The Beast Tower

1: Emma's First Change

It was a morning in late May—a morning just like any other. Or so may have it seemed, at first.

Emma Ross, a high school senior with an itch to get out of this town, awoke far earlier that morning than she had intended. A strange sound coming from the bedroom of her stepmother, Carol. As the sun began to crest over the horizon, she went upstairs, and into the hall—and saw Carol standing by the dresser. She seemed to be staring at something, her eyes wide with a peculiar intensity.

Emma watched for a few seconds without making a sound. She stared at the woman’s staring face, unwilling to make eye contact. Finally, after nearly half a minute, she opened the door.

CAROL: You’re up early.

EMMA: Dripping faucet. Sorry if I woke you.

(Meanwhile, as the peanut gallery observes and attempts to predict what Emma’s auspice will be, this fib on Emma’s part provokes some discussion:

Dan: We are officially keeping score. Irraka: 1; Rahu: 0

Maq: knowing auds playstyle, she will be like at irraka 10 by the time we’re done

Adam: probably)

Carol was awake, but only just. She seemed to sense Emma’s stress—the possible presence of her father. To put her at ease, Carol mentioned that he had already gone to work for the day.

EMMA: You okay?

CAROL: Fine.

Carol asked Emma to pick up her father’s suit from the tailor on her way back from town later that day. Emma agreed, went downstairs, and—as soon as Carol came down to make her morning coffee—snuck back up to investigate the noise.

(Adam: irraka: 2

Maq: snoopy snooperson

But while Irraka is quickly becoming the fan favorite, Adam makes a prediction:

Adam: rahu points will accrue

And our humble ST laments the effects his little hints have on his players:

Dan: you give someone a perfectly innocent little tinking sound…

Maq: “perfectly innocent” he says

Dan: which I promise is not a power-mad spider trapped in a jar or anything…

Maq: “I promise” he says

Whatever, you guys…)

Although she found nothing—no explanation for the strange glassy sound that had roused her from sleep—she soon gave up and left the house for school. Outside, she found her smoking buddy, Willow Hart—and a redheaded man she’d never met sitting in her truck as if he owned it.

WILLOW: Hey. Mind giving me a ride?

She gestured to the ginger.

WILLOW: Ignore him.

Emma was none too happy to see someone taking such cavalier possession of a vehicle she had only barely acquired permission to use herself. She barged up to the truck and pulled the door open—damn near causing the boy, who’d been leaning on the door, to fall out and on to his face.

EMMA: Hey! Who’re you?

MARLON: The Ghost of Christmas Past. What is it, your period?

Willow, knowing the truth, tittered. But Emma was not amused—she grabbed him and hauled him out of the truck.

(Maq: Irraka: 1; Rahu: 1)

EMMA: So what if it is? Tell me who the fuck you are, and why you’re in my truck, or we’ll both be bleeding from the same place.

The pair had a brief staring match, and exchanged fighting words. Ultimately, Emma gave Marlon a slug in the jaw.

(Adam: Irraka: 2; Rahu: 2)

And though the boy had threatened to hit her back, he didn’t follow through. Unfazed by the blow, he simply wiped his mouth and laughed.

MARLON: Not bad.

A strange understanding worked out between the pair, the three of them—Emma, Willow, and Marlon—drove to Emma’s school, where, apart from her unusually powerful menstrual cramps, Emma had an uneventful day of classes.

Afterward, Emma went, as promised, to the tailor’s. The tailor lived in an unmarked house, a sort of cottage, on an unmarked road to the north of the small rural town of Thompson Falls. It was kind of a pain in the ass to get to—as though it had been deliberately hiding from the rest of the community. Even Emma’s truck had some trouble navigating the dirt roads leading to it.

The man who came to the door was nothing like Emma expected. He was impeccably-dressed, and a rather startlingly attractive young gentleman. He was wearing a suit and tie, sharp-angled to fit snugly to his lithe-seeming frame, with perfectly gelled hair, strong jaw and cheekbones, and piercing blue eyes that gave Emma a once-over as she stood in the doorway.

(The Tailor’s entrance provokes some comments from the peanut gallery:

Maq: CILLIAN MURPHY ALERT

Maq: do not trust him he’s probably pseulak

Adam: dan does cater effectively to his audience

I told you guys, Pseulak isn’t in this chronicle…)

TAILOR: May I help you?

EMMA: Yeah, I’m here to pick up some stuff for Eric Ross? And I hope they paid in advance ‘cause I probably don’t have enough to cover it.

TAILOR: Ross. I see. You must be the daughter. Well, come in.

