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  1. “Where to start..?” Grim mused as, a few moments later in the next room, the young woman with the skeletal face (and body) paint who seemed to be the self-appointed barkeep got to work on the requested Mudslide. The tall, frosty-eyed Elsa next to him divided her attention between the cheerful probably-not-mortal bartender and the dour, sharp-tongued semi-mortal witchfinder. “The work you did earlier, at the behest of the witches, was part of whatever scheme Marius is cooking up.” he began, sipping at his own drink as he kept his mismatched gaze on Runa. “By his own admission, he wants to cause pain and suffering to a god.” He held up a forefinger. “Just one, and it’s personal, so for all I know it could be his own divine parent. And to do that he’s willing to cause any amount of death and chaos amongst the innocent. Well,” he amended with his usual scrupulous cynicism “if not innocent then at least blameless of doing him any harm.” “And that’s pretty much the basis for my quarrel with him. What he plans to do involves the witches and the large amounts of power you helped them raise, so likely won’t be good for anyone standing around in Salem when midnight arrives. He’s my enemy because he’s an enraged man in pain and wants to turn his pain onto everyone around him.” Grim shrugged his bony shoulders under the cloak draped around them as he took the large glass holding the Mudslide from the bartender and presented it to Runa. “I helped them raise?” The giantess glared at Grim, her cold eyes threatening to pierce him like falling icicles off the eave of a roof. “Do not expect me to feel any manner of remorse for the actions of me or mine. My people have been hunted and prsecuted by the Divine since the dawn of all things, let their worlds burn for a change, I say.” The skeletal-painted bartender slid her drink to Runa and she glared at it for a moment. Whatever the politics were between Titanspawn and Pantheons was something not currently in Grim’s wheelhouse of knowledge, yet she didn’t seem to Helbent on battling Grim or the others, with the exception of Dane it seemed, at every turn. Perhaps cause them an unending amount of trouble, but not see them dead and strewn about as trophies of conquest. “While I am not aware of what the witches are planning, and the Marius one is, as you say, evil. I have witnessed compassion in him for the children like yourself that serve him. I believe that is where the current tension stems from. One of the girls was taken from him by the witches and he sees that as a personal offense against him. Honor among thieves, I suppose?” Satisfied with her inspection of the drink, she raised it to eye-level, admired it almost, before taking a sip to sample its flavor; something, Grim noticed, seemed a bit out of place for a hardened Norse, and a giant descended from his culture’s pantheon. She continued to pose more mysteries with every conversation. “That is…, flavorful.” She conceded with a nod. “Like, coffee with a shot of alcohol in it, but sweet.” She nodded again, almost showing an emotional indicator that seemed accustomed to joy. “I like this. I will have more, but first, the son of Baldur. How do I kill him? His cannon will sear a hole in me if he is aware of my coming. Is he ever without it?” “First, apologies. I didn’t intend to accuse you of anything - merely recount events as they happened.” Grim inclined his head to the giantess. “You did what you did, and for your own reasons. And I do not bear you animosity for it. As you have pointed out, you were working as a mercenary in this - it’s just business.” After a moment, Runa nodded acceptance of his proffered apology, then her eyes narrowed. “And the Baldursson?” “There, I might not be the best of sources.” Grim sipped his bourbon very slightly. “I’ve known Dane only a relatively short time. To the best of my knowledge, though, he’s never without his weapon.” It was tempting - just briefly - to leave it there and let this skein of Fate play itself out, but Dane was a cousin. As annoyingly clueless and surfer-bro attractive as his sunny relative could be, Grim wasn’t so cynical as to try to exploit this for his own gain. That didn’t mean he couldn’t exploit it for Dane’s gain, though. If the giantess wanted to kill him, perhaps that could be turned aside. He fixed Runa with a penetrating, assessing stare. “If I can ask, what is it with you two? I sensed something, back at the graveyard. A tickle on the strands of the Norns. Why do you want to kill him?” “Urðr.” She said calmly and only slightly over the music. “Fate,” she translated, in case Grimm wasn’t up on the Old Norse. “There is a prophecy my elders passed to me. Which of us strikes first will be the victor, but it is by his weapon that I will be defeated. Without it, I am assured victory.” It was a tale as old as Norse time: trying to manipulate Fate in order to avoid one’s own destiny. Grimm knew she was doomed to failure. If Dane was indeed destined to kill her in battle, then there was nothing either of them, or even the gods themselves, could do to stop it. Know one knew that better than Grim’s own father, Odin, the All-Father. She turned, facing the frail Scion as she sipped her mudslide, seeming to savor the flavor. “I like you Usurper Grimsley,” she proclaimed bluntly. “You are honest in your dealings and honorable in your intentions. Those traits are rare in so many of your,” she paused as just outside her and Grim’s field of vision a wandering burrito howled at the moon and displayed it’s proficiency at moving across one of the dance floors using pelvic thrusts as a form of locomotion. She scowled. “...kind. You should know that the one called Marius, I have worked as his advisor of arcane and spiritual lore, and am inclined to do so again, should he have need of me. I tell you this because while I welcome the opportunity to face you in battle, it will disappoint me to have to kill you.” As far as declarations of acceptance went, Grim was pretty sure that wasn’t the worst he was ever going to hear in this crazy new life he’d found himself in. He reflected on that for a few moments, considering the giantess. “I suppose I feel the same. You are the first jotun I have ever spoken with, and not at all as one might expect, Runa. You are learned and wise, and whilst I would enjoy striving against you I think I would consider it a shame if you were to fall, whether at my hand or Dane’s.” He gave the towering blonde a foxish half-smile. “There is a shortage of interesting folk in the world, after all.” He paused, then fished his phone out of his pocket, glowering at it as if annoyed at an interruption - his annoyance not altogether feigned. Under other circumstances, he’d enjoy talking more with the frost giantess, but time was not on his side here. They had until (probably) midnight to get this mess sorted out. He’d established a professional courtesy, had a drink with Runa, and learned some things of interest. He glanced up, meeting her eye. “I need to attend to something.” he told Runa apologetically - again, a largely true statement. “But I would welcome speaking more with you another time, if that would please you?” As he spoke, he thumbed out a text to the group. //Marius is pissed that the witches took one of the Donner Party - probably confirms it’s Mercedes and her two hangers-on that are possessed. Anyone found anything out yet?
