(1876-04-29) Arthnhewbryn, Part Two
Arthnhewbryn, Part Two
Summary: Ramius and Myrana rescue villagers from a troublesome bear spirit.
Date: 4/29/2020
Related: http://eternalcrusade.wikidot.com/log:1876-04-28-arthnhewbryn-part-one
NPCs: None
Players:
Ramius  Myrana  

SOME DAYS AGO

Nothing was going very well for the King of Bears, and he very much wished he had someone to comisserate with. It was a rotten night and only getting worse.

Years had gone by since he'd first heard the sounds of Tirth coming again through the door in the mountainside just outside his house, which had been shut and dark for a long long time.

It was a few years after that that he'd decided to go out and look, having gone back to sleep for a while.

He even went down into the village under the light of the moons. It was bigger now, but the old wall was still there and the house where the witch had lived too, and the Hall. He remembered the Hall and ambled to its familiar doors. They'd been built once upon a time to admit him without changing his shape, a clever concession of the old witch there.

Shut and barred! They were never barred before! But there, burned into the lintel… The mark of the Witch-Hunters' brand seared deep into the old old timber.

The King of Bears went to where the first master of the Hall had built a shrine, cementing their friendship. He had many fond memories of the place.

A cracked, EMPTY bowl and a tree let grow right over the carved stone! Even the path was overgrown, highlighting the villager's neglect!

However long it might have been since Tirth was closed off from Faerie, there was no excuse for this! The King of Bears turned his gaze back on the village below, which had grown into a proper little town. Lights in windows, smoke in chimmneys, goats bleating in their pens while the spring snow melted. He could hear families below, and drool ran through his teeth at the smell of cooking in warm kitchens. He remembered the witch's wife, who'd once left a pot of sweet butter outside on All Souls for him, and how the witch had refused to let him come inside their house on nights when the smell of bread almost drove him insane.

How long had it been since they'd even BROUGHT him a sacrifice? Had they even THOUGHT OF HIM??

The King of Bears scratched his face and considered what he should do. The order of things was going to have to be reestablished here in his territory. First, he was going to need to be presentable, in case the forgetful mortals below still had a witch in residence, or worse a priest. Though he had no real sense of how long it had been, he remembered that humans lived only a little while, and these he wouldn't know.

He wandered down to find his old stream. Humans were fussy little fucks about hygiene if he remembered right…

GONE. Nothing but a dry streambed, and one that had been dry for years! He hunted through the trees for it, huffing and blowing, great furry sides crashing though trees and undergrowth. Game fled. A brown bear looked out from its den at him, but did not come out. Morning would come soon. He could smell another stream, but he wanted HIS stream! HOW DARE THEY CHANGE THIS WHILE HE SLEPT?

"What the fuck? The hell is that?" The King of Bears looked out through the trees at the arches of the stone aqueduct reaching between staggered peaks of the mountains, just barely visible in the cloudy distance.

"Why the flaming fuck did they build a bridge there?!" The utter stupidity of building stone bridges between presumably uninhabited mountain peaks astounded even the King of Bears, who was quite aware that he couldn't compete with the greater Noble Spirits. He thought humans were smarter than this, though!

"THAT TEARS IT!!" The King of Bears roared and swung a massive paw through a cedar, sending it crashing down breaking branches and setting a flock of startled birds to squawking flight. Throwing back his head, he roared at the moons, claws gouging deep into the night frosted earth. "I'LL SET THESE HUMANS STRAIGHT, MISTRESS! YOU'LL SEE! "

The Moons sailed on over this promise, making no remark. Not that the King of Bears had bothered to specify which of them he was addressing.

TONIGHT

Myrana comes out from behind the screen in the best she could manage; her warm rose-coloured traveling kirtle is clean and dry and her hair is brushed and freshly braided, all traces of the rough nights in the rain quite vanished. In the firelight the effect is quite pretty; the long tortoiseshell teeth of the gold comb she wears glint like wicked claws as she picks it up and thrusts carelessly into place at the back of her head like it wasn't pronged with four inch teeth. From her traveling satchel came all sorts of surprises, even a sort of little makeup kit and a tiny bottle of spicy icerose attar. Just in case Ramius rummages through it, though, there seems to be several bottles marked with labels. One of them is clearly rat poison. Another is green ink. One is drying powder. Another is salt, and yet another is something that smells like curry powder, and this one is…

This is not how you store things. Poison and finely ground kaffe should not be in the same leather wallet.

