2019-12-15 - The Bane Of It All


A visit from some of the latest Pack Cubs and a surprise visit by an Inuit Goddess.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Dec 15 06:58:21 2019
Location: The Kerensky's House

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Ambrose and Sif have been invited to the 'Kerenskys' place in Queens. A delightful brownstone house in a quiet sort of neighbourhood. When they get there, they're told to 'come out the back' - the back garden. It might be chilly now that winter is upon the city, but the reason becomes obvious very soon.

There's a curly coated wolf standing to the side of the lawn, leaning against Astryd's leg as she scritches his ears. On the lawn are a pair of wolf cubs that would have to be six to eight months old … frolicking and yapping and … pulling at Fenris' shoelaces.

Fenris looks, perhaps surprisingly, amused. He doesn't really present like someone who is good with kids. Or patient. Or who doesn't eat something the moment it annoys him. But at the moment he is simply chuckling indulgently and scratching their ears.

"These were born this year, Cuan?" The younger wolf is still rather old. And his fur is constantly ruffled by a wind that just doesn't match anything that anyone else can feel.

But then, such is it for a child of the North Wind.

With his gift-loaned book in old Norse tucked safely into a satchel beneath his long near-trench coat and a baking dish covered in foil, Ambrose arrives at the 'Kerensky' abode with a small smile true enough. He should know better than to become attached to anyone in this city, for its populace swells and lessens with each month if not year, but the odd(ly supernatural) family is growing on him. Having been bid to come to the back, he sets the baking dish aside on the counter and makes his way to the garden on the back end of the property.

Exiting out into the relative chill of the evening, he is certain to close the door and turns to see…oh, what is…this? Juvenile…dog — no, wolf pups? Yes, wolf pups.

And that's a rather sappy little smile on the Jackal's face now. "Well, I cannot say that I was expecting this in the least," he comments as he sidles towards the gathering, gloved hands deep in his coat-pockets. "Look at this," comes the chuckle. "I've not seen such a thing in…three decades at least, not since Europe."

He does have the diamond-studded leather slip-collar in an interior coat pocket and muses over it. Hmm.

Since the invitation was to Fenris and Astryd's home, Sif presumed it wasn't going to be another 'let's go do something foolish and dangerous' outings and arrived wearing her usual Midgardian 'disguise'. Only she's added an extra layer of warmth in deference to the weather — a sweater with patterning around the yoke and sleeve cuffs.

After setting her own host-gift of a still warm container of cookies on the kitchen counter and stepping into the back garden, she sees Astryd with Cuan leaning against her and then the cubs frolicking around Fenris. She's not entirely sure why they're here other than for social reasons, so she offers a smile hello but doesn't immediately move forward to reach for those cubs. She was always drawn to the war hounds and especially the pups.

"Yes Grandfather…" comes the growly reply to Fenris. "Seven or eight moons ago to one of my granddaughters." Cuan sounds proud. "These are just two from the litter, there are four more with The Pack. It will never replace those that we lost but …"

As Ambrose and Sif arrive, the pups stop and peer around Fenris' legs, growling a little before giving a small yap before bounding over and leaping - one pup at each of the guests.

"Hey, you two…" Astryd laughs, trying to call the young ones back but not trying too hard. "Welcome Ambrose and Sif. You said you wanted to meet the cubs if you could … Have you met Cuan before?"

"Lady Sif and I are acquainted, Astryd." The ruffled coat wolf bows to the Asgardian, but his nostrils flare as he peers at Ambrose. "We have not."

"Sif. Ambrose. Hello." Fenris says, disentangling himself from the pups. "Family came to visit as you can see. As Astryd said, this is Cuan. One of mine by… well. A being you all have felt before but have likely never met."

The Old Wolf steps over, moving the pups toward Sif and Ambrose. They're curious. They'll want a sniff. They'll want more than a sniff probably.

Ambrose comes to a precise stop in the grass at the first sign of a pup bounding towards him. His smile turns absolutely foolish for a split second — how the wee creatures gambol on their legs and paws not yet entirely grown into. He continues to remain still when he looks up towards Astryd and realizes that the curly-coated wolf is speaking specific at him.

The wolf is talking at him. Blinking in surprise, the master-thief takes a moment to press a fist against his chest and incline his head in a short bow. "I am Lieutenant Atherton, friend to the Lady Astryd, Lord Fenris, and the Lady Sif." He nods to the Valkyrie, Vanir Princess, and Old Wolf in greeting as he names them.

