2019-05-31 - A Shimmering Garden


With two tablets in hand, it's time to retrieve God Killer. All does not go well, of course.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri May 31 03:29:34 2019
Location: 74-36 62nd Street

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It's taken Ambrose some time to translate the tablet that was recovered from the research station beneath Chernobyl. What he's discovered is that God Killer is likely to be found in the realm of Tammuz, a Mesopotamian god of fertility and the underworld. Strange how some things get grouped together.

The entry, according to the inscription can be found at the peak of Mount Nisir, known by most today at Pir Omar Gudrun, near Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan. Fenris might know some of the lore about this and the man who supposedly came here.

It is here, on the peak of the moutain, an area that is strangely flattened, that a Way opens, a split in reality, and a tall lean blonde steps forth. She's in practical travelling clothes, her long blonde hair caught up in a clip. There's nothing soft or welcoming about her. "Are we all here?" she asks the others who come through with her. "Tell me again, Ambrose, what that tablet said?"

Kai steps through, onto the mountain, and he squints as he looks around. He's abandoned fashion for practicality, himself, though it's practicality if it came through L. L. Bean rather than military surplus. He is and remains a cosmopolitan elf. "I think so," he says to Astryd, and he looks back at the Way to see who will follow him through.


Lanky, more subdued than normal in his dark military gear, Ambrose is part of the train exiting out onto the arid region. Despite the shadows lingering beneath the Jackal's eyes, as if he'd been denied sleep he never indulges in, he allows himself a little smile as he looks at Astryd and then around at the others once they've gathered.

"The tablet we purloined from Chernobyl said: Past the Land of The Night into a garden of brilliance," he reminds the group. "And the first tablet in our possession said: Past the Mountain of Mashu where dwells the scorpion and his wife. We're in this godforsaken place because between the dratted riddles and a few hand-selected tomes, the conclusion is that — " Ambrose pauses briefly to swallow hard, as if lunch tried crawling up his throat again. Damn those Ways. His lips thin and he soldiers on.

"We've got a tete-a-tete for high tea in a realm of both life and death. It will be lorded over by a being named Tammuz and we had better be prepared to deal with the latter element of his aspect." Out of habit, he checks his revolvers as well as the trench knife at his belt. "I refuse to go through all of this effort only to die at the end of it."


There's the Soldier. Buck's dressed in plain, insignia-less fatigues. Armed with rifle and pistols, though with the luck they've been having, he won't be up against mundane enemies. Sticking close to Kai, quite frankly - he's got a small pack on his back. Is he the elf's Sherpa?

Sif steps through the Way at about the middle of the group, mostly to make sure their companions of non-Asgard origin arrive well enough. Again, she's in her armor with her sword at the ready even though she's not at all sure that it will be needed.

Sure or not, she will always keep her sword at the ready.

At seeing that the travel has once again left Ambrose unsettled, she offers him something from a pouch on her belt. This time it's slightly soft pink lozenges with a P and a B embossed on them. "I was informed that this would aid in staving off nausea." And if anyone else wants the small pink healing lozenges, she brought the entire contents of a small, oddly not glass-like vial.

Fenris had spent some time interfacing with the locals. Certain parts of the world its easy to get by being someone who instantly sets people ill at ease because that's a lot more normal there than it is in, say, New York. This is one of those parts of the world and consequently, he's had some baklava which he's been munching on for the past quarter hour.

Sharing, if he's asked nicely.

"Mmmmm. Sounds familiar. Tammuz. Tammuz."

He thinks. "Oooooooh. Him. Don't mention his wife. It's for the best."

"No, don't mention his wife. Tammuz," Astryd adds to the others "is the God of fertility in Mespotamian culture. But part of the year he's also the God of the Dead. His wife, is Innana. Look around, there must be something here, Ambrose, you have the tablets right? I think we're going to need them."

The blonde helps herself to some of Fenris' baklava giving the God-Wolf a saucy grin as she does. It's not long before it's found, a fissure in the mountain face that when Ambrose brings the plates close widens.

Widens till there's a yawning gap beyond which is just darkness. "Well, who's first?"

Going near it, all of them can feel the buzz from the arcane energy. Where they're going … well, who knows?