"This spell is dry too," she says, lifting her hand to show Ramius the Soul Shield she's painted onto the back of one in the ink that she mixed earlier, having asked him for forge ash. "The iron feels really strange. It's… crawly, like a cobweb."

Outside the moons are risen. They have only to walk out of the Hall and into the village square. Myra fidgets with the bell at her throat and puts her hand finally on the door. Every bit of this plan is trying to stick her feet to the floor, and it shows. She trusts Ramius to protect her without asking. Actually it's made her a little cocky when they're together. His confidence might be rubbing off on her a little, but spirits…

Before she goes out she hesitates, and looks down at herself. There's a small mercy in that she only had the clothes and so on that she left Herensurge with when she heard that Ramius had gone to the battle of Rykers, and she'd left in a rush. If she'd had to prance out there in full regalia, this would hae taken more than a few minutes to prepare. First, they'd try appeasing it politely. If things got too dangerous, or the spirit proved unwilling to return the women, they would have to try and take them back. It would be best to appeal to it peacefully though, and to do that they would need to get its attention.

"You'll be hiding close, right?" She asks, nervous. "This spell will protect me like armor if the theory behind it is, um, correct." Myra's glyph is very simple in design, with the 'Moon' rune that forms the body of the spell is bifurcated by a single zagged stroke. "And if I did it right…"

===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================

Ramius Arran has had a heck of a week. Just a few days ago, he had played a not so insignificant role in beating final ounce of tar out of an ancient vampire's face. Not long after that (and having enough curatives and alcohol shoved into his mouth to intoxicate an elephant) he spent a moonlit midnight hour dancing upon said ancient vampire's death-ash, because of course he did. Why wouldn't he? An ancient evil was slain! And more than that, it was an ancient evil that Ramius really did not like at all! Teleko was a TOTAL DICK.

And now he's here, helping to entrap a bear… god.

Bear god.

This is, in his mind, still not as bad as wrangling a normal bear. You can't talk to normal bears. This is a bear /god/ and that means that there's a chance they can maybe convince it to chill out.

"Yep!" Ramius says from the corner of the room, where he is idly scratching at the new scars carved across his chest. "Don't you worry Myra. I won't let you bear this burden all alone. I wouldn't be able to bear the guilt if you got hurt again!"

"I do like that we're incorporating you getting kidnapped into our plans now, though," he says with a satisfied nod. "Makes many things much easier."
===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
"Hrm." Myra narrows her eyes at him and rolls up her sleeve so it can't mess up the spell on that hand. He's doing it again. The puns. Helping to kill Teleko has put him in high form; If she engages now, it'l be all over. It only encourages him. The other day it was cat puns, and she'd had to start throwing things to get him to stop. She turns around with a swiff! of skirts and lifts the latch. That's one way to motivate her. "Don't…" One last look over her shoulder at the new claw marks and the huge angled scar across his chest. "I'm not so uh, s..ursine… Sure-sine…" A beat. This is why she was so miserable in court; Myra doesn't think up witty things to say on the fly very well. Tavi and Ramius, on the other hand, are murderously good at it.

Myra pulls the door open with an effort and steps out into the moonlight.

Down at the bottom of the step is a pitcher. Myra stops to pick it up and walks down the road and out the gate of the village towards the trees, a tinkling of lightsilver preceeding her into the clear nighttime.
===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================
"Just remember," Ramius says as he accompanies his dearest wife out into the chill of an early spring evening. "If for some reason we get separated, be sure to leave ur sine near the doorway. I'll be after you as soon as I can, okay?"

Sorry Myra. Once Ramius has begun the punstorm, there is no stopping him. It is… an inevitabearity…

He can't follow after her too closely. It would give the game away if the bear-god thought his quarry had some kind of bodyguard. Ramius waits against the doorframe until Myrana gets to the bottom of the steps, then waits a little bit longer until she goes off a fair distance.

…Ramius is not a stealthy man. This is something Myrana knows intimately. His presence, to her keen eyes and ears, is obvious. There he is, hiding halfway behind a bush and giving the 'ok' sign when he thinks she's looking. And again, his scruffy face peering around a tanning rack with a few scraps of waste-leather dangling over his eyes like the world's worst ghillie suit.

