Neri and the Wolf: Part 3

July 16, 2016:

With a bit of R&R back at Russ's castle, Neri presents the Wolf with a job offer…

Castle Russoff, Mutant Town, New York

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…


Fade in…


There is a castle on a cloud…

Well, not ''on'' a cloud, but close enough. Located in mutant town is a tall building — just like any other tall building — except that this one has a castle built on top of it. A real, Transylvanian castle. Most guests (if ever there were guests) would reach it by taking the elevator up through the building below.

Not Jack Russell.

With Rusalka clinging to his back through his ruined duster, the wolfman scales the OUTSIDE of the building, moving at extreme speed. When he clears the top, one can see the old stone courtyard spread out across part of the building's roof. Even the elevator's exterior has been made to look 'period'. High stone walls in most places help to keep the wind out (as well as keep people from falling off), and stone archways lead into the castle itself.

It has a distinctly… Romanian look to the place, if a bit on the gothic side, with a central tower that genuinely disappears into low clouds at certain times of the day, night or even year.

Russell lets his passenger climb off his back, and stands there — half crouching, really — chest heaving. The blood stains from their earlier adventures with the mafia are still on his jaws and claws. As the wolfman stalks toward the castle, he gradually assumes human form — naked, but for the ruined duster only partly covering his hindquarters.

"C'mon," he says over his shoulder. "This way."


The little naiad on the werewolf’s back doesn’t speak the entire time they’re traveling, instead she buries her face in the wet tan duster, hiding it from the world in a cavern formed by her hood. She squeezes in closer in the aftermath of the firefight and almost presses fully against his back. She only peeks out once or twice, perhaps curious, and returns swiftly to her cave when she finds the wolf scaling a stone wall far above the city streets. Rusalka’s grip quickly comes to resemble an extremely clingy - and still soaking wet - backpack.

When Russ finally comes to a stop his passenger doesn’t climb off so much as fall off, collapsing off his back and landing on her butt with a small splash that’s almost drowned out by the continued pouring of rain. It’s graciously softened from the earlier torrent but doesn’t feel ready to stop any time tonight.

Rusalka’s orange eyes look up at the werewolf’s transformation young and tired while at the same time floating in a dark void. Her face and clothes blur seemingly of their own accord into the black haze of their surroundings and even her heat signature isn’t too much clearer. She blinks heavily a couple times, crushing her eyelids shut to force vigor back into them, and pushes herself back up. The stone castle around them only steals her attention for a moment - it’s too dark to see anyway - before she follows the wolf-turned-man.


Through the archway and up to the main double-doors the wolfman leads his companion. The doors open automatically as he walks up to them — whether by magic or technology, it is unclear — and the lights come on all around. The decor is obviously Transylvanian, and the castle itself is made of stone from Transylvanian quarries, and wood from Transylvanian forests. Some of the furniture and artwork — paintings, tapestries — in the main hall must be hundreds of years old.

Somehow the castle is well-kept, despite only having one occupant (that Rusalka would know of), and has this sensation of… watching both werewolf and naiad as they enter. There are light-switches on the walls, and other signs of modern technology worked into the building.

Russ, heedless of being nude, turns around to look at Rusalka. "Ain' sure why I brought ya here, but… this is home." He points to a staircase that rises up on either side of the hall to a second level — with an indoor balcony — and heads that way…

…leading the naiad to the wolfman's quarters: a wide room with an external balcony, a large bed and wardrobe, nearby bathroom. Russ smirks. "There's clothes in there if ya wanna change. Me, I need ta put somethin' on. Don't usually bother, but then I don' bring folks up 'ere much."


The black-skinned ninja stops at the threshold and a spark of alertness returns to her eyes long enough for her to hesitate. The pouring rain washes over her as Rusalka looks in at the dry, maybe even warm interior, and timidly steps inside to follow her werewolf guide.

The naiad’s head turns on a swivel, swinging her hood back and forth to cover her blind spots. Despite herself, the ninja’s eyes get bigger and bigger at the historic splendor around her and awe edges its way in around apprehension. “Neimovernyy…”

When Rusalka realizes where they’ve come to a stop, she blinks and the spell breaks. Like a portcullis slamming into place, the young woman’s flat, more guarded gaze returns. She looks at the sleeves of her jacket which have faithfully dripped a steady trail all the way from the door, then back at the wolf — human — in a wordless answer to his offer. In the well-lit castle, she’s now fully in view as well and… there’s not much to her. Without darkness to blend into, the black-in-black nymph looks her true size and the clingy, water-shined gi isn’t much better covering than the werewolf’s duster - and likely just as cold.

