- Magic Club 5 #1 – Bad Moon on the Rise
- Magic Club 5 #2 – Werewolves of Fredericksburg
- Magic Club 5 #3 – Of Wolf and Women
- Magic Club 5 #4 – Hungry Like The Werewolf
- Magic Club 5 #5 – Little Red Riding Hood
- Magic Club 5 #6 – Bark at the Moon
- Magic Club 5 #7 – The Animal She Has Become
- Magic Club 5 #8 – She-Wolf
Magic Club 5 #3 – Of Wolf and Women
“Are you sure we should split up like this?” Jeremy asked on the walk back to campus.
Jennifer wasn’t, but tried to sound like she did. “Elle and Theresa are right under the noses of about a dozen cops. And Theresa will keep Elle on task. They’ll be fine.”
“We could have waited for them.”
“I don’t think we can wait that long. Angela refused to talk on the phone and begged you to come to her dorm room. That sounds like she’s afraid.”
Jeremy frowned. “I don’t think she really sounded all that scared though. Rushed, but not scared.”
They hit the western end of Campus Walk and headed toward Ball Circle, where Angel’s dorm (as well as Jennifer and Elle’s) was. Jennifer shrugged. “She probably didn’t want to scare you off. Either way, the fact that she has something to say suggests she knows something even if she doesn’t know that it’s supernatural.”
Passing by the library and the student center, both were quiet. Only when they were climbing the hill that took them by the giant boulder known as the Spirit Rock for it tendency to get painted by students on special occasions, did Jeremy speak again.
“Jen… what are we going to do?”
She fought to keep a chill from running up her back. Instead, she shrugged again; she was doing that a lot lately. “What Occult told us to do: learn what we can, then wait for the cavalry. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a lot of mojo from my studied of the Books that would do me a lot of good fighting werewolves.”
Another pause. “I guess I could keep pushing them away?” Jeremy offered. “It worked pretty well during the Morganna thing.”
Jennifer chewed the inside of her cheek and surveyed his face to see if he was serious or not. When she couldn’t tell, she said, “We’ll call that ‘Plan B’. Plan A being ‘not engaging any slavering hell-wolves at all’.
“I’m kind of partial to Plan A.” Jeremy admitted.
“So am I.”
Ball Hall was one of the oldest dorms on campus and had usually been first in line when the time came for renovations. The last major round of that had been a little over ten years earlier, so it was starting to show its age again.
Jennifer had lived there for over a year, minus two months over the summer, so she was mostly used to it. The biometrics scanner on the front door took slightly too long to confirm she was supposed to be there, and even longer to confirm that Jeremy was a student who was being invited in. Once inside, the entrance hall had seen better days too: the information kiosk and venting machines starting to dull with wear and tear, the mat on the floor starting to fray, and the paint peeling on the two side doors leading into the building’s two flanking parlors.
The elevator was set into a transparent column that rose up in the center of the more traditional stairwell. It had been slick and modern when it was installed in 2046, but thirty years later, it was gaudy.
Still, Jennifer knew she was lucky to have a room there. It was one of the few lowerclassmen dorms with private bathrooms instead of suites, it was central to everything on campus, and being one of the favorites of the alums, the furniture in the commons and the parlors was always new and comfortable and Maintenance seemed to put a priority on fixing things in Ball. Plus it was the last all-girl dorm on campus, which she saw as a plus, given what she knew of Gibbson, the single all-guy dorm.
They got into the elevator, which Jennifer admitted was novel for her: she lived on the second floor and just took the stairs given the chance.
Angel, however, lived on the sixth floor, and after the walk across campus in the cold, she knew six floors of stairs might have killed Jeremy, considering how much he was huffing already. The elevator gave both of them time to catch their breath, and by the time they reached room 616. they had themselves mostly together.
“You’re the one she invited over.” said Jennifer, motioning toward the door. Jeremy got the message and knocked.
There was some shuffling around inside and after a moment, the sound of something heavy being moved away from the door that didn’t escape Jennifer’s notice. A few seconds later, the door opened slowly to reveal Angela Dancescu.
She was short, under five feet, and sturdily built. Most people might have called her overweight, but the way the old flannel shirt and pajama pants hung on her suggested that while there was some baby fat still on her, most of her bulk as muscle. Her features were a blend of both African and Eastern European lineages and she seemed to have gotten the best of both as well as a cafe aulait skin tone.
