2019-05-04 - To Walk The Narrow Way


Betty has to find the Narrow Gate. She has some divine support along the way.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat May 4 08:09:28 2019
Location: Guan Kwong Temple

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Theme Song



The Guan Kwong Temple doesn't really look like much. It sits on the first floor of a small apartment building at 294 Broome Street in the northern reaches of the Lower East side. It's not an especially nice neighborhood, though there are worse.

Today, the temple is empty but for a pair of silent monks. They've just gotten finished burning an offering. A very interesting offering. Not one to the traditional set of buddhas and bodhisattvas. No. This one was to… Fear.

In Greek.

That should get his attention.

The elder of the two monks keeps looking at the front door as though he is expecting someone. Or perhaps more than one someone.

"Is the lower room clean?" He asks the other person in here with him.

Always a woman of her word, with a promise to foxes, a wolf, and valkyrie alike, Betty would eventually make her way to the temple in question. Hair back and up in a loose tail, attire simple, and a bag hanging off her shoulder, she enters the temple and gives it a brief once over. Her expression is tired, the flesh under her eyes puffy, and a faint hue or red stains the whites of her otherwise warm eyes. Though, she smiles, her nude lips curling up as she greets the monks. Unsure of what to say, her lips part and then close once more. Shortly after, she waves and takes a counted steps forward. "Hello."

It's been a long day for the young man in an orange robe and nearly clean shaven head. It had started well before dawn with an offering, proceeded to cleaning the temple top to bottom and now this. "Not quite. It's nearly down, ajarn. I was waiting for the floor to dry before checking it again …"

The womans voice nearly makes the young monk jump, he turns quickly enough to peer at her. "You you you … Hello. How can we help you." He remembers his manners at least.

How he knew where to go, or how to get there, Alexander doesn't really know. It's not like he can exactly snap his fingers and appear, so this 'summoning' really amounts to a two cabs and a subway trip to get to the Lower East Side. What happened to the old days, when gods could be summoned directly?

But somehow, he arrives exactly where he's supposed to be, when he's supposed to be there. Dad always talked about Fate like a real person, and usually with disdain, but lately things have seemed guided by more than random chance. This is one of those moments. Alex steps inside, hand on the hilt of his sword as he walks through the door. "Hello?" He echoes Betty's greeting, but questioning. He doesn't know who is here, or what, or why. Just that this is the place.

"It will be enough." The older monk assures the younger one. When Betty and Phobos arrive very close to one another he rises and bows to each.

"Welcome." He greets them in a voice shaky with age. "You are both expected here. Do you have the key?" That last is to Betty. The key? Ah yes. The… item that Inari had left her with. They had said it would be necessary to open the path.

"Apprentice, we had a gift for Fear did we not?" They should. Just behind the altar.

Phobos is looked at in a speculative, evaluating fashion. "You have many questions I know. We asked for your presence so that you might get answers. You will need them before the Night Falls."

Night Falls. Nightfall. Phobos… may recognize those words.

"Will you accompany her? She has a journey to make. A short, but quite difficult one."

Betty Brant offers another smile, this one apologetic toward the younger of the pair. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. I'm here…" Then another voice, and a greeting comes. Eyeing Phobos, she blinks smoothly, sniffling before stepping out of his way. It's usually in one's best interest to move out of the way of someone carrying a sword.

Attentive to the older monk, she nods and digs into her bag. Pulling out the beautiful box, she walks closer to him and offers it out. "Here. This is what you need, isn't it?" Fear?

Quirking a brow, she looks over her shoulder and toward Phobos. The question of him joining her causes her to watch after the monk once more. "No, he doesn't have to. I don't wany anyone getting hurt."

The younger monk straightens as Phobos appears and reaches to the side for a small case, not much bigger than a ring box to hand the tall gentleman who's just arrived. "Welcome to the temple, the two of you. You have a journey to make and the path will not be easy. This gift is given freely and may be used if your heart is true."

It probably means nothing to Phobos. Neither will the pendant that he finds in the case. A small circular orb that looks like it's made of glass - but isn't - and is decorated like the moon of mars. Poetic? Perhaps.

Should Phobos choose to examine the pendant with more than his eyes, he'll discover it's a very rare substance … Gossamer. Only found on the realm of Otherworld.

