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by: Fierro Darque
Continued from: SAFE PASSAGE
March 17th
Around 6:45 p.m.

I hope they've made it to safety...

Fierro had been walking for around thirty minutes, in the opposite direction as the Professor and the fragile girl. He wondered for a moment if he'd made a grave mistake, leaving them to escape alone. If they stayed in a group there would be strength in numbers; he would be able to protect them if whatever beasts that were heading toward them decided to change course and follow them. Lenor didn't seem much like a fighter, but he seemed smart enough to be able to maneuver out of the way of danger.

He'd made his way along the dirt and gravel road, a path that he knew lead towards a lake, a nice and peaceful clearing he once made a regular spot when he and his late wife were still married, let alone on talking terms. It was early on in their marriage, the honeymoon phase, when things were lighter and simply put: happier. The thing about traveling alone left Fierro to get lost in his own mind, wandering in his own memories, both recent and distant. He wondered if Kara was safe. He worried about Berenice, and if they would meet again—if she would even remember who he was. Part of him hoped not, since their final exchange at the school left her frightened, due to the fact that his wife came out of whatever hell-box she'd been hiding in and sought out to torture him even now, punish him psychologically, as if he hadn't already felt pathetic for realizing what horrible things he committed as William's right hand. The Minister of Magic.

That title would be with him forever, but so would fugitive, making him a target worth taking down for ransom or for sport.

Then he thought of Azkaban, recalling those last moments he spent as Minister. Williams had forced him to torture his own daughter. Step-daughter or not, she didn't deserve that punishment. She didn't deserve any more scars than she had already accrued in the many years fighting off his fiends. But why then? Why, after all of the cruel and unusual punishments that he had administered over time, did he decide that he couldn't do it anymore? Kara was a reminder that his wife had betrayed him. His daughter wasn't his...she belonged to a different bloodline, not his.
Fierro didn't realize how dehydrated he was until he breathed through his mouth, of exhaustion and exasperation. He swallowed, hard, and kept walking, listening close for anyone following behind him.

A twig snapped behind him, and so he stopped, ducking behind the trunk of a tree. His heart started to race, his breathing labored and painful in his dry throat.

Had the hounds found their way to him?
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by: Jace Bryden
Even in their human for there was no mistaking their grace and fluidity as they raced through the bush running alongside a gravel road with nary a sound. They had been tracking this particular target for well over a few hours now and new they were closing in. Excited whines and yips broke the still of the evening air with harsh panting sounds and heavy breathing. There was no doubt this would have been a hell of a lot easier had it been the night of the full moon. But beggars couldn't be choosers and the Lucky 7, a prominent black Spiral pack in the area, were well known for their tracking abilities and taking tracking jobs if the price was right. Needless to say the price offered for this target would take care of the pack for months on end.

A grizzled looking man standing about called a quick halt to the four that were with him. He'd caught a flash of movement up ahead and with any luck it would be their quarry. The man tilted his head slightly, as if straining to hear something not meant for human ears and rewarded his followers with a fanged grin. Another tilt of his head and a soft whine had his group split of into pairs, one on each side of the road, well concealed by the shadows and brush. The grizzled man then cupped his hands around his mouth and let out a deep howl. A few moments later he was rewarded with one in return. Almost three miles back the pack had to split up when the trail turned in both directions. The track had been marred enough that they couldn't be sure if one trail was a decoy or not so they had planned accordingly.

A few more quick howls to inform the other group they had found there quarry and were to return, the the man straightened his jacket and walked down the road as silently as his human form would allow, drawing a few throwing knives from a bandolier he wore across his chest. If he could take the target down without a fight all the better. Unfortunately his totem didn't grace him with luck. About half way to his prey he had the dumb luck to step on a stray twig. The snap was deafening to the Garou and he swore under his breath as a flicker of movement ahead indicated his target had heard and had slipped off the road. Well, if he wanted to play it the way the grizzled man would oblige. At least the hunt wouldn't be boring. With a fanged grin the man continued forward, nose working overtime to detect where the target had left the road.
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by: Fierro Darque
No, no, no...

Fierro cursed to himself under his breath. He had to assess this situation. If the twig was that close in proximity, the hunters were bound to be right on top of him. He tried to stop his labored breathing--wanting to cup a hand over his mouth, he settled for sealing his lips tightly and letting the breath escape his nose. It was a struggle to get his panting down to a minimum, but it was probably no use by now. They were close enough to strike, he figured...He wanted to dart away, take off running and perhaps apparate, but he wouldn't have his wand out in time to get that spell rolling.