The Tailor introduced himself as Patrick Delaney, and Emma found herself fighting against her visceral attraction to the man. She didn’t like this cottage in the middle of nowhere, or picking up suits for her father—but she found the Tailor’s scent irresistible. There was definitely some chemistry between the two as, when Emma bent to sign the release form for the suit, the tailor leaned close and smelled her. It gave her goosebumps.

(Here we see how the players simply do not trust the ST at all:

Maq: DON’T SIGN IT! IT’S SIGNING A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL! HE’S PSEEULLAAAK

Adam: Secretly this is all demon: the descent crossover. she’s signing a pact right now.)

TAILOR: Please send my warmest regards to your family.

Flushed, red-faced, Emma took the suit and hurried out. But, since she was in no rush to get home, she drove around aimlessly for a few hours before finally arriving back at the house. She arrived to the angry shouting of Carol and her father.

CAROL: I didn’t know she’d be gone so long, okay?! I’m sorry!

ERIC: She shouldn’t have had it in the first place!

The angry father whirls on his daughter, fixing his eyes on her instantly. His nostrils flare, his brows furrow, and his teeth grind as he adopts an imperious posture.

ERIC: You. What’s your excuse this time?

CAROL: Don’t start in on her! I gave her permission!

EMMA: Your tailor’s weird.

Not seeming to want any part of this, Emma shoves the suit at her father to serve as her excuse.

ERIC: I don’t suppose that during your little safari you actually managed to replace the gas you just wasted?

EMMA: Nope.

ERIC: It’s one thing to let you tromp around like a fucking gothic hooker. That’s your life. When you bring your shit

into my life? That is not a time for one word fucking answers.

EMMA: Yeah, well, whose fault is that in the first place?

Eric’s voice took on a distinct growl. His eyes bulged. Things were heating up between the two. Stepmom tried to defuse it, and Emma makes one final attempt to quit the scene.

CAROL: She didn’t mean to. It was my fault. Blame me. Just blame me.

EMMA: G’night.

But Eric isn’t having any of it. He stomps after her, and growls:

ERIC: Are you going to give me my damn keys, or do I need to take them?

Emma swung around and pitched the keys across the living room and into the kitchen.

EMMA: Go fucking fetch.

(At this point, the peanut gallery is undecided whether Emma’s behavior qualifies as appropriately Irraka or Rahu. The score seems to be tied, and it all seems to come down to whether this key-throwing gesture is an attempt to taunt her father into a fight, or a more subconscious attempt to distance herself from the conflict by flinging the keys—the object of the argument—away from herself. The ST instructs Adam, who is playing as Eric, to escalate the situation and force Emma to commit to fight or to flight.)

ERIC: Fucking typical. This shit is why you don’t get the fucking truck.

EMMA: If I’d been back two hours ago with gas in the fucking truck, you’d be yelling at me about spending the fucking money.

Provoked by Emma’s words, Eric finally began to lose control. He reached out and grabbed hold of Emma’s arm. The fingers dug down into her bicep, clinching down and cutting off circulation. It was a grip she found all too familiar—she knew it signaled his resignation to his violent urges, the oncoming storm of another beating.

CAROL: Stop it! Stop!

Initially plagued by an ingrained fear reaction, Emma found that her anger for once totally outweighed all other considerations. With an inarticulate noise of frustration, she flung her foot at Eric’s groin. The decision felt right—as if a floodgate were coming undone, with an angry ocean on the other side of it, ready to burst forth and take control. The idea of stopping, of backing off, became unthinkable.

(It is decided:

Adam: that was more direct

Dan: Yup. Let’s make this bloody.)

Not about to go down without a fight, Eric caught the kick on the thigh, and then, with brutal force of arms, dragged Emma off-balance, boxed her on the ear, and punched her in the gut. The deafening shot of noise set off Emma’s lizard brain—and as she struggled to gain dominance, she found that the floodgate—which had been restraining something she did not even know was there—finally flung open. Her anger rose to the surface, taking physical form, and she suddenly found it quite easy to overpower her father, to wrestle him, to throw him to the ground like a ragdoll.

She had assumed her Gauru form for the first time, and there was nothing on earth that could stop her Rage. As her father and stepmother lost their minds to Lunacy, screaming and fighting for their lives, Emma tore them to shreds. She pinned her father to the kitchen tile, disemboweled him, and snapped his neck. Then she chased her stepmother to the edge of the kitchen, where she cornered her, threw her down, and mutilated her beyond recognition with her claws and teeth.

She came to, memory hazy and indistinct, blood-soaked and naked amid the bodies. It took her some time to process the scene—and it would be quite some time more before she could process what happened. But Willow was there for her, when she needed it—and the senior uratha began to coach Emma into the life of being a werewolf, while helping her to clean up the scene of the crime.

Afterward, Emma stepped out into the night, looked up into the silver light of the full moon, and felt peace.

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