"I'd like to know precisely why the fuck I'm here," Alexander says in a not entirely friendly kind of way. He looks from the monks to Betty questioningly. Alex knows a little about this Nightfall business, though clearly not enough. "I have a feeling this isn't really up to either of us, lady," he says to Betty. His eyes glow white as he looks at her. "You are just -ripe- with fear, aren't you? The future, the end of days.. afraid of being alone without her, afraid he'll come back, afraid of the one that already is.. afraid of the truth coming out, afraid of starting something new. And afraid of yourself, most of all." His eyes dim. Purposely cryptic, but she'll know what he's talking about. "Are you sure you're ready for.. well, whatever this ends up being?"

Alex takes the pendant when it is offered, and looks it over after removing it from the box. Gossamer is not something he's overly familiar with, but there's a definite kind of energy in it. "I don't think we have much of a choice. I'll do my best to protect you," he says to Betty, though his attempt to sound reassuring may fall flat with his tone. He holds out the pendant to the monks, questioning. "What is this?"

"It is. Hold on to it. You will need it."

"You are here because you need to be." The monk says in a rather monkish way, and then cracks a smile.

"I know, I know. It's not a very good answer. But it is easier to show you. Come."

He gestures for the apprentice to follow and leads them below into a basement room. It's not very large. Maybe twenty feet by ten. In the center of it there is a wooden 'torii' gate. And as the magatama is brought near to it a swirling green energy fills the opening, creating some kind of… portal. It stabilizes and…

Well. The narrow gate is well named. The portal reveals a small area, shrouded in darkness. There is a bridge maybe fifty feet long spanning a chasm so wide and deep that it's ends and bottom cannot be seen. On the far side there is a pedestal and something sparkling amid a shaft of light.

"Only one of mortal blood may take the prize. But none of mortal blood have ever made it past the bridge. Be cautious." The old monk says. Will Phobos need to protect her? It's hard to see initially what from.

But then Phobos may perhaps know that these situations are never as they seem.

Betty Brant nods and closes the box up, hugging it and its hidden away objects, against her chest. She doesn't speak or answer Phobos, she can't really, but as he stares and starts counting off the things rolling through her mind, it causes the woman to pull away and frown. Her brows slope and furrow, knitting together as her breathing starts to quicken.

At his offer of protection, all she can do is curl up against her box more so before following after the monk. She spies the gate and waits in silence, the glow washing over her, causing her to squint before the vision beyond becomes clearer. She'd heard this before, from a number of mouths, but the story so far was the same. Nodding, she exhales, and then steps toward the passage.

Alex lets out a frustrated sigh. "Those aren't answers at all," he informs the monks, as he slips the pendant around his neck. He'd give it to the woman, but.. well, it was clearly made for him. A look to Betty is given, gauging her reactions to their words before following as the monks lead them into the basement. "Goddamn Shinto," he mutters quietly as he walks down the steps.

When the gate opens, Alex raises his eyebrows upon seeing the portal and the area it reveals. He's done a bit of trans-dimensional travel in his young life, and none of it really ended well. He's tried to avoid it, mostly. "Am I the only one who really wishes Indiana Jones were doing this instead?" Alex looks first at the monks, and then at Betty. Come on, that's a solid pop culture reference. When she starts walking toward the passage though, he follows closely. "You lock us in there and I swear to every god on the mountain that I will find you and make you pray for death," he threatens, dead serious and meaning every word of it. Pleasant guy.

It hits them not many steps onto the bridge. It's a strange feeling - one that swells their chest with their own … self importance … making them feel so very good about themselves. Then the visions come.

For Betty its n real, down to earth editors job - her own by-line on the paper, not something stolen or hidden. There's awards on her walls and people look up to her. She could do anything. She is so very, very proud … but there are those that she hurt to get there.

For Phobos, he's back on Project Caterpillar. His particular talents are being used. He's lauded and praised. He's every right to be proud but … in the back of his mind he knows just what it cost to be there, doing this. He knows the cost of what he's doing - and it's not good. Not to him, but to others.

The visions are somewhere between Illusions and… life. More vivid than day dreams. It's like being transported into another life. One in this case where they have everything they've ever worked for and everything has gone well. Less a fantasy of a life lived well than a validation of everything that they are. Of course they've made all the right choices. Of course they're the best people for their jobs. Why wouldn't they be?

They are, after all, pretty awesome.

Why was it, again, that no one has ever come back from this?

