7 Days before the Nightmare Valley incidents began.
Tlyer McGuffin had a few days off and wanted to spend some of that leave time at the Lake. He had hoped he could Coax his " This is an open relationship but pretty serious" Boyfreind to come along, but it turns out Stuart had some corporate Business to attend. By his tone over the phone it sounded like he would rather be at the lake then whatever was happening. He had also heard what sounding like Stuart checking the workings of a gun. Tyler's cop senses had tingled and when he questioned what he was hearing, he had gotten answer that 'might' be true.
" If I am going to have to dress up and prance around 'Red Knight Arm' like some suited ass i may as well use their indoor range, From what i am hearing one of the chemists wants to verbally incinerate me over something so some range time might be the best way to blow off some steam afterward." Stu had explained.
It might have been true but, the combination of his police instincts and boyfriend bullshit meter had hinted that he wasn't getting the full story. He put all that aside for now. He sat by the lakeside, away from the little recreational lodge and docks where most of the swimmers like to congregate, leaning against a tree with his shirt off letting his not so small stomach catch some sun rays. He wasn't ashamed of his size, he had never been the thinest but years on the job grabbing quick meals and spending too much time in a squad car had filled him out a bit. He wasn't big enoug for the weight to hinder him much if at all but some some of the other swimmers had gripped about seeing "too many fatties" that day, and so he lay in the sun it plain sight to spite that person as well as enjoy the sun.
This was a great place, the water was cool and crystal clear, the bottom of this lake being most rock so he could see all the way to the bottom. The lake was surrounded by tall trees and usually shaded except for times like now when it was high noon. The sound of people playing distantly was more of an ambient sound than distracting hubbub. There was a slight breeze and the large redwoods rustled pleasantly. It was serene in a way the nearby city never was. Don't get him wrong, Tyler loved the city life and its hustle and bustle but the gentle calm of the forests were a relief. It was like noise that amplified the quiet if that made any sense. That was why he jumped when he suddenly felt a hand grip his leg.
He popped to alertness and took in the situation with a keeness years on the force had trained into him. Instead of being attacked or groped by a fellow swimmer he looked over to see a pitch Black wolf in tribal garb peering intently out at the lake. He had small copper bands on his ears, and painted marking made from crushed minerals and water to make a tempory paste applied for ceremonial purposes. The bands marked him as scout of some kind, explaining why his approach had been so silent, but his young age, maybe 19 or 20 and the fact the band looked like that of a novice scout, meant he was inexperienced. This why Tyler had checked his reflex to smack the hand off his thigh. The Poor boy was so intent on the lake he most likely didn't realized he had a handful of a portly policemen's thigh instead of a tree root. Something on the boy's left arm gave him pause though and filled him with questions.
" Expecting Ghosts?" Tyler asked gently
The scout jumped slightly and looked over. Then Looked down at his hand and realized his had was not resting on a mossy rock. The Boy silently remove his hand then braced it against a tree with a sheepish expression. The kind of expression that said "I am sorry for accidentally groping you" without words. But instead of acknowledging the embarrassment tyler's other concern persists and he asked again.
" Are you expecting to fight a ghost? You have a spirit knife strapped to your arm." Tyler asked again and hoped the Boy spoke common. There were 2 full Kirfernav on the force with him and he could never pronounce any phrases they tried to teach him. He had also learned that Stuart's Kirfernav had a strange accent. Tyler's chubby love husky was Half Kirfenav so he was slightly exposed to the culture though Stuart seemed more comfortable with the Culture of the Old northern Barbarians that ran through his Husky side and couldn't tell them apart when he decided to mix them so he feared if he tried to ask any questions in anything but common he would sound like a lunatic. The boy spoke and all worries of sounding like a moron rushed out of the orange policemen.
" Uhhh maybe. Yeah i have a spirit knife but i always have it. I was asked to check out the lake but not what for." The young man said, not looking as intimidating as night black fur and deep yellow eyes should have made him. Stuart's oldest brother had The Kirfernav yellow eyes so maybe Tyler was just used to them. Stuart's mother had Red eyes and she could look scary as hell at times. But this lad, just looked like someone told to do something and was tryring his best to do it without having all the details. A state common every species and culture the world over.
