[Chapter 2] The Dead of Winter: Cold Snap

The story of magic in North America.
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[Chapter 2] The Dead of Winter: Cold Snap

Post by Straken »

In the dead of winter, Lovell Bergman had a visitor. She was a common sight now, ever since the time she had asked him to help deal with a rogue Sasquatch, and now Keelin Vaughan seemed to once again have urgent business, as she tramped through the yard toward the front door of the house. Her usual converse and blue jeans had been replaced with some thick canvas snow pants and a pair of insulated leather boots, and under her usual green cloak was a middle-weight winter coat, the runic power of her outer covering helping keep her from being too cold even with relatively light clothing compared to the thick snow and freezing cold. Her hair was tied back in a frizzy ponytail and she wore a pair of green earmuffs that matched the cloak in color, and once again she was toting a bow and quiver of arrows.

Upon reaching the door of the house, the redheaded druid knocked a few times on the door, and almost immediately a deep bark could be heard inside. A voice sounded, likely from the opposite site of the house judging by how muffled it was, and was followed by the sounds of foot steps approaching the door. After the sound of a lock switching, the door opened up, revealing Lovell dressed in heavy flannel.

"Well? Hurry up and get inside, the heat's getting out," Lovell told her abruptly as he stepped to the side and ushered her quickly through the door. Once inside, Keelin was standing on a knit mat on the edge of the small house's living room. It was cozy, filled with carved wooden furniture, and layered in numerous heavy blankets. On the adjacent wall was a small wood burning stove with a steaming kettle on top; the stove gave off a pleasant smell of burning cedar, and the kettle was filled with spiced water to get the air from getting dry. With the welcoming party concluded, Lovell moved back in to a chair near the stove to sit down; Keelin's invitation to follow suit was implied.

Keelin took a moment to take everything in- Though she had visited the property on several occasions, this would be the first time she'd entered the residence. it was a little different than her own home, but still rather cozy and rustic, a bit of a stark contrast from the newer homes and modernized cabins most of the residents of Tofte lived in. She stamped her boots off on the little rug at the door, not wanting to track in a bunch of snow, but not bothering to take them off either as she figured she wouldn't be in the house for long.

"Well, I think I'll need your help again..." Keelin began, looking somewhat apologetic, but there was a bit of urgency in her voice. "Siofra's been telling me that the forest creatures have been complaining about some dark presence a little bit northeast of here, and this morning a van full of some very upset teenaged peers of ours arrived in town in a tizzy talking about some demon at Silver Island Lake." She put her hands on her hips and and gave Lovell a bit of a questioning look, as if she had hoped he would have figured out what she was asking for by now, but, not having an immediate answer to her as of yet unasked question, she decided rather than waiting for Lovell to figure it out on his own, she would simply ask it.

"Basically, I need a ride over there and I need to figure out what it is, and probably get rid of it before the authorities get there, or someone else gets hurt"

Lovell looked contemplative as he looked at the stove, one of his hands reaching down to scratch Macy's ear; the dog had laid back down after her earlier barking, lounging by the fire on top of her own blanket. "By your tone it sounds a bit more intense than an angry skunk ape," Lovell responded, and then looked to be thinking for a time. "You'll owe me again, but sure, I could use some excitement. Been sitting around here the past couple days."

Getting up from his seat, he walked into the kitchen in the next room, and it sounded like a couple of drawers opened and closed again. "Feel free to take a load off, I gotta get dressed for the weather," he called back in to the living area.

Lovell's response gave Keelin a bit of a feeling of relief. Her hands went from their position on her hips and draped down at her sides instead, and when Lovell got up to get ready she went and sat down by the fire and began to pet Macy, scratching her behind the ears occasionally.
"Thanks again, Lovell" she responded to the Werewolf, wondering when exactly she had started trusting the hunter enough to call on him first when problems arose. She just hoped that Lovell didn't take too long getting ready- She really wanted to get there and get things taken care of before something was exposed to the nonmags.