The shock of 'good' against so much bad sank deep within Betty's belly. Sickening, almost, as she stands there and stares. Was this her office? She had an office? If she did, where…it was so calm here. Gasping, she turns around quickly, speaking, calling, "Jonah…" only to see nothing at all. The smells were all wrong; was that a price for victory? No cigar smoke. No coffee. No wild chatter from every cube around her. No view of the cluttered city below or another building across the street.

Padding quickly around her desk, she looks over things. Pictures perhaps? Who was showing up on them? Who's faces were on the glass. It twists, it turns, causing her eyes to roll back before she closes them off and shakes her head. She hugs…something, against her chest, feeling her heart thump against it as her pulse spikes slightly. She needed out. She takes the first door she can.

Alexander's time on Project Caterpillar was filled with moments like this. He never got to go into the field; too young, even compared to the other members of the team, all teenagers themselves. His domain was the interrogation chamber. A bright room, and a single person inside. Alex wouldn't even have to go inside, just watch through the one-way mirror. A flash of white across his eyes, and moments later the victim on the other side would start screaming, begging, pleading. And then every answer to every question he'd ever been asked would pour of his mouth like a waterfall. A hand would give Alex a comforting, validating touch on the shoulder, the kind he always wanted from his father but never got. "Great job, kid," he'd say. The man on the other side of glass would curl up into a ball. He'd probably kill himself within the hour. He didn't matter any more.

For Betty, there is no cigar smoke, no coffee cup. When she walks through the door, it becomes clear to her. In her struggle to be recognised, in her … pride … she had burned him. But it was worth it right? This is her office, her stationary on the desk. She's a killer view of New York and the salary to go with it. Her mother had been so proud, as had her friends. That's what it took to get ahead.

Right? Was it her pride that led her to this?

For Alexander, the praise is like an elixir. This is what he trained for and they're using him, despite his age. He's saving people isn't he? All he has to do is inflict that fear and pain on others. But that's ok, isn't it? It's worth it. It's worth the validation he's getting.

Is it really though?

Betty's vision flickers. She can see the bridge. Her steps are wobbling. Then she's in the office again. Headed for the door. It's just off to the left and…

Alexander might see it, even through the haze of the vision he's in. He's after all more than human.

And he might just see that Betty is about to step off the bridge.

She was so proud…The idea of it shakes the woman to the core, so much so that she feels her body tremble and the ground below wobble. If Phobos can see her, she surely cannot see him. A bridge, right. The thing against her chest is hard, but that sliver of idea that her mother was proud causes the woman to land on her knees and rest down. One hand out and down for balance, the other still keeping something protectively crushed against her breasts, she sobs out and attempts to breathe. It wasn't right, this wasn't right. A guilt that wasn't even her own was eating at her guts.

She was so proud…how was she proud when just the night before she had died?

It would have been. Eleven year old Alexander Aaron would have eaten that up like candy, and done anything he could to keep it coming. But that hand was never really there. The man who oversaw the project wasn't the touchy-feely type. Too much like his father; no matter how good a job he did, there was always more he could have done. Greater lengths to go to. Still, it was a nice dream.

Through the haze, he sees it. The bridge, the steps, the light at the end. ".. the fuck," he says, just as his eyes spot Betty, fractions of an inch away from a long fall to her imminent demise. "Hey!" he shouts. Vulgar little Fear God. Alex practically leaps toward the woman, and grabs her, pulling her back from the brink just in time. "Snap out of it, lady," he yells at her, jolting her physically at the same time.

That should be enough to bring the pair on the bridge out of it. It's not clear how, but they're further along it. They can't see where they stepped on and they can't see the end at the moment and the only way to go is … forward.

Betty and Alexander know what to expect though, right? The rest will be easy.

A few more paces and the next experience assaults them. The feeling … deep, heart rending sorrow.

Betty can see the grave of her mother and she just *knows* the debt to the Mob has bitten back hard. Instead of getting clear, something went wrong and her Mother paid the ultimate price.

Alexander has known much sorrow in his young life. Now he's transported back further to where it all began. Mikaboshi. This time though, Zeus hasn't intervened and the youth stands over his fathers broken body ….

Knowing what they know already, can the two win free more quickly?

The visions, the feelings are intense but Alexander at least might have twigged to what is going on here. This is bridge is enchanted or haunted somehow. Or perhaps it was designed and intended to do this. Test their resolve. Test their character. The monks had said only one of mortal blood could retrieve the prize at the end. But if he can force his way through the pain and the visions, he can make sure Betty gets there.

Betty for her part might also possibly be developing a resistance to this. Possibly. Then again it's also possible it will overcome her. She has a strong will. But she IS human.