It's a testament to Kai's courage that he's overcome his terror of Fenris to ask for some baklava. Or maybe it's a testament to his love of baklava. "Don't mention the wife," Kai says, "Got it." He glances at the pink pills Sif offers. He does not, in any way, need them, but they're pink, so surely they're delicious like tasty candy? He holds out a hand. "Yes, please," he says. He eyes yawning gap. He'll totally jump in, but about that pink candy…


With utmost care at not touching Sif yet again, Ambrose takes the little chewable pink lozange. This little thing won't kill him, after all, and the Asgardian warrior-woman got heavily into his good graces with her healing stones. Between that and well-timed intervention from Talbot, the Jackal's here to pull out the two tablets from within the cross-body satchel at his waist. Carefully wrapped away within protective layers, he brings them forth and even as he chews through the Pepto-Bismol lozange, frowning at the odd pepperminty taste, he glances up at Astryd.

That the earth itself reacts to the presence of both tablets in the same locale? That's enough to make the Jackal go wide-eyed. "…I'll be damned," he mutters to himself, looking at the others. Clearing his throat, he then works at putting them safely away back into his satchel. Wearing the smallest smirk, he adds to the group as a whole,

"Ladies first." Because he is, of course, the consumate gentleman.


"I'm no lady, and it's been a long damn time since I was a gentleman," Buck deadpans. "But I'll go first." Hey, Steve isn't here to do it, gotta keep up the Rogers family tradition - he's practically a Rogers already, right?

Suiting the action to the word, he unslings the rifle, flicks off the safety, and heads in.

Sif readily hands out the pink lozenges to whomever wants them and pockets the rest again. When the fissure opens in the mountain face, she looks at the others. Bucky starts in first before she can, even though she'd been about to do so herself. She IS the seasoned adventurer of the group, after all.

She follows the Midgardian warrior promptly, though, so that he won't end up on the other side of this without someone to help him should they find enemies lying in wait.

"I think you just proved otherwise, Sif." Fenris snickers, licking his fingers as he too moves forward. Kai will know that it is indeed good baklava. Sticky though.

Fenris vanishes and nothing is heard from him for a long long moment. Then his arm sticks out and he motions the others onward.

"Come on. Daylight's a-waistin'."

It's dark inside the fissure. Not so dark that they're totally blind, but the sort of the dark that comes not so long after twilight. There's a path to follow, that wends and winds its way forward. On either side, trees seem to grow with branches that reach out above them.

"In the Epic of Gilgamesh, this is called the Land of Night." Astryd murmurs. Ambrose likely finds this fascinating. His research, the stories, are coming to life, after all. "Don't stray from the path, we won't be able to find you and even if we could, you wouldn't be able to step on it again."

Astryd shakes her glow stick to light it. It flares but the dark of the night swallows it immediately. So too for the other torches and light sources bought by the rest. There's only one person who can lead the party safely.

To Kai, the pathway is clear. To the others, it's hard to tell where the edges start and end. They can also hear the whipsers that entice them to follow, trying to draw them from the edge of the path.

In the distance though - glimpsed through the trees as they move, they can see a glimmer of light.

Kai pops the lonzenge in his mouth and chews. His perky expression draws into confusion, and then mild disappointment. "I mean, I guess it's okay," he says. Still, he was expecting something better than chalky peppermint. He follows after Sif, somewhat disquieted. This is like that time he had salt licorice in the Netherlands. If it's sold in the candy aisle, it shouldn't taste like sea brine. It's this thought he holds in his mind as he steps into the void.

"I need a different souvenir than a rock for Beau. I don't think it'd get along with the Hell rock, and that one's just… mean. And, I think, jealous." He keeps on the path, eyeing the whispers at the edge dubiously. Yeah, like he's falling for that twice.


Ambrose gives Bucky a two-fingered salute for his brave disappearance into the vertical abyss. "Atta-boy," he murmurs in a fairly awful approximation of an East coast American accent. The Jackal ends up falling into step within the formation nearer to the back. He too hears the whispers from the trees, but the sour clench of his stomach in time with the penny-bright taste of fear on his tongue is more than enough reason to ignore them this time.

"It's a ruddy shame that I can't shove anyone off the path. Oh, no one present," he amends with a lift of a hand in the gloom. "I can simply think of a few deserving rapscallions." He peers at the silhouettes of the others before him. "This is a damned difficult path to see as is."


