1964-07-21 - On the Beaches
Summary: Princess Thor and Stephanie Strange visit an isolated beach for some R&R.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
thor strange 

Humid air does not make for comfort. The slap of the wide frond of low-growing palms is a cocophany. Flinching, the Sorceress Supreme darts through them as best she can. Darting any higher, even with the agility boost granted by the crimson Cloak, means revealing herself to the expansive width of the wings shadowed above.

"You'd better be ready…!!!" It's a sharp hiss with pitch aided by adrenaline and an honest-to-gods worry that they're in over their head with this one. The next deliberate reveal above the greenery is a brilliant flash of red and the sense of being watched triples. The laser dot in red lands square between her shoulders and Strange could hazard a guess that the creature's going to stoop right…



"NOW, YOUR HIGHNESS!" Barrel-rolling to one side, the petite brunette attempts to avoid the squid-like tentacles, suctioned in cups with burred edges, two of them aimed for her spinal cord in an effort to draw her back up towards that multi-toothed maw in circular layers of horror.

"I'm not touching it!"

There's a *whoomph* of shifting air pressures as something several times faster than the speed of sound flies from the undergrowth, with enough blurring velocity to be little more than a flickering blur— faster than the human eye can follow.

It's best seen as the reaction from 'Bubbles' the strange Lovecraftian eldritch fiend, because the monster accelerates skywards a dozen yards and yaws violently to the left. One wing catches on a palm tree, and it abruptly slams into the dense foliage. The monster screams like a stuck hog the size of a city bus, and Thor floats skywards, her flowing blonde hair buffeted from under her helmet by the winds. She's dressed for the topics— lightweight red cape, a midriff-baring blue tank top, and a battle-skirt of blue and silvered steel, with calf-high boots.

"I'm not touching it," she repeats for Stephanie's benefit, with grim determination— she holds her hand out for Mjolnir and the hammer comes flying back, and immediately Thor makes a sound of disgust at the dripping effluvia clinging to the rune-engraved weapon.

"Well, I'm not touching it either," replies the Sorceress, emerging from the undergrowth of the sub-tropical parallel in another dimension. Here, the air is humid, but also retains the moisture in hovering droplets of dew. It's not terrible until you realize that you will never get dry. Flitting up beside her friend, Stepanie swipes moisture away from her face. She's in her usual storm-blues, bolstered by a cycling spell of cooling air trapped beneath the tunic and leathers. Still…cool moisture. A shower is going to be mildly exasperating for once — what's sweat at this point? Ew.

"You can't pay me. Literally. I don't care." Strange points a finger at the creature struggling in the foliage, multiple lengths of sucker-dotted tentacles wrapped hapzardly about the base of what could be construed as trees. Maybe that's a trunk…? "I think you popped one of its eyes. It's going to be mad." She rolls steely-blues towards the Asgardian Princess, but the moue of exasperation is probably ruined by that wavy dark hair frizzling madly.

Thor narrows her eyes at Strange, even as thunder peals from the clear blue skies overhead. "This was /your/ idea," Thor rebuts, scowling mightily. " 'Thor! Help! It's a giant tentacle beast! And you're soooo good at fighting them!'" she says, mimicking Stephanie's voice unironically.

The monster threases and screams in fury, and a tentacle swings up from nowhere— Thor shoves Strange away, and the two dodge it in their hovering position. She whips Mjolnir on her fingertips, gritting her teeth.

"Do you have a better plan for stopping this than 'Thor hits it a lot?'" she demands of Strange, a bit crossly.

It's almost definitely the smell.

It smells like a diaper filled with Indian food.

"You know, I liked the plan thus far, with all this hitting that you're doing." She rubs at her forearm, at the place having taken the brunt of the stiff-arming, and though she's grateful, Strange scowls — that hurt a little, dammit. "But remember that I offered for you to come along. I could deal with 'Bubbles' all on my own."

The creature screeches at the sound of the hated name and a pseudo-tree is uprooted for its mad efforts. The remaining trapped wing is removed from the vines that ensnared it and it rises into the air again, its orange eyes leveling on them both where they hang.

"I didn't say 'Oh no, Princess, I need your assistance, woe is me!'" Someone sounds a little like Mister Bill in her pitch. "Just keep hitting it. I need to collect some of the goo from it, but it needs to come directly from the body itself and not be sullied by your Hammer or any weaponry. It needs to be smacked down and stay down — ACK!!!" The thud of the dodged tentacle is resounding, even in the loam and the foliage padding, and the Sorceress takes off again, lure for the monster with her Cloak in crimon. "JUST SMASH IT!!!" The terse command is tossed over her shoulder as she begins to lead the creature in another merry round of hare-and-hound.

"Sure, becase no one ever calls on me because they have TOTAL CONTROL of the situat— ACK!"

She agrees loudly with Strange's assessment and flings herself backwards with tremendous acceleration— Thor is faster in the air, but nowhere near as agile or controlled as her brunette friend.

She rallies and flickers into motion, the lightning flashing in the sky but not being called /quite/ yet. This is ,still, a scientific experiment, as Stephanie had stressed.

