2020-06-22 - Killing A Way


Time to confront Gurim

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Jun 22 08:17:43 2020
Location: Pangea

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To humans the word conjures a time of long, long ago when the continents of today were all one massive landmass. Probably. Conjecturally. But to Fenris, and anyone old enough to know the tale, it is a pocket dimension. A paradise where spirits and beings of flesh could live if not in harmony then at least in the same functional hierarchy.

Or rather, it WAS a pocket dimension.

The sky is black when Fenris, Ambrose, Sif and Astryd arrive. It's more than black though. It's empty. It's not simply the void of space interspersed with stars. At least even with space there is something there, even if that something is just a vast expanse of distance and lonely electrons. The sky here is black because there is nothing there. Where there should be a sky is just gone. The edges of the horizon are billowing as if they were tattered fabric. The ground about them is scattered with sharp, broken rocks. It's dry and bleached. The wind howls, biting cold.

Ambrose will have his hands full keeping the group shielded.

As for Astryd, when she gave the finder the sword, the woman took it to the back of her shop and returned with two very old but very sturdy looking spears. "These were forged in Nidavellir." That means 'forged in the heat of a star by the dwarves. Which means they're Uru. Which means… WHERE DID THE FINDER GET THOSE?!

In any case, Astryd probably doesn't need TWO spears.

"This is a nightmare…"

Ambrose breathes this upon arrival, his jaw then setting just as soon as his thought peters out into deeply-concerned silence. His gaze rises, full of bright Bane-glow as it is, and lingers on the black stretching from horizon to horizon. A glance down at the earth and immediately, he thinks of bone — bones picked clean. This land is a carcass. The Jackal is certain to stay close to the others, a silently-stepping shadow. He's armed to the gills even if it can't be immediately seen: revolvers, a myriad choice for knives, and borrowed pieces of armor over his thick black long-coat. Silver greaves at his shins and vambraces along his forearms gleam, these both plain while sturdy and tied with lacings for an adjustable fit.

He'd meditated. He'd practiced long and hard. About his throat, a specific golden wedding band on a necklace. At the very least, Ambrose is as ready as he's ever been in the end.

It's by no means the first time that Sif has packed her armor into a bag to carry out of the Embassy, but it IS the first time she'd left the bag at Fenris and Astryd's home. A few days after that — presumably when there are different guards at the armory and main Embassy doors — she carried a bag packed with her armor out. Again. And went to visit Fenris and Astryd. The Armory shows she's been loaned a set of practice greaves and vambraces and has taken out her armor. Nothing else.

Having outfitted the others as well as she could (she still feels a bit guilty about not 'borrowing' anything for Fenris, but she wasn't at all sure what would work for him much less what he'd be willing to use), Sif is armed and armored for war, openly carrying several more blades than is her usual, her hair severely pulled up, braided, and secured into a bun, and her Jotunheim-rated cloak over her shoulders.

She also looks around the desolate area, uncharitably thinking it resembles the worst of both Jotunheim and Svartalfheim. Combined. "This is nearly as bad as I'd imagined."

The spears were really a work of art and Astryd had taken time to admire them before handing one of the spears to Sif. "Something tells me we're going to need these." She had said.

The Valkyrie is standing beside Fenris as they peer around. She's in armour which is something she's not done in … forever. Sif had managed to retrieve her bracers and greaves, the rest of the armour is quality work but not quite the same as those pieces.

"This is someones dream, remember. They want to remake the world to be like this …"

Eyes taking in the bleak vista one more time, Sif can't help but half-mutter to herself, "Even the most banal Midgardian I have met has more imagination than this."

What few trees there are do not have any foliage. They're blasted wooden skeletons. But there are still birds on them. Dark, large, black birds that seem to gather as Fenris leads the group forward. And then one of them starts whistling. Something like 'do-do-DO-do-do.' Fenris glances up at the bird but it just does it again. And as they move on more birds take it up in harmony. And then one of them starts rhytmicly packing a tree. And the Old Wolf glances at Astryd.

"Does… that sound like the intro for Enter Sandman?"

It… really, really does.

At least Fenris knows where he's going even if the musical accompaniment seems to follow them. At length they get to something that looks like it might have once been a house. It's burnt out now and the back half of it just doesn't exist. Instead there's a field of empty blackness except for a single path that extends out into that writhing void. That would be the half finished Way. It goes out for quite a distance. Looks more than half finished now.

Fenris takes a step forward… and then something climbs up off the edge of the world. It's Oliver. Or rather, it's the creature that Oliver became.

