1965-01-31 - The Music of Pretzels
Summary: Whilst out on a walk, Thor and Kelda discover the wonder of electrical guitars and raid a food truck for pretzels. The honoring of the past verses the frenetic change of the present is discussed while carbs are enjoyed.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
kelda thor 

New Yorkers are, by definition, incredibly stable people. This is caused by the utter absurdity of the human condition; jam so many people into such a tight living situation, and the odd or even surreal becomes a relatively commonplace experience. This means that the buskers and performers work twice as hard every day, pouring their soul into their music. As the saying goes, 'if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere'.

It affords the Asgardian diplomatic mission some anonymity as well; Thor and his entourage are head and shoulders over most mortals, even the shortest of them standing out in a crowd. And with both significant size and metaphysical mass, Thor and his companion Kelda are never obstructed or impeded on the sidewalks. The crowd parts reflexively ahead of them like pedestriens making room for a police horse.

The sound of music draws Thor's attention, and he taps Kelda's shoulder and points towards a music store across the street. A small crowd has gathered, partially occluding the flow of traffic on the sidewalk. The sounds coming from the store are a little otherworldly, full of power chords and dissonant garage rock beats. Thor starts across the street with a disregard for traffic, ignoring the braying of horns as he jaywalks towards the sounds. Overhead, a sign neither of the Asgardians can read proclaims: 'The Barbarians, One Day Only!'

Kelda's trying her best to blend into the crowd that walks along the sidewalks of the city, but despite her loose-bottom pants and thigh-length winter jacket overtop a fitted leather vest, she is one-half of a light-haired pair of near-giants. She sidesteps to avoid a stroller, dual-seated, and pauses to watch the mother continue on.

"How convenient, that one can keep both offspring in one place rather than being torn in two directions if they choose to run off," she murmurs to herself. Tap-tap, and she glances over at Thor before following his gesture in direction. That music is…decidedly different! "I am undecided if this sounds like one slowly strangling a large wildcat, my liege," she admits, looking back at him with slightly-wide eyes. "Is this mortal music then?"

HONK. Yell. Cursing. Thor surfs through the traffic and emerges at the rear of the crowd. He doesn't push forward, but the bubble of projection he and Kelda put forward allows them to osmose into the pack of people fairly easily until they are within comfortable viewing distance of the musicians.

"Aye, 'tis this new mortal fad for music," Thor remarks. His boot taps unconsciously on the ground. "They do not keep the old traditions of music alive; for them, 'tis a new song every year, or a new instrument. They find it better to experiment with the new than master the old ways. It is a passing strange mentality," he concedes, "but— I have heard naught like this before! It is musical, and yet dissonant, aye? No instrument I can imagine produces noises such as these!" The drummer plays his set with consummate skill, and the electric guitar wails and charges as the lead guitar dances his pick over the strings.

Close on the Asgardian Prince's back — and tempted once to mimic something she saw on the streets, thumping her fist against the hood of the taxi stopping very close for comfort, Kelda instead chooses to glare back at the irate driver and continue on. Thank goodness, serious dent averted! She slips to his side once they find their island in the midst of the crowd and she purses her lips thoughtfully as she listens.

"It is…a stringed instrument, as a lute but indeed, with the oddity of the sound. It makes my teeth tingle," she admits, running her tongue over them briefly. "But aye, my liege, the past is something to be treasured. Granted, I see little of the Old Ways in a place such as this, the great city of New York, so it may no longer be of interest to the people. A shame — though I do acknowledge that whatever manner of drum is being played, it is far more complicated in rhythm. I find it pleasing." She too ends up tapping her boot in short time.

"It stirs the blood, does it not?" Thor inquires of Kelda, watching the musicians pour their hearts into the performance. "Some stranged stringed instrument, but it screams almost like a beast!" He nudges her and points at the amplifer. "See, this is some mortal ferromancy," he observes. "The musician strikes the lute, but the box sings for him. And observe the drummer!" he adds, looking at the young man pounding the drums as hard as he can. "His technique is wild and frenzied, but to play /six/ drums at once?" Thor watches the contraption as the timpani clatters, the big bass booms, and all the while the drummer never seems to be playing less than four of the drums at any given moment. He tries to flick his wrists and tap his foot in time with the drummer, but fails miserably. "What remarkable dexterity!"

