2020-02-09 - Spiced Bread


A visit from Skolis-Ur raises more questions than answers

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Feb 9 05:25:51 2020
Location: New York

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Fenris has been around long enough that he has had a number of children. Not all of them have turned out well. The Old Wolf is not exactly the human picture of a good father, though he might be the lupine one. One of those children, a being that Fenris has called 'Gurim-Ur'. The Rabid Wolf.

What Astryd knows but others do not is that Gurim-Ur was not an only child. The family that it was born into was… difficult, and the children are scattered to the wind. But Fenris has found one of them and he has just arrived. Fortuitous since Ambrose was invited over to discuss this very odd family.

The Wolf arrived amid the cold snap currently taking New York. It is in the back yard. It arrived nosing at the door, seeking Astryd. Its fur is white and its' eyes like ice.

He is Skolis Ur. The Winter Wolf. And his breath is storms and frozen death.

Astryd opens the door and steps out into the yard, drawing a fur lined jacket about herself. "Skolis Ur. Be welcome in our house, Guest Right is extended to you." She recites the ritual answer as she eyes the Winter Wolf.

With that done, the blonde regards the white beast and cants her head. "You asked for me, Skolis Ur, here I am."

Cold snaps suck — at least, Ambrose thinks this in heaps and spades. A child raised in the sands and the heat of the Fertile Crescent, he is absolutely giving the backyard and its cold expanse a flat, unamused look even as he makes to sip at his mulled wine. He took up the invitation to join the Karenskis this evening on a whim and, knowing he's safe from the reaches of even his undead cohort from those sandy patrols long ago, he plans to make the most of it.

However, that suddenly-appearing white wolf with eyes as cold and empty as the Bering Sea?

"Uh, Milady Astryd?" His voice rises into a more uncomfortable pitch. "Lady Astryd, you cannot be — " His voice falls out even as he backs a few very quick steps away from the window and the back door nearby. "No, milady, wait — URGK?!"

Honor won't let him watch her come to any harm and after he throws back the rest of the mulled wine as fast as he can, he pulls on his long-coat. A quick zip of it to his throat and out comes Ambrose onto the back stoop at the very least. He swallows. That…is still a big wolf.

Fenris is still inside in the back part of the house and since he hasn't come running to the front part… maybe things are okay?

"Hello Astryd." The Winter Wolf says with a voice like a blizzard. "I thank you for your hospitality. I… don't suppose you have any of that spice bread you make about the house?"

It's a remarkably normal request made ALMOST shyly. But then those deep, cold eyes turn to Ambrose and he can feel himself being sized up, not entirely unlike a meal.

"Interesting company you have over, Astryd. Is he one of Father's agents? Or is he one of yours? Or is Father away travelling and you've taken him on as a… companion?"

Is Ambrose aware of Fenris' and Astryd's stance on mortals and these kinds of things?

Also… Father? He's clearly talking about Fenris.

"What is your name sir? As you may have heard, I am Skolis Ur."

"Ambrose, really." Astryd says to the gentlemen thief as they step through the door. She is safe - and if she's not, she can protect herself. Normally.

"I might just do, Skolis and if I didn't, I would make you some. Would you like me to parcel some up for the family?" It's all so very urbane.

"I haven't had a companion in a century or more, Skolis. I prefer to stay by my Lords side for the nonce." she does give Ambrose a cheeky little grin. "He's a little older than I prefer them, anyway. This is a friend, of both Fenris and mine."

"Fenris, are you coming to join us?" Astryd asks, gesturing to the house for the others to enter. She has spiced bread to get.

The wolf can speak — and when it does, Ambrose can feel the lick of chill from his tailbone to nape follow. He shudders silently beneath his jacket, suddenly wishing he'd brought out his stocking cap or his scarf. Astryd's reprimand is only met by a flat look and eyebrow (learned from Kent; Ambrose receives this look often enough for foolhardy behavior).

That he might be a…companion, was it? This makes a faint smirk show on his lips…at least, until Astryd calls him 'old'. His mouth opens in affront.

Still, Ambrose recovers enough of his decorum to at least introduce himself. "A pleasure to meet you, Skolis Ur. I am Lieutenant Atherton," and the great white wolf receives a courtly bow with the Jackal's fist pressed against his own chest. The master-thief never looks away completely. "Guest and friend of the Lady Astryd and Lord Fenris." The clarification seemed necessary. He enters back into the house proper and manages to put a table between himself and the white wolf rather quickly if smoothly, his expression interested and chary both.

