2020-05-04 - Hernes, The Hound and The Bane


A trip to Faerie to find a Torc

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon May 4 04:23:47 2020
Location: Faerie

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Fog-shrouded forests are a bit of a trite setting. They're the kind of thing you'd expect a writer to use that actually means 'insert vaguely mysterious place here.' The thing is that when you're talking about places like northern Europe, a lot of their forests actually DO get fairly foggy. Along with a lot of places that are not forest, but forest was a lot of the land prior to man's need to create room for himself and his moo-ing burger factories.

Fenris has, perhaps unsurprisingly, sent Ambrose, Talbot and Astryd to a fog shrouded forest. In Otherworld. The land of the Faeries. Why has he done this? Some might charge that he has a sick sense of humor, and they might not be wrong, but there is also the small fact that Fenris needs to get a sword from the bottom of the ocean and in order to do that he needs a couple of other things, one of which he hid in a cave in Otherworld centuries ago. It's not much. A little jeweled torc. But it's enchanted and he's going to need it.

So. Here people are. In a fog shrouded forest. In Faerie.

Talbot's in his dog suit. Big and black and sleek, nearly as tall as a Dane but heavier boned, more like a mastiff. He is, despite his attempts at calm, hackling a little. That's the thing about his dog self - he can't conceal his emotions. As a human, his pokerface is masterful….as a dog, that tail and those ears give it all away. But then, he's a descendant of a hound of the Wild Hunt, and his relationship with Faerie is fraught, to say the least. He's standing by Ambrose, shiny black nose sniffing the air carefully.

This is the second fog-shrouded forest Ambrose has entered lately and at least the last one wasn't arrived post-Way. His palm rested on the Hound's shoulder is heavier as he makes a soft glucking sound, inhaling and exhaling carefully. It's his stomach being topsy-turvy and really nothing to be helped for it. At least the air is scented with nearly offensively-sharp cleanliness of the forest itself; the underbrain immediately knows that this is a place beyond the pale for it.

"Alright, it was…to be found in a cave, yes? Let us get it and get out," says the Jackal, his voice crisp if quiet in nervousness. The nerves stem from a far-distant run-in on the beaches of Calais and only surviving by the skin of teeth and hallowed ground. "No need to linger, don't you think?" Proverbial you, as he glances over at his other half and Astryd. He's warm enough in his field jacket and fatigue pants, revolvers at his hips, though he secretly wishes for his scarf. At least he has his gloves!

Astryd is dressed more … formally … than the last time Ambrose saw her. Well sort of - if you call combat pants and boots, a shirt and heavy jacket as formal. Stepping through the Way that Fenris has opened, the blonde glances around. "Reminds of one of my times in Ireland …" she says quietly, lost for the moment to the memories. It's Ambroses curt question that rouses her.

Grey eyes take the pair in - Talbot appearing as a Hound (with a capital H) had surprised her - the blonde gives them both a small grin. "Not getting the heeby jeebies I hope. It is *just* faerie. Just remember, don't eat or drink anything offered, don't step inside rings and don't make any bargains with anyone." She pauses before adding "Oh yes. And if you think you're glamoured, turn your shirts inside out."

It's hard to tell just how serious she is.

"From what my Lord has said, it's this way …" She gestures to a small path that leads into the forest. "… in a cave, high on a hill that glimmers, I believe he said."

The Hound slants a wry look at her, eyebrow whiskers quirking. Even in this form, his eyes are that startlingly pale silver-gray, vivid in that black face. He makes a sound between grunt and wuff, but doesn't speak. Merely nods that heavy head, which looks odd. Then he's preceding them, carefully, scouting the way, big paws almost soundless.

There is a large pile of boulders up ahead and at the base of it is something that could charitably be described as a cave. It's perfectly comfortable for something that's four footed. Even something large that's four footed. But not so much for anyone that has to stand upright. They will have to stoop to get into that thing. Atop that pile of boulders is growing a large tree. Its roots crawl over the pile of rock and sink deep into the earth. It's truck is easily six or seven Talbots across and the branches extend over the whole area like an umbrella. Clearly it is an old tree and given how things are in faerie probably also an important one.