Betty Brant slumps more against the ground now thanks to Phobos' tackle. A shake and yell, her wet eyes flutter, causing fat tears to roll down her cheeks. She feels the bridge now, views the pit, and the promise lingering at the path's end.

It was still so fresh, though. Viewing a marker not yet set in the ground, Brant's body shudders as she feels that dig against her heart starting to prick and pierce. She knew it had gone wrong somehow. The mob was gone now, ruined and left in blood. There as no one to pay, but somehow…they knew it was her coming for them. Somehow, they made sure to make the last point. She had a guess of how that happened, but it happened regardless if she was right or wrong about it.

With another whimper, the dirty-blonde tries to crawl forward, that is if Alex let her go.

Grasscutter drips with the blood of the God of War, and Phobos holds it firm. The Lord of Chaos and Evil stands over them, laughing. Victory. "I knew you could do it," he tells Phobos. For a moment, there's pride again, but then looking down at the bloody, broken form of his father, that pride disappears, replaced with sadness and regret. "What have I done," he asks himself, looking then at the blade. "How could I.." Patricide. A great Olympian tradition. The blade turns, and just before he could strike through, Phobos looks up at the shadowy form of Mikaboshi, who is smiling even as his favourite servant readies to end his own life. "No," he says, at first tentatively, but then again a shout into the darkness, and the sword is turned on his former master. "NO!"

And they pass … if that's what this is. When their visions clear, they can see the end of the bridge. Just … a … few… more … steps.

This time they're tempted by the vision that assaults them.

Betty can fix all of this if she just takes that step. The answer is just over there …

For Alexander, it's an opportunity to put things right with his Father. To have the relationship they never really had and he … craves. Just a step in the other direction and he'll have it.

It's such an all encompassing feeling.

There's a sense of power nearby. Alexander and Betty may both get flashes of a plinth through the visions. There's something on it. Bound plates of bronze like a book with something written on the front. But it's so hard to see, and this last vision so tempting. Their greatest mistakes all remedied if they just take one step.

One fatal step.

The goal is near. If only they can see through this final trial to reach it.

She could help them all, couldn't she? She could…was that her mistake? Did she cause that part of her life? She didn't make her brother gamble. She didn't make Eddie ruin his career, or accept that…thing…into his life. She didn't make Lucas deny her aid. She wasn't too far gone. She couldn't be. Still low to the ground, Betty keeps her head down and crawls. She reaches out with one hand, palming and grouping at the world before herself before following after it. Keep a path, keep the path. It had to end eventually. "Nothing is easy," she tells herself, repeating someone or something she'd heard. "Nothing is easy, Elizabeth Brant. Work for it and don't you ever turn mean. You didn't do this alone."

It's all Alexander ever wanted. A father, a life, a normal childhood. Ares could have been the father he needed to be, if he weren't.. well, Ares. But there it is. So close, Alex just has to take a step to reach it. And he very nearly does. But that flash ahead draws him back, out of the vision just enough to see that it isn't real. Dear old Dad isn't there, ready for that father-son embrace. There's.. nothing. Alex takes a step forward, toward their goal, not backward to a dream of what can never be.

Their feet touch the end of the bridge and the visions stop. Alexander and Betty will remember all of that. Those challenges … might not leave a deep mark on them, but leave a mark they will.

Just ahead they can see what they've come for. What Betty's come for. The thing that Inari has stored here … that might help the God-Wolf and his Valkyrie.

A light blossoms over it as they draw near.

When the pair steps off the bridge, or crawls off the bridge or as might be the case with Betty is shepherded off the bridge, the visions immediately stop. The trials are over. They're here.

On the plinth are four rectangular bronze plates, bound together like a book but also seemingly fused, unable to be opened. There is one word engraved in large letters on the topmost plate.


Whatever this is, Fenris thought it might assist his cause. Was it worth it? Time will tell.

And then that pendent starts to gleam. It gleams with the same crimson that Grasscutter is sometimes stained with and pulls the magic, these illusions, into itself. The very act cracks the gossamer of it, but shattering it could release those visions… on whomever Phobos desired.

When either of them look back the bridge and Chasm both are gone. There is just an easy fifty foot walk back to the gate, once they have what they came for.

"You better take it," Alex says to Betty with a nod to the book. "They said it has to be a mortal, and I'm.. well, I'm not sure if I qualify." Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. Best not to risk it. Not after all that.

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