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

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Quit Yer Witchin'!

 

...times are tough for the heroic Band of Scions! A couple days ago Homecoming proved to be a powerful lesson in what could happen when the powers of divine Birthrights fell into the hands of the inexperienced or became a tool for mortal greed.

Now, All Hallow's Eve is quickly approaching Salem and the ancient spirits of three of history's most powerful witches were summoned from the Underworld and took possession of the bodies of Salem's citizenry, but who are they? What could they be planning?

Desperate for answers the Band continues to research by day and hunt by night, hoping to find any activity that might lead them to the hidden identities of Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam.

More importantly... Mercedes Rhodes is throwing her legendary, annual Halloween party and all of Shelly High is invited!

 

The Old Stables, 48 hours before the party...

Darcy stood at the makeshift table which was nothing more than a large piece of plywood set on stacked milk crates. A large map of Salem was unfolded, marked in numerous places in red sharpie. She nicked off two more spots on the map. “Well, that's St. Mary's and Greenlawn,” she sighed looking at the map, crossing the two cemetery's off. “Jackson Park was a bust, and King Town Forrest was a no go.”

Just a few harpies and an edgy nymph trying to play pranks on a homeless guy,” Rachel shrugged.  Wolf nuzzled her his his giant head and she smirked at him and scratched under his chin.  He was getting larger by the day and had already grew from the size of a pony to a full grown horse.

That leaves Harmony Grove Cemetery and it'll take all of us to scour Salem Woods,” in a pique of frustration she tossed the sharpie onto the table. “This is hopeless. We don't even know whose bodies they jumped into. We are literally looking for a needle in a needle stack.”

I'm concerned about who they might be, but one thing is certain and that Marius is behind this.” Rachel added. “And by that I mean, he set this up for those three specific souls to be summoned, why them? We already know he's up to know he's up to no good, but what do these three know that he needed to go through all of this to get them here?”

Agreed,” Grim said calmly. “Finding them is just as important as knowing why they were summoned to begin with. Unfortunately, Fisher and I have tried everything and as long as they are riding the living, our eyes can not detect them. These are proficient witches, to be sure.”

I'm really not liking this magic crap.” Rachel huffed. “What about Niles? He was there, he uses magic and, he's a Scion too, now, I guess? Couldn't he have been possessed?”

Austin, who was sitting on some crates texting Yokiko, shook his head. “No. The way the souls left, they shot off and out into the school and the surrounding area, away from the room, Todd and Niles. My guess is it's three people in the school.”

Your guess?” The band's blonde leader snapped at Austin, her arms crossed and tone superior.

Austin shrugged. “You have something better?” There was a pregnant pause as he clicked the side of his phone to shut it off and tucked it into his jacket pocket. “Yeah, didn't think so.”

Guys,” Nadya leaned on the table next to Darcy. “Can we wait until after we've solved this before we start killing each other? We have a serious issue to address and being at each other's throats is only going to make our jobs harder.”

The red cap slid back onto the Sharpie and Fisher set the pen down on the map. “She's right, guys. We need to stay focused and find someway to locate these witches before they can cause too much of a problem.”

Nadya looked at Fisher like he was nuts. “What? No, I meant Mercedes' Halloween party! Guys, I just got my body back and we haven't properly partied in months. So, who's going as what?”

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Everyone looked back at Nadya like she was nuts, given her choice of priorities. But then Fisher slowly bit his lip and thought for a moment. "Actually, Nadya might have a point. Location searches clearly aren't working for us. Now, if Austin's assumption is correct and they did possess students, then Mercedes' party is the best way to learn if anyone has been acting differently. It doesn't seem like we have any other options."

"See!" Nadya crowed, pumping a fist in vindication. "It's a good thing I figured this all out for you guys."

Fisher rolled his eyes. "Of course you did. I'll have to think about what I'm going as..." Darcy interrupted him by coming over and whispering in his ear. Fisher blinked, then nodded. "Okay, and you would be..." His face blushed, then turned into a big grin. "Really?! Okaaay then, if you're up for it." Darcy's cheeks flushed, but she nodded.

"Right, spill!" Nadya demanded, sensing something very juicy here, juicier than a rare steak that Wolf might have torn from hapless prey. Darcy smiled at her. "It's a couple's thing. No spoilers."

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Posted (edited)

"Giant burrito."  Dane announced his presence by smiling wide and patting Wolf on his hindquarters as he walked past him to meet the others at the table.  While not an official member of their band, he'd agreed that whatever those witches planned it was bad news for Salem and had offered his help as best as he could provide it.  Most often he was one of the only neutral Scions in Salem High and wasn't a native to Salem but had moved up from Florida over the summer to live with his aunt.  Other Scions whispered that something had happened down in Florida and the only reason he didn't have a band now was, well, there was nothing left of his old one.  Afterwards, it was rumored, he'd turned to copious amounts of weed to dull the memories.  Now the calm musician was living his best by simply enjoying all that life had to offer and hoping his Legend faded into obscurity.

Nadya crossed her arms.  Feeling particularly fiendish she decided to prank Dane, knowing he was well out of wits at the moment.  Messing with high people never got old.  "We're out of burritos, you ate them all.  Besides, we don't have electricity here yet, so we couldn't nuke it for you even if we had them."

"No!  I mean, me!  I'm going as a giant burrito."  He smiled again.  As expected he was high as a godling could be on something medicinal that not even Nadya could get her hands on.

"Why?"  Rachel asked, unable to grasp why anyone in their right mind would want to dress up like a giant burrito.

"Why not?  I really like burritos, man."  He nodded along with his proclamation in his southern Californian surfers drawl.  Then something occurred to him.  "Wait, without the electricity, how are you keeping the burritos frozen out here?"  He pondered not realizing there were no actual burritos, nor something to keep them cool in, nor something to nuke them in had they existed to begin with.

"Grmsley's icy stare." She said flatly, smirking slightly to see down what avenue this revelation would take his incredibly impaired cognitive skills.

He pondered for a moment and then nodded and smiled that Keanu smile of his like everything just clicked into place.  He looked at Grimsley and pumped a fist of appreciation towards his fell Aesir.  "Right on, brother.  Doing your part for Burritodom.  Respect."  Through pursed lips of appreciation for Grimsley's frigid sacrifices to Burritodom across the World, Dane approached his 'brother' with arms wide open, meaning for a brother hug of solidarity: the burrito lover, and the burrito... freezer.

"Don't touch me,"  Grimsley said softly and without a shred of emotion or concern for his words.  He looked to the moronic blonde Scion and couldn't help but hate the fact that he couldn't help but like him.  Despite how perfectly designed, perfectly idiotic, and perfectly annoying Dane Summer was, the Son of Baldur was never anything short of absolutely likeable.  Others would go through life scarred and broken.  Wracked with trials of pain and misery in a vain attempts to earn the favor of a parent that would never care, Dane's father would shower upon him all the nicest toys and the finest gifts Asgard had to offer.  Don't even get Grimsley started on Dane's Grandmother.  He changed his posture to look up at his stoned cousin.  "Well?  Did you handle the one simple task you were given?"

"Totes."  He grinned, unphased by Grimsley's lack of love (it was early and he was cranky, he'd hug him later).  "And nadda.  Went over the whole pier, and zilch, bruh.  Things are definitely spooky though.  Dead birds falling from the sky, and Mrs. Cunningham's garden shriveled up and went 'pffft' over night.  Seriously bad juju, hombres.  Oh!  I did run into Chelsea, from school!  I was coming out of Drip with snackisfaction for maximum grindage ops, and she was like 'oh my gawd, Dane' and I was like 'oh my gawd, Chelsea' and we got to talking."  He nodded and looked about as everyone waited to see where the story was going.  Finally he just shrugged and shook his head.  "Th-that's it...  Oh!  Wait, no..." Everyone looked with anticipation as Dane could have found the lead they were looking for.  "She rescued a kitten last week.  She showed me pic on her phone, and named the lil' guy Milo.  Really cute."

He nodded, proud that he could relay that to the rest of them.

Edited by Dave ST

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"I'm not certain which terrifies me more."  Grimsley said as he sighed and went back to perusing the map on the table.  "The spirits of three vengeful witches abroad at Halloween, the fact I understood most of what Dane just said, or the fact that someone is about to try and convince me I have to go to Mercedes' Halloween party - and dress up to do so."

"You don't want to go?"  Nadya stared at him as though he'd turned into a big goopy earthworm and drooled on her favorite boots.

"Grim, we have to go."  Fisher sighed, bracing himself for once more trying to wrangle an Aesir every bit as hard-headed as Rachel but with the added perils of being smarter and more verbally agile, too.  The scion of Odin's upraised hand forestalled the pitch, however.

"I know."  he said waspishly, glaring for a moment at them all.  "I know that not going would be considered a diplomatic insult amongst the god-born.  I know that the spirits of the witches are going to most likely be inhabiting students who will be in attendance.  I know that, also, a party on Halloween itself is going to be the very best time for said spectres to try something, simply because the energies of that night are too good to pass up.  I know that the party is going to be 'lit'.  I know I have to be there."