" Let me guess, the great wise one, grandmother to many, gave you no details but commanded you do something of the direst of importance?" Tyler asked.
The native wolf narrowed his eyes a bit but didn;t sound hostile or offended when he spoke.
" Yes actually, though i wonder how you could know that." The Native said.
" Boyfreind is half Kirfernav, Tu'auchset clan, and she pulls the same shit on him and never seems happy no mater what he does." Tyler answers.
The wolf is now scanning the lake and the lakeshore and his ears are cocked to listen but he is still talking to tyler when he says.
" Is it the fat one with the ponytail and grey eyes? What is her deal with him? He may look nothing like one of the tribe but he has always be pretty decent, he even hired that lawyer that kept Etonfiel chemical from building a pipeline through our land. No idea how he afforded that."
" Yeah that is him, and he bought out Etonfiel chemical after that initial lawsuit that is why the racist ass owner never tried anything again." Tyler answers. Then he just realized he had no idea if Stuart advertised to the tribe he was rich. He always wore his shirt and jeans around tribal lands. Apparently The scout didn't know, because he looked back at tyler and raised his eyebrows. This didn't last for long though as they both saw somthing out of the corner of their eyes that made them whipe their head toward the center of the lake. There was a shadow moving along the bottom of the lake but it wasn't cast by anything.
The Scout drew the spirit knife, off his left arm and gripped it in a slightly trembling right hand. He was most likely feeling the presence of the entity casting the shadow, The kirfernav all had an innate ability to sense Shadow and dark realm magic and could often tell the benign thins from the malevolent things from such places. The trembling hand told tyler this wasn't benign.
" I am going to go to the cabin and warn everyone something is in the water, follow along shore and try and tell us how close to shore it comes." Tyler said suddenly taking charge. Looks like day of was on hold he had to serve and protect. The Shortest way toward the dock was to swim it insted of walking the winding shoreline. He jumped in the water and propeled his big body through the water with a swiftness that belied his size and spoke of contant exercise and adrenaline fulled urgency. The Tribes man didn't enter the water but he ran silently and swiftly through the trees toward the swimmers. As tyler was in the water he felt this eerie feeling that he had felt before when he had looked at some of the magical objects Stuart kept in his family home and out of the plain but spacious top floor apartment he lived in on his own. Some of the Stuff Stuart had when he enganged in magical things gave tyler the absolute willies and that is why most of them had been put into his parent's house when it was becoming clear that it was more than casual between them. This feeling he felt pulsing through the water reminded him of this Large book that had a series medallions made of silver and some black metal Dotting the cover. This was the eerie unease he felt when he looked at the black metal, but now instead of feeling large but distant it felt like there were whispers of it close by coming through the water.
He Got to the dock and hauled his big body out and in a calm firm voice started telling anyone who was near to get out of the water that there was something potentially dangerous in it. Many looked at him like he was a loon and some gave him the finger. But Tyler noticed there were a huddle of people of all ages fast walking toward the shore and looking around at the water. They were to far away for it to have just been his words that had driven them out. Some people had felt it.
" Hey man shut up you are scaring my kid." Complained a bear who was trying to get his uneasy looking son to paddle in the water. The very moment he said that the boy was ripped from his arms and pulled across the surface of the lake. He stayed at the surface long enough to shriek in terror before being pulled straight down by nothing that they could see and pressed against the bottom the crystal clear water showing his panicked struggles. Without hesitation Tyler dove into the water and swam down toward the struggling child. He knew he was getting close not just because of the crystal clear water showing him his progress he felt the dreadful unease pulsing through the water like greasy waves. Almost like a the pulse of rotting heart. Tyler also saw what looked like a tendril shape made of darker water. Just looking at this dimly lit stand made want to puke. But he swam on. Soon he felt the sickened heart beating in his ears out of sink with his own. He reached the boy and grasped him as the kid clung desperately to his hand. Tyler Pulled and the kid sliped from the patch of shadow. He pushed off from the bottom and was nearly half way to the surface when he felt a sickening sting arond his ankles he let go of the kid, pushing him up toward the surface. the kid got the idea and began franticly looking back down.