Thor flies skywards, gauges her angles, and flings herself at an intercept point. She hits the monster as it slavers towards Stephanie, a bolt of blonde lightning, and lands on it heavily. Bracing herself, and trying to ignore the smell, Thor roars with all her brassy volume and *swings* Mjolnir with both hands, the hammer's path cracking the air and aiming right for a thick dorsal plate that more or less marks a median line on the monster's strange anatomy.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d100 for: 100

KaaaaRACK!!! The impact by Mjolnir is impressive and leaves a heavy dent in the natural armor of the creature. It folds upwards, squishy beneath all of that chitin, and one wing goes limp. Maybe Thor pinched a nerve in its…spine? Wait, it has no spine. Bundle of…nervous system…webbing.

Dread 'Bubbles' of the squid-like biology hits the rainforest-esque flooring with all the grace of a whale flung from a trebuchet and with a resounding thud (and echoing wail) to boot. The Sorceress arcs around, risking G-forces in the turn, and hovers next to the stunned figure.

"Ah, very good." She sounds exactly as pleased as she is — moderately. A vial appears from inside a tunic pocket and she gathers up some goop from the creature's skin as carefully as she can. Even as it clings with the viscosity of slug-slime, she tries very very hard not to get it on any part of her person, including clothing. This stuff stains and reeks and defies laundry detergent. "I think…that will do," Strange adds after capping the vial forcefully. She flickers up beside Thor again and glances to the clouds. "You can dismiss the lightning. It won't be getting — "

'Bubbles' rises abruptly in place, turning the myriad saw-edged teeth towards the Sorceress. Circular layer upon layering glints. Its shadow hangs overtop her in the slowed time of a heartbeat — two — and then, a brilliant flash of light, a spell summoned and spat at doubled-time — and 'Bubbles' is no more.

Because 'Bubbles' detonates from the inside-out. Strange throws up a shield as knee-jerk precaution afterwards and the violet-hued orb about her hovering person takes the brunt of the disgusting wash of gooey viscera.

Thor, on the other hand…

|ROLL| Thor +rolls 1d100 for: 55

"But what if it—"

Thor's words are cut off as the monster dies.

Not dies. Explodes. With a concussive shockwave of incredible force as Strange's spell turns it inside out in the most expedient way possible. She flings herself backwards, spinning her hammer to try and deflect it— but she's still spattering with a fine mist of the gory, reeking innards, and when the sounds settles, Thor hovers in midair with the stiff posture of a person unable to even touch herself.

"I… I… I…" she gapes at Strange, shuddering at the stench clinging to her. "Get… get rid of the smell. Burn it off or something," she gasps, hurridly dismissing the magical components of her armor with a flickering of magic from her hammer and leaving her in a simple leather skirt and brief halter top.

Smug. Smug as a cat in a beam of sunshine with a bowl of cream. That's Strange's expression and she even dismisses her actions with a wave of a scared hand before glancing over at the Asgardian Princess.

That was so not a snort of amusement. Not at all. Cross one's heart.

"I'm sorry, but did you just ask me to burn the clothing from your body?" It's impossible to completely hide the somewhat-pitying smile, though the Sorceress rolls her lips inwards momentarily. "I…can certainly try, though it's risky, your highness. I could banish them and you could…attempt to…bathe in the nearby river?" It's about a mile off, but that sprinkling of orange, stinky innards didn't waft this far. It would be clean water…in theory.

Maneuverable? No. Fast? Yes. Thor abruptly zips at Strange and stops an arm's length away. Her eyes burn with horror and a burgeoning rage— but mostly horror at her deplorable condition.

"Stephanie. /Fix this smell/," she gasps, as if trying not to inhale. "Or I will batter down the door to your Sanctum, find your closet, and roll on -everything you own-," she hisses.

"Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew," she whimpers, trying not to look down at herself. "Help me, or I'll fly through orbit and burn it off," she says, through gritted teeth. "Or… drown in the ocea."

"Stephanie, /please/," she whimpers again.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d100 for: 57

Up this close, even Stephanie has to admit that the Asgardian Princess smells rank. A skunk had an affair with that diaper…after rolling in rennin.

Her nose wrinkles and she retreats at least a foot via the Cloak and her impressing of will upon it. "Seven hells, I wasn't going to leave you smelling like that, your highness — " and she can't help the gag as the day's earlier tea tries to climb up her throat. "Give me a second."

Mudras form in the alignments of her fingers and hands and her eyes take on the usual frosted-violet light of her innate powers being drawn upon.

"By Gaia's grace in crisp and clean,
From her body, the reek be gleaned!"

The spell splashes over Thor not too unlike a bucket of cold water and, though it may leave her shivering, that nasty spray coating her body is most definitely gone! It leaves the clothing as pristine as when the Asgardian arrived within this dimension, though decidedly clinging to her body and no warmer than the currents of the deep Arctic.

"Better, I assume?" Strange asks, lowering her hands as she eyes her friend.

"b-better," Thor yelps, shivering and clenching her fists despite herself. "M-marginally." She shudders despite herself; the workings of the magic work, but it /is/ frigidly cold, and she mutters something under her breath about the ways of wizards.

"Did you get the s-sample you sought?" she inquires, looking to Strange's pockets. "I would hate to think all this effort has been for nothing. For what purpose do you /need/ that slime, anyway?" she inquires, curious.

