CASTELLUM CITY, SENET DISTRICT - 11:31 PM

The moon was high in the sky, peering intently through the eaves of the leaning buildings, reflected on a puddle of unidentifiable liquid pooled in the uneven cobblestones. The flames from the gas lamps flickered and wavered under the incessant breeze wafting from the harbor, and though Mineatus Street was quiet, Jonathan Styker could hear raucous shouts from a few streets over. His boots crunched against shards of glass and gravel and he thought about how much it hurts when glass cuts into the sensitive pads on animal paws.

When the howling and the screaming started, Jonathan calmly took a left turn up an alley and followed it to the end. The street was brightly lit and it didn't take long for Jonathan to realize that someone had started a fire in the pub directly across from the alleyway. Fire licked at the wooden sign, have eaten away. He couldn't tell what the sign used to say. In the street, werewolves and vampires are brawling. Jonathan rolled his eyes. They could be so predictable. He was never more relieved that his shitty luck had preserved him from being a wolf or a vampire, at least.

Jonathan leaned casually against a building, the crumbling brick cutting uncomfortably into his upper back, and watched the brawl, still safely ensconced by shadow. He crossed his arms and counted down from ten. When he reached zero, he heard shouting coming from further into the city, whistles and calls cutting sharply through the brawling, signalling the city watch's approach. Snorting, Jonathan watched realization slowly wash over every vampire and werewolf causing trouble. Slowly, they began to break away in twos and threes, darting into shadow and alleyways and onto roofs to get away.

The fire was dying down. The moon sneered down.

Jonathan's gaze caught on a wolf, achingly turning human again, one of the last to leave. When his bones settled back into place, the wolf hunted for clothes, seemingly unhurried and unconcerned by the city watch's rapid approach. He pulled on pants and then a shirt. Jonathan had no idea if they were originally that man's or not, but he guessed it didn't matter. The man's hair was probably supposed to be blond, but was so matted with blood and grim Jonathan almost couldn't tell. He was muscular and bulky, not terrible tall, but his face was pulled into a frown and he swept a glaring amber gaze across the street. He was limping, just a bit.

Then the wolf's gaze caught on Jonathan. He shouldn't be able to be seen, but he always forgot how keen the eyesight of a werewolf was. The werewolf took one aching, aborted step towards the alleyway before jerking his head to glare back towards the city, the direction the city watch was coming from. Then he turned away and limped down an alley. Jonathan waited long enough for the city watch to arrive and begin sniffing out - metaphorically of course - any rabble rousers that might be lingering, then sank back into the shadows of the alleyway and returned the way he came.

No matter what Jonathan thought of the Thomasin Sybiline, the Matriarch was correct. The Fangs and the Claws were at a tipping point. A push from either direction could force the vampire and werewolf gangs into all out warfare. This was not something the Hoods or the Beaks wanted. They were too fresh from their own feud that having to contend with the two most powerful gangs tearing themselves apart. Probably the only gang that would benefit from it all was the Silks. The Silks, the siren mafia, was the smallest and newest power to join the illegal powers that be. They could step in and fill the power vacuum that would develop from the Fangs and Claws fighting.

Jonathan needed to return to the coven. They would all likely be summoned to Town Hall within four hours. Mayor Evalard Brikkor was not a patient person, and their intolerance for unnecessary violence rivaled their intolerance for tardy people.

CASTELLUM CITY TOWN HALL - 3:39 AM

Jonathan disliked being right sometimes.

As he had thought, the Mayor had sent a summons to the leadership of the five nonhuman gangs of Castellum City. As he had thought, no one was late. Jonathan was not technically gang leadership, but he had gone anyway. The Mayor didn't care if he was there - only the other gangs would care that a fourth, biased party had arrived with the coven. Hidden from sight with an illusion spell, Jonathan sat perched upon the windowsill, feet drawn up and pressed against the wall opposite his back. The witches would know he was here, but no one else would, and that's all that mattered.

The leadership of the Five began to arrive.

First, the coven, the Beaks, the gang of witches, lead by their Matriarch, Thomasin Sybiline. No one knew how old she was, only that she was definitely older than the late fifties she appeared to be. Thomasin was a force to be reckoned with when pissed off and a voice of reason when not. Jonathan knew she would be playing peace maker tonight, though he could never tell if she enjoyed it or not. One thing he knew for certain about the Matriarch, was that if she was owed by anyone, she never failed to collect. Maybe that's why she let herself fall into the roll of peace maker.

Following at Thomasin's right hand was her second, Sasha Cagliostro, dark skin almost dark as the night outside, her thick braids falling over one shoulder. Sasha was something else. Her magic smelled like salt water and rock and wind, and you couldn't peer inside her mind no matter how much you might try, because she was as calm and steady as a still lake. You would see nothing but your reflection. Jonathan was afraid of what it would take to make Sasha angry.

