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  2. Grim had listened to Dane's and Adrianna's tale with something approaching sympathy in his expression. Certainly, it sounded like Ty had made a terrible choice, and on the surface one that no true Aesir should make, and yet... And yet. The scion of Odin considered... That terrible choice, that shocking betrayal, had kept everyone else alive. Had kept Dane and Adrianna alive, and so led to the confluence of events that had them both here, now, when they were needed. The son of Tyr had, much like his father, sacrificed for the greater good, losing something dear to him so that the rest of what he held dear could be preserved. He had taken upon himself that horrible burden, so that others did not have to. And now he faced death at Dane's hand, the ultimate price for his actions. Grim wondered if he should intervene, perhaps try to talk Dane out of his course of action. Did he even have the right to do so? Perhaps he did. What would the vengeance, even if deserved, do to Dane? That survivor guilt, mingled with something close to kinslaying. What would be left of the happy, smiling son of Baldur that so got on Grim's nerves from his cluelessness? And if vengeance was denied, how would that eat at Dane? I am not my Father. I do not have his wisdom. Grim thought to himself, at a loss. Would he, in Ty's place, have done something similar? He hoped not. He would hope, perhaps, that he could come up with some cunning scheme, some trickery that would serve better as diversion. And at the worst, he would sacrifice himself, rather than others, to ensure that the majority survived. He hoped he would, at least. Perhaps that, if anything, was something he could condemn Ty for - not for sacrificing comrades in arms and friends, but for sacrificing others without being willing to put himself on the line. Perhaps, that is. For Grim did not know enough about Ty, or enough of his reasons on the day. The unwise man is awake all night, and ponders everything over; when morning comes he is weary in mind, and all is a burden as ever. Yeah. Not going to get anywhere thinking that over. It's tail-chasing, and I simply don't know en- A cough from Adrianna brought him out of his reverie, and he realised he was staring at - well, letting his eyes rest on - her shapely behind in the well-fitting (tight) jeans. The son of Odin didn't quite guiltily jerk his mismatched eyes up to meet the narrowed gaze of the daughter of Hades, but it did take every ounce of self control for him not to blush crimson and stammer out an apology like the schoolboy he, in fact, was. Instead, despite his cheeks going a little pink, he managed to merely blink and cleared his throat. "We need to get close to the ritual vessel and destroy it, scattering the gathered power. We need your medallion to send the three witches back to your Father's realm." he told her, trying to pretend he hadn't been unconsciously ogling her. His lips quirked in a crooked smile as he tilted his head, regarding Adrianna wryly. "In short, we're going to a party. Wanna come?"
  3. The large blonde paced for a moment, his blood boiling. Adrianna's grin didn't fade and she watch through the corner of vision, still talking on the phone. "She left us." Was all he said at first. "There were ten of us, after the warehouse attack, five of us were lost. There was just me, Adrianna, Erika, Ty and Kiki. We had nothing, no homes, money, food... and she left us. Daddy was the god of all the riches in the earth and she up and left us for three hots and a cots. We never saw her again after that and the others all just sort of went their own ways. The phone calls became less and less frequent, sometimes a text message... then, nothing. In the end, she didn't care about anyone but herself." "For two more years I was up and down the east coast, two years of scrounging, broken bones, sleeping in filth and wallowing in the muck while she enjoyed every comfort her rich daddy provided for her," he snapped at her, looking her direction as he spoke to Fisher. "She's no friend, she's a coward. She'll sell you out first chance she gets, especially if it wins her daddy's favor!" Adrianna crossed ten paces in five and all Fisher could was take a single step back in shock as her hand crossed Dane's cheek, the smacking sound loudly echoing in the air. Were it a lesser person, their head would have jerked to one side, but Dane's barely moved to the right. The Greek Scion flexed her fingers and shook her hand loosely, showing that it hurt her more than it hurt him. "You unbelievable asshole." If she was afraid of a reprisal, it didn't show. She stood face to face with him, both of them seething with anger. "I didn't leave you because of cowardice, it was guilt. If you had half a brain on those wolf-witted shoulders of yours, you'd have seen that!" "Explain." He growled through gritted teeth. "Zeus's beard, Dane... by eleven you could throw a city dumpster down an alleyway! Flip a car on its side! You were the warrior and shield that the others needed to survive against the Titans," she chuckled. "Think, for once... think! Ty needed you to remain as safe as possible! You would have fought every giant that day to your last breath because you don't know when to back down! Ty locked those others in the office to lure the giants away form us. They weren't trapped, Dane, they were bait. A distraction to thin the numbers so we could pull you out of there and escape..." Dane's expression went white as Adrianna's cheeks were dampened by a few rogue tears. "You're too sweet, to naïve. We couldn't tell you the truth, but it was us or them and Ty made a call. None of us agreed with it, but it was done and everyday after that the guilt of knowing that we left them there to..." she took a step away, wiping her eyes. "I just couldn't stay, Dane. Everyday looking at Ty and pretending like I didn't know what he did, what we did... we sacrificed five children... that's why everyone just sort of went their own way, Dane. After that day, after what Ty did, we just... we just couldn't anymore." The news obviously hit Dane like a piano from the thirtieth floor. "Why didn't you tell me the truth?" He finally asked, his tone softer, more calm but still on the precipice of rage. "Because you would have killed him," Adrianna replied. "Still am." Dane said grimly. "We do not sacrifice our own. We are loyal to the last. Brothers and sisters!" "That's why he did it and we didn't tell you. We're not all Aesir, Dane. We don't wake up and pour milk on our loyalty and courage crispies and thank Odin for another day to be stoic and boisterous. He saved us all, Dane," Adriana's eyes were obviously swirling with conflict. "I always knew it was wrong, but I could never deny that if he hadn't, we'd all be dead too. That's why I left Dane, I had to. The guilt was, and still does, tear at my insides." "But Ty is Aesir," Dane said coldly. "He should have known better. The son of Tyr is a dead man walking. You have me," he said with no measure of decency or emotion in his voice. "When we are done, I will hunt. Grimm and Fisher will tell you the details. I need to be alone." As Dane walked away the others considered for a moment giving chase. Adrianna finished wiping away her tears and composed herself. "Well, sorry you had to see that. I generally do not allow my dirty laundry to be aired amongst strangers. Guess that sort of... solved itself. I suppose you have me and my medallion for chargée d'affaires in all matters of the dead. What's the plan?"