The warrior-mage observes the amplifier, squinting at it before looking up the length of cord winding from the box to the instrument itself. Ferromancy indeed, though she can sense no elemental magic in the whole effect. It seems to run on electricity…

Her little pout of confusion shifts to a bright grin, flashing teeth, as she realizes that Thor is attempting to match the drummer's movements and she begins to tilt her head in time with the leading beat.

"Imagine that the player could do in battle! I am minded that throwing knives might be a deadly weapon with those wrist motions."

"Aye! Surely, there is a tradition among mortals to send their greatest bards to the forefront of war," Thor agrees, nodding at Kelda's assessment. "The drummer could operate many war machines at once, and the lutist could hurl knives with impunity. Imagine a general with such a voice!" he says, gesturing at the singer. "His commands echoing across entire battlefields, easily carried to every warrior simultaneously."

The musicians finish their set to scattered applause, which Thor joins enthusiastically. Seeing the crowd disperse, he starts heading back on their original course back to the Embassy. "The mortals are strange in many ways, but their food and music— by far, their greatest contributions to the realms," he asserts.

"Would that they could take the ferromancy with them to the battlefield," she replies overtop the wail of the guitar and carrying drumbeats. "I have heard tell of certain notes that not only cause irritation, but may even warp glass and metals." Once the musicians decide that they're done, she too applauds for the players, especially that drummer.

It's nice to have some proper breathing room again and as they walk, Kelda adopts a loose-limbed stride beside the Prince. "I agree entirely, my liege. I am thrilled to have discovered ice cream and these creations called…pretzels, I believe — the manner in which they are presented, with the butter and salting, is worth starting a brawl over. Would that the players had handed out pretzels at their showing! From how many attend upon the stands daily, they would have possibly gathered more to their music."

"A strange magic," Thor agrees. "Perhaps it is a field of study the mortals may surpass us in. Their ferromancy is crude and their methods seemingly chaotic, but I have observed it is from chaos that their innovation thrives and flourishes."

"It is a strangeness I have observed," he tells Kelda, a few moments later. "In Asgard, bards are revered. Those who sing the songs, who entertain us with stories and old tails— they are held in high esteem. To become a bard is a calling more than a profession. None would dare consider themselves such in the Golden City without the approval of that society."

"Among mortals, anyone may pick up an instrument and sing. And they rise or fall on the merits of their competence, without approval or censure. Is it so strange a way of living, this perfect meritocracy?" he wonders aloud. "The audience must endure the chaff of discordant noise, but the mortals innovate things new almost daily. When last did you hear a /new/ song on the lips of a bard?"

Kelda considers the question presented to her. It takes about half a block and a pause at a crosswalk, the gathering of folks waiting for a crossing signal, before she gathers her thoughts.

"I cannot remember last I heard a novel lay from the lips of one of the Court's bards. Mind, their songs are all well-loved, so I do not see the Court asking otherwise of them. But…my liege, it is a wild idea, but — what if we found a way to bring the music of the mortals to the Court?" She glances over at Thor. "This…discordancy could become a novelty much admired? Be honest, I am not minded to be told it is a silly whim. It is fair more possible that a good number of our people would wince and ask them to leave." A small laugh escapes her lips.

"It is our time among the mortals that has colored our tastes," Thor reminds Kelda, patting her back with gentle reassurance. "The new and novel takes on a peculiar appeal when presented in likeminded company. Asgard hinges on our traditions," he reminds her. "We are young compared to most of the court, in our taste and preference. Asgard— our culture— survives because we remind ourselves of the past, rather than always looking to the future. We preserve what was made rather than clearing it for what was built."

He pauses and turns Kelda to observe demolition in progress. "See, an ancient and crumbling ediface. What histories could tell us of that buidling? Who lived and loved there? What victories were fought or battles lost? Instead, it is destroyed, to make something newer and grander and taller. And that, too, will be destroyed in time. All mortal realms are written upon shifting sands instead of the bedrock we Asgardians have chosen."