Sulking behind them both was Thomasin's son. His name was Corvus, and where Sasha was the epitome of calm, cool, and collected, Corvus constantly seemed seconds away from flying into a rage and setting something on fire. A witch who powered their magic by emotion was something to be wary of. A witch who powered their magic by emotion but could not stay in control was a warning sign - danger, falling rocks, be prepared to stop, go no further. He'd nearly destroyed the Beaks. Sasha had pulled them back together by force of will alone, negotiated a truce with the Hoods, the shifters, and Thomasin had demoted her son and placed Sasha at her right hand. Corvus had not forgiven nor forgotten and Jonathan did not think he ever would.

Speak of the devil - the next gang to arrive was the Hoods, the shape-shifters. Tyrell Syracruse lead the way. Clearly, the sneer that Jonathan remembered so clearly as a trademark of the Hoods' leader had not changed. He was convinced the sneer was permanently affixed to his face. Tyrell was the leader of the Hoods by sheer power alone. Despite his personal failings as a husband and father, he had a strong personality and force of will that rivaled Sasha Cagliostro's. He cared about his power, and to keep his power, he had to keep the Hoods alive. Sometimes, Jonathan wished the man did not understand that.

Annabelle Syracruse, Tyrell's niece, was no less of a sneering asshole than her uncle. She had a proclivity for violence and fought with unrestrained rage and painted the picture of a feral lynx whenever she was shifted to her animal form, and painted the picture of a coldly beautiful bitch when human. She didn't have the strength of personality her uncle did, but she was his second. Jonathan sneered at her, mocking, even though she could not see him.

Taraji Setsuki followed the Syracruses, surprising Jonathan. Taraji used to be Tyrell's second, but she's been demoted and disgraced. Jonathan couldn't believe Tyrell would allow her to be see with him. It was a matter of ego with Tyrell. Taraji hadn't even done anything wrong, not really. Sure, she'd been holding a man prisoner and torturing information out of him instead of killing him like Tyrell wanted, but in Jonathan's opinion, it wasn't worth disgracing her over it. It was Annabelle's fault she'd been caught though. Annabelle was a power-hungry bitch that didn't care who she had to step on to get her way. Taraji was smarter than Annabelle, cunning and ruthless. She didn't deserve what happened.

The werewolves arrived after the Hoods, the Claws sauntering in like they didn't have a care in the world even though they were part of the reason everyone was rolling out of bed in the middle of the night for a meeting with the mayor. Abernathy McShane - Nath, to his close friends and family - was the alpha of the Claws. Personally, Jonathan thought it was stupid, the length Nath went to to convince the wolves under his leadership that the claws were just another wolf clan. He figured it had something to do with Nath being Sangara, the smallest clan who constantly tried to mediate between the other two clans, the Lunis and the Alvarid. Jonathan just didn't understand Nath McShane, period. Nath was territorial but knew when to compromise, aggressive but knew when to back down. He was almost the most stereotypical wolf but with enough contradictions that Jonathan just didn't know what to make of him.

His protege, Harshaw Leery, was something of a different story. Harshaw was straightforward, blunt, and unafraid to speak their mind. They didn't like to beat around the bush and somehow they hadn't been killed because of that. Maybe it's because it was refreshing to see someone unafraid to be blunt when all the other leaders and second in commands were too buy trying not to offend anyway. At least, Jonathan liked the wolf. Harshaw would be able to take control of the Claws if and when the occasion arrived.

Noemi McShane was a third variable in the Claws triumvirate. Jonathan didn't know how he felt about Nath's wife. Despite being a main figurehead of the Claws, Noemi was very private. He'd never had the pleasure of interacting with her personally, and to be frank, he intended to keep it that way. All he knew was that if circumstances were right, she would not hesitate to take over the Claws and be alpha in all but name. Harshaw would be a figurehead. For these reasons, Jonathan did not trust Noemi.

The Fangs were nearly late. Allistair Blackthorn and his two children, Cornelius and Agatha, glided into the room, their perpetual unconcerned look fully in place on their bloodless faces. Jonathan might not like the werewolves, but he disliked the vampires even more. They were cold and bloodless and unalive and it freaked Jonathan out. Allistair wasn't unflappable but Agatha was as eager for power as some of the other people in this room. Her twin brother just wanted to show her up. Allistair had not declared either of his children his successor yet, and Jonathan figured he was never planning to. His children were constantly fighting for his favor. Allistair would never have to make a decision as long as he stayed alive, and there were very few people out to kill him.

Everyone had arrived except the Silks, the siren mafia. It was almost 3:45. They were going to be late. Jonathan watched as the Mayor grew more and more displeased as the minutes ticked by. The vast hall was completely silent. Jonathan watched as the clock clicked to 3:45. The doors opened.

There was one person in the doorway. If the Fangs had looked unconcerned, the Silk looked bored. Sy'levia Iskionakhend sat down unceremoniously at her place at the table, her hair, a green so dark it was nearly black, hung wetly in her face. Her skin seemed damp in the lowlight. She turned black eyes across the room and bared her sharp teeth.