  4. Fisher frowned at the poisonous nature of the words drifting between Dane and Adrianna. The question that had rested at the back of his mind was coming to the fore. Should he ask it though, given Dane's angered state? Well, yes, he had to. It was clear that the bad blood between the two was the obstacle between this deal they needed, and the harm the World faced if the seal broke could well be incalculable. And he could not bridge it, without understanding the source. "Dane, be honest with us." Fisher spoke softly, hands shoved in his pockets. "I have been honest." Dane growled at the scion of the Kami, his face taking on ever more a wolfish cast. "Yes, you have," Fisher agreed, whispering softly, "but you haven't told us everything. The way you told it, Adrianna took a big one for the team, to protect you guys. Sure, I could see she being pissed at you for ruining it by getting into the fight, but it certainly doesn't explain why you're at her throat." Fisher stared at Dane, non-judgemental but insistent. "So what happened afterward?"
  5. "No, it's not," Adrianna replied coolly, her eyes narrowing as she studied Grim and Fisher. She tapped her phone to her lower lip a few times before pushing herself off of her car with a rock of her hips. "The Nekiya belongs to Lord Zeus and I'm not about to get in the middle of a squabble between the Big Three. My father is interested in it, sure, but he'd not send me for it. Full disclosure, he's more interested in the individual that managed to spirit it away in the first place." "Dane," she said after a small pause. "What?" The child of summer asked with suspicion in his tone. She sighed and rolled her eyes. "No, genius. You. You are my bargain. If you want me to loan you my medallion and the secrets of use, which you need me for, then I want something of yours," she looked to Grimm. "Once I'm done with him I'll return him in... well, 'like-new' condition. A few extra miles, but you need me for a job and frankly, I have a few things coming up that could use a simple touch... or something simply touched." Her sarcastic grin fell on Dane. She seemed colder towards the Aesir, less professional and more spiteful which placed even more emphasis on their past. "Screw you, Addy." Dane growled through gritted teeth. "Don't call me that," she hissed back, then composed herself as she remembered that it was not just her and Dane present. She offered Fisher and Grimm a lift of her shoulders. "Those are my terms." Dane turned to the others. "We can do this without her, forget this." He seemed completely different than the usual, jovial stoner they'd all come to know as adrenaline and anger seemed to creep just under the surface of his skin. The pace of his breathing increased as well, along with his blood pressure as he appeared on the cusp of some sort of explosive outburst. The reason he was constantly stoned was becoming more and more apparent. "We can handle the problem without her. She's just like her dad, manipulative and greedy." Her chuckle at his harsh appraisal didn't go unnoticed. "Perhaps you need a few moments," they could tell she was enjoying this, but what was her angle? "I have a quick call to make. If you'll excuse me." She stepped away, evil smirk on her lips as she tapped the screen on her phone.
  6. "We learned that someone is trying to perform a ritual to break an imprisoning seal." Grim's voice was quietly businesslike, a cold breeze blowing off the glaciers of Niflheim. "I'm inclined to think it's something they gleaned from the Nekiya, but perhaps not - I'm going from gut feeling there. The various strange events around town have been funneling the power of Fate into the rite, the climax of which will take place tomorrow night at midnight." He shrugged slightly, favoring Adrianna with a smile. "Fate does love synchronicity, and Halloween is the perfect time to release something big, powerful and not of this world." "We're also pretty sure that the spirits of the three witches have possessed female students from the school, as we mentioned in our last meeting. Given the central focal point of the ritual, at least one of them is likely to be Mercedes Rhodes, daughter of Aphrodite." he went on in the same intent, businesslike fashion. "It can't be coincidence that her home is at the geomantic fulcrum of all the strange happenings. The plan is to attend her costume party, find the vessel being used to store the mystical energies so far raised, and neutralise it. We also use your amulet to banish the witches back to your Father's realm." He shifted his feet, leaning on his staff as his mismatched eyes studied Adrianna. "I am new to all of this." he said in the tone of one confessing. "But it strikes me that stopping those witches, and preventing the release of whatever destructive evil they plan to unleash, is more important than simple high school hijinks. We know what needs doing, we know what we need in order to do it. And your amulet is one of those key ingredients. You ask 'what have we to trade'? I have nothing to offer you right now. I can promise that I will consider this a favor to be returned: whatever you need from me, if it is in my power to grant or loan, I will do so." He grinned a little, a wolfish expression of amusement. his green eye sparkling. "Except the Nekiya. If we are able to recover that, it goes back to Archie. It's not on the bargaining table, oh Daughter of Hades." he essayed a half-bow, giving her a lopsided smile.