"But..?"  Rachel said with a frown.

"But I don't know how to party."  Grim admitted with a faint shrug, his pale features darkening a little so that the scars on his face stood out against his flush.  "I never used to get invited to parties.  I'm as out of my depth as Wolf would be in calculus.  And I hate being out of my depth."  He added with a scowl and a gimlet-eyed stare that dared anyone to laugh at his woes.

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"You've got Nadya, and the rest of us,  to show you the ropes, and you're a quick learner right?  What could possibly go wrong?"    Rachel looked at Austin and socked him, lightly for her, on the arm.   "Hey now.." The hit wouldn't have been so gentle for a normal person.   He looked at their erstwhile leader.  "You know better than to tempt fate by saying stuff like that Austin."

Austin shrugged.  "Seriously, though, We're all going, and I'll be more concerned by the presence of so many like us.  At least we'll all be there to deal with anything that might happen.   I mean our interactions with the other band aren't the greatest at times, and if the witches are possessing students, we might need their help to subdue them all."

Rachel was quick to point out.  "You and Yokiko seem to be getting along well."   

Austin gave her a charming yet somewhat smug grin.  "Well we do have a fair bit in common."

"What are you going to the party as?"   

Austin shrugged.   "I don't really know, I hadn't put alot of thought into it yet."

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Posted (edited)

The loud purr of a three cylinders engine could be heard outside the stables, as Dale's Triumph parked not far from the entrance. A black cat ventured at the entrance of the stables, but advising the horse-sized wolf suddenly staring at him, decided outside would definitely be quieter, its figure disappearing to be replaced by a pleasant human shape, truly a sight for sore eyes, holding her dull black brain bucket, painted on the back with a red mask straight out from horror tales, by the straps. She pulled down her bandana, yellow with black stripes, and pushed her dark glasses above her forehead, greeting everyone with a face brightened by the ride she just had.

"Hey guys ! Sorry for being late, fuel station was loaded. What'd I miss ?"

They glanced at the newcomer. "Hey, Dale. You didn't miss... much..." Rachel replied, after casting a short and amused gaze at the blond son of Baldur, high as can be, across the table.

Edited by Dale Garcia

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"Fisher and Darcy are going to the Halloween party as a disturbing pair of characters from some anime or other.  I suspect cross-dressing will be part of the cute 'couples thing'.  Nadya is figuring out what to wear which, if patterns hold true, will doubtless be of the 'less is more' school of thought, and tight enough that it will require corn starch to get into."  Grim's tone was mildly acidic with a hint of caustic, a sure sign that the scion of Odin was not in a felicitous mood.  "Dane will go as a giant burrito-"

"Awesome idea, right?!"  Baldur's son piped up.

"-which will, at least, make him easy to find in the horde of pirates, naughty nurses, Harley Quinn pastiches and 'Girl Whose Daddy Didn't Buy Them A Pony So They Became A Stripper' costumes that will be at Mercedes' party.  Austin hasn't put a lot of thought into it, which seems par for the course.  Rachel will likely go as something practical in case she needs to throw down... But it will be pink."  Grim's mismatched gaze, one eye verdant green and the other, scarred eye a frozen grey fixed on Dale.  "I will be going, because it's the most likely place for the spirits of the witches we're hunting to show up, probably skin-riding Salem High students and using the revels as cover for fuckery on a scale I'm not sure I want to contemplate."

He limped over to a spare milk crate and sat down, thin lips in a straight line as he rubbed at his calf muscle.  His morning workouts were making him stronger, but the stiffness that followed was not pleasant for the healing youth.  "And now you're up to date.  You're welcome."

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Nadya gave the newest member of their Band a quick once over, impish grin on her face and silvery-grey eyes alight. Chin cupped in her hands, elbows propped on the makeshift table, her hips rolled fluidly from side to side as she shifted her weight.

"Don't mind Grumps over there, Dale. Grim doesn't know how to party and is now getting thrown into the deep end." Her grin widened and she flashed Grim a teasing wink. "Sink or swim time, Loquacious One."

"Loquacious?" Grim drawled. His other eye was as grey and barren and unyielding as an overcast sky over a coal-mining town in winter.

"I read," Nadya asserted with the slightest pout. Grim's grey eye seemed to convey extra... greyness. Nadya chuffed in irritation. "I have one of those word-a-day calendars, 'kay?" Grim's chin lowered, his gaze unwavering, as though looking at her over a pair of bifocals. Nadya rolled her eyes as she stood up and stretched. "So, I only got to February fourteenth, what about it?"

Nadya sauntered lithely about the table, chunky-heeled boots barely a whisper, and sidled up to Dane. She hooked an arm through his, and reached up with the other to ruffle his blond mane. "It's a good thing you're yummy-cute and have the best herb, Burritosson."

Dane smiled as though he'd just won an Oscar. "Wanna go with me, Moonbaby? We can do the couples thing like Darce and the Fishman. You'd make a foooine taco."

Nadya laughed, then leaned around him to stick her tongue out at Grim. "I ain't figuring out nothing, Grim." Fisher snicked and Nadya shot him a friendly finger without looking back. "I have my costume ready to go. And yes, it is tight and super slooty. And has a hint of Salem folklore, for that little bit class. I'm going as Abigail Breslin-"

"Williams," Fisher and Darcy said in saccharine synchronicity.

"-Williams, one of Salem's most famous witches." Nadya's grin barred some teeth as her turned her attention towards Dale and Rachel. "And I aim to misbehave. So whaddaya say Rae-Rae, Dale, wanna join me in painting targets on our backs to try and draw out these wicked bitches?"

 

Edited by Nadya Lunălescu

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"Well," Rachel shrugged.  "I can't promise 'super slooty'," Rae air quoted.  "But, honestly, I don't have a costume picked out yet, so, yeah.  If you're looking to provoke them, then, yeah, count me in.  Something tells me you'll need back up, eventually.  Besides, it'll give me an opportunity to keep an eye on Dale."  Grim rolled his eyes and offered their brash 'leader' a sake of the head.

"Perhaps you'd like to insult her lineage or question her intentions, you know, just get that ou of the way now so we don't have to deal with it later?"  Grim added with an icy chill from the frozen winters of his bloodline.

"I was sort of waiting until day two," Rachel shot back with a quick witted response.  "You know, space it out, learn from previous abrasive meetings and all that?"  For the briefest of moments Grim was at a slight loss of how to reply, after all, she seemed to be playing up to her shortcomings and that took a lot of ammo from her taunter's camps.  She quickly followed up before anyone could agree or disagree with her assessment.  "Look, I know I'm a bit... intense, sometimes, guys.  We have our problems, right?  I'm dealing with my own shit, just like you and sometimes, okay, most times, that bleeds over into this and dealing with all of you and them."  She motioned to nowhere, just pointing back towards the city and it was obvious she probably meant the other Band.  "I'm trying, guys.  I really am.  I know most of you are pissed at me for one reason or another," she gave a passing glance to Grim.  "And I'm not saying you don't have a right to be, but I'm dealing as best I can.  I'm not perfect.  None of us are.  So, yeah, call me on my bullshit if you feel the need, but we're still in this together and Dale is new to all of this.  I want her close so I can keep an eye on her of things go south.  To get her back, if she needs it."

"Rae-Rae," Nadya asked softly.  "Are you okay?  Do you need to talk?"

"No, Nadya, no.  I'm pretty fucking far from okay right now," Rachel said flatly.  "And no, I don't want to talk.  I'll deal with my problems on my own.  No offense, I just don't think you guys would get it.  Let's just focus on the witches and how we're going to send these witches back to..." she waved her hand about.  "Wherever they came from.  Speaking of, how do we excorcise spirits from a possessed person?"

Everyone looked to everyone else as the sudden realization kicked in that even if they knew which students were possessed, they had no means of extricating the the witch's spirit from the body.  Finally after a long awkward silence of contemplation and confusion, Dane raised his hand sheepishly.  "Uhh, I might know someone who might know.  She's a bit intense, but, she knows about this stuff... ghosts and what not.  I could hit her up."

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Fisher promptly marked a mental note to talk to Rachel about her problems. Yes, she sounded like she'd hit anyone who actually tried, but Fisher was her friend. She wouldn't do that to him. And besides, she'd pulled the whole 'none of your business, personal issues are my own thing' about Billy Troup back at Racks and Rhinestones, but Fisher had calmly called bull, pointed some things out and now Rachel and Billy were dating. All thanks to Fisher. Well, partly - but he'd given her the first clear nudge to think things through, and that'd gotten the ball rolling, right? Right.

Now, to Dane's suggestion. On the one hand, Dane was a nice guy. On the other hand, he thought going as a giant burrito was a good idea, and possibly replaced a sizable portion of his gray matter with marijuana. On the other other hand, they didn't have any other options right now. Conclusion: cautious inquiry. "Mind giving us some more details about her?" Fisher asked.