"I told you death was only the beginning, old chum." The inflections and tones are all Oliver but the voice, it's that deep gravelly voice of something from beyond this world.

"This is where your journey ends. Say your prayers little one. And don't forget to include everyone."

If Ambrose recognizes the freakish musicality of the eerie black birds, he makes no mention of it. Do they get a hell of a side-eyeing though, the Bane swirling up and into his aura with a vicious hiss on the metaphysical plane — the Jackal can almost feel the weight of the golden ring of invisibility in his pocket now. As they walk, and he minds his steps on the bone-dry ground, he slips the ring onto his finger and readies it shy of turn completion, the better to be enabled in the beat of a heart.

When the thing that was Oliver appears, the Lieutenant draws to a halt. His chest lifts and his lips split in the beginnings of a cold snarl.

"I liked you better dead," the Jackal fires back, pricked well and good to hear familiar inflections twisted.

Carrying the spear that Astryd gave her in place of her usual sword, she looks at the desolate tree and those odd ravens. No, she has no clue what that melody they're croaking is. It does sound very faintly familiar, though, as if she's heard it somewhere before. Then there's the no-longer-in-Kansas farmhouse, and Oliver the wannabe bilgesnipe. She shifts her grip on the spear to both hands, clearly ready for this to turn into a fight. But considering how the LAST fight with this creature ended, she's hesitant to make the first strike.

And yes, she misses the reference yet again.

"A little. You play it better." Astryd answers checking on Ambrose and Sif as they move. Her position is, of course, to the right and behind Fenris. "I thought I was creepy as a Raven. These …"

When Oliver appears - or what used to be Oliver - the Valkyr turns a quick look to Ambrose.

"I think perhaps you need to say your prayers. We are going to send you to your maker, once and for all…"

"What is death in this place Ambrose?" The creature says as it places itself squarely in the path of the Way they need to go up. "You will find out and I think the answer may surprise you."

That's all it says though for it immediately strikes out at Fenris as the birds crescendo. Fenris slips out of the way and starts to transform, but as he does the manticore like beast strikes at Ambrose with its tail and at Astryd and Sif with it's - OH GOD IT HAS TWO HEADS! IT DIDN'T HAVE TWO HEADS A MOMENT AGO!!

The thing laughs raucously. "Come then. Come and test your mettle. Come and protect the fate that decrees your death and betrayal. Come and die in the Void…"

The void winds begin to whip around them, complicating everything, pushing them toward the edge and sapping at their very life force. That will get MUCH worse if Ambrose's shield drops.

"Quo fata ferunt! YOU ARE NOT OUR FATE!"

Ambrose, momentarily stunned by the sudden upsweep of the changing in reality around them, then throws up a vambrace-shielded arm. SPARK — off tings the manticore-like stinger and then he's slipping the ring into position. A guttural hiss of his incantation immediately slips the torus of Banes into being.

The shield spreads out in brilliantly-bright lurid red glow in counter to the surroundings and immediately within its doming, the wind is cut to nearly nothing. Ambrose sets himself in his martial stance and absolutely MUST be protected: his concentration cannot be broken or the shield falls. His eyes, half-lidded as they are, glow with the power of the dual Banes.

Sword might be Sif's preferred weapon, but she's still quite adequately proficient with the spear. As the creature's … head facing this direction BY THE NORNS snaps at her, she stabs at one of its eyes to get it to back up a tick then whips the butt of the spear up to crack the thing on the underside of its chin.

Try to bite HER, will you. "Thor will never believe me if I tell him I have finally battled something uglier than a bilgesnipe."

"Overcompensating, much?" Astryd asks as the spear comes up. The shield she's wielding is the small round one she usually does. Even though her hair is secured in a braid, the wind still whips the end … until it doesn't thanks to Ambrose. "Sif. It can't be that flexible, split."

With that, Astryd steps away from the dark haired Asgardian, holding the spear out at an angle she'll be able to support the butt on the ground. If she's right, the heads will only stretch so far and give the three of them - Fenris as well - a very, very small chance to pounce on the abomination.

The ground buckles under Ambrose and Fenris makes a grab for the man as his blade comes out to fend off the tail again. Hopefully that'll let him concentrate because the wind is picking up and he can really, really feel it. Much like Ambrose's vambrances, sparks - green and blue - dance off his blade which shines with venom that has come off that singer. Doesn't smell nice, no not at all.