Sif does her best to stay on the path, if only to help make sure the others don't falter. The whispers from either side are unnerving and disturbing, but she's had centuries of practice at hiding any outward indications of unease or discomfort. She just looks determined.

"What sorts of adversaries can we expect to see here?" she asks of the Valkyrie and the Wolf, mostly to give the Midgardians something else to focus on besides the whispering.

"Only in a leap from the lion's head will he prove his worth." Fenris mutters. Something about difficult paths. Up ahead he can see the glittering though. "There." He points out.

That should help Kai. Though whether it does or not the distance now isn't very far and they're right at the edge in short order. So much more light here. It looks indeed like a garden of some sort. Well cared for. And bright.

"I didn't realise you were such a fan." Astryd smirks a little but keeps herself focussed. With Kai leading them, it's much much easier.

Fenris is right though, they soon emerge from the dark of night into the bright of day.

Before them lays a glittering garden. Flowers who's blooms are made of gems, trees and shrubs and that shimmer as emeralds, rubies and sapphires form their leaves and flowers. It's so very pretty.

In the centre of the garden, is a gazebo. Something just as pretty though it seems to be made of gold or something gilt. It's there, that they can see a Bow sits on a pedestal. Is that what they've come for?

Probably. "Well Ambrose and Kai, you're up, I think." Astryd murmurs. "I doubt very much that the bow is just sitting there. Go and see if you can retrieve it."

Of course it's trapped. Ambrose can find see the tiles on the floor once he starts looking. Someone's going to have to decipher symbols that appear there. Symbols that Kai can read, easily. They'll have to work together to do this.

As they the more stealthier of the group go about their deliberations. Fenris and Sif feel the ground start to rumble. The trees just in front of them, awaken - swatting at them with gem hardened limbs.

Kai's eyes brighten as he steps into a garden of gems. Ooh, these would make great souvenirs. "Would it tilt the worlds off their axes if I plucked a flower?" he asks. At least he's asking instead of just filling his pockets as fast as his twitching fingers can manage.

Right, the bow. He glances at Ambrose and gestures at the tiles. "So what do you think? I'm pretty sure a straight shot is going to get us both killed, but maybe a little zigzag?"

Sif stops as they finally reach a clearing and looks at everything. The gemstone flowers are interesting to look at, but she has no interest in taking any. Kai's interest has her looking at him oddly. It seems like such a pointless thing to risk. As Astryd tells the stealthy pair of the group it's their turn, she gets her sword ready. You know, just in case.

This has been just too easy so far.


"I wouldn't touch anything, personally, but that's my own sense of self-preservation speaking up," the Jackal replies as to Kai's thoughts on making off with one of the garden's blooms. Despite the entire place being infinitely more green and beckoning in its faceted color and gleaming beauty, he still looks back over his shoulder at the delineation between the path and the garden. A sigh and then a stare as he sees the trees coming to life in an aggressive response at the Dread Wolf and Sif.

"I believe our timeline just accelerated," he quips, looking back at the tiles. "Either I can take my bloody good time pointing out the tiles least likely to doom us all to a mangled and no doubt wretched death or I could…" He sucks on a canine tooth as he eyes the pedestal. His oceanic-blue eyes slide musingly over to the Elf again.

"…or I can throw you at it and we pray you execute a grab of the bow in mid-air," he offers, smiling in a manner that indicates it's a horrible idea BUT IT'S STILL SUCH AN IDEA. "But still, there are six tiles that won't kill us all and they're…" He points out each tile in turn.


"HEY!" Is Fenris' reaction when he gets smacked by an oak. "Do NOT make me do wolf things to you!"

Wolf things. What might those be? Whatever the case Fenris draws his blade - or rather transforms his necklace into that blade - and lops off the nearest branch. Then the next two. "Fire. I should have brought fire." He's muttering half to himself, half to Astryd as he starts to lumberjack his way through what he hopes will not turn out to be the entire forest.

"Please don't do wolf things to the trees." Astryd is literally letting her hair down as the trees awaken. The hair pin converting to her arming sword and round Norse shield. She spins hitting one of the emerald hard branches with her sword. There's a crystal clear ringing sound as small chips of emerald fall to the ground as she hacks at it.

