2020-03-01 - Question Of Faith


Accepting Rachana's invitation, some of the mystery about Ganesh and Gurim Ur comes clear.

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Storyteller: {$storyteller}
Date: March 1, 2020
Location: Patna

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The little spike that Astryd and Ambrose had recovered from Rachana had turned out to be more than just a thrown weapon. Carefully engraved on the sides were reliefs that, when inked, turned it into a rolling stamp. The inscription when rolled out simply read Kumhrar Park Museum. In Hindi. The Museum is where ancient artifacts from the Mauryan Empire are preserved and it IS supposed to be closed today. It is also in the Bhootnath Road area which is a fairly busy but relatively nice throughfare.

Either way, Fenris had volunteered to sit on Ganesh while Astryd, Sif and Ambrose went to sort out Rachana. She had clearly, from the report, been unwilling to speak freely. Meeting her at a closed museum might well cure that. But it could also be an ambush. Hence the two war goddesses.

At any rate, the place does look rather empty when the trio arrive but there is someone standing in front of the gate, looking sort of official. Like he works there.

It's a subdued Astryd who joins the the group this evening. She's pale again - Fenris has bled her to take the edge off the curse - but there's something more to her demeanour than that.

The blonde draws herself up however, as the approach the man at the gate. She's haughty when she looks at him. "I believe we are expected." Is all she says. The implication - deny at your own risk.

Crossing the street, the Jackal approaches the official-ish looking man with Astryd and Sif close by. Armed to his gills with various knives and his two much-beloved revolvers, none of which are visible with his long-coat on, scarf about his neck, Ambrose gives this man a dimpled grin.

"Expected, perhaps," he agrees with Astryd. I know the museum's hours do not exist today, but I have left something dear to me inside. Would you mind if I briefly stepped in with my friends?" His bare hand reaches up to clap to the man's shoulder and squeeze.

There goes the Bane in a frisson of cold and hot, like a fever chill. "I Suggest you let us in," he continues most charmingly, hoping that the Bane's coercive attempt might override any hesitations left after the Raven's stern announcement.
While she's not voiced anything aloud, it's likely crystal clear that Sif is concerned about Astryd. From the moment they met up to come to this meeting, she's kept half an eye on the blonde Valkyr, and even now at the gate a bit of her attention stays.

She looks at the man standing at the gate to the museum for a moment before glancing at Ambrose. She's willing to let the Midgardian try to get them access to the building first. But, if that fails, she doesn't feel any need to be gentle about forcing their way through. After all, the physical gate itself looks decidedly flimsy to her.

"Of course…" The man says with clear indications of the Bane's influence. He opens the gate in front of the door and then the door itself. Inside the Asgardians Plus Ambrose can see Rachana, in somewhat traditional clothing. She motions for them to step into one of the offices off to the side of the lobby and shuts the door behind them.

"I am glad you got my message. Please make yourselves comfortable. I imagine you are about to have a lot of questions…"


Astryd can see Sif watching her and she doesn't offer an explanation. There's so much to the blondes expression, even if it is stoic. There were words between her and Fenris - more words from him than her.

With a nod to the doorman, gatekeeper, the blonde moves on through.

"You might say that, Rachana. You're involved in something very serious. As I'm sure you're aware."

Despite the potential danger at hand (not his own at the moment), Ambrose can be seen to lift his chin in something akin to a contained preen. His self-confidence is practically radiant as he enters the property along with Astryd and Sif. Rather than immediately shuck his coat in the presence of refined company, the master-thief merely unbuttons it so it hangs open, granting easy access to his guns should he need them.

"Absolutely," he agrees with Rachana quietly, though not without a glance towards the Raven and Aesir warrior-goddess first. His eyes flick back to Rachana, gaze gone keen. "I do not believe for one second that you are not up to your ears in intrigue, 'chitchor'…nor do I believe that you would shift your deitic preferences on a whim unless there were real risk. Are you or are you not Ganesh's agent and if not, Rachana…" A shadow of concern draws his brows together. "Tell us of your Lady. Does she retain any of her faculties?"

Following Ambrose and Astryd, Sif is the last to enter the office and she stays by the now-closed door both to watch Rachana and to give herself room if a fight does ensue. She stays quiet as questions are posed to the woman they've come to meet, watching Rachana for any indication that she's not taking the conversation well.

