1965-09-18 - Stumbling on Surtrschild
Summary: Surtrschild and Fjorskar have a chance run in and find a strange equilibrium
Related: None
Theme Song: None
halgrim wither 

The abandoned tunnels were not safe just because the trains did not run. All number of things crawled through the darkness. Occasionally there was an abrupt squeak that stopped, but down here? There wasn't the sound of much moving, but there was someone moving with the scrape of boots by one of the closed platforms.

Just around a turn in the tunnel comes the sound of something big and heavy landing among the debris. Boxes crumple, old ties crunch and clank, and rats scurry. A few flee past the platform, squeaking as they go. There's no glow of light from a manhole cover standing open, so whatever it is has probably come in from a side tunnel or access shaft. Silence follows in the wake of its landing, then it begins to makes its way towards the sound of the boots, slow and steady.

In the dimness was a rather unimpressive looking figure. Human, early 20's huddled up on the edge of the platform clinging rocks. The movement of someone else, or something, made that stop. He looked, cautious and curious, but all in all smelled too clean, and yet with some odd waft of ash.

Wither says, "Hello?" Not the brightest move maybe, but the Southern twang was evident, "someone there?"

Someone is definitely there, and when Wither speaks, the sound of its movement pauses, resumes at that same pace. A yellow glow, faint though easily discernible in the tunnel's near darkness, approaches the turn in the tunnel. The source rounds the turn: brilliant yellow eyes, shining like ghastly candles in the gloom. Even though they don't fully illuminate the thing moving towards him, he can make out a wolfish face, gleaming, metallic teeth, and a pair of huge ram's horns curling back from its forehead. The rest of it isn't as easy to see at this distance; the way the light from its eyes scatters behind it suggests a large, shifting mantle of some kind, and something beneath the fur on its shoulders glints in a pearly, diamond-like pattern.

Wither didn't smell like much, but he was afraid. Mutant Town nearby or no, Kevin Ford knew he was very, very alone, and that was a very, very dangerous thing to be. "H-hi?" Cautiously he pulled his sleeves back to the elbow. If there was going to be a problem he was determined to make it as short lived as possible. He swallowed and said clear as he could, "I don't have any f-food on me if y'all are l-looking fer any."

The creature continues moving towards him, but her pace slows. Presently he can see the rest of her: she is, indeed, quite big, probably ten feet all told, though she's moving on all fours and thus seems longer than tall. If not for all the rest she might be a large werewolf, and the rest is quite a lot: Kevin can now see that the mantle is a huge array of oily black feathers, and the sheen under the dark, ash gray fur is a coat of bronze-pearl scales covering the beast's body from elbows to knees. The claws on her hands and feet have the same sheen her teeth do.

She stops when Kevin bares his arms, eyes narrowed, and stays some several feet away. Even with those long arms, she can't reach him from here. She tilts her head, contemplating him. "Your smell," she says, voice guttural and harsh from being forced out of a throat made for snarling. "Is, strange." Her eyes flick down and up in a once over, her nose works. "Like, you are." She pauses, searching for the right word in this useless language. "Consumed."

Wither pulled his other knee up watching carefully. His heart-rate quickened but the assessment made him look away for a moment and then back. Relax,relax… know where to run, Kev. The platform doesn't go up, the tunnel goes back and… it'll catch up. Okay it's an animal right? Sit still, man. He talked himself up and hugged his knee answering, "Well… usually Ah'm the hungry one. Maybe. Ah' dunno." Finally he asked tentative, "Who… are you?"

The beast snorts at him, a sign that, if she doesn't entirely know what he means, at least respects something of what he's saying. She hunkers down on her heels, wrists draped over her knees. Her huge talons shimmer in the light from her eyes. "We are the heart which is torn." Unlike her comment on his smell, this sounds like a memorized phrasing, and not something she's come up with on the spot. The mantle of feathers stirs as she shifts her shoulders. "Fjorskar." It's barely a name, ground out in a language that's not appropriate to saying it. She huffs a breath. "What…are you."

Wither watched and tried to understand as best as he could. He offerd in a sympathetic tone, "You homesick too?" Not an accusion and maybe more than a little projecting from the gangly 21 year old. He bit the inside of his cheek but picked up his tone, not entirely confident, but his daddy raised him with manners which, well, he suppose counted even now, "Ah'm Kevin. They, um, they call me Wither." The smile was warm, but bitter as he sourly muttered, "I a become death…" He looked over curious once more and apologized, "Sorry it's been a long couple days. I wish I was holdin out, Ah don' have any food an…. well Ah' promise y'all don't wanna eat me."