The Bear kid made it to the surface but Tyler his vision going fuzzy saw another tendril reaching up toward him. Then he saw a shimmer, a shape of a hand it was like sunlight rippling through water but under water. It Reached toward him gracefully. But instead of grippinf his outreached hand he felt the ghostly but still some how very rough hand grab the sruff of his neck. It Yanked and the force holding his feet slipped away. His heavy body was dragged to the surface of the water where he saw a glimmering shimmerng shape forming in the water, It was indistinct but some how feminine and it was gathering the little bear to her tenderly.
A moment later tyler's head broke the surface and he took a deep breath of air and gasping took stock of what was goign on. There towering above the lake was what could only be described as womanly figure, proud and powerful and strong, made of the crystal clear lake water. The sun shone through her but twinkled as if she were full of tiny powdered diamonds. She had the bear cub craddeled into her indistinct liquid boosom in a supremely maternal fashion. In her other hand Tyler McGuffin's body dangled as she gripped him by the scuff of his slightly meaty neck. he was held up slightly aboce the surface but could feel his feet and tip of his sodden tail drag the water as she strode with indistinct leg toward shore. Water flowed out from her in a conical fashion like a billowing skirt. Tyler got the feeling that he is being held this way, by the scruff of the neck like a naughty child, because she though he was being foolish for a grown man. As she stide proadly toward shore she can see that a life guard, a lean handsome coyote was swiming toward them with a rope tide around his ankle, they must have seen the shadow grab Tyler and all the swimmers looked read to have a touge of war with the beast. Now they were staring wide eye as this 8 foot tall figure flowed toward the dock like a glistening wave of diamond. She flowed up gently washing over the docks as she melted into the lake water. The bear cud was set down gentle where his father rushed to him and hugged him tight. Tyler McGuffin was flopped onto the dock without ceremony sliding a little on his stomach, pulling his swimwear down a little. He had a feeling the feminine presence that was still around thought very little of him for some reason and was laughing at his potential embarrassment. He wasn't much embarrassed and just levered up onto he arms and then stood up hicked his trunks up. He felt a vague sense the lack was annoyed when stood and spoke.
" Ok lets move away from the water the shadow thing is still down there. We should move back before...." he was interupted by a shouted " WHAT THE SHIT!?" He turned to see a bulk of water bulged up and try to flow over the dock. Tyler heard a war whop that sounded Kirfernav and the scout, spirit knife drawn do a threatening dance between the mas of now inky dark water and the people on the dock. He was holding a pouch of something and the spirit knife and looked read to fight this thing alone.
Suddenly a scream of " Stefan what??" and this mopy looking goth kid right next to Tyler, with heavy eyeliner and artifically bleached paterns on his fur,stepped forward as his face shed the apathetic sulk and twisted, became wrong some how, his cheeks too pointy and his bottom jaw seemed to warp and bend in the middle of the mandible, the teeth lenghtend to needle sharpness and his saliva turn black as his eyes rolled in his head. The eerie greasey caustic feeling of the dark creature and the dark place fairly bloomed of him. He lept forward before any could react. Tyler lunged but was to slow, the goth flew through the air, but not at the native wolf defending the crowd as tyler suspected, but at the mass of inky water, landing at the crest of this reverse bubble the clenched claws and weirdly wrong jaws sank into the water but held as if they sank into flesh. the Mad goth began srcabeling at the darkened water and the mas reacted as if in pain.
