2019-08-14 - Bedtime Story for Hulk


Hulk meets a dark stranger singing sad songs and gets a story for his trouble.

Log Info:

Storyteller: Hod
Date: 8-14-2019
Location: Disaster Zone

Related Logs


Theme Song

Wayfaring Stranger


The DZ is a place most people ignore if not out right avoid. The streets are darker then anyone from NYC is used to seeing, the street lights all gone and nothing yet replacing them. The space is filled with the forgotten, though 'filled' may be a bit of an overstatement. They lurk in the darker shadows, shanty towns of the lost and cast offs of the world, gathered in the nooks and crannies of the newly unexplored portion of NYC.

And it's among these exiles that Hod holds court. He sits atop a pile of concrete ruble, where on building fell slumping into it's neighbor and both toppling into the middle of the sidewalk, their joined corners creating a sort of throne-ish spot to sit, if one were to sort of squint, drink heavily, then turn their head sideways and stare at it. And it's here, sitting atop the debris, nestled into his little throne-ish, sits a blind man, in the dark, playing a sad song on a resonator guitar, and singing softly into the night as if to a lost lover. He has a shockingly good voice, not in the traditional sense, but more in the way blues singers voices are good. He's all leather and smoke and iron dragged on gravel roads. There's miles in the voice, miles and miles and miles and few of them any good. Wayfaring Stranger somehow feels /right/ coming from him.

Dark and relatively secluded. No authorities or anything else likely to enter. It was just the sort of place that drew the Hulk when he wanted to be alone. Which was, lets be honest, most of the time. He's moving through the Disaster Zone in a series of, for him, short hops. His massive frame a dark outline against the stars each time he reaches the apex of a leap, the tattered pants that are the only thing that ever seems to survive transforming fluttering in the wind. His landings don't crater the ground like they do sometimes, though they do occasionally shift some rubble. They DO produce rather loud thumping sounds. If one had sharp enough hearing, they could track his progress through the area pretty easily.

Said thumps are now drawing closer to where a blind god plays music for lost souls. Not directly towards him, he doesn't seem to be coming for him specifically. But it's clear he's going to end up close enough it doesn't make much difference. Once he's closer, grunts can be hear with each leap and landing, occasional low muttering that's hard to make out. He finally ends up touching down maybe thirty feet in front of Hod. He's hard to make out in the darkness. But it's not as though that's really an issue for him. His head cocks to the side when he picks up the sound of music, head craning around to try and find the source. It doesn't help much, so he just starts to walk in the direction it seems to be coming from, feet crunching bits of gravel and debris.

Hod doesn't so much as pause as he hears the thumps coming his way, either he's lost in the music, or he's resigned to his fate. Honestly, it's been a few rough months for the god of darkness and winter and stuff, and he's feeling more tired then he has in a literal age. Weary. He's weary. And so he just keeps playing, his finger plucking out the deceptively happy tune to the clearly not happy lyrics, the whole thing working itself into a beautiful sort of maudlin air that seems to coat the entire block.

There's suspiciously no other sounds. No other music playing from speakers of the exiles here about, no chattering conversations or whispers from madness addles lips. It's almost as if he's spun a spell with his song, though, that was never one of his gifts. In this regard, his skill is earned the old fashioned way. When the song comes to it's haunting end, a refrain about returning home, he sits atop his little throne and lets out a long slow breath into the air, stillness coating him as the song vanishes into the night.

"I don't recognize you." he says into the shadows towards Hulk, "Did father send you to kill me?" he asks, turning to slowly place the guitar down into it's battered and beaten case.

The sadness of the music speaks to the Hulk. Not the most happy of beings at any time, even if not currently in a particularly bad mood. The presence of the being is large. Being from Asgard, he's of course 'seen' larger. He's not as big as a frost giant for instance. But something about him feels… heavier. Power rolling off of him. When the god finally speaks, he comes to a halt. His head tilting again as he tries to get a look at whoever this is in the middle of a wasteland playing music.

Finally, the jade giant lets out a deep grunting sound. "Hulk not know you. Not know your father." He pauses for a few heartbeats. "Sound sad." There's a curiosity to his voice. This particular version is not one of the more intelligent ones.

Though it's not really a matter of intelligence as much as development. He's closer to a child, or an animal. He steps closer again, peering into the dark and trying to make out the face of the /really/ OG goth. "Why father want kill singing man?" Another pause. "Puny Banner father want kill him."

