introductions)

Unused to the local food, Aleksandr had hunted several times - he still wondered why anyone would need to drown his dishes in salt, sugar and artificial flavor.
At least no one objected to camping, with a hearty fire and roast; with his flanel shirt and sturdy jacket, he even passed for a woodsman.

The convenience store promised coffee, spirits and diesel - exactly what he and the Skoda Yeti needed. He had picked it up in Van Buren City, second hand - good gas mileage, reliable and with a 4-wheel drive, but with its four yards length, a little too small to be considered by your typical SUV owner.

Quaint was the appropriate word to describe the shop - alas, it smelled clean, and for a man used to provisional settlements, that was enough.
While shopping, he was lost in thought - recalling what he knew about the fiend that was to rise, and wondering why specifically he was sent half around the world. His spirit guide seemed far calmer - this was her time, the first chills. He could observe the people drawing together, subconsciously seeking company to weather the storm to come.

Terance pulled up to the store with his grand caravan, it's dark blue color made ambiguous by the dust of the road, and with uncool storage compartments on top.  A long trip and too much bad coffee made the stop critical.  As he got out he reflexively checked his iPhone, quickly scanning his new messages.  Nothing critical - his freinds knew he was entering a bad coverage area.

Terance was tall, but too skiny.  His hair was short, blonde and unkept, and his eyes were hidden by oversize black sunglasses.  Jeans, white tee-shirt.  Nike sneakers, several years out of style. 

He entered the store quickly, scanning for junk food.

The man stood, staring into one of the hot food counters. His hands were filthy and his clothes were too. No one working paid him much mind, perhaps derelicts and burn outs were common in these parts. The convenience store went on about its usual hum. The two clerks were talking softly to each other, a pair of late teen-early twenty somethings. She was pretty in that plain small town way, with a bit too much make up and a build that said second string cheerleader. He was skinny, the unpopular looking sort of boy with a rough complexion and dark hair. Their body language was obvious, he wanted her, but a long time ago she had friend-zoned him. A few other patrons puttered about in the sit down area, nursing cups of coffee and mumbling about how so and so was doing in the hospital, and how construction was going out on this such and such road.

The man continued to stare, but his gaze seemed somehow hollow.


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