Fenris efforts yield a better result. His tree is mostly limbless by the time she's done one. At his feet though, roots snake out trying to capture his legs and immobilise him.

Sif is beset by a tall thorny plants. They're spitting diamond shards at her as roots try to grab at her too.

As for Ambrose and Kai, it's the combination of the tiles that matter and Kai can see it. In Elvish, there's only one combination that means anything to him. Lokkju. As they're activated, the tiles light up - making a path for the thief and the elf to follow.

It's not over yet, though. There's the pedestal to consider. If they take the bow, it will trigger a counterbalance. Who knows what that might do to them? Nothing good, probably. However, there's a groove just behind the bow, like one for a book … or a tablet maybe. And one of the tablets that Ambrose is carrying will fit it.

That's a dilemma isn't it?

Ambrose does help Kai out in one regard. When he talks about throwing the elf, he yelps and steps lightly over the tiles that spell out Lokkju. Then he looks back at Ambrose and says, "I'm heavier than I look." He's a dense creature. It helps him be bulletproof. He then says, "It spells Lokkju. Or just follow the tiles I stepped on." Meanwhile, he inspects the bow, not touching it at first. "Bring your tablet. I think I see the mechanism here."

Of course, the moment Sif thinks 'it's too easy', that's when the plants themselves start attacking. She promptly puts her buckler to use, fending off the shards being launched at her by the tall plants. She has to step quickly to avoid the grasping roots at the same time as trying to get at the spitters to take them down. She swings to 'behead' one, ending up with one ankle trapped by some roots in the process.


"Bring the…tablets?" the Jackal echoes, his nose already wrinkling in suspicion. He minces across the tiles spelling out the word and reaches the safe zone around the pedestal. Oh, that bow is shiny and — focus, Jackal.

Ambrose stoops to see the notched space behind the bow and groans aloud. He gestures at Kai, his tone irritated, even as the others risk life and limb against the be-gemmed flora. "I am NOT giving up those tablets, NO. I've not come all this way and risked my own life to leave without even one! There must be — " He inhales sharply and then visibly bites his lip. His hands flurry to the satchel, inside the satchel, and he pulls out one of the tablets from its containing protective box. The tablet goes away into the satchel again, woefully unprotected, but still in Ambrose's ownership. "This, and…" Snapping his free fingers, he winces but reaches back to grab the heavily-pommeled trench knife. He slips the weapon inside and readies it.

"Alright, Elf, grab the bow and I'll put the container in place. On the count of three: one, two, three!"

Hands blur.


Fenris chops roots but tree roots are as numerous as the branches if not more so and the tap root is STRONG. It grabs his sword which prompts a shift from human to wolf-man and an accompanying increase in the amount of dread radiating from him as he rips the taproot off with his bare hands.

And then picks up the tree and proceeds to start beating another tree with it. Take. This. You. Over. Grown. Fern.

The bow is indeed shiny and beautiful. A real work of art. As Kai takes it, he feel the power of it hum through him. It might not be fully attuned to him but it still recognises one of the Realms.

Ambrose is quick and manages the swap. For a moment it seems like they succeeded. Then the Gazebo starts shake and rattle, the floor tremors and the walls seem to warp. Closing in on the thief and the elf. They better quick. Out into that garden that's trying to eat their companions.

Sif manages to behead another spitter as yet another starts to form by her ankle. Not far from her is barren ground by the looks of it. Perhaps if she, Fenris, Ambrose and Kai could make it there.

For Fenris, the roots are finding it hard to get purchase on his now lupine form. But the tree decides to go mano el mano … or well rather wolf el tree. His battering is sending shards of precious stone everywhere. Something an Elf might find hard to resist.

Astryd has circled round the garden as the others are fighting and created a small pile of twigs at the edge. It's now starting to smoke, flames licking at it. "Get the others, Fenris, take them to safety, I will provide a distraction and follow the Underworlds home."

As the fire starts to catch, they can see the plants start to turn their attention.

Kai eyes Ambrose oddly at his possessiveness over the tablets. "You've already read them," he says. "Ah, well. I guess we all want souvenirs." Because ancient tablets are totally on par with a rock that menaces one over breakfast. Kai waits for the signal, then snatches up the bow. "Ooh," he says as the power stirs through him. "Hello, handsome."

