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IC: S1:E4 "Quit Yer Witchin'!"

Dave ST

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It was Halloween, and true to form, Austin had started with some early Trick or treating with his family.   Dressing up in a Family set of costumes no less, The theme by majority vote was Star Wars.  Randy, his Stepdad, was Darth Vader, while his mother was dressed as Padme.   Sarah and Billy, his younger siblings were dressed as Leia and Luke.  Austin was dressed like Han Solo.   It was funny to him, given how among the family, he was the "odd one out" there too, and in a way it seemed fitting.   

They did some trick or treating in the neighborhood, Austin doing his best to not look mortified being seen doing this still at sixteen, but still wanting to be a good brother for his siblings.  They'd gone through the neighborhood as far back as Austin could remember, and he smiled, remembering the first time each of his siblings have come along.   He knew to treasure moments like this.   There would come a time where they'd be farther and farther between, with the heritage he now knew that he had.

Thinking that, he steeled himself, knowing that at least once already, without his Real Father's intervention, they'd have been killed.  He knew the day was also coming when he'd have to leave them behind.   Sarah looked up at him, noticing he was lost in thought, "Something on your mind?"

"Nothing for you to worry about Sarah, just remembering all the times we've done this."   He spoke quietly, his voice reassuring, even if not quite as warm as normal.  

"We'll do it next year, and the ones after too."   She looked happy about that, and Austin nodded.   "We'll see.  Still, you two and Mom and Dad will have fun at the Mall tonight."

"Yeah, but you're going to a party."  She looked at him.   "You're gonna get into trouble."

"Don't jinx me like that Squirt, it isn't nice."  He retorted playfully.

"Don't call me Squirt, Austin, I hate that nickname."  Her blue eyes, so like his own, seemed to darken and flash in annoyance, and he laughed.

His mother chuckled.  "don't tease your sister."

Randy, who had his helmet off, said with a grin "It means abit more when you're not laughing too dear."  

Even Sarah laughed at this, and all the while, Five year old Billy sat and rummaged through his candy finding every reeses he'd gotten and eating them without interruption.

After they finished in the Neighborhood, they head home for a bathroom break.   It was better to do that at home before going to the Mall, which was normally crowded since many of the stores did special promotions and trick or treating and giveaways for Halloween.

"Now son, don't get to crazy tonight."   Randy said to him, as he and his step-father were in the kitchen waiting on the kids and their mother to come back.  
"Relax Dad, I know my limits, and this is strictly about having fun."   

Randy looked at Austin, and couldn't help but wonder.   "If you need us to come get you..."

"I know to expect every manner of lecture should that happen, so I'll do my best to avoid it."   Austin replied dryly.

"Seriously, Austin.  I won't promise no lectures, but if you do need us..."

"It's okay, really.  All my friends are going to be there.  If anything, I'm going to make sure they don't get into any trouble.   We'll be just fine."  Austin said confidently.

Not completely mollified, Randy looked to say something more, but that was when Austin's mother and siblings came into the kitchen.   "Ready to go?"

Randy nodded.  "Yeah, let's all go have some fun."   

Austin saw them off, then got what he needed to bring to the party. Kyma Spestires was collapsed down and in a pouch on his belt, along with the holster for the prop gun he'd painted to be authentic-looking.   Ready for the night, or at least as ready as he was going to be, he locked up and got in his jeep and head to the party.

He found a parking spot, and looked at the gates.   He'd never been here before, just completely different social circles, but tonight, it seemed like everyone was invited, because the place was already looking crowded.

He made his way up the lawn, and he could hear the music even from outside, and took note of the fog that crept along the ground, the constantly changing lights, and the usual decorations that came with Halloween.  They'd all agreed to meet up before entering, and to his surprise, Dane was actually already there, dressed exactly as he said he'd be, a Giant Burrito.   He noticed that not everyone coming was human, but those who were seemed utterly unaware of this, and he cringed inwardly.  It was certainly cool, but when something went down, they were likely to be caught in the crossfire in a big way.

He smiled as he reached where Dane was, and called out to him.  "Hey Dane, how's it goin' so far?"  Dane was alway so calm and chill, it was hard to forget he was a scion sometimes. 

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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...

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"It's goin' brosepe."  Dane smiled as Austin approached.  They fist bumped and the son of Baldur took another hit.  The ember sparked and crackled a bluish color as the the mysticism burned away and entered his lungs, calming his mind and relaxing his muscles.  With the drug in his system the wolf's blood was quiet, his strength and speed dulled back down to mortal levels and kept him from accidently hurting others.  "Saw a few of those uh, snake haired ladies..."

"Medusas?"  Austin asked with as much curiosity as his intent to answer his friends questions.

"Yeah," the gigantic burrito nodded.  His long, bean and cheese filled top bobbed back and forth lazily.  "And, full disclosure, the snakes weren't a deal breaker.  If you just don't think of it like, snakes, y'know?  Then you can kinda picture like... very active dreadlocks.  I could dig it."  Dane nodded, lost in his philosophy of salon secrets for medusae.

Austin just chuckled and shook his head.

"Cousin!"  Dane chuckled and greeted Grimsley as he approached.  "Hey, sooo sorry about earlier, bro.  I was uh, feeling like myself."  He smiled as most people would have 'not feeling like themselves' while the young man did his absolute best remain so stoned out of his gourd to hide the person he was deep inside.  He looked at Grim up and down and grinned like an idiot.  "Uh, kinda on the nose isn't it?" he asked, gesturing to Grim's costume.

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Fisher frowned as he tried to work his hair into the proper shape, but no, even with the band holding it in place, it still looked like a poor excuse for a top-knot. A consequence of his short hair, he acknowledged. In hindsight, it would have been much easier if he'd settled for Season 5 after all. Well, Fisher figured as he looked himself over, it was probably as good as it was going to get, and everything else looked good.

A white and grey gi, the obi wrapped tightly around his waist... Fisher bounced his feet off the ground, hearing the clack of the wooden geta sandals. And of course, the replica katana to smite evil. Comb Tooth in pen form had been slipped into the obi. Fisher turned and headed out. "Fisher?" Fisher stopped as he was approaching the door, and turned to see his father looking at him. Philip frowned, seeming to notice the costume his son was wearing. "Are you going out?"

"Yeah, big Halloween party." Fisher said. "Oh. Just that I thought we could watch a movie together. It's been a while since we've done anything together." Philip said cautiously. Fisher felt his gut wrench on the spot. Normally, this would be one of the most wonderful things to happen - except he needed to go to Mercedes' house to help protect the world and the band was expecting him. Fisher opened his mouth, not sure what to say, but then Philip shrugged.

"Don't worry. If you already have plans, go ahead." Philip assured him, though the resigned or perhaps somber layer in his voice bothered Fisher terribly. "Ok," he said, "but maybe another night?"

"Another night. Have a good night, Fisher."

*  *  *  *  *  *

"It suits him." Fisher approached. "Just as the burrito... suits you." Fisher decided to say. He looked at the house, and the mythical guests mixed in the crowd. "Do you think they can sense what's going on, or is Fate just making things difficult for us as usual?"

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"It's a burrito suit.  It does suit me," the tortilla draped scion giggled like a fool before straightening and shaking his head.  "I dunno Fish, Halloween has always been weird... it's like the weaker titanspawn all just take the night off, y'know?  Like they get a break while middle management is going over next years' budget o' evil."

"Fate doesn't really make things hard or easy," he shrugged.  "It just... is.  Kinda weird thinking that everything we do is already pre-ordained, huh?  Lovin' the threads my man," he tapped Fisher in the chest with the back of his hand.  "Killin' it in two cultures, eh?  I'm diggin' it."

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Austin beheld Grim's getup, and nodded.   "I gotta agree with Dane on this one, Grim, still, not bad."  He looked at Fisher, and it took him a second or two to place who Fisher was there as and then he chuckled.  "Seriously, man, Samurai Jack?   That's hitting it on the head too, isn't it?"

He just smiled.  "There's no way they're aware of what's going on, and just who they're partying with.   There's gorgons here already according to Dane, and I've definitely seen others who aren't really human either."  He spoke quietly.  "As for it all being preordained, I don't know that I buy that either.  I think that'll be a discussion  for another night."

Austin looked down then back up to Fisher.  "How uncomfortable are those Geta?"

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"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?"

