1963-10-04 - Hospitality Gifts
Summary: The Prince of Wolves brings Lady Bloodcrown a gift, a word of advice, and an offer.
Related: Harvest's End
Theme Song: N/A
hrimhari rogue 


As the sun sets over New York City, the Prince of Wolves finds himself outside the apartment of a friend. Reluctantly, he has left his usual 'earthly' escort — specifically a black Labrador named Dodger, and a brown, miniature Poodle named Mr. Pickles — behind: something to do with accidents in the lobby, and requiring…


Thus, it is Hrimhari alone who stands at the door to Scarlett's apartment, eyeing the structure curiously. He is in human form, wearing a suit that appears to have given him some… trouble, getting it on, and holds something behind his back.

Meanwhile, he tries to figure out… how best to announce his presence, in a manner befitting a human of Midgard. "Odin's Beard," says he, "What is this one to do now…?" So he calls out: "Milady? This one can smell you and is here…!"

That should do it.


Midgard, that central axis between the low realms and the lofty heights of Yggdrasil, shivers in the cooling hours of autumn. A blanket of stars thrown over the city barely register through its sulfur halo.

Copper and gold touch the foliage of a lush oasis standing head and shoulders above Greenwich Village's cares, traces of livid tangerine and russet scorching more showy herbs and slim trees planted upon the rooftop. Her flourishing garden is one known only to those privileged enough for access atop the building or descending upon it from above, a riot of plants set in for the last sprint of growth before harvestime settles. In Asgard the celebrations are already past, and here yet to come.

The young woman within that apartment tries to meditate, marking another hour alone in her thoughts. A sketchbook lies forgotten, open to an incomplete drawing, on her couch. Pages crumple for an overturned book on the floor. Silence, the rarest of commodities in the city, is punctuated by a shout, a call, summoning her back from her far mental horizon in tangible, stubborn jerks on that fine mental rope.

Witchfire green eyes open.

Some moments later he might smell the faint traces of lavender and the more familiar neroli, if not hear the soft press of feet to ground. Metal hisses on a track, and falls heavily. Then she plucks open the door, glancing out. First to the man, then the pups Mr. Pickles, Dodger, and their shadows on the ground. Scarlett's expression sharpens to familiarity, placing them.

"My lord, good evening." The tone conveys its warmth, however far the sun might be from the northerly tropics. "Out for a walk?"


"Something of that nature, aye," the wolf-man replies with a smile. "May this one enter your den? …Hrimhari is unfamiliar as to how he should inquire."

The two pups instantly 'yap' at precisely the same time, half leaping up with their forepaws — tails wagging. Then, just as synchronised, they sit back down, as dutiful as ever. Hrimhari offers a wry smile, but shakes his head at the two dogs.

"This one trusts he has not arrived at a inopportune hour?" he inquires.


The redhead's long trail of braids is partially undone, transforming from the intricacies of a plaited labyrinth into a cataract of flaming sunset, licking against the small of her back. Curiously one of the tresses is whiter than snow, a shot of frost revealed only when loose.

"Generally one exchanges pleasantries and mentions stopping by for some purpose, in hopes of an invitation," murmurs Scarlett, her fingers still curled around the bracket of the doorway. Those luminous eyes fall upon the two obedient hounds eager to demonstrate their good manners, and she lends a faint smile. "You and your friends happened to be about, and the least I can do is put down a bowl of water for them in case they thirst. Do you, lovelies?"

Stepping back, she pivots to the side upon her bare feet to permit them pass. Without her usual leggings, her skin is plainly exposed, smooth as moonlight on marble. A situation to be remedied at the earliest convenience, before anyone treads on her and falls unconscious. "Do come in. Allow me to extend the hospitality of my home, small as it is. Would you care for water, tea, coffee, wine? I have mead about somewhere, and a decent cider."


The response from the two dogs is… almost comical. Even without the understanding of an Asgardian wolf, they know an invitation when they hear one — but rather than bound recklessly into Scarlett's apartment, they… prance through the front door like royalty.

Nevertheless, each on quivers with suppressed excitement.

Hrimhari smiles.

Bowing, he replies: "This one is partial to wine, milady Bloodcrown. You smell well." He frowns. For reasons he does not quite understand, saying so out loud sounds… a little peculiar to him. To cover his momentary confusion, he produces something from behind his back:

A small, leather pouch, tied with a red cord.

"Offerings among wolves entering another's territory usually involve the sharing of a fresh kill," he explains while holding forth the pouch. "This one is familiar enough with your customs to present something else: the crimson blossoms grown from these seeds have no name… but they do grace the meadows where this one's pack did run. Take them with Hrimhari's gratitude."