“I like you better with fur.” The ninja glances down. “…More fur,” she corrects.


Russell snorts, chuckling, then looks down at himself. "It's cold," is all he says, and then turns around to walk toward the ensuite bathroom. Fortunately, there are some more 'modern conveniences' in this place (more than just light-switches), and the bathroom is fully set up. Somehow, it is also clean.

A lot of work for one wolf.

Assuming the wolf is the only occupant.

"Don't be too impressed by it all," he calls out to Rusalka from the bathroom. One can hear the sound of the shower being turned on. "There ain' much o' value here. I'm still… gettin' stuff sorted out." There is a pause, then the fellow sticks his head out of the ensuite and inquires:

"You a 'shower person' or a 'bath person'? Ah, doesn' matter." He frowns, studying his guest with those gleaming, amber eyes of his, and lets out a 'hmm'. Ducking back inside the ensuite, he calls out:

"Yer shorter'n I expected."

Pause.

"Don' even think it!" After all, he's already made one joke about the effect of the cold on him.


Rusalka’s guarded expression doesn’t offer much for Russ’ eyes regardless of how much he studies the rest of her, but his ears might still catch the young, melodic timber that softens an otherwise rough and heavy accent. As much as the castle might make her ‘wet ninja’ smell easier to find, the werewolf has already gotten a noseful of that.

“I asked for some place quiet, not your home,” the black girl remarks as she walks over by the bathroom door and sits down, tucking her knees against her chest. No sooner than she does but her eyelids droop from fatigue. The white noise of the shower lapses before her orange eyes peek open again and she continues.

“I have - proposition for you,” she offers. “I want you to help me find an old journal in Gotham; one thousand to find it, three thousand to get it.”


"This place ''is'' quiet," Russ grunts as he jumps quickly in the shower. He is out in only minutes, towel around his waist, another towel drying his hair. He shrugs his shoulders and drapes the second towel around his neck. "Ears like mine it takes a fair bit of effort ta 'get away from shit', ya know what'm sayin'?"

Russ wanders over to the wardrobe, pulls on some jeans — and sprouts fur. In wolfman form, he stretches his neck from side to side, rolls his shoulders and lets out a contented sigh. Turning around, he affixes amber eyes upon Rusalka and pulls out a chair from a little reading desk by the balcony. He sits on it backwards so as to rest his hairy elbows on the back of it, and swivels his ears toward his guest.

"Okay, ya got my attention. 'What big ears I have' are all yers. How d'ya know the journal's in Gotham?"


Rusalka's slitted eyes look up from beside the door with noticeably more alertness when the wolf-man steps out of the bathroom and while he was bathing the side of her hand has made its way back into her mouth. The ninja's nose twitches at the puff of wolf-scented steam that follows him out and her gaze wanders briefly to another part of the room while Russ drops his towel to change.

“I have a good source,” she answers after removing her hand and wiping it on her jacket. Her eyes come back, shining a vibrant orange in the warm light, and wander over the werewolf enough to make up for lost time; she definitely seems to prefer that form. "Your 'big ears'… anything else?"


Russell chuckles. The sound comes out as an almost 'urf, urf, urf!' — reminiscent of the Wookiee, Chewbacca — and he just shakes his head afterward. "My ego," he replies with a shrug of his shoulders, and makes his way toward a small drinks-fridge. Withdrawing a beer, he cracks the can open and downs a mouthful. He offers another beer to Rusalka, with a motion of his elbow toward the fridge.

"A good source, huh?" he asks after a moment. "Alright, does yer source know anythin' else about the journal? As in, whose is it? How old is it? Are we talkin' 'antique'? Name o' the last person who had it?" Russ pauses to drink more of his beer, and leans against the wall, tapping his claws against the can in his hand.


“It’s old and leather,” Rusalka answers as she rocks forward and pushes herself up with a little groan. There’s a damp sheen on the stone she’s been resting on but at least her clothes have stopped trailing water.

“It has yaponskiy on the outside and used to be in a motel safe,” she adds as she wanders over to the wardrobe. Before she opens it, her orange eyes fall back on the shirtless wolf. “No drink, but I could use somewhere to dry my clothes,” she asks as she pulls the clingy jacket away from her chest.

“A collector of old things maybe has it, or a thief — ,” the ninja pauses from perusing the werewolf’s wardrobe to once again peruse Russ himself. “Someone like you… but maybe better at quiet.”


TO BE CONTINUED…

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