"Why don't we begin?" she hissed, voice gravelly. It always surprised people, the first time they heard a siren speak, especially if they had met mermaids before. Mermaids' voices were soft and melodic, though they could not sing for shit. People knew about the powers sirens possessed though, knew that their song was mesmerizing and as potent as any mind control spell. They didn't know that sirens voices were always low and harsh.

The Mayor frowned at Sy'levia, probably because she was alone, and definitely because she hadn't waited for their permission to speak.

"Where is the rest of your triumvirate?" they asked, precise and clipped. Sy'levia shrugged and tossed a few thick curls over her shoulder.

"Not coming," she said coyly. The Mayor's frown deepened. They crossed their arms and then turned their attention to the rest of the room.

"I have summoned you all here, despite the hour, because the Watch reported yet another brawl in the streets between members of the Claws and the Fangs. Save it," they snapped when both Nath and Allistair opened their mouths. "I don't want to hear your excuses. I want to know why you haven't worked out your differences yet. It was bad enough when the Hoods and the Beaks went to war twenty years ago. Castellum City has only just recovered, it seems. I will not tolerate all out warfare in my streets, do you hear?"

"Your Honor," Allistair began with a silky smooth voice, "it is not for lack of trying."

Nath snorted, loudly. Slowly, Allistair turned his attention to the wolf across the table and raised a singular eyebrow.

"No, no," Nath drawled, waving a hand dismissively. "Please, continue."

Allistair narrowed his eyes, then looked back at the Mayor.

"We have done our best to offer peace. But the Claws simply refuse to cooperate at all points and deny all attempts at compromise."

"Please," Nath snapped when Allistair was done. "The least you could do is not lie so blatantly. Your Honor, the Claws are being provoked constantly. What am I supposed to tell my wolves, to lie there and take it? We are fighters by nature, Your Honor, and the vampires know and exploit this. We are looking out for ourselves."

This was about to dissolve into a shouting match, of that Jonathan was certain. He was no wolf, but he could practically taste the anger and aggression simmering in the room. Thankfully, the Mayor also sensed this and knocked their fist three times on the table.

"I will not have such disorderly chaos in my meeting room." They cleared their throat once they had regained control and attention of the room. "For a long time, the government of Castellum City has enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with all five gangs. Though the city has different districts for each faction of beings, this has keep unity among factions, for the most part. The city of Castellum has even benefited from certain goings-on within the gangs. However," they drew this word out, "the war threatening to breakout between the Fangs and the Claws is unacceptable. This will tear apart the city and we will not be able to recover. I refuse to sit back and allow your unruliness to put my city into such a vulnerable state. Am I clear?"

Soft affirmatives echoed around the room. Not that this would change anything, not really. Everyone would agree to do better, then they would walk out and not do a thing differently.

"Before you are all dismissed," the Mayor said, surprising Jonathan and everyone else, apparently, "I have something to say." They paused for dramatic effect. "If there is not swift change, I am prepared to jail the whole lot of you and rid my city of your illegal activity. Therefore, my advisors and myself have come up with a solution."

A ripple of unease raced through the room.

"You will each send five people, representing your… organizations to a compound outside the city limits, in neutral territory. I do not care how you chose these people. What you are going to do is send them to the compound and there they will stay for three months until they come to agreements that satisfy everyone. Understand?"

Crickets. Sadly, no actual crickets chirped, but Jonathan was just as shocked as everyone else in the room. Only Sy'levia seemed unperturbed. Slowly, more affirmatives echoed around the meeting room. The Mayor nodded slowly.

"You have until the end of this week to give me your selections. Then they will be sent outside the city limits. There is to be no outside contact during the week. Only on Sundays may your representatives contact leadership to update you on the situation. I will be sending more information to you all in the morning. Dismissed."

As if in a daze, everyone stood and began to file out. Jonathan fell into step behind Annabelle, tripped her so she looked like a fool, then darted ahead to trail alongside Thomasin. She would probably send him to the compound. Someone would send him, anyway. It might even be the Mayor, if they played their cards right.

Ultimately, it didn't matter. Jonathan just knew that he didn't want this war, either. It would upset the very delicate position he found himself in.


hello hello my friends im back with a new story. this one is going to be very fast paced and i dont intend for it to drag on for a very long time. the form will be up on my profile shortly. if you have any questions please reach out! this story is going to have two povs, both characters that i created, Jonathan Styker, being one, and a werewolf character i will be introducing in chapter one. this story is going to be focused on the gang politics and urban fantasy world i have been worldbuilding for the past week. i am very excited to be sharing this first chapter with you all and hope y'all are looking forward to this as much as i am! i want anyone looking to create a character to feel free to worldbuild within the form for your character outside of what you learn and what you know from this chapter. again, please reach out if you have questions! (rating may change)