2020-02-18 - Insolent Birb


Looking for Kamduis, Astryd finds Talbot and tweaks the Death Wolfs nose.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Feb 18 03:27:23 2020
Location: Nepal

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The Road to Kathmandu passes next to the Langtang Nation Park, a rugged and mountainous piece of wilderness that stands out even in a rugged and mountainous country like Nepal. There sole road moves in a little valley, following a watercourse between two very steep escarpments and there really ISN'T any such thing as a side road because, well, this more or less IS the side road. The small town of Timure is miles behind now. It's late. It's cold in this part of the world - being as it is winter. It is mercifully not snowing but it is most certainly threatening to do so.

And then, up ahead, there's a tree across the road. It has stormed in the last few days so that makes sense, but it is a hell of a tree.

Astryd has felt the presence of death in the area for some time. It has been calling her this way and at length it likely became too much to resist. There's a chance it might be someone she is looking for. And right around the same time that a certain traveler to Kathmandu is approaching a tree laying across the narrow road from Nepal to China… so is she.

"There's death in the air." Astryd murmurs to her companion. Her long blonde hair is covered with the hood of her fur lined coat. The coat is buttoned up and the blonde is even wearing a scarf - it must be cold for the Asgardian to be feeling it.

"She's around here somewhere … " She looks at the tree that obscures their way and sighs before moving towards to start shifting it. She *should* be able to lift it on her own - moving it though. That's more fiddly.

He's dressed like any other Western trekker in the high reaches. Warm synthetic clothes, a hefty pack, a staff to help with balance. Oh, he's taken what local transport there is, but some of this has to be traversed on foot. And while clothes and certain magical items transform with him when he shifts, enough does not that he's kept his human form. If he has to den up somewhere along the road, he'll shift to do it - fur and magic are superior to Goretex, after all. He's muffled up in his gear, including mask and goggles, anonymous behind mirrored lenses.

And then there's that tree. Kent pauses, and his dismay is clear, even if his face can't be seen. Oh, he can maybe scramble over it as a dog….but how would he get his pack over it.

"Many are the visitors to the gates of Shamballa." Comes a female voice from off to the right and slightly up the mountain. It's not a normal female voice for sure. There's a growl underlaying it that gives that away, and it also echoes and rushes over itself, as if the same voice were saying it two or three times each slightly out of phase with the previous one. All in all it sounds rather ethereal.

It belongs to a wolf. The only wolves in this area are Himalayan wolves and not a one of them are quite that big, nor do they have the inky black coat that this one does. Nor the piercing, near glowing blue eyes.

"Not many are they who leave it in such a hurry. Color me curious. You scent very oddly."

There she is. In the open, near the road. Near someone wearing western clothes. Astryd can both see and feel her vantage point.

The tree starts to move even as the wolf speaks. Astryd, as it turns out, had been just on the other side of it and her blonde visage is soon revealed.

"I know Astryd. I can feel it too…" The huge, ruffle coated, Wolf that stands to Astryd's waist answers her. "You will be careful, wont you? Grandfather didn't have time to bleed you before we left …" That earns a cold, steely eyed, look from the blonde.

"As careful as I need to be, Cuan." Astryd grunts as she starts to move the tree "I can feel her, she's close …" The tree shifts "… ah. There you are." She looks right at the wolf and moves to stand beside the man. "I've been looking for you …"

He's backpedalled a little, has Kent, at the wolf's greeting. A little ways up the trail. He has courtesy enough to pull his goggles down, let them hang around his throat, squinting gray eyes against the cold wind. His face is still muffled by a fabric half-mask, as skiers and snowboarders sometimes wear - a mask bearing a print of some sort of monster's muzzle in reflective paint. "I have…..been fortunate enough to be a student of Shambhala in the past, but now my business takes me elsewhere," he says, with polite neutrality. His accent is still distinctly English. "You are also a traveller here, I take it? Do you see sanctuary in the valley?" Not that he's empowered to grant it, but…

Then the tree is moving, and he glances that way, keenly. Someone else in search of him? Kent's still trying to keep his distance. "That sounds a little foreboding," he says to Astryd, voice tinged with dry humor. To the wolf folk, he smells of woodsmoke and incense, sweat and soap….and dark magic and old blood.