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Grim, by contrast to Fisher, was less than sympathetic to popular, pretty and healthy Rachel's problems, whatever they were.  He wryly mused to himself that no, he probably wouldn't 'get it', though he did award her grudging points for owning her mistakes in dealing with him.  As his thin fingers eased the knot of pain in his leg, he took up his staff from where it leaned against the wall and got to his feet, coming back to the planning table and nodding in silent acknowledgement of the athletic blonde's words.  Rachel was indeed right - they were in this together and needed to have each other's backs.

"Do the details matter overmuch?"  he asked rhetorically.  "Most exorcisms involve a spiritual wrestling match, focus and will against focus and will.  Ceremonial trappings differ from culture to culture, and are important only in that they are recognised by both spirit and exorcist as important.   Dane's friend, if she has practical knowledge of such things-"  he shot his 'cousin' a glance and a nod "-is likely as intense a personality as he suggests.  And the easiest way to take her measure is to go and meet her rather than interrogate Dane.  I'll go with him."  He added, glancing around at the others.  "Anyone else?"

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"Ohh,"  Dane sucked his teeth.  "Yeah, see... that's kind of the thing... we sort of have uh, history?"  It was unlike the golden boy of Baldur to appear at a loss of confidence or hesitate when it came to helping out others, but this time, he certainly seemed put off at the idea of meeting up with Adrianna.  "I mean, Adrianna's cool, she's just intense.  Her dad has her wound pretty tight, not that that's a bad thing.  In return for unflagging loyalty and devotion she's awarded anything and everything she desires.  The harder she works, the more rewarded she is, and cousins, she is rewarded, a lot."

He shrugged.  "Near as I can remember she is a Collector.  Not of like Pop!s on her book shelf or anything, like things her father has lost or discovered and wants back or added to his wealth of nick-nacks.  If she manages to deliver it we're talking black credit cards, vacations in Cancun, shopping sprees in Italy, you name it.  So, bringing this to her attention will set her into business-mode, and more than likely be enough to convince her to help us.  I remembering her having a Birthright, a medallion, that allowed her to retrieve objects that belonged to her father or that he some sort of claim on.  It could, I don't know, absorb the object into the medallion so she could transport it to her father."

"I don't see how that helps us," Grim looked at his cousin.  "These are ghosts, not scultures and fine art."

"True," Dane nodded.  "But her father is Hades, and last I checked the only dead that leave his Realm are the ones he's given his personal permission to do so.  I highly doubt Todd filled out the proper paperwork before checking out these spirits from the Underworld.  That medallion might be able to pull out the ghost without hurting the person they're inhabiting."

Rachel nodded, almost appearing impressed.  "It's worth a shot.  I have to admit Dane, you have more moments."

He smiled to his cousin, appreciative of the praise.  "I'll give her a call and text you guys with the meet place.  I should probably keep a low profile on this one."

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"That sounds good Dane."  Austin knew some about Hades, or at least the myths concerning him. A Scion of his would probably be of help in dealing with the witches' ghosts, and he sighed.   He knew that according to the myths, Hades was pissed with his younger brothers, Poseidon and Zeus, for giving him the least prestigious domain, and he wondered just how true that was.

He hoped that it wouldn't be an issue here, he certainly had no issues with this other scion, hell he didn't even know her.  "Better someone at least one of us knows for this sort of thing."

 

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Dale pondered for a moment, removing her leather jacket to appreciate the cool of the stables, in contrast with the heavy hitting sun she had to endure while on her bike. A party sounded like a nice occasion to relax a little, but witches, right ? What a great way for her to start her "new" life as her divine papa's daughter. This wasn't going to end well. "Disguises, then ?" She commented with a displeased groan. "I could go as the third witch of the trio, if that helps." She went to sit on a milk crate, leaving her brain bucket and her jacket on the ground by her side.

"If that girl is Hades' Scion, then she probably would have an idea of what to do with rogue wanton souls... Well, best to ask her 'bout that, right ?" She raised inquisitive eyes and scanned the Scion of Baldur's shape with a discreet but appreciative pout.

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"And about the witches."  Grim muttered.  When one or two of the others glanced at him askance, he shrugged, said "Never mind." and looked at Dane.

"It's a good plan, cousin.  Just one thing I want to know - you two have history: are we going to have to be careful not to mention you or tread on any eggshells?"  He arched his scarred eyebrow.  "I suppose what I'm asking is: is she likely to spit curses and hellfire at the mention of your name, or dissolve into tears and start eating tubs of icecream?"

"Uh..."  Dane looked uncomfortable.  Grim held up a slender hand.

"I don't need gory details, Dane.  I just need to know where the land mines are so I don't step on them."

"I need gory details."  Nadya appended, grinning like a Cheshire Cat.  Grim sighed.

"Okay, Nadya needs gory details.  But those can wait till later, right?"  he glared at her.  "When we're not on a clock, perhaps?"

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"Uh," Dane paused, sobering slightly.  He shrugged, knowing what he was about to say was a cop out, but he didn't really have anything else lined up.  "It's complicated?"  Everyone collectively rolled their eyes.

"Dane, Grim is right."  Rachel chimed up.  "If your history with her could cause tension with the rest of us and keeping Salem safe while saving those the witches possessed... we sort of need to know."

"I know, I know," it was strange seeing Dane this off balance.  Normally he was jovial and care-free yet now he seemed overcome by a pang of some inner turmoil.  "This one's a little personal, but," he raised up his hands, palms out to everyone in a defensive manner, to assure them he wasn't making light of what was at stake.  "She's really on track with the whole goals thing.  A very eye on the prize sort of person.  She may not care for me, but she'll put that aside for the sake of what's at stake, trust me.  I'd just... I'd just prefer not to see her, old wounds and all that."

He produced his phone from his pocket and slid down the screen with his thumb, scroll until he found her.  He either knew a lot of people with 'a' for a first name, or she wasn't saved as Adrianna.  They all knew both were a definite possibility.  He tapped and walked away, pressing the phone to his ear.  What followed was a long pause followed by a conversation that was more begging and pleading and a lot of evasive ways to say 'I can't talk about that right now' than a friendly conversation between two people arranging a meeting.

"Wow," Darcy's eyes widened as they all couldn't help but listen.  "And I thought everybody liked Dane..."

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Everyone just stood silently after Darcy's comment, awkwardly looking at Dane like he was the person in their universe and making Darcy feel incredibly small.  She knew Scions were a weird lot, but sometimes... they were off the deep end.  Not that staring at Dane wasn't a difficult task, after all he was the son of Baldur.  No matter how hard he tried he'd always have sun-kissed skin, perfect cheek bones and, most spiteful and jealous worthy feature of all was that he could eat whatever he pleased and always keep that perfect sufer-bod muscle tone.  Sure, a part of her hated him, but at least he was nice to look at... which seemed to be what everyone was doing...

Dane paced several times as he spoke to the woman on the other end.  "Yeah, I know..." he nodded and seemed to have been cut off by her.

"...look, it's not for me..." his vice seemed surprisingly sober, having lost the sufer-dude drawl and making sound almost like a respectible young man.  Almost. "We could..." he was cut off again and they could vaguely make out Adrianne's voice coming through the speaker of his phone.  Talking swiftly, but calmly while breaking her patter or tone of speech.  Every word and phrase didn't come close to being second guessed.  Whatever she was saying, she meant every word of it.  "Enough," Dane almost growled.  His teeth were clinched as he did his best to disguise his lack of composure with the rest of the assembled.

"We all had to make choices.  I no more condemn them for theirs than I do you for yours.  I will not stand here and be whipped like I'm being held down by a golden thread, nor will I be judged by you of all people on the choices I've made and the consequences of those choices.  Scions need help.  We need help.  So, I'm calling you in."  There was a pregnant pause as the tense moment between the two was shared by everyone in the room with awkward eye contact and shrugs to one another in silent inquiry as to anyone knowing the story behind this obviously juicy story.  "Yes.  Do this and we are square."  He nodded.  "Never again."

He leaned against the wall, his back to everyone while the conversation calmed considerably.  "Yes, the coffee shop, can't miss it.  I will pass it on, and thank you."  He shook his head as she replied to his expression.  "Yes, well, thank you anyway."

He tapped the red button on his screen and tucked it away in his pocket, turning to face everyone.  "She'll be here tomorrow after school.  She said she'll meet all of you at The Drip and..." he sighed, visible distressed about something.  He raised his hands and the dropped lazily to his sides, "That'll be that, I guess.  You guys can take it from there.  Look, uh," he gestured towards the exit.  "I think I'm going to head out.  You guys can handle all this stuff without me.  Good luck with her and text me if you need anything."

With no jovial drawl in his voice or Ted 'Theodore' Logan bounce in his stride he offered everyone an exit nod and dismissed himself from the Stable.