But, the area looks like no one has been here in a long time. And there is a sense of magic coming from that cave so it does look like they've got the right place. This should be simple, right? Get in. Get the torc. Get out.

Did… anyone hear that, though? That sounded like a hunting horn.

"My dear friend Astryd, it is never *just Faerie*," mutters the master-thief to himself even as he unconsciously side-steps closer to the large black dog, wanting the nearness of his presence as comfort. Ambrose appears to have regained a touch of his normal vigor, but the shadows beneath his Bane-lit eyes remain as do his silvered hair. "The reminders are welcome, however, thank you."

He falls as silent as the sure-footed Hound he walks beside, fingertips still left down to brush at glossy fur and keep contact. His approach to the cave is at least steady if leery and full of dubious squinting. "That…must be it, I assume?"

I daresay you could slip right into there and out like a rat in a wall, «Azizam», he comments along the shared private kythe between himself and Kent.

But then, oh — oh, the clarion call of a horn that echoes in what would be nightmares if he could sleep. Spinning in place, there's one of his revolvers in his hand, his breathing already elevated. "FUCK!!!" He scans the foggy area and swallows hard. "Into the cave post-haste, yes?!"

Astryd follows the path carefully, looking at Talbot when the Hound gives her a wry look. He's lucky she doesn't blow him a kiss - that's the type of mood the Valkyrie is in, despite how pale she is. Ambrose gets a chuckle as the blonde stops at the tree.

"Interesting. This isn't exactly at glittering hill now though, is it…." She wonders at that as she also wonders at the entry. "… well this is going to be interesting, that entrance is not made for one of Asgardian proportions."

When the horn sounds, Astryd frowns and gestures the other two foreward "Be quick, I will guard and follow."

As you well know, beloved, I love tight dark holes. …..yes, he went there. Apparently the Hound is an impish mood, too. He's already turning to it when there's that horn call.

It makes him pause, one paw lifted, head coming up. Then the mindspeech is to the both of them, and it's much more somber. Yes. Into the cave. Whereupon he turns and starts shoving himself in there. What's coming may have some of his kinsmen with it, but that doesn't meant he wants to be there when it arrives.

There are the sounds of hooves in the distance, rather shortly after that and then the sound of baying hounds. All too quickly - with perhaps JUST enough time for Talbot and Ambrose to squeeze into that cave - a rider trots into view. He's not on a horse though. He's on a large stag, possibly an elk. The rider himself seems to have antlers growing from his head and his face is hidden behind the shadows of a hood but for a pair of glowing green eyes. He has a bow in one hand and a horn in the other.

Around him stalk a dozen 'hounds' but perhaps unlike what was expected. They are canine in aspect, vaguely. Their bodies and limbs are a bit too long though. Their eyes have a kind of dull intelligence. They lope, but they look like they could easily stand.

Astryd at the least knows of a name to go with this visage. Herne.

"Well well… what have we here. Not exactly what I was expecting my hounds to scent. A lone asgardian maiden lost in the woods?" There's a pause and a sniff. "Oh no. Not alone. Not alone at all."

Observe, Ambrose shoving at the hindquarters of the dog to make Talbot move FASTER to get into the narrow cave with its low ceiling. One can even hear him muttering under his breath in Farsi, "«Move move MOVE MOVE MOVE!!!»"

Away goes the revolver and he drops to his hands and knees to scurry into the darkness as fast as he can manage. He gets far enough within to risk pausing and half-turning in place, tucking his back to the cave wall to look back at the opening. He can see Astryd's legs — and then the spindly legs of an elk — cold sweat breaks out as his brain recognizes the not-quite-canid legs as well — he presses a gloved hand over his own mouth to stop the sound from leaving him even as he reaches back further into the darkness for an anchoring touch of the Hound against mild panic.

Astryd suspects there is communication occuring between the pair with her. After they scramble up, the blonde turns her back to the entrance of the cave watching the horned rider approach.

"Hail, Herne the Hunter. Hardly a maiden but Asgardian yes." Seeing the hounds that lope at his side. "Interesting hounds you have there." The blonde says lightly. "Some say they are mortals that a Hunter has decided to change." There are other stories of course but she wants to keep him talking and hopefully buy the other two time to find the torque.