  7. “It’s appreciated,” Rachel said coldly to the graceful, blonde beauty. Her tone said that she didn’t wholly trust the motives of the rich violinist, knowing how Laurel danced between the two bands at the school without showing much loyalty to either. Still, she always seemed more dedicated to assisting Scions against the Titans and not the ongoing personal drama that coiled around all of them like saranwrap on Freshman Friday. “Why don’t you four go take care of that, we’ll give this place one more patrol and then see if we can’t possibly find out a little more on what’s going on at this little party Mercedes is throwing tomorrow night. She didn’t say anything to Grimm or Dane as she collected the others and made off on their last patrol of the cemetery, leaving the four remaining scions to make their way to Laurel’s awaiting vehicle and driver to see them off to the meeting location. ---==={@}===--- Salem High School parking lot, 20 minutes later… Adrianna was pacing near the driver’s side of her car, a sleek black sports car that looked like only Laurel’s bank account could handle its burden of ownership. She was speaking on her phone as the four Scions exited Laurel’s car and approached her. “Yes, fine,” she said, smiling at Laurel and the others. Her eyes widened a bit in pleasant shock at the sight of Dane, only for her mouth to curl mischievously into a smirk as she realized he had no real desire to be present. “No, Corbin, that’s fine. If he has it then I will too and you can reap the fool proper. Yes, I’ll meet you in Dubai by next week. Of course, yes, now, I must run, my next appointment has arrived.” She tapped the screen on her phone and placed it in her handbag as she offered them a smile and greeted them. “Terribly sorry about that, just last-minute business. Dane, you’re looking well.” “We need your medallion,” he replied in place of a proper greeting. “We’ll give it back right after we’re done with it tomorrow night.” The Greek hero seemed a bit taken aback by the Aesir’s straightforward manner of negotiating for something that was rightfully hers. Instead of offence, she seemed more humored than anything else. “Well, I suppose some things never change. Still right to the point, as always.” “I’m sober,” the young blonde replied. “Please cut the crap. I’m not the best of moods at the moment.” “Aw,” she taunted him. “Poor thing, but we all know this isn’t how negotiations work. I have something you want, what have you to offer in trade? Also, I’m eager to know what you learned, your drama here in Salem seems far more intriguing than anything I’m working on currently.”
  8. "Well," Laurel interjected brightly into the quiet that followed both Darcy's somewhat misguided, if charmingly passionate outburst, and the rather alarming scuffle between Grim and Dane. "I think that's everything sorted out, then, unless anyone else has an announcement they'd like to make? Not to trivialize any of this, of course," she added, flashing an apologetic smile at Darcy and the apparently less-than-sanguine son of Baldr. "But as Austin has so adeptly pointed out, Grim has gotten you the information you need through cunning and diplomacy, and now Fisher has assured us all that Archimedes is perfectly fine despite concerns to the contrary, while Darcy has bravely pledged her sword and shield to your cause, and Dane has revealed the tale of his desperate origins, which, I regret to say, was largely lost on me without the appropriate context. All that remains is to confront or contract Adrianna, attend the party tomorrow night, and save the world." The platinum-crowned violinist shrugged, her smile fading as she gestured expansively at the group. "The players are assembled, the roles filled. The climax of the story is upon you." "You make it sound like you're not involved in this," the aforementioned plucky mortal spoke up, frowning a little despite her relief that neither of the Aesir "cousins" were apparently going to kill the other. In answer, Laurel lifted her free hand to check the time, the golden band about her wrist clinking softly against her watch as it shifted. "I gave my word that I'd help a friend this evening," she replied quietly, the brilliant summer-sky-blue of her eyes taking on a cooler, more reflective hue as she regarded Darcy with a faint, polite smile. "I'm happy to help in obtaining the amulet if necessary, of course, provided that happens tonight."
  9. Grim turned back towards Dane and titled his head away from everyone, signaling for tall, broad-shouldered young Scion of Baldur to step away with him. Everyone could still see them, but only those with the most heightened of hearing, like Rachel could listen in, and she did, a bit concerned for them both knowing what she knew of her cousins. They were walking without going anywhere, just taking slow steps in the autumn leaves as lives that ended long ago made up their audience. "We need to talk," Grim stated calmly, the hood he wore seemed to carefully conceal his features as he spoke to the young man at his side. "We need to know, Dane. We need to know everything." Okay, yeah," Dane nodded and sighed. "I'll try. See, our whole universe was in a hot, dense state. Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. The earth began to cool, the autotrophs began to drool, neanderthals developed tools-" Grim sighed, and his frail frame betrayed how fast he could actually move. In a single shove Grimsley had Dane pressed to a tree, his staff cross wise against his chest, holding him there. Surprise owned the son of Baldur's expression. "I grow weary of these constant games, cousin! I do not want jokes, I want answers. Unpickle you brain and find them or-" With a shove Grimsley founds himself staggering back a few steps. He noted the hidden power in Dane's retaliation, no one was that strong who hadn't seen a battle or two. "Get off me, little one." His eyes were cleared, if only momentarily, and his 'surfer dude' accent was replaced by something more... Norse. He sounded, for the first time any of them had heard, like a man. He took two heavy steps forward and shoved Grimsley again, which only resulted in the smaller Scion shoving him back in return. "I am warning you, Grimsley. I do not want this fight. I agreed to help, but this is your war, not mine!" They were collecting an audience from the other assembled Scions. They all watched, not sure what to do as Rachel stood there like a gargoyle on the path that led to them, arms crossed and unmoving. Darcy mumbled something about it 'being enough' and made it two steps in their direction before Rachel, not taking her eyes off Grimsley and Dane, told her, "Stay put." "We shouldn't be fighting!" Darcy snapped at her. Rachel didn't look at her, just kept observing her kinsmen. "We'd make for poor warriors were that true. Let my cousins settle their differences." "-they don't care if it's your war or not," Grimsley snarled, his staff raised in defense as he continued to press Dane's buttons. "I think what you mean to say, is you're nothing but a mewling coward. Stay here then, fade away in obscurity. We've no use for cowards." The tall, smiling blonde was always so gentle and fun to be around, but all that bled away in these last few moments as they all saw his face contort into pure rage at the wiry young man's insults. Grimsley could have done a lot of things, parried, dodged, engaged in full-scale battle, but he didn't. He groaned in pain as his back slammed against the same tree he'd pressed his cousin against moments ago. With a single motion and only one arm, he'd hoisted the skinny boy up and flung him about, slamming him into the trunk of wood and orange leaves. "I warned you," Dane snarled, a guttural growl rising up in the back of his throat. All the cloaked boy in his grasp did was laugh. A low, soft chuckle before his eyes lowered and he met his cousin's eyes with his. There was no fear coming from Grim, as always the entire scene was unfolding precisely as he had calculated it. "There he is. Finally, we meet the