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"No point in saving world if you not having fun along the way, no, oh Grimmest of Ones?" Nadya crooned, thickening her Eastern European accent - that hadn't quite faded entirely away after more than ten years living in the US - for thematic effect. She strutted down the crushed rock walk, high-heeled, over-the-knee boots and a glammed up, twisted blackwood swagger stick that would make Madonna proud clicking with each step as she joined the others, giving a spin to show off for the boys.

It seemed the impish Romani girl had the same idea as Grim about doing her utmost to irritate the witches. Though instead of a Witchfinder, she'd dressed up as a Witch. A slutty, tacky witch, even for Halloween. Her sequined black dress was cut low in the black, cinched tight about the waist, the laces of the bodice pushing her curves up, and slit down the sides to reveal fishnetted thighs. She wore fingerless, elbow-length mesh gloves along with silver costume jewellery that ranged from passable to ostentatious at throat, wrists, and fingers, and an 'athame' on her hip that probably would have trouble with butter which contrasted garishly with the smartphone holstered on the other side. She topped it off with a tall, black, pointed witch's hat, a silvery-grey eye glittering with mirth and dark red lips spread in a wide, careless grin peeking out from under the broad brim.

The boots - towering heels, a thick sole, going up almost to mid-thigh, with neon-pink laces - were all Nadya's though.

She pointed at the burritoed one, voice shifting back to her natural tones. "Dane gets it."


With the last of the goodie-bags she'd spent all day making handed out, Nadya locked up the pawn shop. She walked over to her father sitting behind the counter. The lights in the shop were atmospherically low, her father's face cast in shadows, the tip of his cigarette glowing orange-red as he idly whittled, slivers of pale wood decorating the glass top counter. Nadya set down the basket she'd been using to hand out the goodie-bags then shrugged out of the shapeless black dress she'd been wearing to add a modicum of modesty to her costume, revealing the most immodest version she had on underneath.

"Done and locked up, Papa," Nadya said with a demureness that would surprise almost anyone. It didn't last, of course. "Off to my party now."

László snorted, twin plumes of fragrant smoke flaring from his nose, nearly invisible in the low light. "This party, Little Nadezhda, it is for play or work?"



"Oh, Papa," Nadya sighed, scooting around the counter and giving her father a tight hug. "I think danger's always going to be part of my life, now. All the more to live life to the fullest. Better to burn bright and all that."

László grunted, his daughter's deceptively strong arms making his ribs creak. He gave her a quick hug back, and pressed his lips to her forehead. "There is something to burning low," he said, raising his brows to indicate the low lights. "But I understand. Just be keeping an eye out for escape if the Tarot hands you a bad card, so you can be burning bright for a while yet. No father should have to bury a child. Now now, let me do, my mortal bones are to frail and brittle for your young strength."

"Liar," Nadya protested, letting her father go. "You just grow harder every year." She nodded up the stairs to their apartment above the modest shop. "I just need to grab a few more accessories before I head out. You need me to get you anything?"

Not so hard as you think, Martiya, just resigned that I can't stop you from the path that you are on, nor can I follow you on it. Just able to keep an eye on you from the side, for a time. He reached down and thumped the floor with his cane. "Old and wounded, but not an invalid yet, Little One. Have fun, live large, and come back."


Nadya turned the eye the manor, watching the other party-goers, both mortal and not, mingling and partying, a wistfulness curving her lips. Once, she and Mercedes had been friends, not great ones, but friends enough that she'd been here several times before. She wondered if myths had walked the grounds like this before she'd been Visited and had her eyes opened to the Truth or if this was more due to the Witches' influence. If it was, Nadya still had to grant them they new how to through a party even after being several centuries in the ground.

From the black, wicker basket she was carrying, she pulled out a leash and a studded collar. She'd already seen more than one slooty black cat, and at least one was definitely more cat than human. "Think I can find someone or something willing to be my familiar for the night?" Her smile this time revealed very white teeth. "Unless one of you guys want to play the part?"

Nadya's irrepressible insouciance took a hit when she noticed a particular someone slouching himself onto the manicured grounds, eyes narrowing in dangerous mischief. "Todd is here?"

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"Nads!" Dane greeted his raven haired friend with outstretched arms.

"Okay, that nickname is not catching on.  Ever."  She spread her arms out, punctuating her refusal to accept Dane's granted title.  "Like, ever, ever."

"Chica, you look fine.  Like, fine, fine.  C'mere."  He hugged her and she joking fumbled to get her arms around his massive burrito waist.

"One friend to another, D, and I'm only saying this because I care," she gave him quick once over.  "You're looking like you're putting a few extra there, y'know?"

"I know," he feigned begin embarrassed.  "It's just, all the beans n' cheese.  I wanna look as delicious as possible for my adoring Latino culinary aficionados."  He stood tall and proudly placed his hands on his burrito hips.  "I will not be a second rate burrito.  I owe it to my people."  Nadya and Dane were like two peas in a pod when it came to shenanigan's and a night like Halloween was almost like giving them permission to act like a couple ten year-olds.  Grimsley found nothing humorous while Fisher and Austin seem amused enough.

"Guess that just leaves Laurel and Adriana."  Dane looked on as even more people filtered into the house with no apparent end in sight.  "They shoot anyone a text?"

"They said they'd be here," Grim added calmly.  "Adriana knows we need her.  I trust she is on her way."

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"Hey guys," Darcy sauntered up, her appearance not immediately recognizable with the blonde wig she was wearing.  Her costume wasn't very obvious at first, she was simply dressed in a business skirt, a simple high-collared blouse and a warm sweater, although she was wearing far makeup than usual, blushed cheeks and pinkish-red lipstick generally wasn't her style.  The name tag on her left breast pocket stated: "Hello, my name is: 'Girl in the Chair'.  Her right breast pocket had a green 'A' with a green arrow striking through the letter, giving her away as Felicity Smoak, of Team Arrow.

"Nice," Austin nodded in approval.  He waved his hand about signifying all of her.  "Loving it.  Good call."

"Thanks," she chuckled.  "Was gonna go as Xena, but, fun fact... she doesn't wear glasses and I have no contacts."  She shrugged in defeat.  "But, Walmart had last minute blonde wigs, so I went with it."  She lied well enough.  The high collared shirt and long sleeves disguised the bruises along her upper arm and shoulders that were already turning from yellow to purple as a result of her father roughing her up for being out too late last night with Fisher and the others searching for clues in the cemetery instead of being home and preparing his dinner so he could go to bed full and wake up for his shift later that evening.  Luckily, tonight was his day off and he was already passed out drunk before the trick-or-treating started.  The Darcy home never had their porch light on for Halloween, not since her mother left years ago.

"I should be good for the night," she inhaled and exhaled.  "Dad's on for a full shift, so won't be home til morning... so... yeah, plenty of save the world time."  She took a place next her Fisher and looked at everyone.  "Wow."  She laughed and nodded.  "We look like such nerds.  I love it."

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Nadya's costume choice wasn't surprising at all, and the back and forth between her and Dane made him chuckle.   "That nickname..."   

"Will never ever be used again..."  Nadya looked at him with a deathly glare.  

"Right.  Never use it in front of you without an exit strategy."   Austin teased lightly.   Nadya's death-gaze remained fixed on him, though he could tell she knew he was just teasing.

With the addition of Darcy to the group, he nodded in welcome.   After deducing who she was going as he smiled.   "Well, most of us aren't, but we certainly don't fit in any of the regular groups fully though.   We're more our own thing.   Any bets on who or what the others show up as?"

"I think my family was worse, Darcy.   The whole family dressed up as Star Wars Characters, going around our neighborhood Trick-or-treating.   They're going to the mall now, for the usual festivities."

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The soft, unmistakable click clack of heeled shoes wove through the undercurrents of excited chatter and anticipation like a metronome, a crisp, rhythmic counterpoint to the chaotic energies swirling around what had been hyped as “the Halloween party to end all Halloween parties.” That was, perhaps, not far from the truth, Laurel reflected as she strode up the sidewalk, passing groups of teens and… fantastic, as-yet-unidentified others congregating outside the Rhodes estate to compare costumes, gossip, and await their compatriots. As the masses filtered inside, accompanied by swirling mist and colored lights, and the low thrum of some pop song’s bass line vibrating through the ground underfoot, she wondered briefly what it might be like to host some sort of social event at her own home- and shuddered, briefly overcome with horror at the thought of having that haven of peace and sanity invaded, and poor James trying to deal with everything at once. No, she decided firmly. No parties. Whatever else she was, Mercedes Rhodes must be a formidable hostess indeed if she could manage a crowd like this; perhaps there was something else to be gained from observing her, after all.  