"Thank you kindly, Astryd." Skolis inclines his head.

Fenris comes out at that point from the back of the house, collar loosened, sleeves rolled up. The White Wolf notes his arrival and bows. "Hello there. Took your time. I'm hungry."

"Hello Hungry." Fenris says with an insufferable smile. "I'm Dad."

The ice eyed wolf glares at him. "I hate you."

Fenris smirks and motions. "Come inside Skolis. I see you've met Ambrose already. He has a friend caught up in Gurim's… machinations."

That earns Ambrose another look. "Interesting. Well. First things first. Spice bread. And then I imagine you'll want me to do some explanations."

The White wolf shrinks down as he moves to come inside but does not become human. Just easier to manage size-wise. He lays down in the living room while Fenris pours himself a drink and gestures to Ambrose and Astryd, silently asking if they want one.

"Where to start…" The Winter Wolf says. Fenris turns up the heat a little bit in the house. The cold snap MIIIIGHT be Skolis' fault. "I suppose at the beginning. A long time ago, Fenris met Luna, the spirit of the moon, and had nine children by her. All of them were great and powerful wolf gods, like their father. All of them were deeply tied to the natural cycle, like their mother."

How much of this story has Astryd heard? It's possible there are parts that even she doesn't know.

Astryd busies herself with the spice bread, bringing it out with mead for everyone. Even Ambrose. "Dad jokes, Fenris?" She shakes her head and gives the Old Wolf a speaking look. "And yes, Skolis, I would like to hear, very much."

Settling beside Fenris as the story begins, the blonde gives Fenris another speaking look - this time, the conversation for Fenris alone.

"Nine is rather mystical number in many religions." She adds, if only for something to contribute. She's heard some of this story, but clearly - not all of it.

Ambrose nods emphatically towards Fenris and his offer. Yes, drink please, the potential for Asgardian ale be damned. He takes the beverage offered and retreats still behind the dinner table to stand as he sips at it, squinting in still-leery interest in the story unfurling.

And it's still cold. The Jackal needs must put down the drink to fish his gloves out of his coat pockets before continuing to enjoy it. Where's his scarf…

"Oh, thank you, milady," he murmurs to Astryd for the serving of the spice bread. Pinching off a bite of it, he appreciates it silently where he stands.

Skolis Ur gulps the spice bread down. Mead is provided and drank with some reserve on Fenris part, only because he wants to be alert for this. "Thank you Astryd. And I am a dad am I not?"

Nine is a special number in many belief systems. Here it proved… unfortunate.

"Without boring you too much, there was a row in the family. Three of Fenris' children attacked him and tried to replace him. He defeated them and in the aftermath the family was utterly scattered. Gurim Ur was, as you may have been told, cast into the void. When did he return, Father?"

"I do not know but from the sound of things at least a century ago."

Skolis considers. "And what has he done, do you know?"

"This is why I wanted Astryd and Ambrose present… They recently discovered that he has been… tampering with Mortals. And my heart, did you not say you'd seen some signs of his power in the Underworld?"

"You are, Fenris. But that doesn't mean you should tell Dad jokes." Astryd says dryly. She's not eating at the moment, but she smiles as the others do. "I knew Fenris had been attacked and Gurim Ur had banished. What happened to the other two, Skolis? And the rest of you?"

The blonde makes a face at Fenris when he mentions the Underworld. "I can't be sure, but … I've seen things that his power would account for, yes. Spirits that should be at rest, walk Ways long quiet. Dead areas are being … revitalised, you might say."

And very quietly, from behind the dining table, Ambrose offers, "And I think he might have absconded with one of my former platoon-mate's bodies. I take great affront in this," the demi-immortal claims with a scowl and a flash of the Bane's carmine glow deep in his pupils. "The man should have been left to rest, not paraded about in some facsimile of life and certainly NOT used to threaten ME."

His arms fold tightly across his chest. Yes, he's mad, but there's still a sullen kernel of hurt deep in his heart that burns.