warrior. Where have you been hiding, hmm? Do tell." Dane allowed Grim to slide down the tree, loosening his grip and freeing him before turning and walking away from the subject of his ire. With his head down he paced for a moment, the strands of his usually kempt blonde locks had sprung loose in the tussle and his long hair was curtain over act two to his expression. He looked at his hands in disbelief that he'd raised them against his own cousin, and softly shook his head. "It's true," his deep, stern voice admitted. "I am a coward. There were ten of us, two bands." Rachel took a step forward and as she did the other felt it safe now to do the same. On boundary of the small arena for the two she stopped, positioning herself to hear the young man speak. The others did the same, but none of them stepped past Rachel. "I am Úlfhéðnar. Visited young, I lost my parents had to learn to fight the titans early. There were others like me, we band together for strength in numbers, then... then we found Adrianna. She was a few years older, but her father forbade her form helping us directly, indirectly was another matter so she'd often drop hints for refuge or food or 'accidently' drop an envelope of cash for us. All of us became fast friends, but one day we were discovered by giants and harpies... the titanspawn had come for us in this small warehouse were squatting in. Adrianna was with us that day and she tried to lead us all out so we could escape. Later, I learned that she was punished by her father for disobeying him by directly assisting in saving our lives." His eyes glossed over and his voiced trailed off at the memory. "My cursed blood wouldn't allow me to flee. I rushed in hungry for death, theirs of my own, for Valhalla was mine either way. In the battle, five us were trapped in the office. They'd hidden there and were trying to escape but debris and old shelving units, they weren't warriors like the rest of us, they didn't realize we were in over our heads. They were easy pickings and the titanspawn left us alone to go after them, Ty and Kiki, they dragged me out of there kicking and screaming, frothing at the mouth and demanding blood..." he shrugged and managed a smirk. "I think I said some foul things about their lineage too. I was pretty creative back in the day with my insults." "After we escaped," He inhaled and sighed. "We had a big fight. We'd left five of us behind, I blamed myself, they said it couldn't be helped... it was bad. We parted ways, not on the best of terms," he shrugged. "Things were said, you know how it goes. Not long after, Ida, my 'aunt' found me hungry and half dead in Miami, she gave me a home and she's helped me control my rage with," he fished in his pocket and produced his metal case that held his herbal remedies. "Prescription medication. I can't fight when I'm high on this, and I can't let what's inside out." He stepped to Grimsley who stood tall with no worry visible in his expression. Dane places a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, cousin, I've no desire to be that warrior ever again. I will go with you to see Adrianna, I owe you that much." Arms still crossed, Rachel looked at Darcy, the hint of a matronly smile faintly appearing on her lips. "See? Right as rain." Darcy said nothing as a relieved smile spread across her features, relieved that they didn't hurt one another.
  10. "It is." Grim said thoughtfully as he walked along, staff tapping in cadence with his footfalls. He cast a glance over his shoulder at Fisher, nodding as if deciding something. "I want you in the meeting too. Not to keep busting your balls, but seeing you might make her take us less seriously after your performance last time - only this time we can make it work for us. She might let something slip if she feels overconfident." He shrugged. "Or she might play it straight, in which case all is well. Either way, you're a good geiger counter to have present."
  11. "Yeah." Fisher said, trying to bring up the Fisherhigherlogic.exe in the welter of emotion and hormones. Darcy's words were... well, they resounded surprisingly well with Fisher despite his wish otherwise. Because, let's be honest, Fisher wouldn't have liked her like that if Darcy wasn't that energetic, go-getting, determined girl. The Amatsukami Scion had subordinated that to a desire to keep her safe and protected. Knowing how willing she was to step up and take the risk alongside him was both alarming and comforting too, he realized. Something Fisher wasn't going to work through in an evening. Grim moving the topic over to Adrianna reminded him. "About that. So I went and told Mr. Syracuse... He said it was all right, he'd told Zeus about the Nekiya a while ago. He also advised us to continue pretending she's got leverage over us, and use that to help figure out what Adrianna's plans and if we can trust her. Something to keep in mind while we're planning this."
  12. Grim had been leaning against the gatepost of the cemetary's main entrance like a particularly brooding form of gargoyle as the group had approached and drawn level with him, his seething at his cousin's weed-rotted thought processes and boneheaded 'question' having largely returned to his usual sullen equilibrium when Darcy suddenly stopped dead and gave Fisher - and others - a piece of her mind. As she finished, he pushed off from where he was leaning and approached, wry amusement flickering in his gaze as he looked at the tongue-tied scion of Izanami before those odd-coloured eyes rested on the flushed mortal. His head tilted slightly, his expression hard to read as he asked "'The anti-social'?" Darcy's red cheeks reddened a little further. "Oh god, did I say that out loud?" she muttered, then firmed her jaw and looked right at him. "Well... you kind of are." she told him, her tone somewhere between defiant and diplomatic. "Sorry, but... yeah." "S'true, dude." Dane put in helpfully, nodding slowly. "You're all quiet and surly and stuff. But it's cool. Sorta like Batman." "Maybe that should be your costume." Laurel suggested pleasantly, her blue eyes sparkling. Grim looked at her, one corner of his mouth twitching in an almost-smile, then glowered at Dane, then finally stared at Darcy as he rested against his staff. "If Creation were to end tomorrow, and I went to the Hall of my Father." he said quietly, his eyes on the student barista. "When I was called upon to tell a tale, I would be sure to tell the tale of the girl who stood with us at the Ending of All Things with nothing more than a willing spirit. In that regard, at least, I can see to it you end up as more than dust on the wind." There was a moment of silence. Darcy wasn't sure what to say. The other scions looked at Grim with various levels of surprise. He shifted his weight then, resting the staff against his shoulder as he stood up straight again, smiling a little at Darcy. "Of course, if we make it through tomorrow, we shall have to see about making sure you're equipped with more than just a willing spirit. If you want to walk the walk, you're going to need to be able to keep up, if only a little." he went on, his manner more businesslike. "That means learning. And training." He shrugged, glancing at Fisher, then the others. "Something to think about. For now, though, we've got a party to prepare for. Dane? I need you to get straight - or at least straight-er - and call Adrianna. You and me and one or two others need to sit down with her and get her to agree to lend us her amulet. So I'm going to need your thoughts on that. Actual thoughts. Not thoughts about Bill Murray." He added, eyes narrowing as he motioned his cousin to accompany him. "Come on, let's walk and talk. Standing around makes my leg hurt." "I don't think I ever asked." Darcy murmured to Fisher as the group moved on out of the graveyard. "Who exactly is his father?" "Odin." Fisher answered, still getting over the sight of an impassioned Darcy and the kiss she'd given him in front of everyone. "Oh." Darcy pondered. "Right." she said after a few more moments.