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Posted (edited)

The following afternoon...

The bell above the door jingled as the Scions of Salem arrived at The Drip.  The place was rather busy, facing its usual after school rush when all the kids from the high school would gather to begin their homework and meet up for gossip and coffee.  Darcy was a hurricane of movement set about to twist and step through the throng of customers and by the virtue of not spilling a single drop on her tray validated her as a worthy mortal ally to help stop the titans.  Okay, that wasn't very prestigious in eyes of the gods, but for high school kids, it was pretty damn cool.

The shop was far from quiet.  In fact it was as uproarious as a high school cafeteria with patrons being everywhere from the tables to the counters that lined the walls allowing them a look out the storefront's windows to the booths that lined the far wall that awarded no view except the alleyway.  The second floor loft offered things like a billiard and ping pong tables as well as more booths for sitting.  The first floor stage, for open mic night, that rest directly below the second floor balcony was about the only place that didn't seem to have a customer standing or sitting near it.

Darcy stopped Fisher not long after he entered.  "I think your friend is already here," she nodded towards a far corner booth.  There sat a dark haired, lovely young woman who have to be at least nineteen or twenty.  She was sipping coffee and reading the local paper by the looks of it.  No one was shocked to find that she was pretty, possessed of perfect cheekbones and just the right amount of every subtle little thing that made her appear just a bit more than human.  Like all Scions she was at the peak of the human form, born of gods and obviously a specimen set apart from the mortal herd.  "She got here about twenty minutes ago.  Coffee, black, and she's just been reading the paper.  Dane was here, but, he left as she arrived.  I text him to see if he was okay, and he said he was, but," she shook her head and offered and empathic frown.  "I don't think he is, y'know?"

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Edited by Dave ST

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"Good."  Grim said as he moved past Fisher, having entered on the other Scion's heels, and took a moment to scrutinise the woman in the booth.  Looking back at Fisher and Darcy, who were regarding him with a certain amount of 'what the hell' in their eyes, he sighed.  "Good, she's here." he clarified.  "Not 'good, Dane's not okay'.  Honestly - do I really have to explain that?"

"You kinda do, Glumsley."  Nadya put in with a sly smirk.  The scion of Odin snorted, then fixed Fisher with a gimlet mismatched stare.

"You should probably talk to Dane, make sure he's okay."  he suggested.  "It's plain even to me that setting up this meeting cost him some peace of mind."

"Why don't you talk to him, then?"  Fisher challenged, not that he disagreed, but Grim inspired contrariness at times.

"I'm not a people person."  Grimsley said with a shrug.  "You are.  Black coffee, two sugars."  And with that he headed towards the booth, the oldest grumpiest young man in Creation, wearing an oversized duster and limping slightly as he wove through the tables and patrons.

"I better catch up and make sure he doesn't start a war or something."  Nadya said with an expressive pout as she stepped after him.  "My usual when you get the time, Darce."

Grim was not a people person - in that he didn't much like people in general.  He was not lacking in people skills - those lacking in people skills don't manage to stay alive through eighteen months in a troll den by dint of verbal agility and cunning.  So it was safe to say that when the occasion demanded, Grim was perfectly capable of being personable, even charming.

He just didn't bother with it for unimportant things.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with us."  he said as he stepped up to the booth, offering a scarred hand.  "I'm Grim.  The girl hurrying over here is Nadya.  The others should be along shortly."

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Austin was pulling up as he saw the others go inside, and got out of his jeep and head inside.   Darcy was still there with Fisher, even as he came inside, and he offered her a warm smile.  "I take it I'm not too late."   When Fisher pointed on to Where Grim had gone on ahead, he smiled   "Thanks.   Darcy, can you bring me a coke?"  The look she gave him was polite, but he could read the exasperation in her eyes.   Austin wasn't a coffee person by any stretch.   In truth, if he was going to drink it, it was essentially sweetened coffee milk by the time he was ready to drink it, and he didn't feel like hearing it from his friends.

Still, it was hard to say no to the young scion of Poseidon,  and she nodded once.  "Sure, Austin."   With that be followed along to where Grim and Nadya were meeting with the older scion, and found himself wondering if there was something he could do to repay Dane for this.  It had definitely seemed to have been something he wasn't happy about, which was quite out of character for Dane.

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The bell above the door to the coffee shop jingled sweetly as the late afternoon sunlight poured in, leaving the entrance brighter and momentarily warmer than it had been before. Pausing briefly to scan the room as she entered, the daughter of Apollo removed her sunglasses and tucked them into the front pocket of a jacket that likely cost more than the sum of every other patron's outerwear combined- perfectly tailored and of immaculate construction, it was also likely to last longer than every other patron's outerwear combined. A faint smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as she caught sight of Darcy attempting to field all the orders being thrown at her, as if she were the only capable server in the place. ...Which, Laurie reflected, might conceivably be true. It took only a moment amid the whirl of after-school activity to track where the beleaguered young paramour of Fisher Capra kept casting unsubtle glances: a beautiful, dark-haired woman in a corner booth.

Certainly, her appearance matched the description given, and the blatant migration of Rachel's band in that direction provided all the evidence Laurel needed. Ah, well. This wasn't exactly an ideal scenario, but Dane had sounded so awfully distressed that she felt like an utter monster for even considering saying no.

"Please, pardon me," the graceful blonde's clear voice rang above the din surrounding them as she slid adroitly past Fisher and Austin with violin case firmly in hand, sparing the two Scions only a fleeting glance that felt unaccountably as though a cloud had passed before the sun, leaving not cold in its wake, but a curious absence of warmth. As Grim concluded his introduction to the Plutonian beauty in the booth, the latter returning his handshake politely, Laurie approached the growing cluster of students at the table.

"Miss Dionekou?" A bright smile of greeting illuminated her features as she addressed the woman who was, ostensibly, a distant 'cousin.' "I hope you'll forgive me for intruding. I'm Laurel, and given the, ah, somewhat delicate nature of the current situation, Dane's asked that I take his place for this meeting."

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With a brief sigh, Fisher conceded the point to Grim, whom of course had already left. Nadya and... Laurie? Laurie came in, and Fisher almost flinched from the way her gaze skewered him. Kami damn it, it wasn't his fault! Sometimes being a nice guy sucked, when everyone seemed to leave it to him to patch up arguments and sooth tempers. Yes, Grim was right, but why did he have to say it in a way that sounded like he was offloading responsibility onto Fisher? And Laurie blaming him for not being on hand magically twenty minutes ago to provide emotional support.

"Tea, one sugar, when you have the time please." Fisher wearily said, drawing an eyebrow from his girlfriend. "If family comes over I'm going to be drinking a lot of it." Maurice's commentary about hospitality had prompted Fisher to begin examining actual tea-making (not microwave and done). Not that he expected a maternal return, but some practice would be good if kami or some kitsune decided to make an official visit.

She nodded, Fisher pecked her on the cheek, and Rachel arrived. Everyone present and accounted for then. He nodded at her and then came over to meet another child of the gods of death, his Aesir leader after him. "Hello, Adrianna. I'm Fisher, and and this is Rachel and Austin. Thank you for making the time to see all of us on such short notice."

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She rubbed her cigarette stub in one of the ashtrays set around the terrace tables, then followed her Band inside. It didn't take her long to spot them and get over there, stopping Darcy on the way with a charming smile. "Hey, hun, can I get a black coffee, no sugar, please ? I'll be over there." She said, pointing at the booth her Band was currently sitting at. The brown-haired girl gave her a small nod as reply, then returning to her busy business.

" 'Sup?" Dale said, once at the booth. She glanced at the dark-haired beauty sitting before her. "Dale. I'm kinda new to this stuff, so I'll just be... listening." She picked a free seat before adding with another charming smile: "Don't mind me."

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Posted (edited)

"Yeah, guys... sure," Darcy threw up her hands rolled her eyes.  "Because I'm the only server here... let me drop everything for you."  With a huff she walked off.

"Wow," Adrianna said with a smirk as she shook her head and folded up her paper.  She looked at Austin, still shaking her head.  Her Greek accent was thick but her English almost sounded native.  "You have people to introduce you?  Daddy makes sure you don't have to do much to take all the credit, doesn't he?  Typical."

"Adrianna Dionekou, I handle mergers and acquisitions for my father, Hades."  She slid the paper aside and turned her attention to the rest of the Scions.  "I'll admit, this is not really my usual sort of acquisition, but admittedly he and I have a rather strained relationship so he didn't have much of an opportunity to explain the details in full.  As I understand it, you have a problem with spirits?  While not outside my purview, why ask me?  Do you not have a Scion of the Death Purview?"  She glanced to Fisher, showing that she certainly knew more than she let on about whom she had come to visit.

She took a sip from her coffee while her eyes once again scanned the Scions.  "Help me to understand."