 Not far ahead, one of the clusters of conversing teens shifted, and Laurel hesitated, the brisk staccato of her footfalls on the pavement faltering, the tempo momentarily broken. “He really dressed up as a giant burrito,” she murmured to herself, half-disbelieving at the sight of the tall, broad-shouldered Aesir in the most ridiculous costume she’d ever seen and half trying desperately not to laugh. Once she’d recognized Dane, of course, the rest of the group became easier to identify… not that anyone who’d ever seen Nadya would question who the obnoxiously-attired “witch” might be. Grim looked to be dressed as a sort of puritanical version of himself, amusingly enough, although she was less clear on who the others- Austin, and perhaps Fisher and Darcy- were meant to be.

 I suppose it can’t be helped, the svelte blonde reminded herself, reaching up with a gloved hand to check that her hair was still tidy beneath the neat red hat she wore. After all, it was better to remain on civil terms than not. Needlessly smoothing the pristine front of her long, striped, blue coat, the practically perfect platinum princess adjusted her grip on the professional-looking leather case in her left hand and approached the disparate group, armed with her ever-present geniality.

“Good evening,” she greeted them brightly. “You’re all looking-“ There was a moment’s pause as her summer-sky gaze moved over the group, her pleasant expression unwavering. “Very festive. I can’t stay and talk, I’m afraid, but I couldn’t help noticing Dane and thought I should say hello. So.” Her smile widened, warming a little as she turned her attention from Nadya to the others. “Hello.”

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"Can't stay?"  Dane held out his arms inquisitively, looking solemn.  "Y'mean you're not hanging with us tonight?  C'mon, Brightness, it's our first party together, you gotta hang with us!"

He tried to fold his arms outside the unforgiving costume he was wearing, layers of fabric and padding did their best to fight him every step of the way.  "Wait... you gotta date?" He practically sang as he smiled widely at her.  "Oh, who is it?  Do I know them?"

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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."

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Never in her life did Valerie think she would be going to a party at the Rhodes' place. It looked the entire school was showing up for it too, and somewhere in this sea of costumed revelers she would have to find a select handful, only one of which she somewhat knew. The place was nice though, and the decorations, though maybe not super high-end, were still classic, so there what something to be apricated there. Given what she had only recently learned about herself, and the bigger world out there, Valerie pondered the likelihood of Halloween meaning far, far more than most people would ever consider.

She meandered up the driveway, taking in all the atmosphere and decor while idly looking for familiar faces when something caught her eye. Under a couple of cotton 'webbed' trees across from the front door of the house a small group had gathered. A burrito?, a puritan, a slutty 'witch' (if you could call it that), Han Solo, a samurai and a pretty, female Paddington? Wait. No, Mary Poppins from the remake or whatever it was. It was Han Solo that got her attention though, or rather Austin Lange, her lab partner in Biology last year. Gradually she began to recognize some of the others, if only vaguely, and breathed a sigh of relief that she had found them so quickly and easily.

As the group talked, hugged, shook hands and greeted each other, Valerie approached. She was somewhat tall, her height only exaggerated by the platforms she wore, pushing her past six feet. She wore white contact lenses, making her gaze unnerving to some, and scanned the other teens, recalling what she knew of each, , mostly by reputation if anything, as her eyes, drifted among them and she drew closer and began to get noticed by some of them.

Her cheerleader outfit was sleeveless with a bare midriff and the classic short, pleated skirt and certainly did not hide her curves and rather toned physique, thanks to her Aesir blood. Overall the was black and gray with sparse, hot pink accents and a skull and crossbones with a small, hot pink bow on one side of the skull emblazoned on the top over her breasts. Instead of black, her fingernails were painted a matching hot pink, a color that nobody could ever recall her wearing, but it did compliment the outfit quite well. Various leather, metal and chain bracelets dangled around her wrists adorned spikes and skulls 'charms', if you could call them that. On her feet she wore clunky, black platform wedge heel boots with hot pink laces. Her long, dark hair was 'up' somewhat, partially braided and tied back like she were a black Lagertha. 

A few strips of matching pom poms could be seen sticking out of the black leather backpack she wore, which was burned and embossed with logos of various metal bands. If asked, she would say she brought the backpack to stash her pom poms when she did not feel like carrying them, when really it was just a way she bring her horn and 'spirit stick' since she was not sure exactly what the plan for the night was.

She walked toward the group of teens and as she got near she gave a small, which lift of her head of acknowledgement and greeting. 

"Valerie?" Austin asked in surprise as he recognized her.

"Hey man." she replied, offering Austin a fist bump before looking toward the others and addressing the group in general.

"Wassup. I'm Valerie. Valerie Vaskr." she greeted the small group of teens, speaking with her faint, Icelandic accent before continuing. "So, yeah. I was on a trip to see the family back in Iceland and while there my, uh, biological mother decided to come down for a visit and finally meet me, and fill me in on my heritage." she said, thinking back to that night for a brief moment as she lifted a hand to touch the necklaces she wore beneath the outfit, before returning her thoughts to the present. "Anyways, when I got here, back Mr. Syra-, I mean Archie, told me to find you guys, though he was short on details." she explained with a slight shrug of her bare shoulders. "So wassup? We here to party and get fucked up on some bougie bitch's booze, or what?"

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Laurie dressed as Mary Poppins had Austin laughing inside, and grinning outside.   "I see we all went for something on the nose."  He was curious as to why she couldn't stay, but from what he knew of her, she had a good reason.

He was about to question her when his gaze was drawn by someone else approaching them.   He'd expected it to be Adrianna, but that was defnitely not the case.  It was Valerie Vaskr, his lab partner from Biology last year.   They'd happened to be seated next to each other, and ended up partners in several labs.  It wasn't a bad experience, and while not exactly friends, he at least knew some about her likes and such.   Thus her costume was quite surprising, though with the accents giving it a very "Val" flavor, looked great on her.  

"Goddamn Val, I almost didn't recognize you."

He'd fist-bumped her in greeting, and was pretty sure the rest of the band was wondering just who the hell walked up on them, and how in the world she and Austin knew each other.  

When she made her formal introduction, and the announcement that she was "like" them, he chuckled.   "Damn, Archie can't even come himself to introduce another new bandmate."  He couldn't detect any lie in her words, and welcomed her.   He was wondering  who her divine parent was, but that was rude to just blatantly ask.  Besides, he was certain someone else probably would.

Austin grinned at her, and shook his head.  "Not at first, first we gotta stop whatever evil occult bs that's planned for tonight from happening, then we can really party.  Archie told you to come, I've heard of throwing people in the deep end, but this is abit much."

He looked to Grim for confirmation.   "At least I beliive that's the plan our Witchfinder has laid out for tonight's festivities."

He couldn't help but circle back to her attire.  "You look great.   I admit, I never, ever expected you to have that much pink on."

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"He ain't Coach Fingers, but the Arch-man don't coddle much, even if he understands," Nadya added to Austin's words on Mr. Syracuse. She raised her chin in greeting at the taller girl. Nadya sort of recognized her from school, if only to put a name to a face, and that was mostly from having been in detention at the same time, once or twice. "'Sup, Val. Great costume, bit too much pink for this girl. We have to get a thing before some witches use the thing to do a super bad thing with the thing. Then kick the witches out of bloody Mercedes and her minions, and send them back to Hell, or Hades, or whatever. Put 'em back in the ground." She paused for a beat, then clarified, "The witches I mean, not Mercedes and her minions... Although..."

Grim gave the impression of pinching the bridge of his nose without actually doing so, just by the tightening of his eyes. "The bougie bitch does have great booze though." Nadya turned and smirked up at Grim, whose gaze had begun to drift again. She jabbed him in the ribs with an elbow. "You don't really think that's Laurel's real costume, do you? That's the decoy." Silver-grey eyes turned to the prim Apollo-donna. Always so proper, Ms. Poppins must be a total freak in private. "Gonna at least give us a peek of what you're really packing to the party under the blue coverup before you jet off, Ms. Poppins?"