Fjorskar doesn't have a human's face to watch emotions play over, but they express themselves in other ways: his lip writhes, her feathers stir, flattening and flaring, her ears pin back on her head. 'Homesick' is a word she can recognize and relate to quite keenly, if not, perhaps, in the way Kevin means it. "Yes. I am…we are. Far from our place." Her nose twitches. "You are…wrong, to eat. Too much like. The host. And, we can hunt." She gestures at the ceiling. "In the Green Heart. If we must. There are prey, there."

Kevin listened. The words were not exactly a comfort. On one hand he wasn't on the menu. That was good! On the other hand there was something or someone too like him. That was bad. Possibly very bad. "Well," he began, "Ah'm awfully sorry t' hear about your home. Uhhh," He paused not wanting to ask but needing the answer, "W-what's the host?" Cookie for Kevin. He asked the scary question.

Fjorskar's eyes narrow. She weighs what to say; he smells like a Surtrschild, which means he's dangerous, and he's also young and small in the nature of their pups. There are things he could do or say which could have consequences for her, and her host, that he wouldn't be able to forsee. Of course, they seem content to leave their whelps wandering all over the wide world with no guidance; how long can they expect that to work, really, with some of them so powerful? Truly humanity is destined to annihilate itself.

She takes the large, gleaming stone hanging around her neck in one hand and holds it up. "Host bears. The heart. When we are this shape, it is flesh, made spirit." She taps the stone with one long, gleaming claw for emphasis. She points lets the amulet drop, points at Kevin. "The host is human. Though not…as you are."

It really is isn't it? Doomed for annihilation. Ask Kev about this on a bad day. He worked at processing that; human beneath it all. THe rest was entirely lost on him but he knew caution and possibly pity when he saw it. He couldn't blame them much. He had enough fear, pity, and hate to last him the better part of a lifetime over the last nine months. Quietly he asked, almost scared, "Is they, I mean your host… they okay?"

For a long time Fjorskar watches Kevin, breathes slow and even. Unlike before, there's no suggestion of reactions or emotions in her body language as she contemplates the question; she's utterly still save for the blinking of her eyes. She could be mistaken for a feature of the tunnel and not a living being had Kevin not seen her in motion before now.

There's only one response which doesn't taste a lie, but to give it is to admit her involvement in things to someone who isn't her pack-brother, and that's risky. But what use is there in lying to a Surtrschild in the dark of the human city's tunnels? None, really. He would know she's lying—how could he not? The host might be capable of dissemblance, but she isn't. (For all that she's Raven, Muninn and Huginn's tricks aren't with her).

Fjorskar blows out a long breath, looks away, out into the tunnel. The light of her eyes illuminates a huge scar across her chest that reached from shoulder to lower rib cage. "No."

Wither watched; child and aloe, but learning fast to be resourceful, self reliant, and very careful. It wasn't fun, but it's what he had to do. He tried to seek out Doug and failed. Sam had moved on. Things were starting to look up but they weren't there. Still something in him wasn't ready to let go of who he was two years ago.

Not entirely.

Green eyes watched curiously until his expression softened and he asked, "Someone tryin to hurt em? We can make it stop. I know where some gauze and that is. If you need?"

Fjorskar makes a sound somewhere between a bark and a cough. A laugh, if a chimeric wolf-beast can be said to laugh, but a humorless one. It echoes in the tunnel. "Not, that manner…of injury." She faces Kevin again. "And why. Are you…here. Not," she points above. "With, the rest…of your. People." Her nose works. "The ones who. Are different."

Wither furrowed his brow trying to decipher the sound. When it was more existential than immediately physical his shoulders relaxed and he quietly said, "oh." He thought about it and nodded offering an effort of optimism, "ell, it's a start innit?" His eyes flinched and he shrugged, "Mah people're gone. Maybe they out there but it soundin like Sammy got himself a fancy job. Doug's… gone. A lot of my other friends… well they turned out not t'be what I thought they was. People got hurt so… they said I had t'go witht hese people. Didn' like me. Here? Eh. No one gets hurt. Don' get rained on."