And while she's at it, she makes a mental note to have a discussion with Fenris and Astryd. The Valkyr's demeanor is, if possible, worse than the recent cheerful recklessness.

"The Lady has gone mad." The Naga woman says quite seriously. Well 'Naga'. It's not obvious that she is right now though Fenris had called her that and she hadn't denied it. "And I had not heard that Ganesh had done so as well but I am not surprised. There is something that grips this whole city and turns people on one another. They meet in secret and plot, though to what end I do not know. It has even affected our order, Ambrose. I smile and play to the Lady's whims but it has been clear to me for some time that she is not the Lady I first came to serve."

She takes in a breath. "I do not know, now, how can be trusted. There were a few of us trying to set things right but two days ago one of them fell ill. I can see the fevered madness in his eyes now. He knew of our plans and now to act on any of them is too great a risk. May I ask, what happened to Ganesh?"

"How long has your lady been afflicted?" The Valkyrie asks, taking up a 'guard' position at Ambroses shoulder. "And do you know how?" Astryd wonders if Kali has been dealing with Gurim Ur or if it's something else.

"I know not what happened to Ganesh." Astryd answers, perhaps deliberately misunderstanding the question. "We saw him in the company of the Queen of the Embers and he unleashed a mental attack on us all."

Ambrose's lips pull thin to hear of the cult itself falling into the clutches of the fever. He had hoped, potentially, to twist the fervor and duty to Kali upon itself and gain the trust of his fellow Harbingers, but now…that plan falls to ashes on the tip of his tongue. There is a fatal fracture in the cult with the man Rachana mentions, he of glazed sanity.

A hand rises to pull down his mouth even before he turns to pace off to one side of the office. It doesn't take him too far from Astryd, no more than an arm's length away. "Yes, Ganesh is not in his right mind at all." A subtle shiver dances down his spine at the memories very firmly crammed into a corner in his mind; not gone, not erased, but sewn away by Kent's own mentalism.

"Rachana." Turning, Ambrose attempts to meet and hold her gaze. "I might have a way to draw attention away from you and the cult if you can still find a way to enact your plan. Do you…do you remember I once wore a locket?" His hand rises to touch at the ghostly sensation of the lost item hung about his neck. "I lost it in the river decades ago. Perchance…have you come across it?" The Jackal's eyes glitter at his own daring.

Why is Sif getting the feeling that there is a rather dangerous quest looming to restore this city to the way it was before the something affecting its people is removed.

Ambrose's question about a locket has her focusing on him for the moment. What would be so special about said locket that would have him asking after it with someone who already has enough troubles to contend with on her own? Though, perhaps they can help Rachana with her city's troubles at the same time as locating the locket. That would be the best case scenario.

"No… though… it is odd that you should mention lockets. When I first noticed the Lady's madness she had asked the cult to go through every pawn shop and museum and jewelry store in the city looking for them. I got the feeling she was looking for something specific, but she never did mention what. If she found it, I never heard. But I do believe that there are still 'trusted' agents of the cults looking for such. The last meeting had them seeming very excited. Like they had discovered something important." That's probably not good news.

Astryd's news has Rachana looking to both her and Sif. "I would ask that the forces of Asgard not… respond as would normally be appropriate. I know that attacking members of a pantheon CAN be an act of war and right now if you chose to move into the city there is little the Daeva could do to stop you but… please…" She seems VERY concerned about that. "It will only put more at risk."

"The Lady has been afflicted, Astryd, for possibly… months. Maybe six, seven. She started becoming reclusive. At first we thought she was merely tiring, as she does sometimes, but then she started to shrink her circle of confidants. It was only later that I noticed these were all people who had contracted a mysterious fever."

Astryd looks at Ambrose as he mentions the locket. What is it the master thief is up to? Sif gets a questioning look from the blonde Valkyrie. They'll have to talk later. "Was it any locket she had you collecting, Rachana, or was there something specific?"

Astryd's shoulders stiffen imperceptibly - though Sif is likely to notice the action. "My Lord does not wish trouble with another pantheon." Sif can give more assurances on that.

"If I was to say the name Gurim Ur. Would that mean anything to you?"