"Don't thank me just yet," Lovell's voice called from a back room. "If this trip goes ass up, I'm gonna want more than just information on a sword." A little under ten minutes passed before the wolfman emerged again, this time dressed and ready for heading out into the cold. He was wearing heavy denim pants, and a thick leather jacket lined with fur; all over top a good pair of long-johns. Making his way to the front, he opened a closet and pulled out a heavy pair of winter boots, and set them down with a solid thunk before slipping them on. Standing back up, he looked around, mumbling something, before going back into the closet to grab his sword; Fragarach. He held it inquisitively towards Keelin. "Really think there's a demon out there?" he asked as he pulled out his truck keys.

"I don't know about a demon, but there's a lot of magical creatures in the forest, some good, some bad, and some beyond bad. Hopefully it's just a bad one, because I'm not sure just how much the two of us can handle" Keelin mused in response to Lovell's question, eying the sheathed sword that he carried, which, oddly enough, was a relic from her family's homeland. "Either way, We should get going as soon as we can. Do you know how to get there? she asked.

"Silver Island Lake? Yeah," Lovell confirmed as he put some gloves on and shouldered the sword. "Its got some pretty good back country sites for camping that don't need reservations. Used em a couple times while hunting out that way." Gesturing, Lovell waved Keelin to go through the door first so he could close up, and once back out in the biting cold made his way over to the shed where the spare truck was.

"Another reason I said to hold off thanking me," Lovell started to say as he eased his way into the old Chevy. "The spare truck has a terrible heater, so it's gonna be pretty cold for the first ten or fifteen minutes. So no complaining."

Keelin seemed a bit nonplussed at the warning, as she had walked to Lovell's house in the cold, so it probably wouldn't feel too much worse, she figured. She grabbed the handle and pulled open the old door with a loud groan (From the door, of course) before hopping onto the vinyl-covered bench seat and yanking the door shut behind her. Somehow, she already felt colder just by being in the cold, metal box that was the cabin of the truck, with no source of heat but her own body. It was less than ideal but the runes kept the edge of the chill off, at least for now, though she realized that once her body heat from walking wore off, she was in for a cold time before the heater started working.

"Alright then, let's get going so we can get the cold part over with sooner rather than later."

"Old Bear willing," Lovell chimed, as he worked on getting the truck started; Old Bear being a loving nickname given to the truck that doesn't want to start in the cold. After a couple turns of the key, and some growls that didnt' affect the truck but still made Lovell feel better, the engine finally turned over and roared to life. "There we go," Lovell said as he patted the steering column.

The old truck rumbled out of the shed and onward down the road. For the most part, the duo rode in silence, focused on how long it was going to be until the cab finally heated up. Finally, about ten minutes outside of Tofte, the travelers could feel warmth begin to permeate the air around them. While now they were warm, there still wasn't much talking. Keelin and Lovell still had a ways to go before they would really consider each other to be friends. So Lovell focused on the road ahead, making sure he didn't miss any turns, and occasionally glancing over to the girl beside him.

After an hour or so on snow covered country roads, the sun was beginning to get close to the horizon leaving about an hour before twilight; the angle casting long shadows of the bare trees. "Here we go," Lovell said, breaking a stint of silence to announce the final turn that would bring them into the main camping area around Silver Island Lake. The truck finally trundled to a stop a little ways up the road, leaving the truck near the center of camp until they knew a bit more. With another groan from the doors, Lovell got out of the truck and surveyed the main road. "So?"

Keelin made her way out of her side of the truck, shutting the door behind her with a loud Thud, which sort of echoed through the wintry woods surrounding the bit of clearing they had parked in. Ahead of them was a small thicket of trees in roughly the center of the clearing, with a cabin tucked neatly in the middle of that. A little ways further they could spy a couple of docks, and,with the evening sun to their backs they caught a glimpse of reflected glass from a cabin on the opposite side of the lake.

