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  2. "Good." Grim said as he moved past Fisher, having entered on the other Scion's heels, and took a moment to scrutinise the woman in the booth. Looking back at Fisher and Darcy, who were regarding him with a certain amount of 'what the hell' in their eyes, he sighed. "Good, she's here." he clarified. "Not 'good, Dane's not okay'. Honestly - do I really have to explain that?" "You kinda do, Glumsley." Nadya put in with a sly smirk. The scion of Odin snorted, then fixed Fisher with a gimlet mismatched stare. "You should probably talk to Dane, make sure he's okay." he suggested. "It's plain even to me that setting up this meeting cost him some peace of mind." "Why don't you talk to him, then?" Fisher challenged, not that he disagreed, but Grim inspired contrariness at times. "I'm not a people person." Grimsley said with a shrug. "You are. Black coffee, two sugars." And with that he headed towards the booth, the oldest grumpiest young man in Creation, wearing an oversized duster and limping slightly as he wove through the tables and patrons. "I better catch up and make sure he doesn't start a war or something." Nadya said with an expressive pout as she stepped after him. "My usual when you get the time, Darce." Grim was not a people person - in that he didn't much like people in general. He was not lacking in people skills - those lacking in people skills don't manage to stay alive through eighteen months in a troll den by dint of verbal agility and cunning. So it was safe to say that when the occasion demanded, Grim was perfectly capable of being personable, even charming. He just didn't bother with it for unimportant things. "Thank you for agreeing to meet with us." he said as he stepped up to the booth, offering a scarred hand. "I'm Grim. The girl hurrying over here is Nadya. The others should be along shortly."
  3. The following afternoon... The bell above the door jingled as the Scions of Salem arrived at The Drip. The place was rather busy, facing its usual after school rush when all the kids from the high school would gather to begin their homework and meet up for gossip and coffee. Darcy was a hurricane of movement set about to twist and step through the throng of customers and by the virtue of not spilling a single drop on her tray validated her as a worthy mortal ally to help stop the titans. Okay, that wasn't very prestigious in eyes of the gods, but for high school kids, it was pretty damn cool. The shop was far from quiet. In fact it was as uproarious as a high school cafeteria with patrons being everywhere from the tables to the counters that lined the walls allowing them a look out the storefront's windows to the booths that lined the far wall that awarded no view except the alleyway. The second floor loft offered things like a billiard and ping pong tables as well as more booths for sitting. The first floor stage, for open mic night, that rest directly below the second floor balcony was about the only place that didn't seem to have a customer standing or sitting near it. Darcy stopped Fisher not long after he entered. "I think your friend is already here," she nodded towards a far corner booth. There sat a dark haired, lovely young woman who have to be at least nineteen or twenty. She was sipping coffee and reading the local paper by the looks of it. No one was shocked to find that she was pretty, possessed of perfect cheekbones and just the right amount of every subtle little thing that made her appear just a bit more than human. Like all Scions she was at the peak of the human form, born of gods and obviously a specimen set apart from the mortal herd. "She got here about twenty minutes ago. Coffee, black, and she's just been reading the paper. Dane was here, but, he left as she arrived. I text him to see if he was okay, and he said he was, but," she shook her head and offered and empathic frown. "I don't think he is, y'know?"
  4. "Tanks," Maurice offered the caramel toned beauty. "Is no'much, but I don'need a 'ole lot. Won'go sayin' any o'ya will 'ave an easy time o'tings. D'lives of Scions is nevah an easy one, no. Ow'evah you have d'powah to do so much. To help so many. Try an rememba dat it's not d'gods dat protect d'World, is you, yeh?" His hands fiddled around a bit more as the sliding of stone and jewel could be heard until finally he stopped and his single brow raised inquisitively. "D'art of Spearfinger could prove a powerful weapon in y'fight against d'people looking to'arm Salem. But," he lifted it up to show the group. It was solid again, like he had fastened every piece back together like a puzzle and the seams where the stone had shattered repaired themselves as he did so. Now, the thing was the size of a typical human heart, the fatty tissue was hardened stone encasing the giant gem, but the brilliant shine and ruby light of it was gone. The stone was nothing more than a heart shaped gemstone with it's red hue so dark it was almost black. He pointed to a place near the heart's center, a shard like slot like a lock awaiting a key. "D'er is a piece missing."