"I have accompanied them on various excursions." — adventures — shenanigans — he calls it politely. "A pleasure to meet you, Cuan," the Jackal continues towards the wolf. "And a pleasure to meet your pups. I have offspring myself." It's an offering of trust towards the curly-coated wolf.

Ambrose looks down at the wolf pup now quite near to his boots. One of Fenris's grandchildren…? Great-great…even his mental amendment stutters to an amused half at the potential number of 'great's necessary.

"Well met, Cuan, son of Fenris. It is good to see you and family are doing well." Sif returns Cuan's bow with a respectful warrior's bow, and then she kneels down to meet the cub bounding toward her. "Hello, Little One. Do mind the sweater, please, it was loaned to me." Though she's seriously considering asking the owner of said sweater what compensation would be accepted for making her one of her own.

She looks up at Ambrose in amusement when he reacts as he does to the wolf pup at his feet. She should have known he'd be a soft touch for younglings.

"She is Sable, Lady Sif." Cuan responds, leaving Astryds side to stand by the Old Wolf. My, Cuan is *big*. He would have to have to, he is Astryd's war mount after all. "He is Siku, Lieutenant." The wolf is clearly protective of the young ones but trusts Fenris and Astryd, implicitly.

Astryd takes her position on the other side of Fenris, looping her arm through his and smiling. The smile does little to soften the stern lines on her face but it makes her a *little* more approachable.

Sable seems to frown at Sif, letting out a small 'ruff' and tugging at her trousers instead before tripping over her paws and tumbling, shaking herself as she stands and trying again. Siku sniffs at Ambrose, and sniffs some more before pouncing on his shoe laces and trying to kill them.

A chill breeze blows across yard, cooler than anything New York usually experiences. An icy circle appears on the lawn to the right of Fenris … a tall woman growing from it. "Astryd … you have skirked your duties. Again."

It's Sedna. Inuit Goddess often associated with the Afterlife.

"Sedna." Fenris says, straightening up in a slow, cautious kind of way. "You're on my lawn so have a care what you say next. I pushed your friends faces in on yours."

Threats are often Fenris' go to method of negotiation. It's often his only option, actually. People do not come to him for warm and fuzzy things generally and while he knows how to talk to people that aura of dread puts everyone on edge.

"Or did you come to wish my grandchildren happy birthday?"

Odds are… low.

With an only slightly indulgent smile (Hush, it's really only slightly), Sif pushes up the sweater's sleeves so most of her forearms are bare, then offers her hands to Sable to sniff at and possible wrestle with. The warhound pups were particularly fond of tugging and shaking games. She's not sure that the wolf pup will be the same, but she's willing to humor the little girl regardless. "Well met, Sable."

That gust of air nearly as cold as Jotunheim has her looking up in time to see Sedna's arrival, and with her words to Astryd and Fenris' response, she picks Sable up and holds her protectively in case a battle is about to break out.

She'll apologize for the sweater if it comes to that.

Ambrose eyebrows at the pup attempting to gnaw through his bootlace. The young Siku will succeed far sooner than later, given those teeth, and he moves his foot teasingly in and out of easy range for the pup to attempt to further tackle. A nudge inwards bumps at Siku's chest gently.

Pulling his shoulders up about his ears unthinking at the temperature drop, the Jackal then glances up at the sudden sound of rapidly-appearing ice. Ice itself is not out of season, but the cylical design is decidedly abnormal. Within his blood, the Bane swirls to attention almost…cautiously. Ambrose tucks his chin, his eyes arrowing in upon the newly-arrived being apparently named Sedna for what Fenris calls her.

As subtly as he can manage, he side-steps forwards and then in front of the pup involved with his bootlaces. He doesn't reach to pick up Siku, not at all, not with the draconian interest of the Bane prickling just beneath his skin in some mystical reaction to the icy woman's presence.

The inuit goddess is dressed in animals skin clothing with a scarf over her shoulders. Long dark hair hangs down her back and in her hand, a spear. "Fenris. I told you this was not over. Your … Raven … is a disgrace. Why you keep her, is beyond me. Why you protect her, defies belief." The tone is icy as the womans dark eyes land on the blonde.

"What do you say, Astryd? You are shirking again. Allowing those who are dead to remain when they should not."

"Back off, Sedna. You are our home. I will extend Guest Right to you, as I have to the others here. Break that at your peril. I do not shirk. The one you are referring was saved by another … "

Sedna turns her icy gaze to Ambrose. "What say you … no longer mortal. You defied death but I could claim you. Particularly as you are friend to her."

Cuan moves to stand between Sif and Ambrose. Sable squirms when Sif picks her up but settles at growl for the wolf. Siku is scruffed with his teeth and tossed under him.