"Well, We might as well try the cabin, see if anyone's in there, and maybe set up a base camp of sorts?" the redhead suggested, figuring somewhere safe to stay the night would be needed, and if anyone was around they could ask them about what had gone on the night before. Following her own suggestion, the Druid began crunching her way through the snow toward the cabin.

Nodding in agreement, Lovell followed Keelin's lead and switched over to hunter mode. His ears were on alert for any out of place sounds, his eyes scanned their surroundings, and his nose didn't need to try very hard to pick up the faint smell of gore on the air; while he could not tell what the smell belonged to, it gave him an uneasy feeling. He edged his way forward, placing himself off of Keelin's left side on approach to the cabin.

Once the duo reached the structure, Lovell tried to get a view inside, but the curtains were drawn. Instead he put an ear to the glass to listen, and a light twitch hinted at picking something up.

"Something inside," Lovell mouthed more than spoke as he caught Keelin's attention. "Not sure on where inside."

Keelin followed behind Lovell intently, getting to see his hunting skills in action for the first time. Their chance meetings in the forest, and the obvious trail they followed to Ersee's shelter, had done nothing to really showcase his skill, but this small amount of tracking that Lovell did was quite a sight for Keelin, who normally left the observing to Siofra, whom was currently tucked away underneath the druid's cloak, keeping himself warm. After Lovell mouthed about something being inside, Keelin made her way over toward the door, seeing a set of fairly recent prints having come from the lake. She wasn't sure, but they appeared to be snow boots, of a smaller size. The druid pointed these out to Lovell, and then motioned toward the door with a curious gaze.

"should we open it?" she asked, quietly, Hoping that there was in fact a human inside, and not something else.

Rounding the corner to the door, Lovell took a closer look at the prints. There were a good number around, the tracker put the number at around seven individuals. Raising a finger, he motioned for the Druid to wait for a few moments more. He wanted to take a look around the sides, and after a minute or so passed, he returned to Keelin. He was looking a little more grim than he was before, but he gave a sign saying that he was ready to enter the cabin; a second gesture he made could be interpreted as "ladies first."

Satisfied that Lovell had made his rounds of the cabin, Keelin nodded at the hunter's gesturing, and went to open the door. At first, it wouldn't open, budging only a little against Keelin's slight body weight. Looking somewhat perturbed, Keelin produced a small sack which had been attached to the belt around her waist and rummaged through it, finding a small rock with a rune scratched into it. She concentrated on the rune, and it began to glow, before she touched it to the door and immediately the lock clicked open.

"Ah, good, this only works on simple locks. We got lucky!" Keelin whispered with an edge of excitement in her voice. She didn't normally get to do this sort of thing and it was sort of exhilarating.

The door opened with a painful creak due to its cold hinges, so at this point stealth was somewhat moot though still recommended. Once inside, the air was chilled as the two investigators began to look around, though Lovell made a point to give Keelin a thumbs up for getting the door open. The cabin's interior was a mess, looking like it had been abandoned in a hurry. Clothes were strewn about, and many personal affects were scattered across the floor. The wolfman's ears moved slightly, and his nose sniffed at the air again. The smell of blood he picked up earlier hadn't come from here. This cabin smelled only of fear, panic, and... perfume? It had faded some with time, but this cabin definitely smelled like teenage girls had been through it.

Walking through the main space, the two stepped lightly through the chaos. Motioning once more, Lovell made his way towards the kitchen, but along the way his foot found a loose board; the resulting creak resonated through the space, and Lovell froze, angry at himself for not being more careful. The noise did however bring something else with it; a small, sudden, almost unnoticeable yelp of surprise. Lovell maintained his frozen pose, looking over at Keelin to make sure she had heard it as well. It had come from the storage closet in the corner. Stepping with care now, Lovell beckoned Keelin to flank the closet. He doubted it was the demon, in fact he was almost sure, but until they knew what they were dealing with it was better to be safe.

