2020-03-13 - Through The Whirlpool


Rachana has a plan to get Astryd and Ambrose in to talk to Naga 'cousins'.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Mar 13 05:22:29 2020
Location: Patna

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"I think I have pinned down a place where my cousins might be." Rachana had met Ambrose and Astryd in a town thirty miles from Patna. They're on the outskirts of the northern Indian wildlands and she seems to have every intention of going that way.

"They are… skittish, so we will need to move lightly. Ambrose they have heard of. I spoke of him often and they would have glimpsed him now and then. You, Astryd, will put them on edge and if they are on edge they may not deign to show themselves. So we may have to employ some… deception."

Ambrose glances up from admiring his nailbeds in what appears to have been something akin to a preen — ah, to have one's reputation precede them: always delightful. His momentary quiet elation tempers in the face of Rachana's suggestion.

"Deception…? Do tell." He makes no effort to disguise his intrigue, even if it's still countered by a leeriness that never deserts him. It always lingers about the corners of his eyes in fine crow's feet and in a hardness within his eyes. The Jackal remains warm in his dark long-coat, black scarf well-wrapped about his neck. For now, his head remains uncovered. Gloves are tucked into a pocket in case weaponry needs be sheathed.

"Well that's something, I suppose." Astryd murmurs, leaning against a wall and watching the Naga. She wishes that Fenris were here, she really does - for the first time in her long life, she doesn't trust her judgement.

"There is little to do that will disguise what I am, Rachana. Perhaps you need to speak more plainly about what you're thinking."

Ambrose has the right of it, and Astryd is uneasy about all of this. What could be done to disguise her, she wonders.

Rachana holds up a vial with an iridescent fluid in it, only a thimble-full, not more than that. "This is Naga venom. To most creatures, and mortals, it is dangerous. Even deadly. However it also carries our natural shape changing power. If you drink it, you will appear as one of my cousins. One that, given your association with the underworld and our association in the underworld."

So… the plan is to turn Astryd into a Naga, essentially. THAT will be interesting, should she agree to it.

There's a soft huff of a sound from Ambrose at the revelation of the small volume of perilous liquid. Laugh? Derision at the risk? Either way, his gaze slides from the translucent vial to Astryd.

"It has its elements of potential distress, but…we have done riskier things for the sake of collecting information, have we not?" the master-thief asks of the Raven. He means traipsing into under-realms for relics and torn pieces of velum maps. Of course, there's that hint of a charming smile full of challenge, enough to barely showcase his teeth.

Astryd's cold grey eyes look at the vial that Rachana holds up. There's no betrayal of her thoughts on her face. "It would kill most creatures, except those like Asgardians, you mean." She clarifies. Her kind have an ability to transmute poison … mostly.

"More dangerous things, Ambrose?" The Valkyrie snorts. "Hardly. But this should be adventure and then some." With a sigh, she takes the vial and downs the contents in swallow. "Blech… I wish I had mea——"

The blondes face starts to contort as the poison takes effect.

Seriously? What could possibly go wrong?

What could possibly go wrong with Astryd's form first darkening into one very like an Indian, and then into a half serpent half woman? What could go wrong with that? Well does winding up looking something VERY like Janaya count as something going wrong? Janaya with the lower half of a snake, that is. But still, quite eerie.

"Excellent. You look just perfect, 'cousin'. Shall we?"

The Naga - the real one who doesn't yet LOOK like one - turns and waves a hand and a whirlpool opens up in one of the nearby rivers. "In we go. I don't know if there will be any to welcome us but we will keep going until we find someone."

The art of changing one's shape is not an unknown sight to Ambrose. His mate tends to do so on the regular for reasons both logical and illogical alike. Now, to see Astryd undergo such a drastic shift from the form he knows well to someone (somebeing?) who appears uncannily like someone risen from the dead?

There's a long, long moment of outright staring at Astryd now. The whites of the his eyes show enough for the startlement to be clear. There goes the hard swallow and nervous lick of lips, as if cotton-mouth suddenly plagued him.