"Oh, good," Stange replies, watching the Princess shiver. In regards to the sample and its reasoning for being procured…

"I did get the sample." The small vial is held up between delicate, faintly-shaking fingers in the warm light of the dimension. Within it, the gel has a sulfurous tinge. "I…have just won a bet." Stephanie grins before breaking into a gale of laughter. She finds words again shortly. "Mister Oh-Such-Brooding-and-Disbelief doesn't think this can't be removed from clothing. I shall prove otherwise and savor it," she explains before tucking away the small glass tube, capped so tightly, again within the confines of her tunic.

Yep. They just crossed over dimensions, risked life and limb and smelling of the worst thing in existence…for the ability to test the various stain cleansers of Midgard proper.


Thor makes a strangled noise. "A bet. You— this is a bet. I came here on a bet. Fought a monster that reeks like a rotting bilgsnipe corpse that's been mouldering for days."

Her eyes burn blue, and her mouth twists into a battle between a smile and a scowl. "You are … /insufferable/," she says, reaching for the front of Strange's shirt as if she's considering throttling the Sorceress Supreme. "Bending time and space for— a— a— a DARE?!"

She abruptly sees the funny side of it and breaks into a hearty laugh, flinging her arms around Stephanie's shoulders with a pealing laughter. "You're impossible, friend Strange!"

Oops. She hath annoyed the Asgardian. Insufferable?!

…okay, maybe.

Strange's eyes flash wide for a second as she watches the hand dart out for the front of her tunic and she's decidedly in the process of bending agilely away from the possibility of a strong shaking when a strong hug takes precedence instead. With a grunt at the inherent strength of Thor, she remains trapped in the embrace, her expression slowly melting into hesitant mirroring of amusement.

"Dante says the same thing every now and then," she replies, a bit rusty for preserving the air leaking from her lungs. She's adorably small within the confines of her friend's arms, though clearly no less dangerous for the exploded 'Bubbles'.

Thor's got a strong hug, but she's gentle enough not to crush Stephanie's ribs; but still, the good Doctor gets a bit damp from the leather of her skirt and top shedding what water remains.

"Dante is not wrong," Thor concedes, laughing gaily. "I think 'tis enough work for today, aye?" She spins in a circle, looking at the horzion; the pleats of her skirt spray water in glittering arcs as they rise with the swift twist. She looks towards the beach, then inland, curiousity writ on her features.

"Tell me more of this land we are in," she tells Stephanie. "Is this a safe land, save for the monster? It seems most temperate; a paradise," she muses. "Nothing but fine weather and warm beaches."

"I'm fairly certain that this is the plane of Va'aduum." The Sorceress flits up higher still into the air, towards the dual suns that hang high above in an expanse hued more towards green than blue. They are the reasoning for the humidity, at least the warmth of it; the rest of it comes from the odd gravitational pulls and physics of the realm. "I did some training here during my apprenticeship. That's how I remembered of the creature." She glances to the orange-splattered forest below and grimaces. "Yes, in case you're wondering, I had to burn my clothing afterwards — and my mistress made me research the cleansing spell. It took me days to find it."

Imagine that indeed.

"If you're intending to linger, I would recommend the beaches beyond those stone spires." The strata rises above the canopies of the trees. "We'll need to clear the shores of sand elementals first, but then we could lounge." Strange checks a nonexistant watch on her wrist before grinning at the Princess. "I have some time still."

Thor shudders slightly at the gory details of that story. "Va'aduum," she muses, looking at the sandy beaches. "A strange land, but pleasant. Indiggenous monsters aside," she says, shooting a wry glance at Strange.

"Lead us to somewhere safe," she tells Sstrange, fluttering towards the Sorceress Supreme. "I could stand to absorb some sun and relax— 'twas a most entertaining fight, but I would fancy some relaxation following it," she says, as the two of them begin a lazy path towards the place Strange pointed out.

"Ooh! Perhaps some food?" she ventures. "And chairs to sit. And drinks! With the nuts, hollowed out; the sweet milk within?" she adds, pestering Strange with a perfectly reasonable and ever-growing laundry list of 'suggestions' for their perfect beachtime relaxation.

Strange laughs, the sound surprisingly joyous. Why not? Sunshine, humidity decreasing the closer they get to the ocean, and she didn't get a single droplet of that disgusting goop on her person.

"Your highness, patience," she councils in a tone of amusement. "Follow me." With the grace of a swallow, the Sorceress drops from the air and suddenly zips away into the shadows cast by the thick bases of the rock spires. Thor won't have any trouble keeping up, though some of the spaces require good timing to sneak through without brushing shoulders against stone or even colliding with them. A sudden sharp turn to the right means the hem of the crimson Cloak is the last thing seen slipping into a vertical crevasse in a sheer mountain face.

Following on the Sorceress's booted heels means a short time of close-quarters flight, but then…the natural architecture of the dome is majestic. A cathedral with organic holes spread across its ceiling, it lets in both sunlight and some cool air, though not much. The ocean wends it way into the central basin beneath it, all clean and crisp and decidedly not salty, since this is not Midgard. No — if anything, somewhat cloying, like overly-sugared sweet tea. Spotlights of warm light shine down and into one flits Strange. She settles and looks around carefully before waving down the Princess.