  2. "Was that comment an attempt at posturing, Betrayer?" 'Elsas' frosty blue eyes levelled on Fisher from her height advantage, which added to the overall air of disdain the giantess radiated at Izanami's scion. Grim was mildly impressed, and took notes for perfecting his own withering glares. "Let me be clear, small man." Runa went on, her voice edged with icicles. "If you wish to issue a challenge, then do so. If not, cower in silence." Grim was tempted to allow Fisher to twist in the breeze from the petard he'd just hoisted himself on, especially since his idiot Bandmate and fellow traveler had admitted to seeing Mercedes' two henchwomen and letting them wander off to gods-knew where in favor of seeking out his mortal squeeze. His teeth clenched slightly, but with deliberate effort he relaxed and breathed, remembering the moment of clarity he'd had confronting Marius. Take the world as it comes, and don't let it grind away empathy. he reminded himself. Even, that treacherous inner voice addended, when some people tempt you to take your own empathy and shoot it in the face. "Iced hot chocolate isn't really a party drink." he commented smoothly after only a moment of allowing Runa's glacial stare to flay Fisher's eyeballs. "Though I'm pretty sure we can find a Mudslide here for you, Runa." It was phrased as much as an offer as a statement. Runa's brow furrowed, her glare turning both puzzled and wary as she switched it to the Odinson's face. "This costume was expensive, Usurper." she glowered. "I have no wish to take part in whatever disgusting wallowing perversion you have in mind." Grim blinked, momentarily at a loss before realising that the frost giantess had no idea what he was talking about. He reassessed her age and experience with the human world. "Oh, no. It's a drink. Served cold, with chocolate and cream liquor in it." Runa's glower was unabated for a moment longer, the suspicion in her blue eyes slowly giving way to wary intrigue. "A drink? You are offering me a drink?" she asked, seeking clarification. "Certainly. I did mention during our earlier meeting that should we meet under better circumstance, we could share a drink." he reminded her. "This is a party, and by your own admission your part in the witches scheme is done with the work in the cemetery. What say you?" Grim smiled pleasantly as Runa thought that over, turning to Fisher and leaning close to the fellow scion, pitching his voice under the music and chatter. "Get your head out of your ass and in the game." he murmured, keeping a pleasant expression on his features. "Unless Darcy is doing your job and tailing Lancia and Porsche to wherever they went, I don't care where she is and neither should you. Get eyes on them, or Mercedes. Find those witches and try not to pick any more fights with gods-damned giants." He glanced around as though looking for Fisher's missing girlfriend before raising his voice to a more party-conversational level. "I think I saw her in the other room, talking to some people from school." he told Izanami's son, gesturing aimlessly towards an adjoining room in the palatial mansion as he turned back to Runa, awaiting her decision.
  3. "Hey Fisher." Grim nodded at the Scion of Izanami from under his wide-brimmed Puritan hat, which he then tugged the brim of towards the snow princess. "And hello again, Runa." he added, more formally. There were a couple of reasons he was so formal in recognising Runa. One, that strange sense of... something... about Runa. He was young yet in understanding the workings of Fate and destiny, but the giantess was more than merely some foe to be stricken down and left behind, the Odinsson recognised. There'd been some sense of the Norns working between her and Dane, and Grim was curious what that portended - for the Band, for him... and even for Dane, big lug though he was. The other was to remind Fisher, who had that look of someone with something to say, that not all ears were necessarily friendly. Sure, Izanami's son might just want to know where Darcy was, or something similarly banal, but there was also a chance he had found something, and Runa might still be working for the enemy despite having claimed earlier that her part in the scheme was done. "How are you enjoying the party?" Grim gestured with his glass to the surroundings, tilting back his hat slightly to peer up into Elsa's frosty blue eyes.