Fenris quirks a brow. He moves off to one side, standing not in between Ambrose and Sedna but close enough to get to either of them should anything happen. "I believe I told you that it would be over if you knew what was good for you, Sedna."

The Old Wolf takes a breath and lets it out. Slowly. Count to ten. Don't start the apocalypse.

"What is this Ambrose? You should be dead?" This should be interesting. What Sedna is saying, essentially, is that Ambrose cheated death and Astryd SHOULD deliver him to the afterlife. Sif will probably pick up on that even if Ambrose does not.

A chill sleeks down Ambrose's spine and flowers into his gut to twist it upon himself. The Bane flares up defensively beneath his skin and brings up a noticeable candleflame's red glow in his pupils in reaction. His throat works as he risks glancing over towards Astryd and Fenris at the Old Wolf's question.

Back to Sedna, he looks. High spots of color show on the Jackal's cheeks. His voice is as steady as he can manage even with the dusty undertones of his curse slithering beneath.

"…I have risked death many, many times over my life, but the boon of a Kitsune kept my soul in this world a century ago. My mate will not permit my death at anyone's hands but his own. You have no claim on me," he says even as he begins plucking his fingers from his kid-skin gloves. Fenris's presence in his side-vision doesn't necessarily soothe him, but it does appear a potential for an off-chance assist.

Sif's eyes flit from Sedna to Astryd to Fenris to Ambrose. This is sounding worse by the moment. She takes one of those moments to kneel down just long enough to set Sable down next to her littermate then straightens again, regretting that she'd left her sword and shield inside the house by the front door. But…

One hand reaching for the knife usually kept under one vambrace that's currently at the small of her back, she looks at the frost woman as if trying to determine how to get past that spear. She's fairly certain that it would not end well for her, but she's more than willing to defend her hosts' home and sanctuary.

Ambrose's words are mildly confusing but she sets any questions aside for later. Catching the movement of his gloves being removed is more telling. She knows what that gesture implies.

"It will be over when that pathetic excuse of a Valkyrie is stripped of her power, Old Wolf. Or I kill her. One or the other, I don't care which. If you discipline her, so I may see, that may suffice." Sedna flicks her wrist and behind, two large inuit ghost warriors appear. "Astryd denied me my mate, so I will take those dear to her … Take him …"

The Ghosts move forward, heedless of the Bane that rides Ambrose now. "Sedna, are you really going to do this in my own home?" Astryd asks tiredly. Ambrose will feel the chill on the air as Astryd summons her power. Cuans coat ruffles more, as does Fenris' and Sifs hair…

"Rest Warriors." The blonde intones as she holds her hands out to the ghosts. "You have fought long and hard and deserve to reap the rewards of your battles. Come to me …"

Sedna growls and moves forward, pointing her spear to Ambrose's throat.

Behind Astryd, a dark … portal appears. Dark with lights shimmering in the depth, like stars.

"Sif. Protect Ambrose. Fenris. If you would deal with Sedna, I will send these two to their rest." Astryds tone is cold but calm. Like a lake of ice.

Fenris yanks a thin silver chain off his neck. It becomes a sword a moment later. A big, beefy sword. "Sedna. Last chance. Back down."

He takes a set. He has millennia of combat training and experience. He has fought in wars that people no longer remember on this world. Sedna… well. She is a goddess of death. Not war.

The Old Wolf attacks. His movements are fluid and his silvery sword comes around in a glittering arc.

The neighbors are going to complain about this.

One at a time, like dead leaves, Ambrose's gloves drop to the grass. Sif is correct: the Bane now coruscates around him in a contained liquid-garnet ribboning of avid interest in Sedna's own life-force. Who cares if it might be like attempting to harness a star? It'll taste like the finest wine and what a hell of a way to go. His lips lift in a chilling curl of a snarl.

Keen as a blizzard's winds, the edge of the spear against his throat, and Ambrose…just chuckles behind his teeth, the sound warmly rich, thick as blood trickling down the back of one's throat.

"I beg you, churlish bitch, do try me," he whispers roughly. Adrenaline coats his tongue with pennies and by gods, he loves the taste of it. When he sees Sedna's attention slip at Astryd's words, he turns on the pad of his boot and swings his hand out to slap at not only the spear's handle, but at Senda's hand, hoping to make searing contact with the being's skin.

Astryd didn't even have to ask. The instant Sedna's spear starts to point toward Ambrose she lunges forward, knife in one hand and the other hand reaching to grab said spear and yank it from its wielder's hands. It's a simple enough tactic — one she'd learned very early in her training on Asgard — but one which so many combatants rarely think to defend against.