"Y-Yes, perfect," the man hazards, voice ironed nearly flat but for the tiniest frisson. "You shall blend right in." He jovially points at Astryd and grins overbroadly before he turns to…stare at the whirlpool.

"…and we are jumping into this…?" Rachana is given a dubious look.

It's not comfortable, changing like that and Astryd even loses a little height when she does. When it's done, the dusky skinned Naga stares back at Ambrose. "It meets with your approval, I take it …" She says dryly.

There's no mirror to see the full effect.

"Into the whirlpool, yes. How do you think we were to meet her cousins otherwise?" The … brunette says. Taking Ambroses arm, she slithers to the water and topples them in. Letting the waters … close over them and transport them where ever.

There's a spinning of water. It's cold and hard to breathe for an instant. It isn't just the water, it's passing the boundry between the land of the living and that of the dead. When they emerge they're in a small antechamber with a fountain.

This is an underworld. Astryd recognizes the feel, but it is well kept. This is one of those 'paradise' kinds of underworlds that is less designed to house mortal souls and more designed as a home for a magical race of beings. A few of these are littered in the great tangle of the lands of the dead. It's not likely that she's been to this one though. It's remote and out of the way.

There's no one in this room, but there IS the sound of rustling in the next chamber over.

"Hello! Cousins?!" Rachana calls out. A dark haired head peeks into the room, gasps and then pulls back into the other room.

And THEN they get mobbed. "RACHANA!!!!"

Indian looking men and women rush into the room, grabbing and hugging Rachanna. Ambrose and Astryd also find themselves hugged. Many times. By many people. There's such a babble of voices that it's hard to make out but it all comes down to 'IT'S SO GOOD TO SEE YOU, WAIT WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!'

"I thought we might whistle a little tune or something of the LIKE — OH MY GOD, WAIT, I DID NOT AGREE TO — "

And in they go, heedless of the Jackal's thoughts on matters. He gasps loudly before they hit the surface, drawing in all of the air he can manage. Holding his breath as the entire world about him goes topsy-turvy, Ambrose then somehow ends up on his feet. He manages to extricate his arm from Astryd's hold and that the Bane doesn't nip is a thing of wonder in itself. Still…the Jackal can do an excellent wet-cat imitation, from clothing shrinkage (and other places) down to the puft of cold river water from his lips and delicate flicking of dribling water from his hands. Fingers slick back wetted hair gone glossy and he gives Rachana a flat side-look, mumbling something to himself in Farsi unintelligibly. It's properly a little rude.

The mobbing of greeting happens soon afterwards and he makes ridiculous sounds here and there while hugged — grunts and skreeks and tries to get out of one hug only to be enveloped by another — and finally, it's too much. "Alright, ALRIGHT! GOOD BLOODY FUCK, MY PERSONAL SPACE, IF YOU PLEASE!" There's a quick sliding step to hide himself mostly behind Astryd at this point as the Jackal tries to convince the Bane to calm itself.

Ambrose is getting a hint of how Fenris and Sif have felt for these last few months. The blonde has been reckless in the extreme and this is no exception. Astryd would have been more careful of touching Ambrose before, but now? It hardly even registers how bad that is.

"That was invigorating…" is what she says as she shakes herself off, sending drops of water flying as she does. It's a bit like a shampoo ad or something, really.

Then she's mobbed. Which is really too much for the aloof, haughty Asgardian normally. Just as she's about to thump one of the 'cousins' who comes in for a hug - she remembers. Grits her teeth and hugs back.

Ambrose hiding behind her gets a smirk and amused look cast at him. "I am Aadriti." She says. Not offering any explanations. "And this is my friend …"

Rachana… does something very ill advised but perhaps a bit touching. She turns into a serpent and wraps herself ALLLMOST around Ambrose. Which is to say she curls around him - multiple times - but doesn't touch him. But it's by inches if that.

"Alright alright. Give him some space. This is Ambrose yes. And that is, as she says, Aadriti. She's from England." Because OF COURSE there are Naga in England.

"I thought you'd be harder to find." Rachana says.

"We would be normally but we were resting here before moving further in into the realm. What brings you all here?"