Keelin almost jumped, herself, at the noise Lovell made when he found a squeaky board with his heavily booted foot, but kept her composure, although she did jerk her head toward the source of the other noise- a small yelp from a closet in the corner. Not wanting to cause much destruction inside the cabin, Keelin refrained from drawing her bow, instead fishing through her pouch for another rune, this one a rune of restraint, which could help hold back a potential foe if need be. Silently she concentrated on it as she carefully stepped toward the closet, then, once she had finished charging the rune and finding herself a good spot near the door, she motioned for Lovell.

"On three," Lovell mouthed as he placed a hand on the knob, before silently counting down with his fingers. Once he reached one, he jerked the handle and swung the door open. A shrill scream came from the closet as the next few moments went in a blur, but when it settled down again things became clear. Huddled in the back corner, behind a couple of coats, sat a teenage girl. She was on the verge of tears, shivering, and covering her head as if waiting to be attacked; but when it became obvious no strike was coming she hesitantly peeked out the open doorway.

"Lo-Lovell?" her voice asked, shaking from fear, and filled with uncertainty.

"Melissa?" Lovell asked back with his own bit of uncertainty.

Keelin's rune was raised, and she was ready to throw it, but with a distinctly human-like scream and the fact that nothing jumped out of the closet, Keelin lowered the stone. In just a moment she figured out that it was in fact not any sort of demon or dangerous creature (Depending on who you asked, anyway) but rather one of the girls from the high school.

"What are you doing here?"Keelin asked, dumbfounded. I thought you had all come back this morning?"

Melissa's eyes welled up with tears once more, only these ones seemed to be from a sense of immense gratitude. She stood quickly and rushed out of the closet, throwing her arms around Lovell before crying in earnest. "I was s-so sc-scared! Those bastards left me be-behind," she wept before sniffing loudly and fighting back more sobs. "I thought... I thought I was g-gonna die out here all... all alo-al-alone!"

Lovell's face had dropped when the girl hugged him suddenly, and his eye look to twitch ever so slightly. He had not been friends with Melissa at any point, and if memory served the last time they were around each other she had insulted him behind his back; something he picked up on thanks to better than human hearing. He resisted moving his hands, if only because he felt pushing her back into the closet would be considered rude. Silently he looked over at Keelin, and continued to mouth rather than speak. "Get. Her. OFF."
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Re: [Chapter 2] The Dead of Winter, Part One

Post by Kai »

Keelin took the cue rather quickly, though she had already decided to move toward pulling the girl off of Lovell before he had begun to mouth words at her. Having to pull with nearly enough force to require a pry-bar, the Druid managed to safely extricate Lovell from Melissa's grasp, by pulling her off of him, and shaking her a bit to bring her to her senses.

"What are you doing out here?" she asked once more, "And pull yourself together, what exactly happened?" The redhead seemed to be very keen on getting the information more than she was on the others well-being, but then again Keelin had always preferred the beasts of the forests to the beasts of the high school.

Melissa was still in shock at the prospect of being saved, but seemed to start getting a hold of herself. After wiping her eyes some and rubbing her nose, she was to the point of being coherent. "Those assholes left me. Just ran after seeing... after..." she looked like she was at risk of breaking down again; the memories she recalled being particularly jarring. She took another minute to recompose herself.

Lovell, now freed of being grappled by one of his least favorite people in Tofte, went back to inspecting the cabin while keeping an ear on Keelin and Melissa. The cabin was an absolute disaster, as he had already confirmed just after entering, but it was also became apparent upon closer investigation that the place had been abandoned in a hurry, and likely late at night. It was dark, the curtains were drawn and the main lamp in the room had been knocked over and broken. Another thing he noted was that it was a little chilly in the cabin, and found the cause to be a now broken heater that likely had been tripped over in the rush; judging by the exposed wires showing at its base. "She's lucky this place didn't burn down, monster be damned," Lovell mumbled to himself as he unplugged the cord from the wall.