Edited by Dave ST

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Pallid gray and leaf-green eyes regarded Adrianna as she posed her reasonable query, then turned to study Fisher, then Austin expectantly before shifting to Rachel and Nadya.  Sighing very softly, the scion of Odin exchanged a glance with Apollo's daughter then shrugged to himself before turning back to the elegant young woman across from him in the booth, folding his hands with their myriad of white scars together on the table before him as he leaned forward slightly, all business.

"Understand I was not present for a lot - if not all of this.  So this is second-hand information from first-hand sources.  With some theorising thrown in."  he began with another shrug.  "The others can correct me if I get anything substantially wrong.  So here's what I understand so far:  A person called Marius, by means of cunning manipulation of a foolish teenage boy who got hold of some relic that was not his, has arranged for the release of three spirits from the underworld - specifically actual by-gods witches once burned in Salem.  We believe they have possessed students of the school, since those would have been the closest victims when they were released.  As such they are well-hidden, but we believe they will likely attempt something on Halloween, probably at the witching hour when the veil between the worlds of the living and dead is traditionally weakest-  Hey, thanks Darcy."   He gave the girl a quick smile as she slid the mug of black coffee before him in a bad mood, then busied himself adding sugar to the brew as Darcy stormed back off while he continued speaking. 

"The 'good' news is that Mercedes Rhodes - who is very rich and popular, has invited the entire school to her Halloween party.  There is a synchronicity that the spirits of witches killed by Salem would wish to visit vengeance on the children of Salem, and given that the witches are likely riding inside some of the students, that makes the party twice as likely a target for whatever they have planned."  He politely indicated Adrianna.  "We need you, because our friend suggested you are ideally equipped - and motivated - to recover things that belong to your father."  He took a sip of his coffee, frowned at it, then added more sugar before taking another drink.  "I think that covers everything important."  It wasn't quite a question, and definitely wasn't an expression of uncertainty, and might have contained an element of dry humor as the slightly scruffy Odinsson smiled at Adrianna, watching her with mismatched eyes.  "Sooo... what are you doing on Halloween night?"

Some of the others in the Band exchanged glances.  Did... Grimsley just flirt?  Even in jest?  Surely a sign of the End Times.

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The Stygian depths of Adrianna's dark eyes were inscrutable as the son of Odin calmly and succinctly laid out what he knew of the situation, tactfully finishing off his report with a seemingly-personal inquiry as to her plans. Slightly less mysterious was the slow upward inclination of a single eyebrow, and the faint suggestion of a curve at the opposite corner of her mouth. "Points for creativity and having the basalt stones to ask. What I'm doing that night will depend on how compellingly you present your argument," she replied smoothly, taking another drink from the mug before her. "I'm a busy woman, and high school hijinks frankly aren't usually worth my time."

Without the distraction a cup of fragrant tea might have offered, Laurie weighed Adrianna's comments carefully, gaining such insights as she could from the older woman's posture, attire, mannerisms, and tone. She was direct, though not quite to the point of rudeness, and obviously she took her work very seriously and would reasonably expect them to do the same. Dane had recommended her for a reason; she was clearly both well-connected and much more well-informed about the teens in Salem than they were about her. Provided this conversation went reasonably well, she decided, that would need to change, and soon. "I wasn't present, either, but the information I've been given seems to corroborate what my friend Grim here has just told you," the sunny young aesthete added with a faint smile of encouragement. "As he also implied, my understanding is that you, specifically, have access to a relic that might," she stressed softly, "be able to reclaim those spirits as your father's property without harming their victims. If that's true, your help would be critical to handling the situation here without unnecessary, ah. Unpleasantries." Leaning back in her seat, Laurie folded her hands neatly in her lap, wondering if perhaps this meeting, at least, might be a civil one.

 

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Posted (edited)

Fisher mentally winced at Darcy's reaction and realized he probably shouldn't have added that order on top of her workload. Bad boyfriend Fisher. He should make it up to her. Take her out, date night. What was that place she liked? Well, there was the Ledger, but that was expensive... Or maybe, a calm part of his mind suggested, just excuse himself, and quickly apologize to her? Then Grimsley was moving ahead with the story and Fisher realized he'd embarrassingly gotten distracted.

And then Grim flirted with her. This jarred Fisher into full focus, though it occurred to the Scion of the Amatsukami that they did seemed to have a bit in common. Fisher cleared his throat after Laurie affirmed Grim's tale. Adrianna wanted it to be worth her while? Well, Fisher felt he had an opening.

"It was the Nekyia." Adrianna's shocked look confirmed she recognized what he was referring to. "Marius, with possible help, stole it from Archimedes. He's been dropping it in the hands of people, offering it to help solve problems of theirs, and inevitably bad things happens. We've stepped in before they could become bigger problems, but he keeps disappearing with the book and repeating the process."

Fisher spread his hands. "Going by his track record, Marius will give the Nekyia to the witches, if only to see what actual magical practitioners will do with it. I think stopping a dangerous tome tied to the Underworld from continuing to run around in the World is in your father's interests. Whatever Putnam, Parris and Williams will do with it won't be. To be clear," before Ms. Mergers and Acquisitions got the wrong idea, "this is not a 'yours if you help us' offer. It goes back to Archimedes."

Edited by Fisher Capra

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"Really," Adrianna's lips twisted in a slight smirk.  "So, Archimedes managed to lose the Nekyia and the dead are running rampant in Salem?  That is delicious news indeed."

Her eyes panned the rest of the Scions, and she continued.  "I was under the impression the Archimedes' Vault's were impervious.  Makes one wonder how a mortal got his hands on it to begin with, doesn't it?  Nevertheless, Ashley didn't steer you wrong."

"I'm sorry, Ashley?"  Nadya chimed up, her here shaking slightly.

"Dane," the raven-haired Greek said in an annoyed tone.  "Ashley Dane Summers.  What," she smirked.  "He didn't telly you?  He sure has his secrets, doesn't he?  I may be in possession of a relic that could draw the spirits out without harming the host.  I offer no guarantees, but I will conceded that your willingness to go to these lengths just keep the mortals safe is... impressive.  If not admirable."

[Failure to patrol the previous evening] "Between now and this party, what's the play?"  She looked expectantly.  "Surely we have some lead on these witches and their activities?"

Rachel rubbed the bridge of her nose and embarrassingly replied, "Yeah, but no.  Billy, Darcy and myself didn't find anything last night and we didn't have time to cover all the ground we needed to with just the three of us.  Last night was a bust."

"Brilliant.  I'm amazed you managed this far."  Adrianna said in a mocking and obviously judgmental tone.  She produced her phone from her handbag and swiped the screen.  "Well, if there is nothing else, I will leave all of you with my number.  Please contact me if there is any change.  In the mean time, it appears as if this Halloween party is the only lead."

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Posted (edited)

"Well."  Grim leaned back in his chair as Adrianna, having dished out her digits to all concerned, tucked her phone back into her designer purse and, with another faintly condescending but still businesslike smile, slid out of the booth and briskly left The Drip.  It couldn't be helped that some, or most, or all of the Scions left behind felt like she was getting away before she caught a chronic case of Fail.  The scion of Odin's pale features were even paler right now, the scars on his cheeks and the one bisecting across his grey eye showing up almost silvery as he looked at Laurie, then Austin, then Dale, then Nadya, then Rachel... and finally Fisher, where his mismatched gaze lingered as the long fingers of one scarred hand tapped a short tattoo on the tabletop.

Grim was angry.  Not offended, or hurt, or even grumpy or irritated. Angry.  Right now, he had a powerful urge to take his Band-mate gently by the neck and strangle him with his own tongue.  To those sensitive to such things, his pissed-offedness roiled in the air around him and was focused in the glare he was giving the son of the Kami.

"Leaving aside the fact you told the daughter of the god of the Underworld that a powerful book in his area of interest is loose in the world - unnecessarily - you more importantly just threw the good name of our mentor, our ally, our friend under the bus.  And behind that bus was another bus."  He said in a cold, level tone that nevertheless vibrated with anger.  "Good job, Capra."  Grim liked Archie.  Liked his learned nature, liked his wisdom, liked his love of knowledge and the dedication he had to his duty.  As Fisher shifted and opened his mouth, Grim went on.

"Adrianna was right.  It's fucking amazing we got this far without tripping on our shoelaces.  That fuckery comes to a screeching stop, now.  Tonight, we've got some Scooby-Doo'ing to be doing."  He tugged absently at the braid of hair around his neck.  "If anyone has plans tonight, cancel them.  We cover Harmony Grove Cemetery.  We cover the woods.  If we can, we find out if Mrs Cunningham has had a feud or argument with anyone who might wish her ill - it's thin, but it might be a lead.  Get the gossip mill going, those who are plugged in."  He kept his stare on Fisher.  "When you talk to Dane, ask him where the birds were falling from the sky.  We add that to the list of leads.  Like we should have yesterday, only I was distracted by the dread of going to this gods-damned party."  His thin lips quirked self-deprecatingly.  "That's on me."

