Down in the forest, there is a tree.
What's left of one, anyway.
The Nemeton calls another supernatural creature to its town.
The blood that drips onto it forms a circle.
"Someone anonymously uploaded a book on summoning and sample circles to the Internet. A daeva is a member of one of three 'species': demons, angels, and fairies. Indestructible magic people, each with a different type. Demons create things, angels transmute things, fairies move things."
"Of sapients? Just humans and daeva. Daeva are complicated, in that most simply pop forth fully grown one, in either Heaven, Hell, or Fairyland as appropriate, but some are former summoners who have died. So I'm not sure to what extent they actually count as separate species. Even the ones who came ex nihilo look like normal humans."
Hopefully she can forgive him for not knowing all of her exotic properties.
He parks on the street outside a small, suburban home.
"Alright. I texted everyone before we took off, so hopefully they're all here. We need to come up with a plan."
He walks up to the door.
All teens. No supervision? The one girl, Lydia, seems competent enough, at least.
"Yes. This seems to be an alternate history to the one I know. I suspect parallel universes or some such. My primary objective must be to determine how and why I was summoned here, and by whom. Until and unless I know that, I cannot be sure of the duration of my stay here. Secondarily," she smiles, "I want to learn about the local magic."
"Most of the magic here isn't stuff we can use, it's just...what we are. The stuff that humans do is different, and none of us- except Stiles, and I guess Mason- can use that. And, uh, about the summoning, our main guess right now is it's one of these new supernatural creature hybrids that keep popping up."
The cherufe is a creature made of lava; none have actually been encountered in North America, according to the helpful annotations.
Dragons may not actually be able to shapeshift; unlikely to pose as a deputy.
Firebirds have been seen taking human form, and their tendency to burst into flame is well-attested. No history of moving corpses.
Ifrit do not typically resist flame, so lighting themselves on fire wouldn't do much good.
Hellhounds are typically wreached in flame to collect the fallen; fits the fairy's observations, but they typically don't stick around.
Phoenixes, like firebirds and hellhounds, can have a flame aura, and are tied with rebirth. The annotation here reads "Kitsune?"
The hellhound appears as a spectral creature of flame. Shapeshifters that take the shape of a dog (see also: werewolves, werecoyotes) typically attack vulnerable humans. Hellhounds are less violent than the others, but frequently pick off the weakest and sickest members of the population. If one looks at you three times, your death is sure to follow.
Werewolves! Reasonably common canine variety of shapeshifter, known for their aggression, violent impulses, claws, fangs, and pack structures. Frequently pose as humans, live on the outskirts of human civilization but participate in it to varying degrees. Any human can be turned by a bite, though it can also be fatal, but only from an alpha.
Werecoyotes are solitary, killing their young and having no packs, but otherwise essentially similar.
The easiest way to force a werewolf to reveal itself is to produce a high-pitched noise.
Sigh. "What's the point of integrating with a culture that has invented writing if you don't want to use that technology to record your useful information?" This question is not directed at anyone in particular. Nor is it said in a tone of voice that indicates that it is in fact a question.
Excellent. Now, early twenty-first century, hmm, what was the name of that original wiki? It had Wiki- in the name. Wikipedia? Aha, here we go.
She can spend a fruitful few hours refamiliarizing herself with current events. Not precisely relevant to magical shenanigans, but Ellie is a firm believer in context.
"If you can't use magic, you really only need to know what can be done with it, not the theory."
He steps into the back room, and returns with a jar of dark powder.
"This is the easiest test. If you have the capacity, and if you can achieve the mindset, you can make a circle. I'm going to pour some of this into your hands, and then I'm going to ask you to follow my instructions carefully. The consequences if you fail are hardly disastrous, but the work is delicate."
"Evidently, our magic sees you as a supernatural creature. Supernaturals keep magic within them, and can't achieve the right mindset for druidry. A werewolf who tries finds his temper flaring, a kitsune's fox spirit becomes restless. If you create a barrier of external magic, they cannot cross."
"Over fifty years ago, Beacon Hills was a haven for supernatural beings. I don't know when the Hale pack first arrived in California, but they came here when the Nemeton finally died, its power to call the supernatural gone. Wendigos, werewolves, and banshees- many people have found themselves drawn to the town without quite knowing why. We had nearly fifty years of relative normalcy, with just the Hale alpha keeping other packs out."
"The tree stump you saw. When druids-local magic users-are active in a place, especially a natural one, they draw magic to that place, and over time, it starts to retain it. When it was active, it attracted many supernatural creatures, who have since had children that don't know why their parents were brought here. In the past year, there have even been new arrivals in the same situation. There was...a ritual, that awakened it."
"A druid dabbling in dark magic wanted revenge for an attempt on her life. That's a long story that has little bearing on our situation, but essentially, she planned to use fifteen murders to revive the Nemeton and siphon some of its power. She had twelve when she was killed, but to find her, Scott and Stiles and another committed ritual suicide, bringing the number of ritual 'deaths' to fifteen."
"Most bestiaries are written by hunters, because the rest of us don't interact nearly as much with both civilization and the supernatural. The psychology is partly a result of magic, partly a result of culture. Mythology in general is a good starting place. Most myths are based on a specific, real creature, but not all purported traits will be accurate."
He begins to pour a thick, caramel liquid from a small vial. Sap or syrup, based on the smell. Probably a mess to clean up, really.
"I'd like you to try to get in. First try opening the door without your magic, then with it. Then, with the door open, try walking across, try flying yourself across, and then, if that fails, try disrupting the line."
"So the ones that erect barriers work until you use magical means to cross them, the one that repels only had purely physical effects, and not as strong as it usually is, either...I suppose I can try to poison you, but the effect isn't actually different from mundane poisons, so it's not a very useful test."
The air is surprisingly clean, for being so near civilization. The dense forest must help.
She can see an old house, burned down ages ago, at the edge of the woods. The residential areas, just over the hill. The school, the station, the warehouses and office buildings. For a small town, it's not actually very small.
"I was holding Stiles and a chimera that was chasing him. They appeared seemingly out of nowhere, the chimera was frightened of them. He said something about not having failed yet, still being able to succeed. I stopped them in place and asked what their purpose was. One of them blinked past me somehow, and did something that removed the chimera from my perception, and then the others disappeared as well."
Malia leans down in front of Scott, who is now sitting on the floor, leaning back against the wall.
"Scott, snap out of it. Whatever you're remembering is over, it's not happening now. You're fine. You don't have asthma so stop having a magic asthma attack, it's embarrassing."
"Malia, if it's not an asthma attack that's not helping. Scott, listen to me. Just focus on the sound of my voice. Your friend Stiles, here in the clinic- I can't believe you're still working here, by the way. I mean, okay, you like helping the witty-bitty animals, but isn't it annoying cleaning up after them? And what about pediatrics, shouldn't you be volunteering in a hospital, building your rep? Also werewolf stuff, that's kind of a time-consuming hobby. Maybe you should think about switching things up."