Hod tilts his head, hearing more in the voice then the words and the tone. Hod is the god of a few things, Winter, the Darkness, and the Hidden Ways… which is often refereed to by it's other name. Lost Things. True or not, he has an affinity for the things people case aside, lose, or forget, as much a part of him as the cold and the dark, he can't help but feel attachment to things others don't. He's quiet for a moment, "That's a very complicated, and very long story. Do you want the long version, or the short?" he asks curiously. "Son, the short version has more action, but the long one will let me share my-" he pauses, trying to translate the word, "mead," he settles on, "with you." the word 'son' manages to be neither condescending nor patronizing. It sounds not unlike the way a good priest might use it, or an old man speaking about a young person he likes. It has an air of softness to it. He holds up container that appears to be made of clay, there are runes and pictographs emblazoned upon it that have long since lost all meaning to modern man, though the cork in it's mouth is modern. "So long as Pops didn't send you and you're not here to kill me, you're more then welcome to both story and drink."

The Hulk squints at the darkness again. Part of him wonders if this is a trap for him instead of the other way around. People often seem to want him dead. It never works though. He's too strong for them. Finally he moves to within easy reach of the shadowed god, and drops down into a cross-legged position. "Hulk will listen. Nowhere to be." He considers the clay jug offered by the man. Reaching out to take it, he shakes it briefly, then pulls out the cork and sniffs it. "Booze not do anything to Hulk. Hulk strongest there is. Booze too weak." He takes a drink though, wrinkling his nose briefly. "Hulk no have pops. Hulk is just Hulk. Tell why your pops wants you dead." He doesn't seem hostile at least. The 'son' doesn't seem to have bothered him much. "First. Singing man give name." He takes another swig of the mead. He really isn't expecting it to affect him. He's mostly immune to toxins in general. Plus all the regeneration.

Hod nods his head, "The best people have no where to go and always seem in a great hurry to get there." he says idly, "A friend of mine said that to me once long ago, don't know why, but I always liked it." he pauses and seems to settle himself a bit, leaning back into the throne of broken concrete and rusted rebar, the lounge looking natural on him, though not for the reasons most would think. "I'm called by a great many names, but Hod will work between us I think." He pronounces it like Mode, not Odd. He tilts his head as if listening to Hulk swallow and grins, "Careful with that, it's more potent then what you've had before, bit of mischief in the bottle. The guy that brews it is uh… well, he's an odd fella. It's why we get along." then he takes a breath and begins from, where else, the beginning.

"A long time ago, in a Realm both much like this one and vastly different at the same time, there was a King. He was the All Father, protector of all Realms, he was the father of the Aesir, a people known for strength of arms and skill at war. He met, fell in love with, and married Frigg, or Freya, depending on your history, a Seeress of immense skill and an enchantress unrivaled in all of the Realms. She was queen of the Vanir, a people known for the ways of spells and knowledge. Together they had many children, some sired, some adopted, but they're less important to our tale. Tonight, we will focus on just two. The twin boys, Baldur, and Hodr." he takes a little bow in his throne.

The Hulk lets out a snort at the comment about the potency of the drink, as though the idea of any drink affecting him was absurd. It admittedly actually had a bit of a burn to it, which he wasn't used to. But still! Just alcohol. He listens to the story though, expression rapt and curious. Again, much like a child might be. "Named after one of them?" It sounds similar but not exactly. Besides, he's at least heard those names before. And if they ever did exist, which he doubts, they would have been alive a looooong time ago. For some reason, he's in a better mood than usual. It was a little odd. And this drink was pretty tasty. He swigs it again. Mmm. Warm belly. He picks up a rock with his free hand, and idly throws it into the sky. It…. doesn't come down again.

Hod smiles again, but this time it's a bit sad, "You could say that." he says after a slight pause, "The first born of the pair was Baldur, and his birth was simple, nigh painless, and when he emerged into the world it was to bird song and a ray of golden sunlight that fall upon his brow. He did not cry, but rather giggled, and all who heard it smiled for their hearts were lightened by the sound." Hod leans forward a little, and now, the light around them dims every so slightly, and the shadows on the block right in front of Hulk begin to play out a mummers play of flickering shadows. "But the birthing was not done. What was easy for the first child became hard for the second. There was blood, and screaming, hours of pain and suffering, and the sky turned dark, night replaced day, and there was no moon in the sky that night, casting every shadow deeper, darker. Eventually the second boy was birthed, covered in viscera, uncrying, unlaughing, silently he stared around the room, his head turning this way and that, his expression lost and confused. Cries of despair arose from the midwife, from the ladies in waiting, for the baby was born deformed, different, a thing entirely unheard of in the long long history of his people. Where his eyes should have been, there was nothing, a pair of empty sockets, dark holes in the babe's face that seemed to drink the light with undying thirst."