He downed his coffee, dropping some change next to the mug as a tip for Darcy, and stood up.  "I'm heading home to pick up my staff, then I'm going to start with giving Cunningham's garden the once over.  Perhaps someone used a curse, perhaps something was left I can pick up.  Then I'm headed to the Cemetery.  Anyone who wants to join in, meet me there.  Once I've done that, I'm going to the woods. Rachel, bring Wolf to the woods too.  The more eyes, ears and noses, the better.  If someone finds out anything about Mrs Cunningham, you've all got my number."  He paused, as thought taking a moment to ensure he hadn't missed anything, then nodded to Laurie and the others.  "See you all later, I hope."  He fixed Fisher with another stare and looked like he wanted to say - or rather, snarl -  something more, but then clamped his lips tightly together and turned, stalking away with that slight limp of his through the crowded Drip.

Edited by Grim
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It had at least been civil, as she'd hoped. Or, mostly so. Although with even that dismally low expectation only narrowly satisfied, it seemed overly optimistic even by her standards to consider that any kind of real victory. No punches had been thrown and no property damaged this time, and, really, there wasn't much more to say, was there? And, despite Adrianna's somewhat justifiable disdain, it had at least been productive... If, the flaxen-haired muse acknowledged with a pointed glance in Fisher's direction, not exactly a net positive.

The temptation to tell the child of Izanami exactly what she thought of him in that moment, much as she’d done to Nadya following her thoughtless and irresponsible attempt to dupe Marius, was a strong one indeed. Grim, however, had already directed ire aplenty at the tongue-tied genius, and to add her own would be pointlessly cruel. Immediately gratifying, perhaps, but cruel nonetheless, and to no purpose. “Archimedes,” Laurel began instead, her voice low and resonant as a plucked guitar string as it fairly vibrated with suppressed emotion. “Works for Zeus. Maybe you’re not familiar with Greek myth, but my grandfather isn’t exactly known for his patience and forbearance. This failure, once it gets back to him…” She inhaled, struggling to steady the trembling of her hands in her lap and, failing that, rose from her seat. “I’m sure you’ve heard the story of Prometheus, at least?” Retrieving her violin case, she glanced at the lanky form of the aptly-named Aesir as he departed. “I think Archie would appreciate hearing the news from you, first,” the summery blonde added, and then, more quietly as she considered his stricken expression: “You can do better, Fisher. I hope that you do.”

To the others there was nothing to be said, but as she turned to the chocolate-skinned newcomer, Laurie flashed the young woman a decidedly warmer, almost sympathetic smile. “I’m so sorry! We haven’t been introduced, and here I am running off, but things do seem to be happening quickly, don’t they? I’m Laurel, Laurel Brightman. Laurie, if you prefer. I hope you’ll excuse me, but I have a Grim to catch.” With a brief scan of the crowd and a quick, one-handed wave she was off and moving through the coffee shop, a focused ray of sunlight pursuing a stark shadow.

“Grim?” she called out over the cacophony of voices, clinking silverware and mugs, and music. It wasn’t exactly difficult to catch up with him, for which Laurie was enormously grateful- at least until the obvious reason he hadn’t gotten farther suddenly occurred to her, at which point she felt unaccountably like apologizing for the mental oversight. “Grim?” she tried again as she came up alongside him on his way out the door. “If you have a moment?”

 

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He half-turned as he stepped out onto the sidewalk, fixing the radiant girl with a glower that lost it's wintery force almost as soon as it alighted on the sun-framed cerulean skies of her gaze.  Sighing, he rubbed a hand on the back of his neck and gave her a lopsided smile.

"You never seem to catch me at my best, hmm?"  he shrugged, smile turning apologetic  "Either I'm the new kid wondering what the Hel I stepped into, or I'm pissed at my band-mate.  I don't even think you and I ever exchanged more than a couple words."  Mismatched eyes studying her, he offered Laurie a thin, scarred hand.  "Pleased to meet you." he said with humorous over-formality.  "I'm Grim."

"No, no. The pleasure's all mine," she replied sincerely, her expression registering first surprise, and then genuine gratification as she clasped Grim's extended hand. "Laurel. Though, if you prefer, you're welcome to call me Laurie. I don't mind, in either case." Her smile mirrored his, a suggestion of apology in the upturned curve, and she glanced briefly back at the door of the cafe. "I'm sorry for calling out to you so suddenly, but you mentioned we should contact you, and..." Releasing her grip on his fingers, the aspiring performer stepped aside to allow a young couple into the Drip. "And I realized I had no way to do that, if I needed to."

Realisation widened his eyes, then he nodded, smiling as he stepped aside with her, fishing his still relatively-new second-hand phone from the depths of his voluminous coat.  "That's right.  You don't really hang around with the Band all that much, do you?"  he noted as he reeled off his own number, then called up his contacts list as Laurel entered the details and in turn gave him her number.  Nodding again, he tucked the phone away, fixing her with an assessing stare.  When he spoke next, his tone was thoughtful.

"Archimedes mentioned you were part of this Band...  but this is only the second time I've seen you - outside school, anyway."  he noted with a one-shouldered shrug, then motioned up the street.  "You mind if we walk and talk?  Standing still gives my leg fits.  That is, if you have the time?"

"Ah!" she exclaimed, glancing up as she finished making a note in her contacts and slid her own smartphone back into the front pocket of her coat, her smile briefly reappearing. "If that's easier for you, of course. A little fresh air might do me some good, as well, so I'm happy to make a little time for it.." Shifting the violin case to her other hand to prevent it being jostled by passers-by, Laurie matched her companion's pace with neither a false start nor hesitation as they headed up the sidewalk. "I think..." A tiny crease appeared between her brows as she tried to remember whether she had seen him any other time, her voice trailing off. "No, I think you're right. It was at the barn." 

Nodding, Laurel tucked her free hand into her jacket, watching the people and traffic as they talked. "I am- or was, maybe- part of Rachel's Band, yes, but apparently by default." The smile she directed at him only just reached her eyes, a dim shadow in comparison to the first. "Most of them seem to have known each other for years, so I suppose I don't have that inborn sense of... Hmm. Camaraderie, maybe."

"You and me both."  The skinny boy with the old man eyes replied with a wry smile, shoving both hands inelegantly into the deep pockets of his coat as they walked.  "It's an adjustment.  Most of them - hell, all of them - didn't much notice me before.  Not that I blame them - friends weren't something I was allowed, so I didn't try to cultivate any."  He glanced up at the grey Fall sky, then at her with a raised eyebrow.  "Fate has a curious sense of humor.  Might as well enjoy the joke, huh?"  His stride became a little easier as the healing muscles and tendons were eased the gentle exercise of walking.  The sidewalks of Salem after school were not exactly crowded, but there was a certain amount of activity, especially this close to Halloween.

"Archie briefed me on everything that happened while I was... away." he said quietly after they had walked maybe a block.  "Something is bothering me about this Marius guy.  He's setting fires, keeping everyone busy running around putting them out."  Grim's air was of one musing aloud.  "But what does he want?  Why kill a guardian wolf spirit?  What was it guarding?  He draws the Band out, then puts their families at risk so they can't stop him doing what he's really aiming for.  I can't help think that the witch hunt is another distraction.  We can't ignore it, but it's another fire he's set to keep us looking elsewhere."  He drew a coin from his pocket, holding it up between two fingers of his right hand so Laurel could see it, then clapped his hands together and showed an empty hand, then turned the left hand over to show the silvery glint of the quarter.  "Sleight of hand, y'know?"

The slender blonde walking beside him was silent for a moment, her features a porcelain mask of intense consideration as she fixed her gaze on a memory, rather than their surroundings. There was really very little reason to chat so casually about all of this with someone she'd only met once before, but at least he seemed to care about the answers, or even about finding them. That, in itself, was refreshing, even when coming from someone whose manner seemed cooler than the autumn breeze that warned of winter's advance on Salem.

"Maybe," she allowed finally. "I remember some of that a little differently, but I think that's probably accurate, yes. Mostly." Glancing up at her taciturn companion, Laurie made a soft sound, tongue against her teeth, and returned her attention to the path ahead. "I don't think the witch hunt itself is the distraction, though. Sometimes the trick is sleight of hand." Withdrawing a coin of her own from her pocket, the violinist held it in her palm for him to see: a small, well-preserved disc of aged gold, with an archer on its face. "And sometimes, the trick is just the trick." Her fingertips moved over the coin, carefully turning it in her hand, so that the smooth, well-worn reverse was exposed instead. Bright blue eyes, far younger than his own, met Grim's mis-matched ones in another smile.

"Hmmph."  It was such an old expressive grunt that Laurel found herself smiling a little wider at the curious youth as Grim's eyes narrowed thoughtfully before he nodded.  "You're not wrong."  He tugged on an earlobe, plainly still mulling it over as they reached his foster parent's home, where he stopped and turned to her.