It probably ISN'T that flexible and that isn't helped by Sif landing a strike from the butt of the heavy Uru spear on the creature. That puts if off balance and the one following Astryd gets pulled as the thing stumbles. That head disappears and a new one lunges out at her from the thing's side. Quite protean this thing. It's at a sub optimal angle and that does leave it open for a country strike.

"Can you do it? Kill me if you can! Go on! KillmekillMEKILLME!"

It's mad. If indeed madness has any meaning here. Sometimes its voice slips and it sounds like Oliver again but it attacks or tries to regardless.

Buckling ground is, in fact, the worst.

His heart climbs down out of the back of his throat at the grab. Ambrose is dreadfully glad for the aid of the Old Wolf as he finds his footing again; the shielding of root-like, vein-like pulsing red begins to falter and fade until the Jackal sets himself once more.

Another iteration of the incantation, under his breath and the growing raking of the bone-chilling wind. Shivering briefly, he grimaces and forms his hands into those balanced mudras yet again. The translucent shield of glowing, pulsing veins in its dome above them fills in to stabilize once more and the man goes back to his half-trance. A very small corner of his brain is outright shrieking at the idea of needing to be defended against this thing that isn't Oliver — not even with the slips of voice.

Sif promptly does as Astryd suggests, stepping further from the Valkyr and jabbing her spear at the thing's closest eye again to keep its attention on her. She keeps jabbing and goading the creature until it starts ranting at Astryd to kill it.

"Wait, Astryd." Bracing the back end of her spear against the ground so she can hold it with one hand, she pulls something from under her cloak. Something that would seem innocuous or utterly ineffective at best, but is no doubt instantly recognizable to Fenris and the Valkyr. "We need to restrain this creature without killing it." She's just not entirely sure HOW this chain does what it does.

Well that didn't work very well. Astyrd narrowly avoids being bitten, swiping the tip of her spear around to score a line under the chin.

"Don't kill it …" she says at the same time as Sif. It has worried her dramatically that it's so instant.

"Please. Are you going to quote at me now, Oliver? Strike me down and I shall come back even more powerful." She says to distract him, giving Sif the time to do what she wants to try.

"YOU MAY THINK ME MAD, BUT I STILL KNOW A HAWK FROM A HANDSAW!" The creature shrieks from six or more mouths. Body parts keep appearing and disappearing on this thing and now that Ambrose is safe Fenris enters the fray.

"Let me have that…" He mutters, taking the fragment of Gleipnir and then he goes in on one of the heads just like someone doing steer wrestling. Sif knows about this.

Of course it immediately spawns two more heads and tries to bite the Old Wolf in Half. When Sif and Astryd successfully cover him, though, it will be helpless on the ground, hogtied.

"Heh. Just in time. Go on. He's waiting for you." The creature is still gibbering partly to them partly to himself. The wind finally dies down though and Ambrose can stop concentrating QUITE so hard. They still have one last hurdle to face though.

A blink…and another blink, harder, and Ambrose brings himself up out of the quiet, focused zone that was his attention split between taking account of reality around himself and keeping the Banes-shield alive. A glance upwards and around makes him realize how the offensive against his projection has seemed to fall to a lull.

A heavy sigh and he steps back into a more neutral stance. One hand is still left upheld, just in case, and while the shield goes more translucent, he keeps a mental finger on its proverbial pulse. His Bane-bright eyes fall to the trussed creature.

"You did not gag all of the mouths," notes the master-thief to Fenris with a distanted chilliness. "I would pity it, but it seems a waste. He is not in there, is he."

It's not really a question — as if Ambrose has no hope for the remnants of his lost soldier.

Sif of course lets Fenris take Gleipnir from her and does her part to keep the creature occupied until it's well and trussed. Now it also resembles an extremely ugly bovine. She looks over at Ambrose and mentally resolves after this is done to show the man the Aesir traditions for honoring comrades lost in battle.

"There is without doubt an ambush waiting for us ahead." And while she knows that just walking right into it on purpose is one strategic option, she is not at all confident that they'd get through it unscathed.

Astryd grunts as she spins and pulls the thrust she makes for one of the heads. Not killing this thing - it's difficult. Or rather, not going for the kill, is difficult.

When the creature jibbers, she kicks one of the heads with a booted foot. "Do shut up." beat "I don't know about an ambush, Sif. But we're not fighting on our ground - this has all be set up so we will confront Gurim in his place of power."

They'll need to turn the tables.

"No, he's not, Ambrose. The Oliver you knew died a long time ago. In the cave, I suspect. What you have been seeing is an imposter, really."

