2019-04-23 - To The Wolfs Den


Betty Brant's investigative genius gives her a lead that leaves her a little … chilled.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Apr 23 08:12:59 2019
Location: Upper East Side

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It is virtually impossible to find a real house in Manhattan, as opposed to an apartment or a rowhouse or brownstone. To do that, one has to get onto Long Island and specifically into the nicer neighborhoods of Queens. That is where Ulric Kerensky, a man of rather remarkable wealth and no real social calendar to speak of, lives. And has lived for a couple of decades. Where a man named Caspar Navarro lived before him. No relation of course, but a striking resemblence. Actually, the house has had a couple of owners that looked a lot like Ulric.

There are reasons for that of course, not that 'Ulric' tells them to many people. He's lived in this house for far longer than the paperwork suggests. Close to a hundred years in fact. Which is about as long as he's lived in New York. At the moment, 'Ulric' is sitting down and having a cold one. He just finished dinner. It's been a long day.

He's ordering a new guitar on his tablet, humming disapprovingly at the styles on offer.

"Oh for the days when you could just pay a craftsman to make something for you…"

The longer she was in this city, the more it seemed both to grow and shrink around her. The odd story had shown up on her desk once upon a time but was otherwise neglected until recently. It was just sensationalism, something she tried to ring in as much as possible given her position at the Bugle. Things were changing, however, and sometimes a good mystery was always fun. For all her digging and asking around, her searching brought her bug blocks away from her own home in Queens. So close and yet so far without her even realizing it.

Studying the flatscreen of her phone, its blue-white glow showing across her face, Brant comes to a pause across the street from a home. His home. It was like those pictures that circulate online proving such and such is immortal or actually a vampire or some such (possible) nonsense. There it was, all she need do is cross and knock on the door.

Taking a breath in, then out, she checks traffic and makes her way over, heels clicking with every solid step. A glance at her makeup, a fluffing of her hair, she beams brilliantly and then requests to be allowed in.

The door to the brownstone opens not long after Betty knocks by a tall, willowy, stern looking blonde. "You could always find an artisan, Ulric. I fancy a trip to Hawai'i, it's been awhile since we've been there." She gazes at Betty for a moment.

"Were you expecting someone?" the blonde calls back into the house and then to Betty "May I help you?"

There's something about this woman. Some sort of aura she exudes and it's not just confidence.

"I was not…" Ulric gets up from the table and comes to the door. He is pretty much like in the pictures that Betty has seen, only in a collared shirt with the collar undone and the sleeves rolled up and an untied tie draped across him. Like he's been home from a day at the office.

There is a slice on his shirt though. Like something sharp cut it. Not tore it. Too clean.

"Well hello. Don't often get visitors here. You are?"

The blonde. She's in some of those pictures too, but not all of them and there's a lot more variation in the styles of women's clothing so it's much more difficult to tell if it's the same woman.

"Yes! Hello," she starts greeting Astryd only to silence herself once Ulric shows his face. The face, its features, all the same. Even the blonde. That cut though…Blinking herself out of it, she offers her hand out, nails tipped a rich crimson. "Betty Brant, it's a pleasure to meet both of you." Pause, "Am I at the Kerensky residence?" Looking from one to the other, she waits for her hand to be taken before lowering it back down by her side.

"I was wondering if I may ask you a few questions. Apologies for the short notice, I was trying to decide if a phone call was better than face-to-face. People rarely greet anyone personally anymore." She smiles again.

Astryd is wearing a dress, one that might be reminiscent of a time past whilst still being current. She takes Betty hand and steps "Why don't you come in. Could I offer you a drink? This sounds like it might be a long conversation."

There's an amused look she throws the dark haired man.

"And yes, this is the Kerensky residence." beat "What have you done now, Ulric?" She teases.

"I'm not entirely certain." He shakes Betty's hand and steps back though, Ulric does, to let Betty in. It's a nice house. Modern lighting. Sleek darkwood furnishings. Momentos of what seem to be various travels on the walls. Art and crafts from around the world. Some of it rather old.

Mister Kerensky scoops up the last of the dinner plates and places them in the sink for later, the sits back down. Astryd had offered the drinks and if she feels like bringing him one, well, she knows what he likes.

"So tell me Miss Brant. Are you an investigator, or a reporter or something else? And what sorts of questions can we help you with?"

"Thank you." She slips in and starts to look around. She doesn't move nor over steps bounds, only following when lead. "Oh, please. Thank you, Mrs. Kerensky." She smiles all the while, looking toward Ulrich. "Your wife is very kind." She doesn't sit yet but stands instead, eyeing after Astryd before coming back around to Ulrich directly.

