It's so fucking cold out. What I wouldn't give for a permanent fur coat.
Darcy shivered and strode back into the Loup, pulling on her threadbare clothes as she went. Everyone was seen undressed before they morphed, as their clothes tended to rip upon transformation, and people discarded them completely before a Hunt. However, it was considered proper etiquette to wear clothes once inside the school. Not that anybody really cared about etiquette. It was just too cold inside the forbidding castle with its stone walls and pathetic excuses for fireplaces.
Young ones' large eyes followed Darcy as she made her way into the common room, the large living room and library that was the general hangout of the students. Darcy was considered the oldest of all the residents of the Loup, at age twenty or twenty-one, and also one of the most lethal.
“Hey, Darcy,” The slim, shadowy form of Gethin lounged on the largest couch in the room. He, Zevi, Raul, and Tynan had been in the first “batch” brought to the Loup along with Darcy. The five kept to themselves, striding through the halls that they thought of their own and turning down their noses on the naďve, blubbering younger ones.
“JP wants to see us,” Gethin said, as Darcy sat down next to him, kicking his feet out of her way. “We’ll leave as soon as Raul gets back.”
“That bastard is above drinking age; you’d think he’d Hunt faster than the five-year-olds.” sighed Darcy, as Zevi and Tynan emerged from a dark corner.
Even the young, milky-eyed young ones at the Loup recognized the formidable five by their distinct personalities and looks. Darcy was tall and wiry, with ebony hair and startling green eyes. Gethin was also tall, but leaner, and had skin the color of the shadows he lurked in. Raul was small for his age but violent, and enjoyed slugging people for no reason. Tynan was an albino, with skin whiter than Darcy’s and red eyes meant only for the devil. And then there was Zevi, who never talked except occasionally to Tynan in private, and instead conveyed meaning through hisses, glares, and shakes of her strawberry blond hair.
Raul slouched in then, hair damp and face dirt-streaked. He scowled at Darcy in response to her impatient glare. “Let’s go,” Darcy said, springing up and shaking out her own dripping hair.
The five slunk down the halls and up to the tallest tower of the Loup, where the Master of the Loup resided. The castle was old and moldy and some parts were unfit for living, but was otherwise perfect for Darcy's taste. The Proie was one of the largest forests in Europe, so JP said, and the closest town was miles and miles away. It was rare that any sign of civilization reached the Loup at all.
Darcy made her way up to the wooden door opening up into the tower and entered without bothering to knock. She heard Raul shift behind her, but Darcy knew she could get away with things no one else would dare to attempt. What could JP do? Kick her out? Yeah fucking right.
A dark silhouette stood by the large window that took up an entire wall of JP's study, casting an surreal light into the room. Bookshelves lined the other three walls and every surface supported piles of scrolls and papers, but the window was clearly the main attraction. Through it one could see all the way out to the toddlers’ huts down the lane on the right, and to the left was the Proie. Straight ahead laid the lawns that the students occupied during the day.
“Thank you for coming,” JP said, still facing outside, as the five adults sat down in stiff chairs around the regal desk. They rolled their shoulders and cracked their knuckles impatiently until JP was done surveying his property. After a minute, he turned around with a flourish and sat down in his large chair.
The Master looked much less impressive than his name or rumors suggested. Darcy figured he was in his late-fifties, and his face was full of lines and wrinkles that caught in the shadows of his study dramatically. His grey eyes were sunk deep into his face, and glittered with danger and secrets. When the Master walked, it was with strength and power, but when he lowered himself onto a chair or bench, his body trembled violently. His hair was a dark grey, and though his voice was deep and strong, when he shouted too much it would break and he’d have a coughing fit.
JP folded his hands together on top of his desk and gazed into the eyes of the group, each adult staring resolutely back.
“Now,” said JP, still looking at Darcy, who refused to blink, “I need you five to stop spreading rumors about me.”
“What?” Gethin almost jumped to his feet, but Zevi held him back.
“We aren’t spreading anything,” said Tynan coolly.