  5. "My father is Kalfu." Dale's bitter voice rose from the side of the room as she leaned over the wall, for a short instant, before deciding she actually wanted to walk again. "He visited me a couple months ago." She paused and looked at her Bandmates. "Do you guys know how a Loa visits someone ? He possesses someone else. He did that to my mortal father and trust me, it's scary. A. F." She closed her eyes for a moment, then walked over to the fridge to grab a Coke, popped the top, and raised it a bit in Maurice's direction before taking a long sip. "Two weeks later, a gang prick set our house on fire. My dad died in there. Police caught the guy who did that, but el pendejo coño hung himself up in his cell. And here I am. Simple as that." After another short pause, she glanced at the cyclops and, with a faint smile, added: "I like your place."
  6. "Broken family!?" Maurice leaned away from Fisher's words like he was dodging them. "Boy! Y'need to meet a Spartan or two, dey will set y'straight on what family is. You tink it's in the blood? You think mom or dad are what make a family? Pfft." He waved a chuck of the ruby about as he expressed his words with a few and gestures. "Look about y'boy. People willing t'live for you. T'die for you! D'ere when you need dem, even d'ere when you don't. D'as family. You need one? You want one? Den look around you, d'been with you d'ole time. An ah don' need to tell any of you... family will always be a pain in d'ass." "Out of couriosity, when was d'ey last time you talked with her?" The massive man went back to looking at his work, fiddling more with the shards like a modern Rubix Cube. Death not a concept, little man. Death simply is. It is a natural 'ting. You tink nothing would die if y'mother was no longer around? D'gods, they simply are users of powers far greater d'en d'emselves. In dis case, d'titans." "We can talk to our parents?" Asked Austin. "Of course, boy!" Maurice chuckled a bit. "D'ey gods. Gods can always 'ere d'prayers of d'ose who invoke d'eir name. Now," his head bobbed down in a bit to accent the shrug he was using to punctuate his statement. "D'ey can't interfere wit d'lives of mortals, or, d'ey not supposed to, anyway, but d'ey always 'ere you. Always. It's d'eir answers that you have to look out for, because you can't always hear t'em." Like, what?" Nadya shrugged, shaking her head. "Signs and portents and stuff like d'at? Er, that. Dang it, now I'm doing it." Maurice chuckled again. "Exactly. Wolf is a good example. One of your parents decided to save the child of d'guardian over finding d'ose responsible for going aftah d'guardian to begin with. D'ey knew you would be bettah off doing t'good deed ovah doing d'necessary deed. D'ey care about you. In d'eir own way. Trust Maurice."
  7. "I've read the books in the library." Fisher replied, amused by Maurice's point. "And yeah, I'm sure I'm old enough to know about Hephaestus and the chain trap." "Chains?" Nadya pounced on that comment, waggling her eyebrows. "If you want to know, go read the books. They'll suit that filthy imagination of yours." His smile disappeared after the jab. "They can't feel love though. ...I should have known." Maurice looked at him, and Fisher felt the sympathetic encouragement. Holding it in wouldn't do him any good. "My mother is Izanami, Queen of Yomi, progenitor of the islands of Japan, She Who Invites. She who married dad, had me, and then left us when I was four. Came back the same time Austin, Nadya and Rachel's parents did, to tell me I'm a Scion, and whoop gone again. Not even a letter or text. My family's just as broken as before, except for the addition of relatives I know have their own issues with each other. But you're wrong, Maurice. She knows her concept: death." Fisher took a pull of the ginger ale. "A dead marriage, a dead mother, a dad who may as well be dead inside. I'm half-expecting to learn my house is built over a graveyard."
  8. Everyone just stood silently after Darcy's comment, awkwardly looking at Dane like he was the person in their universe and making Darcy feel incredibly small. She knew Scions were a weird lot, but sometimes... they were off the deep end. Not that staring at Dane wasn't a difficult task, after all he was the son of Baldur. No matter how hard he tried he'd always have sun-kissed skin, perfect cheek bones and, most spiteful and jealous worthy feature of all was that he could eat whatever he pleased and always keep that perfect sufer-bod muscle tone. Sure, a part of her hated him, but at least he was nice to look at... which seemed to be what everyone was doing... Dane paced several times as he spoke to the woman on the other end. "Yeah, I know..." he nodded and seemed to have been cut off by her. "...look, it's not for me..." his vice seemed surprisingly sober, having lost the sufer-dude drawl and making sound almost like a respectible young man. Almost. "We could..." he was cut off again and they could vaguely make out Adrianne's voice coming through the speaker of his phone. Talking swiftly, but calmly while breaking her patter or tone of speech. Every word and phrase didn't come close to being second guessed. Whatever she was saying, she meant every word of it. "Enough," Dane almost growled. His teeth were clinched as he did his best to disguise his lack of composure with the rest of the assembled. "We all had to make choices. I no more condemn them for theirs than I do you for yours. I will not stand here and be whipped like I'm being held down by a golden thread, nor will I be judged by you of all people on the choices I've made and the consequences of those choices. Scions need help. We need help. So, I'm calling you in." There was a pregnant pause as the tense moment between the two was shared by everyone in the room with awkward eye contact and shrugs to one another in silent inquiry as to anyone knowing the story behind this obviously juicy story. "Yes. Do this and we are square." He nodded. "Never again." He leaned against the wall, his back to everyone while the conversation calmed considerably. "Yes, the coffee shop, can't miss it. I will pass it on, and thank you." He shook his head as she replied to his expression. "Yes, well, thank you anyway." He tapped the red button on his screen and tucked it away in his pocket, turning to face everyone. "She'll be here tomorrow after school. She said she'll meet all of you at The Drip and..." he sighed, visible distressed about something. He raised his hands and the dropped lazily to his sides, "That'll be that, I guess. You guys can take it from there. Look, uh," he gestured towards the exit. "I think I'm going to head out. You guys can handle all this stuff without me. Good luck with her and text me if you need anything." With no jovial drawl in his voice or Ted 'Theodore' Logan bounce in his stride he offered everyone an exit nod and dismissed himself from the Stable.