"Unofficially, I'm an investigative journalist. Officially, I'm a secretary." Betty muses gently. "Well, honestly, I'm trying to figure out who you are." Pause, "Really. I'm sure others have come to you with questions about it before. The list of names linking to the same location for decades. Different masks but same face. Over and over again, on a cycle of 40 years at a time." Swallowing, she casts another look toward the stunning blonde and returns to the dark haired man in his chair.

"I don't have to write anything. No story, no secrets given away. I've just…come to find out this city is more than I once realized it was. Perhaps you're part of that." Breath. "Both of you."

Astryd smiles and guides their guest in. "Natasha, please." The investigation that Betty has done should support that. Natasha Kerensky was married to Ulric several years ago now. Though the woman doesn't look much more than late twenties, early thirties. "Mrs Kerensky makes me feel so old."

As she turns, Betty will see the hair pin she wears. The 'basket' is a norse 'knot'.

The blonde disappears for a moment and returns with a bottle of wine, two glasses and beer for Ulric. "I hope wine is acceptable? I was about to pour myself one when you knocked."

"Why do you think we might be part of something …."

Ulric smiles up at the beer and takes a drink. "Thank you." That's to the blonde.

Well, the blonde moving about the kitchen. Not the one at his table.

"I forget, sometimes, Natasha, how clever people can be. And imaginative. But as she says, what is it that makes you think we are part of something. And if we are…"

He leans forward. "What is it you wish to know?"

Oh he's amused, yes. And intregued. But he's going to make her work just one little, tiny bit more before giving her some answers.

Ulric can be a bit playful like that sometimes. Or, well, he thinks it's playful.

"Wine is wonderful, thank you, Mrs…Natasha." She corrects herself, watching her fellow blonde move away and collect their drinks. Once all was settled and done, she moves a hand atop a chair and asks, her brows aloft. "May I?" Hopefully it's a yes as she removes her jacket and brushes down her skirt before claiming her seat.

"Part of something? Oh, well no. What you're part of is your business. Why you do what you do is your business, too. I understand secrets and having personal reasons for anything." As a show of good faith, she removes her phone and opens it, removing the battery, and setting it before them on the table.

She notices the knot, the look of the pair, even so it causes her to smile. As Ulric leans forward she returns the motion, leaning in his direction. "I wish to know everything you're willing to tell me." Then back, eyeing both in turn. "How long? What…who are you?"

"Please do." Astryd, Natasha, gestures as she pours the drinks and hands them out. "Very clever, Ulric. There was reason we liked it here." It's a cryptic statement, really. Here? New York? or does she mean something else? She might mean something else.

"Who are we? Ulric and Natasha Kerensky. Who do you think we are?"

Ulric looks at Natasha and leans back at the table, enigmatic smile on his face. "What if I told you that we were gods?"

He lets the question hang a moment there before rising from the table and motioning for the other two to follow. He opens the sliding glass window and steps out into the back yard. A luxury in a place like New York. A back yard with a fence.

"A name is a name. You've had many names." Betty murmurs, at least to Ulric. Here? Gods? Blinking to Ulric, she accepts her glass, offering a soft 'thank you' to Astryd before taking a sip. Then Ulric is moving. Another drink, swallowing quickly, she makes to stand and follows after. "If you told me you were gods?" She repeats before considering it for a moment longer. "I'd believe you. There are all types of beings in this world anymore. Or they always were and no one paid attention until recently. I think having a door opened for me recently made me look into your case again."

Confession made, she looks between the pair, gently sipping from her glass and leaving behind the print of her lips, she watches attentively, falling silent. "I've met a god, I think. A Lady Sif? I've met magic users and an elf?" Lips parting, she smiles again. "If you're gods I have little reason to say you're not. You're something, that much is for certain."

"Well, technically, one of us is god." Natasha murmurs, watching as Ulric moves about. She holds her glass in a salute to Betty before taking a sip. "One of us is a Valkyrie. I'll let you guess which is which."

"And what door was it, Miss Brant, that had you taking a looking into us again." The woman is amused if nothing else. "Lady Sif is in town? I … hadn't heard. Then again, it's not the others keep in contact."

Once in the back yard Ulric looks behind him and then starts to… change. Growing larger. And hunched over. And larger still until…

Well, it's a wolf. A rather large wolf. Now six feet tall at the shoulder? Bigger than a horse. Well bigger than most horses anyway. He turns and when he does there's this feeling of… dread. Something in the back of the mind that says 'this is the worst possible thing'. Some people can control it. Others… not so much.

"What if I told you that instead of a god, I was a monster?"

His voice has gotten low and rough, but still sounds amused.