Ambrose only barely keeps from rising onto his booted toes as the loops of scaled coils suddenly stand as barrier between himself and the overly-friendly relatives. The yelp that wants to slip past his teeth is also kept within and leaves instead in a slow, strained sigh. Able to see over the barrier of coils by some amount, he tries to keep from lifting his lips in a canine-like snarl briefly as if to vouch for more personal space. Humanity will apparently do for now.

A clearing of throat. "I am cold and wet and missing a personal object, so I shall be to the point: have you seen a locket lately? It would have been gold, etched on the outside with a cursive J? Inside, there would be have been a sepia photograph of a young woman. She looks…"

Ambrose's voice fades out and he makes a half-hearted gesture towards Astryd — er, Aadriti. "…like her," he finishes quietly, brows quirked in some admixture of emotions.

Ooooooh. That explains it. Astryd casts a dark eyed look at Ambrose as he delivers that information.

The next time Aadriti speaks, the english accent is evident. More AP british than anything, but definitely british. "As Ambrose says, he is seeking an object that I hoped my cousins would be able to assist with."

She's curious though, as she looks at the other Naga, wondering how best to phrase her next question. "Have you been travelling long, then? To rest here?" She's wondering, really, why are they moving further into the realm.

"Yes, we travelled all the way from the borderlands to here and will be going deeper still. A long time. The fountain here is nice, though and it was worth the trip to stop here." Says one of the younger ones.

After she's sure that the others won't mob rush Ambrose again, Rachana uncoils and turns back into a human looking woman, leaving Astryd as the closest person to him. Ambrose's query gets a curious look between the two of them.

"Why would you need a photograph of her if you have her right here?" One of the cousins finally asks. "Or… awwwwww. Is it that you can't stand to not have some part of her near you? Mortals are cute."

Rachana has to hide a giggle behind her hand.

"Wait." One of the men says. "A locket like the one that Kali's people were looking for?" A male and female Naga look between the two of them, suddenly slightly tense. "Why do you want it?"

"«Thank you»," breathes the Jackal to Rachana in the language they share as Harbingers as she leaves him to his personal space once more. The eeriness of the moment has goosebumps imprinted upon his skin, but he seems more composed now if still damp and disconcerted by the whole affair.

When teased by the younger Nagas, Ambrose wrinkles his nose. The pithy retort curls up behind his teeth; instead, he visibly polishes an eyetooth rather than give away that Astryd isn't Janaya. Stillness overtakes him at the sudden change in topic. A brief glance ricochets off the Raven and Rachana both before he replies, calmly,

"Because it was mine first and I would like it back, please, if you have it."

"Oh? Why are you travelling deeper?" Aadriti asks conversationally. "It certainly is a nice fountain, I can see it's worth the trip." She lets Ambrose field the questions about the locket, watching the reactions amongst the 'cousins'.

When those two share a look, Aadriti tilts her chin slightly to Rachana indicating the pair. Then she moves, away from Ambrose, circling to the side the male is on.

"Have you seen it? The locket?" She asks the male, flashing him the sweetest smile.

"Better to be away from the border lands." Another 'cousin' pipes up. "Things have been going wrong. People getting… sick. And then strange. Distance is safety."

Moving about with no legs is… interesting. The muscle ripples and necessary side to side motion of that particular manner of getting about means that she HAS to sway at the hips which does make her movements a bit well… eye catching, at the least. Clearly they've caught the Male's eye.

"We did yes." The woman he looked at says slowly, to first Ambrose then Astryd. "But we do not have it. We didn't think it was safe to keep it. We hid it in the wilds of the underworld, near the lair of Susna."

THAT is a name Astryd does know. Susna is a demon of drought and famine and hoarding. He lives mostly alone in an abandoned part of the underworld where even ghosts fear to go lest they be caught and devoured by the ever hungry creature.

The good news, of course, is that Kali doesn't have it. Which means Gurim doesn't have it.