Ambrose can be seen to lose a shade of color at the news of Kali's hand in those attempting to hunt out his lost locket. Good god…that it's confirmed they know of it…and not knowing of this — this — excitement and what it is. His stomach twists into a tight, nauseous ball.

"Yes, as Astryd says: she mentioned something specific, did she not? Is there anything else you know of cults' last meeting, Rachana? Anything: a whisper, someone letting slip in their enthusiasm…anything," he stresses, voice beginning to fracture even if his face remains stoic but for fine lines about the corners of his eyes. "How…how did you avoid the madness when the Lady first became afflicted?"

"It is not nor will it ever be our intention to instigate conflict with anyone in this city." Sif is being very careful of her phrasing, though she's still not entirely sure she's helped any with her declaration. "But we will defend ourselves or those we feel are in need."

As Ambrose as about the Lady becoming afflicted, something suddenly occurs to her and she glances at Astryd again. Could there be a correlation there?

"Gurim Ur. I have heard the name. My Lady whispers it sometimes. But I do not know what it means. It is not Hindi, nor any other language I have learned in my years…" Rachana looks very suspiciously at Astryd. "I was not told. I suspect a specific locket but the instructions were just to get every single one that we could lay our hands on. I do not believe there are many left in the city that the cult has not handled." They resold a lot of them. That was an interesting enterprise.

"I know that they are planning to move to attempt to subvert the city government, which is presently held by another faction. And…" She seems to think. "There is something. Something about wolves. She wanted to meet with Shiva, soon. I have been doing my best to delay that meeting. I do not know how the madness is spread. I do not know why I have been spared it. It seems near random. People in the city, the ones not infected, they are very, very afraid…"

Rachana sees the look between Sif and AStryd. "What? What is it?"

"The name is known to my Lord and now to Ambrose and Lady Sif." Astryd says quietly . "I am not at liberty to say much else." That's the end of the conversation as far as Astryd as is concerned. "So any locket. Those chintzy heart shaped ones through to cameo's."

That might make Ambrose feel a little better but if they found his …

"I think Midgardian science may help with why you have not been affected. It's either that, or Faith." Either would work but Astryd doesn't know enough about Gurim's plans to start to narrow that down.

Astryd sees Sif's look and raises an eyebrow. She has no idea what the other Asgardian has struck upon.

There's a weak little huff of a laugh to hear that the cult felt stymied enough to sell the excess lockets. Ambrose then still buries his face in his hands and rubs at his temples, expression mostly hidden.

"Would that a giant goonch ate my locket and swum downriver and out of reach of Gurim for all eternity…" he mutters mostly to himself, voice still thick with a facet of exhaustion. Hearing Rachana ask after something, he emerges to look between Astryd and Sif. "Yes, what?" asks the Jackal, brows drawn. A glance to Rachana: "…wolves with no eyes, perchance?"

"Oh, no, something merely occurred to me. It is likely of no consequence to this conversation," Sif says, presumably to reassure Rachana. Inwardly, she can't help but wonder if there IS some similarity between the curse that's been affecting Astryd and the fever that has been driving the individuals in this city mad. She'll speak with Fenris about it privately.

Wolves with no eyes? That makes her almost want to ask Ambrose what he means by it.

"Your locket? Your locket with Julia? Is that what this is all about? Why would Shiva want that?" Rachana does seem honestly surprised by that. "You left it in this city?"

She seems surprised by THAT too.

"Nooooo…" A wolf with no eyes? "I've never seen such a thing. But wolves were very much on the mind of the inner circle and the Lady. Something about… speaking to them. Messages. Who is 'Gurim Ur'? Is he, it, the cause of this?"

Astryd was not much illuminating, though, not on that score. But deliberately so.

"I think there might be a cure. Or at least, I know of an item powerful enough to cure any disease and I hope it can cure this one. But the moment I slip away, the alarm will be raised. I'm too useful here and I am watched. The Chintamani. It was said to have been moved into the Mahavir Mandir temple in the city. But if it is, it will be in the secret sanctum, beneath it. And it will be guarded by those favored of Lord Hanuman."

"A Wolf with no eyes, Ambrose?" That even confuses Astryd. She's sure he'll explain it … later.

"They might be." Astryd says, noncommitally. "I'm more interested in the wolves your Lady is supposed to be meeting with and the ones that Shiva is taking an interest in."