"No elementals, I can't sense them. Pick a patch," and she gestures to the many swatches of bright light spread across the white-grained beach, broad in spread enough even to indulge a 'Bubbles' at times.

"Ah, this is perfect," Thor exhales happily— and she floats downwards, landing on the sand with a crunch of sand under her leather boots. She tosses Mjolnir aside and hops on one foot to remove one boot, then the other, and walks towards the water.

She gets ankle deep, then stoops and brushes her fingers through the surf. She sniffs at it, then slurps a few drops of water drop her cupped palm.

"It's— it's sweet!" she marvels at Strange. "Who would have imagined such a thing? A /sweet/ ocean, instead of the cutting brine," she laughs. Thor removes her cloak and tosses it aside, and her helmet too, leaving her in her midriff-baring cuirass and pleated leather skirt.

"How is it you foudn such a place, friend Strnage?" she inquires, walking towards Stephanie. "You seemed to find it most readily— have you been here before?"

"I have been here before." There's a hint of hedging in her response, and the Asgardian Princess will probably recognize that sly glint in the Sorceress's eyes as contentment found in past expeditions here. The crimson Cloak is dismissed to one side and Strange sits upon a small rock emerging from the white sand in order to work at unlacing her boots.

"As I mentioned before, I know the plane of Va'aduum well. I found this place exploring one day as an Apprentice and have been back…a few times." Her gaze climb up towards the high openings in the rock and her smile takes on a softness in past memories. "But yes, the water is sweet rather than salty. It's safe to swim in, feel free."

The second boot finally comes off and she wiggles her toes with a sigh. "I will be getting some sun." The relic in red swishes over and its upon the silky, checkered innards that Strange sprawls in a ray of sunlight. Cat-like indeed. She folds hands behind her head and then closes her eyes with an exhalation of delight. Mmm. Sun.

Thor dives into the water— Asgardians are strong, but they're so dense they make poor swimmers on Midgard. But the waters are heavy here, enough for some buoyancy; she paddles around with a giggle glee, enjoying the feel of cool water on her skin.

She pops her head out of the water near Strange and walks towards the Sorceress, brushing her hair back behind her ears as she goes and blowing water into the air like a whale, giggling to herself.

"This is a most welcome place, friend Strange. Have we any victuals prepared?" she asks, removing her skirt and flinging it negligently on the shores; it leaves her in brief shorts of some dense cotton material in grey, hugging her hips. "Mead would be welcome, but I crave some mutton or fatty cut of beef."

One eye opens and rolls to the Asgardian Princess. A stray droplet of sweet seawater fall onto her cheek and she flinches before brushing at it.

"I don't have any food, no. You can't be hungry? After that smell…?" But it's clear that the Princess is, and battling does tend to use up energy, so Strange reneges. She sits up onto her elbows and then does some complicated series of single-handed gestures.

At Thor's feet, a picnic basket. Within…frankly, whatever the Asgardian would want beneath its lid, from prime cuts of red meat to warm brown bread to even…a jug of mead, corked and ready to be sampled.

"Have at thee," murmurs the dark-brunette with her silver temples before settling in again within her patch of sunlight. She smiles, note this, and rolls over abruptly to pillow her cheek on her folded arms. "Eat what you will…more will show."

Hey, it's magic! Strange is content where she is, with the solar heat relaxing stiff muscles and soothing sore nerves.

Strange goes home.

"Hah! A most welcome fare," Thor remarks, diving for the basket. She pulls out a bundle of warm bread, smelling as fresh as if it were just from the oven; her eyes lid and she inhales deeply through her nose, and a radiant smile of approval crosses her rawboned features.

She tears the bread in half and offers part to Strange, then takes several recklessly oversized bites of the other— it even tastes as if it's slightly buttered.

"You are a most convenient travelling companion," she marvels. "I might not need pack anything ever again, aye?" The mead's uncorked and she throws back a few gulps from the heavy jug.

"Magic has its boons," murmurs the Sorceress quietly. It's clear that the ray of sunlight is melting her in place and she wiggles her toes into the pristine sand of the beach. A nap does sound most opportune right now, after the spat with Lovecraftian 'Bubbles'. Still…it'll be amazing to win that bet. She savors it even now with a passing smile to herself.

"Thank you, but no," and Strange waves a few fingers from beneath her cheek. "I ate earlier." And bread would wreck her innards anyways; the curse of magic to its boons. "Convenient? That's kind of you, after how you smelled earlier." A little laugh jumps her shoulders before she settles in again, eyeing Lady Thor most lazily from beneath dark lashes. "I admit, I was tempted to leave you smelling as such, if only to hear what the Court thought of it."

"If I 'twere up upend the sand," Thor says, thinking heavily, "and plant your head under it with only thy ankles visible— would it perhaps grow a tree that is less inclined to such odious pranks?"

Her eyes dance impishly, and she laughs with a brassy ease, tossing her wet hair back over her left shoulder and taking another long swig of the mead. She seats herself next to Stephanie, digging her heels in front of her and facing the opposite direction, and sets the jug beside her in the sand. She crosses her ankles and loosely hugs her knees, eyes scanning the distant ocean for any sign of movement or wildlife.

The rill of low laughter dances in the lines of the reclining Sorceress's body again and she raises herself up onto her elbows to eye the Asgardian Princess with a quirked brow.

