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2046746 UNPDF
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“You? Hunt us? Arrogant mongrels! You are too few; we are
legions. You must be born to the flesh; we take the flesh at our
whim. O you wolves, howl your fear to the uncaring moon, for
she has given you up to us.”
—The spirit Beshazmaktu,
through the mouth of Catherine Mollett
• Extensive details on the
spirit denizens of the
Shadow and monstrous
horrors from the ancient days
• Detailed treatment of the
Beshilu Rat Hosts and the
Azlu Spider Hosts, and notes
on the three Host races yet
• Expanded rules for the
Ridden, the hapless victims
of spirit possession; new
powers, sample antagonists,
and a short sample story
involving the possessed
1-58846-326-5 WW30300 $29.99 US
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Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Jess Hartley, Forrest B. Marchinton, Deena McKinney and Ethan Skemp
World of Darkness ® created by Mark Rein Hagen
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The girl was crying blood.
She wept silently, scarlet tears running red tracks
down her pale cheeks, and she made no sound above her
whispery breathing. A moment’s trembling was followed
by more of the stinging pain she had felt earlier. She was
cutting herself again, and again her guardians took note
of the injuries. They were talking now, but the girl knew
they were not speaking to her, only about her… and the
thing that was inside her.
The stinging pain felt good. It dulled the agony that
flowed through her body with every beat of her heart.
“Sweet Heaven, she’s doing it again. I thought you
took the knife away from her.”
“I did. She’s using her fingernails this time.”
Stronger hands, the hands of her guardians, held the
girl by her wrists. The stinging lessened, but the agony in-
side her blood returned with vicious force. Her guardians
did not understand the delicate balancing of her pain.
“Look, she’s… made… more of those runes. Not just
the ones on her cheeks but here, too, on her forearm.”
The girl knew her female guardian was close to tears
again. In some strange way, she felt pleased by this. With
that realization, something inside her stirred and writhed
through her mind like a serpent. It, too, was pleased at
the female guardian’s grief. It was pleased with everything
— saturated and content with the girl’s pain as well as the
emotional hurt of her guardians.
“What do these markings mean?” The female guard-
ian spoke then, running her fingertip along the symbols
the girl had carved into her own skin. They had been pre-
cise and neat at first, when she had used the kitchen knife
to score the soft surface of her flesh. When her guardians
had taken the knife out of her grasping hands, her finger-
nails left ragged scratches rather than precise cuts.
The male guardian (perhaps he had been her father?)
also came to look at the fresh markings.
“I don’t know what the newest ones mean. I know
the one on her cheek means ‘sacrifice’ and this one on her
neck means ‘eternity . ’ I have no idea about the others.” He
took a deep breath. “I think they’re magical in some way.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because it hurts my eyes just looking at them.”
The girl knew that it was because the runes in her
flesh were holy sacred signs that meant something to
the serpent-thing inside her. Both the signs themselves
and her pain were holy to the thing inside her head.
“I can’t take any more of this.” The female guardian
said in sudden anger. “I’m going to gather the pack.”
“They’re just as new to all this as we are. I told you,
none of us know how to… exorcise… whatever it is.”
“Someone will. Someone in one of the experienced
packs outside the city. They’ll know what to do.”
“We are not leaving the city. It’s hard enough to fight
whatever horrors are running around our estate at any
given time. We are not leaving the protectorate just to get
killed by our own kind when they decide we’re not worth
The female guardian stood anyway, and walked to the
door of the small room. The girl watched her stand in the
doorway, and then felt the unwanted touch of the male
guardian’s hand on her own.
“I’m staying here, honey. I’ll keep you safe.”
The female guardian spoke through tears. “You stay
here and watch over her. I’m going to call the others , and
we’ll track the pack that run outside the city. The ones
we met two months ago. They had a pretty old Ithaeur,
and he’s the best chance we have to save her. She’s your
daughter, and as good as mine. We have to try.”
Daughter. The word sounded alien to the girl’s ears.
The serpent-thing inside her head smiled at the thought of
one of the guardians leaving, and made the girl wave her
hand in farewell. The spirit spoke through the girl’s lips in
the hissing voice of a snake-like demon.
“Bye, Mommy.”
• • •
The werewolf ran. For a couple of heartbeats, white
sneakers pounded onto the dry earth as she sprinted away
from the screams. It was one of her packmates screaming
screaming her name. For a moment, the wrenching cry
hung in the still air before sinking into uneasy silence.
Then, once again, the other screams began. It was her
whole pack dying back there. Still the werewolf ran.
The sneakers became clawed paws, two feet became
four and the wolf ran as though her heart would burst.
Another scream shredded the night air, echoing with
alien resonance through the metal and concrete labyrinth
of the industrial estate. The screamer’s identity was lost in
the pain-wracked cry.