"Look, I know I rapped out orders like I was a drill sergeant back there... but I want to ask you personally if you'd be willing to help out this evening - if you can, that is."  he added with a small smile.  "I need at least one other level head checking my thinking."

Laurie inhaled deeply, the warmth in her expression fading slightly as she held her breath for a long moment, tucked the coin away again, and then exhaled. "I don't have a problem with you, personally. You have a small army at your disposal, though, and almost none of them are among my favorite people. So I'm willing to help you, specifically, because you asked, because I pride myself on being good at what I do, and because it needs to be done.  A gesture of good will," she added, inclining her head slightly.

"It's appreciated."  Grim nodded in return, plainly considering her words carefully, turning them over in his head.  He thumbed over his shoulder at the unassuming house behind him.  "If you're okay to wait a moment, then, I'll grab my walking stick and we can get going?  I have the feeling,"  he appended with another of those wry half-smiles "-that tonight will be informative."

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Dale waved a puzzled hand back as the Scion of Apollo departed. A cup of coffee magically appeared in front of her when she looked back at the table, and she barely had the time to thank Darcy as the latter returned to the herculean amount of other orders she had to get through. The fragile mask of affability she had maintained during the conversation finally cracked, and she took a sip of her coffee, hiding a pout behind her cup.

"Okay. What the Hell? No entiendo lo que pasó, dimelo. ¿Porque la chica de Hades se comportó como una descarada puta?" The cup travelled back to the table, and the chocolate-skinned teenager fished out her phone. "I'm at a loss here, but least I can do is try to help when someone offers to do something." Her fingers fluttered across the tactile keyboard as she sent a text to 'El Severo' Grim, as her contacts labeled him.

[Hey, I'm coming with you tonight. My cat could be of help, so count both of us in.]

Spoiler

To spare you the trouble of translating the Spanish bit, here's the meaning, rather than a word to word translation:

"Can someone explain to me what just happened? Why did the Hades girl act like a cheeky bitch?"

If any of the characters understands Spanish, they probably got it, those who don't, well, they can guess she's confused. Also, puta and chica de Hades in the same sentence should be pretty straightforward for any Scion. 😉

 

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Austin looked at Rachel, who was still there, and then took a seat in the vacated booth.   Rachel sat down, They'd piled a workload on Darcy, and even if no one else did, they were going to sit and at least drink their drinks.   He looked at Fisher and Dale and sighed.  "Okay, so that could have gone better all around.   Stuff didn't get done that probably should have, and things got said that shouldn't have.   It's over and past, we learn from our mistakes and do our damnedest to not repeat them.   Fisher,  I do think you need to pay Archie a visit, explain what happened just be honest with him.   He'll probably be mad, but we can still make this right."

He smiled.  "We will make this right."

Rachel looked over to Austin, wondering what had gotten into him.   "She must have got to you.."

Austin's features darkened.  'Yeah.   She did.   I expect to catch some manner of lecture, or something when all this gets back to him.   Her father and mine aren't exactly what you'd call close.and this situation is not going to help that."

He looked at Dale.   "We're all probably going to be roaming the town tonight in teams.   To explain why she acted like that, Fisher admitted we screwed up, pretty big, and  while reaching out to her was a seemingly good idea, it's going to bite us in the ass now, and cause problems for Archie as well.  I don't know what she's going to do with the information, but the fact she has it does put us on a clock.   Now we have to scramble to clean this up, to mitigate any lasting effects."

"I can already see us going all Scooby-gang and splitting up, but we need to be smart about how we do it."

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Fisher wilted under Grim and Laurie's vitriol, as her reminder caught up to him. Kami. He really had fucked up. His head slipped into the palm of one hand. You idiot. Just like with when you tried to bind the witches. Can't think even slightly beyond the task at hand, and all you've done is make things worse.  "Dale, I made the mistake of giving her information she and her dad could use against Mr. Syracuse. The Greek Gods are a very cutthroat family. Anyway, start looking into Ms. Cunningham, as Grim suggested. We fell down on the job because we thought Adrianna could solve our problems, and look how that's worked out."

He got up with resignation. Darcy deposited another coffee in front of Austin at the same time, and Fisher turned to her. "I'm sorry we dumped everything on you like you." He pecked her quickly on the cheek. "Forget the tea." Fisher left the Coffee Pot with heavy tread of guilt and resignation. As everyone said, he needed to visit Mr. Syracuse, and the the library was his destination. While he was on the way, Fisher dialed Dane's number, schooling himself to adopt a more calm, even tone when he spoke. One could not be a voice of support if you sounded like you were full of your own issues.

When Dane came on the line, before he even spoke, Fisher could hear the faint rhythm of Ed Sheeran in the background and a what sounded like a woman in the back talking. With only her voice, he assumed she was on a phone call too, laughing and catching up with some she knew. "This is Dane." The golden haired son of the Aesir sun god spoke gently and calmly into the receiver. "S'up Fish-bro? Everything go okay? She going to help?"

"I think so." Fisher responded, trying not put too much into his voice. "How are you holding up?"

"Good, I guess." Although Fisher couldn't see him he could hear the shrug in his tone. "I mean, I hate dumping Adrianna on you guys like that, but if she can help, right? Just be careful, she's not a bad person, just," he sighed. Dane saying bad things about others didn't really seem to be in his nature. "Well, she can be a conniving lady. Keep your guard up."

"That's good advice, thanks." Oh, Fate was howling its head off somewhere. "Look, if you feel like wanting to talk about it later, my door's open." Fisher promised, seeking to remain reassuring.

"Talk about what?" He replied. Dane, like any other guy out there, bottled his negative side within and pretended like it didn't exist, Fisher knew type: jocks, tough guys, overachievers, all the Aesir. "I mean, if she gives you problems, hit me up, but her and I in the same room... well, that's probably not a good idea."

Although in Rachel's case, she let it spew out like a volcano. "You know, what happened between you two - if you want to." Fisher explained patiently. "One more thing. Where did you see those birds falling from the sky?"

There was a pause as whomever the female was, Fisher suspected his aunt whom he talked a lot about, hijacked the conversation and spoke to Dane about some groceries she wanted him to run and get. Fisher smirked and shook his head as he patiently waited for Dane who spoke to her with nothing but sweetness in his voice. Finally his voice was more clear as he placed it back near his mouth. "The Pier, bruh. Uhh, you know how all the birds go under when the rain comes?" He paused for Fisher's 'yeah' before he continued. "Well, they were all packed under there, dead. Pretty gross. I called the Sheriff and he was sending his boys down to do whatever he does in that instance. That was yesterday in the evening that I called, so they might still be at it."

"All right, thank you." Fisher smiled. "See you tomorrow night then?" There was a pause of confusion as Dane didn't quite connect he dots of Fisher's thoughts. "Oh! The party. Right, yeah, bruh, certainly. See you guys there." "Same here. Have a good day." Fisher listened to Dane's goodbye before hanging up, and sighing. Well, that hadn't went catastrophically wrong.

Fisher tapped out a quick text to Grim: Birds at Pier. Will investigate after visit with AS.

Now to the school and face Archimedes.

Edited by Fisher Capra

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Dale shook her head with a sigh. She had a bad feeling about this whole chasing-the-witches stuff, but she had to face the truth: it was going to be her life from now on. "It's not like..." She paused, then gave the thought a shrug. "You know what, nevermind. I texted Grim to let him know I'd help him out." She finished her coffee, dropped some change next to the cup, then suddenly stood up, a twitch on her cheek. "Gotta go. Hate standing still. I'll catch up with him at Cunningham's garden. ¡Hasta luego!"

And off she stormed, her brain bucket in hand. It wasn't long till they heard the roar of the Triumph's three cylinders, growling then fading away, as she rode her way to her uncle's.

"¡Hola tío!" She said as soon as she crossed the door, a short moment after parking her bike. Her uncle's voice could be heard from the garage. The man was working on a car engine, his arms covered in... oil? grease? or so Dale noticed once she peeked her head inside the open garage. "¿Todo bien?" she asked.

"¡Ara!" Her uncle replied, a smile crossing his tanned features. "¿Dame esa llave, sí?" The reluctant teenager grabbed the dirty spanner between two fingers and threw it at him with a mischievous smile. "¡Toma!" A good-natured laugh was his reply as he deftly grabbed the tool and made it spin around his finger.

"Tío, me voy a salir con amigos esta noche. ¿Le dirás a mi mamá?"

"Sí."

"¡Gracias!"

Dale quickly left the garage, and headed to her room. She wanted to grab something before even considering searching the woods with her Band. She wouldn't bring her knife to school, but school was over for today. She doubted that anything would need her to go stabby-stab during the search, but she'd rather be safe than sorry.

Shortly after, she was back on her motorcycle, on her way to Cunningham's garden, her weapon in her backpack. It was no Birthright, but it made her feel less naked to know it was close. The wind quickly washed away those morose thoughts.