It sounded like Melissa had settled down again. She was taking deep breaths, and some sense of comfort from Keelin and Lovell being there. "We were shooting off fireworks last night," Melissa began, her voice finally steady. "At some point we heard some screams, and thought that we should investigate, in case someone needed help. It was in the cabin across the the lake. Two... two people... bodies. They were killed... slaughtered... by some, I don't know, some fucking monster."

"Some kind of monster?" Keelin asked, quizzically, not really sure what to make of it. Aside from Vampires, which were derived from humans, Humans were the only thing she could consistently categorize in the monster category. "Someone had slaughtered these people?" She further asked, for clarification.
Truthfully, she still knew very little, aside from the fact that these teenagers had been acting irresponsibly, and that they had found some dead people and the person or thing that had killed them. She had hoped that it wasn't a vampire, as she wasn't exactly sure she could handle seeing one. still, she was intrigued.

"Where did you say this other cabin was?" the druid girl inquired.

Lovell's ears perked when he heard monster. He was now making his way slowly through the kitchen, and as he took note, both visually and through scent, of just how much alcohol was in there he also considered what the culprit could be. He hadn't told Keelin, but when he had made a trip around the cabin to check for tracks he had found some. They looked almost canine, like a coyote or a wolf, but whatever made them had been bipedal. Lovell found himself genuinely concerned about whether or not this monster was a rogue werewolf. Whatever it was though, the tracks hinted at some degree of intelligent thought. The creature had moved at a slow pace, and stopped to look in through the windows along the side of the cabin, and once more at the back door.

Now at the door leading to the back, Lovell cautiously moved the curtains aside just enough to where he could see outside. He had checked the surrounding woods at the time outside, but checked again now in the event this thing really was clever; if so, there was the chance that it had waited for others to go inside, and could be making a move. Contrary to anticipation, the woods were empty and still.

Back out in the living room, Melissa looked like she had gone back into shock. "You're joking, right? You can't possibly want to go over there. Trust me, we thought that same thought and immediately regretted it. We should head back to what ever you drove up here and leave."

Keelin placed a hand on Melissa's shoulder, and sighed. "Well, lass, We might follow that advice, but I've got a duty to be here, and Lovell's agreed to help me. You can feel free to stay here in the house or go sit out in the truck, but I can guarantee that truck is cold inside." Keelin let go of Melissa's shoulder, and looked around for Lovell.

"Hey, Hunter," She called in a voice just above normal speaking tones "What do you think about investigating the other cabin?"

"The fuck did you just call me?" Lovell's voice called from the other room before his head poked passed the door frame to look the Druid square in the eyes. "Don't remember us being on nickname basis, Li'l Red."

Moving back into the living room, Lovell did take note that Keelin was being surprisingly assertive, and perhaps Hunter was a side effect of bravado. As he drew closer to the girls, he felt like agreeing with Melissa, if for different reasons. Though he knew Keelin would stick to this until it was taken care of, and his pride wouldn't let him back out after agreeing to help; or he was enticed by the notion of hunting another hunter, or perhaps even simply wanting to make sure it wasn't a werewolf. "Trust me, you are better off not trying to argue with her," Lovell chimed. "Wait in the closet, the truck is off and freezing and the keys are with me. We'll be back."

"You are both crazy," Melissa said as she looked panicked again and made her way to the back of the cabin again. Looking over to Keelin, Lovell gave her a nod toward the door.

Keelin nodded back, now ignoring Melissa as much as she could- the girl was a liability after all, and keeping her confined to one spot was probably the safest thing for all of them anyway. However, she was still somewhat irked with Lovell's quip in response to her merely pointing out that he was in fact a hunter. "Let's go investigate the other cabin before it gets dark or you come up with any other stupid nicknames."

Realizing that, regardless of what may have killed or attacked the people that Melissa and the other teenagers had seen, if it was still around, they should be careful, Keelin pulled back the drapes a little bit and looked around outside, trying to see what was going on in the forest and clearings around them, looking out toward the lake as well as she could, though it was close to the edge of what the window revealed. Seeing nothing, the Druid girl opened the door and moved cautiously outside, then paused, waiting for Lovell to follow her.