Please, please, please be looking for the torque.

I hope you're alert, my heart. She sends to Fenris. We may need emergency transit before too long.

Ambrose gets his hand licked, gently. And then Kent is turning in to the depths of the hill, doing precisely that. Looking for the torque, that is. Snuffling and listening. The sooner they get what they're after, the sooner Fenris can beam them out of there like some Viking Scotty.

"Some say that they only know two facts about ducks and they are both wrong." Herne counters. Astryd… may have heard a formulation like that before. Though it's usually followed with a much more amusing tagline. The hounds spread out, snuffling and whuffling. They know that there's someone or something in that cave.

As for Kent, it doesn't take him long to find it. It's not so much buried as it is hidden under a rock and the cave isn't all that deep. Which is good news, it means there's not so much area to search but it also means it might be hard to hide in if Astryd needs to take shelter in it.

What have you done? Is Fenris' response to Astryd's prayer.

"As well for you, Valkyr, that I am not on a wild hunt." Which does not mean that Herne is not hunting. That is what he does. It just means he's hunting for fun and not for 'work'. "So. Tell me. Who are you hiding in there? I can smell their fear."

At the word fear the hounds start to chuff and woof. One bays. They press in a bit closer.

"Perhaps you should step aside. No reason for this to involve you, Asgardian."

A familiar touch indeed anchors him. Now able to swallow without letting loose a hissing like a readied kettle, Ambrose dares to look away from the cave's entrance and continue on his hands and knees the short way further after the dimmer silhouette he can see of Kent's tail and hind legs. He can tell when the Hound locates it: If you need me to move something, do let me know. I have the thumbs, after all. His commentary is again private, accompanied by a smirk made paler for nerves.

He heard Herne's hound bay. He can also hear, fairly clearly, that they're a known scent if unknown factor in the depths of the shallow cave.

"I had the courtesy to address you by name." Astryd says cooly, arms hanging loosely by her side. She's not removed that hair pin she wears yet - she really hopes she doesn't have to. "To answer the question you haven't asked, I am Astryd, Raven of Fenris. Pleased to make your acquaintance."

She smirks at the duck reference though "It's probably a good thing we're not doing time trials in cars, then. If I am hiding anything in there, it is none of your concern. I will depart shortly and your fair land will be bereft of my beauty, wit and charm. Please, Lord Herne, call your hounds off." It's polite but extremely firm.

Done? I have done nothing, my heart, and you wound me for suggesting such a thing. Lord Herne is out hunting though and his Hounds are *very* interested in my travelling companions.

There's a pleased grunt, as he finds it. Then the sound of scratching as he does his best to work it loose. To both Ambrose and Astryd, he says I have it, I think. It's definitely here, let me see if I can get it… The glint of his eyes like green moons in the dimness, as he glances back at the cave opening. Anything stupid enough to stick its face in here is going to get it bitten off he adds. To Ambrose, privately. That's why I love you, darling. You have thumbs. How else would you open the Milkbone tin?

"As you are on my land… no." Herne laughs. He makes a motion and the hounds begin to close in. Even if they don't attack, and they haven't yet, there are a dozen of them and Astryd is going to be hard pressed to keep them from getting past her even if she backs up right against the entrance to that cave.

And indeed that's what happens. They don't attack but they also don't back off, as if daring her to swing at them. And the first one that gets close enough sticks a too long arm down the entrance and starts to grope around, looking for something to grab.

And, given that this is not a super deep cave, he might even find something. Something like, say, the back of Ambrose's jacket.

"You seem like you would make a good hunter, Astryd. Are you sure you will not join me?"

As this is not a wild hunt there's no danger of her being caught up in it. But… Astryd has encountered beings this powerful before. She must know what kind of danger she's in.

And in the mean time… the torc is revealed. And instantly… it starts to fill the cave with water. Does, er, this thing have an off switch?

I will give you the entire contents of the tin if we make it out alive, Ambrose very sincerely promises in their private kythe even as he looks back over his shoulder again, mouth pressed into a thin line. He then flashes teeth in an unconscious silent snarl before looking back at Kent. Leaning over, he shifts to place his back to the entrance of the cave itself as he watches rocks move aside — there, the flash of the torc —

— and claws curling into the back of his jacket.