Not to mention, it would give her another weapon with greater reach to fend the ice woman off.

Is it wrong that she's now a bit irrationally wishing for a denizen of Muspelheim were here to help them? Or possibly worse, Loki.

And Norns help her, should one of Cuan's pups so much as get a scratch from this…

Sif may wish, but they don't need any help. Things all happen at once. Ambroses hand slaps down on the bare skin of Sedna's arm - the bit revealed as the sleeve rides up. The Inuit goddess cries out, Ambrose can feel her lifeforce course through him.

It's intoxicating.

Fenris' silver blade arcs and connects with Sedna's spear, Sif manages to wrench the spear from her hand, far more easily than she should.

The moonsilver blade slides up the shaft of the spear, slicing into Sedna's flesh. The God Wolf has excellent control though - he can stop it before slicing through.

Sedna herself cries out as Ambrose starts to leech her power and the blade slices. The two ghosts, already moving towards Astryd move faster.

Fenris puts his blade at Sedna's throat and holds his right hand out. "Sif. Ambrose. That should be enough. Sedna. Call your ghosts off or this gets much worse. You are attacking my guests and I will defend them. Stand down."

That last sentence has a growl in it. Fenris is NOT at all happy and it might not be a good idea to see what his notion of 'much worse' is.

It's intoxicating —

—and it's blinding, the surge of otherworldly life-force when the Bane curls teeth in like a python. Very few times before has Ambrose dared to touch anyone beyond the realm and world of Midgard, and every time, it's started like grabbing a loose powerline.

He chokes out something in Farsi, sounding more like someone in the midst of an asthma attack than a well-aged master-thief well and truly comfortable with the amount of chaos he's just managed to cause in conjunction with the others. Blunt nails dig harder into Sedna's wrist even as his own knees start to go weak. It tastes like starlight, relieves like emerging from the tension of a charlie-horse, and blows his pupils so wide that everyone sports a halo and night appears as day.

And he sure as hell doesn't want to let go, not when it feels like this — not when it feels so very good.

Someone might need to make him let go.

Turning the spear in her hands to point it back at its owner, Sif does indeed move to stand down when Fenris says to, but when she realizes that Ambrose isn't doing the same, she looks at him and … oh. Uh oh.

This is a risk, but one she's willing to take. She hooks an arm around the Midgardian man's waist and physically hefts him up and back from Sedna to break their contact. He's wearing his coat still, hopefully the Bane won't snap at her too intently for this. And if it does, she doesn't plan on keeping a grip on him any longer than is absolutely necessary.

"Your bitch has my Ghosts, Fenris." Sedna snarls, pain writ across her face. From Fenris' slice to her arm, to the sheer embarrasment of the defeat, to the Bane feeding on her. "The fucking disgraced Valkyrie…." That's not likely to go down to well.

Then Sif is there, Ambrose's nails score the skin at Sedna's wrists drawing ichor … not blood. But the contact is broken and the Goddess takes a step back.

The Ghosts hover by Astryds shoulder and the Valkyrie speaks in old Norse, gesturing for the two fallen warriors to depart. The portal closes behind them.

Taking the spear from Sif, as the woman holds the Midgardian, Astryd points it at Sedna's throat. "You should not believe all the rumours you hear, Sedna. I was exiled by the All Father, not disgraced. Your fallen will be waiting for you. They elected to return - whether they prove easy to rule after this, remains to be seen. You broke a sacred covenant and Guest Right in our house." Astryd's jaw clenches and she takes a step forward. It's only a glance at Fenris that stops her moving. "Be gone!"

In a swirl of ice and snow, the Inuit goddess leaves.

Cuan lets out a canine chuff, the cubs peeking out from behind his feet. "Lieutenant Atherton?"

Fenris straightens up and mutters. The sword shrinks back into a decorative silver chain which he replaces around his neck. "Gonna pay her a visit later." It won't be a social call that is for sure.

"Ambrose. Sif. Thank you both. Cuan. The pups are unharmed?"

Fenris saw Ambrose's… indiscretion but he passes it over. Sedna invited it and Sif had it under control in any case.

"Is anyone hurt?"

As sharp as a bucket of cold water to the face, how Sif yanks the Jackal from his prey. He lets out a wheezing grunt of shock even as his bootsoles briefly leave the grass and then he's been placed down again, his palm itching and gripping convulsively at cool empty air replacing the feeling of skin beneath it. The Bane screels angrily as he gulps for air in his delirious state.