Taking this opportunity the Native scout opened the pouch and threw the contents in a puff of red powder, some landed on the dock and some drifted onto the creature. the Creature made of inky water shuddered and recoiled at were the powder landed. Emboldened by this the Dark wolf lunges forward and slashes at the mas with the spirit knife. Where the blade touches the water there is a purplish flash, that seems to rip through the presence. The victory is short lived when a tendril of water forms and whips upward sending the you black furred wolf into the air and tumbling end over end only to splash down in the lake behind the mass. The mass twists and contorts trying to loosen the goth but it seemed his jaws were making the area around his mouth more solid and less movable. Almost everyone is falling back and running up the lake shore toward their parking lot but a few stayed and looked ready to fight so the others may flee. Tyler Stayed but he had no idea what to do, he had no magic talent he was aware of and he doubted punching or wresting to restrain the mass would do anything. He was a cop, he didn't know what to do, it was not like he could arrest the thing.
He turned to the woman standing next to him a fit cougar in her mid 20's whose hands were raise as if she was going to beat the shit out of it even if it was just water.
" I am going to go get my gun you gonna be good while i do?"
" GO FOR IT AND YOU HAVE A NICE ASS!" She shouted then charged toward the mass.
He jogged his fat but appearently nice ass up the hill toward his car, glad that he trained regularly even if he never seemed to shed a pound he packed on. He Sprinted up the hill got to his car and pulled the door open.
" CAN YOU GIVE ME A RIDE I WALKED LETS GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!" some guys asked in a panic. Tyler pulled his gun case out and flipped it open revealing his off duty piece. It still had the little underslung stunner that most police issue weapons had and he hoped that it would work on magical water monstrosities.
" Not leavin bro, sorry he said as he slammed a magazine 10mm FMJ ammo into the pistol grip and a battery into the stunner. He was about to turn and run toward the dock when he felt a pull.
Obeying that pull but not knowing why he reached under the passenger seat and grabbed. There his hands found an object he was sure shouldn't be there. There shouldn't be anything under that seat. he Pulled it out and looked at one of the creepy objects he had seen the first night he slept in Stuart's Apartment. It was a short sword made with a bifurcated blade style. In style it was 2 snakes, one silvery white wrapped around another serpent that was the deep black metal he would find out was used in a lot of magical things. The handle was their intertwined bodies ending in a pommel made from the 2 snakes mouth's agape bearing fangs at each other Their bodies and tail forked of before running parallel and becoming the 2 blades. It looked like some sort of artistic wizard's large tuning fork. The First time he had seen it was on the wall in the Apartment bedroom. He had looked at it a moment, thought it was weird and then rammed his tongue down Sturat's throat and made out with him. He at the time had the odd feeling that the gemstone eyes of the serpent's heads, an deep blue sapphire on the silver snake and a bright ruby on the black one had been watching him made love and then slept in that bedroom.
" Aw fuck more magic shit" says the guy and runs off. Tyler agreed but he didn't let go of the weird little short sword. He had never asked Stuart about it because he had never cared. He ran back toward the dock with his gun, belt of extra mags and the short sword he had no idea how to use. It is not like cop's were train in sword fighting. He sprinted back toward the dock where the woman made of water had reformed and seemed to be swiping at the shadowy mass. The young cougar woman who had complimented his ass was punching and kicking at any out growths that got near her, but they must have been more then just physical as the tendrils tremble and disassociated when struck. He ran down the hill which he should not have been doing gripping an unheated sword. He was puffing when he began running down the dock. He was fast, and he was still in pretty good shape, but he had still been moving ever since he swam over to warn the people. Still adrenaline spurred him on. He got back to the wide area that the few who had stayed made their stands. The Woman of water was lunging in for blows but staying back, the goth kid seemed to be wrapped in small dark tendrils of water but they tor with a sick wet sound as he moved ab bit viciously. The Goth kid's arms seemed to be longer and thin with creepy 8 jointed fingers that tor and scratched. The Kirfernav was back on shore and he was limping back toward the fight spirit knife in hand.
Now that he was back into the fray he had no idea what to do. Getting a gun had been a stupid idea, but he felt he needed to defend. He open fire on the wattery mass, shots ringing loud and muzzle flashing firing deadly copper jacketed lead that did as much damage as if he tried peeing on it. He Ate through an 18 round mag in moments. he he the mag release and the magazine fell free, but then he realized he still had the sword gripped in his left hand and would need to put it down to reload. He tried something else. He flicked on the stunner attactmetnt that shot a bolt of coherent electricity that traveled down a tuned laser. He let loose with that, light bolts of controlled lightening struch the dark mass of inky water. It did something, just nothing good. The Bolts dissapated through the mass, but where still strong enough to zapp the twisted goth who let out a gurgling scream and was finally bucked of to land crummpled on the dock near Tyler. Tyler moved over hopinbg he wasn't dead.