"Huzuruth Ur, the Dire Wolf, was mauled nearly to death by Fenris and Hathis Ur, the Silver Wolf, slipped away in the chaos of the fight. You see, when Fenris was attacked it was in the confines of a place we called home. During the fighting it unraveled, spilling us out everywhere. The family was scattered. I landed in the far north and Fenris found me later when he came to the same place. The others I have seen fleeting glimpses of but some of them I have not talked to since that fateful day."

Fenris nods, confirming what Skolis is saying.

"I should not be surprised if either Huzuruth or Hathis landed in the underworlds, Astryd. And while death is usually the province of Kamduis Ur, the Death Wolf, either Dire or Silver Wolf might be able to rouse the dead. Or scare them and send them stirring."

Ambrose gets a curious look. "Necromancy was never really in Rabid Wolf's line. He deals in fire and fever and illness. He may have learned how to manipulate your friend's body. But you should be prepared for the possibility that your friend lived and… bent the knee. Rabid Wolf can be very persistent. Especially when he has a captive audience. And I can think of a reason he MIGHT want a human acolyte. Rabid Wolf cannot move easily among the masses of mankind without spreading disease as he goes. If he wished to move without drawing Father's attention, he would want agents and allies. Or… worshippers. The gifts he gives are potent, especially to the likes of humans."

This is possibly something Ambrose does not want to hear.

Astryd hmmm's, frowning at Ambrose slightly. "I … didn't get the sense that your … friend … was a spirit borrowed from beyond, Ambrose." It's quiet, she knows the gentleman thief is angry. "It might be some enchantment that fools my senses however, I think occams razor is the principle we should employ."

"What is it that Gurim wants, Skolis?" Astryd asks, but her mind is on the other two just mentioned. "And is there a way to call or track your siblings?"

The blonde sighs, settling against Fenris' shoulder as they talk. "Would the others answer your call, my heart, if you were to … call."

Ambrose isn't pleased to hear this at all. His lips scrunch against a baring of teeth, given not only is it decidedly inhuman, it could be construed as a threat display to the wrong company. Instead, he averts his gleaming eyes away from Skolis and instead turns to put his back to the entire proceedings. A reach brings his mead mug to his hand and he sips at it rather than continuing to glare.

He's listening, truly, even if this has the appearance of a reaction to betrayal.

"I am not even certain they would hear me call, Astryd." Fenris says quietly. "I have spoken to only one besides Skolis in all that time."

"If Gurim, Huzuruth and Hathis really ARE making moves against you, Father, you may need to send people to find the others. They will not confront you directly. Not again. Not until they're sure they can win."

Fenris sighs and nods and glances at Ambrose's back. "And what of his friend? He asked for a meeting with Ambrose and then ambushed him."

"That may have something to do with the power I can see swirling around him…" Skolis can see that mmm?

"Life and death, is it Ambrose? That power you have? Astryd, is it like yours?"

"If you aren't certain, then you should try." Astryd says resolutely. "If they hear you and don't respond, you can assume they didn't hear you. If they do, then we've saved time and energy." It's a very simple thing for the blonde.

Laying a hand on Ambroses shoulder, Astryd speaks quietly. "I know it is hard, Ambrose, to hear what I say. I won't lie to you though, not about this - it is what a friend would do."

"No, Skolis, that power isn't like mine, not really. I'm not sure what it is, exactly. But you can see it?"

"It's an ancient Mesopotamian curse that I did not bend knee to," the master-thief replies in a tone ironed flat of emotion. He doesn't turn around. "My mate calls it the Bane. It takes life at all times and may give it back an expense of my own. It is without end, without satiety, and unkind."

A beat. "And it is mine unto the death of the world itself to keep me alive against all odds. I will let no one take it from me." Skolis will see the flare-up of the Bane around its host's body like an eclipse, limning him in sullen garnet-red light; it mists around him in finer liquid gem-like globlets before the Jackal seems to pull it rapidly back beneath his skin upon Astryd's approach. Her presence and gentle words make the man glance up and over at her, putting his face in profile. Still, he nods with resentful acceptance — friends do this, yes.

Skolis will also see what others cannot with his pale eyes. Ambrose's skin, lightly golden, is full of vigor yet. Beneath the skin…

…every single branching vein and artery, down to the fine capillaries at the end of his limbs, glows from within. They make a tapestry of unnatural life subdermally. A sullen, muted red pulses in time with each beat of his heart. Dark, almost hollow smudges hang beneath his bottom lashes, as if he's been denied sleep for far too long. His hair, even eyebrows and scruff, is the very platinum-silver that someone sporting northern blood might showcase with passing years, defiantly healthy despite the insinuation of proper age. His face is still youthful despite the age-bleached hair and weight of exhaustion.