There's a soft growl at Astryd's appearance. "Odin's ravens. Well your day has just gotten interesting hasn't it, Student of Shamballa. Curious that she should be here though isn't it…"

Those blue eyes turn on to Astryd. "He isn't yet to depart, so I wonder why you're here, and with a child of the North Wind no less?"

Child of the North Wind? The speaking wolf must mean the second smaller wolf with the blonde.

Either way those eyes cut back to Kent. "Sanctuary in this place is wherever I lay down, though I am not myself safe. I should introduce myself. I am called Kamduis Ur, the Death Wolf, and these… are my mountains."

There is something… old about this creature. It looks like it is only half there and yet there is no doubt as its feet press into the snow that it is solid as anything else around here. The 'Death Wolf' takes a few steps closer and sniffs the air.

"You scent of death, Student, but it is not you. Whom have you been close to, I wonder, that might leave such a scent?" Another sniff. "Death… and magic and perhaps just a hint of dog. Well, perhaps it is no wonder, then, that one of the Choosers of the Slain has come to find you…"

"Mostly, though, I have wondered why it is that my brother's hounds have been trailing you." She pushes something at her feet and a very large canine creature rolls down to lay near the tree. It is quite dead. It looks hideous. Not a wolf, but very wolf like.

"Greetings to you, Kamduis Ur. I bring no tidings from your father." Astryd answers. There's something in her manner, so calm and unrelenting - like a storm could break against her and she wouldn't yield or break. "It is she, I have come looking for but I suppose Fate is laughing or rather Those Who Sit Above In Shadows are laughing that our paths have crossed now and here. I am a friend of Ambrose."

Cuan lets out a soft growl at the carcass and the blonde rests her hand on his massive head. "Settle Cuan."

"Why would I be seeking this mortal, Kamduis? Many have the scents you describe about them. I have Chosen not take them all. Now, Daughter of Fenris and the Moon, What is your brother doing…"

Talbot says, "My day is so often interesting," Kent's voice is drier yet….and his hand has dropped to his pocket. Not for any mundane firearm, but that dart of ancient bronze, the Phurba. She's the child of gods, and it's only rated up to maaaaaaaaaybe a greater demon, but it might at least ruin her day in turn. The explanation that these are her mountains has him raising his brows, not that that's visible beyond the hood of his parka. The Masters of Shambhala might disagree….but this seems an inopportune time to start that argument.

Instead, he inclines his head, politely. "I am Kent Talbot. Do you grant me safe passage through your mountains? And it is likely me. I have shed much blood and sent many souls on to their next turn of the Wheel." It's said without any air of threat or boasting, mere statement of fact. Then he eyes that canine corpse. "I don't know," he says, simply. "I've walked alone for a while now. Had they wanted to take me, they could've done so many times."

Then that gray gaze turns to Astryd. "Indeed," he says, but there's something faintly hopeful in his voice. "If that is so, then you are well-met indeed…..""

"Well met then, Kent Talbot. Most do not meet me under such good circumstances, but only on their last road. But you… it is not your time."


Fortunately for everyone involved while Kamduis seems confident and curious she is not overtly aggressive and most pertinently she isn't pressing to get closer to Kent. This may in part be because of the somewhat sour look she is giving Astryd. "You I know not, though I surmise that you are that valkyrie my father took up with. Which would make your companion there a half brother I suppose." Cuan gets a small snort for himself.

"My brother I have not seen in many a century but I know his agents. Mortals, given over to the worship of primeval things. Well…" The clearly inhuman canine thing gets a glance. "They were mortal anyway. Before Huzuruth Ur got their hands on them. Dire Wolf, in your tongue, Kent Talbot."

She moves, but only over toward the tree where she sits down, half on the road.

"Why he should be doing that I do not know but he does not expend even his mortal agents idly. It is interesting, though, that two hishu such as you should be caught up in this. The other is some cursed whelp whose name I have heard only whispered by the agents of a different brother. Aetherton."

They way she says it, it clearly means nothing to her. But for Kent and Astryd, though….

"Took up with." Astryd snorts. "I suppose you could say that. I am his bound Valkyrie however, as well as a Companion." She doesn't take the title Consort. "You may call me Astryd."

There was a reason that Astryd hadn't used Ambroses' last night and now she waits for the response from Kent. "I believe I am 'caught up in this' because I know this Aetherton and I am with your Father."