She'd seen the movies. There was no way Mary Poppins didn't pop a cornucopia of pills from the bag she carried. And Laurel seemed one for verisimilitude when she put her mind to something.

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Fisher sidled up to Darcy while the others drifted in, smiling. "Hey, you look great. Wanna be the girl in my chair?" Darcy laughed. "Now that's terrible, I find you guilty and banish you to a dark terrible future where my word is law..." Fisher grinned unashamedly. "But you love me anyway." "Yes," Darcy admitted, "I do." Fisher and she kissed, and he felt a thrill run through him. Arguments and worries aside, he was so happy to be with her.

Then the vaguely familiar black girl arrived and introduced herself. Yet another new Scion to teach without being informed. Yes, better the Band than Donner's bunch of... wait. Fisher remembered now he'd heard something about Horace Farrow and Valerie Vaskr, that the sick creep hit on her regularly and she hated him. Not exactly as good as loathing Eric Donner himself, but...

"Witches?" Val inquired.

"Yes," Fisher answered. "The genuine culprits from the Salem Witch Trials. And we don't know which three people they're possessing. It might not actually be Mercedes, you know."

Nadya looked at the Amatsukami scion as if he claimed the sky was chartreuse. "Anyway," Fisher went on, "welcome to the Band, Valerie."

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On 6/30/2021 at 7:34 PM, Dane Summers said:

"Can't stay?"  Dane held out his arms inquisitively, looking solemn.  "Y'mean you're not hanging with us tonight?  C'mon, Brightness, it's our first party together, you gotta hang with us!"

He tried to fold his arms outside the unforgiving costume he was wearing, layers of fabric and padding did their best to fight him every step of the way.  "Wait... you gotta date?" He practically sang as he smiled widely at her.  "Oh, who is it?  Do I know them?"

"No," she laughed, shaking her head as she glanced in the direction of the milling crowd again. "No, I don't have a date. That isn't why I'm here." Reaching out, the young aesthete clasped one of Dane's hands in her own smaller one, the warmth and sincerity of her smile illuminating her features. "Thank you for the vote of confidence, though, and I do hope you all have a wonderful time."

Affecting a regal mien, Laurel inclined her head briefly toward Grim, dipping a quick, fluid curtsy in acknowledgement of his observation, bright eyes sparkling with mirth as she rose. "It suits you," she replied agreeably, noting the details of his costume with an appraising eye, "and seems rather apropos, all things considered."  She might have said more, but the striking figure of the tall, dark-skinned Valerie gave her pause, and the potential for further banter was cut short as the slender sunbeam studied her with open curiosity. They'd never been introduced formally, of course, but there was rarely a better time than the present for such things, was there?

"Laurel Brightman," interjected the ever-forthright young woman, extending her free hand in greeting as she offered the newcomer a sunny smile. "How lovely to meet you Valerie, though it's a pity the circumstances aren't better. That seems to be a recurring pattern, these days, as does the need for me to be elsewhere." The bow of her lips pursed into an unhappy moue as she reflected briefly on the similarity to her conversation with Dale the day before, but the flicker of unease quickly faded; if it meant something that so many young Scions were being drawn to one place, the significance was beyond her current comprehension. Still, perhaps there was yet time for answers...

2 hours ago, Nadya Lunălescu said:

"Gonna at least give us a peek of what you're really packing to the party under the blue coverup before you jet off, Ms. Poppins?"

"Regrettably, no, as I feel very strongly about standards of decorum where hospitality is concerned. After all, if courtesy demands I bring a gift to a party, it would be terribly ill-mannered of me, and immensely disrespectful to my host, to deliver it already unwrapped," Apollo's daughter replied breezily, her teeth a brilliant crescent of white that flashed in the deepening dusk as she regarded the costume Nadya had chosen, wondering idly where she'd stowed the rest of it. "Something to think on for future events, perhaps." Turning to regard the rest of the assembled group, she took a half-step back, straightening her shoulders. "In any case, I should be going. I expect I'll see you inside, at some point during the evening. And, should you need help," she added, smiling faintly up at the Odinsson, "you have my number. As it stands, I may need to call on you later, if all does not go well. Take care, and-" Pausing, Laurel's gaze fell once more on the vivacious Romani girl. "And try not to cause trouble."

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"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."

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19 hours ago, Austin Lange said:

"Archie told you to come, I've heard of throwing people in the deep end, but this is a bit much."
He couldn't help but circle back to her attire.  "You look great.   I admit, I never, ever expected you to have that much pink on."

Valerie shrugged her bare shoulders at Austin's observation. "Ehh. The only true failure is in not trying." she countered.

She could not help but let out a small laugh though at the surprise on Austin's face and in his voice at her choice of costume. "Gotta change things up from time to time man. It can't always be leather and spikes. Okay, well yes, it can be, but it's Halloween, so, you know, why not have some fun? Besides, who says I don't have more pink on?" she added casually with a shrug of her shoulders, planting a teasing mental seed into the minds of anybody paying attention.

Valerie nodded and returned greetings in kind as the members of her newfound band greeted and welcomed her, each in their own way, with some of them actually introducing themselves in return until it finally got to Grim, and he went over the objectives for the night.

"Sooo... we need to pretty quickly, yet discretely, find this old ewer or pithus or whatever, full of energies of actual Fate, and neutralize it safely somehow before the three ghost witches who are possessing people (one of whom may or may not be possessing the Rhodes girl) can use it for some big bad necromancy ritual that will like sunder the barrier between the land of the living and the dead or some shit, and then get this ally, friend, or whatever to use their relic to somehow send said ghost witches back where they came from, and hopefully recover some old book called the Nekiya for Archie in the process?" Valerie asked recapping what she had picked up so far and counting each point off on a a finger, starting with her thumb.

"More or less." Grim answered flatly.

"Cool. I got your backs." Valerie replied without hesitation and offered a fist bump to Grim and the rest of the band. 

"So Step one: Save the World. Step two: Revels?" she mused with a grin on her lips.

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13 hours ago, Laurie Brightman said:

Reaching out, the young aesthete clasped one of Dane's hands in her own smaller one, the warmth and sincerity of her smile illuminating her features. "Thank you for the vote of confidence, though, and I do hope you all have a wonderful time."

The large blonde offered his smaller counterpart a soft smile that offered her the familiar feeling of gentle warmth on an otherwise chilly evening.  "Yeah, you too.  Like Glumsley said, door goes both ways.  You need us, text, scream, put someone through a wall, whatever you have to do to get our attention and we're there, kay?"  The gentle giant's raised his eyebrows and gave her a glare, like a parent making sure their child understood the lecture they just received and only lifted it after she smiled back and nodded her acknowledgement.  Maybe he was wrong to do so, maybe he should have asked her permission first... but Laurel didn't notice the sōwilō rune that burned itself painlessly onto the back of her palm as she let go of his hand  and faded from view in an instant.  He prayed that he wouldn't need it, but woe to the fool or fools that made it necessary for him to.

He didn't know what to think as she walked away.  He kept looking at her for a moment before turning back to his band and silently sobering up somewhat as the memories of having a band and a family and people to watch over or watch over him washed over him.  He'd not felt like this in years and it felt all too familiar and yet terrifying.  Still he put on his best smile and turned his attentions to their newest member.

Valerie suddenly found herself consumed by burrito.  Dane's greeting hug lifted her off the ground just a bit, and just as quickly returned her to her footing.  "By the power vested in me, the Holy Burrito, I now pronounce us Band and Strife, oh angsty one.  Welcome to the crazy, Val.  I'm Dane, founder of the Church of the Holy Burrito..."  His smile could have melted the coldest heart.

"Church of the Holy Burrito?"  Fisher asked, half-chuckling as he shook his head.  "Seriously?"

"What?" The ember of godhood protested with a shrug.  "I'm an ordained minister!  Got it online.  It's totally legit."

"Don't you need to be eighteen to do that?"  Austin asked as much to correct Dane as it was to confirm his own suspicions.

Dane shrugged and nodded.  "Pfft.  They don't check that, I have a certificate and everything.  I figured if I was a sun god's son I should be ordained, y'know?  In case I need to like bless stuff or whatnot."

Darcy raised a finger in protest of the Son of Baldur's logic.  After all if he were already the child of a god then, by his very nature he was divine and didn't need to be ordained to bless anything.