With a look to Fenris, making sure he's ok, Astryd turns on her heel. "Well, shall we?"

"Yes. Let's finish this…" Fenris says. He starts to move, now a wolf. Onto the partly completed way. They've left terra firma now. There's not even a semblance of sense here. They're walking through a dark path made by magic. A wide path but stretching away on either side is just the void.

And then they see light up ahead. That's probably not a great sign. They can feel the void-wind starting again. They're near the 'edge'. The thin bit that separates this from Asgard.

Gurim is waiting. He is waiting with an army of gibbering horrors from the void.

"I wanted you all to be here. You're about to witness the dawn of a new age." Gurim calls out.

"You know I can't let you do this, Gurim." Fenris responds.

"Yes. I do." The Mad, Rabid Wolf says. It regards everyone very slowly. "Please know that I am sorry that this is necessary."%r"Kill them."

The hordes of unreality charge, bearing down on the outcast gods, cursed mortals and unwilling champions of reality. There will be more than enough for everyone. The void boils. The wind picks up. Fenris howls.

"Cover me." And then he charges. Right for Gurim.

Heart in his throat, quiet for once verbally, the Jackal falls into place behind the great build of Fenris shifted. In his mind, he then calls out along his particular kythe linked to Kent alone:

Now is the time, «Azizam», should you wish to make an appearance. The shadows are thick here and the veils thin. It will be easy to arrive.

Regardless, he's armed with his revolvers, knives secreted into every place possible, and the golden ring of invisibility already on his finger. Silvery vambraces and greaves sit along the long-bones of his limbs, bright in contrast to his dark trench coat. All about him, the dual-Banes sleek through his aura like the predatory magics they are; his cheeks hollowed, his under-eyes dark, pupils crimson-bright.

There ahead, Gurim and his army of horrors. Ambrose swallows thickly and allows himself the tremble to dance down his spine. There: shudder done, out of his system. The exchange between Gurim and Fenris is quick and then, like the drop of a match, it's on.

Almost immediately, to counter the sudden upkick of draining winds, the Jackal sets his stance and snarls the incantation for the shielding. This time, bolstered by his wont for a broader and more selectively-vicious variant, the the dome of vein-like shielding expands wide to include those of reality proper — and to immediately make to damage those not.

Where did the ….person with the dog head come from? For here, he's both of his selves at once. A man in dark clothing, with a black cloak lined in deep crimson around his shoulders, a pistol in each hand, and the bronze dart of the Phurba, a weapon fit to kill demons if not gods in his belt.

But his face flickers between a human visage, pale and set, and a black-furred beast's face, all glinting fangs. Only the silver-gray eyes are the same in both. Not there, and then there at Ambrose's side, Hound to Jackal.

With Fenris Wolf charging Gurim, there's really only one thing Sif can do. She steps toward the hordes, already plying her borrowed Uru spear to swat, impale, and otherwise bring an end to the indescribably things bearing down on them. She doesn't notice the grey-eyed man's arrival, but that can be forgiven this time considering the circumstances, yes?

Even with how vastly superior the spear is to her usual sword and her combat training muscle memory returning quickly, she won't be able to keep fighting at this pace indefinitely. Not with this many adversaries. But by the Norns she's going to try.

Astryds eyes follow Fenris as he leaps for his son, her heart breaking for what the God Wolf *must* do.

That's all the time she has though as a horror descends on her, sharp claws trying to the rend her - neck to navel.

The uru spear flashes as the woman moves - poetry in motion, not quite. Astryd is a highly trained warrior, and that hasn't changed in all the centuries "I won't say prepare to meet your maker - but I will consign you back to the void." The spear jabs and slashes - not skewering the creature but wounding it. She doesn't want to risk getting embedded in the creature and leaving herself open to anothers attack.

This isn't a battle. At least, it's not a battle in the way that anyone present has experienced one. Even the most chaotic, disorganized fight any of the warriors have ever been in is nothing compared to this. This is more akin to fighting an animate tide. The enemies are numberless and their forms so variable that the first moments of the fight are mostly about staying upright and not getting separated. However after a few moments of literally wading through enemies the void-creatures seem to learn and more concrete threats materialize.

Astryd and Sif both find themselves facing large creatures. Or perhaps they're amalgamations of smaller ones. Either way great creatures with claws and tentacles come for the two asgardian warriors, lashing out, trying to slip inside their spear guard and use their bulk to either separate them from the group or pin them against Fenris side. Fenris himself is forging forward, using his own mass to knock aside anything he doesn't crush. And it's working but keeping up with him is work.