Immediately, he digs the toes of his boots into the cave floor and tries pulling free of the grip, only to have the field jacket itself tear with a betraying noise of weakened fabric. There's the light burn of what might be a very thin cut along his spine from the talons of the creature, but now he's struggling mightily to keep his position in the cave and shrug out of the coat at the same time, this an absolute travesty of an attempt given the cramped quarters. It's not English leaving him, chuffs of enraged fear, and his half of the private kythe is one long shrill klaxon of panic.

"You can't blame a woman for trying." Astryd smiles at Herne, stepping back to the cave mouth and trying to deter the hounds from getting too near. No, she doesn't swing and doesn't draw her weapon - she knows the danger she's in and won't do anything to provoke this, if she can avoid it.

"I am sworn to Fenris, Lord Herne. I am his Raven. I will not become your Hunter, but I thank you for the …. compliment."

Tell me your coming out and I'll get the Way open. We'll have to make a dash for it, I can't keep these hounds at bay. Well, they are baying already, so maybe I can.

The Hound seizes the torc in his teeth, yanks it free and is backing hastily out. Only to turn and see what's going on. He scrambles forward and drops the torc within Ambrose's reach. To Ambrose and Astryd both, he says, Ambrose, grab it. And we are coming out! Whereupon he does just what he said - that thing foolish enough to stick its arm in there gets bitten, hard.

The hound yelps and jumps back. All of the others jump back as well, growling as Kent and then Ambrose emerge. That lasts for all of ten seconds before they all lunge again.

But ten seconds is just long enough for a Way to open right in front of Astryd. And really if the hounds are foolish enough to chase them into there they deserve what they get.

"Into the garbage chute, flyboy." Comes Fenris' voice.

What a wonderful smell they've all discovered. Bleah. Briarhounds stink.

Herne just watches and smiles at Astryd. "In due time, Raven. And you're welcome."

In his scrambling to deny the Wild Hunt creature its prey, Ambrose manages to the torc into his white-knuckled clutch even as the volume of water continues to build, sure to force them out even if they aren't dragged out first.

He finally lets out a sharp cry as the field jacket rips all the more, but it's likely drowned out by the bitten creature's yelp in turn. They're washed out into full view and Ambrose's wide eyes flash whites and Bane both at Herne and his hunts-dogs before the Way comes into play.

Upside-down, tumbled like a shoe in a dryer through the Way, and then the rude splash of a landing in a…pool, it appears once Ambrose surfaces with a loud gasp. "FUCK — FENRIS, YOU COULD NOT HAVE — WHY — " Looking rather like the survivor of a sunken ship, the Jackal splash-paddles his way to the steps of the pool and slogs out to collapse to one hip, torc still held, as he coughs up some water.

"I hate Faerie…!" the brunet outright whines.

Astryd hip checks one of the hounds as the Way opens, sending it tumbling ahead of them.

"In due time, Lord Herne?" The blonde asks, watching her companions bolt into the Way. "Perhaps. I must say it's been a pleasure. I always enjoy the hospitality of Faerie."

Moving at a slightly more sedate pace than the others, the blonde steps into the Way and out into the water. "Really, my heart? I suppose it's not our hot tub … Would you mind bringing towels please?"

With Ambrose safely at the end the blonde moves languidly up the stairs and starts to remove the outer layer of her clothing. "They have the torc, Fenris. I suggest mead and we can discuss it. I do not think Lord Herne will give us too much trouble for the time being."

There's a cartoonish yelp as he hits the water….but then Kent's realizing they're in an actual swimming pool. He doesn't head immediately for the edge, but starts paddling around, clearly diverted. Ooh, this is nice, he tells both Jackal and Raven. I like it. And I get to shake when I get out. Like they've just given him a rare treat.

The pool is even heated so it's a pleasant seventy degrees or so. Fenris already has towels and he's laughing a bit as the Way closes.

"Leave the torc there. I'll have to get it turned off in a bit but this way it won't flood the house. Now you enjoy the water and I'll go get some hot totties. They're in the slow cooker. Then we can talk."

After Kent is finished… shaking it.

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