2020-04-21 - A Forty Pound Test


A trip to the Finder reveals more information

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Apr 21 03:40:28 2020
Location: Hawai'i

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It is really not the season for beach boardwalks, which is unfortunate because beach boardwalks is where Fenris gets a lot of really good leads and the occasional pretty necklace for his Raven. But that is not the only place to go asking questions and finding answers. This time of year is fishing season and so Fenris has taken Mari and Ambrose perhaps paradoxically to a bait and tackle shop at the edges of the city.

It isn't much to look at and when they step inside… it still isn't much to look at. There's a selection of rods and reels and bait both synthetic, live and complicated. There's an array of barbed hooks for the inexperienced to wrap around trees and embed into their own tuckus. And there is a rather pleasant looking lady with cafe-au-lait skin and slightly frizzy hair behind the counter.

Unless one has eyes to see. And then that hair isn't hair. It's feathers.

"Welcome to the Master B- oh! Fenris. Astryd. Ambrose. Welcome."

It's the Finder.

Astryd likes the beach boardwalks, generally. There's lots of eye candy for her to feast on. And who could say 'no' to a bauble from Fenris? Certainly not her, but the bait and tackle shop is a close second. Not that Astryd is fan of fishing.

"Hello Finder." The blonde says to the woman, looking even more more paler than usual. She's not mentioned it to Fenris yet, but her nights are filled with dreams … or nightmares …. and it's making sleep hard to come by.

Ambrose lingers only briefly outside of the shop. Warm enough in his dark field jacket overtop a caramel-colored turtleneck and with thick socks beneath his boots, his black fatigue pants near-silently swish as he turns and enters the place. A circumspect scan of the area showed only brave beach-goers and intrepid joggers.

Never one for fishing, he lets his eyes wander without much interest. Granted, he does vaguely remember tossing out bait on a simple string-and-stick set-up in Eastern Europe in his travels, but there were never silver spinners or glossy flies to use. The voice from the back counter makes him turn, hands in his pockets, to see a familiar be-feathered head and personage. Warily, the Jackal joins Astryd and Fenris at the counter, light falling in through the window to glance through his moonsilver-pale hair and inexorable coal-glow of the Bane in the back of his pupils.

"Well met again, Finder," he murmurs, still crisply.

"I have something for you, Ambrose." The Finder slides an envelope across the glass of the counter. It's a small thing and it's got a little lump in the middle. Fenris cants his head slightly. "Is that…"

"Showed up at my shop yesterday." She smiles.

Right well. Inside is a small ring. A very familiar ring.

"Now, that done, what is it I can do for you dearies? You have the look of people who come with difficult questions." Her favorite type of customer really.

Astryd links her arm through Fenris' and watches the envelope as it is handed over. There's a questioning look given to Fenris "It would seem that its job is not done yet…"

"Ambrose is the one with the most pressing questions, Finder. Mine are innumerable at the moment." The blonde says. She knows she might ask the woman for a 'cure' but she's not sure she'll like the price.

Pale brows meet to hear of something…for him? Ambrose's eyes drop to the envelope and, with care, he reaches out to take it up. The little thing inside turns out to be very familiar indeed when he upturns it into his palm: the golden ring of invisibility.

"Ruddy hell…!?" Apparently, he'd thought the thing lost beyond recovery. Ambrose frankly boggles at the Finder for a long few seconds until he thinks to slip the jewelry into his coat pocket along with the envelope. This crumples as he shoves it in there, licking his lips as he better composes himself.

"Um, yes, questions, there are questions," he confirms as to Astryd's comment. A short sigh and then the Finder gets a thin, tight smile from the Jackal. "As you can see, I am not myself. I wish to continue on living if only to spite those who strive to end my existence and as such, wonder if you've any wisdom in regards to beings from…the…Void." He squints and turns his head slightly. "The…Place between…Places. Er, the Emptiness Between the Stars."

Whatever the place is, he seems to imply flippantly in true hubris-laden fashion.

"Ah." The Finder is normally a playful sort. For her every conversation is a negotiation between old friends. For… well, she has known a lot of her clients for a long time and people tend to like her. She's fair. She has to be, it's her nature.

"You seek wisdom regarding your conflict with the voidspawn. I am going to guess that weighs heavy on all of you."

Fenris nods and the Finder frowns. "You know I must charge a price for this. And my price is a Valkyrie's Oath."

She looks at Astryd. "Swear to me. Swear to me that you will banish and destroy these creatures wherever you may find them until the threat is ended. Swear to me that anything I share will be put to use and not allowed to languish for fear of what action may bring."

The Finder waits until she has her price and then reaches down to open a drawer and pulls out a thick leatherbound book. She opens it to a page full of strange and arcane inscriptions in what appear to be Hieratic.