Those grey eyes are so cold, like snow in the sky, as she looks at Rachana. "What if … we were to get the Chintamani for you?" Well, actually, Ambrose will do it. He's the master thief.

"Shiva wants the locket with Janaya — yes, I mean, n-no — " Now Ambrose is flustered enough to stutter. "I threw it in the river outside of the city decades ago. If Fate has any interest in my continued existence, a giant gooch ate it on a whim and swam away and no one will fetch it," he says, voice having devolved into something shy of a snarling hiss. "This…bastard-dog Gurim Ur wants it. He cannot be allowed to have it."

A sharp cutting gesture of his hand ends with fists at his hips. "Set me at this Chintamani. I fear no favored of Hanuman." His gaze sparks and his teeth are bared in a sliver of ivory for a second before he composes himself a little better. "I do not fear eyeless wolves either. They seem to act as herald of the larger ones, the Dread Wolf's offspring. Hathis, the one with the silvered fur — I saw an eyeless wolf before he showed," the Jackal asserts.

Wolves. Personally, Sif is content to let Fenris deal with any and all wolves, even ones that are lacking eyes. She can't speak on the name Gurim Ur either, as this conversation is the first time she's heard it. This Chintamani, though, this is something she can possibly help with. "I would be willing to assist with acquiring this item," she offers with a small bow.

The mention of a cure has her thinking again about Astryd's recent difficulties. Would she be our of line speaking with Sigyn for ways to help the Valkyr? Hopefully not, but… wait. Could Sigyn possibly help with the fevers and madness in this city as well? She mentally vows to ask.

"If you were to get it for me I could wish away the illness. Or, for that matter, YOU could wish away the illness. It will work for anyone who is holding it. Or at least that is what the legend says. I have to hope that its power is sufficient to deal with… whatever this is."

The Naga looks very carefully at the three. "Be very careful. I do not know if Lord Hanuman has been infected. If he has, his followers are a threat. If he has not, you might be making a very powerful enemy by being too rough, or precipitate an… incident." Sort of like with Ganesh attacking them, but in reverse.

"Until the Lady is cured I fear the danger to this city is very great. Every day this goes on, it might spread beyond Patna, in truth I am surprised it has not."

Well, it hasn't that they know of. "In any case, do this, please, and I can help you locate that locket, at least, to the best of my ability. Perhaps, then, the Lady will speak with you openly about the wolves she is talking to. There are other alternatives but… I would rather not. Not yet. They all involve some manner of violence."

"We will speak about it first." Astryd says with finality. Whatever Fenris said to her has had an effect. Ambrose gets a raised pale brow at the mention of the locket and Gurim Ur. There's a story to tell, that's for certain. She'll ask him, later, when they use the hot springs.

"Is there anything else? We should not linger here. The less we are seen together, the better."

To hear of the Chintamani's powers is enough even to check Ambrose. He murmurs something under his breath in Farsi and then sighs. "If wishes were horses…" A click of his tongue off of his teeth before he polishes a canine tooth in idle habit. His hair is now a bit…ruffled, to say the least, having run his fingers back through it without thinking.

"We shall endeavor not to start an incident," agrees the Jackal, even if it galls his sorely-tried patience at this point. He nods to Astryd; yes, there's a story there, couched in a visit to Scathach, of all people.

"In the meanwhile, Rachana…" The Naga gets a stern look, though it fades into something more beseeching in the end. "…should you find that locket, send word to me as fast as you can manage — I will come to you, hell or high water, and retrieve it, all the better that I may redirect any further issue away from you. But the Raven is correct: we should not linger."

Sif nods her agreement to the statements from both Astryd and Ambrose — they needed to speak about this new task of recovering the Chintamani and that they should not linger. "Norns watch over you, Rachana. And if the Fates wish, we will return quickly to aid you and your city."

With that, she offers the woman one more bow before reaching to open the office door.

"I would ask the gods for their favor, but I do not think right now they can be trusted. Instead I will say only, good luck. And I will find your locket if I can." Once they leave, they're shown out and the gate is locked behind them, letting them back out into Patna in the afternoon. It's a busy city, but they can feel the tension in the air. Something has to give, and soon.

Hopefully, they'll have the situation in hand before 'soon' arrives.

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