  9. "Ah, vengeance then? Good," the Greek cyclops, Maurice, offered a stern nod of his head. "Nevah should it be far from y'art, but never should it out weigh justice, mm? Speaking of vengeance, how fares d'daughter of Vidar?" His single eyebrow arched at an angle as he glared, singularly, at Rachel. "Eard y'pater came down for a visit, yeh?" "You...?" Rachel's wicked glare centered on the large cyclops whose thick fingers seemed impossibly dexterous the the small shards of the ruby heart. Her voice seemed laced with her usual harshness of being irritated with the supernatural and their shenanigans. She folded her arms and shifted her weight to one hip. "Look, if you already know all about us, why are you asking? Don't get me wrong, we are all greatly appreciative of you helping us out, but we, I mostly, have a very short tolerance for games." "Fair," Maurice smiled. Her tone didn't seem to rattle of shake his on going jovial mood. "D'answer, is simple: hospitality. You are young, you will make a lot of mistakes, dis'true, is no way around. You have Archie, 'owevah. Everything he does is to help you learn d'leetle lessons along d'way. From the places you go, d'people you meet, from me to to d'witch lady, all of us be teaching you something. Whether you notice or not, well, das not for me to say. Hospitality is very important in our world. No matter how powerful or weak you may feel you or we are, you must always remain hospitable. It keeps things... civil. Separates us from d'titans and der'spawn, yeh?" "Many tings could be seen as a slight by many o'd'gods and their servants. You must becareful how you deal with and treat those around you. Nevah confuse your lineage as privilege. You are mortal. Your blood weak. They are gods and they will never treat you like anything but a mortal until a god yourself you become. They do not love you. Dey are gods and incapable of love." "What about Aphrodite," Nadya asked. "She's the goddess of love." Maurice laughed. It was a cheerful bellow like Nadya had told a joke more than he was mocking her facts on the gods and godhood. "Is she now?" He chucked as his amusement slowed. "Love is not a purview of d'gods. Nor is good, or evil, or hate... all'dem are ours. Humanity made them, only mortals can feel them, and gods are simply personifications of feelings and concepts that they themselves will never know. For the sake of her maybe hearing me... I'll spare y'what Aphrodite is really known for," he cocked his eye brow again, appraising the entire group this time. "Probably too young to know anyway."