Alas, those were his choices: Run and suffer the attack at his back or stay and see how this plays out. When he looked up, he could hardly see the faint trace of the moon behind the clouds in the night sky, but he sure as hell knew it wasn't full. If they were wolves, they would be hurtling through the forest at a full rage--if he hadn't forgotten his lore of lycanthrope--but if they were something else entirely, he was in for long night ahead. Fierro had seen a handful of magical creatures in his time, but after so long in the capital and dealing with the Empire's monsters in the political arenas, he had to admit he was a little rusty for this type of combat.

He pressed his back against the tree and remained still, listening for footsteps, keeping tight to his wand in his dominant hand.

The driving force was getting to the safehouse and meeting up with Kara again--with what little he was able to retrieve as an offering of sorts, a white flag and olive branch since they hadn't been on the best terms. No, even with his apologies and many deeds done for her fallen Order, she hadn't forgiven him. He didn't blame her. After everything he (and Williams) put her through, he couldn't blame her for being angry to the point of hating his guts, but this was what he was doing to repent, to absolve him of the terrible deeds he committed as Minister of Magic and hand of Trevor Williams. Fierro would fight through whatever was in his way to get back to her, because it was time for them to have a heart to heart.

He had to defeat them, or outsmart them, or escape them somehow.
He had to.
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by: Jace Bryden
The grizzled man continued to walk forward at a steady pace, a smirk growing with each step. It was amusing to think that if the pack had been human and not Garou, their targets labored breathing would have gone unnoticed and he would have slipped away into nothingness. It was as close to praise as the wolf would ever give a human. Unfortunately luck was not with Darque tonight. The grizzled man broke into a smile, drew a couple knives from his bandolier as he continued to walk down the road and began to whistle a soft tune. Tonight he was the distraction. His true job was to flush the man out into the waiting jaws of the other six that had spread out earlier, so he kept his pace slow and let the tension in the air build.

As he neared the tree where he was certain Darque had holed up to catch a breather, the Garou hurled one of the knives so it would stick with a loud THWAK! The intent wasn't to hit the target, but rather to scare. If Darque chose to run, Mia and Tayo, two of the youngest in the small pack, would be there to meet him. If he didn't run, well, the grizzled man never shied from a fight.
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by: Fierro Darque
Fierro breathed in and out, trying to become as still and quiet as he could. Hiding, survival and tracking were never his strongest suits, since he spent most of his time on the political side of things, using money and status to survive as opposed to savage skill. However, since he'd abandoned his post as Minister and sought out a more underground life, he'd learned a few things on how to blend in--even without the use of a polyjuice potion. Living on instinct after a lifetime of using his charm and charisma to get by was quite the contrast, but it was the path he chose. The right-hand of the empire's tyrant of a leader was no place for him...not anymore.

He had a terrible feeling in his gut as the wood grew silent. He couldn't hear anything beyond the soft whisper of the breeze, but something told him that someone was near. Fierro could feel the primal eyes staring at him, the fear forming goosebumps on his chill-bitten skin. Still, he held to his wand.


His eyes shot open, wider than he'd ever managed. Fierro had jumped at the noise but stifled a sharp gasp which nearly tore at his throat. It made him jump, but Fierro managed to keep in place. Whoever it was that had been stalking him was whistling now, a chilling, taunting tune that sharpened the very fresh goosebumps on his neck. It could be a human; no beast other than the birds that had flown away for the winter could offer a sound like that. Or--as he feared--it could be animagus... Fierro took a deep breath, knowing that he was discovered but being played with now... He waited for their move, their strike, and anticipated their reveal.
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by: Jace Bryden
The flicker of movement when the target jump was all the confirmation the hunting Garou needed to locate their prey and go on the offensive. A pair of lanky, average height, humans burst from the brush, to the right of Fierro with a snarl. The female had a wand drawn and barked out a disarming spell while the smaller male lunged unnaturally quick toward the man with the intent to take his target out at the knees and, if lucky, drag the man to the ground. It was a calculated risk but if he could get the target on the ground he knew his alpha would have this scuffle finished in seconds.

While this was happening the rest of the pack circled the trio, though they all hung back just out of sight in case their prey managed to break free of the initial attack. Another, tall and lanky female had a bow drawn and arrow knocked as insurance. Prey often didn't get far if they had an arrow protruding from their calf. A sinister grin spread across her face at the thought. There was a certain joyous aspect in toying with your prey before snuffing the light out of its eyes once and for all. She let out a loud yip to signal the alpha everyone was in place.