Hod leans back in his throne, "Needless to say the All Father was not pleased by this. But what could he do? They were both his sons, even if one was broken and unworthy. And so, the boys grew up, and years passed. Baldur, despite being the better loved was never anything but kind to his brother, while the rest of the family, extended and immediate, treated him with open disgust and mistrust. Hodr grew up alone in a Realm full of family, he grew strong, powerful, an equal to his beloved shining brother in all ways, save one. And then the truth of Hod's curse came to bare."

Hulk glances around when the lights flicker like that. The power was hardly stable in this area, but this seems different. He focuses on the shapes forming in the darkness, the somewhat buzzed behemoth fascinated by the movements. He drains down some more of the mead in his hand without really thinking about it, staying quiet for a while as the story goes on. Between one part and the next he notes, "Second one probably more interesting." A very slight slut slur creeps into his voice, and his eyes droop a little. This was a good story! It was making him feel all fuzzy-headed. It must be the story doing it. Booze doesn't affect him. He's the strongest! Yes. He sways slightly in place along with the rythmic cadence of the ageless storyteller. He hasn't changed back into Banner, despite being not at all angry at the moment. But that's just how it works at times. One of the more frustrating things about these transformations for both was how inconsistent they could be at times.

Hod smiles a bit, not seeing, but sensing the sudden inebriation of the giant, and he continues his story, not wanting to interrupt the flow. "The All Father had sacrificed one of his eyes to gain wisdom and sight beyond sight. Frigg, the mother, was a Seeress queen of the Vanir! And no one considered what this might mean for the blind babe, the babe with no eyes, with the blood of the Vanir flowing through his veins. What Sight might he possess that others could not comprehend. And so it came to pass that the blind could See, and in his long life the first thing the boy ever Saw, or saw for that matter, was the murder of his beloved brother at his own hands."

The shadows show flickering images of a hand casting a spear, of another man shape falling, shaft through his heart, and the man falls over, still. "Hodr, confused and terrified by the images he'd seen, went to the wisest man he knew, begged for his help.

The All Father knew prophecy when he heard it, and grew irate. His beloved Baldur, the life of the family, the warmth, summer sun, and joy of the Aesir, would be murdered by this boy of darkness, this cripple, this cursed monstrosity. Abomination." Hod falls quiet for a moment there, and there's a bitterness in his tone that's impossible for him to fully hide. He turns away and looks at the dancing shadows as if he could see them.

"The All Father could not kill his child, for familicide carries a heavy toll, the heaviest, and consequences he was not prepared to pay. So he let the Realm know of his dark son's future betrayl, of the prophecy that said he would murder his own beloved brother. And he waited."

Listening to the story from Hod, Hulks expression gradually grows grumpier. Something about that whole situation felt familiar to him. Not the prophecy. The father hating the son for being different. "All Father sounds like huge asshole." He drains down some more of the mead… wait, is it all gone? That's too bad. He burps, then hands the now empty jug back to Hod. "Being different not bad. Means special. Hodr should punch All Father in face." He turns, and drunkenly punches a nearby pile of rubble. "Smash!" He's not really controling his own strength very well at the moment, and the pile of rubble is pretty much reduced to rubble… and the devastation extends outwards from the impact a ways past it. Not as far as it could, though. This makes him guffaw for a few seconds, then turn back to Hod. The good mood vanishes as soon as it came, and he scowls again. "Not going to be happy ending."

Hod grins a bit at that, "Yes. He is occasionally a great big bag of dicks." Hod agrees readily, already deciding he likes the giant… the giant that turns concrete to gravel with a single negligent blow. Hod lets out a slow breath, and he has to fight back a sense of longing and envy so great it pains him. He remembers such strength clearly, or at least a great portion of it, and hole where it's missing is impossible to fill for very long. He lounges back in his seat, "Hodr feared his father, for his father was mighty, and strong as Hodr was, he was but a wisp of smoke before the might that was the All Father. And… and he was his father. The prince wished, with all his might, that his father would just care for him, as he did his brothers. But such hopes were futile."

