RP The Wolf, The Witch, and The Wendigo

Alice Shaw

New member

Alice, aka Witch, had no idea where to even begin on this case. Her partner Wolf– Ethan– was moving debris from the scene so she’d have a more clear view of what had happened. This was the first time that they had been called in by the Columbus PD. They had spent the last three years of their lives building a reputation for themselves as the city’s best heroes. They’d managed to handle several deadly situations alongside their usual fair of busting up gangs and drug dealers and human trafficking rings. They’d even recently started looking into a project that was far more personal to Ethan.

The disappearance of his baby sister, Samantha Walsh.

So far, that had led them down several rabbit holes, and eventually to a link to a conspiracy blog about a secret company called Brightheart that supposedly performed experiments on metahumans. It was a long shot, and they couldn’t find anything else on the company, existing or not, so for now it was on hold. They would take it back on after this case was done.

As the ground became clearer, Alice was able to do what she did best. She breathed in, slowly, and as she breathed out, she made a quick motion with her hands, pulling in the threads of the world around her. She pinned them to her hands, and then twisted them slightly, making the ground glow for her. The earth lit up in violet before her eyes, illuminating every footstep and blood splatter and fractured piece of bone. And there it was, a long trail of footprints, the proper size for a man about the size of the victim.

But alongside it was a much fainter trail, of stranger footprints. The weight on them was light, almost too light for an adult of any size. Maybe a small woman, but the shape of them was odd, too. Almost as though they had run on just their toes the entire way. She scratched her head as she let the threads of the world go, returning the world to its rightful colors.

“I’m never going to get used to it when you do that.” Alice looked up at Ethan, in his black leather wolf mask. There were yellow lenses in front of his equally yellow eyes, but his red curls stuck out the back of the mask. To be fair to him, Alice didn’t hide her long black braid either. But black hair was a much less identifiable feature than bright orange curls.

“You’ve seen me do that how many times now? At least two dozen. Get used to the reality-bending already, Wolf.

He chuckled and shrugged, moving the leaves and branches back into place. Alice was big on disturbing their environments as little as possible and returning everything to as natural a setting as possible. That meant replacing all of the leaves and branches they had disturbed. Which, given it was early summer, wasn’t all that bad. She flashed him a grin and he finally sighed.

“Fine, yes, I’ll do my best. Now let’s get out there and start canvassing. I know the cops said they had, but they always miss the kids.”

Alice and Ethan made their way back down the path that they had followed to get out into the park once more. Gantz Park was a beautiful little haven on the outskirts of Columbus. The park had a gazebo, a little hiking trail with a creek, and a full playground. The park was mostly empty this late in the day, but the teens who were around had mostly been helpful. Being a “superhero” was cool to them, so they usually talked a lot more than their parents would.

As dusk began to settle, the pair walked down the path to where the parking lot was located. As they did, they passed the jungle gym, and Alice found herself stopping as she noticed that Ethan wasn’t keeping pace with her. She turned around to find him staring with a funny expression at a teenager on the roundabout. He couldn’t have been more than thirteen, with the kind of tight curls that looked ethnic. But his face and coloration weren’t either black or Jewish in Alice’s experience. What he looked like was Native.

She looked back at Ethan and stepped back to join him. He carefully turned his face in her direction without breaking his view of the kid. “We should talk to him.”

Alice looked at the kid again and nodded slowly. “Right. Sure. Let’s go talk to him then.”

Ethan took point, walking ahead of her ever so slightly. As though he was getting ready to throw himself in front of her. As they got closer, the kid, who’d been lying in the middle of the roundabout, sat up and looked at them. Ethan cleared his throat, and his voice was easy and melodic when he asked, “Hey kid, can we talk to you?”
 
Lyle loved the drowsiness that came with being full. It wasn’t as common during the summer as it was during the winter, when he’d eat anything he could catch in his well-placed traps. But summertime was city time, and early summer here in Ohio had proven to be a good time to come down south and start scouting out a temporary home.

In the city, prey wasn’t wary the way it was supposed to be. Lyle hadn’t noticed that growing up in suburban neighborhoods, but he saw it everywhere now. Sure, sometimes people would give a nervous glance down an alleyway, or give a bigger or meaner person a wide berth, but they didn’t feel like they were in danger, not really. People who were in the woods already – especially in the winter – were aware of how small they were. They knew about the bears, and the cold, and the weather and the wolves and the mountain lions. They didn’t know about him, but they were already scared.

Here, it was almost too easy. Lyle knew that just hitting a guy over the head in a public space was a terrible idea, but he also knew people tended to look at him and see a teenage kid, someone to either be looked down on or felt sorry for. All he had to do was determine which one somebody would fall for, would leave the safety of the crowd for, and voila! Dinner for one.

Two summers had given him the practice to know the whos and the hows and the wheres. Eating once or twice a month, six disappearances total, in most places, before he headed back north. Then, people got scared. He liked when people got scared, because most of the time, people didn’t suspect him. Of course they didn’t suspect him. He was a teenager, a kid, one of their weaker population. He wasn’t like their serial killers. He wasn’t one of their serial killers.

Because he wasn’t like them. His dad might’ve been one of them, but Lyle was not.

The man last night – well, like, three days ago now, but he’d slept long enough they all blended together into one really long night – the man had learned that the hard way. Lyle didn’t look strong enough to carry people into the woods in the middle of the night, or mean enough to wait for them to wake up just to cut them with a pocket knife and tell them to run away just so he could chase them, or fast enough to actually catch them. But he was all of those things. And hungry enough to eat them when they weren’t fast enough. The hunt turned into a blur, after a certain point, but he remembered enough of the feelings to know when it was satisfactory, and when it wasn’t.