"I can imagine the diplomacy between our worlds may become a little strained once the Warlock was done with you. Still, a tree of Sorceress Supreme. It'd grow tea leaves, I think," she muses, rolling from her stomach and onto her back. "Mmm…too warm," comes the mutter.

With a gesture from throat to hips, she dismisses the sturdiness of the storm-blue battle-leathers for something far less covering in turn. A wrapping about her chest keeps everything in place, this too leather in a slate-grey hue, though far more supple than her Mystical armor. About her hips, another wrapping with the loose ends hanging at the sides rather than tucked; it reaches her upper thigh and no further.

"Much better…" Strange sighs and settles again, closing her eyes. "Be mindful that you don't look any of the sea serpents in the eyes," she admonishes Thor offhandedly.

"Hah! Do you fear the wrath of a kraken or sea serpent?" Thor chides Strange, lifting her golden brow at the dair-haired brunette. "There are monsters in the deeps vast as a building; I have seen them, even in Midgard. Whales, they are called," she tells Strange. "The vastness of some of them cannot be stated; and they are small compared to the great beasts on other planets, some of which are large enough that their mere passage creates tidal undertows on nearby islands; if they are not islands themselves, with sand and tree growing atop a shell.

A little snort. "I'd like to live to see another day, personally. They have no issue in eating whatever is lured within reach of their strikes — hence, not looking them in the eyes. While you might sit like a rock in their stomachs, it would still hurt, your highness." Stephanie turns her head to look up at the Princess. "Plus, I dare not test the patience of the All-Father and Queen with further…shenanigans."

A smirk that showcases dimples and then a slow sigh. "You could just lounge in the sun, you know. Vitamin D is a necessary component of life and best manufactured by taking in ultraviolet light. …unless your physiology doesn't do as such?" And there's that curiosity again that played a large part of the trouble with 'Bubbles' in the first place.

"Vitamin… D?" Thor looks blankly at Strange. "I know the sun is pleasant and warm on my skin," she says, rubbing her bare, fair arms. "It gives me a soothing countenance and makes me feel energetic. I know not of vitamins, however, nor how I could gain them from sunlight," she says, a little slow and puzzled.

"But if it does you service to warm yourself, then I shall join you as well, though I think neither of us will darken overmuch." She sticks her calf against Stephanie's; Thor's at least of a ruddy hue that comes from health and wellness, but her skin certainly never seems any darker or paler.

Rising up onto her elbows again, Stephanie considers the differences in skin color and shrugs slightly.

"I never was one for gaining a tan. Blushing, yes, entirely possible, but tans…unfortunately no. To my benefit, I suppose. Oh, and no matter of the vitamins," she adds, waving a hand dismissively. "Your physiology is different enough from us of Earth. You like as not may manufacture in another manner entirely." Something pings to her Mystical senses and she cranes her head to look over her shoulder, in the direction that the Princess faces and towards the sea. Those dark brows knit. "Don't go any closer to the surf line, your highness. We're being watched."

|ROLL| Thor +rolls 1d20 for: 6

"So she /can/ blush," Thor marvels, teasing Strange with a bright grin. "And here the rumor was that Strange never eats or sleeps, and is in fact not human at all. Good to know," she says with a suggestive tone that turns into a mirthful laugh.

At Strange's suggestion Thor's sky-blue eyes lazily shift to the beach; Mjolnir is a beckoning finger away, and the shifting shadows in the low tide concern her very little at the moment.

Despite her attention towards the ocean, teeth flash as the Sorceress genuinely laughs, the sound echoing faintly around the sun-spotted cavern shading their little private lagoon beyond reach of the distant surf line in the opposite direction.

"Oh come now, don't ruin my reputation as utterly terrifying despite my size." Indeed, a full foot shorter than the Princess, if not more. Sitting up, she eyes the very shadows that cause Thor little worry. "Well, whatever it is, it's…somewhat sentient. I can sense that we're interesting to it, but like…a bird might consider something shiny."

Up pops a head abruptly from the stillness between waves and while it might have four ink-black eyes and seaweed tangled in the myriad tendrils erupting from its skull, it nonetheless continues to consider them across the distance of thirty or so feet. Strange frowns. "I haven't encountered this creature before," she murmurs, bringing up her feet and tucking ankles to the back of her thighs to sit on one hip; her hands are freed, resting lightly in her lap, very much ready to cast.

"A strange animal, but it seems not terribly harmful," Thor remarks, lfiting her chin at the odd beast. "I know it not, either; but observe a lack of rending talons or fangs," she suggests. "Predators on worlds beyond worlds share many similar attributes, in general; those that do not are more lurkers than attackers. A carnivore that seeks flesh is usually armed to rend it. If it would eat us, it would ambush us from shadows or wait until we were immobilized," she points out.l

"Midgardian snakes have neither talons or visible fangs and yet can open their mouths wide enough to swallow things far beyond what we'd consider possible. Look at the skeletal structure of the jaws on that thing," and she points at it. Those eyes, two on each side to allow binocular vision, blink at timings counter with one another and then it shuffles farther out of the rush of the surf. Are they flippers? Flippers with…claws? The more Strange stares, the more she can pick out, cautiously-inclined as she is. A longer neck, smooth transition from skull to shoulders in the end, and rubbery-looking hide, sleek and smoothed with water. The build of the skull suggests little need for a nose beyond taking in air and as the thing drags itself further onto the beach, it reveals its hind end. Sinuous, muscled, with a single wide fan of a flipper at the end for propelling it.