It was also clear that she’d been crying, though the dominant expression on her face was relief.
Before she said single word to them, she leaned out quickly and scanned the hallway. The relief remained, but there was also disappointment on her face now. “Sorry. I was hoping that all your friends might come.” She said by way of greeting. Please come in.”
Angel stepped back so the pair could enter. Jennifer took note of a heavy-looking footlocker that hadn’t been pushed quite far enough to return to what appeared to be its usual spot at the foot of one of the room’s double beds; likely the object that had been in front of the door.
The room wans’t dissimilar from the one Jennifer shared with Elle: two beds (though both Elle and Jennifer stacked their beds, with the former taking the top bunk), two chests of drawers and two desks. It seemed that both Angel and her roommate were into sports, as there was equipment for field hockey, lacrosse, soccer and baseball, as well as a wrestling trophy. There was also a Ranger Girls sash hanging off one bed post, crammed with medallions all the way up to the highest level, Trailblazer.
“You can sit on my bed, or at my desk.” said Angel, closing and locking the door. She indicated the bed with the sash and Jennifer took a seat on the edge of it. Jeremy remained standing, looking like he didn’t know what to do with himself.
“We’re really sorry about what happened.” Jeremy said, repeating what he’d already said on the phone. We just wanted to know if there was anything we could do for you.”
Jennifer took a more direct approach. “You’re worried about what happened to your brother happening to you, aren’t you? Wanting more people here, the barricaded door… I’m just guessing here, but do you know who killed Garth.”
Angel rubbed her arms like she was cold and started to pace. “I don’t know who. But I think I know what. That’s why I wanted to talk to you. You four… I know that what you did over the summer session had nothing to do with descendant powers.”
The temperature in the room seemed to spike ten degrees. That wasn’t something people just guessed. If they were really on the ball, some people might question the sheer diversity of some of the powers they displayed when descendants usually only had one base power applied in multiple ways.
Probing for confirmation, Jennifer asked, “If they’re not descendant powers, where did they come from?”
Angel reached her computer chair and sat down heavily in it. Her fingers ran through her brown-black hair in frustration. “I don’t know. It’s something out of the Old World that we just thought were stupid stories about a great-great-great-great grandpa or something until it stopped being stupid and started happening to us.”
Jennifer chewed her bottom lip. “’It’ being supernatural stuff?”
Still running her fingers through her hair, Angel nodded. “There’s this story about one of our ancestor on our mother’s side. He was a fisherman in his village and one day, instead of a fish, he pulled an old skull he through belonged to a massive wolf out of the lake. He must have thought it was pretty impressive, because he cleaned it up and put it in his house as a decoration.”
Her large, expressive eyes mildly glazed over as she recited the tale from memory. “On the night before the next full moon, something attacked his house, howling like something out of a nightmare and scratching that the door until it nearly tore through it.
“The next day, one of the village elders came to him and told him that the thing that attacked him did so because he’d disturbed the body of one of its kind, and that the only way to rid himself of the attacks would be to return the skull to the lake.
“Foolishly, our ancestor resisted. He called together his friends from the village and armed them to slay the beast. That night was a full moon and the creature attacked again, under the light of the full moon. Spears and sling bullets did nothing to it, nor did arrows and axes. Any wound they managed to make healed.
“When he saw that the monster couldn’t be killed and that it was, instead killing his friends, he took the skull and stole out the back door, running for the lake with the beast snarling behind him. The story usually ends with him throwing the skull back into the lake and the attacks stopping.”
Jeremy shivered in spite of himself. “So it’s a curse: your ancestor disturbed a werewolf grave and now werewolves have come back to kill your brother?”
Angel’s eyes widened at the suggestion. “What? No! Of course not. My brother wasn’t killed by a werewolf.”
“Actually,” Jennifer piped up hesitantly, “The evidence is starting to mount. There were claw marks at the scene as well as pawprints.”
“I know that.” Angel bit back a harsher remark that had been coming behind that. “Last night was a full moon.” She looked at the tow mages and had a realization. “Oh. Maybe I should finish the story. See, that’s just the tale that gets put down in the books on folklore and mythology. It ends when the attacks end. But my family… we know the rest of the story.”