Darcy barely concealed a sigh of relief as JP sat back and broke the eye contact. “I talked to three students yesterday,” he spat, “One of them had been talking about ‘JP’, one about an army, and one about wands.”
It was time to take control, Darcy knew. “Ok,” she said, laying out her cards, “First, we don’t tell anyone about your name; but we can’t control who eavesdrops on us and might pick it up. Second, everyone talks about an army. We’re a fucking group of deadly werewolves, there’s not too many choices as to what we’re meant for. And third, we’re not the only ones to come up to your study. Is it possible that a kid could’ve seen your oh so mighty wand lying around?”
JP leaned forward and resumed staring at Darcy. Her visits always ended up like this: a debate with the Master’s chasm-like eyes boring holes into her own. “Then there’s a simple solution, isn’t there? Don't call me by your silly nickname, stop talking about your purpose, and keep some control around the school so people don’t need to be sent up to me. You are aware that as the oldest ones here, your job is to keep an eye on the younger ones?”
“And we do,” Darcy replied, “We patrol the corridors every night. But we don’t ever talk about the army you’re building, and no one will ever figure out who you are by your initials. We don't learn any history here! How could we ever figure out who you are?”
“I think you have a guess,” said JP, “I think you have your suspicions.”
Darcy glared at JP, but he glanced to the others. They all stared blankly back, yet Raul’s eyes flicked to Gethin for a fraction of a second. Darcy cursed inwardly.
JP pounced; “Gethin? How about you? Who do you think your Master really is?”
Gethin crumbled. If didn’t tell now, JP would whip out his wand and use pain to force it out of him. Already he saw JP’s hand hovering near his pocket. “In an old book…” Gethin mumbled, “I only saw it once, a long time ago… there were Prewett brothers…”
JP laughed, a loud, rumble of a laugh that echoed around the room. “Good guess, Gethin. But not quite. I didn't spring out of a fairytale, and that book is long gone.” Gethin blushed.
“Now,” JP coughed once and leaned forward, “If I hear anyone else whispering about me and my doings, it will be you five that get punished. Am I clear?”
“Crystal.” Darcy had never said ‘sir’ to anyone in her life.
“Very good. Dismissed.” JP turned his chair to face the window, and the five adults left for common room. They all knew they would have to punish anyone spreading gossip. JP was the only one in the school with a wand, and his wrath was terrible.
Darcy had always harbored the thought that if she could get possession of a wand for a just a few minutes, she could do magic like JP did. But he kept his firm by his side, and even though she’d accused him of it, JP would never leave it simply lying on a chair or desk.
While the five settled on the biggest couch and softest chair in the common room, two of the youngest boys at the Loup chased each other around. As one scrambled too close, Raul snatched his shirt and threw him halfway across the room, where he crumpled against the wall and lay in a tangled heap. Not a single sob escaped the boy. One of the first rules the kids learned when coming to the Loup was that crying was a sign of weakness, and to do so was an invitation to be a target. People gave a wide berth to the boy, who picked himself up after a minute and limped to his dormitory.
Another boy, a little older, stalked into the common room, and Darcy glanced up as he entered. It was Dwayne, a youngster of no importance. But Tynan, sprawled across a chair with Zevi in his lap, seemed zoned in on the kid. His red eyes followed Dwayne in, and took note of his trembling mouth, and eye filled to the brim with anger. His fists were clenched and his movements jerky.
Tynan knew the signs as well as Darcy of a kid who killed and snarled a lot to look tough, but was really crumbling on the inside. Dwayne, who had now murdered seven, looked about to crack. He lowered himself shakily in a chair and tried to immerse himself in the view of the grounds outside. Something about the movement seemed incredibly familiar.
Darcy saw Tynan jerk his head in the direction of Dwayne, and Zevi stared at the little kid. Her eyes grew wide, and she spoke a few of her rare words, only so Tynan could hear. But Darcy could've sworn she heard “JP” escape the quiet young woman's lips.