Deciding the forest wasn’t a good location for serious conversation, Ismene, Tommy, Tammy, and Seth returned to suburbia. Their new quasi-allies the werewolves had invited them to a private home, to explore the revelations of their shared evening. Harry – feeling personally attacked with Ismene’s announcement that she wouldn’t stand for the mutilation of any being, no matter what it had done – sullenly returned home of his own accord, irritated and demanding solitude.
A friendly-looking, hairsuite man answered the door and welcomed the paranormal investigators in, leading them to a comfortable study room lined with bookshelves and video tapes. Ismene and Tammy accepted tea, while Seth enjoyed sipping on a milkshake they had picked up for her on the way there. Tommy looked on, impassively. Several minutes later both Cathy and Kate appeared, having changed and cleaned up from the forest fray.
“May we see the tape?” they asked, gesturing to Ismene’s camera. After several minutes of sorting through cables and wires, they found the right connectors to view the captured footage on the large screen. Seth turned away from the monitor, preferring not to relive the pains of a few hours prior. As the video began to play, their wolf hosts began asking about the investigators, particularly about Tommy’s “secret society” contacts and Ismene’s foray into paranormal media. In return they began to open up about their own history.
Having come from Europe, long before the 1840s Gold Rush, they were drawn to the Sacramento valley due to its power and “thin points” near the rivers. “Agents both divine and profane” had also made their home there over the years, they explained, drawn by and to the same power. “The rivers are key,” Kate said, following Cathy’s lead. “We were once known as the Daughters of Artemis – protectors of the land, and of the old ways.”
“She has been gone from this world for many years,” they continued. “We seek to find her and bring her back, to restore peace and good order.” Tammy nodded solemnly, herself having a strong connection to structure and discipline.
“Gods seem like a real handful,” Ismene interjected. “I wouldn’t want Zeus running around making a mess of things.”
The wolves nodded, slowly. “They are at once more and less than any mortal story can describe. Long ago, a powerful demon named Floros had the body of a woman and the head of a lioness. Ancient grimoires speak of it, and about how others like it conspired to topple humanity’s faith in the true gods. Is there really such a difference between ‘angel’ and ‘demon?'” they asked, causing Tammy to narrow her eyes.
“Of course there is.”
“The oldest texts use the terms interchangeably,” the older woman explained. “Servants of higher powers, or lower powers as the case may be, who realize the only way to amass power is to control others.”
The adventurers learned from their new friends that the being they faced had indeed been a Cherubim, one of the four-headed angelic messengers, lowest of the celestial host.
“That was the someone on the lowest tier?” asked Tommy, voice filled with incredulity.
“This is not going to go well,” he frowned.
“Local thralls are going to try to jump-start a ritual they call ‘the Crawling’ here in less than a week,” Ismene announced. “Rogue AI, strange creatures, unexpected lab samples, that kind of thing. ”
How about I make you a deal?” Kathy offered, looking to the tape player.
Seth and Tommy’s eyes narrowed in unison.