At Hulk's last words, Hod nods with a somber sageness, "You are wise my large friend." and he reaches out a hand for the empty jug, as if he were going to drink from it himself or perhaps set it aside, "This story does not end happily… but neither does it end sad. Because the story isn't over yet." Hod grins wider, "For long long years the boy grew, stronger, and stronger, he came into power of his own that his brothers did not have, unique to him as theirs was to them. He became skilled in the ways of war, hoping that would earn him favor. It did not. He pit his might against the families endless litany of enemies, hoping /that/ would earn their love. It did not. He hid himself away from the others, skulked in the shadows, in the silence, hoped that his absence would make their hearts warm to him. It did not. After long centuries of this, and of none killing him, the All Father had grown tired of waiting, fearing his beloved son would be murdered before his deformed spawn was. And so. He held a trial and laid out punishment before all of the Realm. He cast his dark son from the Realm, stripped him of his power, of his strength, of his speed, and hurled him from on high and down to Earth, where the mortals lived. Weak, blind, broken, exiled, and reviled by his people, Hodr very nearly gave into despair and ended his life himself."

Still listening ot the story, letting out a sigh. "Fathers not always good. Sometimes mean. Sometimes jealous. Sometimes murderers." Him being willing to say that is definitely a sign that he's drunk. Swaying again, though this time just from being unsteady. His mind quite fuzzy. He scowls and pounds the ground beside him, this time cratering the ground, enough that the drunken behemoth ends up falling to the side and rolling into the newly created hole. He grunts and flails around briefly before righting himself. "Stupid hole." He raises to his feet, wobbling noticeably as he continues to listen. His scowl deepens as he does. And he starts to pace back and forth unsteadily.

"Family can be good. But family can be bad! Fathers can be bad! Horrible fathers! Hulk hates them!" He punches the air a few times as though he were seeing somebody there, or at least imagining them. "Hulk will punch Hodr father! Smash him until he's good!" He looks around, as though expecting to find Odin crouched behind a rock listening to the story. "Bad father! Come out!" He moves over to a particularly large chunk of rubble, gripping it and lifting it up to peer beneath it, searching for the hiding deity. "Come out, bad father!" He throws it aside, sending it bouncing along the ground. He shakes his fists at the sky. "Hulk not scared of you! Don't care if you're ghost!" Which really has nothing at all to do with the story that was just told.

Hod doesn't seem taken aback as Hulk begins to work himself into a fervor, mostly because of how deeply he can empathize with the giant's words. He may have been more eloquent, but he too has raged against the sky, thrown his rage into the heavens until his throat were raw, until his voice ran silent, until he had nothing left with which to rage. And he raged on anyway. Hod stands, navigates the rubble gracefully for a guy wearing sunglasses at night, and walks over to Hulk and gently places a hand against the angry creature's arm, "Anger is good." he says calmly, "There is strength in anger. But there are things that are stronger. Hodr didn't believe so, not as he lay on the hard rocky soil of ancient Greece, trapped between two waring cities in the heart of one of the first great wars the world had seen. But he was wrong. Would you like to know what he found, my very big friend?"

The Hulk roars at the sky, then grabs another chunk of debris, which seems to be around half of a car. It's unclear what happened to the other half. He hauls back with both hands, flinging it up into the sky as hard as he can. "Take that!" Then Hod touches him on the arm, and he blinks a few times. Finally looking at the storyteller. He has his first good look at him out of the darkness. He just stares at him for a time, then nods and sits down. Much more abruptly than before, his legs basically just giving out under him and causing a grunt.

"What Hodr find?" He reaches out, and pats him on the shoulder. Luckily, he's not really using that super strength this time or it might have hurt. A lot.

Hod rests his hand on the green mans arm for a long moment, then lowers himself down on a chunk of building nearby, so he can continue the story… he also offers out the jug from before, only it appears to still have some in it. One might say, magically. "When he landed, Hodr did so amid what you would know as the ancient Greeks, specifically the war between Athens and Sparta. He was ready to die, his despair so great that it weighed on him like a mountain across his shoulders… when from the heavens that had cast him out, came a spear. His spear. For you see, each of the Princes possessed a weapon of their own, of legend and power, and Hodr thought his would be forever lost to him. But Baldur, a good son who followed the laws put down by his father, could not go with Hodr to protect him… but neither could he abandon his twin whom he loved. And so, he found a loophole. Before the bridge between Realms could close, Baldur sent Hodr's spear after him, a gift, a reminder, that weakened, blind, broken, exiled, it didn't matter. He was Aesir. He was a warrior. He was still loved, if only by one in all of creation." Hod's smile takes on a different cast this time, warm and introspective. "It was enough."