As Lovell followed, he made no comment back to Keelin, instead shifting his weight as he passed by her, purposefully bumping her off to the side of the small front deck. Moving a bit more out to the front, he also scanned the surroundings once more. Then, content that nothing was going to grab him as he stepped out into the deeper snow, took the lead and dropped into hunter mode again. Out front, nearer the lake, there was a single set of the creature's foot prints heading up from the ice towards the cabin, but he didn't see any prints that would hint at it heading back toward the shore. That detail admittedly made Lovell a little paranoid, and he looked back over his shoulder into the shaded woods behind the cabin. With luck, it could mean that Lovell and Keelin could investigate the other cabin freely, or better yet the beast moved on already. Otherwise, it could mean that the beast circled around in the tree cover rather than crossing the open ice. He looked back over his shoulder again, this time more to make sure Keelin was still near him.

"Hey!" Keelin complained as she was shoved off to one side, but she didn't pursue her indignation any further. Truthfully, she was glad for Lovell taking the lead- His instincts and tracking skills were certainly a huge help, and she knew she could trust him to find what he might be looking for much faster than she could. That, and he could probably find it on his terms which, with an unknown creature that may have already killed several people, being able to be on the right footing when coming across it would be a great boon.

Dutifully, the Druid followed behind Lovell, keeping an eye on following him while also taking a bit more time surveying the area around them. she could see the sun starting to get low in the sky, and that all around everything looked fairly dead, no foliage in the trees, and pretty much everything else blanketed with snow. "Find anything interesting?" she asked of the hunter.

"Just some prints, so far," Lovell responded in a flat, low tone without turning around to look at her. "Judging by the stride, this thing is probably taller than me by a decent margin. Seven, maybe eight feet." He never stopped scanning the surrounding area as he led the way, and with the tracks leading the way they were he was able to focus more on scouting rather than tracking. Although, the most heading this way would probably accomplish would be getting more clues on what they were dealing with; which was still useful, since all they had yet was word of mouth from drunk teens and some foot prints.

Once the duo had made it about fifty feet out onto the snow dusted ice, Lovell picked up the sound of feet moving quickly towards them. Now alerted, the wolfman bolted upright and spun to try and access the threat, but as it seems, his hunting boots were not the best for moving on ice and he lost his balance; just in time to see Melissa sprinting towards them in a panic. Before Lovell could regain his footing, the teenage girl connected with him, grabbing his arm and causing him to fall completely this time. His head connected with the ice, making an audible crack. He layed there, stunned for a few moments.

Keelin also heard the noise of feet and turned around, though she gave herself enough time to keep her balance. The blur of a person that passed her was hard to process, but a simple process of elimination narrowed her options down to Melissa, or the Creature, and following the shape past her and then tackling into Lovell- It turned out to be Melissa. The redhead's eyes rolled in their sockets in a sign of annoyance, or perhaps even disdain, until she heard the loud crack of Lovell's head on the ice. Scrambling forward while still trying not to fall, the druid girl made her way over to the Topsy-turvy pair, kneeling down and checking on them.

"Are you okay? Can you hear me? Is anything broken?" she asked, mostly talking to the Bergman boy, trying not to let her annoyance with Melissa get in the way of helping Lovell.

Thanks to his genealogy, Lovell's bones had a bit more density to them, so he wasn't worried about anything being broken; but his head cracking against the ice still really hurt. His head was spinning from being dazed, there was a ringing in his ear, and he was seeing red. Thankfully, in a sense, it wasn't because of blood, but rather an intense anger. He placed one hand on his head as if trying to hold the pain, and tried to move his other arm only to find Melissa clinging to it again. He began to make a low growl, since it was all he could think to do, and his lip curled slightly in a snarl.

"Are you fucking kidding me," Lovell said through grating teeth. "I'm fine, just a little dazed, but nothing's broken. Just help me up." He extended a hand to Keelin, probably one of the first times he has willingly asked her for help.