  4. "Hmm." Grim managed, with some difficulty, to keep his expression from reacting too much to the crack in Marius' veneer. Pain. Pain was what drove the man in front of him - having suffered, he now wished to return or pass on the suffering. It was the call to exert control, the trap the abused fell into and thus became the abuser. Grim recognised it. Loveless his entire life, isolated and hurt and beaten, his Visitation even being driven by terror, privation and pain... There was a reason he possessed an acid tongue, and secretly delighted in tearing into those he judged to deserve it. There was a reason that he took a certain savage enjoyment in verbally ripping Fisher a new asshole - sure, the scion of Izanami had fucked up, but objectively giving him the drill sergeant treatment was less than helpful. There was a reason he had take satisfaction in pushing Dane's buttons, turning the amiable surfer bro into a growling, angry, and sullen man, stealing his smile if only for few minutes. He enjoyed making people uncomfortable, in passing on his pain. Grimsley Algar - Elliðagrimmr Odinsson - recognised in Marius... himself. Older, more bitter, more enraged. He could only guess at the amalgamation of pain and hurt that had formed the clay of the older man's soul. With the realisation came something - a cool clarity. He was looking at a ghost, he knew then. A shade of someone who'd once been a hero, an echo of himself in times to come if he could not somehow reconcile the suffering of existence. Would he, too, one day snap in such a fashion, to rail against the gods, and hold the lives of thousands as simply the trivial cost of his vengeance? Maybe, he mused as he raised his glass in a return salute. But not today. "Thank you." he said to Marius then, and there was sincerity, a profoundly genuine note to his thanks. "I appreciate the service, and the conversation - and certainly the drink." He smiled a little, his mismatched eyes meeting the other man's. "I hope, if luck allows, we may have another drink one day." He glanced around then, sharp eyes searching. "I hope you'll forgive me, though. It's my first party, and I plan to mingle a little more." "Of course. Go, enjoy." Marius inclined his head, his gaze following the spare form of the Odinsson as he likewise nodded, then turned to head off into the crowd. Grim meandered, his thoughts introspective as he absently sidestepped gyrating partygoers. He almost decided to seek out Geri again, but instead decided his time would be better served looking for the vessel. And so, drink in hand as party camouflage, and his stave in the other, the young Witchfinder ambled with more purpose, eyes peeled as he sought his quarry. They might have it tucked away upstairs somewhere, or even hidden in plain sight. Either way, the mansion was huge - this was going to take some time. He kept his eyes open for his Bandmates, too - if he saw them, he'd let them know it was time to go to work.
  5. "Saving the world." Grim shrugged, as he took another sip of bourbon. "I plan to travel and see it someday - I'd kinda like it to still be there." He affected an air of thinking deeply. "Falling in love someday, maybe? Again, needs a world in order for said world to move. Sampling more good drinks - once more, needs a world. Oh, and kittens." "Kittens." Marius replied flatly over his bourbon glass, one eyebrow arching in a mixture of amusement and mild exasperation. "I like kittens." Grim said with another shrug. "More than I like people. You're right, though, sir." he went on less flippantly, his mismatched eyes meeting Marius' gaze. "Partly, at least. I don't really know why I'm fighting you. You're intelligent, a chess and poker player in a world of people playing blind man's bluff and pin the tail on the donkey. Why do you want to destroy the world? Nobody ever really explained that part to me. I got the condensed briefing - you know how that goes. Just the high points: Marius is a Bad Guy and Up To No Good. Which, on the face of it, seems to be mostly true based on what you appear to be doing - no offence." "None taken." Marius smiled very faintly. "So, if you'd explain to me why, I can't promise I'd stop opposing you. After all - its kind of still in my own best interest to save the world and all that. But at least I'd understand, which means a lot to me." Grim went on earnestly. "I mean, you're not a dribbling idiot who hears voices, so you must have your reasons. I just want to know what they are."
  6. "More than I've heard about you, it seems." And just like that, the panic attack ebbed as a cold splash of water doused both Grim's teenage hormones and his boyish insecurity. Out-of-place and awkward Grimsley Algar fell away, and it was the Odinsson who reached out with a steady, scarred hand and took the offered glass, his gaze level on the older man's. "That said, it's likewise a pleasure." Marius was here. Marius had been watching him, knew his true name, probably knew who Geri really was, may even be responsible for her being here, now, and in his path. Whilst he could reasonably doubt that Marius had the juice to arrange to de-frock a valkyrie, it wasn't impossible for a master opportunist to make use of whatever materials Fate blew into his path. That made sense in many ways. Geri might not even know her purpose was to distract and confuse him - Hel, she probably didn't even really like him. She could have been ensorcelled - didn't the Nekiya have ways to bind the heart, like that idiot child had used on Nadja? That had to be it - after all, what made more sense? That an immortal and beautiful woman would desire him, or that it was all some intricate strategem by Marius. It was impressive, he admitted to himself, even as he froze the pang of agony deep down in his heart and prevented it from rising higher. It had almost worked. He'd almost believed it, almost wanted to believe it. Oh, it was an impressive and cruel jest, indeed. And one that would be repaid, someday. He looked at the drink in his hand, then lifted an eyebrow at Marius in unspoken questioning suspicion. "Young man, I have better things to do with my time than defile excellent bourbon with 'additives'." The older scion said with a reproving arch of his own brow. "If I was going to poison you, I'd offer you something dreadful. Like an alcopop." Grim considered him for a moment, but could detect no sense of falsehood in Marius's words. After all, he hadn't said he wouldn't poison Grim, just that he wouldn't ruin decent fare. The young son of the All-Father shrugged acceptance of the logic, and raised his glass to the scion of Eris. "Skål." he said gravely, his eyes still on the other man as he took a sip. It really was excellent bourbon, he contemplated as he felt the fiery liquor warm his throat. "Smooth." he said with a hint of appreciation. "You'll have to forgive me - I'm new enough to all of this to be ignorant of protocol. I imagine we're not going to get into a rooftop duel in the rain - the weather forecast tonight was clear." His tone was calm and dry, with little hint of the racing mind that was analysing Marius from behind the mismatched eyes. "I also wouldn't believe you randomly bumped into me just to offer me a drink, so..." He smiled at the man he'd been told was his enemy. "What can I do for you?"