When he heard the yip, the grizzled man grinned. By now he was close enough to the tree the target was hiding behind he would be able to react accordingly to whatever Fierro decided to do. He pulled another knife from the bandolier so he had two easily resting in his left hand for a quick stab or throw as needed, or if the situation demanded it he could drop them and grab. His right hand curled around the brass knuckles that rested naturally around his fingers. If there was anything to be said about Lucky 7's alpha, it was that the man was born for brawling. Melee was always more fun in an unpredictable kind of way. The grizzled man tensed, ready for whenever an opportunity to maim or kill presented itself.
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by: Fierro Darque
Fierro threw his gaze to the right, where the hunters had found him. Two beings stood before him, humans by the looks of them, but nothing about their movements seemed quite human at all. He saw the girl draw her wand back and throw her spell, but he thought quickly and raised his own wand to counter it. He shielded himself from what appeared to be an attempt at disarming him. This was only a distraction, of course. The other one, the boy, was running toward him, and was fast. Fierro turned and somehow managed to dodge this attempt, making short work of the boy as he flipped him over and landed him on the ground.

He didn’t want to stay this close to them, so he took two quick steps to the nearest tree in front of him and put his back to it as it was thick enough to provide decent cover. He kept his eyes on the girl who tried to disarm him, glaring as he did. Fierro was breathing a bit harder now, and he felt the safety of the trunk of the tree hit his back as he moved back. Fierro took a more defensive stance, gritting his teeth as he kept his wand raised and ready to fire if need be, but he wanted to play this differently. The Ministry had two tactics: blast and ask questions later, or the ever-unpopular, use diplomacy to your advantage and talk your way out of a situation. Fierro only turned his head at the sound of a soft yip in the distance, but he didn’t take his guard away from the pair who had revealed themselves.

He was surrounded. He had to be. There would be no use running now, because there was someone else watching, if not these two, to make sure he wouldn’t get away. It was how packs like this worked, or packs of any kind, if they were smart. ”Alright! Alright. You’ve got me, now what do you want?” It was a daring bit of dialogue but he wanted to open it, to test them, and see just how primal these beasts were.

Patiently, he waited. For another sound, for any more movement other than the pair in front of him. They didn’t look like the leading sort, given their frames, so whoever was at the head of their pack was out of sight for now. If they weren’t the chatty lot, however, he had to be prepared for what was going to happen next.
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by: Jace Bryden
He'd listened for the sounds of a scuffle and was rewarded with a what sounded to be a few spells cast and then the whiff of air and a soft yelp. So their prey had some skill. How interesting. the grizzled man highly doubted either of the young ones he'd sent in first had been seriously hurt so when the target had the balls to shout out and ask what he wanted all the grizzled man could do was grin.
The alpha stepped out from behind the tree that had been covering his movements and let out a soft yip to stop the two younger ones from resuming their initial attacks. Color him curious. It wasn't often prey had guts to want to chat before getting ripped to shreds. Usually it was all "please don't kill me!", "spare my kid!" Bleh... Even though the end result would be the same sometimes it was just fun to play with your food.

"What do I want?" the voice matched the grizzled appearance. The alpha stopped his easy stride a few feet from the tree he stepped out from and let his eyes scan the area. It was easy to pick out where the target had moved to. Not only had the man given away his position when he called out, but the trampled terrain was also a dead give away. Jace let out a delighted laugh and casually flipped one of his daggers in a lazy arc, catching it as if it was the most natural motion in the world. "What I want, former Minister Darque, is you." Jace let a toothy grin make its way on his face. "If you give up now I'll make your end quick, or if you prefer to play we can always draw it out and make it as agonizing as you'd like. Your choice."
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by: Fierro Darque
Fierro inhaled, a shallow one at best. He was standing before another, larger man with the stature of a real leader. He carried himself differently than the other two, that much was for certain. Perhaps he was their alpha. The most off-putting thing about him was his slow, careful movements. Orchestrated almost. He had a blade of sorts drawn, but Fierro figured he wouldn't need it--it might have been for show, since he could probably tear him apart with his bare hands, but this changed the dynamic of the encounter. He was armed and had the numbers advantage. Fierro was alone, and had little in the way of defense.

As the man drew nearer, Fierro remained still. He didn't move, since the girl was fixed on his position. Even at a two (and a half, if they counted the boy he knocked over) man pack, Fierro knew he didn't have enough fight in him to physically take them on. They were far beyond his physical skill and probably more rested than him at this moment. Then, the man spoke. He had a low, rumbling voice that was enough to make his hairs stand, possibly because it exuded more eloquence than Fierro expected, which made him even more terrifying.