  10. "In high-falutin' strategic circles, that's known as putting all your eggs in one basket." Grim's tone was so dry it pulled and tightened the skin of one's face like a desert wind. "It's not my trophy, and I don't see myself as deserving a relic from it, but my advice is to distribute the power it provides amongst those who were present and took Spearfinger down. For a couple of reasons." "Go on." Rachel looked at the raw-boned boy sipping the dark ale on an oversized stool, her eyes narrowing thoughtfully. "First, having the power concentrated with Nadya means that if she gets put down, we're shit out of luck if we're depending on it. We lose flexibility." Grim took another swig of the porter, grimaced thoughtfully as he contemplated the bottle, then went on. "Second, our relics, the gifts from our parents, are not supposed to be the be-all and end-all of our worth. Having one exceptional relic in her possession lends itself to the temptation of Nadya using it as a crutch - of it becoming the hammer and every problem becoming a nail." "Gee, thanks Glumsley." the pixieish Romani girl stuck her tongue out at the somber figure, who smiled faintly. "Consider it a compliment. You don't need a crutch." He took a drink as the others chewed over his words, looking at Maurice. "I don't like talking about myself." he said quietly. "But seeing as I'm drinking your beer, I can give you the high points. Mom died giving birth to me, never knew her. Raised by my maternal grandpa, a mean old shit-stick who blamed me for his daughter's death." His voice was cool and dispassionate, a matter of fact recounting rather than a tale told. "When I turned fifteen, two trolls killed him and abducted me. I stayed alive and uneaten by making myself useful and ingratiating myself to them until about a month ago when I had my visitation." "You were gone a year and a half." Rachel said quiet. Grim smirked, a hard-edged quirk of his lips accompanied by a shrug of his bony shoulders. "Time flies when you're trying to avoid a cookpot. Anyway, then Hugin came on my father's behalf, guided me through my visitation, and here I am." He spread his arms wide, one hand still holding his black wood staff and the other holding a beer bottle. "An' de trolls?" Maurice asked, looking up from his work. Grim hesitated for a moment, then fished out something from under his t-shirt. The pendant some had already seen, made of red-gold hair and with a large tusk or tooth suspended from it. "Are no longer with us." The scion of Odin answered with an air of finality as he held the pendant up so all could see it for a moment, then stuffed it back under his shirt.
  11. Austin considered the question for a moment. "Would it be safe to say that making a single item will be ensure the item itself is more powerful? Whereas making many would spread the effect, but likely weaken how powerful it is individually?" It seemed logical to him. "I think making a single relic is a better idea." He looked to Nadya and smiled. "You had the presence of mind to gather the shards, so this one should be yours." It was true at least Rachel and Austin had been busy but all the same, they'd have nothing if Nadya hand't gathered them.
  12. Dale had remained silent since the Veil had lifted to reveal the door. She had had her Visitation not so long ago, and things of the surreal could baffle her easily. Maurice being a cyclops finished stunning her, and all she was able to do afterwards was to mechanically follow her new Band, walking inside their gigantic host's dwelling with the same silent amazement a kid would display for his first time in an amusement park. Her black boots were softly sweeping on the hard ground, intimated that she was by the size of the interior, as she took a look around while listening to the cyclops with a distracted ear. "I'm pretty much new to all of this... I wasn't even there when they got a hold of... Spearfinger's heart... ?" She replied to the cyclops with an uneasy voice.
  13. "Uh," Dane paused, sobering slightly. He shrugged, knowing what he was about to say was a cop out, but he didn't really have anything else lined up. "It's complicated?" Everyone collectively rolled their eyes. "Dane, Grim is right." Rachel chimed up. "If your history with her could cause tension with the rest of us and keeping Salem safe while saving those the witches possessed... we sort of need to know." "I know, I know," it was strange seeing Dane this off balance. Normally he was jovial and care-free yet now he seemed overcome by a pang of some inner turmoil. "This one's a little personal, but," he raised up his hands, palms out to everyone in a defensive manner, to assure them he wasn't making light of what was at stake. "She's really on track with the whole goals thing. A very eye on the prize sort of person. She may not care for me, but she'll put that aside for the sake of what's at stake, trust me. I'd just... I'd just prefer not to see her, old wounds and all that." He produced his phone from his pocket and slid down the screen with his thumb, scroll until he found her. He either knew a lot of people with 'a' for a first name, or she wasn't saved as Adrianna. They all knew both were a definite possibility. He tapped and walked away, pressing the phone to his ear. What followed was a long pause followed by a conversation that was more begging and pleading and a lot of evasive ways to say 'I can't talk about that right now' than a friendly conversation between two people arranging a meeting. "Wow," Darcy's eyes widened as they all couldn't help but listen. "And I thought everybody liked Dane..."