At his ankles, wrists, neck, and brow, thin bands in lustrous argent-black hug tightly to the skin with inseparable insistence. Metallic and yet not, defying physical state, they appear embedded within Ambrose's flesh without causing agony at the points of melding.


"I can see the weight of it upon you. The toll the ages have taken." Beat. "The chains. It is exactly the sort of thing that Gurim Ur would seek to use. To turn to his own advantage. No wonder your friend was sent to collect you. I would caution against coming into Gurim's presence unguarded. He is… infectiously unbalanced and has a way of bringing people around to his own way of thinking."

Skolis looks to Astryd and then Fenris and nods in agreement. "I would agree, Father. It cannot hurt to call. But should they not answer, I think you should send those you may to seek for them. We can speak, later, if you like, about where I think they may be hidden or wandering."

Astryd gets another, rather serious look. "If you are seeing strange things in the underworld then they must be secured. Letting any of those three run loose down there can only lead to awful things."

"I will seek them, Skolis. I will take Ambrose and Sif with me." Astryd speaks up and glances at Fenris. He's been bleeding her, which is why she is so pale lately, and yet she still seems to have that streak of … adventure within her.

"I will secure the Underways as best I can, Skolis. I may need to call on their rulers for aid. This is not something that I will do lightly though - some of those rulers don't think highly of me and would rather I perished than provide me assistance."

"Ambrose, you will accompany me if we have to track down Fenris' offspring, won't you?"

Ambrose gives the white wolf a squint, his mouth parted as if to speak, but no words escape him. That…sounds eerily familiar; the memory comes to him of Talbot reporting what was Seen by the Sight, a view of himself even the master-thief can't see in the mirror above the master bathroom sink. Chains. It makes the Jackal shiver beneath the gentle weight of Astryd's hand on his shoulder.

Astryd's question remains unanswered for a considering second or six. "…yes, milady, I shall, since you have requested it. It will be less of a hazard to all should Oliver attempt anything again. The Lady Sif is familiar with the first attempt as it stands."

He then swallows and continues on to report, "I also acquired the aid of Lord Loki in regards to finding the missing locket in question." His carmine-red pupils flicker to Astryd before the others; she was present at Scathach's meeting. "In my recovered memories, it was revealed to be lost in Patna, India. My mate is currently nearby in Kathmandu, Nepal, and has offered assistance as necessary. I would not underestimate him." Ambrose says this with a solemnity not at all born of pride — no, born of personal experience.

"That is fortunate then. I hear that Kamduis Ur may be up in the region of Shamballa. Perhaps while you are looking for your Locket, you can look for my sister."

Wait. Hadn't Skolis said that Kamduis Ur was 'Death Wolf'? Sounds pleasant, doesn't she?

The Winter Wolf shakes itself and doesn't seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere. "Well that settled… I AM still rather hungry, if it's not too much…"

The Old Wolf chuckles and shakes his head. "No it isn't. Ambrose will you stay and take a meal with us? I think Astryd made game pies. Was that not it, Raven?"

"Come, I will feed you and pack enough for you to take back to the Pack." Astryd answers, letting her hand slide from Ambroses shoulder after squeezing gently. "Should you require help, Ambrose, I am here." As in Fenris, but Astryd doesn't volunteer her Lord - he can do that.

"Come, the three of you. Sit and I shall feed you." That's all there is to say. Death Wolf or not, Astryd has people to feed.

Ambrose blinks. This is his life, apparently: lost lockets and 'Death Wolves' on the doorstep of his mate's alma-mater. He nods though to Astryd and seems to pull not only the rest of the Bane back into his bones, but the tattered remnants of his manners into place.

"Thank you, I shall join you for a meal. It seems unwise to say no, especially if the meal in question in meat pies. It has been decades since I last found a recipe close to that of my childhood," he reveals with the barest hint of a rueful smile. Turning about, he sets the unfinished mead at his chosen spot and then seats himself, apparently more comfortable in this odd company than he's ever been. "If you do not mind, Lady Astryd, I would take the recipe home to Talbot. He will appreciate it."

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