  13. "No, Fisher, I don't," Darcy replied flatly. She stopped and rolled her eyes, sighing loudly and raising her voice so everyone could hear her. "Look, I get that you want to protect me, all of you, and I appreciate it. Your concern is noted. Also, it's summarily discarded. I understand that all of you have been, and I hate to quote a god, 'burdened with glorious purpose'. The amount of anxiety and stress and drama you've had to go through I am truly sorry for." She paced about for a moment, obviously pissed but trying not to laser line that ire to one specific person, in this case, Fisher hadn't done or said anything wrong, his intentions were noble and pure, but as always, his deliver needed work. This time, he was merely the catalyst, not the problem. "Yet here you are! The graceful and the elegant," she motioned to Laurel and then to Nadya and Dane. "Hanging out with the criminal and the 'stoner dude'. The anti-social," she gestured to Grim then Fisher and Austin. "Ready to fight and die along side the anime dork and the local prep-jock who has a perfect foster life! Why? Because that's what you have to do get the job done. A unified front. If the World ended tomorrow you guys have a fifty-fifty chance of being swept away to whatever god-worlds your parents live in, right? Not me. That's it for me. I'm dust, a cloud in the wind, one more soul for Asphodel, or Duat, or... wherever in the Nine-Hells I'm going!" She glared at them all, seething at her friends as she let the stress of a mortal who was recently confronted by existence of the Divine vent. "I would rather Felicity Smoak in a chair and feed all of you guys the intel you don't have the time to research on your own or get my Speedy on and be out here in the shit getting dirty with the rest of you than sit on my ass and do nothing. So, here is where I will be. This is my World. This is my home." Now she turned to Fisher and too a few steps towards him. "Let a son of an Amatsukami tell me I haven't a duty, on my honor to protect it. Or," she turned to Grim and Dane, although Dane had agreed to let her come, he did so on the condition of being her knight. She was thankful for it, but still, she didn't want to admit that she needed them for any of that. It wasn't until Runa singled her out that she felt her resolve harden into contempt, what was the giantess trying to say to her? "Would the mighty Aesir like to tell me that when outsiders appear on my land and wish to do me and my people harm that I've not the right to pick up a weapon and spit in their face as I scream 'not today'." She didn't touch on the others, as she didn't know much about the Greeks, Loa or Egyptian gods. Facing Fisher again, her cheeks rosy and flushed with rage mingled with the autumn chill. Leaning in she kissed him gently. "I don't want a security blanket, Fisher, I want my boyfriend."
  14. Fisher breathed out, some of the tension going away as the group left. It could have gone much worse, particularly with Darcy drawing attention as she did. He was forced to utter another, smaller sigh at Dane's... Dane-ness, and Grim's understandable reaction. Austin going alone with it did not help. For now he just settled for holding Darcy's hand as they walked away. "See," he told her, "this is what I was talking about." "In their eyes - and I suspect, most of the beings we're gonna be dealing with - you're just a 'mortal.' As Popo put it: you're below the dirt, let alone the worms in the dirt. If it wouldn't have started a fight, she'd probably have..." Fisher shied away from directly spelling it out. "Well, 'pecking order, bitch' and you don't have Krillin's ability to take a hit. And this was a peaceful conversation." A fight from the beginning, with Dane as a protector, Fisher knew how easily that would end tragically. "So do you get why I don't want you going in with us in these situations?"
  15. Austin walked along with her, "We find something she wants, and offer a trade. Now what that is I don't know, and if the reality is anything like mythology, I'm probably the worst of us to actually propose anything to her, given who our fathers are. We'd need to know more about her to hazard a guess as to what could make acceptable collateral for such a loan." He looked back at Dane who knew her. "If you can think of anything on that front, it'd probably be more helpful than the rest of us guessing." He turned his attention back to Laurie. "As for the rest, Grim did a great job keeping us out of a fight I'm not at all sure we could win. He got them to talk, got us information we didn't have, and I think we've all got a pretty good hunch on who the possessed are, at least one of them. Now it occurs to me that that could have been part of the plan, to get us there, because it could also just be a trap, despite her essentially saying she was just a mercenary in this, and that it was no skin off her nose what actually happened. That at least hints at a certain level of loyalty, perhaps to a contract of some sort." "There's alot about all of this, they mythical side of everything going on that I'm ignorant of. That's something I'd actually like to remedy sooner rather than later." his voice was quiet as he acknowledged an area of weakness. He'd already resolved to see if Archie could make some time to help him, to teach him more about things.
  16. There was no scorn or derision in the azure eyes that regarded the son of Poseidon; only pity accompanied the slightly sympathetic smile Laurel directed at him as she adjusted the strap of her violin case for comfort. "I'm sure you're helping in the best way you know how. All things considered, though, perhaps more pressing concerns than decades-old film analysis or costume choices should take priority. I'm certain that wasn't the entirety of your conclusions and impressions, was it?" She watched Austin for a moment, her expression one of polite expectation, before nodding in the direction Grim had gone. "Come. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter while we walk." Pairing action with speech, the svelte young muse graced Darcy with a smile and began heading back toward the more well-maintained pathways. "How do you propose we get your cousin to loan us her amulet, for example?"