"As long as you're fine. We need to be at 100% just in case this thing is as dangerous as it sounds." Keelin responded to the slightly dazed Lovell, getting into a better position before grabbing the teen werewolf's hand and helping him up, no thanks to Melissa hanging off of his other arm. "You know, you seem heavier for some reason..." Keelin complained to Lovell, making it obvious that at this point she just viewed Melissa as dead weight, and a complete annoyance.

"Thanks," Lovell said to Keelin before turning to Melissa. "Couldn't bear to stay in the damn cabin, huh? Made it all of two minutes."

"In case you'd forgotten, I made it a day without you," Melissa said back. She then looked down, and her face seemed genuinely apologetic. "I'm... sorry, Lovell, about knocking you down. I just panicked." Reaching into her jacket, she pulled out an embroidered handkerchief, and pressed it gingerly to the back of Lovell's head just beneath his cap.

"Whatever, we should just get moving," Lovell growled in response as he continued walking, not bothering to try and pry off Melissa or stop her trying to halt what was probably a very slight bleed. Once the group, now a trio, had passed the halfway mark of the lake, Lovell paused. "Hey Keelin, it just a concussion? Or does it suddenly feel like it is getting colder?"

Keelin looked around and suddenly really took in the weather, not just their immediate surroundings. It had actually stopped snowing quite a while ago, despite the omnipresent (albeit somewhat patchy) cloud cover that was only just giving them enough light to see clearly. She realized that it did, somehow, feel colder than it had been that morning when all this had started. "I think you might be right... It certainly isn't getting any warmer," she responded.

"Let's quit screwing around and get this investigation over with before the weather gets worse."

"Agreed," Lovell said in kind as he picked up his pace enough to where he could avoid falling again. Melissa had let go of the boy's arm, but still grasped a small piece of his jacket for comfort as she followed along. Before too long, the group had reached the edge of the lake, and now looked up the bank a little ways to the second cabin. It had an ominous air about it, and the front door was ajar; a fact that made Melissa whimper softly as she knew that meant the creature had gotten out. Lovell took the noise to mean it was the right spot, and shook off Melissa. "Stay near Keelin."

Steadily, he made his way up to the cabin, noting the creature's prints were visible in a couple of places; the most recent of which followed over another group of prints that the teens made the past night. Once he made it up on to the front deck he peered inside the doorway, and the smell of gore immediately hit his nose. Looking over his shoulder at Keelin, he said in a soft voice, "You aren't going to like this." There was a hint of concern in his voice.

Keelin grabbed Melissa as Lovell brushed her off and volunteered her to care for the girl, which she wasn't too happy about, but she just stayed quiet instead of making a fuss about it. Slowly she followed after the hunter, but when he stopped short of the actual door, it immediately brought up red flags- Even she could smell it, too. It was almost the same scent as when she had found her father, but fresher, and with a bit more of the iron smell of blood to it. Someone had, in fact, been killed in there, and probably in a horrible manner.

"What am I not going to like?" she asked, wrinkling her nose a bit at the stench. She couldn't handle it for too much longer, as she fished around in one of her coat pockets and produced a large handkerchief, which she tied over her face to try and dull out the smell a bit. "I hope it's not just a bunch of dead chickens or some other stupid fake occult ritual or some crap like that..." The Druid was really actually hoping it WAS something stupid like that, but she knew that it really wasn't. Lovell could see in her eyes, however, that she was determined to continue.

Lovell gave her a long look, as if waiting to see if she would back down, but she seemed sure. He just hoped she wouldn't regret it too much. Turning back he pushed the door open all the way. The inside of the cabin was a bit different from when Melissa had seen it last, unfortunately the change was that it was now much worse. The two victims had been pulled to a far corner and, as Lovell could have guessed, looked half eaten. He gave Keelin another quick look before moving over to inspect the bodies more closely. Being a hunter, he was accustomed to seeing butchered animals, but this was something else entirely, and as such positioned himself as much as he could in between Keelin and the bodies.