When he spoke his name, Fierro narrowed his eyes. It had to come as no surprise that he'd been recognized, since he'd gone without his polyjuice, his mask. He just wanted to know why a pack of garou would want his head. Mercs, maybe?

"Whoa, whoa, now hold on...What do you want with me? What, you want my head? You want, the bounty on it? Because I'm not sure if you've heard, but I'm old news..." That was the best he had to offer in the way of stalling, because he had only heard in passing that there was trouble at Puxley. If there even was a Puxley anymore. Williams or MacTail or whoever the hell was in charge might have lowered his status from enemy of the state and its equivalents, to lower bounties. That, he could work with, if this alpha garou would give him enough time to talk.
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by: Jace Bryden

"Old news is still news and you're priority number one on our list. You should feel privileged. The government is offering a pretty penny for your head. Attached to you preferred but removed if necessary. There's also this nice little bonus for information we could get on who it was you'd be running to." If it was possible the toothy grin got wider as Jace closed. He was itching for a fight and was seriously hoping Darque was more man than mouse.

"So it's like I said before I want you. Unless of course you have a better offer... otherwise run little wizard, run!"

The knife throw had come as soon as the alpha had stopped speaking. He'd aimed for the center of Fierro's chest to account for any moving the man would possible do in order to dodge the throw. The intent was to hit a limb but really anything would do right now. A second throw followed the first and this time he aimed high with the intent of striking the tree right beside the mans right ear. He hadn't been kidding when he stated he wanted the wizard to run. Hunts were much more fun when prey panicked.
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by: Fierro Darque
The old, grizzled man sounded more intense the closer he got. The fact that he spoke with such nonchalance made his demeanor even more fearsome, as a garou would naturally have that charm, that ability to instill fear into its prey without being in its true form. Fierro stood still, and didn’t move even when he told him to run. He’d heard of packs of garou turned mercs around these parts, but only in passing, as he’d never seen them up close and personal.

Fierro still had his wand drawn but his hands were up, in more of a defensive stance, than offensive. Since they had the advantage, he didn’t want to trigger anything that could be avoided if he was civilized enough to talk this much. ”Money. I have money, if that’s what you’re after. I told you, I’m worth little to the regime now. I could double what they’re asking for me…”

If it was coin they were after, he’d have it. He had enough reserves stashed away for things like this, as an insurance policy. Even though his account at Gringotts was probably bled dry, he had enough things at his old estates and tucked away in various locations to support that offer…or so he hoped. This might not be enough, he knew, so he had to come up with a plan.

But then, the knives went flying. This man seemed to love his blades, Fierro noted. He watched as one went flying towards him and he dodged it, just in time, stepping out of its trajectory. It was aimed at his chest. Before he could sigh in relief, Fierro saw another one thrown, only the glint of the blade as it soared across the way, under the moonlight. He’d moved out of the way and dodged the first blade but managed to put himself in the way of the second one. He saw a flash of light, and then a searing pain on his face. Fierro released his wand and it fell somewhere at his feet, and he only knew this because it hit his boot before falling into the brush.

He didn’t care about that for now, as he howled out in pain, screaming at the sky. Fierro, try as he might, couldn’t open his right eye anymore. Through his left, he could see the face of the older man, though only traces of color as his vision started to blur.
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by: Jace Bryden

The scream that rent the air was like sweet music to the Garou's ears. It had been an unexpected development. Perhaps he'd given Fierro to much credit when he assumed the man would have moved to the opening on his left side, so the blade meant to find nothing but air found an eye instead. Jace watched the man fall to one knee and let out a soft disappointed sigh. Well this wasn't going to do. He wanted a real chase, a fight, not a cowering meek little animal.

"Why would I need your money when I've got the ministry's?"

Jace continued to move toward his target and once he was close enough, Jace put a hand on the back of Fierro's jacket and the other grasped the front so he could haul the wounded human to his feet. The Spiral made a show of dusting of Fierro's jacket all the while giving out a disappointed "tsk."

"See what happens when you don't listen? If you would have just run the first time I told you... but you didn't and now look what happened. And here I thought the extremely dangerous Fierro Darque would put up more of a challenge. Disappointing, disappointing."