She had not found the other pack. She had found
nothing but danger and death in the spirit wilds surround-
ing the city. Even here in the Shadow reflection of the
industrial complex, there were faded, dying tree-spirits
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that moved like crooked old men and reached for her. Any
comparisons to lecherous elders were instantly banished as
they lashed out with their razor sharp branch-claws. She
leapt aside and ran on. There was no thought of destina-
tion, no cohesive plan of escape. There was only the bitter,
chilling sense that what was killing her pack would soon
be coming after her. She howled as she ran, though her
hammering heart and heaving lungs broke the wolf-cry as
it left her throat. It was less a call for help and more of a
cub’s pining for its mother.
Something unseen, with the force of a horse kick,
thundered into her ribs. Winded and unbalanced, the
she-wolf lost her stride, crashing to the ground. As she
struggled to raise herself on four trembling legs, she caught
the coppery scent of her own blood. Pain bloomed like a
living thing in her side, spreading out into her body like
a rapid cancer. She whined piteously as she turned her
head to see the source of her pain: an arrow, silver-tipped
by the acidic feel of it, stuck out from her ribs at a crazy
angle. Who could be so mad…? As she took hesitant steps
forward, her paws shivered at the intensity of the pain.
The silver tip scraped maddeningly against the bones of
her ribs. Even through the agony, the she-wolf could think
of nothing more than fleeing the scene where she’d left
her packmates to die.
She scented the approach of others, but lacked the
strength to run.
“And who are you, little wolf? Going somewhere in a
hurry, whoever you are. Let’s stop a while and talk about a
small concept known as territory.”
The human words rang eerily in her wolf-mind, but
she understood their meaning. She yelped as the arrow
was unceremoniously yanked out of her body. Immediately
the pain lessened, though it remained a constant, pulsing
ache. With great effort, she shifted to her natural form,
and lay on the ground, panting through clenched teeth.
She looked through teary eyes at the four figures that
stood around her in a half-circle. One of them spoke.
“Manners are such a simple thing to remember, yet so
often they go unused.” He stepped closer, looking down at
the woman on the ground. The speaker had lightly tanned
skin and black dreadlocks that hung to his chin. He wore
faded jeans and a nondescript white T-shirt, but in his
hands he carried a long, slender klaive bow.
“My dear,” his sarcasm caustic, “This is the part of the
conversation where you introduce yourself. And after the
pleasantries are behind us, you can explain why the hell
you are on our hunting ground.”
Standing unsteadily, she held a hand to her bleeding
side, covering the hot blood flow with her palm. She spoke
her pack name, as formally as she could manage through
teeth gritted so savagely together.
“I’ve been looking for you.” She said in a small voice.
“My pack and I, we’ve been looking for you for hours.
We… I… need your help.”
The four figures, two men, a woman and a teenage
boy she now realized, looked at her dispassionately.
“You’ve found us.” The woman said with a raised
“What did you wanna find us for? What help d’you
need?” The teenager’s curiosity was overcoming the deri-
sion written all over his face.
“My stepdaughter, there’s some kind of spirit inside
her, and… ”
The dreadlocked man, clearly the pack alpha, waved a
hand sharply. “Forget that right now. Where’s your pack?”
The injured woman looked back the way she had fled,
casting her eyes over the spiritual reflection of what had
once been a forest, and was now an abandoned industrial
complex. There must have been a great wealth of emotion
invested in such a place for it to have manifested in the
The pack turned their heads as one and followed her
gaze. The dreadlocked leader blinked once and said, very
quietly, “Oh. Fuck.”
• • •
The pack moved slowly past the ghostly echo of a
factory. The injured woman and the teenager had shifted
into Dalu form. The man and the woman of the pack
loped along silently in the wolf form, stopping every
few moments to sniff at the ground or the air. Only the
dreadlocked leader remained in his human shape, keenly
watching his surroundings and clutching his klaive bow
in his fists. A steel-tipped arrow was nocked, ready to be
drawn and fired at the first sign of danger. The factories
and warehouses were deathly quiet, beyond the malicious
whisperings of a few fading nature-spirits that somehow
clung to life in such a place.
“How much further?” the pack alpha whispered to the
werewolf that stood next to him. He noticed with a twinge
of guilt that the arrow wound in her side still trickled dark
blood. In answer, the huge figure merely pointed a clawed
finger straight ahead. The leader raised his klaive bow,
but did not pull the string. The injured werewolf stepped
ahead of the others. Her worry for her packmates overrode
most of the fear she had felt up to this point.
There was evidence of struggle outside the cavernous
warehouse. Red splotches marked where the blood of her
packmates had fallen. Several larger pools of blood, still
wet but no longer warm, told tales of where her brothers
and sisters had died. While the area was devoid of any
corpses, there were several messy trails of smeared blood
leading across the tarmac and into the large, dark ware-
house ahead.
The bodies had been dragged inside.
“How many were in your pack?” The leader’s sarcasm
was gone now. Even in human form his Rage beat down
his fear, and his face looked set in stone.
The word came awkwardly to the woman’s throat,
and sounded like distant thunder. “Five.”
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