Voices begin to filter into his mind and form words rather than garble he should be ignoring. Astryd sounds especially edged now and Ambrose thinks dizzily to himself how stupid someone must have been to annoy her. Then someone's addressing him, an unfamiliar voice, and he runs fingers back through his hair, further mussing it.

"Yesssss, that is me," he replies to Cuan, questioning wending through his tone. It solidifies after Ambrose shakes his head in a canine manner. Goosebumps rise and settles as he immediately shoves the Bane away down into his bones, regaining lucidity quickly. "Ahem — yes, that is me, I am present. I am uninjured." Very quickly and carefully, Ambrose locates his discarded gloves and stoops to grab them. These go back onto his hands swiftly and surely even as he attempts to keep sangfroid.

Indiscretion indeed!

He looks over at Cuan and the pups with a vaguely guilty cast to his quirked brows.

Sif keeps her arm around Ambrose's waist until he seems more stable on his feet, letting Astryd take the spear from her other hand. When he finally starts responding coherently she lets him go and steps back to return her knife to its scabbard at her back, but she still keeps an eye on the Midgardian. Just in case she needs to contact his mate or similar.

"I am unharmed," she replies to the questions, her eyes also going to the pups but not out of guilt and definitely to see for herself that they're fine.

Astryd, what did she mean by you have been shirking your duty?" She really hopes that this isn't related to the Valkyr's strangely reckless behavior of late.

The blonde Valkyr stands for a moment, fists clenching and unclenching as she counts to ten. It's Fenris' muttering that has her letting out a long slow breath before turning to him. "I will help you prepare, my Lord." She mutters lowly. "And I am unharmed."

The pups skitter out from under Cuan, approaching with far more care Sif and Ambrose. "They are well, Grandfather. This was a good lesson for them and with you all here, they were more than safe. Besides, I would have left with them, if I'd been worried."

Astryd snorts as she loops her arm through the God Wolfs. "Welcome back, Lieutenant." Is all she says to Ambrose. Maybe they'll speak on that later. There's another sigh as Sif asks the question "A Valkyrie is a chooser of the slain. It is our duty to escort souls to Valhalla and return those that escape to where they belong." She says, grey eyes resting on Ambrose.

"Technically, Ambrose is one of those I should return." beat "Why don't all go in the house and have a drink. I think we could all use it. The cubs as well, Cuan."

Ambrose's throat can be seen to work in a silent swallow. "Thank you, milady." This, at least, he manages in reply to Astryd's well-intentioned welcome in a far more subdued manner. His eyes slant away from her and towards the wolf-pups now approaching once more, wiser for having seen the results of fierce if brief combat.

His nadir-blue eyes flick back to her, however, upon hearing precisely what being a Valkyrie entails…and where he falls on the spectrum of interest. Slithering up beneath his skin again, the Bane outright hisses at the Valkyrie on a metaphysical wavelength. Ambrose yet again briefly closes his eyes and tamps down the ancient curse back into his bones, not too unlike shoving an overlarge bundling of clothing into a small rucksack.

"I think…a drink, yes…and a reprieve for myself, milady. I am…I refuse to leave." The Jackal straightens his spine as he looks upon Astryd again with a shadow of sadness far too noble to belong upon such features.

Sif nods slowly at Astryd's explanation. That does make sense in a distressing way. But thankfully the Valkyr suggests they all go inside. She is completely in agreement with that. "Yes, let's go inside. I suspect that there might still be a bit of mead." And this time she'll make damned sure that any Ambrose imbibes is suitably thinned into another drink.

As the pups approach again, she offers them each a hand to sniff, both to show that she is no longer armed, and so they can catch a hint of the scents of the spear and her knife. "Would you like to go inside, pups, where it is warm and there are things to eat?" And likely otherwise chew on, but that's the nature of pups. To chew on things.

Astryds chill grey eyes don't even blink when the Bane raises its head. She can see it, in Ambroses eyes before he closes them. "And no, you are not going anywhere. You are here for a reason and it is not my place to interfere. I learned centuries ago to use my …. discretion."

It's all so matter of fact, but what none there can miss is the anger that's just below the surface. Anger directed at Sedna.

Ushering everyone into the house, the cubs frolicking around Ambrose and Sif, acknowledging the womans question with a yap.

"What Sedna and many others fail to realise is that Midgard has changed since the 'good old days'. It might be the reason that some of their power is waning … Either way, she has a beef with me and clearly hadn't thought the plan through."

"Mead everyone?" Yes even Ambrose. Lord help them. Well, she'll put some watered milk down for the cubs. Cuan prefers ale.

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