It'll all be just fine. Don't you worry, Myrana…!

===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
The sound of lightsilver jingles with Myra's every step, and the soft click and scrape of bracelets on the pitcher in her arms. It's easy to follow her; she doesn't go quickly, and the moonlight glows bright on her white braid as she goes a little ways out of town before stopping, and facing the blackness in the trees ahead where the shadows are knit together too deeply to enter without a lamp.

"Bear god!!" She shouts, and her voice rings like a sailor's off of the cedars and stone. "Don't make me wait!"

Oh well, so much for starting off politely. Maybe Ramius shouldn't have spent all evening teasing her, but hey! She's not scared anymore!

The Bear spirit appears, coming out of the trees. It is… a BEAR. And not just any bear. Its huge, and the hot breath coming from its jaws clouds in the cold Gendiel night as it looms up over the snowy-haired witch and rises up on its hind legs with a chuffing cough.

"Here I am!" It booms, rippling the brandy in the jug and making Myra shut her eyes quickly against the hot, reeking smell of its breath washing down on the moonlit path before the town wall.

From where Ramius is hidden he can just see something shimmering behind the bear. It looks… actually, it looks like light creeping around the edges of a door. It waters the eyes to try to focus on it, like a mirage. But its there, just a few strides from where the bear spirit emerged from the trees outside the clearcut ring.

Its hard to read a bear's expression, but as the spirit leans over Myra it's easy to tell what it's doing; she holds still as it smells the air around her. Smelling the spell? It snorts and shakes its head, rubbing its nose like it got a snootful of bees.

"Is that an offering, little witch? Are you here to apologize?" It asks, shaking its head again before settling down.

"Yes," Myra curtseys, careful not to spill the pitcher. "This is for you from the villagers. Can you smell it? Yikes!" She steps back with a slosh as the bear comes crashing down back onto all fours, bringing its head closer and forcing her to get out of the way or be directly under its head. A place she very much does not want to be. But she rallies, and twists around almost stumbling with the heavy pitcher, but keeps it from the bear's questing nose and puts her hand over the top. "This is heavy and- Where are the village women?" The bear spirit just steps forward. Myra walks backwards towards the town, utterly failing to keep her ground. But the spirit is huge, and she doesn't want to find out how solid it is. Could it crush her underfoot by accident?

"They're safe at my house," says the Bear and steps over the little Armaz and opens up its mouth. "I'll take you there too. Is that… is… it's brandy! Ah! I remember brandy!"

Myra is too quick though and with a pirouette moves quickly under its reeking flank and back into Ramius view, arms wrapped fiercely around the jug, standing next to it now and out of the way of its head and worse, it's disturbing bear tongue that she did NOT expect to look like that! Surely normal bears don't have freaky long tongues?? How does anyone hunt these demon creatures?!

Its at that moment that she catches sight of Ramius though and catches herself. Can't let her nerves get the best of her!

"Please let them come home!" Myra is panting; the jug is heavy and there's no way on Tirth she's letting that horrifying monster touch her. One's breath!

"Are you the new witch?" The bear rumbles, irritated. "Rude witches are… understandable, but not ideal. I'll take you to see them. Hold still."

"No thank you, bring them here!"

"That is not the proper way to talk to spirits. Give me that brandy at least."

"I'll trade it for seeing that my people are safe."

"Your people?"

===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================
"OUR PEOPLE!"

Ramius could just sneak through the portal that appears. That would be smart thing to do. But Ramius Arran, being the exact kind of person who cannot possibly resist shouting a killer one-liner at a dramatic moment, does not do the smart thing. Instead, he leaps out from behind a perfectly ordinary barber's pole that was in no way wide enough to conceal his presence. "Bear God of these lands, you face Ramius Arran, Zmeyarch of Gendiel and heir to the blood of the great hero Arran! And that!" Ramius points, mid-run, at Myrana… As he also continues to rant mid-run. Somehow he has the lung capacity and breathing rhythm to accomplish both. This kind of manic energy could potentially be a result of recently imbibing a large quantity of energizing herbal mixtures to counteract the exhausting side-effects of fleshknit, but Myra knows the truth.