"Dare I say it, but…if I were to categorize it as anything, it looks like a sea-lion." Indeed, the tendrils about its neck, gelid like jellyfish strands, speak to the savannah-dwelling king of the beasts and then again to the relations of seals. It snorts, mist expelling from its nostrils and then a low rumble reaches them even as its throat puffs out a little, visibly vibrating.

"Is that a beast native to your world?" Thor inquires, curiously. "I have seen the lions of your Africa, but never have I beheld a lion of the sea." She wrinkles her nose thoughtfully. "Hmm. I see neither mane nor fang; but I defer to your expertise in this matter," she says, flashing a grin at Strange.

"This thing?" The creature tilts its head to one side and down, as if equally confused at these two weird mostly-hairless and non-aquatic beings upon the beach. Strange laughs once. "I use the name in the sense of the lion of Africa, but one that lives in water. Sea-lion. Sealions," the subtle speed of speech combines the two words to one, "are creatures like seals. They live on the beach as well. I saw them when I visited California one time. Noisy," the dark-brunette comments and wrinkles her nose slightly.

With a blorp-huff, the critter makes its way a little further onto the beach and then emits a rumbling cry again, its throat puffing up not too unlike that of a frog.

"Seems we've wandered into her territory," Thor says. She rises to her feet, dusting sand from the back of her bare thighs, and ambles towards the sea lion, stopping about ten yards from it.

She takes in a deep breath and emits a high, ululating scream, shoulders flexing from the tension as she bellows from deep in her belly at the beast, and about ten times louder.

The sealion balks and barks repeatedly, then whirls awkwardly about and belly-crawls back to the water. Thor dusts her hands and turns back to walk towards Stephanie, and kneels in the sand next to her. "Problem solved," she says, with a satisfied expression. "Have we more mead?"

Stephanie merely settles back onto her heels as she watches the Asgardian princess approach the creature. There's no dissuading her, that much the Sorceress has learned over the years.

A wince at the sudden display of loud and indeed — a rolling retreat back into the waves by said sea-lion creature. Strange blinks once and then places a hand over her mouth as laughter attempts to escape. She should not be encouraging said risky behavior.

"In the basket," she finally replies after clearing her throat multiple times. Those steely-blues twinkle with repressed amusement.

Thor leans over to dig in the basket, and then rocks back on her hip to recline on the blanket spread over the sand. She pulls the cork with her teeth and *ptoos* it away, then throws back a hearty gulp.

"Would that the mead agreed with your constitution, Strange. 'tis a hearty brewing," she says, smacking her lips. "I think you'd find it most delicious."

The Asgardian princess gets a knowing side glance that also features a coy smile.

"I think you want to see what happens when someone who drinks little more than tea has more than a sip of that mead, your highness," says Stephanie with deliberate lightness. "Hmm?" 'Prove me wrong', the Sorceress seems to say with the lazy slouch back onto her hands and resting of her jawline nearly to her shoulder.

Thor's brows rise towards her browline and then she laughs merrily at Stephanie. "Mayhaps I'm trying to help you relax a /little/," Thor admits, sitting back on her heels and looking down at the backwards-slouching sorceress near her. "You still seem a little uncomfortable in these climes. I never claimed to be a particularly /subtle/ woman in that regard," Thor admits apologetically, cradling the mead bottle on her thighs. "Asgardians drink to unwind ourselves and temper a warrior's fire. I hoped it would help you as well."

A roll of her eyes brings Stephanie to gaze out at the slowly-incoming waves beyond the beach again. About a half-minute goes by and gentle breezes bring in the caress of cooler air from beyond the horizon. It smells lightly of brown sugar in the end, maybe even diluted maple syrup. Not too unlike the breath of Spring, it's soft on exposed skin and Strange is content to remain in her chest- and hip-wrappings. Finally, a sigh and she holds out a single hand.

"You're right. I need to relax. Give me a swig," she mumbles, grinning faintly at the truth of the realization.

Thor hands off the mead to Strange, but holds it for a beat. "Only a swig, friend Strange. Asgardian mead is quite potent," she reminds her friend. Releasing the bottle she rolls to sit on her hip next to Stephanie, and props a hand behind her for support while she looks out at the ocean rolling in the direction of their bare feet. She inhales deeply, then brushes her hair back from her face with a sigh and holds it atop her head while looking at the cooling winds with her eyes closed.

"Why is it you are struggling to relax, Stephanie?" she asks her friend, a few minutes later. "I hope it's not my company souring your peace," she says, looking a little worried.

Boy, that swig tastes like lightning and kicks like a bucking bronco. Stephanie hands back the mead with a trembling arm as the other hand covers her mouth against a fit of coughing. Boy, that was a rather large swig too, come to think of it. …too late now.

"Gods be — " Cough. "Ugh, below, that's strong." She smacks her lips once. "Sweet though. I think there's hon — " Last cough. "Honey in it."