  14. "You confess your own ignorance der as well?" Maurice repeated what Austin what said and let out a bellow of laughter. "You speak, but I don'tink you understand what you say. What is der to confess, yeh? No sense in being ashamed of what y'don't know. Knew not'ing o'd'forge before ah picked up d'ammah. Wasn't ashamed of dat'doe. Ah learnt. Ah grew." His fingers sifted through the items on his workbench. He picked up a few shards of gleaming red stone and looked at them pinched tightly in his thick fingers. "Ard t'say what I can make from it, little one, dey don't have plans or prints. Y'jes work and... dey speak to ya, yeh? Some, some be easy. You begin an' before y'know it y'already know what y'll do with it. Others?" He shrugged and made an 'eh' sound. "Others are stubborn." "Now," he placed the gleaming ruby shard on the workbench and picked up the large obsidian fingernail and tapped the sharpened tip with his finger. "D'Native American pantheon is tricky. No Scions among dem, but they're legends be very real, and sharp." He set down the blackened nail and looked to Austin and Grim. Noticing Grim with his bottle of Guinness and pointed a trunk of a digit at the young Aesir. "You no git dat from me, yeh? Now, ah ain't much for di storied m'self but as ah'ere it, she was once good and would sing to the spirits and di children of di tribes." He shrugged. "Eh, as always someting'appened, an... well, she lose dat light. She lose dat part of 'er dat make is warm and motherly." He nodded and looked off into the void of thought. "See, das di problem wit'di people who were once good and now not. Someting always made dem dat way. It's a choice, yeh? Dey call all mannah 'o tings, yeh, but in di end dey know in dey 'art or 'arts dat dey in the darkness now, in di muck an d'mire of the bad choices dey be makin', or made. So, dey lash out. She took from others what brought her di most joy... singing to di children. Now, it is di song that undoes her. Fate be freaky like dat, yeh?" "Dey say she still sings from time to time. Alone, away from di World. She was good once, an it still live inside'er." He shrugged and went on fiddling with the pieces on his workbench. "Dey say we all deserve redemption, yeh? Maybe she do, may she don't. A'jes make her parts into tings, yeh?" "What about you? Who are you? How you come to be in all dis? An for d'record, ah know how you come to be in all dis, in d'literal sense." He reached behind him and pulled a large roll of paper out of a satchel hanging near his tools. It looked like old parchment, several pieces all stacked and rolled into a neat scroll. It was brown and frayed and made them all think of an old treasure map, or several in this case. He took up a stick of charcoal that was in a large cup along with several others just like it and set about unrolling the parchment and getting to conceptualizing what the pieces were conveying to him. "One or all. Matter not t'me."
  15. Austin was silently in awe of Maurice's home. The guy was living the dream it seemed, and he was perfectly happy and at home. He had been about to say something regarding Spearfinger, but others beat him to it. When Maurice spoke of balance, and doing this as a favor to Archie, well it was nice, since he didn't really see what they could offer to him to pay themselves. He was inwardly annoyed by that, their continued reliance on others. Still they were young, inexperienced, and he surmised this was why Archie was here. Not so much to pave the way, but to help them make these connections, to offer advice since their parents couldn't get too involved. When Grim asked about the story of Spearfinger, he nodded. "I confess my own ignorance there as well. I'd like to hear the story too, if you have time and don't mind."
  16. He'd remained silent so far, letting the others handle talking to the cyclops. Despite his admirable poker face, Grim had almost taken a step back when Maurice had opened the door. The monstrously sized humanoid reminded him uncomfortably of the trolls, and his fingers had tightened almost reflexively on the black wood stave as his heart rate had jumped a notch. Rationality saved him, the realisation that Maurice was a Cyclops, not a Troll, and that the Cyclops were, according to myth, the artisans and workmen of the Greek gods. That, and the dreadlocks and Rastafarian garb and accent. The incongruity of it was enough to jar him from the threat response the creature's sheer size had almost provoked. More settled now as Maurice and the others spoke back and forth, Grim likewise grabbed a bottle from the fridge, but was so distracted rubbernecking around the workshop that it wasn't until he sat down that he realised he'd grabbed a bottle of Guinness West Indies porter, not a soda. Screw it, he thought, and knocked off the cap against a workbench before sitting on a convenient surface and taking a pull. It was bitter, and dark, and... surprisingly good, actually. Ahh, the Aesir genes coming through, he thought to himself wryly as he took another drink. "You said Spearfinger's story was a sad one." he said, speaking for the first time since they'd entered the workshop. He watched Maurice intently - not with suspicion, but with curiosity, attempting to discern what the giant humanoid was doing with the pieces of the monster previously vanquished and, more importantly, how he was doing it. To be able to create Relics, or even have knowledge of how they were created, was a useful thing. Also, he was curious about the perspective of the cyclops, now that his initial fear was mostly conquered. Keen eyes flickered from Maurice to the tools and devices on the bench before him. "I've never heard it. Do you mind sharing it?"
  17. "And about the witches." Grim muttered. When one or two of the others glanced at him askance, he shrugged, said "Never mind." and looked at Dane. "It's a good plan, cousin. Just one thing I want to know - you two have history: are we going to have to be careful not to mention you or tread on any eggshells?" He arched his scarred eyebrow. "I suppose what I'm asking is: is she likely to spit curses and hellfire at the mention of your name, or dissolve into tears and start eating tubs of icecream?" "Uh..." Dane looked uncomfortable. Grim held up a slender hand. "I don't need gory details, Dane. I just need to know where the land mines are so I don't step on them." "I need gory details." Nadya appended, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. Grim sighed. "Okay, Nadya needs gory details. But those can wait till later, right?" he glared at her. "When we're not on a clock, perhaps?"