  17. "Because he always looked out for himself first Dane, and when he realized what was about to happen he hid as opposed to standing there. That or maybe he had it in his contract he could only get "Slimed" once in a movie." Austin answered and shrugged. "I'd say even odds of both." Austin had let Grimm do the talking, indeed, most of them had, and things had worked out well enough. They knew What was going on, where, and when, and he'd outlined a good start to a plan. "So who's going as what to the party?"
  18. The skinny youth dressed in the oversized longcoat had remained silent, leaning on his staff, as Fisher and Runa spoke, his mismatched eyes apparently idly scanning their surroundings. As Laurel spoke up, he seemed to awaken from whatever speculation his mind was engaged in, straightening a little and throwing the giantess a polite nod. Though he still seemed woefully underfed, when he stood straight it was noticeable that the Aesir scion was not as small or frail-seeming as his body language usually suggested, being almost as tall as his cousin with the sunnier disposition. His shoulders, too, did not seem so hunched or narrow within the confines of the coat. "My thanks to you, fair Runa, for your time - upon which we have intruded far too much already." The son of Odin said with careful formality. "We shall leave as we arrived - in peace." He paused in the process of turning as he gave her a slight smile. "Should we meet again under peaceful circumstance, perhaps we could share an iced chocolate." Without waiting for a reply he completed his turn, tapping Fisher on the shoulder as a signal to follow as he headed away from the giants and their Nemean ally. "Let's get going." he told the others quietly as he drew level with them, not looking back at Runa and her companions. "We've got all we need." "We have?" Darcy looked from Grim to the giants, to Grim again, and finally at the others. Fisher shrugged acceptance, as did Austin. Rachel frowned, feeling ill at ease turning her back on Titanspawn, but also didn't want to bicker in front of enemies. Laurel simply nodded with her usual grace and turned to go. Nadya, confused but trusting that Glumsley knew what he was talking about, likewise fell into step as the Band began to head out of the graveyard. Once they were near the entrance to the place of final rest, Grim began talking. "They're gathering power, a lot of it. The power of Fate, of Legend. That's what all the strange incidents have been for." he began, drawing a sandwich from his satchel and taking bites between sentences. "Runa was telling the truth - her part of it is just legwork. The ritual is to break a magical seal - probably set by someone divine, given the amount of power they're drawing." "Right." Laurel frowned, nodding as she absorbed this. "So I'm assuming the ritual likely isn't complete, or we'd know about it by now." "Correct." Grim nodded as he finished the sandwich, then popped the tab on a can of Coke. "The power is being funneled into a vessel - an actual vessel. Something old and/or valuable, a vase or a pithos, with a mystical presence of it's own, perhaps. The power will then be consumed at the apex of the ritual by the person running it, and they will then break the seal." He looked around at them all, the verdant hue of his right eye a stark contrast to the wintery grey of his scarred one. "Best bet, the ritual will be tomorrow night, at midnight. The place will be Mercedes party. So we're all going, and we're going to get our hands on that vessel before the Witching Hour starts." He smiled wryly. "Halloween is a great night for breaking seals, especially ones between the lands of the living and the dead. Whatever our enemies are trying to set loose, it's a great idea to stop that from happening." "So our tasks are, in order, secure Adrianna's help with her amulet. We then infiltrate the party in costume-" he made a face "- and find, in no special order, the vessel and the possessed partygoers. Before midnight." He glanced around them again. "Any questions?" he asked before tilting back his head and taking a long drink of soda. "Yeah," Dane nodded as he began flicking a lighter to spark his medicinal remedy. "Why was Venkman the only one not covered in marshmallow? I never understood that." Grim had just taken a large mouthful of soda, and it was a testament to his presence of mind and sheer cussedness that the Band didn't end up wearing it. A couple of worrying choking noises emitted from his throat, and then he swallowed, coughed once, and stared at Dane ominously. "Are you serious?" "Well, yeah, man. I mean, Mr Stay Puft was all -*ker-blooey* and there was fluff everywhere, but not on Venkman." Dane replied earnestly. "You..." Grim began, then stopped himself. "I..." he began again, then halted whatever diatribe he'd been about to spew forth like dragonfire. And the damned scion of Baldur just stood there with an expression somewhere between curiousity and worry. Grim opened his mouth one last time, then shut it with an audible snap, turned on his heel, and stalked from the graveyard, muttering to himself.
  19. Laurie rested a gloved hand on Darcy's shoulder reassuringly, her clear blue gaze the contrast of tropical skies to Runa's arctic stare. She'd never seen anything like this living frost-maiden, terrible and beautiful, but there didn't seem to be any need or desire for deception in the massive woman's glacial eyes or demeanor; she meant what she said. As far as she was concerned, and as far as the young violinist could tell, the giantess had simply done a job, and that was that. The significance of the arcane symbols and terminology was lost on the summery scion, as was the source of the curious undercurrent of tension between Dane, Grim, and their brawny opposition. She made a mental note to inquire about it once they were on their way. Still, the bit about witches and costumes, commentary regarding irritating voices notwithstanding, was useful information. "Well, then," she chimed in pleasantly. "That gives us the 'when' and the 'where,' at least." And possibly the 'who,' as well, she considered, reflecting on what the Disastrous Duo of Nadya and Rachel had shared about their own findings. "I hadn't planned on going, myself, but I suppose I could throw something together."