Fjorskar mulls over the the way humans make their social hierarchies so ridiculously and needlessly complex at the expense of those most vulnerable. She summarizes her thoughts on this with a grunt. "Here, there are plenty. Of ways. To be…hurt. Sometimes those above. Come below." She flashes her teeth in a suggestion of how she deals with that. Silence as she reconsiders what he's said. "Did they. Cage. You."

|ROLL| Wither +rolls 1d20 for: 18

Wither fell quiet looking down. His emotions on this topic has been burned low. He was… resigned and bitter and broen on it. His expression was pinched but finally nodded. Green eyes looking up held emotion louder than his voice, "For a long while. Put me in a cage. Tryin to tell the world I'm the reason…" He took a deep breath and looked up because it was away. "regular folk should hunt people like me." He sounded like a Guthrie but sure didn't smell like one. "All sorts of people get mad at me for it too. Get t' hear every day how I should be put down like a mutt from their people. From mine too. For gettin them all in trouble."

The beast's eyes flare, brilliant and hateful, in response to what Kevin says. She growls, the sound deep and resonant in the dark of the tunnel, making the air shudder. The feathers of her mantle stand on end, shimmering in the light of her eyes. "*Always*," she barks, furious. She spins around and slashes at the tunnel wall, leaving a ragged gouge in the concrete. "They hunt, they *imprison*, what that can't *control*." She sucks in a breath, seems about to do something, makes herself stop. She sags a moment, panting, exhausted by her own anger.

Bitterly, quietly, she snarls, "They destroy us. Because. We will not. Be. What they want."

Wither flinched! Sure anything that touched him would inevitably turn to ash and dust but that didn't mean he was impervious to harm, and oddly it took him twice as long to heal because finding inorganic medical supplies was not easy. No, sir, not one bit. "Gah!" He took a deep breath. His legs dropped over the edge of the platform and the anger seemed to pick at that emotional scab a bit. "Yeah well Ah tried t'be what they wan' me t' be but Ah can't. If Ah could walk away from bein' 'WIther' and just be Kevin Ford Ah would i a heartbeat but Ah can't switch it off any more than regular folk can't switch it on. It ain't fair but they put me in a box an' blame me for it."

"You. *We*. Should not have to *try*," Fjorskar snarls. "For over. A thousand years. The cage — darkness, *silence*. Because I wouldn't. Be anything, but what I was." She glares at the wall like she might claw it up a few more times just for good measure. She doesn't, though; instead, she sinks down on her heels, rests her wrists on her knees. "*Can* not, *will* not — doesn't, matter. We are, what, we were born." Her lip writhes, displaying cruel, gleaming teeth. "Or made. They won't accept. Their part in our…pain." She sighs. "The cycle is endless."

Wither set his jaw and his expression went thoughtful while slowly his cheeks got wet in this striped. He couldn't disagree, but he didn't want her to be right. When did want ever pan out for him though. "Ah don't think you're wrong. Ah wish ya weren't but… yeah. Is…" He took a deep breath to clear his head, hand reachign out to teh concrete of the platform to run his fingers over it lightly. "That what they did to your person too, huh?"

In almost a whisper, Fjorskar says, "To me." She shuts her eyes, which darkens the tunnel considerably. After all this time, to be released and find everything worse and nothing different…no, being right is in no way a joy. She chuffs in the darkness. "What I did, to him was…little, better." She opens her eyes and regards Kevin. A warning shines in them. "They would do it, to him. If they knew. And…worse."

Wither lifted a handhand, but immediately curled his fingers back. Nope. Don't do it, Kev. "I… yeah. They're… they life callin their fear 'faith' an justice an things. They sure ain' actin charitable. Or maybe we wrong an' we really are meant t'be damned, I dunno. Maybe…Ah'm… Ah'm bad at this." He paused and took a deep breath and offered in shared cosolation, "But it ai't right t'make you go on feelin poorly about it. Maybe not me either, but, eh maybe."

Fjorskar holds Kevin's gaze a few more seconds, looks away. "No. We are, not wrong. To wish to survive." She growls voicelessly, a sound of comiseration. "We are not. To blame. For their…inability…to tolerate." She flicks an ear. "They forsake us. But Jord, does not." She reaches down, and even though the detritus on the floor of the tunnel isn't really dirt, she caresses it as though it were. "That's how we know. We have a right, to live. To be."

Wither looked to the Great Bird and tightened his jaw. He… might have argument in this but he might agree too. he looked down and took a great long while asking finally, "What… what'd they do?" He paused and gestured pulling himself towards something to focus on, "T'him I mean? Or you. Why he ain't alright, neighbor?"