  18. Dale pondered for a moment, removing her leather jacket to appreciate the cool of the stables, in contrast with the heavy hitting sun she had to endure while on her bike. A party sounded like a nice occasion to relax a little, but witches, right ? What a great way for her to start her "new" life as her divine papa's daughter. This wasn't going to end well. "Disguises, then ?" She commented with a displeased groan. "I could go as the third witch of the trio, if that helps." She went to sit on a milk crate, leaving her brain bucket and her jacket on the ground by her side. "If that girl is Hades' Scion, then she probably would have an idea of what to do with rogue wanton souls... Well, best to ask her 'bout that, right ?" She raised inquisitive eyes and scanned the Scion of Baldur's shape with a discreet but appreciative pout.
  19. Fisher had to clamber slightly to raise himself up across Maurice's oversized fridge in order to reach a can of the ginger ale that was, simply put, four times the size of a normal human being's container of fizzy soda brew. It gave him a chance to collect his thoughts and make sense of what Maurice said. On the one hand, it seemed impossible to connect the idea of love and art to a being that killed children and ate their livers without the slightest sense of remorse. And, if Fisher was being honest, almost killed him. A phantom remnant of that agony from his broken neck signaled through his body, though Fisher thankfully had his feet solidly on the ground at that point. Then again, Maurice and Wolf were proof that being titanspawn or nemeans did not mean unintelligent, or devoid of the ability to communicate, or care. Still there was a large difference between them and Spearfinger. As Maurice said, the monster of Cherokee legend had darkness in the soul. Well, the best villains weren't one-dimensional in stories, but it was easier to think of them that way in real life. Especially when they did horrible things. Fisher took his mind away from philosophical brooding and turned his hopeful, interested gaze on Maurice and the subject of crafting. "What do you think you can make from it?"
  20. "Di Speafinga?" He nodded. "Respect. Not easy kill." His deep baritone was a strange mixture of Greek and, possibly, Jamaican? His English seemed broken, but still for a giant he was pretty well mannered and educated, which opened up a whole series of questions all its own. "Di Speafinga... vera sad story. Enter and we take a look at what you have, yeh?" He motioned for them to follow him and he led them down a 'hallway' of concrete sewer pipe that opened into a large cylindrical chamber that was maybe half of a basket ball court in size. Along the walls seemed everything he needed to live. With the center of the area reserved for what appeared to be a dinning area, from there the whole chamber seemed divided into a pie where sections were dedicated to sleeping, preparing, forging and working, lounging and... of all things, bathing, which seemed out of character for a giant, but the massive Jacuzzi certainly did seem comfortable. He seemed to be living the good life and was nothing like the stories they'd heard up to this point as giants being unintelligent and savage brutes. Everything in this place seemed sized for him, which led one to wonder of there was an actual Home Depot or Wal-Mart for giants. "Soda? Beer?" The large man asked them as he welcomed them with an inviting sweep of his arm. "Scions, yeh? No spirits or lesser gods? Mi guess. Parent come bu, say allo, den dey leave y'to y'own, yeh?" He pointed for Nadya to drop all she was carrying on his work bench, which she did with a slight rattle of her pack turned upside down. "Di 'art o'Speafinga... very powerful. So much love within such a small ting." "Love?" Austin asked, confused. "She was a monster who ate children." "Just dey livers." Maurice said with a shrug. "She sing for ya?" The teenagers shook their heads silently. "Ah, see? Dere y'go. To 'ear 'er sing... dat would 'ave told ya all you needed to know. Not'ing void of love could sing so beautifully." "You almost sound like you admire her," Nadya added. "Er song, 'er voice, per'aps. Love in di 'art, darkness in di soul. Bad balance 'dere." He shrugged again as he sorted the ruby pieces and held aloft with his thick fingers Spearfinger's actual spear finger. A massively huge talon, black as obsidian and hard as stone. "I can work dis, but it'll take me some time." "We haven't much to offer in payment," Grim stated, knowing that nothing in the World came without a price attached to it. Maurice waved his hand dismissively. "I owe Archimedes. Help you as a favor to 'im. Y'seem like okay pickneys."