This is just how Ramius gets when he's given the opportunity to fight the likes of bear gods.

"That!" Ramius continues, "Little snowball marshmallow is my wife, the Zmeya of Gendiel! You owe us an explanation, bear-god! And also a bevy of missing women!!"

He says.

As he's making a bee-line for the bear-god's door.

Ramius is nothing if not a skilled multitasker.

===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
Myra just stares. She just stares. As Ramius charges across the forest path, vaulting a fallen tree and all while grinning like a maniac. She almost drops the jug. Why did he shout instead of using the time she was buying to get in through the door before them?! And…what did he just say?!! "WHAT did you call me?!" But this is easily swallowed up by the bear's astonished roar as the Zmeyarch crashes through a bush breaking branches and scattering a rabbit and BLIP! vanishes from Tirth entirely through the magical doorway.

"TRESSPASSER!" It bellows, and whirls, huge claws tearing gouges in the earth and churning the path like sprayed sand, away from the village wall and back towards the trees. Before Myra can do so much as flinch t grabs her and the pitcher as a unit in its mouth and barrels after Ramius. The painted Soul Shield glyph burns a sulpher flame through the bear god's teeth and gums and licks upwards over the bear's curled lips; the teeth don't pierce and the horrid barbed tongue doesn't scrape through the spell's barrier.

Going through the doorway has a very peculiar feeling. Weightlessness, and a hot rush of pins and needles with the passage of some invisible barrier as one steps from Tirth and into… someplace else. Faerie, if some stories are to be believed. The place, that is. But rather than going into the side of a hill or vanishing into a circle of mushrooms, Ramius (followed quickly by the Bear) runs into the side of some trees and a thicket of berries, and with that weird feeling comes out the other side into a place that looks exactly the same as the woods he just left.

But here the village is gone, and nearby is an enormous cave that he doesn't remember being there. Berries grow all around it, and the opening has been fitted with nice wooden walls and windows.

Between this world, which one can guess to be Faerie if anything makes sense at all, and the world of Tirth, the first thing one likely notices is the colour. Somehow it feels saturated. Oversaturated. The air is thick with life in a way it simply isn't in Tirth; bees whizz by, and all manner of insects. The moons are brighter, their colours clearer… Something is OFF. The ground is covered with fog, and the trees are much taller. The plants are bigger, wilder, the earth smells richer, the air pleasantly warm. The lamps hanging outside the cave are pretty, but largely inneccessary as the night is filled with the brilliant light of the moons through the trees.

Outside the house, collecting clothes from a line, is a very old woman. She's dressed warmly and cleanly, and there's a brightly woven scarf keeping the hair from her face with a soot-smudged apron pinned over her dress. A big basket is at her feet and she's laying folded clothes inside, all of them human-sized and poignantly normal in the humming faerie nighttime. She sees Ramius and her jaw drops; It's one of the village women. Ramius Arran might not be recognizeable to every backwoods hillsman in Gendiel, but the gold torc flashing on his neck and the simple fact that here is a man, another HUMAN, barreling into the bear god's domain is enough to drop the linens from her hands and start towards him in disbelief.

There are also a number of bears here, and they look up too. They are, to all appearances, normal bears, varying in size and colour. One of them is trying to use a washboard not far from the old woman. But it is a bear, so this just ends up looking cute and confused and a little menacing with a washboard in its lap. Another carries wood for the wash fire in its arms, wobbling in a two-legged walk in from the trees. They all stop what they're doing when the old woman starts to head towards Ramius.

===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================
Ramius flashes Myrana a grin that seems to say 'you heard me!!' shortly before going *blip* and vanishing out of this world and into another entirely.

The experience is… Unique. It's certainly not the kind of thing that Ramius thinks he can ever get used to. It feels like being tossed high into the air, except with time frozen at the moment one reaches the zenith of their leap. Butterflies flap wildly in his chest and belly, as a small army of bees tickle at every inch of skin like his pores were tiny, nectar-dripping flowers. It lasts only for a moment, but it feels like an eternity. Still, Ramius soon emerges into a place much like the one he'd left a moment ago. But…

Different?