Talbot and Ambrose on the other hand quickly prove that size in their case only makes their opponents bigger targets. So the mass of creatures actually pulls back from them slightly and alternates with creatures hurling shards of sharp darkness at them and swarms of dog sized beings attacking in waves of dozens and trying to overwhelm them and bear them down by sheer weight of numbers. Over and over especially on with the two more human fighters these swarms try to cut them off from the God Wolf's presence at their flank, surround them and leave them vulnerable to an attack from all sides.

The vast dome overhead remains strong, at least at first; its lurid red light glowing from the vine-like net of its appearance casts down on the battle below and probably doesn't make things any cheerier.

Ambrose immediately mentally sinks deeper into the subconscious state of the Bane itself in a defensive move. The curse doesn't know horror — it doesn't know fear or guilt or exhaustion — it knows to subsume and to glut and to end anything in the process. This in itself, while restacking the torus of the dual-Banes to stabilize the casting, allows him to draw a single silver blade. It's a wicked trench knife far larger than necessary for any earthly reason and it cuts through the creatures hurling at him like…well, a hot knife through butter. Still, some slip through. His knee is tugged to one side as an enterprising mouth snags his pants: this one gets kicked away. Another manages to drag claws down his thigh and he grits his teeth before swinging the blade around to end it. All the while, one hand remains upheld in the specific centering mudra to keep the shield alight. The shield itself? It bites, throwing down visible tendrils of brilliant red to strike at the hoard like demented lightning.

They're back to back - Talbot lit by the strobe of the paired pistols' muzzle-flare. Gods only know how much ammo he's brought. For the moment, he seems to have resolved into his human face, though the teeth bared in that rictus grin are sharper than most mens'.

And on the mental plane, he's there as a font of strength for his husband's will. Both of them knee-deep in the starry pool, bound together with the smoke darkness of the Hound's magic.

Astryd keeps track of Talbot and Ambrose in the melee as best she can, while sticking as close as she can to Fenris flank. "We won't kill them, Sif. There's too many and I think they're regenerating, if anything, we might just be making them stronger." She grunts.

They need to focus these creatures and let Fenris confront Gurim. Astryd is sure that when he prevails, Fenris that is, the creatures … should disappear.

Skewering a bat winged, tentancled, flyer with her spear, the blonde spins and slams it into a group that's trying to flank the mortals.

Overlarge beasts Sif can understand more readily than an unending WAVE of creatures, so she's honestly a bit relieved to see the thing. Keeping a fraction of an eye on the two — wait, two? Question it later. The two Midgardians are kept in her periphery just enough so that she can make sure they aren't left behind, but she's got her hands more than full fending off claws and tentacles and trying to get a strike in where she can.

On one spin to dodge a claw swipe, she pulls a spare blade and throws it left-handed toward the creature that Ambrose kicks away, now either sticking out of said creature or out of the ground near the grey-eyed man's feet. Then she's back to using both hands to keep her spear moving nearly fast enough to blur and using every bit of her skill and speed to not have her position shifted out of her control.

Perhaps it's a good thing that she never learned to quip during combat like at least one of her original adventuring companions? Though it might have helped to acknowledge Astryd's assessment of the situation. She's just… busy at the moment.

Fenris forges closer to Gurim. As they push closer despite their best efforts it is impossible to clear all the space behind them and they become surrounded. Sif and Astryd both dispatch their large-ish foes only to be confronted by still larger ones. There's an escalation going on here that everyone can notice. Every time Talbot and Ambrose beat back a wave of enemies, a larger one is launched at them. Something that strains their ability to defend themselves just a little bit more.

And then Fenris spots something. A little patch of nothing land floating in the middle of all this with a well on it.

"There!" He calls to the others. "Destroy that well! It will bring this whole place down." And collapse this Way so that no one can ever use it again. Then, with no time for more words, he throws himself at Gurim. The two contact and thud to the ground in a rolling, kicking, biting melee.

And just like that the hordes close in on the remaining four.

There goes a tentacled wingie-thing past him, disrupting the thick air around Ambrose with its nearness. He watches it go by with a distracted note of surprise in his expression before grimacing — back to protecting his personal space, trusting in Kent to have his literal back with undying ferocity. He, in turn, draws on the starry reflection pool of their kythe to keep the shielding aloft and above. Behold, another blade! Ambrose too notes this, but doesn't make to grab it just yet, busy with a series of swift swipes and gleaming incapacitation. Somewhere, somehow, he'd heard Astryd's thoughts on killing the creatures.