"Are you, Kamduis Ur, giong to join with your brothers and try to bring your Father down again?" There's a warning in the Valkyrs tone. She doesn't take threats to Fenris kindly.

"And it is indeed, Kent Talbot. I was sent to assist with your safety and find which of the Urs was tracking you."

His pokerface has been honed over more than a century….and there's no flicker of reaction from Kent at the mention of his husband's name. "Indeed," he says, about it not being his time. He has a long, long road to walk before the Lords of Fate will permit the Wheel to turn for him. "I have…..particular burdens to carry," he says, obliquely. "What do you seek Aetherton for?" Might as well be blunt.

Astryd's questions earns her another keen look from his pale eyes. "I am glad to hear it," he says, and he seems so, in his restrained way. Because let's face it, alone against a divine being…..

"Me? I have little interest in this Aetherton and won't until it's his time." That may get Astryd's interest even though it was addressed to Kent. His time. Death Wolf. She is behaving rather like a Valykrie isn't she? Unless she's not shepherding souls but… collecting them. That's certainly possible.

"But Gurim Ur, the Rabid Wolf, his people are practically frothing to get their hands on him. Why? Who knows with those madmen. But I would hazard a guess that he is special in some way. That he can be used, even if he has to be hollowed out or made mad himself to be so. Gurim is very… adept with infectious madness. Comes of knowing it so well I suppose."

That last sentence is very, very dry.

"But Gurim interests me far less. I'm curious as to why the Dire Wolf is tracking you. Tracking, and not attacking. That really is more his style and instead his agents were simply watching. Do they wish to learn of you, Kent Talbot? Or were they hoping you would lead them somewhere?"

In the words of that most prescient of canines 'ruh oh!'

Astryd gets a snort, almost derisive. "I did not attack him the first time. I watched as he and my brothers tore our home apart and was spilled out the rip as it rocked and tumbled with their fury. In that time I've neither heard from the Destroyer nor seen him."

"Are you setting yourself up as Death Deity, Kamduis? You will find you have much competition if you do." Astryd says, eyes flashing a little. Cuan leans heavily against her and butts her with his head.

"You aren't going to be rash now, are you Astryd." He rumbles.

Astryd gives the smaller wolf a 'look' as she falls silent.

"You watched. While he fought. And didn't raise a paw to help. Why would he want to contact someone who betrayed him so." Astryd waves a hand as to dismiss the conversation. She'd been there when they'd chained him and held him prisoner. Knows what it's like to have your 'family' turn their back on you.

Astryd looks to Kent, waiting to see his response to the Death Wolf. Her positioning? That of someone ready to defend those in her care.

"I imagine he and they believe I can lead them to the one they seek," He doesn't bother to confirm that yes, yes, he can. Kent's very still, as if it were an every day thing that he converse with gods and monsters in the valleys of the high Himalayas, as night comes on. "You have done me a service, and I am grateful," he tells the She-wolf, but there's no warmth in his tone. He sighs, softly. "This makes me think I should return to Shambhala, consult them there." Loath to step a pace closer to Kathmandu, while he knows he's being trailed….and cursing himself for his own obliviousness.

"And when you departed again, what then? Unless you have another way out you'll simply be picked up again when you leave." Kamduis points out. "I have killed the ones following you. This time. Mostly so that we could speak." Otherwise she might well have watched and waited and seen what had happened.

"I stood between my mother and the chaos, you insolent birb." She actually says 'birb'. "Do not presume to lecture me about that ancient magic. I was there when it was written." Her growl is audible. Cuan may have a time restraining Astryd. Kamduis seems a bit annoyed.

"Ah so you know this Aetheron. You BOTH know this Aetherton. Interesting. And that means my FATHER knows this Aetherton. Perhaps he and I should have a long overdue reunion…"

Astryd's question? That isn't verbally answered but she becomes briefly ghostly and spectral.

"God of Death? No. No.. not yet, at any rate… Just one with an interest in Souls and where they go."

"Worry not, Mister Kent. I have ways of travelling that are quicker and will reunite you with Ambrose." And her with Fenris. Those ways might not be safer - actually, they might be given what's tracking him.