" Dude, what the fuck?" The crumpled twisted goth said in a rather normal voice. His gangly form untwisted to get back to his feet but a liquid tendril shot forth at him. Without thinking Tyler brougt the weird short sword down on it. Not in a chop or a strike or anything at all sword like. The edge was not even in ilne, he struck with the flat of the blade. He struck at the tendril instinctively like a policemen hitting with a baton. Because well he was a policemen and he hit things like that.
The reaction from the shadow inky mass of water was astounding. Where the silver blade struck it sizzled and sputtered, the water vaporizing. The Black metal blade seemed to send out a shock of force and light through the tendril. Tyler paused for a moment shocked then did something he was told to never do in training, he swung widly not aiming to dissuade and attack but just wailing on a target. He swung wild hammer fisted blows with absolutely no finesse, he just advanced and hit. The Mass began to retreat beneaht the clumsy inexpert blows flashes of force and quick puffs of steam filling the air. Tyler started to feel weird. His body began to move wrongly, well wrong for Tyler McGuffin his fat arms began striking out in swift jabs, and feinting cuts that with elegance deflected attacks from all angles, he felt is legs move in ways he had never told them, with grace in a dance. His right hand gripping his gun felt more his own but he had these impulses. He fired of the stunner at certain places and poked and struck. He felt this foregein elegence guide him as he thrust and parried the tendrils. He to his own amazment was fencing with the rapid jabs of a creature made of darkness and water. The thing started to pull back, it seemed slowed and desperate to escape. This weird excitement slithered through him as if a duelist was ready to deliver a winning blow in a entertaining duel. It was like the feeling he got when he wrestled against Stuart and they kept score that one night before they had gone out after a drink and then both found themselves interested in the other, but this was arrogant and refined.
He brought his left hand low and slashed up with the silver edge and then immediatly brought his arm down cutting with the black edge. The mass of water split open like a body and inside he saw the source of the mass. It was a heart. a misshapen beating heart. the sword split in two and suddenly each side was pinning the side of the slash open. The blade was out of his hands.
With a head rush he was Tyler McGuffin again, overwight officer of the law. But he knew what he needed to do. he dropped his knees and picked up a new magazine and slamed it into his gun. With precision but little ceremony he took aim and fired into the pulsing heart, jerking the trigger but keeping on target till the thing was nothing but tattered flesh. He sat there in the kneeling position and stayed tenese and ready for whatever came next.
What came next was the inkiness fading from the water and it falling into the lake inert and lifeless. No longer part of a creature but lifeless hydrogen and oxygen. Tyler body felt a weird rush fill his tense muscles and even after he relaxed he felt of sensations in his body. He figured it was his body coming off of the adrenaline rush. He stood and surveyed everyone. The Couger woman was rubbing her arms and doing a cool down routine but her eyes darted looking for other threats. The Wolf native was leaning against the lifegaurd tower panting. When he saw tyler look at him he gave a thumbs up to say i am ok.
The Goth who had transformed was changing back to normal but it was unpleasant to look at and made horrible sounds of cracking bones and tendons. soon he stoog in shredded clothing and was rubbing his fingers and grimacing.
" You ok?" Tyler asks.
" Yeah. I guess. It didn't hurt but now it feels like my joints are still all twisted and stuff, my hands look normal but my finger still feel all long and stuff...." he replies twitching a little.
Tyler reaches up to pat him on the shoulder and tell him he will be ok but when he raises his hand the weird sword is in his hand again. He jumps in surprise. So does the goth.
" The fuck? it was just there when it wasn't before!" He stumbles back.
Tyler lets go of the sword but it sticks to his palm. Tyler grimaces at it and shakes his hand but it stays as if glued.