  7. The eye of Odin? Phrasing notwithstanding, that was somewhat of a daunting yet encouraging message. As was the knowledge that Thor was not at all enamored of the antics of his scion. Grim had wondered how Eric Donner's behaviour stacked up against the reputed jovial-yet-rough warrior honor of his divine parent. Thor was reputed to have a temper, for sure, but was also held up as a basically 'good' guy. God. Whatever. And the All-Father was forbidding direct interference from his tribe even to set their scions straight. Why? There had to be a good reason. Didn't there? Hmmm. "Oh, that guy?" he asked absently, his eyes following the gyrating burrito and the nereid moving after it much as a shark would cut through water as it homed in on the thrashings of a swimmer. "He's okay. In small doses." He recalled what he'd learned about Dane's past, and some small twinge of conscience impelled him to speak at least a little deserved praise of his cousin. "He's been through it, but when he's needed he comes through for us, at least so far." "If you say so." Geri was scrutinising him, and Grim became aware of her keen-eyed attention through the swirl of his own musings. Her fingers were lightly resting on the back of his hand on his thigh. His mind, on cue, fixated on something else she'd said. "when you have more time...pick up where we left off?" Oh. Ohhh. He'd been so fixated on the appearance of the once-and-former-valkyrie as a portent, or in untangling the mystery of why she'd been demoted, on relief at seeing a friendly face and then on musing over her inside scoop from Asgard, that he'd sort of... glossed over the other cues, taking her enthusiasm as simple friendly feeling. But she wasn't looking at him like just a friend. Or was she? How did immortal choosers of the slain look at friends? He was pretty sure they didn't blush and stammer. Or talk about picking up where they left off - which had to be a reference to the kiss. Didn't it? What he was pretty sure of, now he was thinking about it, was that a fricking valkyrie in a smoking hot teenage mortal form was giving him the goo-goo eyes. This was not part of the plan. Any plan. He was pretty sure that Fate had made a mistake somewhere. He was Grimsley Algar, not Dane Summers. Girls - even immortal warrior girls - didn't like him that way, and if they did he had no idea what to do about it. Flirting with Adrianna was one thing - both sides understood he had no shot and enjoyed the verbal fencing match. Longing after Nadya from afar, despite how annoying she could be, was also safe - there was no way she'd ever return his attentions. Actual Geri, warm and close and leaning towards him... He shot to his feet. "Yeah. Saving the world." he said by way of explanation, trying not to stammer or trip over his own feet as he stepped away. "It's kind of why I'm here, so... I'm going to go and get on with that." His heart was racing, his palms were clammy, and he needed air badly. "Hey, uh, are you sticking around Salem? If so, I guess we'll bump into each other again. It's a small town. I recommend The Drip, great coffee." His mouth was on autopilot as he tried to extricate himself from the situation. "Got to go for now, though. See you later!" Ayame leaned on Geri's shoulder as they watched the cloaked and hatted figure limp off into the crowd at a commendable speed. "Man, he is wound tight." "Mmm." Geri said, her eyes distant. "Did you hear him invite me out for coffee, though?"
  8. "Uh, well... I came back here after... you know." Grim tried to get his mind back on track after the invited consideration of Geri's body. It was indeed pretty damned hot, in a wholesome athletic way, and the Halloween outfit was certainly not doing Grim's peace of mind any favors. He forced his eyes up and pretended not to notice that she'd noticed him noticing her assets. "After all, it's where I'm from." "Right, duh." Geri nodded, clicking her tongue reprovingly at herself. "I knew that. So you stayed in town..?" "Yeah. Joined a Band just short while ago, and now we're doing the god-child thing, I guess." Grim made a face and shrugged. "But what about you? Why were you punished, Geri?" He nodded towards Ayame, his eyes still on the former-Chooser's face. "Is Ayame right? Is it something to do with-?" "Never you mind about it." Geri told him firmly, shooting Ayame a Look as she took Grim's arm in a gesture that was as much possessive as it was protective. "It's not your fault, Grimsley. Really, it's not. You didn't do anything. Now," she went on, drawing him with her as she led him over to a vacant stretch of couch, tugging him down to sit beside her as her friends followed and made themselves comfortable. "I want to know about your Band, and about your life, and everything." "Well, I'm pretty new to it all." he said, uncomfortable at being the focus of interest. "Still trying to get used to my Bandmates and the 'job', you know? They seem... okay." he allowed cautiously. "And it's kind of weird to find out that the faculty of the school were mostly scions too. I've only been back barely a couple of months, and it's sort of an adjustment just sleeping in a bed and eating properly, and then there's all the other stuff on top of that." He shrugged again. If it had been anyone else, he doubted he'd even have complained this much. But Geri had been there with him, had shared the same danger and deprivations he had. With a cold shock, he realised that the girl-who-wasn't-really-a-girl was probably the closest thing he'd had to a real friend. He didn't know the Band very well yet, despite starting to get along with some of them. And he had no friends at all outside of that. "It's... good to see you, Geri." he told her, a small smile curving his lips. "Surprising, but good."