The question is asked once a few minutes pass and Strange glances at the princess. "Your company stands very little chance of every souring my peace, your highness. If you're present, I was intending to have you present." An honest smile smoothes away any edges in the statement. "I am a guardian. We get little rest and less time for peace. I'm…not used to it?" Even she sounds somewhat bemused by the concept.

Then one can see the mead hit that 5'5" body like a sudden brick to the back of the head. "Oh…seven hells." A weak laugh. "Oh hells indeed, that's…strong stuff." Her teeth flash as she bites her lip and then the laughter turns into a helpless giggle.

Thor recovers the mead from Stephanie before she can upset the bottle, and covers her mouth with her hand— but her eyes dance with laughter at STephanie's reaction to the booze, and she takes another swig herself.

"Mead is made from honey, yes," Thor confirms, holding the bottle carefully. She grins at Stephanie and shakes her head, planting the bottle in her hands and laying on her back before propping her elbows behind her. "Aye, why I advised only a /sip/," she tells Stephanie. "'tis strong stuff. Few mortals have the constitution for it."

"I know a little of how you feel," she says, her eyes focusing on the ocean. "Being Princess carries similar burdens. In some ways I might cavort and play, but… I must always be a symbol for my people. Something to look up to. And I must always be watchful to be /leading/ my people in a positive way."

"We're jusss…peas 'n a pod," lisps the Sorceress thoughtfully, following the direction of her friend's gaze. There must be something interesting — there's nothing interesting there. Why is she looking there? Thus, the little frown on the dark-brunette's features as she glances back to Thor.

"You dun have to be serious all the time. I mean, I must be very serious," and she places a sandy hand against her collarbone, looking…ever so serious. "Surely the Court mus' let'chu have fun sometimes? The gods are…eh." Stephanie doesn't finish that thought aloud, choosing instead to do a dismissive flippity hand gesture off towards the distant horizon. An afterthought, apparently: "They're serious."

"I have fun," Thor protests, a little defensively. "I have agreat deal of fun. I just… I have to be perfect when I have fun. I have to drink more, fight more, laugh louder. I cannot just … be me," she exhales.

"Why must /you/ be serious all the time?" she asks Stephanie— her own words slur very slightly, though she's probably not hit as hard as Stephanie is. "You are the defender of the multiverse, not a Princess. People don't look to you as an example of courtly behaviour. You could run to work naked, and people would be grateful to see you."

She pauses, then bursts out laughing and rolls towards Strange. "I did NOT mean it that way!" she says, peals of giggling laughte escaping her mouth.

The Sorceress Supreme gives her friend a shocked look for all of a second before the giggling becomes infectious. Not so serious now, not with how she collapses back onto the pristine sand, holding her stomach and — frankly — guffawing.

"Dinnit mean it tha' way, my pert little ass," she manages between gales of laughter. "Though — though — Dante certainly wouldn' mind." More laughter and…lo and behold…the mythical blush on the fair woman's cheeks. A hand wave in the air between them, towards Thor. "You be you, princess. Screw th' rest of 'em, with their airs and propri'ty and bull pocky. All 'f'it. Bull pocky."

Thor giggles, and catches Stephanie's waving hand, giving her fingers a squeeze. "Your reassurances are most welcome, Stephanie," Thor tells her raven-haired friend. She rolls to her back once more, propping a heel near her rear so her knee sticks skywards.

"It is why these trips are so welcome," she says, after Stephanie's giggles have subsided a bit. "A chance to be away from the judgement of the court. And my /mother/," she says, with an eye roll. "I love her dearly but her eye is on Asgard, not my well-being. Always, 'be a Princess, be a symbol'. Some days I don't wish to be a symbol. I just wish to be myself— loved for nothing more and nothing less."

The squeeze is returned, fondly and with far less strength than Asgardian physiology. Stephanie's laughter finally peters off and she lies there, half-dozing and absolutely slackened by the mead's effects on her system.

"Your mother prolly loves you more 'n' Asgard isself, your highness. She worries because she cares, I think." A sage and absolutely blitzed nod. "N' besides, who couldn't love you? You're…well, yourself." Because that logic makes total drunken sense.

"I know she loves me, Stephanie," Thor says. "I just wish she'd leave me more room to be myself instead of being the Princess of Asgard."

She rolls to her side, propping her head up on her elbow and palm, regarding the girl next to her.

"I shouldn't have given you so much mead," she remarks, wryly. "You're a bit of a lightweight, dear. At least we're far enough from civilization you won't accidentally magic a city into being lemmings, or something." She grins at Strange, then laughs easily at her own mild humor.

A scoff. "I would ne'er magic a city inna lemmings." Then a pause. "Ham'ters mebbe, yes, but not lemons. Ham'ters dun run off'a cliffs randomly. Wouldn't wanna cause panic." Because turning an entire city's population into small, furry creatures wouldn't cause panic. Clearly, the mead's gotten to her.

Stephanie sighs and laughs again, turning her head to look at Thor. "You dun wanna be the princess? What d'you wanna be then? M' own mother always said that I could be what I wanted when I grew up." She scrunches up her face in an exaggeratedly pensive manner, utterly truthful in thinking said intensity is required. "Never 'spected to be Sorceress 'Preme."

Thor turns to look at Stephanie, still holding her hand, and shrugs a little uncertainly. "I don't know," she admits, finally. "I don't know how to be anything but who and what I am." She rolls towards Stephanie and sits back up on her hip, arm propping behind her.