" What the hell is..." he is inturpted by a sense of being ripped in 2 while he body stays still.
His vison is cast in 2 opposite directions and he has no idea as to what he sees in either. The he is slamed back into his own body. his had is still open than the sword falls from his grasp and sticks into the dock. he stares down at it quivering. It has a new feature though. Between the open hissing mouths of the serpents floats a jewel. It is glossy and deep red. He looks from person to person.
" Is it too early in the day for whisky? i think i need a drink" Tyler says. he doesn't want to touch the sword again so he just stares at it. The Cougar comes over and picks up the sword obviously seeing he doesn't want to. She claps him on the shoulder." That was some weird shit, She is some weird shit, i think whisky is the most normal thing right now" The cougar says gesturing to the woman made of the crystal clear lake water still there watching them. Tyler feels like she is somehow judging them in the way some family matriarchs do. He gets the impression she still thinks he is a silly little man who is trying to hard to be macho. He almost feels like confronting her about it. He turns as if to be led away by the cougar then stops and turns. You know what enough with trying to pretend all this magic stuff isn't here anymore. They may have science and technology and be on the cusp of expanding into space and all that but this world is still one that is full of weird things. Why be shy about it? He turns to confront the woman made of water.
" Thanks for your help but we no longer wage the war you once fought. Both sides lost. People define themselves." Tyler says staring intently.
" Why are you telling a living glass of water about self determination?" The Goth says looking confused.
" This is an old spirit, from before the age of choice, when your fate was chosen by the speakers. This spirit thought the fox oversteped his bounds by trying to save the child and thus shape his fate." The Kirfernav says.
The cougar takes a confident stance.
" Ah from the fate wars eh, we don't belive in that stuff because it doesn't work that way. Was never supposed to." The cougar announces The Figure draws up and puts it hands on its hips. Projecting authority.
" What uhh urkgghghhhhg...." the goth says as his eyes roll back again. when they roll foward they are like peering into a star studded sky. The Goth's face smiles, but it is a smile more threatening than when it twisted into the monsterous fighting visage.
" If you doubt listen for the spin of the time counter's top, time ticks on but the hands of the chess-masters lay shattered and stripped of life, this universe was never made to be your master's game and they found the pieces did not like to be prodded. All their vast works lay in ruins and their minds stripped and consumed. Worlds made and worlds shatter by the whim of their laws not the tampering of your players. so go now puppet and think on what it means to make choices. you interfered here because you weren't told who was to die, and you resented the other moving out of turn. But think now of choice and what it means to tell yourself what to do, but also think now of the consequences of those choices. You saw how we dealt with that born in shadow and desire. By all mean save all in peril in this lake but do so of your own will and hinder not those who do the same." The figure that speak's through the goth boy cocks its head.
The figure made of shimmering water stays still as if listening.
" The silence is maddening is it not? but now it means you must fill the world with music of your own making, or retreat to the broken hall of the weaver and pray their broken forms move anew."
The boy blinks and his eyes are normal. he looks around as if to assure himself he is back. he then Crosses his arms and rubs them. He sets of an air of knowing what has just happened but doesn't want anyone to acknowledge it.
The figure of water is still there but is smaller and it seems now frightened. Then it asks a question that shakes them all.
" Then what hand moved the sword?" None can answer that. The woman melts into the lake and the scene physically returns to the sunny placid forest and lakes that it aught to be.
"I think we need the whisky even more now." The cougar says. She isn't confident and cheerful anymore. She is also looking the sword up an down. " Where did this come from anyway?"
They are slowly walking up toward the dock house an parking lot. The Sun is shining pleasantly and the birds have begun to sing again. Some people, the ones who hadn't run off to the parking lot but instead hid in the forest start to come out and loo around. They seem distrustful of the placid loveliness they see. None of them dare speak and only eye the group made up of a limping wolf Supported by chubby shirtless fox, a cougar in a bikini, and a teenage boy with his arms crossed tightly utterly withdrawn.
" I will tell ya all i know, but first i think the whisky will be needed." Tyler mutters.