  21. Even Nadya was at a lost for words, for a moment at least. Dude was big. True, Spearfinger had been taller, but super fugly, with stony, scaling skin that desperately needed some top line moisturizer. But Maurice looked way more, er, human, which made his sheer mass even more imposing. He kinda looked like a bigger, buffer, Terry Crews, y'know, except for the dreads and single eye. And Nadya couldn't help but wonder with fascinated unease what he was packing in his cargo shorts that were entirely too close to face level. Good on you, Archie, good on you. Maurice wasn't a dwarf, but Nadya wasn't disappointed. Nadya gave herself a little shake then craned her neck to meet his eye, a cheery grin spreading wide on her face. What did he use for a pair of shades when he went out in the sun? "My man! Maurice!" Nadya crowed, holding out (and up) a hand for a fist bump. Maurice seemed bemused, but obliged, the disparity in sizes of their fists delightfully ludicrous. "We da - we are the kids, fer sure. Archie gave us your name, but neglected a few details. I'm Nadya, and these are my Band mates." She quickly gave the Rastafarian Cyclops the names of the rest of the party, then reached into her satchel and pulled out one of the bigger shards of what appeared to be pure ruby, and letting him see there were more. The shattered remnants of the heart of Cherokee myth that had been way too real. But then again, all the myths seemed to be. "And we're here 'bout this, big guy," Nadya said, holding up the shard for Maurice's inspection, though ready to snatch it back in case he tried to swipe it. "The Heart of Spearfinger. Archie said you're the man to make something out of it."
  22. It wasn't a long drive, honestly, most places in Salem could be gotten to on a bike or on foot, but driving certainly saved a lot of time. The small beach was located not far from a sea food shack that all of them knew had amazing take-out shrimp. They crossed the barrier that separated the take-out place's parking lot and did the shimmy down the steep slope of rocks and gravel that led to the beach where the water lapped the shore slowly as the cool beach sands soaked it up like a sponge. It the distance they could hear it, which was strange because they never heard anything before coming this way, but it sounded like the ringing of a pneumatic press thumping down upon metal and a shaping hammer pounding away. "Weird," Nadya pointed out. "Do you guys hear that? How come we never noticed it before?" "Because weren't looking before." Fisher replied calmly. "That's how this works. Mortals are ignorant of the goings on of titanspawn and the gods because of the Veil. Works the same for us, too, I imagine. We didn't think about looking for Maurice here, so, as long as we reamain blissfully ignorant, the Veil keeps him hidden from us." Austin slid down the rocks and scooped up a few and skipped them across the ocean's surface. The sight of it filled him with swelling pride and an inner strength. "That's an unsettling thought," he added while a rock skipped far more times than it should have, as if the water was playing along with him. "How many other lairs could be hidden from us, from far more dangerous things than this..." unsure what to refer to Maurice as, Austin shrugged. "Guy?" "Asking things like that is a great way to bring unwanted trouble." Grim slid down, taking care with his injured leg and hoisting himself up with it once he arrived on the sands. "Let us not dwell on it, lest we inspire some Muse of tragedy to provide an answer we weren't really looking for." Everyone silently nodded in agreement with Grim as Nadya's fists rested on her hips. "Slick little guy, would you look at that?" She pointed down the way, towards the slop of rocks they all just slid down and sure enough, about fifty yards down the way the all saw the Veil lift with a wavering shimmer in the air, like a dream or a mirage fading from view... in a few moments, all that remained was a large a concrete drain pipe only half exposed in a large arch nearly nine feet in height, common for when the numerous ponds and surrounding wooded areas flooded and the ground water was routed to the ocean where it could safely drain. This drain didn't seem like it would be draining anytime soon, as it was blocked by a massive brick wall that had build about ten feet within the pipe with a massive set of double doors that was beautifully ornamented with stained, smoked glass and bronze filigree work set within the glass. It honestly looked like the sort of door one could buy at Home Depot for several thousand dollars... if Home Depot sold doors for people who were nearly ten feet tall. About six feet up on the side of the doors was a doorbell that seemed out of place. It was a big, plastic, Mike Wazowski, and it looked like activated it by pressing his eye ball. "Definitely not a dwarf..." Fisher sighed. The constant sounds of hammering and smashing came from beyond the doors. Like scared kids at the haunted house on Halloween they all found themselves standing a bit closer together as they looked up at the doors, seeking safety among each other should the portal burst open and their worst fears be realized. Finally Nadya shook everyone off her and gave them all a look as if they should all be ashamed. "Guys! Relax!" She threw up her amrs in protest of their unspoken worries. "Maurice is on our side, right? Archie would not send us to our doom. We really need to get a grip. Chill." She carelessly pressed the eye of Mike Wazowski in typical Nadya fashion. Over the hammering and tinging of metal they heard, in full stereo and possibly HD surround sound, 'Mike Wazowski!', shouted by Boo. The tinging and hammering stopped. Heavy footsteps could be heard thundering towards the door and despite Nadya's confidence, everyone seemed ready for a battle. The door swung open and massive, chocolate colored man stood in the threshold. He was easily eight and half feet with thick arms and fore arms and adorned in a simple tank top displaying the continent of Africa in red, black and green, along with cargo shorts with a pair of sandals. Thick dreadlocks adorned his head, but they were all tied back, probably to protect from the heat of his work. A braided goat-tee hung several inches down his chin and the one eye set in the center of his was almost as much as an identifying feature as the massive sliff, as long and thick as Nadya's forearm, resting comfortably in the corner of his mouth. The orb in the center of his head moved to focus on them. "Ah, wa gwaan. Di pickney." The cyclop's voice was a deep baritone that seemed echoed off the tunnels walls. His eyebrow raised slightly, tilting to one side, signifying he knew they had no idea what he just said. He sighed. "I sed 'allo. You must be di kids, yeh? I, Maurice. Archie make di talk of you, said you come by. No say why."