She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Before our ancestor could throw the skull in the lake, he was bitten. It healed quickly enough and he didn’t think about it much untilt he next night before a full moon when the site of the wound throbbed and ached; and it spread out from his arm until his whole body was cramped to the point that he couldn’t move. It passed at sunrise, but he next night, it was worse, like his bones were on fire and melting. He cried out to God to let him die that night.”
Angel rubbed the back of her neck and stared straight ahead. “Last year, my whole family remembers this green flash. No one else when know saw it, but a few days later the full moon came up and all of us but my father got sick with cramps and joint pain. The next night we felt the same way the story says: like our bones were on fire, like they were changing underneath our skin and muscles.”
A fond, but sad smile touched her lips. “I have to say, my dad is an amazing person. Most other people would have probably gone insane on the next night—the night after the full moon. It was the first time we changed.”
Jennifer put her hand on her purse where she kept her spell cards. “So… your brother wasn’t killed by a werewolf… he was the werewolf.” She looked the girl over and couldn’t help but wonder if everyone’s canine teeth were so pronounced, or their hair that thick. It might have been her mind playing tricks but… “And so are you.”
The wary edge in her voice came through loud and clear to Angel, who held up her hands. “Please. We’re not monsters that go on killing sprees like the stories say. My ancestor? He probably got attacked because he was an asshole desecrating someone’s grave. When we change, we’re still us, just with a different shape. There’s different senses and some wolf instinct, but I swear there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Jeremy had flattened himself against the wall. “Actually, there kind of is. Your brother was still killed with claws, so if you’re a werewolf…” He gulped, “You’re still kind of a suspect.”
On some level, both Jennifer and Jeremy were expecting some sort of attack. They were not, on any level, prepared when instead, the ‘slavering hell-beast’ in front of them broke down crying.
Tears flowed freely as Angel slumped at her desk. “I didn’t kill Garth.” She sobbed. “He was my brother—one of my best friends!” She cradled her head in her hands, elbows propped up on the desk. “When you called, I remembered what you did this summer and thought you might help.” Her voice faltered and through hiccups and sniffed, she muttered, “To think we came here thinking we’d be safer.”
Jeremy panicked upon seeing he made someone cry, werewolf or not. “N-no, no… I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just, well, we had a theory that werewolves are involved and never… never heard of werewolves being the victims of this kind of thing and… and…” half-way reasonable things to say being at a premium, he finished with a weak, “Please don’t cry.”
Meanwhile, after the initial awkwardness, Jennifer had taken the time to roll things around in her head. Some things weren’t fitting together the right way and she didn’t know what that meant.
“Alright.” She said, cutting through both Angel’s sobs and Jeremy’s feeble attempts at stemming the tide of those sobs. “You said you know who killed Garth—or at least what. Tell us that and we might be able to help you.”
Angel made an effort to get a hold of herself, taking a few shuddering breaths and rubbing her eyes with the heels of her palms. “Vânători. After the first night we changed, mom made sure we learned everything we could. It was hard because it’s impossible to know what’s real and what’s folklore anymore. The vânători are real enough—there are historical accounts about them claiming to hunt and kill undead, witches… werewolves… anything to do with magic they didn’t like.”
She shivered. “We never met any though. I was starting to think they were long gone, until last month when someone left a sign drawn on the whiteboard Garth hung on his door. It was a sign the vânători used to mark someone as a werewolf.”
Jennifer frowned. She’d never heard of any of that before. “What did the sign look like?”
“I took a picture.” Angel said. After some bleary-eyed searching, she found her palmtop, brought up the picture, and passed it over to Jennifer via Jeremy.
It didn’t take long for Jennifer to recognize that the ‘sign’ was more than just a warning. It was in the form of a highly simplistic wolf’s head inside of a circle marked off by runes all around its circumference: the same basic circle that formed the basis of almost all of the spells she knew.
Quickly taking out her own palmtop with the Digi-book of Passions stored on it, she flipped through pages until she found a match. “It’s a tracking spell.” She whispered.
“Wait.” Jeremy looked at her, confused, “What? That can’t be right. If it were, that would mean…”
“There’s another spellcaster at UMW.” supplied Jennifer, “And they marked Garth with a tracking spell a month before he was murdered.”
To Be Continued…
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