The trees are primal and pristine, growing tall and mighty and strong in a way that those of his home could never hope to contest. The very air seems to vibrate with primal, living energy, and his mind whirls with anxiety and mischievious glee in equal measure— the distinct feeling one has when trespassing into somewhere one isn't supposed to be.

But more importantly, in this place, in this cave rich with berries and life, there are…

Bears.

And an old lady.

They are doing laundry. All of them.

"Greetings," Ramius says to the bears (and granny), "I am here to rescue my people. Honored elder, I presume you are also a victim of our mutual, furry-faced acquaintance. Would you happen to know where the other women have disappeared to? I'd like to get them out of here sooner rather than later if at all possible."

===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
Another one is coming out of the door of the cave house.

The bears doing laundry drop their attempts and cluster around Ramius, crowding him with bear bodies and giving bear grunts and chuffs. They are all different sizes and shades of brown and , and the biggest of them stands on its hind legs, and with rather pert assertiveness bears down on Ramius and tries to knock him down with a bugle.

"That's right! Thank the One," granny shoves her way through the bears. "Get down! Get off him, Aedel, for goodness sakes! How did you get here? AEDEL!"

It's at this moment that Aedel the bear knocks Ramius backwards over another bear, and he is down in a big group of bears. This is probably rude if they are spirit bears. One of them trods on his leg and gets off of it in a hurry with a startled chuff.

The grandmother's feet are right by Ramius' face, as it happens, but so is a fuzzy bear ass, and its not as cute as I'm making it sound. None of them are in the same state as the bear spirit, but they are still… bears.

But that likely takes second priority to the all too physical shudder of the ground as the Bear Spirit returns to his house, and the bears all cluster together, hiding Ramius.

He lumbers by and drops Myrana at the door, which opens magically. The empty pitcher is still in her arms, and miraculously she seems no worse for wear, though she's dishevveled and pissed looking from being in a spirit's mouth. The glyph on her hand glows angry as a brand, and there's electricity blackening the ground under her feet.

"You don't know how to cook do you?" The bear is saying as it sort of pokes her in through the door with one huge claw over her yowl of fury. "Go in there while I go find where your husband is hiding."

He turns around and the bears hiding Ramius bristle and roar angrily, stamping the ground and almost stamping him too. He is saved from trampling by the bear who is sitting on him. Kind of. Well at least he's not being crushed REPEATEDLY.

"Did any of you see where the man went?"

"No!" Granny shouts to be heard. "You're going to kill him, aren't you? What happened to the law of hospitality?"

"I will if I can," says the bear spirit, unperturbed. "He wasn't invited, but he ran through the door anyway. That is not polite." There's a muffled crash and an explanation I've put the witch in the house. She is-" Something else smashes. "-upset."

There's a banging from inside the house almost to illustrate the point… Then silence. Whatever Myra's up to in there, it can't be good.

===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
"Have you picked your challenge yet?" The bear spirit asks granny, looming over her. Notably, he keeps his distance, as if there were an invisible wall around the old woman who stands defiant and hard-eyed amongst the bears. "All the others did."

They roustle her around a little, and a heavily clawed blondish brown bear accidentally trods right on Ramius' kidney, scoring through the tough weave of his tunic and scratching him, though that same foot jerks up and resettles and theres an apologetic from somewhere in the sea of fuzzy bellies and legs.

"No! I haven't decided yet, bear god."

"I don't mind if you wait," says the King of Bears (as the big carved stone outside his house would suggest he'd like to be called). "But you will have to decide eventually."

And since its almost certain that its Granny, with her opposable thumbs and lifeskills, was the one that set up the laundry lines of women's clothes, and made the bread that one of the bears was eating sliced with butter, this might not come as a surprise.

The pitcher comes smashing out of the cave's window.

===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================
"Ahahaha," Ramius laughs as he's suddenly swarmed by a sloth of bears. "Oh my gosh, you're all so fuzzy aren't you, hahahaha!" This may have been a boyhood dream of his at one point. Who wouldn't love being snuggled by so many big fluffy animals!? Someone who hadn't quite realized how bad bears smelled, clearly. "Okay, hold on," Ramius protests as this begins to get quite out of hand. "I can't scratch all of your ears at once, I only have two hand-augh!"