Once Jace was certain the man wasn't going to keel over he let go of the back of his jacket and reached for the last blade he had in his bandolier and pulled it free. "But since you don't want to run, how about we play a slightly different game. How about you tell me who you were trying to run to?"
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by: Fierro Darque
He had fallen to his knee and was rendered all but useless now. Fierro couldn't focus on anything else, no sounds or smells or even sight at the moment. Everything went black and ll he could feel was his head throbbing and stinging, right over his eye. Why did he move this way? He was crumpled to the ground, curled into himself and wailing like a newborn, over the pain. He could feel the warm blood dripping down his cheek, slipping through his fingers and under his palm. The garou got him good. He could barely hear him talking.

Fierro was seething, trying to recover when he felt the man get even closer. A little too close, even. So close that he felt him brush the dust off of his jacket before pulling him to stand. He could hardly feel his legs, all of the nerves focused on the intense pain on his face, but he managed to stand still. He listened to the alpha's monologue before making a maneuver he wasn't sure would connect, but he tried anyhow. He dropped to grab the wand that had fallen in the leaves below, and shouted a blow-back spell that pushed the pair that had tried to subdue him before.

"Expelliarmus!" He shouted, aiming at the girl in the distance who had been watching them the whole time. He'd sensed she was there because she was he heard a twig snap in the distance, which seemed a little sloppy for a group that seemed to be talented hunters. Finally he aimed his wand at the alpha, with his eye covered with his free hand. He had no intentions of pulling any other spells out of his arsenal at him, he just wanted to talk it out.

"Just listen to me. Alright? I'm not going to harm anyone here...I'm not going to kill anyone I'm just going to be on my way." Fierro huffed, breathing through his teeth almost, to take his focus off of the pain. "My offer still stands. We can work...t-together if you let me go. I told you I have the money. But what if I could offer you more?"

He hadn't needed to use his diplomatic wit to win an argument in a great while, since he'd spent most of his last few months running, but Fierro was ready to make a deal. Even though this man quite possibly cost him his sight out of that eye, he knew he needed to find a way out of here and he managed to level the playing field. If the alpha would agree, he would show his hand. He remained prepared to defend himself if the three on guard or any other watchful eyes would intervene.
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by: Jace Bryden
When Fierro dropped Jace had assumed the man had just passed out. Boy how wrong he was there. No sooner had the thought crossed his mind, the wizard was up and casting toward the two he'd told to stay back earlier. He'd have to remember to give them hell later for giving away their position with something as audible as a twig snap. That was an inexcusable mistake.

Jace skittered back a couple feet with a gruff laugh as he found the wand turned on him next and was more than a little surprised not to have a spell come his way. Stupid wizard. He flipped his blade so he could hold it in a reverse grip and prepared to spring forward, ready to bat away the offending wand and break Fierro's arm if he needed to, but he stopped short when it seemed like the man still wanted to talk.

" Alright fine. We can talk. Hi. You're Fierro, right? I'm Jace. And I do not appreciate you stalling like this. You're giving your species a bad name. That said, I suppose I could entertain you for a minute or two... I did kind of take that eye prematurely. Sorry about that." The grin the Spiral gave clearly indicated he was anything but. "But you did just attack a few of my pack, after I told them to back off and that shit ain't cool. So lets say you have a minute to win it boy-o! I already told you the money isn't what I'm after, though it'll certainly up your odds of survival. What do you possibly think you can offer me to change my mind?"
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by: Fierro Darque
"Protection. If it's not the money you're after, then protection." These garou didn't seem like they needed the sort of protection anyone would bargain for, so he had to sweeten the pot somehow. Fierro took two more steps back and rest against the tree behind him, trying to alleviate some of the pain from travelling through his body by propping himself against the nearest trunk. "Your pack...You seem well-traveled enough and armed well enough to protect yourselves...but you might have your own territory, am I right? Or one you might be fighting for?"

He would wait for a reaction from the alpha before continuing. "My organization can help you keep your land protected and supplied, if need be. Keep me alive and ensure the safety of my people, and we can point you in the direction of people, maybe better targets for you to hunt. Death Eaters, their grunts and whatever the hell else you want to hunt." Fierro didn't mention the name of the organization on purpose. Kara and Jon had kept a lot of their work underwraps, but he was sure they were onto something big before he left. Even with Liam's arrest, and the death's that happened before that, they still had a decent amount of refugees and secret cell's they had yet to find to restore the Order. Nevertheless, Kara would do well to agree to help these garou; not only would it be helpful to have them as allies, it would also make for good numbers if the alliance held up properly.

The wood of Fierro's wand creaked in his tight grasp. He had his eye on the reversed blade. He couldn't afford to lose track of that one. "Do this for us, with us--and the reward will be a lot better than whatever the hell else the Ministry was paying you, if at all."
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