He pauses there for a long moment, "And this is where our story takes a turn for the better. For it was there, naked, bleeding, laying amid a battlefield in one of the first great wars the world had ever known, Hodr found something he'd never had before. He found a friend, a Spartan. I will spare you the details of the friendship, but needless to say it was Hodr's first, and for that if nothing else memorable. And short lived. Only a handful of years after meeting the heroic soldier, he was slain in battle, once more leaving Hodr alone. It was then that all was made clear to the exiled prince. His long life remained, of all the gifts taken from him this one remained. He could die as any man could, but not of old age, not from the passage of time, for even the All Father's power to strip an Aesir has limits."

Hod reaches over and tugs on the jug until Hulk relinquishes it and takes a long pull from it himself before passing it back, "This was likely not the blessing one might think however, as the years became decades, and the decades became centuries, Hodr endured. He endured friends living, ageing, dying. He endured slavery, humiliation, beatings and mistreatments. He endured plagues and wars and every color of horror one man can inflict upon another. He endured love." there's a slightly pause here, but it's quickly moved past, "Marriage. Fatherhood. And the pain that comes with the loss of both." he looks down at his hands then, and it may be a trick of the light, or not, but the bearded man's face vanishes in a shadow as his fingers flex. "And still he endured." he almost whispers.

It takes a moment before he looks back up again, "Hodr lives still, walking among the mortals of this world, a creature of cold and darkness and hidden knowledge, of timelessness and many hard earned esoteric skills. Sometimes, if you listen closely, when you least expect it, maybe when you need it most, you'll hear a sad song sung by a stranger, the sort of song that makes you sad too, but not in a bad way, just a true way. And maybe, if you're kind, or if you're lost enough, if you have a darkness inside you that he can understand, maybe he'll share a drink with you, tell you a story. But then again, maybe not. All I know is that his story isn't done yet, so we don't know if the ending will be happy, or sad, if he will slowly fade away into the shadows and the night, or if he will scream his ice cold rage into the dying of the light. I like to think it'll never end. That he'll always be around, just in case you need him to be. I figure, no one understands the value of a real friend like a guy who's known as few as he."

Taking the apparently not-empty jug, Hulk swishes it around then gulps down some more. Mmm. He goes silent again as he listens to the story, calming down now that it's past the more unpleasant parts. At least to an extent. He nods along with the words, his eyes drooping more and more. He mumbles out, "Good brother… Hulk not… have… brother." He snaps more fully awake and blinks, shaking his head. He doesn't fight when Hod takes his mead back. As the blind god continues his story, Hulk leans towards him and reaches out. Wrapping those huge arms around him and giving him a bear hug. Squeezing somewhat strongly, but luckily not enough to break anything. He mumbles out, "S'good story. Hulk see why you named after him."

He he pats the man on the back of the head. "Hulk feel sad for Hodr. Is stronger than mortals. Lives longer. Hulk strongest there is. Going to live forever. Going to lose friends." He considers blearily for a time. "Hulk not have many friends to lose though." He sighs, then falls onto his back. Still hugging Hod. He mumbles, "Hulk would like…. meet him… tell him… Hulk… will…" Then he's out. Snoring loudly, the sound like metal grating against stone. Depending on how strong he is, it might be hard for Hod to disentangle himself from the gamma-powered giant. Still, it was a much friendly encounter than many have with him.

Hod oafs a bit as he's drawn into a bear hug from the freakin' Hulk, and he grins a little at the mumbling and stumbling of his words. He wasn't lying before, not really, about knowing darkness in it's more then literal sense. He just shakes his head a bit as the Hulk succumbs to the mead, and he waits a few moments before grunting with the effort required for even his superhuman (though only barely) strength to lifts the arms wrapped around him and slide off of the giant and down to the ground.

He folds Hulk's arms back up over his chest and then moves around to the giant's head, lifting it enough he can slide a stone beneath it as a pillow, so the Hulk's neck isn't all janky. He pats him gently on the cheek, almost fondly, "Get some sleep big guy." he says, taking a seat by Hulk's head and leaning back against rubble near by, "I can't do much more then offer you a single night of peace," he whispers, "but you are one of mine and what sort of man," not god, man, "would I be if I did not offer something so simple to one of my own?" he asks no one. The shadow's respond to Hod's call, but they're sluggish, they fight him, and he has to lean into it. Hard. He has to make demands, cajole, push and pull, tear and lure, until they weave over and around Hulk, crossing him, covering him, until he's all but invisible to anyone looking for him, much less passing by. Hod then slumps a little next to Hulk and takes the last gulp from the jug and wipes sweat of exertion from his forehead. There he rests for the remainder of the night, watching over the sleeping green mountain and guaranteeing him nothing grander then a few hours of peace. It feels… nice.

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