"Don't," Austin shook his head at her as he tried to unpack the logic groceries of Dane into the pantry of his mind.  "Just... don't.  He's happy.  Just let him be happy."

"And I'd like to offer some course correction,"  he said, he gripped his burrito exterior tightly like he was holding an imaginary lapel.  "I plan on reveling m'dudes, then saving the world m'dudes, then reveling more m'dudes.  Grimsley is a great planner, but if Mercedes is possessed by a three hundred year-old witch, then I'm gonna need to be good and lit.  Just dealing with her while not possessed requires me to be buzzed to keep my inner wolf from throating her."

"But yeah," he smiled again, arms out to Val.  "Glad to have ya, girl!  We'll get you all kinds of spun up later.  Like Glum said, all stories for another time.  Tonight, we conquer dancing like maniacs in impossibly high heels and bulky burrito costumes, tomorrow, stories!"

"...and saving the world from three escaped witches."  Fisher added.

"...that too." Dane smiled and nodded like it the period to an afterthought he'd not even considered.  "Oh... and uh, I'm lost... I thought Mary Poppins was blue... and a dude."

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“Well, aren’t you a motley looking bunch,” Adrianna stepped towards the Band quietly, one elegant stride in front of the other like she was walking a runway in Milan.

Grimsley’s mind shut down and started running in slow motion while a soundtrack to his thoughts synchronized with her movements.  Soft, supple black lambskin leather sheathed the Greek hero’s frame hugging every dangerous curve his mind was dying to test at breakneck speeds.  Her long, dark hair was loose and falling over her shoulders and her eyes were framed by thin circular glasses.  Her soft lips were just the right shade of red to match the symbol emblazoned on firm, yet perfect chest that gave away her costume as the evil Baroness of G.I. Joe lore.  Those familiar realized that the Cobra insignia was replaced by a Ram, a tongue-in-cheek reference to her father.  She was even gracious to leave the zipper of her leather cat-suit down half-way, she was thoughtful that way.

"Sorry I'm late," her approach was smooth and started up like her sexiest-evil-woman-in-the-world costume was no more plainer that Laurel's Mary Poppins.  "I needed to get a costume.  Luckily there's this boutique by the pier, the place has everything, and the proprietor... she was amazing."  She paused momentarily giving Valerie a swift appraisal while she pointed at her.  "Who's she?"

"Valerie."  Dane said flatly with the ever-present tension between the two of them laced into his words.  "She's with us.  No worries."

"I do worry."  She returned the flat, cold tone to it's sender.  "I need to know when plans change."

"Well, now you know." Dane took a step forward and she matched his with one of her own.  She was about to prepare a retort when Fisher stepped in.

"She can handle herself, Adrianna, we're confident in her skills.  Whether it's costume shopping or witch hunting, last minute changes are to be expected.  We adapt, we improvise, we overcome.  So let's not make the trio in there's job any easier by fighting amongst ourselves, okay?"

She breathed deep, stressing the already valiant effort the zipper on her catsuit was making on behalf of her modesty.  Dane's eyes traveled downward and he most obviously stole a quick glance at her cleavage.  Adrianna exhaled and rolled her eyes, stepping away form him and zipping up to cover her chest.  "Seriously, Dane?  That wasn't even subtle!"

"What?!"  He defended himself.  "Oh, like you were at all being subtle either?  I'm not eleven anymore, Addy... I mean... geez, if great boobs are there a dude's gonna look.  It's like, science or something!"

She waved her hands about as if trying to cancel the thought of the eleven year-old boy she once knew ogling her boobs in front of everyone and then shamelessly admitting they were 'great' in front of everyone.  "Are you high!?"

"Yes." Everyone except Val replied in a monotone response that alleviated Dane's need to answer.

A bit taken aback by the collective reply she paused for a moment and moved on to a subject change.  Okay... okay... Valerie, Adrianna, nice to meet you.  Everyone listen up... witch hunting 101.  Ghosts can possess the living, but can generally be exorcized rather easily.  Ghosts of those who built a legend for themselves while here, however, are generally more difficult to kick out of a body.  Hitler, Cleopatra..."

"Elvis," Austin added trying to add something a bit less dark or a thousand years ago.

Adrianna shook her head.  "He's not dead."

"I knew it." Grimsley gripped his staff tightly like he'd just cracked the Watergate conspiracy for the first time.

"Magical beings, with some manner of legend or legacy to them are even worse because like all legends, they can't die but have the added bonus of knowing how to manipulate Fate.  Eventually, if not discovered and dealt with, they can subsume the original spirit of the body and take ownership.  Essentially, they evict the soul of the body, and send it the Underworld to take their place there."

"How long can that take?"  Valerie asked, as a sudden sense of urgency washed over her.

Adrianna shrugged.  "Hard to say.  Depends on how strong the vessel is.  A few days, weeks maybe?  I've heard of particularly willful mortals lasting up to a month or so, but I've never heard of this happening to a fellow Scion.  If your friend-"

"-not our friend." Nadya shook her head and snorted.

"-is indeed possessed," she pressed on.  "I don't know how long she might have, I can hazard to say longer than an average human though, but I'd need to consult my father to know for sure."  She looked at the mansion then back to everyone else.  "We need to find out who they are get them out of those vessels as swiftly as possible, but I'm betting it's going to be madhouse in there, I'm not sure my Death Sight will be of much use.  I'll open up a group text, if you suspect someone text it and we'll see how it goes... I guess."

"I think that's the best we can hope for," Grim said, lifting his eyes from her curves to meet her gaze.  "Without knowing exactly who it is, we're left with a lot of guess work."

"Well," Nadya shrugged and clasped Dane's arm in an embrace, her grin was a mile wide.  "Guess we'll just have to mingle.  Like... a lot.  Onward!  Fun and merriment await!"


As they approached the massive double doors were opened by two skeletal doorman.  The Scions saw them for what they really were, not the shroud veiled humans dressed in black body suits with bones drawn on them but the actual animated remains of some ones brother or mom acting as doorman for the witches gathering.  What awaited them inside was like nothing they'd expected.  The entire mansion was dark, lit only by black lights and strings or eerily hued Halloween lights and satyrs, centaurs, medusae, alfar, kitsune, tengu... you name it and they were all just mingling and moving among the mortals like ordinary folk just trying to enjoy the party.

The music boomed in every room while scores of people in the emptied out, massive dinning room, jumped and raved while 'live' artists performed on a stage.  At the moment two men, whose ripped jeans, lack of shirts and top hats gave them away as possible some incarnation of Loa lineage.  They were painted like skeletons, their 'bones' glowing in the dark black light but so too did their tattoos, a variety of designs and patterns that seemed to glow all their own, like neon ink on their bodies.  Across their backs, each bore the same tattoo in a banner from shoulder to shoulder: 'Marasa'.

In the living room people lounged and talked and made out, and drank while their bodies still unconsciously to the flow and beat of the music throughout the massive home, but no matter where one moved within the huge estate, there seemed to be standing room only and the Scions wondered if they should warn a few of the mortals who were, unbeknownst to them, making out out with sorority chicks who had snakes for hair or were twerking on a guy whose goat leggings were actual goat legs!

Smoke, booze, beer and dry ice fog assaulted their senses and from there in the crowded entrance of the Rhodes home they were faced with innumerable options as to where to begin their night of debauchery.


You are now free to wander the part as you see fit.  Tackle something on your list and I'll follow up.  Once I get a decent number of entries I'll move them forward.  If life is kicking you in the ass and you can't post, there are ways we can keep you in the mix (Write an entry in DMs in Discord, for example).

As you do your thing, I may insert a 'Plot Point' tab into a post.  This does not mean drop everything and follow it, it just means that something relevant happened around, or to, your character and you have knowledge of it to share with the others, if you so choose.

NPCs are at the party as well.  Please don't assume that just because I post things that are going on with the NPCs that you're aware of it, I'm doing it to keep the world dynamic and show that other things are going on while you're doing your thing.  For example, Darcy will not be glued to Fisher's hip all night.  She's her own person and will go off and mingle a bit on her own.  Runa will be about, Marius... and, of course, all of Donner Douche Brigade.  They're there doing things too and it helps me with not having to monitor a list for Dane and worry about the NPCs.

I have a table.  Random things can occur at this party.



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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...