  9. "Gods! It is you, Grimsley!" The redhead almost squealed as she threw her arms around his neck and pulled him down for a hug. She smelled of the sky and the Spring, wildflowers and honey... and booze, too. He stared at her, remembering the pale, lightly freckled skin smudged with dirt and tears, the fiery tumble of hair lank and tangled. She'd been wearing rags before, much as he had been, features gaunt and shoulders hunched with fear and starvation. Now she was vibrant, smiling... lovely. Geri...Göndul. Except she was definitely Geri, here. There was no aura of power, no agelessly beautiful woman showing the radiance of her power and might as she gently lifted an emaciated, bloodied young man to his feet. She looked not much older than he, if at all. And more than a little buzzed, her hands coming to rest on his chest as she loosened her death grip on his neck and gazed up at him with a laugh. "You look like an ox that's been hit in the head!" she giggled. "Surprised to see me as I am to see you, no doubt. How are you?! I had no idea you'd be at this revel! By all the gods, it's amazing, is it not?" Slender fingers, calloused from swordplay, ran up to and into his shirt's collar. "You're still wearing my hair!" she said delightedly as she found the braided cord and tugged it into the open, noting the tusk-like tooth and the small amulet of the All-Father dangling from it. She peered up at him again, smiling. "I wondered if you would, you know. Guess it's nice to know I haven't been forgotten." Of course he hadn't forgotten her, he wanted to say. He'd cared for and protected Geri, only to realise her true nature at the end, and that she no more needed his protection than a lioness would. And he'd grown fond of Geri's spirit and wit... and been smitten by Göndul's beauty. She'd wrapped him in her cloak - the same he wore now - and kissed him before presenting him with the braided cord of her hair. The kiss from Göndul had been brief, but the memory of it had been seared into Grim's mind. One didn't forget being kissed by a- "Ahem." There was no polite clearing of the throat which would be described as an 'ahem' - no. Someone actually said 'ahem'. Looking past Geri, Grim saw two other young women - or rather, beings that seemed to be young women. The first, an impish-looking brunette with a ready grin, was dressed in a female Robin Hood costume - green tunic, hat with a feather, and a toy bow on on shoulder - but when viewed through the eyes of a god-born, the eyes took on a scintillant blue shine and became more exotically almond shaped. She winked at Grim, her three fox tails swishing behind her. "So... who's your friend, Geri?" she asked with a certain predatory - indeed foxish grin that betokened mischief and shenanigans. "Oh." Geri looked a little chagrined, biting her lower lip for a moment before taking Grim's hand and turning to her companions. "This is Grimsley. He's, um, a friend. Grimsley, this is Ayame-" she gestured to the kitsune "-and Melanippe." The other girl indicated appeared to be a lovely young blonde dressed as a sailor - until one looked closer with god-sight and realised that the blonde hair was tinged with green, and that her eyes were all black, depthless as the ocean. That, plus the sheen of water on her pearlescent skin, indicated to Grim that she was doubtless some kind of sea nymph. Or perhaps a siren? He wasn't too sure about that. "Grim." the lanky young man offered his free hand to the other two, who shook it, one after the other. "Call me Melanie." The probable-nymph said with a polite smile. The kitsune was less reticent, leaning forward and examining him intently before looking at Geri with a sly expression. "So... you two know each other?" she asked, innuendo lacing the question.