Bloody Void nonsense.

More and more of the creatures appear despite his efforts.


A blip in the kythe as Ambrose-himself surfaces before being subsumed again by the torus of Banes and their intent to continue striking down from above.

Fenris's clarion call rises above the gibbering and the Jackal risks a moment to look towards the well in question.

As a unit.

A thought fired to Kent at the speed of synapse before the master-thief moves, surely perfectly synchronized to his other half in terms of defending themselves as they travel. It means sacrificing some of his attention on the shield and some of the wind cuts through, bone-chilling, draining in its own way.

They're in that perfect sync, thought to thought. Moving like one creature. Kent's with Ambrose. Later, my dear, if we live through this, however you like. Not even a suggestion of humor, as first one pistol clicks dry, then the other. Even the ridiculous amount of ammo he's brought has gone, and now it's down to his own knives. But the Phurba he hasn't brought out yet. It's not to be wasted on these endless waves of monsters.

Astryd knows a losing battle when she sees one and this one is definitely one of those. Fighting the creatures will avail them nothing … ah, Fenris gives the direction they need.

"Back to back." She snaps at the other three, it make it impossible to leave them completely exposed. "And move… " Every fibre in her being screams out to just launch herself at that well, but that will leave her allies alone.

Painful foot by painful foot, the Valkyr forces their group through the frey, she's clawed at and bitten, her hair a gory mess but the Valkyrie doesn't yield.

"Talbot, shoot the well …" The blonde here's the click of the gun and grimaces. "Time to Leroy Jenkins then …"

With a glance at the others, the Valkyrie leaps to that patch of nothing where the well perches, her spear coming down in an overhead strike.

As Fenris points out the well and properly tackles Gurim, Sif knows that this is the most difficult part of the battle — when their adversaries know defeat is near and their attacks become all the more desperate and vicious.

Astryd's words are of course exactly what she needed, and she fares likely only mostly as well as as the Valkyr, taking perhaps a few too many risks to keep the Midgardians safe. But then Talbot is out of ammo and Astryd leaps to destroy the well and really all she can do is continue protecting the men with everything she has.

Sif isn't wrong in that realization. The creatures seem to realize that the goal has shifted and once they realize what it is they shift from attack to defense. The horde of smaller creatures is just as easy to defeat individually but now a number of them start to coalesce into a single form behind the well.

The good news is that the creatures pulling back gives both Talbot and Ambrose a respite though sadly doesn't produce more ammunition for the former, and lets Sif catch her breath. When Astryd strikes the well though, a pressure wave goes out from it like a huge bell had been rung.

And then a huge betentacled creature rises above the well. It vaguely looks like depictions of and Elder God. All massive and covered in weeping sores and writhing appendages. It lashes out at Astryd trying to drive her away from the well but that is only the opening salvo of its attack. A massive wave of psychic pressure goes out, feeling like the edge of a migraine and getting steadily worse as the void-wind whips up. It tries to drive all of the heroes to the ground with the oppressive weight of its very presence.

In the background, backlit by an increasingly red glow in the distance, Fenris and Gurim fight. They seem to be right on the edge of some unseen precipice and the sound of their battle echoes over almost everything else even as the psychic attack ramps up. They need to destroy that well, and they need to disrupt that creature before it can affect Fenris and give Gurim a chance to tear his throat out. Right now the Old Wolf is holding his own but the battle is balanced on a knife's edge.

It's an addiction in itself, to feel at a remove the movements of his «Azizam» flow in the face of the tidal crash of creatures into them. A thing of emotion too, the Bane, feeding off of its host's insane adrenaline high and upon too its host in turn. The Anti-Bane is in fine form as it works destructively upon anything entering his aura like acid through papier mache — this Void is not of earth, therefore, it must go. Above, the shielding thins more yet as its caster's attention is divided.

Astryd makes to dive from above and there rises the horrifying creature from beyond. Thank god for having dove so deep into the Bane's half of his psyche. It means the initial wash of terror is very distant, like a half-remembered dream. Up whips the Void-wind and the Jackal grits his teeth, dropping his knife in return for both hands formed into the centering mudras. He drops to one knee now and pours all of the willpower he can manage into holding the shield —

— into dropping a hell of a lightning's CRASH of the torus Banes' power from above upon the Eldritch creature —

— and it whites out his half of the kythe.

Ambrose is force and focus, and Kent is aim and indomitable will. Together these two are a single power…for if he took away any lessons from the high mountain halls of Shambhala, it was the laser-sharp refinement of his will. A will that's not subsumed to Ambrose, a weapon to his hand.