The response from Kamduis gets a sunny smile. "I'll presume to lecture you on whatever I like, youngster. Perhaps you should learn to keep a civil tongue in your head around your elders." Cuan steps in front of Astryd to hinder her drawing closer. "You didn't raise a paw to assist your father and when it was done, you abandoned him." She's resolute on that matter.

"I look forward to seeing your torn from your ivory tower, Kamduis." As to seeing Fenris? Astryd doesn't say a word. It won't be done alone.

His lips are masked, so they can't see Kent mouth the word 'birb', puzzled. "What interest would the mad one have with curses? He wishes to destroy, he thinks this Atherton may bear a curse he can use?" Not really speculating - Kent is *sure*, down to the bone.

There's something like desperation in the gaze he turns to Astryd. "But will our taking these routes lead foes to him?" he asks her, bluntly. Unable to entirely hide his fear for the Jackal.

"You and your sisters kept my father imprisoned, I don't think you have any moral high ground here, little Raven." The she-wolf growls. Ivory tower? Perhaps these mountains are something like that. Isolation they have certainly provided. But what has she being doing here? And why here?

"A curse he can use. A curse he can twist. Or maybe it has to do with this Aetherton himself. Whatever the case, you can be sure that Gurim cares nothing for what happens to the man in the end. He will be kept functional for as long as is useful. And I mean 'functional'. Whole, or healthy, does not enter the equation. And if possible he will be willing. Gurim has ways of… bringing people around."

Clearly not Kamduis but there were other of the Destroyer's children that sided with him.

As to the question to Astryd, Kamduis cannot answer that in her stead though she suspects she knows the answer.

The other two may feel as if they're… being watched. If either turns to look, a small grey wolf with hollow eye sockets stares at them from a distance, then turns to depart into the forest and vanishes from sight.

"It is true, we did and I saw the error in that." Astryd answers coolly. "I lost Asgard to get your Father freed. And wandered the farthest corners of the Realms until I found him again. You should be thankful I did, for if I didn't you wouldn't have been born. And no, I'm not taking credit for what I did, Kamduis. I am saying that I saw a wrong and moved to right it."

Cuan is still leaning against her but there's a note in the Vakyries voice that has him shoving his massive head under hand.

"Nothing will stop the agents finding him, Mister Kent. They have once and they will again. You have a choice to seperate yourself from him on the off chance it slows them down and not be there to fight by his side WHEN the time comes. Or go to him now and be together."

It's not a decision Astryd can make but she just made her thoughts very clear.

At that feeling, the blonde turns and looks into the forest. "Go after him, Cuan." She says to the wolf. Who the hell is that? It's not the first time she's that one.

He doesn't shake his head. Kent tosses it, like a dog fighting a muzzle. He's only half-human, this one, split-souled, and the animal nature comes through. "Yes," he says, to Astryd, and there's a growl in his voice. "I will."

To Kamduis, he says, coolly, "This will not happen. I will not permit it." One dog, defying the children of the Devourer.

Cuan hares off after the other wolf in the distance. He's quite quick but it is a distance so he will be a minute or two. When he gets back he will report that he saw the grey wolf step behind a rock, but it did not emerge from there. It seemed to simply vanish. It did smell familiar though… he could not say why. Something from his childhood.

"Then I wish you good fortune, Kent Talbot. And I hope that the next time we meet I am not standing at the end of your final road. As for you…"

Astryd gets a look over the Death Wolf's shoulder as she turns to depart. "I have a feeling we will be speaking again rather soon." Perhaps alone, perhaps with Fenris. But soon. And with that Kamduis Ur heads back up the mountain, leaving Kent and Astryd to decide where they will go next.

Astryd, at least, has a flying wolf when he comes back. Kent… slightly less so.

Astryd will quiz Cuan about that later. Childhood. Aurora? Or had one of the other litter been watching even then?

"Then we shall go, Mister Kent. I can't offer you a flight on the back of Cuan, but we can walk the Underways to where you must be. And then, I will leave the two of you for a while and seek my Lord and tell him of this."

Underways. She said that.

It won't be long before they go.

To which Kent bows assent - absurdly courtly manners for travellers chance-met in the wilderness. Though….no, chance had nothing to do with it, did it? "I would be grateful," he says. Nevermind the pang of longing to be with his beloved again - that desperate eagerness is masked, both literally and figuratively.

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