  10. Grim had been among the last of the Band to enter, content to follow the others as, chatting amongst themselves excitedly, they'd joined the throng seeking entrance to the holy of holies. Deep in his own thoughts, his eyes scanning the crowd in a mixture of wariness and curiosity as he catalogued the various spirits, godlings and assorted supernatural hodegpodge in attendance, he'd not even noticed the sleek black-clad figure sliding up next to him until Adrianna's arm looped through his. At his surprised glance, she smiled and leaned up, incidentally pressing against his arm as her lips came close to his ear. "I'm not entering a party dressed like this without someone on my arm." she murmured, her breath warm against the young scion of Odin's ear - and incidentally causing the hairs to rise up on the back of his neck and prickles of electricity to zap up and down his spine. "Makes me look desperate." "I don't think anyone could accuse a woman as lovely and confident as you of that." The tall youth replied in the same low tone, his gaze turning to her - and trying not to sink lower to where, he happened to notice, Adrianna had tugged the zipper of her costume down again somewhat. She chuckled, a rich melodic sound with a hint of surprise. "Smooth, Odinsson. Very smooth." she said as she recovered, smiling and giving his shoulder a playful swat with her free hand. "There's hope for you yet." She tilted her head, examining him for a moment, perhaps trying to envision that hope realised, some future Grim cutting a swathe through womankind as her crimson lips quirked in a mysterious smile. "So why my arm?" Grim asked, prompting an exasperated sigh from the Baroness. "Why not yours?" she said, rolling her eyes. "You're clean, tall, dark, and not ugly. You might even be handsome if you smiled, and your scars are interesting. Both the ones I can see... and the ones I can't." A fingertip reached up, tracing the edge of a thin white scar where it strayed above the collar of Grim's shirt. She smiled slightly as he self-consciously tugged the collar up, relenting a little and giving his arm a squeeze. "Relax, kiddo. Sure, this is work, but it's also a party. Don't be so sharp you cut yourself." "I hate parties." he muttered, slouching down a little in his cloak. A sharp tug from Adrianna straightened him up again. "No, you don't. You're just not used to them." There was understanding in her tone, but no sympathy or pity. "Now don't slouch down and try not to be noticed, for crying out loud. You're not the poor little unloved boy anymore. You're the son of Odin, attending a party filled with supernatural creatures. They'll all be watching you. Stand up straight, take no shit - you've got as much right to be here as anyone, and more right than most." Despite himself, Grim smiled a little as they filtered up to the door of the mansion. "Is that what you tell yourself before going into a party?" Adrianna smirked, giving his arm another squeeze as he squared his shoulders and raised his head, meeting the eyes of those who looked his way. "Smart boy, but no. That's what I tell myself when I brush my teeth in the morning." she replied as they stepped into the revel. ---===[@]===---- "Let's get a drink!" Adrianna half-shouted over the music, not letting go of Grim's arm as she tugged him through the crowd of partygoers, most of whom parted admiringly for the lovely scion of Hades and threw curious glances at her escort. Remembering Adrianna's advice, Grim met the stares with calm force of presence. nodding politely in passing, keeping any sign of awkwardness, of not belonging off his features. He was the son of Odin, and he belonged wherever he chose to walk, damn it. Still, it was with some relief that he came to a stop next to one of the many bars set up throughout the Rhodes mansion. A spooky skeletal themed bartender - this one actually not a skeleton, but an attractive young woman with glowing bones painted all over her mostly naked - as far as he could tell - body, handed two glasses over to Adrianna. "They have any juice?" he asked as she turned and presented one of the glasses to him. At her 'Really?!' expression he sighed and took the drink without further complaint, prompting her to smile again as he brought it to his lips and took a sip. It was sweet, but not cloyingly so, and clearly alcoholic. He lowered the glass again, noting her watching him with a raised brow. "What?" "You didn't wait for the toast." she said, as though pointing out the obvious, holding up her glass. "To the gods. May they grant us victory." "Oh." A little abashed, he held his up likewise. "To the gods." They clinked glasses and drank, the whatever-it-was filling his stomach with warmth "Sorry. I'm still not really used to this." "Obviously." she smiled a little. "But we'll housebreak you yet." "We will, huh?" "Sooner or later." she nodded, smiling mysteriously before glancing around. "I'm going to mingle, I suggest you do the same. You've got my number if you need me." "Likewise." Grim nodded, absently watching her backside as she shimmied off into the crowd. With a sigh, he knocked back the rest of the contents of his glass, then signaled the bartender for another. Fresh drink in hand, the son of Odin went forth...