Again with trying to decide how much, or how little, to tell this one who is so different and so similar. Fjorskar's mantle shifts and rustles. "To me? …they *made* me." She growls a moment. "Sundered us for greed. Left us bleeding and torn. And we were angry, and showed them our anger." She shakes, a violent and sudden movement, but doesn't get up. "So they locked us, in the cage. Cut out our tongue."

She shifts and is quiet for a time. Presently, she continues, "When the host, found me. There was…pain, and blood. *Death*." Another growl. "My doing. Not the host's. But…they," she points above, "don't, know that. So he is what, they think…they should fear."

Wither drew one leg up letting the other one hang. That struck a chord with him putting some vim back in teh kid. "Yeah well… tell him Ah get gettin blamed fer things not ya fault. Ain't right but it's how they do. Why he hurt right now? Is it cause of what they done?" There… was that small spark of war in him, faint, but hurt and tired.

"Isolation. Too much, taken, for too little, given. And also." Fjorskar grumbles deep in her chest. "There is pain…for, what *I*, have done." She gets up, walks a handful of steps along the tunnel, unable to sit still. She's careful not to encroach on Kevin's space in the manner of one creature which has no desire to be touched respecting that same need in another. "And you." She turns to him, curious in her own turn. "What, do they blame…you, for."

Wither had to give the bird sympathy for that. "Ah hear ya. Ah don't like hurtin my own people either." He wasn't a fan of space weirdly but on the flip side it made him feel less cagy over all. He was safe. They were safe. That was a plus. The sound of the question bounced off the dry brick and stung. There was a weird relatability he found amd maybe it was for lack of hostility or an abundance of understanding he shared. After a moment his hand unwound from his leg, Sneakers crunched on gravel as he waded over and found a growth of moss down there. He extended his fingers and just two reached out to brush over the tunnel growth. Immediatly it flashed from green to brorn-black, and in teh next moment a shoosh from a rain of ash fell from teh wall as the entire matrix of it turned to dust disintegrating. All of it leaving a very bare spot on teh brick that it used to occupy. "Death. They blame me for my father, some people that tried to grab me when I told em leave me be… an' a bunch of folk Ah ain't ever met."

Fjorskar draws a little closer as Kevin moves to the moss, positioning herself to have a better view of the proceedings. Her ears flatten and her nose works as the disintegration begins. Once it's done, she reaches up and runs a clawed hand over the now-empty place on the tunnel wall, careful to avoid Kevin himself. She rumbles, deep and low. "Decay," she says, kneels down and reaches out with a long arm to push the ash around. "Surtrschild." She watches Kevin as he speaks, ears forward, and blows out a breath. "You could not help. What you were. And they…did not. Understand. Or, listen." One ear skews out in a wordless request for confirmation.

Wither closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "People like… talk about what we are. No two people are really alike. I saw that when I went… and got held with other people like me that are classified 'problem' and 'threat' housed in these, Ah guess, cages ya called it. And the people say they wanna help? Can't. It's great they wanna help but can they? Can they really? I don't think they can fix what they don't understand and it's…a problem. A whole different creature." anger though fixed nothing at present. Hands recoiled to put into his pockets. Down the tunnels the sound shifted like… water starting to move nearby. "Starting to rain. Look if you want help. Ask. Ah dunno what Ah can do but if Ah can't help my situation, Ah can see what we can do about yours. Some things we weren't meant to handle alone for a reaon."

Fjorskar grumbles, stands again, licks her muzzle. "There are those. Who help us. It is, a thousand years. To mend. It will be…slow. And, difficult." She turns her head so she can look at him with one eye, raven-like. "But. You are. Gracious, to offer. When, you are the one. Who needs. Help." Of course, what can she possibly offer. To keep a section of the tunnel safe for him? Tell the other denizens of the tunnels to leave him be? Yet she watches him, waiting to see what he says to that.

Wither set his jaw and really, really wanted to say no. However, as it sat, he had a job, but without school, and without really his one strong connection outside of that he was finding himself short up. He shrugged and answered plain, "Aww help Ah don't mind. It's the only way most of us ever gonna work anything out. You got ideas for some answers? Heck Ah'm all ears."

"If, this place." Fjorskar nods her heavy head at the tunnel around them. "Is…safe, for you. Then. I will tell, the others. To, give you. Space. And…keep it. Clear. Of." She points above, considers. "Host, may. Bring…things. If he, remembers." No promises there, it seems. She sinks down to amble away down the tunnel, offer made.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License