 

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Okay, Nadya had totally not intended to let it go that far dealing with Adrianna, especially as she was someone who could tie Dane up in knots like that. She'd just been curious what Grim would do or say when put on the spot. He'd done... fine, maybe a little bland, in her consideration, but totally props for the possible flirt. But then Lite Bright sunbeamed her way in and Nadya couldn't help but think about her failed attempt at pulling a fast one on Marius and failing utterly.

Risk. Reward. Sometimes for a big payoff, you had to gamble. Problem was, she hadn't been the one to pay the forfeit. It had been their loved ones. She could have cried about it not being fair, but she knew what he father would have said about that. While she did believe that there was a tendency towards Balance, no one ever said it was timely or didn't need help at times, nor that it couldn't be cheated. She hadn't needed Lite Bright's excoriation, having felt enough of a shitheel. She couldn't thank Dane enough for coming to her dad's aid.

Then Fisher mentioned the Nekyia and Nadya had felt the air sucked out of her lungs, like her death's breath slipping inexorably through her lips. She'd thought she was over being trapped inside her own mind, but it seemed it wasn't the case, the trauma lingering in the dark corners of her head. The Romani girl couldn't help but wince in sympathy and feline delight as Grim icily tore into Fisher for his blunder.

Grim laid out his plan of action and left, followed by Laurie, sunlight after shadow. Fisher trudged out a moment later, looking like death warmed over at the prospect of telling Archie what he'd done. After him, Dale slunk out like a dusky, busty cat on her growling motorcycle. And finally, it felt like Nadya could breathe again. Basking in the deliciousness of the confection Darcy had bestowed on her - it was more of a hot milkshake with several pumps of vanilla and raspberry syrup than mere coffee - she pondered where they'd already gone and where they were going, trying to track down the bitchy witches as they witchly bitched about town, trying to fit the pieces together, enough to get an idea of what the con looked like.

She got a text from Fisher, updating her about the dead birds being found at the pier. She furrowed her sharp brows, then swiped to Google maps, pinning locations. One point, a second... The Rule of Three, three witches...
 

On 7/28/2020 at 11:18 AM, Austin Lange said:

"I can already see us going all Scooby-gang and splitting up, but we need to be smart about how we do it."

"Then we should go in pairs, at least, Aquaboy," Nadya countered, with a grin, draining the last of her 'coffee' and popping up to her feet. "You go join Fisher at the pier. Rae-Rae, you're with me."

"Why am I going with Fisher?" Austin asked, not that he was opposed, just out of vague but habitual caution whenever Nadya proposed... almost anything.

Nadya gave him a silver-eyed stare of seeming genuine puzzlement. "Dude? Pier? Water? Splish-splash?" She pointed at him with a pair of fingers. "Aquaboy. Kinda obvious, don'tcha think?"

Austin sighed and began to shrug on his coat. "And where are you girls going?" he asked just as Rachel said, "And where are we going?"

"Not sure, yet, but I'll let you both know when we get there. C'mon, Rae-Rae, we have our own sleuthing to do before joining the others at Harmony Grove. We can get Wolf on the way."

Grunting in belligerent resignation, Rachel followed the short, wiry felony in oddly silently clomping heels out of the Drip. "Seriously, Nadya, where are we going?"

"Three witches, right?" Nadya said, flashing her phone at the taller Scion.

"Right..."

"Two things of the weird the others are checking out. We're gonna look for a third. The other two happened here and here." Nadya showed the points on a Google Map on her iTeru III. "Looking for patterns and shit, I figure they are witching themselves a triangle. Why else hit places as random as the pier and Mrs. Cunningham's garden - I mean, unless that's where they are hanging out and they are oozing out radioactive protoplasm or junk. If we're looking at a roughly equilateral triangle, the third point would be here, or here. The middle of Salem Harbor seems unlikely, so let's try the other one first, hey? It that doesn't pan out, well, Aquaboy can check the other. Or at least get us a boat."

The tall blonde gave the sleek brunette a weird look.

"What?"

"You know what an equilateral triangle is?"

"Oh, go drown yourself in the sludge of the Nile. I'm fine in math. You got a nose for guilt, I got eyes for crime scenes, and Wolf just has a nose. For smelling stuff. Let's see if we can scrounge ourselves up a clue on what's going on."

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Austin shrugged, finished his drink and paid for everyone's tab, leaving a generous tip for Darcy because of how they all piled on, as a means of apology, before leaving.   Nadya made sense in her assessment, and he head out for his jeep after tapping a text to Fisher.   "Want some backup for the Pier?   Rachel and Nadya are going to another spot, you were the only one who went alone.   I can pick you up."

It took a few moments for Fisher to text him back saying he wanted to handle this alone, and that he'd meet him at the Pier.   Austin sighed and headed for the Pier on his own.  It wasn't like he had never been there before.

Edited by Austin Lange

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[Fisher]  Thankfully, Archimedes wasn't hard to find.  The absurdity of that statement was something that would have made Fisher fall over with laughter a few months ago, but now he was mingling with Rastafarian cyclopes and searching for resurrected witches and... going to apologize to a god for maybe costing him his job, and his liver.  Did gods have livers?  Anyway, Archie didn't maintain a home in Salem, his sanctum linked directly to the library at the school and all of the Scions in Salem knew how to sneak into the library after hours, a bit of veil magic that kept a side door hidden from mortal eyes.

The library was filled with classical music, some symphony that Fisher didn't recognize nor had any reason to, since classical composers really wasn't his forte.  It was soothing enough though.  It was certainly easy to see how people used this sort of thing to relax and calm stress.  The God of Arithmetic was not difficult to locate, as the moment Fisher stepped through the threshold of the doorway a voice spoke over the music, "Good evening, Fisher!"  Archimedes walked from in between two of the massive book shelves with his hands filled with four or so books books that the young Scion assumed he was either planning reading or filing away in their proper place.

"Not often I see one of you here after hours.  What bring you by?"  He took off his glasses and adopted a look of concern.  "Is everything alright?"

[Austin]  Dane wasn't too far off in his appraisal.  It appeared the sheriff's office was down at the pier doing a clean up of the hundreds of bird corpses.  Along with a news van and a few local reporters.  It appeared that they'd begun earlier in the day while all the kids were in school but still looked like they had a long way to go, especially with the sun setting earlier and earlier in the chilly Salem October.

He pulled up the collar on his jacket to fend off a bit of the chill on a slight breeze that rolled through as he approached the the closed off pier.  Both the pier and underneath it, had 'caution' taped to keep people away but that didn't stop the masses to come and gather around to hold up their cell phones and record the strange phenomenon that had occurred.  It figured, hundreds of birds were dead under a pier just a few day before Halloween, in Salem of all places.  Tourism was going to be booming in the spring.

"Austin," the sheriff caught the young Scion off guard as he stared out at all the chaos of the media and citizens making the local boys' job more difficult.  He slithered up along side the young man, silently but his old Texan accent was still hidden there under all his years in Salem.  "Welcome to my side of things.  This is what I'm doing while you and yours are letting witches run loose on my city."  He didn't seem particularly angry, but it was the way he said it that made Austin feel like he wasn't doing his job, or at least, not doing it fast enough.  "Yeah, I know about them.  What's the situation?  You found any leads, because I've feeling this only going to get worse."

[Nadya]  They'd walked for the better part of twenty minutes into the Forrest River Conservation Area, a popular and common place for camping and teenage debauchery in the warmer months and until a few months ago none the others had even considered the large number of mythical beasts that lingered in the area.  Thus far it was mostly just a lot of harpies and few mischievous nymphs with an axe to grind against humanity, but according to Archimedes the place was supposedly a hot bed of monster activity waiting to encroach upon Salem's peace.

"Nadya!"  Rachel pulled a branch down that was in her way, when it didn't give right away she furiously pulled it, tearing it from the tree.  She gave the tree an 'oops' look and simply pursed her lips and pressed on.  "Nadya, this is stupid.  Slow down!  This has to be the dumbest idea I've ever heard!"

"Pfft," Nadya mused and ducked under a low hanging branch that quickly crunched and broke behind her a moment later at Rachel's passing.  "I have way dumber ideas than this, Rae.  Give y'girl some credit."

"Okay, dumbest idea to date." Rachel huffed.  "Where are w going?"

"Right here."  Nadya stopped as the entered into the edge of a clearing into a small mossy and grass strewn field.  The sky was gray and ominous, but in Salem in the fall that was staple for the next several months.  The grass was about knee length and the several large boulders in the area were painted with moss.  On warmer, sunnier day, the place might have even been beautiful, or even romantic.  Today though, while it may have been green it was slowly dying in the autumn chills that were slowly beginning to embrace their city.  She took a few hardened steps forward as Rachel bumped into her from behind, which earned her golden haired bestie a stern  side eye.  She held up her phone, comparing their location to the end of the triangle she drawn on Google Maps.  "This is it."

"What's it?"  Rachel said dryly, slipping on her gloves furious punching, just to be safe.  "There's nothing here.  It's a clearing.  With rocks.  Big whoop."

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