  11. "Come on, be fair." Grim's tone was ironically reproving as he bared his teeth in a sly grin at Nadya's expense. "Set her achievable goals, like 'try not to burn the mansion down with yourself in it'." He winked his pale grey eye at Laurel and nodded amiably. "Stay in touch, and if you need me, just shout." As Laurel flashed another sun-touched smile at him and turned to leave, the raw-boned young man turned to the newest arrival. Valerie found herself the recipient of the oldest scrutinising stare she'd every experienced from someone still mortal - well, mostly mortal. And especially from someone not even old enough to shave daily. He was tall, maybe a hair under her height in the platforms, but sparsely-built, his features starting to lose their boyish roundness at the approach of manhood. The Puritan hat rested atop crow-black hair that was tied back in a short ponytail, it's brim framing a pair of mismatched eyes - one rich leafy green, the other so pale a grey as to be colorless. A scar ran down from his brow over the grey eye and ended at his cheek, and here and there on his pale features were other, smaller scars, as though someone had made tiny slashes with a razor blade on his skin. His expression was neither hostile nor overly friendly, though a faint smile accompanied the nod of welcome he gave Valerie as he leaned on a black stave almost as tall as he. She'd seen him around school., she was sure. Or was it in the local news... Yeah, that was it. The kid who'd gone missing then turned up without explanation over a year later. "Grim." he said by way of introduction. "Welcome to the party, and the Band, Valerie. As Nads here said, we've got a job to do tonight, so keep the drinking light at least until we've saved the world." Briefly, he sketched out what was going on in a little more detail than Bast's daughter had. There would be a ewer or a pithus somewhere in the mansion, something old and filled with the energies of Fate. Their first job was to find it and figure out a way to safely neutralise it before the spirits of three Salem witches could enact a ritual which would break a seal between the worlds of the living and the dead - this last detail was largely conjecture based on what he knew of magic, he admitted. "The second task is to use a relic in the possession of an ally - who should be here soon - to send the spirits of the three witches back to where they belong." His thin lips twitched in a humorless smile. "Bonus point if we can also recover a tome called the Nekiya and deliver it back to Archie." He glanced around at the others. "So. It's Halloween, and that party there is swimming with gods, spirits and monsters. Other than a general agreement not to openly war on each other, there's very few rules. Trust nothing at face value, don't get distracted by people playing games. The guy behind all this, Marius, is a chess player who likes to be several moves ahead. Assume he knows we are coming and is preparing delays and distractions for us to get caught up in." His eyes swept the group. "He's counting on us being dumb kids driven by emotion and hormones. Let's show him he's not dealing with the Donner Party. Watch each other's backs, don't get so sidetracked having a good time that you forget why we're here." He grinned - or at least bared his teeth wolfishly. "I'm going to be really irritable if we let the world get eaten." "So how is that different." Fisher smirked. Grim sighed. "Nah, normally I'm cranky. Irritable is much, much worse." he replied with a thin smile for his Bandmates. He glanced at Valerie. "There's probably lots of questions, and we're short on time. Don't worry, though - all of us are here for you so long as you're here for us. This is the kind of job where you largely learn as you go."
  12. He'd tuned out the byplay and banter of the Band - though tuning out Nadya's provocative costume was more difficult. Annoyingly, Grimsley found his attention wandering from studying the other partygoers funneling into the Rhodes place and instead focusing on the flashes of fishnet-clad thigh visible as Nadya moved, or the way the ostentatious jewelry didn't really detract from the pale sweep of her throat down to her bodice... Gods damn it. He cursed at himself silently, turning slightly away from the others, forcing his eyes to resume their sentinel-like watchfulness of his surroundings. After all, this was hostile territory. It was a fair bet that the Rhodes girl was one of those possessed by the witches, and even if she hadn't been she was also one of the notorious 'Donner Party', which meant that the rival Band might well be here too. Briefly he wondered whether they knew their team-mate had been possessed - it seemed incredible that they could miss it, but then perhaps they didn't really associate with one another outside of their designated group activities? For that matter, what did the Donner Band actually do in relation to the war effort? They didn't seem to be running around town like a hormonal-but-well-meaning Scooby gang solving mysteries and fighting titanspawn like this Band did. They turned up like dogshit on the shoe, interfered with members of his Band, performing sabotage up to and including the stealing of trophies, and otherwise seemed to act like fucking retarded delinquent five year olds who were still being breast-fed and yet still needed someone to point out where the milk came from. Of course, Grim's interactions with them had been highly limited, so perhaps his view was coloured overmuch by the information gleaned from the others in his Band. Something else to investigate further, then. He- He was staring at Nadya's ass. And worse, the petite Romani daughter of Bast had just noticed his stare and was starting to arch a pretty eyebrow and open her mouth to say something. Laurel's arrival saved Grim, and he felt an almost ridiculous sense of gratitude towards the sunlit blonde - not just for the save, but also for the fact that her costume was more interesting than revealing. "Laurel. Glad you made it." Grim's welcome was not entirely due to the salvation Apollo's daughter represented. He was glad to see her here - at the very least, he might have someone else who wasn't intent on getting shitfaced drunk and acting like they were at a Bacchanal to talk to. Then again, Laurel was of the Greek pantheon... perhaps she let her hair down at parties. That was good for several seconds of mental imagery best imagined rather than described, and the scion of Odin resisted the urge to bonk himself on the head with his own staff. Really? REALLY? I can't even go for thirty seconds without thinking about carnal matters? Is this an ichor thing? An Aesir thing? Or a dormant Grim thing? Whatever it is, it needs to stop. Yeesh. He smiled slightly at Laurel. "Mary Poppins?" he hazarded, taking in the ensemble. The smile became a vaguely foxish grin. "And people said my costume was on the nose."