  20. "We gain nothing," Runa said calmly. "Nothing more than simple payment for a job well done. My jotun brethren and I are... what is the American word? Mercenaries? Your quarry approached and offered payment to accomplish what would take them too long, so here we are." She waved one arm outward, to encompass the cemetery. "You prey on my sympathies, Betrayer?" She chuckled but it was dry and emotionless. Her breath was visible in slight puffs as she exhaled, but it wasn't really cold enough for that yet this season. "My heart is ice. I care nothing for you, this World, or it's mewling and pathetically weak inhabitants with their 'iced hot chocolates." Her face scrunched up in disgust and her own words seemed to have struck a nerve. "Are they so stupid as to not realize that once it's 'iced' it's no longer 'hot'. Make up your minds! It's either iced chocolate, or it's hot chocolate! It can not be both!" The two giants behind her tapped their fists to their chests gently and rhythmically and nodded like she was testifying in a sermon. Rimuldr snorted and licked his chops like he didn't like what he was hearing either. She inhaled and calmed herself. "But that is neither here, nor there." "Okay... that wasn't weird at all," Darcy said under her breath. Rimuldr growled at her his teeth bared as the mortal dared to speak out of turn. "Shh, shh, my friend." Runa smirked and gently patted her thigh. The great wolf approached and forced its head beneath her hand, demanding attention. "Silence your pet. It is in the presence of its betters, I would encourage you to be more heavy handed with her." "I-I'm not afraid of you, lady!" Darcy snapped. The hesitation in her voice told them all she was horrible at lying. "Oh, but you are," Runa glared at the mortal teenager, her ice blue orbs seemed to stare right through Darcy, chilling her blood. "But you've nothing to fear from me ignorant girl. You will do far more harm to yourself than I ever could." Dane stood in front of Darcy, shielding her like he vowed so that Fisher and Grim could continue doing what they were doing. The action seemed to snap Runa back into the moment, and again, she looked away. "Killing you wasn't part of our job, so I offer you peace, albeit for now. You will go your way, we will go ours." She spoke in definite terms, like she knew the outcome already. Her eyes narrowed on the band and she inhaled and exhaled more wisps of chill air. "Your witches are planning a ritual, a powerful one. I have completed most of the legwork for them, summing the legend they'll need to accomplish something great and terrible, the rupturing of a seal, I believe. Tomorrow night. I do not know where, nor how they intend to do it, nor why. I didn't ask. All I know is they would not shut up about costumes. Ugh," she rolled her eyes in annoyance. "It was like listening to chicks just peep, peep, peep. Their voices were so irritating."
  21. "That's very gracious of you." Fisher replied, no trace of sarcasm, outwardly, at any rate. It had already taken him a bit of focused self-control to not snap at Runa's mocking comment towards Darcy. He took a few steps forward, coming up behind Grim and to the right. "But what is happening won't be a game, to the people who will suffer because of it, to our home. If the Aesir chose to act this way in Joutenheim, would you stand for it either, foolish as it might be?" Fisher offered them a humorless smile. "And despite your warning, you have chosen to involve yourself in the game." Though she said there was no glory in killing them, that itself still implied the seiðkonur valued it, which raised in turn other questions. "Why have you taken the risks? What glory do you expect to gain from participating in the Salem witches' plots? Please, enlighten we children with your experience and wisdom."
  22. "They asked nicely," the giantess replied coldly. She looked at the small, frail Scion and his band. Her gaze seemed to falter as it passed by Dane. Grim took note, as she spoke of prophetic things it was largely possible that it was either her, or Dane that would fall at the others hands. "While my comrades desired to simply battle you and be done with it, I've spent too much time in this world to concern myself with petty old wounds and old wars, Betrayer." Rimuldr padded up to the back row, slithering through her two giant companions with a predatory glare locked on the young group. "I believe in civility, so I offer you a warning: you are out of your depth, children. You are not warriors, you are hobbling school kids, stumbling in the dark. We are all pawns of a greater game and the only way to win, is not to play." The giants behind her began chuckling, but she silenced them. "Go home. While I've no qualms with killing foolish Scions who overstep thier boundaries, there's no glory in it."
  23. "Everybody play cool." Grim's voice was a low but audible murmur through barely-moving lips to the others. "Nobody swing first." He stepped forward, and if he seemed to his companions to be limping a little more than usual, or seemed to be leaning on his staff more than he had before, well... perhaps he was tired after the long walk. Perhaps. He approached the frost giantess steadily, his staff tapping the ground as he assessed her. That she had skill with runes indicated learning, yet she seemed young. Her axe was at hand, but hardly ready to strike - a parade rest of sorts. Her sheer size reminded him uncomfortably of the trolls, and he had to fight the hackle-raising fear that prickled up his spine as he stepped close enough to be within reach of her axe before coming to a stop, leaning heavily on the black wood stave and meeting her gaze with his own. You've survived eighteen months without going in a troll's stewpot, and that was before your Visitation. he reminded himself, taking a moment before speaking. "Thank you for the welcome, Runa - and Rimuldr." he acknowledged with a courteous dip of his head to both the giantess and the snow-white Nemean. "I am Grim, and I greet you in kind. It may be that we are fated to meet one day in battle, and if so I welcome it. A man - or woman - can be known by the caliber of their foe, after all. Better a strong and cunning enemy than a nīðingr. If you say there is to be no violence here and now, so let it be for my party also." He cocked his head slightly, examining the markings and carvings that adorned the gravestones and tomb slabs around them, then fixed Runa once more with his mismatched gaze. . "You are right that we seek the spirits of witches, those who should lie quiet and yet roam to create mischief. I confess myself puzzled, mighty Runa." He gestured to her, a sweep of his arm meant to indicate her impressiveness. "What manner of dead witches can call upon one such as yourself to do their work?"