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Fisher and Darcy entered the mansion hand in hand, as the clamor of music, chatter and other noises poured over them like a tidal wave. Carefully, they worked their ways through a knot of teenagers, one of whose hair flowed like grass in the wind - probably because, to Fisher's eyes, it actually was grass. Darcy playfully punched him in the shoulder. "She a magical girl, or should I be worried about your wandering eyes?"

"Nymphs aren't my type," Fisher insisted, "and the only magical girls I care about are Madoka Kaname and Homura Akemi." Darcy held a hand up to her mouth, gaping in mock horror. "Heresy! In the name of the moon, I shall punish you!" Fisher chuckled. "I'm pretty sure the Scions of Tsukuyomi have dibs on that line."

"Mmm." Darcy hummed, then her eyes glinted as she pointed out a black-haired, tan-skinned woman, who had come with her pet. The cat riding on her shoulder looked somewhat like a miniature lion, stretching his head out to take in the sights and sounds, managing to remain balanced while retaining a languid feline air. "Let me guess, Egyptian goddess?"

"Egyptian someone." Fisher partially agreed. The cat in question, in his view, had not stuck out its neck, so much as there was a whole lot of neck. "She's got a pet serpopard." This became a game for the two. Darcy identified people she suspected to be mythical beings in disguise and guessed what they were, Fisher used his Scion-VisionTM and extensive reading on the subject to confirm or correct her claims. It amused them long enough to reach one of the bars.

The bartender, Fisher observed, had the distinctive long nose and wings of a tengu. From the list of cocktails, Darcy selected a Pina Colada, and Fisher got an Irish Coffee. Darcy split off after they received their drinks, having spotted a friend she wanted to say hello to. Her boyfriend took a swallow of his drink, tasting the richness of the cream and sugar, then found a spot against one of the walls, where he could watch the flow of the crowds and see if anyone stood out. Beyond the obvious bevy of supernatural attendees, obviously.

It occurred to him that he hadn't done any drawing lately, and so he preserved the images in his mind. A funny thing, how the reality of his life now seemed to surpass the imaginations of his artwork to date.

Movement caught his peripheral vision, and Fisher turned his head to see Yukiko walking over. "Fisher." She tersely greeted him. The other Scion of the Amatsukami held a glass filled with something he didn't recognize, and leaned back against the wall beside him. From the stony look on her face, Fisher suspected she was not fond of the crowds.

"Yukiko." Fisher politely responded. She had the distinct flaw of being in the Donner Party, but then again, as an exchange student and Scion, she probably hadn't joined them by choice. She didn't quite follow them into their depths of wrongness, And Austin seemed to be having something going with her, which further confirmed her being a cut above the rest of them (a bar low enough to challenge a limbo expert, to be sure).

They were in the same pantheon, but he didn't know a lot about her, it occurred to him. And another thing popped into his head. "I was wondering. Doesn't it feel weird that we're about the same age, but I'm technically your uncle?" A rather unusual conversation opener to be sure, but Fisher admitted to himself that his curiosity had been pricked once he started thinking about it.

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[Fisher] Even through her long, straight hair combed down over her face, he could see her eyes roll.  "That is not how ichor works.  Genealogies require genes, which gods do not possess.  Saying you and I are in any way related is akin to me going to Olive Garden and claiming I've been to Italy."

She didn't speak like she was sarcastic or cruel, in fact her tone carried with it almost no emotional inflection at all.  Yukiko was simply speaking, being matter-of-fact and if this was how she always was, it left one to wonder why Austin would even be interested in her, aside from the fact that she was Japanese.  "'Related' or no, you have no idea what it means to be Amatsukami.  Other scions and titanspawn are going to devour you.  All I find weird is that you've managed to make it as far as you have.  Your luck is astonishing."

[Grimsley] While he wasn't actively not enjoying the party, there were many reasons for him to not enjoy the party, least of which were the constant juvenile actions of his peers.  He didn't fault them, he just grew up faster than they had to and now he felt like an aging man whose joints and boots has seen more miles than he'd cared to admit.  Still, everything here seemed like a runed stone upon which 'fun' might be engraved upon, but he could squeeze not such thing from it.

He sighed and rolled his eyes at the sight of the top a burrito flailing about in the crown like a shark in the water.  A burrito-shark.  He snickered, a smile forcing it's way to his lips.  It faded quickly when the sudden jostle from behind knocked him forward, almost spilling his drink.

"Oh, gods, I am so-," she spun about, having back to into him while talking with with someone else.  Her hair was red as fire and her eyes green as emeralds.  She wore a costume stylizing herself as some manner of Norse warrior, a Viking perhaps, or shield maiden... Americans rarely knew the difference.  She paused and her expression seemed caught between recognition and paralysis.  "...Grimsley?"

'Geri.' Was the first name that rose to Grimsley's mind.

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Austin looked to Val and smiled, at least outwardly.   This was definitely throwing her in the deep-end.  He wasn't so sure about just cutting their newest bandmate loose in here, though if he was honest, she was probably far more at home at a party than he was.   She'd just come up and they'd accepted her, it didn't seem right to not at least make sure she could get ahold of someone if she needed any help.  "You still have my number right, in case something comes up?"  His tone was anything but patronizing, he knew enough to know if things did go south here, they'd go hard, fast and in a hurry.   


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In the face of Yukiko's impassive bluntness, Fisher could responded that it probably wasn't luck. He could have pointed out that his Band had worked well together, both in small groups, and as a whole. He could have mentioned that they'd done everything while having multiple newer Scions pumped through the Band by their mentors. That their collective mentors had done so because they regarded his Band that much more highly than the Donner Party.

He could have said all these things, but chose not to. Fisher had learned the consequences of letting his emotional grievances take the reins. He was not going to make the same mistake twice.

So Fisher simply smiled politely at Yukiko. "I see. Would you please explain it to me then?" At worst, she'd probably call him a lucky fool some more. And if he was lucky, he might just learn something.

"Luck?"  She craned her head to look at him, her long parted slightly allowing him to see her pale face hidden behind a curtain of shadow.  "It's when you bungle through experience after experience with no real measure of talent or skill."

"What it means to be Amatsukami." Fisher replied, keeping his expression under control.

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"I know about you, Fisher Capra," she said simply.  She peered through hair and craning her head in a spooky manner from side to side to see him through the strands.  "You are one of the 'American Otaku'.  Most Japanese women, myself included, are not particularly fond of your type.  You adopt a culture you know nothing about, which is evident by your having to ask me what it means to be Amatsukami, and thing that what you read or see in those stupid magazines movies is in anyway real or true.  Fantasies of lonely, delusional boys is all they are."

"Do you know how many of your type asked me if I was into cosplay, or had a stream they could subscribe to when I first arrived here?  It was disgusting, they were disgusting."  She scoffed.  "Have you even set down your comic books long enough to read the works of Yamamoto Tsunetomo?  If so, then you've willfully chosen to ignore his teachings which is more disgraceful than not having read them at all."  She sighed.  A part of her remembered that it wasn't Fisher's fault she hated all the manga/anime like him.  For the most part he'd never wronged her in any way, yet, besides being an Otaku.  Her defenses seemed to break, somewhat, at the fact that he was a fellow Amatsukami.

"Learn and understand Honor and Duty.  Are you even aware of what your duty is beyond 'beat up titanspawn'?"  She turned to face him.  "We are not just warriors blindly running off to slay on a whim.  We are defenders, warriors, poets and philosophers.  You are a child who reads comic books and watches cartoons.  I short, Fisher Capra, I am Amatsukami.  I've no idea what you think you are, but it is not one of us."

"If my words seem harsh, I assure you, they are kinder than what you would receive from a true Amatsukami mentor."

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"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.  

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[Grim]  “W-we do, yes,” Geri answered, trying in vain to conceal the sudden blush in her cheeks.  “Grimsley and I had ourselves quite an adventure once.”

“Oh didyounow?”  Melanie, cooed.  “Do tell, do tell.”

“I will not,” Geri’s chin raised a bit.  “Perhaps another time, but there is a time for such tales and this revel hasn’t the proper mood for our tale.  W-what are you doing here of all places?”  She seemed at a loss for where to even begin questioning him.  “I, um, well, I ended up with a bit of a demotion in status, as you can see.”  She looked down, holding her arms out slightly.  “They’re calling it ‘working leave’ but they’ve practically stripped me of all my power and sent me to perform mundane tasks here in the World.  Not, cool.”