  23. "That sounds good Dane." Austin knew some about Hades, or at least the myths concerning him. A Scion of his would probably be of help in dealing with the witches' ghosts, and he sighed. He knew that according to the myths, Hades was pissed with his younger brothers, Poseidon and Zeus, for giving him the least prestigious domain, and he wondered just how true that was. He hoped that it wouldn't be an issue here, he certainly had no issues with this other scion, hell he didn't even know her. "Better someone at least one of us knows for this sort of thing."
  24. Austin gave a bemused chuckle at the two of them, and sighed. "Sure. Anyone who wants to ride along with me is welcome to." His jeep had plenty of room, and while he wasn't the only one with a vehicle, he knew he had more comfortable room than others. Austin didn't doubt Archie's assessment of Maurice, but at the same time, the way he spoke of him, well that led him to wonder. Not so much Maurice's competency, but his personality. He was no stranger to eccentrics, but at the same time, Archie didn't really react quite like that when he spoke of the others. "This oughta be good."
  25. "Ohh," Dane sucked his teeth. "Yeah, see... that's kind of the thing... we sort of have uh, history?" It was unlike the golden boy of Baldur to appear at a loss of confidence or hesitate when it came to helping out others, but this time, he certainly seemed put off at the idea of meeting up with Adrianna. "I mean, Adrianna's cool, she's just intense. Her dad has her wound pretty tight, not that that's a bad thing. In return for unflagging loyalty and devotion she's awarded anything and everything she desires. The harder she works, the more rewarded she is, and cousins, she is rewarded, a lot." He shrugged. "Near as I can remember she is a Collector. Not of like Pop!s on her book shelf or anything, like things her father has lost or discovered and wants back or added to his wealth of nick-nacks. If she manages to deliver it we're talking black credit cards, vacations in Cancun, shopping sprees in Italy, you name it. So, bringing this to her attention will set her into business-mode, and more than likely be enough to convince her to help us. I remembering her having a Birthright, a medallion, that allowed her to retrieve objects that belonged to her father or that he some sort of claim on. It could, I don't know, absorb the object into the medallion so she could transport it to her father." "I don't see how that helps us," Grim looked at his cousin. "These are ghosts, not scultures and fine art." "True," Dane nodded. "But her father is Hades, and last I checked the only dead that leave his Realm are the ones he's given his personal permission to do so. I highly doubt Todd filled out the proper paperwork before checking out these spirits from the Underworld. That medallion might be able to pull out the ghost without hurting the person they're inhabiting." Rachel nodded, almost appearing impressed. "It's worth a shot. I have to admit Dane, you have more moments." He smiled to his cousin, appreciative of the praise. "I'll give her a call and text you guys with the meet place. I should probably keep a low profile on this one."
  26. Grim, by contrast to Fisher, was less than sympathetic to popular, pretty and healthy Rachel's problems, whatever they were. He wryly mused to himself that no, he probably wouldn't 'get it', though he did award her grudging points for owning her mistakes in dealing with him. As his thin fingers eased the knot of pain in his leg, he took up his staff from where it leaned against the wall and got to his feet, coming back to the planning table and nodding in silent acknowledgement of the athletic blonde's words. Rachel was indeed right - they were in this together and needed to have each other's backs. "Do the details matter overmuch?" he asked rhetorically. "Most exorcisms involve a spiritual wrestling match, focus and will against focus and will. Ceremonial trappings differ from culture to culture, and are important only in that they are recognised by both spirit and exorcist as important. Dane's friend, if she has practical knowledge of such things-" he shot his 'cousin' a glance and a nod "-is likely as intense a personality as he suggests. And the easiest way to take her measure is to go and meet her rather than interrogate Dane. I'll go with him." He added, glancing around at the others. "Anyone else?"

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