Until that white-out. The Hound nearly capsizes beneath the shock, but then he's there again, like a stone after the wave washes past. His half of their link is incoherent animal rage, snarls and howls, human words forgotten.

The strike of the Uru spear against the well sends a shock wave up Astryds arms. Her body resonates with the pressure wave as the Valkyrie catches her breath when that horror appears. "And now it begins." She murmurs, eyeing the creature and nearly falling as the psychic attack hits her.

"No…" Astryd growls, free of any compulsion that previously drove her. "… I will stand and I will hold. For my Lord …" Fenris can feel her prayer as she think it. Feel the crystalline clarity of her strength.

Against all odds, the blonde swings the spear again, connecting with the well even as a booted foot lashes out to hit the weak spot she creates. She's relying on the others to keep this horror … occupied.

The hordes backing off gives Sif a moment to catch her breath, and yes, she hasn't felt this level of exertion in a battle in literal centuries. The pressure wave from Astryd striking the well has her turning to look, and her eyes widen at the creature. By the Norns, that is … she doesn't have time to dwell.

Ambrose suddenly doing, something she can't truly discern and the grey-eyed man's reaction elicits another fraught moment of pause, but then her eyes focus on Astryd once again and she hefts her own Uru spear to shoulder height.

With a shout that is practically a scream, she throws her spear with every last bit of her remaining strength, aiming for the same spot that the Valkyr has weakened and sending a prayer to whichever gods might be willing to listen (Fenris, at the least) that she doesn't accidentally hit the blonde instead.

Lightning, ethereal and red, flashes through the sky as Ambrose and Kent call down the fury of the bane on this amalgamated void creature. It writhes in pain and the pressure of it's mental presence lessens. Astryd strikes and kicks the well, causing the wall to cave in. It starts to crumble and the ground begins to buckle beneath her. And then Sif's heavy spear strikes that same point that Astryd had caved in and that's it. The whole thing starts to collapse. And with it, this half torn pocket dimension starts to go with them.

A howl resounds across the field. Those who look see Fenris finally get the better of Gurim, shoulder into him and push him off the edge of reality and into the void. His call echoes and the void creatures scatter.

But there is no time to celebrate. Fenris opens a Way and shouts something but the words are lost in the cacophony of a world coming apart. His intent is clear get in here! Now.

And then he's gone. Disappeared inside it. They have to run for their lives now as the world is crumbling from the outside in and they were near the edge to start with.

So blissfully still — absent of noise and sensation, this white place in the hanging seconds after Ambrose's casting — a place to slump and catch his breath in the milliseconds of time slipping past like shards in a hurricane —

— and the chaos returns in a slap of antithesis to this place. What pulled him back? Kent snarling up a furious storm has the hollowly-gasping Jackal blinking stunned at the sight before him. He sees the Eldritch creature's flailing reaction, watches as the well crumbles, and then begins to scramble to his booted feet in a jelly-kneed stumbling.


A hand reaches out for the Hound even as the ground begins to crackle. For his life: now Ambrose runs for his literal life, as if he's never run like this before. The dual-Bane's shielding above begins to fracture apart as the world around them buckles and screams. To the Way — they're almost there! So close, within a short distance!

By himself, he'd revert to his four-legged form and run that way. But he's not….and so he's hand in hand with the Jackal, each tugging the other along. There's something almost childish in the trust shown.

Run he does, fleeing with no hint of shame. This is a war of gods and mortals had best get out of the way before they're simply rolled under.

Astryd turns her shoulder as Sifs spear whistles past her - luck or had the blonde sensed it? Either way, the horror is damaged and the well destroyed … and the world is collapsing around them.


With the swiftness of her kind, the Valkyrie legs it with a nod of thanks to Sif. She lopes behind Talbot and Ambrose, ready to scoop either of them up if needed …

Bane be damned.

Behind her, the world crumbles, her foot slipping more than once. Just another few paces and they'll be there … She watches for Sif as well, not that the Asgardian should need help.

Sif waits to see the well crumble, the two Midgardians start to race toward the Way that Fenris has opened, and for Astryd to catch up before turning to run herself. Perhaps it's not her wisest decision, but everyone will have to safely flee in order to sold her about it.

She and the blonde Valkyr catch up with the Midgardians more than quickly enough, and those last few steps to the Way, she hooks an arm around Ambrose's waist to get him through and away just that much more quickly, not at all caring if either Bane bites at her for the unannounced contact. Yes, she's fully expecting that Astryd will be doing the same for the gray-eyed man. That, or the fact that the pair have their hands joined means he'll get pulled along regardless.