And those hips don't lie either. Even if he takes a moment to thread his fingers back through his hair and quarter-turn away from Astryd's movements, the man can't help the slide of his regard down and down and —

Ahem. The very brutal reminder that this is the Dread Wolf's Raven is good self-justified reason for the master-thief to shift attention instead to the other Naga.

The news regarding the locket is…double-edged. "Oh. Oh…um, very…good then." Ambrose lets out a silent sigh afterwards, his shoulders slumping visibly. At least it's not in anyone's hands he knows to ally against him, the Jackal counsels himself. "I am…sorry to further infringe upon things and I do sympathize with your wish to get to a safer place in light of the going-ons of above, but where can we find this Susna?" The wording 'underworld' — this has him giving Astryd another brief look.

Astryd is used to being looked at and she can feel the way her body moves. It's almost like she can feel Ambroses eyes on her though - and she turns to watch him … grinning broadly. Then it's back to the Male with a very intense regard.

"Near the Lair of Susna, you say. Then it's likely very safe. Do you think we could go and retrieve it?" Her finger traces down the mans chest as her dark eyes look up. She's the Dread Wolfs Raven but she knows … men. She hopes.

As to the illness and leaving the borders? That's well noted.

The fact that the woman who hid it with him isn't reacting to this likely means she's a relative of some kind. In any case the man swallows. "Um y-yes. We can go get it. I'll show you the way. Or tell you the way, whichever you want. It's… um. It's out of the way. A lot of travelling."

Rachanna looks at Astryd and the poor Naga she's cornered and then at Ambrose. She knows he needs to find this. Quickly. "I can get us there faster, if you can tell me where it is. I only know vaguely where Susna lives and try to avoid that whole area."

"Most people do." The woman says. "That was the point. When you're done getting it you can all come with us. Ambrose would be welcome and I'd love to catch up with a cousin from England. And it's safer down here, away from everything." It would be safer and these Naga seem quite pleasant.

But they can't, can they?

Nodding agreement with Rachana, the Jackal looks from her and to the stranger Naga again. He's managed to find his steely spine to an extent now and appears to be accepting the fact that there's going to be a spat over this bedamned locket.

There's a rueful half-smile for the woman-Naga's thoughts on matters. "I thank you for your kindness, truly, it is…it is a rarity in these times," he says with nod towards her. "But I have a family above and they are counting on me to return to them alive. This task will begin with recovering my locket."

"I don't mind a bit of travelling." Aadriti smiles again. "As Rachana says however, please let her know where you hid it and she can take us. Ambrose's people will be worrying about him."

With another smile, Aadriti moves backwards, to be with Ambrose again. "Maybe we can catch up some other time …" She offers.

"Uuuh. Sure." Poor Naga guy looks between Astryd and Ambrose, clearly thinking as is everyone else here that she is… with him.

The woman gives concise but very helpful directions and Naga start to filter back into the other chamber. Rachana hugs people a little bit more. Farewells are said and then she turns to Ambrose and Astryd.

"Well. Shall we?"

"My thanks," offers Ambrose to Rachana's relatives as a whole. He also bends at the waist in one of the vertical bows known to the people of the area, palms pressed together before his chest.

Astryd does get a wry glance and equally amused little curl of one side of the Jackal's mouth aimed at her once she's beside him again. His reply to Rachana is pitched to be conspiratorial and far drier than his person.

"Indeed, do let's. If we need to navigate the whirlpool again, do warn me first. I shall do a better job of holding my breath this next time. I believe there is river-water in my ears," he grumbles as he tilts his head to one side, all the better to thump his palm lightly against his skull, as if that might dislodge the lingering drops.

Astryd is having a lot of fun. Poor Fenris. "I think we should." She says to the pair.

The sooner they finish this quest, the sooner she can return to the God Wolfs side. "Don't worry, Ambrose. The water will dry. Eventually."

They should go.

"We will. But we will go through some tunnels first. This way." Rachana motions for them to follow her.

"Oh by the way I'm not sure how long that Venom is going to last but… it will be at least a few days." Which means Ambrose is stuck watching Astryd's serpentine hips. And if Rachana gets in a teasing mood, hers too.

And with that… they're off.

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