“Are there actually any living people here?” Amelia collected her stake out of the latest undead they’d come across.
Charles shook his head and wiped the blade of his klaive off on the tatters of fabric remaining from the vampire foe they’d just vanquished. “Higher population of them than I would have suspected.”
“You look like hell, Severns.”
He took a long look at Elder Stoneburn. “Can’t say this is your finest look, either.” The Glasswalker who typically spent her days behind a desk was covered in grime and gore. He had tasked her with basic staking of the leaches. Although she had a klaive herself, after seeing her wield the weapon he had serious concerns that she would accidentally lop off his own head in an attempt to take the enemy down. Such a maneuver would not serve either of them well at the end of the day, and so he had tasked her with stabbing the blood whores through the heart with a wooden stake he’d fashioned with his own klaive out of a piece of scrap wood they’d picked up along the way. Most of the time, she didn’t even strike true. He was beginning to wonder about her worth. Surely he’d never seen such a helpless elder in all of the nation. He swallowed his distain. One didn’t always get to choose the best or most useful of allies. He’d make due. Wasn’t like he had any other choice.
“Check that out.” Amelia moved past the ashen corpse to point out some graffiti scrawled on a worn and run down alley wall.
Charles gave it the barest of glances. “We need to keep moving. No doubt, this one had friends and this is not a defensible position.” He motioned for them to move on, and yet Elder Stoneburn was steadfast, staring at the work of vandals. He was quickly growing wearisome of the Glasswalker’s distracted behaviour. “Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear…” His voice rang out into the night, bouncing off of the alley walls.
Amelia shushed him with a sharp gesture. “Pay attention, Chuckles.”
“Refer to me that way again, and I swear…” His voice trailed off as he noticed hidden amongst the layers of spray paint and chipped bricks was a nearly hidden symbol.
Amelia looked over her shoulder at him. “This is it.”
He could scarcely believe it, but she was right. “The gate.”
“You should wait here. I’ll scout ahead.” He ordered.
“Screw you. I found it. I’m going first.” Amelia responded.
“This isn’t some kind of game. If the enemy lurks beyond, they’ll cut you down like a hot knife through butter.” Charles made sure to use the correct balance of command and ridicule in his tone. Surely she could be brought to heel. After all, she was the weakest link in the Falconhand chain.
It was with great surprise that he found himself pinned firmly against the same broken brick wall he’d just been observing. He heard the clatter of his klaive hit the pavement and echo into the night even as he felt his wrist being crushed by the force applied to it.
“Listen up, Charles.” The guttural growl coming from the meek Glasswalker caught his immediate attention. “You’re along for this ride because I wish it so. Mock me again, and I’ll gut you where you stand and no one will much give a shit. Got it?”
Charles struggled to free himself from the suddenly crinos Glasswalker. It should have been an easy task, he outweighed her. But no matter how he shifted his weight, she still held the upper hand. The break started to spread from his wrist into his forearm, as though it were being splinted from the inside out. He refused out of pride to cry out, but the pain was excruciating.
“Understand?” The word coming from Amelia’s mouth was so gravelly that it barely registered as English to Charles’ ear. Her breath was hot against his neck and he could nearly feel the razor sharp bite she promised to deliver if he did not promptly acquiesce. He gave the barest of nods that he was in agreement of her demands.
Charles felt himself released and slide down the rough wall, his shirt catching along the way. The beast within him was screaming to be let out, but he understood that a duel to the death would not serve his goals. He swallowed the pain, and a fair amount of his pride.
As suddenly as the pain had been delivered, a very human looking Elder Stoneburn took it away with a prayer to the Goddess. Charles refused to give out a sigh of relief.
“I’m glad we’re on the same page, Chuck,” Amelia said casually. She didn’t show a single sign that seconds before she’d nearly murdered him.
He tried to pick himself up from the pavement. It took three attempts “How the hell did you know how to do that?” He wondered aloud.
“My brothers taught me. Don’t test me again. I might have to get really nasty and I promise you wouldn’t like that.” Her voice held the tone of corporate professionalism. While the words were harsh, they were delivered with a certain kind of neutrality that made his skin start to crawl.
In a sudden epiphany, Charles realized that he was serving with a true elder of the Garou nation. He also grasped that he was not the Alpha here. He also knew without a doubt that she was far more infected by the enemy than he was. He sent a silent prayer to Gaia and because he no longer had a choice, followed Amelia’s lead.