Dogs know what their masters and best friends clearly do not, but that's to be expected after several thousand years of breeding and observing in a species responsive mostly to non-verbal communication. Sadly, the descendants of apes tend to forget such nuances.

"Wine, then. Red, white, rose? I have all three, and you are quite welcome to sit wherever you like. Please excuse the state of the flat." Her glance about centers upon a pair of knee-highs in cotton she will hastily snatch on her way by, pulling on the socks after dropping into a seat. No risk of contact, then, and inadvertent theft. Scarlett wiggles her toes into the left first, unrolling the long tube up over her calf. "Thank you. Ah, you needn't look perplexed; I understand your senses and predilections may be different from the norm. Should it ease your mind, I met a young woman of late with an enhanced olfactory sense to the point she was ill, poor dear, on account of a bit of decomposing trash nearby." It's near enough to the truth to be honest. On to the right sock, she soon enough has that set right to rain, and no likelihood of trouble.

Just in time to take the pouch, as it were, and her gaze drops to that offering in mute curiosity. "You need not bring me any presents, though… truly, I had not expected this. But I am grateful, do not think otherwise." Springing up from the ottoman, she takes a few steps forward, reeling in that tendency to spring like a nymph over a field. Her cupped hands wait to receive the pouch, and she glances from it to Hrimhari and back again. "Keep up customs like this and I believe you will find the city falling in your hands."


The prince smiles, bowing his head again as Scarlett takes the pouch, just as the two dogs set their tails wagging. Looking down at them, he says aloud: "Indeed, friends. The She — ah, she — liked the gift."

Turning his attention back to his host, Hrimhari remarks: "Red wine, if it pleases you." The wolf-prince fidgets a bit with his collar. Clothes still feel… wrong on him. "How fares milady, now that she is back in Midgard? Was her sojourn in Asgard to her liking?"


The first task will be water. Scarlett carries the pouch into the narrow kitchen, and opens one of the cabinets to pull out a pair of fairly shallow, broad bowls. Water from the kitchen sink fills each, set upon the floor for the dogs to slake their thirst with. "Help yourselves," she tells them, clearly adjusting to the fact animals understand her at some capacity. Or rather Hrimhari might be the one to pass along the message.

Next follows the glasses for the humans, wine goblets swept in red in one; and the other, transparent. "Red wine would be my preference. White is light, but better for the early evening." She disappears from sight for a moment, rummaging through a cabinet to locate the bottle she wants.

A heavy thud announces a selection, followed soon enough by the pop of a cork, after she locates her wine key. "I need to allow this to breathe for a few minutes before we drink it for the best flavour." Her arms cross gently enough, even as she considers the wolf prince's question.

"I love my home, to be sure, and I care much for its joys and mysteries. Yet my dreams remember the golden city and leave me walking those heralded streets, and dwelling among the forest and the library."


The two dogs take advantage of the offered water happily, leaving Hrimhari and Scarlett free to talk. The prince nods his head in agreement, but quirks an eyebrow at the mention of the library.

"Wolves remember…" says he, a distant look in his golden eyes. "Our memories are told, but never written down. The notion of a collection of such memories, each inscribed upon parchment and tome, is like unto a walk in the Past — surrounded by the thoughts and remembrances of the packs that have gone before…"

Then his expression falls, as does his gaze.

"But it lacks the warmth of experiencing through the minds of loved ones. Your libraries are a thing of wonder… and confusion to Hrimhari." And he smiles. "This one is glad for your memories of his home."


Happy puppies make the world go round, and let them drink all they wish. Scarlett will deliver more as necessary, glad to pour out more as necessary.

"Had I memory enough to recall all I encountered! The stories of Asgard are myriad, and the visit permitted me but a week to delve into the lore of a land where the average age seems to be three millennia. One may dive anywhere into that deep and copious wellspring of knowledge, yet come away with barely a sliver of insight, and there are scarce enough hours in the day to satisfy my boundless curiosity. It fell to me to indulge what I could simultaneously, by learning of the cultural and legal rules that I and the Princess might not fall afoul fo the court somehow. And then to devour as much history as one could. If there is a better way, you break my heart and leave me faint to consider the opportunity I missed?" She draws an oval around her face, as though to illustrate in purpose and form the readiness to tumble over, even if her pulse is steady to Hrimhari's sharper lupine ears.