“Yeah,” Ayame complained on her behalf.  “It’s totally not fair and I’m guessing it has something to do with you.”  Her glare fixed on grim.

Melanie chuckled.  “Pop a pill Ayame.  It’s only temporary.”

Geri nodded.  “True.  I obviously need more experience and training.  I’m accepting my punis-‘working leave’, in the omst positive light I can, plus, I’ve got girlfriends now!”  Grim leaned away, possibly in abject horror, as they all squee’d and hugged.

“So?”  Geri she held out her arms again and looked down.  “Whatcha think of the avatar?  Pretty bangin', right?  Freya did me a solid.  Full metabolism package, gym butt, abs, no need to watch what I eat and immortality.  New model, too.  I've got everything but XM Radio and GPS.”  She slugged him playfully in the arm.  “Want me to get you one?  I know people.”  She smiled.  “So you and Salem?  Deets, c’mon…”

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"Blunt... but I take your point." Fisher admitted in the face of Yukiko's withering critique.

In defense of anime and manga, to conflate them with Western comic books and cartoons was drastically unfair. Fisher had always enjoyed some of them, yes. But he'd found anime and manga to be different. They presented a much greater variety of genres and concepts, and richer, deeper stories. It was not just the epic fight scenes associated with Dragonball Abridged, but there were the intricate, masterful strategies of Legend of Galactic Heroes, the wacky yet passionate adventures of One Piece, just to name a few.

In short, they resonated with him in a way that just felt right. So learning he was the child of a Japanese goddess seemed fitting. Being blamed for the actions of some guys who needed to take a chill pill was unfair, and shouldn't be an indictment of the art form.

But Fisher recognized that the Amatsukami was millennia older than Astro Boy. He'd only focused his efforts on studying the beings and monsters of Japanese myth, and the stories, to a lesser extent, while neglecting the culture behind it. "So... Yamamoto Tsunetomo. What else do you recommended I look up?"

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On 7/6/2021 at 3:55 PM, Austin Lange said:

Austin looked to Val and smiled, at least outwardly.   This was definitely throwing her in the deep-end.  He wasn't so sure about just cutting their newest bandmate loose in here, though if he was honest, she was probably far more at home at a party than he was.   She'd just come up and they'd accepted her, it didn't seem right to not at least make sure she could get ahold of someone if she needed any help. 

"You still have my number right, in case something comes up?"  His tone was anything but patronizing, he knew enough to know if things did go south here, they'd go hard, fast and in a hurry.   

"Yeah, I'm sure I got it. It's cool though, don't sweat the small stuff." the young Aesir said with a grin as she gave Austin a firm slap on the back. "It's a party. Chill. Mingle. Carouse. Just keep an eye out and have some fuuuuun." Valerie gave Austin a few more pats on the back and began to meander in with the rest of the band and others.

Once inside Valerie took it all in and it was kind of amazing. All of the mortals and 'non-mortals' intermingling, talking, dancing, dancing making out was a bit of a sigh to behold. Granted, most of the partygoers did not have the benefit of the sight her divine heritage granted her, but even without she she had to imagine it would still be pretty impressive.

Valerie scanned the crowd on occasion as she walked around a little, getting her bearing a bit, and nodded to a friend or acquaintance who she's make eye contact with. Eventually she found herself close to a bar area and a 'zombie' on its back upon a table and slightly squirming. Its abdomen was burst open and full of ice and bottles of beer, seemingly weighing it down. For a moment she wondered if the zombie was real or not, but shrugged and pulled an frosty bottle of beer from the ice-filled torso none the less and popped it open with one of the many bottle openers impaled into, and hanging from, various parts of its body.

After taking a swig of the amber colored bottle contents Valerie made her way to the dance floor for a bit, dancing with all manner and gender of mortal and non-mortal, friend and stranger alike and without hesitation, joining the writing mass of flesh and color. It was a party, she we a teen who had spent a summer in Iceland, and she was going to enjoy herself some, even if she at least tried to nurse her beer a bit.

Se had no idea how much time had passed by the time she exited the dancefloor to take a break. Her beer had warmed, but the bottle, which was still at least somewhat cool, she pressed to her forehead as she closed her eyes, cooling off for a moment as she caught her breath.

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On 7/7/2021 at 3:02 AM, Dave ST said:

“So?”  Geri she held out her arms again and looked down.  “Whatcha think of the avatar?  Pretty bangin', right?  Freya did me a solid.  Full metabolism package, gym butt, abs, no need to watch what I eat and immortality.  New model, too.  I've got everything but XM Radio and GPS.”  She slugged him playfully in the arm.  “Want me to get you one?  I know people.”  She smiled.  “So you and Salem?  Deets, c’mon…”

"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."

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[Fisher] “Just so were clear,” Yokiko’s eyes narrowed.  “For all your scholastic achievements and intellect, you need to come to me to tell you how to perform basic research into a culture that you chose to adopt a long ago?”

“Fisher,” she sighed.  “Learn about us,” she knew that he meant her and the Amatsukami as she seemed to continuously exclude him from being a part of it.  “Learn the traditions, the culture, and for Amatarasu’s sake, understand and abide them.  I’m not going to give you a shopping list of authors, you’re grown and a Scion besides, take the initiative and learn.  I will tell you this, however: you are no longer an individual.  Everything you do reflects upon your Band and vice versa.  You are one.  One entity, one force, one guiding principle and you need to decide your place within the Band.  Will you lead it?  Will you remind it of its duty, it’s purpose when times are at their most grim?  Would you sacrifice yourself for any of them, or the World in the performance of your duties?”

She held up a hand to protest any quick replies or arguments.  “Don’t tell me your answer.  I don’t care.  I’ve watched you, knowing you to be a fellow Scion,” the way she failed to mention a fellow member of their shared pantheon was not lost on him.  “And thus far, I’m not impressed.  You have a long way to go without the benefit of the mentors and guides I’ve had, but if you wish to educate yourself then the answer is simple: learn.  I do not mean to be harsh with you, but you don’t need a friend, Fisher, you need a guide.”


[Valerie] The music thundered all around Valerie as the heat of the bodies surrounding her began to bless them all with the well-earned glisten on the skin that decent Sonic Therapy was known for.  The music was everything from metal to pop to hip-hip all remixed into various energetic beats that kept them moving no matter their preference.  Across the dance floor she could see the tell-tale burrito top flounder about the heads of the crowd, and it made her chuckle inwardly that her cousin had no qualms about enjoying a good time.

Drink in hand she closed her eyes to let her hips sway to the flow.  She felt a pair of hands gently rest on them but thought nothing of it at first; touching or rubbing against a partner or fellow reveler was nothing outside of the ordinary, especially with as much designer drugs pumping through a crowd like this.  Even as they slid across the slick surface of her heated and sticky abs Valerie let the beat own them both.

It wasn’t until those hands slid a bit too high and the tips of her mystery partner’s finger tried slide under her cheerleader crop top that she broke away and spun around, ready to set the imbecile straight.  Sure enough, it was an imbecile too.

“Valerie!”  Horace ‘Yak-My-Lunch-Because-He-Touched-Me’ Farrow, greeted her with a slimy smile.  He was all of hundred and thirty pounds, soaking wet with rocks in his pockets, so why he chose to come as a shirtless Pharaoh was beyond the new Aesir.  “Didn’t know you were back!  Summer really did a number on you, huh?  Wow, damn girl, you are looking fine as hell…” he spun a finger around his face.  “When did uh… all of uhh…” he cupped invisible breasts in front of him, making them bounce and he pantomimed lifting them.  “That happen? 


[Grimsley] “You too,” she returned smiled like a schoolgirl with a crush and there was an awkward moment of tension, like neither was sure of they should shake hands or start to make out, or what?

Finally, Melanie was kind enough to elbow her side as the nereid rolled her eyes.  Geri straightened, stammering a bit.  “Um,” she giggled sheepishly.  “Ma-maybe uh, when you have more time, we can…” she reached over and thumbed the lock of her hair Grimsley always kept with him.  “Maybe… pick up where left off?”