"You three are not the first to fight those from beyond nor will you be the last. And there is wisdom in what has come before. The ancient pharohs held such wisdom. In the distant past they waged terrible war and while the memory of it is lost their weapons and techniques remain. As do the scars of their war. Let me show you one of the simplest of protections. A charm to ward off the endless hunger."

It's a… scarab beetle. Golden and with… Wait. Astryd has SEEN things like this. The inscriptions are very, very similar to the scarabs she dealt with when Hod was being hunted. But there are a few key differences. It is amazing how the change of a few glyphs can render the meaning of an incantation entirely different.

As for Ambrose? Well, he can see that this actually isn't a super arcane 'recipe.' Golden scarab. Carved glyphs. Bit of blessed water, bit of blood and poof. Resistance to the void. Surely this is not the only bit of wisdom she has to share though.

There's the problem of the Maeljin that has latched onto Astryd and the fact that the Finders price is high. The blonde hesitates, refusing to answer. Like she said - some prices are just too high. "I can not swear that I will act for fear of what action may bring, Finder. Choose something else. Please."

In her long life, Astryd has seen many things and her time with Fenris has taught her that sometimes *not acting* is for the best.

When it becomes clear that the Finder won't accept anything but that, Astryd provides that oath, reluctantly. It's sealed with a strand of hair and a drop of her blood - the Valkyrie can't avoid it now.

When the scarab is shown, Astryd hisses quietly. It's … similar to a pin that one might wear although when Astryd had seen them - they'd been scurrying across the floor.

Ambrose's faint smile, rife with lingering discomfit, vanishes entirely from his face as he glances between the Finder and Astryd. He knows something near to an edict when he hears it. His attention returns to the book and there's no shame in how he cranes his head to see the open page at the very second of recognizing the script.

"«Bloody god…!»" whispers the Jackal in a language as ancient as the script. "It cannot be this simple…?" His glowing pupils rise to the Finder, wide and uncaring if she can see the Bane perk to some sense of the familiar — recognition echoed by its host strumming sympathy in the demi-sentient curse.

The Finder looks at Astryd as she hisses. "Yes, I know. Even the best things can be perverted. But that is what that was. A perversion of something that once saved this world." And nearly drowned it in darkness this time around. Might it be turned to good again? Did they… HAVE any of those scarabs?%r"Most things are, Ambrose." Many of them are not easy but most things are simple. The enchantment is not powerful, but it does not need to be. It will give you time to resist. For a mortal time is all it would buy. But you are made of sterner stuff, are you not?"

The Finder pulls out two other pages. "I have three other pieces of wisdom for you. Two are quests that should you choose to undertake them will yield you valuable weapons in this fight. The last is what you came here for originally. Wisdom. First, the weapons."

Another page, this one in norse runes. It shows a sword but not just any sword. Skirnir. The 'dancing' sword. Sword of Sunlight. It was lost ages ago when it was given up as a bride price.

"Long has Odin sought this weapon, Astryd. But it was not for him to find. I know its resting place. It lies deep, deep with the brother of your Wolf. According to legend it may only be recovered by the hand of one foresworn for loyalty's sake." An odd turn of phrase. Foresworn as in broken an oath. But who breaks an oath for loyalty's sake?


The next page is more interesting to Ambrose. It shows a ring. It shows, in fact, the ring in Ambrose's very pocket. But power has been poured into it. And twisted so that it may be wielded in new ways. "Ash nazg durbatuluk." Is all she says to Ambrose.

Fenris snorts when she does and then peers over at the page that Astryd was given. "This is… Freyr's sword. Or was."

Did they have any of those scarabs? Astryd thinks hard as the Finder speaks. "We have some of these, the corrupted ones, at the Embassy. I collected them when Hod was attacked." The Embassy. Ambrose might need to speak to someone there - she and Fenris aren't exactly … well… they're not *unwelcome* but people would rather they kept their distance.

Fine by her.

"Freyr's sword. Given to his messenger in exchange for the giantesses, Geror, hand. Freyr was left to fight with an Antler. Odin sought the sword … not for himself but to save Freyr, I believe. He did not want the God to fight Ragnarok without it."

That might not be how the saga's tell it, but Astryd may have been there. Perhaps.

"Recovered by one foresworn for loyalty's sake? I suppose you think my betrayal of Odin for Fenris will fit that bill."

The blonde looks at Ambrose when the words are spoken, to see what the gentlemens thiefs response is.

"I…yes," agrees Ambrose quietly to the Finder's rhetorical thought on his make. He swallows, eyes falling from her face and to the pages proffered. The sword is clearly not for him, not with its design and certainly not with the tale accompanying it. He again glances over at Astryd and Fenris, wondering if they recognize it.

"I suppose I shall need to stop by the Embassy then if there are possibly some scarabs still in existence. One for each of us, at the very least," the Jackal decides — and one for Kent if he can manage this.