Such are the lamentations of the Asgardian women. "Your memories sound a thing of wonder, nigh a song, a ballad passed from one to the next by a communal poem. Fear not, dear friend, you surely known Midgard has similar traditions. How else do you think I learn your language, if not through the Eddas of Old Norse? Homer, too, of the Greek tradition was a poet and a singer who could recount something like fifteen thousand lines in a tale, the standard for our classical education. The Iliad, the song of the siege of Troy by the Olympian pantheon. 'Tis a marvel, that, and if you mean to tell me your people's history is all contained in that, it is a splendid thing." She sets down a glass of wine in front of him. "Listen to me, I could wax on for hours. Should it be the only visit of my lifetime, I would be glad for it. I understand well why you and the other members of the court visiting Earth so adore the place, how it sings to you in your bones, and resonates through your every action. Perhaps a tiny bit of what lures your princes here, why they should forever look back lovingly upon the place they know. Those inheritances are profound."


"Milady sounds more like a wolf," says he, smiling.

"For a Two-Leg," the prince adds with a muted smirk upon his lips. "This one has read these Eddas. 'Tis not unlike beholding a reflection in a forest pool…or dipping one's paw within." The wolf-man snorts then, glancing at the place where Scarlett put the seeds he had given.

Both puppies look up at their prince.

He chuckles.

"No," he replies to them. "This one thinks perhaps he should have brought milady a book, instead of seeds. A bone, methinks, would be the wrong gift — aye, even one half-chewed."


The second glass, the red one, is retained for the mortal scion of Midgard. A generous pour of the pinot noir levels out below, proof if nothing else she willingly subjects herself to a lush's lifestyle for at least a night. Mind the truth lingers deeper than the surface, upon the altar of a higher truth, wherein such beverages do naught to intoxicate her but merely bequeath the blessing of some distant French summer caught in the terroir.

"The Eddas hold the closest truth mankind knows of the age when last your people wandered Midgard," she points out, raising her wine in a toast. "Though I scoured the library high and low, I saw no dictionaries, no equivalent Rosetta stone, that would lend me insight to your language in one I know. French would have been acceptable, but nay, the determination any mortal might wander through in search of knowledge forbidden or lost to her own lands — her ancestral lands, to be certain — was not calculated by those fine librarians." Those dastardly librarians not assuming that Midgard might have someone curious and literate, how inconvenient and treacherous and unfair!

A sip follows. Then a lingering smile. "It wwould be better than a sword, honestly. I am little use with one, other than to know the pointy end from the grip. A bone I can make use with, even half-chewed, or fully so. Seeds have their place. What they grow, ah, and whether that will lend my garden a glorious memory when I shut my eyes and breathe, is without price."


Hrimhari smiles, broadly and genuine.

Returning the toast, he lifts the wine-goblet and drinks some of the liquid from it. He looks with satisfaction upon the beverage and nods to his host. Letting it breathe was absolutely the right choice.

"Would it please you," he ventures to ask after a brief pause. "To one day return to Asgard? There are ways, although they are not for most mortals. This one has seen the Bloodcrown-ed Lady in battle, and knows she is… much stronger than she appears."


The pinot noir, true to its varietal, packs a punch flavourful with a mouth taste that resonates with black currants and dark, lush berries. Attitude overwhelms subtlety; this is not, in any sense, a wine that deserves to be sipped sparingly and treated like a blushing maiden.

"Better than a white," Scarlett agrees, dipping her head in a nod. "They have their place, the crispness and the sweetness or dryness. Other times, though, give me the red. Half the time, I want the mead anyways. I fear I developed something of a taste for it these past months, though alcohol holds only a certain span of pleasure for me."

Let the corner of her mouth tease a touch higher, and she looks into the glass. "That is a loaded question, your highness, and I anticipate that you know it. We dwell within a time of change and growth, borders slipping away, travel possible. You ask me if I should wish to see Asgard, do you doubt the answer knowing of me what you do? Would I wonder upon the wilds of Vanaheim, that glittering place of Alfheim, even the mist-shrouded depths of places I should not go? Of course. Is it permitted to me? I know not."


The prince drinks more of the wine, and lowers the goblet. "The Allfather holds dominion over Asgard and the Realms-Nine, but under him the woods, dales and plains are Hrimhari's. This one is his loyal steward."

A pause.

"Milady's scent is known to the wolves; this one's word is all that is required. Few mortals may appreciate the hidden beauty of this one's world — few do more than 'stare into the pond'; they do not see its depths. 'Twould please Hrimhari to show milady more of it, soon."

Then his expression becomes more serious. "The journey there is perilous; Hrimhari would be remiss not to warn you properly."

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