Betty Brant offers Natastryd a toast and drinks along with her, waiting to see what it is Ulric was meaning to show her. Them. Probably just her. Her brows quirks to her fellow blonde, listening at the comment and titles named off. "What door? I, well. I think Mutants started it. Heroes and villians next. Then magic and monsters recently." Even as she speaks, the muffled noises of the man's shift catch her attention. She feels that dip in her stomach, the unease wash over her, and the earth shattering feeling of being mortal and nothing else.

Trembling she can feel her teeth chatter, her knees buckle and her body take an instinctual step back. Valkyrie. Wolf. With a stutter in her voice and a mixture of awe and fear in her warm gaze, the woman speaks. "Ffff-…" Then something all the more terrible twists her face with not fear or shock, but pain. "T-the world's ending?" She whispers, a tear rolling down her cheek.

Astryd goes to stand beside Betty as Fenris starts changes, her hand placed gently under the womans elbow. "Just breath. I am here, he'll not harm you …" she murmurs. Sighing at the tear and her … partners … comment.

"The world is not ending. Not yet and not if we can help with it. It is, in part, why we are on Midgard."

"Fenris, my heart, what have I told you many times? Even when I was your jailor? You are no monster … "

Fenris watches Betty tremble and sees the tear roll down her cheek. He turns his midnight dark face and glowing red eyes away and lays down in the middle of the yard.

"The world is always ending, Miss Brant. But it's not doing so in a very big hurry right now. We have not come here to destroy it. Not if it can be helped at any rate."

There's a short pause and a gentle. "All my stuff is here, anyway." Humor doesn't always work. Or often work. Okay Fenris can't remember the last time it worked.

"I am known by many names. The Destroyer. The Old Wolf. The Tireless Hunter. But I prefer Fenris, if you please. That is Astryd. We've been travelling together for a long, long time. Congratulations, mortal. You found us."

"N-no, I…I didn't think he'd…I…I was thinking about my mother." She explains to the Valkyrie, even as her body presses back against the blonde's. Sniffling she reaches up, brushing across her cheeks and cleaning off any tears that excaped her wide eyes. Clearing her throat, she pants. "I'm sorry. You're-you're not a monster. If anything," she pauses, looking to Astryd in apology before speaking. "You're gorgeous. I'm not a-afraid of you just…that feeling of what you mean? Meant?" Eyeing her drink, she sets the glass down and steps away, just pacing to take a breath.

"I wasn't looking, but yay me…" She attempts to joke herself. To Astryd, Fenris, she sighs and steadies her nerves. "I-I'm at a loss. I want to ask what you're protecting it from. Why you're here. How you've remained together." A pause, "I have the urge to pet you but I don't think you pet another woman's man."

Astryd lets the younger blonde lean against her for comfort. It's a strange thing, isn't it when you seek comfort from a Chooser of the Slain. Quietly she takes a handkerchief from a pocket in the dress and hands it to Betty.

She chuckles as Betty regains some of her composure. "Go ahead and pet him. I ride his great great grandson after all." Oh, she has to be teasing doesn't she?

"Let me start with part of it and Fenris can give you some. We were not always together, only the last two thousand years or so." It's not long in the lifetime of a God, really. "I was Fenris' jailer when the Asgardians bound him and I was exiled for asking for his release."

The wolf shakes himself and smirks slightly. "What is it with the midgardians and the furry things?" He asks the valkyrie. "Yes, pet it's okay."

Consider it a prize really. There are not many people on any world who can stand to get this close to him. Even Betty, brave as she is, trembled and needed steadying. That's just… well, when one literally stares the into the face of an apocalypse, it gets that way.

"That, Betty, is a long long story. Much longer than we can cover tonight." He doesn't mind telling her because even if she did print it, well. People will believe a lot, but this?

"But to put it in terms that are simpler and… do not need days of other tales to explain, we are here we don't like rigged games. And the end of the world? That's the most rigged game in the universe."

"I-I remember stories I learned. Lady Sif, well, I insulted her, I think." Betty murmurs, accepting the cloth and lightly dabbing her eyes. "Thank you." Another dab, she keeps the fabric close at hand and turns to her drink once more. Downing it. All of it, in a healthy gulp.

"I asked her about Thor, and asked about her hair. From what I know, well what I've read, it's not all true at all." She then wonders who wrote such things. Was it all complicated? Lies?

"Jailor turned lover. That's rather romantic. Sounds like a myth." She smiles lightly and timidly inches closer to the massive wolf. He already dwarfs her, even laying down, so her steps and out-stretched hand are timed and slow. As if he were another dog, she opens her palm so he may know her smell. Granted, he probably already did. It was habit.