The next page on display has him feeling for the ring in his pocket, to remind himself that it even exists there in the first place. He leans in to peer at it and when the Finder speaks those strange words, Abmbrose looks up at her from beneath his brows. Slowly, he straightens and those brows lift until they nearly disappear into his hairline.

"Really?" he replies to her. "Ash nazg durbatuluk, you say?" A slow nod. "Ruddy hell," comes the somewhat fainter remark. Blunt nails rise to scratch at his jawline thoughtfully as his gaze diverts to one side.

"If it's not broke, as they say." The Finder smiles. "You will find everything on that paper you need, should you dare to toy with such power." Which is to say… his own power.

Fenris is stroking his chin. "I know WHERE my brother is. Getting there is tricky. Talking to him is even trickier. He's sleeping. For a long, long time." And it's best he stay that way for the moment, really.

But if it really IS down there with him. "Shall I take you, Raven? Shall we see?" Might it? Well… yes after they raid the embassy.

"And now, the thing you came here for. Advice. Wisdom. Understand that while these are things beyond - in many ways outside - of man's comprehension their power lies there as well. Anything that makes them understandable, relatable, anything that brings them into the light makes them weaker. Though their power stretches and breaks this realm, so long as their full might is not brought here, becoming embodied or understood also binds them to its rules. It is risky to dare to try to understand them… but it is also the way that mere mortals have turned them back time and time again. At a… cost, it must be said."

Astryd is silent as Ambrose considers. Tolkien was a very strange man, she has to say - he had sought to understand and maybe he had.

"There is a cost to everything we do, Finder. It is how the balance is maintained. those that forget it often pay in ways they can't imagine …" The blonde finally says. "You're suggesting though, that we seek to understand these creatures of the void and not go mad? I know of one who supposedly tried. I wonder if he's taking audiences."

She hated his stories, by the by.

"I think you should, Fenris. If you would." There's something … defeated about Astryd at the moment.

Ambrose nods to the Finder. To dare to toy with such power… While Fenris muses, his eyes rest upon the page with its familiar script and the exact image of the very ring rested in his pocket. Slowly, he turns it over and over within the warm darkness of his pocket. Cost be damned, he decides to himself. With great power comes…great results, in theory.

The Finder speaks again and the Jackal listens; his fidgeting with the ring deep in his pocket pauses, its rounded inner curve rested just above his fingernail. He squints and glances over at Astryd again. "If you speak of whom I think you speak, Lady Astryd, then…why not seek an audience? Or at least his tomes? His tales must contain a grain of truth, obscenely bizarre and uncomfortable as they are. To learn through what he may share or to read is to have a barrier between us and the undiluted insanity, is it not?" He then sighs. "If you require my assistance in retrieving the sword, do let me know," he adds quietly. "Otherwise, I have homework to complete."

"I think we all do." Fenris says. "If you need help with yours let us know." Understanding these creatures and not going mad. That is an order and a half. But… perhaps they might have some help there. He has a scheme that might possibly work. He'll need to make some phone calls to a publisher though.

"I think talking to him is a good idea." Fenris knows that Astryd did not ask for a cure for herself. And he won't push her to. There may be other ways. For now they have enough to worry about.

"Let's get going Rav-… is that an Okuma CELILO graphite rod? I'll take that and your best Shimano reel. And THEN we'll get going."

The Finder smiles. "Twenty pound test?"

"Forty." Fenris looks at Ambrose and Astryd. "What?"

They'll get going in a moment. Really. Truly. Promise.

"Start with his tomes." Astryd answers. "His shade will not be easy to speak with, though I can find him easily enough. If we need to, I will summon him and we can speak."

Fenris taking the fishing rod gets a long suffering sigh. "I suppose I get to watch the native wildlife …" They do need to go. Something occurs to her though "You aren't … going to use that on your brother are you?"

With care does Ambrose collect up the offered pages. One can tell he's handled delicate things for decade upon decade with the balance and pressure of fingers' touch used. He speaks quietly to the feather-haired woman across the counter.

"Thank you, Finder, for your wisdom. I believe we all understand the stakes at hand well enough, even those within our quests to arm ourselves against what may come." The Jackal offers her a deep bow of his silvered head in respect.

Fenris's sudden interest in fishing line has him curious despite himself. For the first time since they arrived, a faint smile again appears on his face. "Do let me know if you intend to use it on your brother, Lord Fenris. I wish to see this occur. I might not get the chance again," he muses almost coyly.

"I might…." Fenris answer Astryd and then flashes Ambrose a smile. Then, things paid for and wisdom collected, they all head out onto the street.

"Let's get falafel." Is the last thing that can be heard inside. The Finder chuckles and shakes her head and murmurs softly to herself.

"Ask of the North Wind news of they the North Wind sends to me…"

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