  13. "On the nose is sort of the plan." Grim smiled... well, grimly. "If I have to go to a party, and if I have to wear a costume, I might as well wear one that's going to annoy the unholy shit out of our 'hostesses'." He shrugged his shoulders inside the cloak and straightened a little. With the additional height of the hat, it was once again apparent to the others just how much Grim's usual slope-shouldered, fuck-off-and-don't-notice-me posture detracted from his physical presence. He was almost as tall as his sunnier, more handsome cousin, and whilst he was not as well-fleshed as Dane the framework - the stamp of the Aesirs giant heritage - was definitely there in the length and solidity of his bones. He glanced at his cousin. "And don't sweat earlier. You were who we needed you to be, and thanks for that." His thin smile turned a touch more genuine, just for a moment. He hesitated, then lifted a fist In Dane's direction, holding it out until the momentarily speechless son of Baldur bumped his own against it, smiling delightedly. "See? Now you gettin' it! Bruh! We're gonna have so much fun tonight!" Dane exclaimed, then reined in his enthusiasm as the Odinsson's eyebrow arched over his colorless eye. "Uh. I mean, once the evil shit is dealt with, is what I meant to say." Dane corrected hastily. "Y'know. World saving comes first, right?" He looked around at Fisher and Austin, trying to appear serious and sober... -ish. "Partying after, dudes." he admonished them as though they were the ones who'd temporarily forgotten the reason for them all being there. "Right." Grim sighed, leaning on his staff once more, the expression of world-weary cynicism once more in his mismatched gaze. "I'm almost certain this won't completely be a train wreck. And speaking of train wrecks..." he glanced around, his crankiness ratcheting up another couple of notches. "Where are the girls?" "They'll be here." Fisher put in, checking his phone. "Darcy says she's on her way." "Dudes." Dane said somberly to Fisher and Austin. "We need to... to, like, get Grim some Seven Minutes in Heaven action or something. It'd totes cheer him up." "Yeah, but what girl would be brave enough?" Austin grinned. Dane nodded, his expression serious. "Truth. They'd need to be-" "I am right here, and can hear you." Grim's tone wasn't quite capable of freezing the evening air solid, but it gave the feat a good attempt as he went back to scrutinising their surroundings. "Try to keep your hormones in your pants, gentlemen. World to save, remember?"
  14. Mrs K was at her wits end. It was Halloween and she was currently foster-mom to three children - and Grimsley, whom she mentally always added after the count of 'real' children because the boy, in addition to being older than the other fosters, was the most unchildlike child she'd ever encountered. The younger ones were rambunctiously running around in a post-candy delirium, trailing wrappers and costume parts in their wake like pirates throwing a revel after robbing a Spanish galleon. She'd managed to get them settled down - sort of - to watch Halloween specials on TV and sank into a chair at the kitchen table with a sigh of relief. "So..?" Grim looked at her expectantly, causing Mrs K to narrow her eyes at him. But... a deal was a deal, after all. He'd uncomplainingly helped out riding herd on the kids as they'd gone around trick-or-treating, helped persuade them not to eat ALL the candy in one sitting upon getting home, and even helped settle them down with some spooky, grisly stories which he'd told in a low, intense fashion which had even sucked the foster mom in. But his participation had been bargained for... "Okay." Mrs Kochinski sighed, waving her hand in surrender. "Yes, you helped. A lot. Thanks for that, by the way. And..." she paused, weighing her words. "And so you can go to the party. But-!" She held up a finger admonishingly. "I don't want to have any trouble brought to my door as a result of shenanigans, Grimsley Algar. So help me if the Sheriff turns up with one hand on your shoulder with some tale of public indecency..." she left the threat hanging. "C'mon, Mrs K. It's me." Grim smiled his crooked, thin smile at her. "If I could drive, I'd be the designated driver. I'm only going because a couple of friends are going and I'm confident they'll get into trouble without me." "Hmmph. 'Couple of friends', hmm?" The foster mom studied him with a speculative eye. "Like that pretty blonde?" "Laurel might be there, yes. It's distinctly possible." Grim's matter-of-fact nonchalance was adamantine against the sling and arrows of innuendo. "She does go to the school, after all, and everyone was invited." "Hmmph." An eyebrow was arched, though Mrs K also smiled faintly. "So she's not picking you up in her limo this time?" "She's a friend, not my date. And not an Uber, Mrs K." Grim rolled his eyes to communicate just how ridiculous the older woman was being. She studied his costume that he'd worn whilst trick-or-treating. It was quite a passable Puritan witchfinder outfit, down to the buckles on the shoes and the stovepipe hat, and she wondered where he'd gotten the dark blue cloak that hung around his shoulders. His height and raw-boned, unsmiling and scarred face added to the daunting impression of someone out to ruin some Devil-worshipper's day. "Alright. Don't get into trouble, and don't stay out too late." Mrs Kochinski sighed, taking a sip of tea. Grim flashed her a smile. "Trust me. I won't be staying any longer than I have to." * * * * * * "Well, here we are." Grim's voice came to Austin and Dane as the lanky Witchfinder came to rest next to Han Solo and the Burrito, leaning on his staff. Giving the two of them a nod from under the brim of his hat, he fixed his mismatched gaze on the mansion like a warrior appraising an enemy's fortifications - which was not too far from the truth. He watched the various small gods, spirits and creatures as they joined the throng of giddy, reveling mortals and sighed inwardly. If tonight went sideways - which it likely would - there could be a lot of innocents caught in the ensuing supernatural crossfire. Still, they had a job to do. Whatever the witches needed all that mystical energy for breaking loose, it couldn't be good at all. Potentially world-threatening, in fact. Resting against the black wood of his staff, cloak shifting around him with the mist rising in the chill Salem night, Odin's son prepared himself for whatever may come...
  15. 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?"
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