Finally, her fingers sink into the fur along his jaw and scruff. Panting out a held breath, she beams toward Astryd and then closes the distance. "Rigged games." She nods. "I understand that part. I-I'm not sure what you could tell me is something I should know, right? What are people like me suppose to know? They say only artists know the truth of the Gods." A pause, she glances between the pair. "Is that still true?"

"Let me guess, you asked Lady Sif about her hair, didn't you?" Astryd smirks. "Lady Sif has proven remarkably easy to upset. I wouldn't let it worry you…. ah you did. It's a sore subject. That and Thor."

"You're just so cute and fluffy like that, my heart. A puppy really …" she teases as she sips her wine.

"We're going to change Fate, Miss Brant. To stop the cycle of Ragnarok and free Fenris."

"Artists typically have too much ego in my experience." Fenris says. His fur is quite soft but even knowing that he won't hurt her, that feeling hammering the lizard brain part of her mind, the one that says he WILL eat her, doesn't stop. It's a testament to Betty's will that she is doing this and Fenris doens't seem to mind.

"There are many stories that humans tell that are not as they were. Where they heard them from I've no idea. Gossips and maybe Asgardians with an agenda. But as for what you should know…"

Should is an interesting word. There's nothing Fenris will say that she SHOULDN'T know. What she can know, though…

"The history of your world is a long one. Your historians tell you that recorded history begins about five thousand years ago. And pre-history ges a bit sketchy after ten thousand. Too many ice ages. Big glaciers flatening the ground, grinding out any trace of what was. And what WAS before?"

The great wolf looks at Ardul then back to Betty.

"What if I told you that the world went in endless cycles. That humanity rises, builds, and becomes great only to be reduced to ashes in the death throes of Asgard and others? What if I told you these cycles were carefully maintained, and had been repeating for eons? What if I told you… that it was possible to end them? To slip the endless circle of insanity and death and become the master of your own destiny. If you were destined to destroy the world, would that not appeal?"

Betty Brant is silent now, listening as both speak to her. Her fingers idly digging in and against pelt and down again. The words were heavy, the ideals were great, and the ability to pet a canine was actually comforting. She keeps her silence and thinks to herself. Another sniffle, she rubs at her face, fanning her eyes in an attempt to dry them off.

"I-I suppose? I, I understand trying to save someone you love." She nods, eyeing Astryd with a solid gaze. "That I understand. Breaking fate? I'm not even sure I believe in that personally, but then there's proof and…" Shaking her head, she exhales smoothly.

"I would want to change what I could for myself. In a way, I'm trying to do that now, too. To stop something destructive from happening." Pause, "What about your brother and sister? I mean, are they your brother and sister? Hel and Jormungandr?"

Astryd lounges against the door frame, her strawberry blonde hair falling about her shoulders. There's nothing soft to her, not at all. "Fate exists, little sister." She says quietly. "The Norns are real and they stitch the tapestry of life that affects all of us. You, have a thread on that canvas. I do. Fenris does." She won't try to convince the woman. How many cycles had she and the God Wolf lived before?

"It was not my love for Fenris that drove me to petition the All Father to release him. But my belief that we, as Asgardians, were wrong. He is not the Monster we are taught he is."

There's a fond look to the big black wolf in their garden. "My love him, came a century or more later …"

"The Norns are just… middle management." Fenris explains. "There is another hand that guides that. But it is not so all seeing as it would have us believe. Fate has blind spots and it can be stretched. Pushed. Tangled. Of course, when you make a habit of bucking fate, you shouldn't be surprised if it decides to buck back…"

The great black wolf takes in a breath and lets it out. So very canine, so very like the dogs and wolves of earth and yet in subtle ways not. Nothing anyone's likely to be able to put a finger on. Just a collection of small things that makes him seem off. It makes sense. Fenris is not a wolf, after all. He's a supernatural disaster that happens to be wolf shaped.

"My family is a… complicated topic." Fenris chuckles. "Suffice it to say that not all there is as humans have recorded it. In some ways, it would be simpler if it were."

Fenris' family, Astryd knows, is a topic that could eat a whole month of sundays, as they say.

"Well, brave little one. You've heard the basics of our tale. If you crave more, I think it's time for some more poper hospitality."

The Old Wolf rises to his feet and shrinks back down, becoming a man once more. That feeling lessens. Lessens a lot. But it doesn't entirely recede.

"Come. I believe Astryd made a figgy pudding. We can share it and I will satisfy what of your curiosity is safe to do so."

Is he worried she'll tell anyone. Well. Not especially. Who, after all, is going to believe that Ulric is really a world ending wolf in disguise?

And who, in this day and age, is afraid of the big bad wolf?

Even if they should be.

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