The warrior-mage wrinkles her nose when faced with the construction work.

"Would that they paid more attention to the past and attempted to preserve that which aided in lessons and warnings. Still…it is to their benefit, perhaps, to be have such flexibility in acceptance of acts of creation and novelty." Kelda finds the eyes of a passing woman on her and attempts a warm smile. The woman, caught staring, tries an awkward twitch of a smile back before hustling on. "They have been markedly forgiving of our presence here, my liege. I cannot imagine what would happen otherwise." Or maybe she can and saying it aloud may curse their diplomatic efforts in the end.

"I remember when they were all as mewling babes, huddled against the cold as children hide from the night," Thor remarks, shaking his head. "The Jotuuns cursed the land with ice for many years. Many of their traditions they still observe hearken to those times, when we were scouring the Frost Giants from their lands. I have seen it such that when all is well for them, they look forward; when it is bleak and uncertain, they seek comfort in the past."

"They are remarkably resilient…" Kelda speaks softly, her glacial-blues gone distant in memories of time long since past. "I remember too the times of fires and ice, where the idea of building in cemented stone had not yet been conceived. I spent a time with the humans in the northern climes. I was worshipped as a minor goddess and for their kindness, I did as I could to spare them the worst of the cold. Have you ever seen what joy they take in the auroras above?" She comes back to the present, smiling that little smile at Thor. "They become child-like in their glee. Sometimes, I would defy Mother Nature herself in order to reveal them to the villages." She sighs. "I am glad that the Frost Giants are contained as they are. The humans do not deserve what horrors were set upon them those many centuries ago."

"None do," Thor agrees. "The Jotuuns are cruel and capricious. Imagine if they had been victorious those centuries ago. All of this—" he gestures at New York. "Unoccupied land, wild and native. No music, no pretzels. None of that which makes this such a unique and compelling land, even for short-lived creatures like the Midgardians."

"Bah, this is a melancholy line of speculation," Thor grunts, shaking his head. "Let us not ponder the dark echoes of might-have-been. 'tis too fine and sunny a day to speculate such dreary notions. And the company far too fair," he says, flashing a grin at Kelda.

How not to curve her lips in mirrored expressin? Kelda even laughs again, the sound bold and chiming above the mulling of the crowd.

"My liege, you are ever charming. Would that your brother took lessons from you," she teases back lightly. "Still…on the subject of pretzels, did you happen to espy one of the wandering stands during our travels? All this speak of the food has me craving one. I even have the currency of New York by which to pay." Reaching into the pocket of her jacket, she pulls out a wad of mismatched bills, all ranging from $1 up to $10. "I had the staff of the Embassy procure it for me. Why paper, however, I shall never understand. Coins are far more sturdy and less apt to be lost to the wind. You may list convenience as a manner for paper's use, but I argue that coins are just as able to hide in small pouches," she points a finger at Thor to accent her point.

"Aye, it is a strange decision," Thor says, frowning in baffelment at the crumpled bills in Kelda's hands. "They are all the same size, the same color— the markings are the same, as are the shapes. 'tis passing difficult to tell one from the other."

He ignores the way they two of them displace traffic, looking down at the bills with his brow furrowed heavily. "I believe this signifies 'one'. And this is a one, and a naught— ten," he hazards. "I do not know what this serpent represents. Come, let us find a vendor and have him translate the currency of the realm for us," he suggests, moving to one of New York's omnipresent food trucks.

Kelda nods and the two of them approach the food truck. The wide window is open and releases the scent of various fast-food-ish goods: hot dogs, falafel, and in the turn-stall off to one side behind the counter, pretzels hang like golden apples from a metal tree. The warrior-mage eyes them winsomely until the purveyor of the food truck arrives, wiping grease from his hands.

"We would like two pretzels, please," she's quick to say, speaking before he even forms his first word. Paused with towel in-hand, he then nods and goes to grab the first. "Buttered and salted, please," she adds, itching to push over the entire bundle of green paper at him in order to make this process go faster.