Then the gazebo starts to tremor, and there's no more time to waste on sweet-talking a bow. "Come on, Ambrose!" He's light on his feet, Legolassing back over the tiles, bow in hand. He indeed pauses to snatch up a gemstone, since the garden's going to be a jerk about it anyway, and he glances back at the Jackal, unwilling to leave him.

With one foot trapped, Sif is having more difficulty fending off the spitting plants but she beheads all the ones she can reach. And then the gazebo starts starts to collapse, and she's not able to protect the two fleeing with the bow.

She spots the bare patch nearby and calls out, "This way, there is a clear area here!" And, to get there herself she grits her teeth in a near-snarl and wrenches her trapped ankle free of the roots before lopping off the head of one last spitter plant and bolting at a limping sprint for the same clearing herself. Just as she gets there, she stumbles and actually goes to one knee before standing again wtih a grimace.

"Kai! Abrose! Now!" She turns to block a few more shards spit at her from the few thorn plants not already turning toward Astryd and the fire she's started.


Exchange complete!



Ambrose lets out a very undignified (and admittedly mildly canine) yelp of shock as the architecture around him starts doing impossible warping motions. He flinches as bits of dust and grit fall down from above.

"Bloody — " Another 'ark' of shock escapes him as he nearly loses his footing on the wildly-shifting flooring. It's an undignifed scramble and something far less graceful than Kai's flitting across the tiles, but he does make it across without further incident. His boots beat dirt then as he races past the Elf, arms churning.

"Last one to the empty place is a rotten blighter!" he calls out, fright pitching his frantic laughter to follow high and broken. As he approaches Sif, he offers an arm out to her that she's welcome to snag as aid…if she doesn't mind a firm yanking along as he continues past her and into the bare patch.


Fenris pauses when the fire starts, but he only pauses long enough to use Astryd's fire to set the tree he is presently HOLDING on fire. And then he goes back to smacking things. Only now with a tree that is on fire. Which is better than a tree which is not on fire for reasons.

"Are we done here?" He growls over his shoulder as the thing he's holding burns like a torch and the things he's swinging at gyrate wildly to avoid their burning compatriot.

This reminds Fenris of something he did during the Mongol invasions.

Don't ask.

Finally though he does get Astryd's message and pauses to rip open a way. "EVERYONE IN!" He shouts. And goes back to beating things.

The gazebo's structure contorts as the walls dissolve more. And thunderous voice sounds as the group runs towards Fenris' Way. "Who disturbs my garden … and takes my prize." It's a tall, large, bearded man stepping through to stand there.

Astryds fire catches and the plants all turn their attention to her. Her sword swings, the crystal tones of metal on gem sounding brightly.

The last they see as the Way closes behind them is Astryd drawing the attack away from them, drawing the attention of the God who's attention they earned.

She's going to be late home for dinner, it seems.

Sif does take Ambrose's hand as they both reach the bare patch and the Way opens, but instead of using that to help her along, she yanks the Englishman forward and into the Way, then reaches for Kai to do the same to him, not hesitating to immediately follow them. She trusts the Valkyr to know her way home without having to rely on Fenris, and she knows the Wolf will be right after her to get them all back to Midgard.

She refuses to admit the fact that she's not only wrenched her ankle getting away from those roots — that will heal quickly enough — but that one of the spitter's shards is embedded in the back of her leg. A healing stone back at the Embassy will be more than sufficient to take care of it. She'll deal until then, she's certainly dealt with worse in the past.

Kai eyes Ambrose as he races past, and then he kicks it into gear to chase after him. "Some friend you are!" he says, but he's laughing, too. Bow in one hand, gemstone clutched in the other, he books it right into Sif's waiting grasp. He lets out the most interesting squeak as he goes tumbling into the Way. "Whee!" is heard before the Way swallows him up entirely.


Swinging about in conflicting directions of travel after he clasps hands with the Asgardian warrior, Ambrose dances to keep his balance as all three of them then immediately vacate the area.

"Bloody f — " is unfinished as the Way subsumes him as well. It's the usual topsy-turvy travel and once on the other side, the Jackal immediately releases his hold on Sif's hand. He presses a palm to his lips and makes a soft burbling sound. A finger is upheld and then, softly, he asks,

"I'd like another of those lozanges, please."


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