"It's not that I don't— don't want to be princess. I don't know," she confesses, sighing heavily. "Mayhaps I envy the freedom of the others. To go where they wish, do as they wish, be with whom they wish. I know that the day will come when I will marry for the good of Asgard." She sighs heavily.

Stephanie scowls up a storm.

"You should marry whomever you damn well want," she grumbles with remarkable clarity of speech. "They kin be your Consort, jus' like Dante's my Consort. Who cares 'bout royal blood 'n all that? Sure, your mother prolly does 'n that annoying Court 'n I guess the whole damn Tree 'n all that, but pffffft."

A long raspberry of her lips interrupts her thoughts before she continues.

"Bull pocky." Thus proclaims the Sorceress Supreme.

Thor considers that, hugging her thighs to her chest and resting a chin on her kneecap. She turns her face to Stephanie, listening, then a slow smile crosses her features.

"That's very true," she says, softly. "I mean, children— someday, wayyyy away," Thor says. "But I might as well marry who pleases me, rather than whom my parents order."

She rolls sideways, stretching her legs in front of her, and kisses Stephanie's cheek. "Thank you, Stephanie. That… actually cheers me immensely."

The Sorceress laughs and the blush lingers about her cheeks a bit longer for the affection shown.

"I get it, 'n a way. I do," and she leverages herself onto her elbows rather woozily. Balance isn't the best given how difficult the task is and by how she seems still prone to flopping back to the sand again. She fights the urge in order to remain in eye contact with Thor. "Gotta rep'tation t'uphol', got 'sponsibilities 'n righteous power, but…'n the end, you only got you. I mean, only got yerself 'n gotta be happy s'mhow wiff it. Might as well be happy wiff some'n you like instead of jus' marryin' the first popinjay your mother waltz in front'tah you."

Thor nods at Strange, sitting on her hip and propping her palm in the sand. "Aye, I know. I will not marry the first fool to come along," Thor promises Strange. "Just… I envy you and Dante, I suppose," she sighs. "Well. I envy Dante," she says, giving Strange a teasing wink. "It gives me something to which I should aspire, the idea of a relationship building up my people beyond just creating a child or guaranteeing an alliance."

Stephanie seems far too chuffed by the compliment via means of Dante.

"We're not th'best of 'xamples, Princess, but we get along jus' fine. I'll let'im know he's got some serious competition 'n you though, since yer so envious," and the Sorceress laughs, happy to be playing along in said conversation.

She sighs again…and eyes the mead jug. "…prolly a bad idea t'take 'nother swig, hmm." Still…she seems more than half decided upon said swig. Someone should probably stop her.

Thor rests a finger on the mead bottle, which means Mjolnir might as well be resting on it. "I think you've had enough, Stehanie," Thor tells her friend, with a gentle smile. "You're already a little intoxicated," she reminds Strange. "At least drunk enough I'm having second thoughts about taking advantage of you." Her eyes dance merrily.

"But one more sip and you'll be full unconscious, and then I'll be talking to the stars, which sounds a bit on the boring side."

Oh, that dramatic eyeroll Thor gets from the petite Sorceress.

"'m not made of china, Thor," she replies flatly. "'m not breakable. Well, not that breakable. 'nd what d'you mean advantage of?" Squinty-squint. "What, goin' to ask me to reveal m'deepest secrets 'n all that? You want the key t' unlocking th' mysteries of th' Vishanti? Because that you're not gettin' from me," and Stephanie points at the Asgardian princess for all of a second before her wobbly elbow gets the better of her. "Oof!" Back to the beach's surface, flop, and she places the back of a sandy hand against her forehead and laughter peals out. "Seven hells, n'more. Bad idea."

Thor shakes her head, laughing with a mild, easy peal. "You /are/ drunk," she scolds Stephanie fondly. She lays on her side, half curling around Stephanie's head so her flatpacked abs provide a backstop near Stephanie's raven tresses.

"Oh, Stephanie," she sighs, teasing at the woman's brow with her short-trimmed nails. "Why can I not have more friends like you?" she says, fondly. "Smart and sweet, and insightful." She sighs heavily.

"m drunk, howzat insightful?" The Sorceress sounds vaguely lamentful for it, but that's quickly lost to the brilliant lassitude giving her much need to simply recline back upon the warm sand and soak it in. The scritching at her scalp is further reason to relax and let's face it: Stephanie would purr if she could. Always a sucker for scalp scritches.

"Shh. Go to sleep, dear," Thor murmurs, gently scratching Strange's scalp and running her nails through the thick raven locks. "Thank you for being here tonight," she murmurs, watching Strange dozing. "You are a good friend."

She props her head up on her palm, watching Stephanie slowly melting into a puddle, and then turns introspective blue eyes outwards towards the lapping ocean waves.

"Dun wanna sleep…" Thus, the words of every toddler in existence slip from her drowsy lips. The Cloak continues to keep careful hovering watch nearby, its flowing length undulating lazily in the breeze coming from the ocean. Still, it's not too cold, just enough to wile one into considering a nap on the pristine sands.

"Yer a good frien' too, Princess. Never thought I'd have frien's." And then there's the tiniest little squeak of a snore. Sorceress Supreme, out cold, safe as can be.

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