The vendor looks down on everyone from his lofty perch in the truck; money is taken, change counted with startling efficiency, and Kelda is returned several bills and some change. He's honest, for what it's worth, though the Asgardians likely couldn't have said if he was or was not.

Thor accepts one of the massive pretzels with one hand, and bites off a double mouthful with hungry enthusiasm. He chews heavily on it, the muscles in his sturdy jaw working over one another as he enjoys the savoury snack.

"As I said, 'tis their greatest gift to the realms," Thor mumbles around a mouthful of baked good. "Would that we could import such knowledge, but our chefs would spark rebellion if it came to pass that mortal recipes were served at the royal table."

Thank the gods that the vendor was honest. It is a rarity and avoids future conflict because few things are more irksome than a dishonest vendor. Kelda nearly talks around her equally-audacious bite of pretzel, but decides against it and dabs at her mouth first before replying,

"Nay, who would dare rebellion if we shared this wonder with the Court? I would have words with whomever did. We could claim it was a lost recipe from Alfheim…?" It seems that the blonde is sincerely considering this approach by her lingering and questioning look at Thor.

"Oh, I mean not real rebellion," Thor tells Kelda, shaking his head. "But 'twould upset the traditionalists, those who feel we have no business trading with Midgard at all," he reminds her. "With regrets, that number includes even my father at times. He views Midgard as a solemn responsibility, not an ally or a peer in any way. Were we to return and tell others of Midgard's growing provenance as a member of the Realms, many would find such news quite disheartening. I know enough of the politics of the court to recognize such measures, if taken, must be subtle and small."

A sound of resigned acceptance escapes around her next mouthful of pretzel. Kelda walks a few more steps before shrugging her shoulders.

"T'will be their loss, if you do not mind me speaking so plainly of the traditionalists and of your father in turn, my liege. They will be denied the comforts of pretzels and of the majestic music we heard earlier. It will have to be our especial pleasure to appreciate instead." It is a sad thing to acknowledge that her snack is almost gone, but there's enough left for another huge bite or three. "Perhaps we could bring back subtle and small pretzels for the Court. They would not be as shocking." Her giggle is tampered down by the act of nomming her pretzel. Omnomnom.

"There are many reasons to return to Midgard," Thor agrees, tearing off another bite of pretzel. "Perhaps the roll of years will temper my enthusiasm for this land," he remarks, eyes going distant. "The burdens of state weigh often on my father's shoulders. For him, it is a question of defending the perpetuity of Asgard against all threats. In that, I can understand his reticence. If we change but a little, we invite more change. How far can Asgard bend before she breaks?"

"But I suppose that is the optimist in me," Thor says. He reaches over with a grin and wipes a smear of butter from the corner of Kelda's mouth with his thumb. "I see it not as tree growing towards two exclusive suns, tearing for dominance. It is more a melody of music; even discordance, however unpleasant at first, can lead to greater harmony as more voices join in."

Kelda's napkin follows the cleansing path of thumbpad and she smiles ever the slightest.

"I had no idea there was the soul of poet to be found in you, my liege. The ladies of the Court must approve muchly of your words in your optimistic state. I admit that I much prefer the optimist in you, my liege, to the version that hares off after the scent of trouble." She pauses and bites delicately at the last bit of her pretzel, never wanting it to end. "It does allow me to indulge in these fine baked goods, after all." This spoken around the giving-in of her patience and the final end to her snack. Much woe!

"An excellent idea, my liege. I will note my preference for this particular…vehicle of foodwares and for those of the traveling kind, specifically of the pretzels. I have tried these hot dogs, but found them odd in taste and texture. I have not, however, tried this…falafel," and she murders the word by pronounciation. "I will have to try it next."

She finds a trash can to toss away her used napkin after quickly licking her fingers clean and wiping them once more. "I do enjoy these outings. Perhaps we will discover another new musical wonder the next we walk these paths. For now, though, I agree — home away from home."

And with that, they continue on their merry way, back to the Embassy, having appreciated the finer arts of food-truck pretzels.

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