All four champions make it before the world collapses. Just. The way thunders shut behind them as a wave of apocalyptic devastation reaches the portal. That's it. It's over. Pangea is gone. Gurim is lost to the void, again. Asgard is safe and reality is no longer under threat. Fenris says nothing. He just leads them to the end of the Way, opens it back into his house again and deposits everyone safely back in Midgard. Then he goes out to the back, alone, sits down on the deck, puts his head in his hands and quietly begins to weep.

Back into the living room of the Dread Wolf and Raven's abode, they go. Ambrose, hyper-aware of having been literally lifted off the ground in the last cataclysmic seconds of a world shrieking itself to collapse, immediately makes to squirm free of Sif's grip.

Yes, she does get nipped once or twice by the Bane before the Jackal simply collapses down to one hip. Blindly, he reaches for Kent and tries to snag a limb — a handful of the cloak — anything — anything in order to pull the man into his arms and hold him as Ambrose then breaks into a cold sweat, simply rattling like an autumn leaf in a breeze. As he does, friction scoots the golden ring up and into proper rotation on his finger; the torus of the Banes collapses back to metaphysical silence, leaving him with the simple if dreadful familiarity of the ancient Mesopotamian curse sleeking around him. Kent is summarily ignored by it.

"Oh bloody gods…" he whispers hoarsely, only now becoming away of the deep rake marks in his thigh and apparently a cut along one cheek from a thrown sliver of earth in the collapse of the pocket dimension.

They're all alive.

Thank Fate.

Kent frankly clambers up into Ambrose's lap. His canine nature's ascendant enough that there's no thought at all for anything like human dignity. Content to simply hide his face against his husband's neck and cling to him.

Astryd scoops Talbot if he needs it and throws herself into the Way. She says nothing as she watches Fenris, anguish for the God Wolf clear in her eyes.

When they arrive in their home, she looks to the three "Own home is yours. Make yourself comfortable, help yourself to our bar …. I beg your forebearance, we won't be particularly good hosts."

With that the blonde heads out the back and drops to ground, placing her head on Fenris' knee. No words pass between the pair.

Sif releases Ambrose again as soon as Way closes behind them, then after seeing Fenris step out to the back deck of the home gives Astryd a single glance before going into the kitchen as if it were her own residence and getting glasses of water and the smaller healer's kit from a cupboard for the Midgardians.

She can't help but feel it's inappropriate to speak at this moment so she doesn't, simply setting the small offerings on a side table near the pair and then starting to shed her cloak and weapons and armor to be taken back to the Embassy for cleaning and storage.

She doesn't even seem to notice that her once severely pristine braided bun is now frazzled and half falling loose, with messy wisps of hair sloppily framing her face and sticking to the back of her neck. No, instead she'll keep discreet watch over Ambrose and Kent so that Astryd won't feel the need to, getting them anything they request within reason up to and including a taxi to return to their own home.


It is two days later and things are starting to return to normal. Ambrose has felt the power that Oliver stole mostly return and it seems like he just needs some time for the rest to trickle back from wherever it went. He is out walking without the threat of being ambushed for once when an unseasonably cold wind gusts around him and suddenly he finds he can't move or speak.

"There you are old chap. Been looking everywhere for you."

Oliver steps out from around the corner of the office tower that Ambrose had been passing. He looks well. He looks like himself. There's a spark of life in his eyes that wasn't there before. And yet… he still looks… different.

"I just wanted to say how frightfully sorry I am that you got caught up in this. Gurim was right you know. Oh he had the wrong way of going about it and that damnable charisma of his let him drag others along but the world really is governed by frightfully monstrous forces that don't give a damn about you and me or anything right and decent. And now that I've seen what's behind the curtain I can't pretend that it isn't there."

Oliver moves past Ambrose and starts to walk away, the thief still unable to move or make a sound. Then he pauses and looks over his shoulder.

"Oh I hope you don't mind, but I'll be borrowing some of what I took from you. Jolly useful this curse, and good to have if you plan on making taking up an argument with the machinery behind the scenes. Which I do."

He starts to move again and waves as he walks off, getting lost in the hustle and bustle of the crowd. "Cheerio, old chap. I suspect we'll speak again. Until then give my regards to Kent. And do try to eat better? If you don't have your health, you don't have anything."

And then with nary a look back, he's gone. But somehow… not quite gone enough.

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