The cold tingled under his skin as he sunned himself on the merry-go-round. Sometimes he could go back and retrace his scent, figure out what he’d done, where he’d gone wrong, and maybe even pick out a good spot in the park to start planning some traps for later on in the summer, right before he went back to the woods. Sometimes, somebody called it in to the police first – or the police just found it first. He actually wasn’t sure how that worked.

But anyway. They’d been here when he got to the park. He knew their cars. He’d redirected himself to the playground, brushed shoulders with some actual human teens, who didn’t seem to notice how different he was from them. They hadn’t recognized him, obviously, and they’d asked where he was from and everything. He’d told most of the truth. It was a good lie.

Maybe these kids would ask. He sat halfway up when he heard them, gave them a glance, and then eased back down. They weren’t like everyone else he’d talked to. Masks and too-tight suits, confident movements, but their scents and their voices weren’t quite grown up. Vigilantes, he’d seen them called on the news. He’d always been careful about them, not because he was scared or anything, but because he didn’t have a reason to bring their attention to himself. He was in enough trouble with law enforcement.

Something had shifted after he first saw the one in the wolf mask, though. As they got closer, he somehow knew one of them was looking at him. It was a gut instinct. Something that crept down his back like a cat and settled in with his meal from last night. And as they turned toward him, and he sat up and actually looked at them – both in a glance, not giving the boy more attention than the girl – that he knew what the feeling was.

It was the feeling a mountain lion had seeing a bear. It was the feeling a coyote had seeing a fox. He felt in every atom of his body in a way that made his teeth ache and the cold throb against his bones.

He’s like me.

It was all Lyle could do to keep his cool as the two older teens approached him. The thought would’ve sent something into a deep spiral if he didn’t know why they were here, if he didn’t know that even though the other boy was another predator, he wasn’t the same kind of predator. But the way he moved, the way his eyes leveled on Lyle, left no room for question. The simplest answer was the right one.

“Sure,” he said, with a smile that didn’t show off any teeth. His voice had already started to drop, but other than that – and his gangly limbs – there wasn’t anything to see. “What’s up? Am I loitering?”
 

“No, you’re not loitering. We just wanted to check if you’ve seen anything weird around lately.”

Wolf watched the kid with a growing sense of unease. He didn’t like this. This was off. Witch spoke to the kid while Wolf simply watched him, his eyes unwavering and hard. It took everything in him not to bear his teeth in a threatening manner.

He’s like me.

He knew it the way you knew your own family. He knew it the way he knew the sky was blue and the grass was green and the color of the roundabout was red. He knew it innately. This was a predator. He wasn’t like Wolf, that was for sure. No one was like Wolf. But he was a predator, and that meant he was dangerous to himself and Witch and everyone else around them. It didn’t matter what kind of predator he was. He was one, and that was all that mattered.

His eyes never left the kid. He couldn’t stop staring, in case the kid made a move and Wolf had to pounce, to take him down before he could hurt anyone. He felt it in his bones- there was nothing good about this curly-haired kid.

“We’re looking for anyone who might have seemed out of place over the last few days. Maybe someone who walks on their toes or seems to move funny.” Witch’s voice was soft, kind even. She clearly didn’t sense what he did. Was that because she wasn’t a predator? But she could sense the very fabric of the universe. Why didn’t she know? Why didn’t she see it? But then, she hadn’t been able to pin him down either until he had told her in a quiet voice at 7 am on the walk to school what he was.

None of that mattered. What mattered was staying on guard. What mattered was protecting what was his. What mattered was the safety of Witch and the people of Columbus. He was confident he could take the kid if he needed to. He was fast enough and while he wasn’t necessarily strong, all he had to do was touch him and he’d be too stunned to do anything.
 
Lyle decided to give the girl most of his attention. She was talking to him – but also, he’d be able to meet her eye and smile casually at her. Eye contact with the boy was going to cause a problem. He didn’t need to know what kind of predator he was to know that much, at least. He didn’t want to get in a fight, even if he was feeling good right now. After all, this was the other boy’s home, where he lived. He’d be pretty mad if he found someone like him hunting outside one of his cabins, much less if he had actual people around he considered important to him. Not that he thought the man last night was important to the taller boy – but it was always possible. He didn’t like the idea that this could be personal.

All of that was running in the background as the girl asked her questions. His body language stayed relaxed, though he dug his toes into the dirt to rock himself back and forth on the merry-go-round while she talked to him. When she was done, he looked like he was thinking hard for a few seconds, breaking eye contact and scratching the back of his head. His fingers tangled in his curls when he shook his head.

“Sorry, no.” He wrapped his hands around the bars of the ride, completely at ease with her. “Me and my dad just moved here.This is my first time coming around, and it was just other kids today.”

That was the same lie he’d told the other kids, too, when they’d asked. It was a believable lie for somebody his age, and he’d passed by a believable house with a “SOLD” sign out front on the way here. He knew what his dad did for a living – well, used to do for a living. And after a couple years, if it ever actually came up, he could do a convincing impression. He’d barely hesitate to do that after this long. Now that he understood what had happened.

But that wasn’t important right now! That was really just if they decided he was suspicious. Though, with how the boy was looking at him, he knew he’d already been judged harshly in the eyes of the local predator.

“Did something bad happen? I saw the police cars, but nobody knew anything when I aksed about them.”
 
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