She pulled back her hand, and now suddenly way more embarrassed than she expected to be, changed the subject.  “B-but, trust your Band, kay?  Until recently I was in Asgard and I’ve heard all the gossip.  They’re rough around the edges, but you guys have the eye of Odin,” she winced at the poor wording.  “I mean… you know what I mean.  Thor demanded to come down personally and set that Donner guy straight, but Odin has forbidden it.  Vidar is currently in a lot of trouble for visiting Midgard without permission.  Something is really wrong in Salem, Grimsley and I think you and your Band are the key to saving the Wo-“ at that moment an eight-foot tall burrito with a Corona in hand, danced past, skipping along with nothing but a series of pelvic thrusts and booty shakes before dissolving into the crowd.  “-rld.”

She unceremoniously pointed in the burrito’s direction.  “Okay, maybe not that guy.”

Melanie developed an almost predatory look in her eyes and smirked devilishly.  “Excuse me, will you?  I am suddenly very, very hungry and that man looked delicious.”  She scooted from the couch and chased off after the dancing burrito.

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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?


"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?"



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?"

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Okay, seriously, what was Yukiko's problem here? What was wrong with one or two recommendations to use as a good starting point? Apparently, Yukiko was very much part of the Donner Party, able to tell him about how the Band reflected on oneself without a trace of awareness as to the irony. Fisher was tempted to open his mouth and call her out on it, but his skin prickled for a moment, phantom chills from Jigoku running down his neck.

No, he was better off simply taking what worthwhile suggestions she had presented and let the mockery slide off like water off a duck's back. "This was very enlightening, Yukiko. Thank you. Please excuse me." Fisher turned and walked off, finishing off his Irish Coffee. At this point, he was tempted to get another one, to take his mind off the Scion of Susanoo's edged and pompous lecture.

Fisher shook his head, realizing he shouldn't let it weigh on his mind. Let Yukiko sneer, his Band would speak for itself tonight, through deeds, not words. That said, he did feel like another drink. Yes, how about a martini, shaken not stirred. Just to see if James Bond was onto something there.

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The unbidden exploration of strange hands brought forth a flash of anger in the young Aesir. She was fine with dancing, grinding and even a bit of groping, but her anonymous 'partner' had crossed an unspoken, but generally understood, line when his hands tried to under her top.

"What the hell?" she seethed as she spun around to look at her mysterious assailant and saw that it was her former friend, now generally pervy slimeball, Horace Farrow. Her anger subsided ever-so-slightly as a new feeling, that of general revulsion at the realization that it was his hands that had just been on her and had tried to slip under her crop top. 

"Damnit Horace, keep your hands to yourself." she chastised him as she unconsciously she brushed her hips, sides and bare abs, wiping away some phantasmal filth from where his hands has touched her.

"What? Is that how you say 'hi' to an old friend? So glad to see ya! You fill out that uniform good! Seriously. This just made my day." he said as he looked her over from head to toe once more, biting his bottom lip. "So yeah, you never answered. When did you get the ba-dow!?" he asked, miming grasping large, invisible breasts.

"When I got away from you." she barked back. "I would ask about you, but you're still just a sac of bones."

"So you look at my sac?" he asked with a grin, adjusting himself beneath the costume.

Valerie rolled her eyes and sneered in disgust. "You are so gross."

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[Grimsley] A thousand and one thoughts raced through Grim’s mind as his heart seemed to thunder like a drum.  Was this what panic attacks felt like?  If so, yeah, he could understand why they sucked.  Geri?  Here!?  Wanting to hook up even like not even a day had passed since they parted ways?  She looked amazing, was certainly assertive and knew what she wanted and... oh, yeah, was a fricking Valkyrie!

There wasn’t enough booze in the world to settle his nerves right now.  He walked from the room, turning the corner and took the hallway into another room where even more people were amassed talking and dancing, completely oblivious that they were at a Halloween party with THE Salem Witches, like the OGs of modern witchcraft and urban myth.

Someone made the mistake of setting down a drink and Grimsley simply moved right past, never breaking stride and accepted the offer as his own.  It lasted two gulps in a vain attempt to slow his heartrate and collect his thoughts.  He glanced back down from where he’d come from, wondering if maybe he should go back and talk to her and as he paused in thought a small, but half-filled glass with dark liquor panned into his field of vision.

“Try this, mate,” offered a man he’d never seen before but immediately recognized from description.  Tall, well-groomed, dark hair, handsome features and a slight mingle of ‘All-Over-Europe’ in his Mediterranean accent.  The older man seemed out of place surrounded by so many teenagers and college students, yet he possessed a certain animal magnetism that justified his presence, like the awesome college professor every student wanted to sleep with.  “If it’s any consolation, when it comes to ladies, it gets easier.  All that anxiety you’re carrying around, I’ve been there, I was always so afraid of what everyone thought or what to do, or what to say… to simpler times, eh?”  He offered Grimsley the glass with a slight raise of it.  “Go on, I’m not the fun police, I promise not to tell your foster family, if you don’t tell them, I offered it, agreed?”

He smirked.  “Name’s Marius, and you must be Elliðagrimmr Odinsson.  Pleasure, heard so much about you.”


[Fisher]  He’d mingled for a few moments, trying to understand where and how he’d gotten off on the wrong foot with Yokiko while trying to do the mental gymnastics on how she justified her actions over his when it came to band dynamics.

The kitchen.  Drink central.  Where everyone who thinks they’re a budding mixologist comes to poison their fellow party goers with concoctions they ‘saw in a YouTube video’ and claim ‘you’re going to love this, bro’.  Alcohol poisoning is not uncommon in a kitchen at a hard-core mixer like the one he was attending.

The place was huge.  He could have fit three of his kitchens at home in this place.  Booze and snacks took up all the real estate on the counter tops and two kegs were on ice on the breakfast nook table in front of the bay window.  It was packed with people and swerved and gave the pat on the shoulder for others to know he was trying to get through while aimlessly wandering about the house hope see something, notice something and…

…there they were.  Lancia and Porche, Mercedes’ personal entourage were chatting up a couple of guys over the kegs.  Where those two were, Mercedes wasn’t far behind.  Lancia and Porche were drop dead gorgeous and two of the meanest girls in school after Mercedes herself.  Lancia was a beautiful redhead who’d forsaken her normally long, flowing hair in place of a poofy red afro wig and clothes that looked like she’d purchased them from a Goodwill.  Porsche was a dazzling brunette who was filling out her Wonder Woman costume just as, if not better than, Gal Gadot ever could.  In fact she was more proportioned to the comic book demigoddess than Hollywood ever could have hoped for.


[Valerie] “Am I though?  I mean, come on,” he protested, gesturing to her.  “Your ass cheeks are hanging out of a leather skirt and let’s face it, summer was kind to you girl, how could I resist not wanting to touch that body.”  He had a fanciful charm all his own.  “Plus, all that pink?  I ever tell you pink get me to full chub in no time.  Like Victoria Secret, or uh, Valerie’s Secret,” he chuckled.

It was a wonder how he was still single.

“Oh,” his tone changed along with his posture, indicating he was done being a douche for at least a moment.  “My uh, uncle, Seth… he wants to know if you and yours are coming by for Thanksgiving.  I told him I didn’t know that you were too busy being edgy as fuck to give a shit.  Pass it on to your dad, yeah?”


[Austin]  The music was loud and the scene was bumpin’.  As far as parties went, this one was pretty lit, the son of Poseidon just wished he was here under different circumstances.  He passed by Fisher as him and Yokiko were talking, offering his bandmate a nod and her a slight smile in passing.

Nothing really seemed to be going on out of the ordinary, well, aside from there being innumerable titanspwn partying with the spirits and minor gods of all the known pantheons and he was pretty sure he just passed a medusa making out with a harpy… which was… something he could have gone his whole life without witnessing.

He shook off the chills and mild nausea and sorted himself through the throngs of people heading for the exit and somewhere less crowded.  He’d almost made it when a gently had gripped his arm.  He turned to see who was getting his attention and his eyes fell on a lovely Asian woman whose silvery hair was streaked with waves of pink and worn long in a traditional topknot and bound tight with a bow.  She wore a white kimono with silvery accents in the patterns of waves across the fabric.  Her eyeshadow and lipstick were in muted tones of silver and her eyes were glacial white, like Grimsley’s scared eye.

“Hold on you,” she smiled wide.  Her accent was about as American as it could get, her English crisp like someone who was a natural speaker.  “I feel like dancing,” she met his eyes for a split second before pulling him along.  “And you’re the cutest guy in the room, so come on, this is happening.”

She looked back long enough to wink at him and offer him half of a smile.

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"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?"

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