"Been dead probably a little under twenty-four hours, mostly frozen at this point. Tricky to tell how long it has been since the beast last... interacted with them. Judging by the frost, and coagulation, probably six hours or so," Lovell reported as he read the signs that he could make out in the low light of the cabin.

Even with the cover over her nose and mouth, it was difficult for Keelin to keep from feeling queasy. Despite Lovell's best efforts, Keelin could see the streaks of blood all over the floor, as well as a large portion of the partially eaten bodies. "Well, this is going to be hard to cover up...." Keelin commented, thinking if any of the runes or spells she had been left by her father or given by the council would help to disguise this as something more normal, like a wolf or something. "We need to get out of here though, The less we spend in here the less likely we are to accidentally leave something that might make us suspect when the non- Uhh, When the authorities arrive." Keelin had almost said 'Non-Magical' with Melissa around, which would have probably been a bad thing.

"Lovell, could you get her out of here? I need a minute or two to set something up before we look around the area more"

"Alright," Lovell said back. As he turned and walked back towards the door he put a hand on Keelin's shoulder before continuing. Once he got to the other teenage girl he grabbed her shoulder as well, only this one was more assertive than supportive. "Come on."

Melissa seemed more than happy to leave, and so followed dutifully behind. Once outside she took a deep cleansing breath of the frigid air; which had dropped further in temperature again, and threatened to continue. Shivering against it, Melissa still seemed far happier outside than in. "So seriously, what's with this Scooby Doo shit, huh?" Melissa said to Lovell. "Following clues, trying to identify who's responsible. I mean, kudos on on being ambitious, but this is hardly the time."

Lovell just looked at her for a few moments. "Just can it, alright. You aren't too far off base, but we are more qualified than you'd think. So as I said before, you are free to wait back in that closet. Though, with luck, whatever the fuck did this is long gone."

"Heh, terrorizing some other campers instead?" Melissa laughed, trying to move closer to Lovell for some warmth

Once the others had cleared the door, Keelin looked around in her pockets, finding the small sack she had used before. She looked around, assuring herself that there was nothing and no one in the house with her, and then fished through the bag until she found a few small stones with runes carved into them. The Druid held one in each hand and focused her energies on them, waiting until both runes had begun to glow with energy , then she touched them together and recited a few words that she had learned in Gaelic which helped to activate the runes and spread their power around. The glowing stones turned a bright bluish white in her hands for a few seconds before vaporizing in a puff of blue smoke, dispersing about the room and making small, but important changes to how the scene looked. Suddenly it went from the vicious wounds and damages caused by some unknown creature, to the very obvious and animalistic traces of a group of starved wolves.

Feeling confident that she had upheld at least part of what the Council required her to do in these situations, Keelin smacked her hands together gently in self congratulation before fishing her gloves out of her coat and walking outside. "Well, it's all ready in there, We should probably get back to the other side of the lake before it gets any darker and colder" she commented.

Lovell was scanning the woods some more, thinking he had heard something. So he was relieved to hear Keelin was ready to head back. Her voice was accompanied the crunch of her boots on the cold deck beneath her feet, and he thought he could hear the faint scrap of Siofra climbing on the house. Then a small voice in the back of his still dazed mind mentioned that Siofra had been in Keelin's coat this entire time. He turned around out of curiosity, his heart dropped in his chest, and he couldn't notice the cold anymore; or perhaps he just felt a far worse chill. Clinging to the face of the cabin, just beyond the lip of the roof, was an image that Lovell had seen in a book as a child; and with it came the nightmares it had given him. Its empty eyes were locked on Keelin, and it seemed aware that it had accidentally made a noise that gave itself away; it looked ready to pounce.

"Keelin! Move!" Lovell shouted, immediately pivoting to try and get to her, but the beast was already on the move, and Keelin would likely only have a second or two left before it was on her.
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