  24. "I was," Darcy sighed quietly. "Still am if I'm being honest. Lynnette came in to close tonight, and she said I could go ahead and go home.” Lynette was the co-owner of The Drip and was a mother of two young boys herself, so she knew what it was like to have her hands full. She always seemed to accommodate the high schoolers who worked for her, having them assist her at the coffee shop while she was handling her after-school mom duties and later coming in to close so her staff could get their homework done. “Since they can only work me so much each week, they like to save me for Friday nights." It didn't take a natural empath to notice that she was hiding something, or at the very least not telling the whole truth with that statement, and with practiced grace she changed the subject. "Besides, I'd much rather be out here with you guys. It's way more interesting than homework anyway. I'm just glad I can be of help." Laurie didn't see the need to press the issue, after all there was a time and a place for everything, and this time was reserved for other ventures. For the better part of ten minutes, the group of teenagers wove their way through ancient headstones, some barely legible in the eldest portion of the cemetery. Grim began checking boxes in his mind as they passed by modernized mausoleums and headstones into the more ancient part of the burial grounds, the place that seeped with character, stories, history… legends. ‘This was Bob. He was a good guy and loving father’ and other such bland and unoriginal epitaphs gave way to the rough, weathered stones of those who’d passed so long ago one couldn’t even read who they were anymore. The air was already chilly from the autumn air, but a thick blanket of mist settled at their feet and crawled slowly along the ground, consuming plot and withered flower as it passed. Birds no longer chirped their songs of congregation in preparation for departing to warmer climes. “Are, uh… those ladies buried here?” Dane asked as the cemetery grew more and more creepy. “No,” Darcy shook her head, completely undaunted by the spook-factor the landscape was settling into. “They’re buried about five miles down the road.” Dane looked around like a Shaggy in need of a Great Dane. “Then uh… who’s doin’ all this?” They followed a path just for just five or so more steps, rounding the corner of a large family mausoleum when they caught three figures, broad shouldered and tall, two male one female. The two men wore oversized hoodies, cargo pants and combat boots while the woman was in combat boots, 5.11 cargos and a thick leather vest with a fur collar and trim. Grim raised an eye brown and perused his surroundings. He cursed silently as his perceptions noticed too late that the party had wandered into the area of a warding spell, the origin and purpose of which he couldn’t quite decipher. “Them,” he said softly. “Would be my guess.” The female was in the middle of some ritual, judging by the carvings in the tombstones and the items strewn about where she was kneeling. She stood and her guise melted away, the mists cleared to reveal what she really was to those capable of seeing such things. All three were tall, the men were nine feet, easily and their hoodies stressed under the bulk of their powerful frames, they could see the links of chain slipping from their sleeves and waists, their hoodies concealing armor underneath. The woman was smaller, only about eight feet or so, but her corded muscles were no less impressive. Her skin was blue, with tattoos that seemed to glow an icy hue in knotwork, runic patterns along her arms and face. Her hair was bound in a tight ponytail that was braided and she seemed attractive, in a Sarah Connor Chronicles sort of way and by giant standards seemed… young? The frost giant turned to face the children, her common, pale skinned cousins grumbled and grunted in their guttural language but made move against the teens. As the mists finished clearing the duffel bag slung over her shoulder whisked away to reveal a large bow and quiver, and the massive double-bladed axe in her hand she turned upside down and dug it into the earth and rest both her hands on the pommel in a dramatic display. “As predicted,” she said, her voice was frigid and devoid of emotion or unnecessary expression. Her shimmering, frozen eyes told nothing of what intentions rested behind them. “The witch hunters come. I am Runa.” A low guttural growl rose from the tree line as a massive nemean wolf, white as snow made itself known. “Rimuldr and I bid you welcome. We are destined to battle offspring of the Betrayers, but not here. Not today.” Darcy had displayed gumption until the wolf, Rimuldr, made its appearance. She took a few visible steps back, hiding behind Dane who looked at her than the giants like he wasn't exactly sure what he was supposed to do against these odds. Runa chuckled, "You brought your mortal pet?" A grin spread across her matte blue lips. "Adorable."
  25. She supposed it couldn't be helped, having agreed to assist Grim with this investigation, that she'd have to tolerate the presence of people she'd generally prefer to avoid. ...And, perhaps that was somewhat unfair a judgement. Disliking someone personally did not necessarily mean they had nothing to teach, even if only in serving as examples of what not to do in a given situation. It might also, the young violinist reflected, make for a good opportunity to observe them further. If nothing else, the experience could prove useful when she would inevitably be forced to interact with tedious, ignorant, or otherwise frustrating people later in life. It was worth considering, at least. Yes, she decided with a quick smile at Dane that was reciprocated sincerely, if somewhat dazedly. That would absolutely be useful, and regardless of the outcome, some good could be gained from the experience. Perhaps they might even benefit from her presence, as well! Thus cheered, Laurel hummed softly to herself as she adjusted the carrying strap of her violin case, shifting it to rest across her torso rather than sit on a single shoulder. "I'm so glad you've decided to come along," she chimed up, turning that same sunny expression on Darcy as she matched the pace of their enthusiastic navigator. "Seeing you this afternoon at the café, you seemed so exhausted I was a little worried. It's good to see you're feeling better, now."
  26. "A battery..." Laurel repeated, frowning a little at the implication. One really only needed batteries to fuel other things- they were rather meaningless on their own. What on earth could they possibly have wanted all that energy for? And at the cost of this poor woman's beloved garden, as well. Destroying something that must have been beautiful and meaningful, once, seemed an awful means to, probably, a much worse end. For now, though, there was little else to be done, and Grim himself had offered to help restore the plantings when the weather was right. "Well," the platinum-haired young daughter of the sun declared decisively, "if you mean to help her replant in the Spring, I shall of course help you. If nothing else, I can make sure any tools or..." She paused, lips pursing in thought. "Seeds?" she assayed, considering; how did one go about planting a garden, anyway? Casting a sympathetic eye at the older woman, she pulled the thick wool of her coat more tightly around herself. "Bulbs, perhaps? Whatever supplies are necessary, I'm happy to see that she gets them. Excuse me, please, for just a moment." She smiled a little, then, drawing a small, rectangular case from her coat pocket as she approached the sniffling figure nearby. "Mrs. Cunningham?" Laurie pressed a crisp white card, embossed with neat blue and gold lettering, into the forlorn woman's hands as she looked up. "Here. My name is Laurel Brightman, and this is my contact information. I've promised my friend over there that I'd take care of the costs of replanting when it warms up again, so please- when you're ready- give me a call, and we'll make the arrangements. It's the hope of color in the spring that gets one through the winter, after all, and neither you nor Salem should be deprived of its beauty." Within a few minutes, the three young Scions had agreed amongst themselves that proceeding to Harmony Grove was the best course of action. While Dale and Swi took the more expeditious paths available to someone with a motorcycle and little fear of death, Laurel and Grim returned once more to the insular luxury of the car, the snacks, and the quiet of their own thoughts.

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