Ramius! Is flipped! He falls onto his butt, and is promptly pinned there by… A butt. A bear butt. Oh gosh it is hard to breathe. What is happening here, grandmother, Ramius' eyes seem to ask. It's not like he can /talk/ right now with a /BEAR ASS/ sitting on him. Bears are heavy!!

This might be a problem, Ramius thinks, as the Bear God makes his reappearance.

Ramius never thought that he'd have a reason to complain about being surrounded by bear bottoms.

===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
Myrana climbs out, shaking glass from her skirts and picking it from her hood and her braid. The Bear spirit watches as she combs her fingers through her bangs and strides over the grass, looking at the Grandmother (who just sort of stares at the sparking fizzing witch) and the pile of bears huddled together. Just taking it in as she makes her way over, and walks over to face the Bear spirit again like it didn't just try to lock her in its house.

"I don't know what's going on here," she says, vibrating with barely controlled anger that's put her voice up into that sort of casual airy pitch that usually preceedes getting out the black powder and the matches. "But having just now been IN your MOUTH, so! I NO LONGER CARE!" Lightning arcs off of the little Armaz and blows the washpan across the clearing with a bang.

"SO WE'RE GONNA FIGHT ABOUT IT!" She points at the bear. She hasn't spotted Ramius yet. "Turn into a man so we can fight about it! It has to be fair!"

"You want to fight me?" The bear spirit is flabberghasted, and sounds a little horrified. "Why?"

"Miss! Don't!" Granny tries to push through the bears, but they're very solid. "You can't afford to lose a contest with him. They all did, and look at them now!"

"Who!"

"Them!"

Myra looks at the bears again… then staring, covers her mouth with a hand.

"There's no need to be so upset," The Bear spirit lifts its paws up and rises to its hind feet again. "I promised not to hurt them. Being a bear is much better than being a human."

Myra turns back around to see the Bear Spirit shrinking. It diminishes and changes, becoming… soemthing like a man. A huge barrel-belly, bulging with muscles, stout hairy arms and legs, thick clawed fingers… and a bear head. Just a bear head.

Myra stares. The fact that he's naked as a jaybird does not even register to her, or the fact that he's still much too big to be a human. That bear head is all she can see, shaggy and ridiculous atop a beefy manbody, with rounded bear ears and dark bear nose. The fur sort of trails out somewhere halfway down his belly to connect with the rather distinctly bearish hair growing from the thankfully obscured underbelly. It's a whole thing. Myra looks like she can't decide whether this is better or worse than if it had turned into the classical ideal of a man with too perfect features like she sort of assumed it would given their experiences with spirits and gods in the past.

It is very difficult to talk to someone with a bear head. It is giving her a headache behind her eye.

"See?" He grins, and flexes his huge hands wide open, walking towards her with an easy gait. It'd be a mistake to assume that barrel gut is all fat. "I can be fair! Fight me, and if I win… does that make me the Zmeyarch?" The Bear Spirit scratches his face, grinning. "Don't worry, I won't kill you."

"No." Myra says, planting her feet wide and clapping once with a spak of electricity. "If I win I get to skin you."

"You get to- wait, what?-"

"Please get off him, ladies!" She calls over her shoulder, standing between the bears and the spirit. "Ramius!"

"What??"

The bear spirit sees Ramius' foot peeking out from under his bear wives too late as they get out of the way, sensing their chance. Ramius is released from bear ass hell.

===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================
"The title of Zmeyarch…" Ramius Arran, rising to his feet, grins like a devil that's just flown straight out from bear ass hell. "…Cannot be won by defeating the Zmeya, God of Bears." His weapon emerges from its sheath with a sound that rings truer in this place than in any other. Argetlahm's blade is not as it once was— its fuller has been stripped bare. Where the bloodgroove was once naught but black steel, it is now brilliant lightsilver etched with ancient runes. "I, Ramius Arran, hereby challenge you…!!"

"To a /poetry contest./"

Ramius waits for a dramatically appropriate length of time for the shock to set in, before continuing with a MIGHTY GRIN.

"The rules are simple. We each compose a poem insulting the other, and whoever's pen cuts deepest shall be the winner! Our judges shall be the old woman and my wife, as neither are yet subjects of your dominion. They shall decide whose rhymes are the best of all time…!"

===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
Myrana's claws open up from the fighting ready fists they were in and she tries, with hooking fingers, to recover from this. BUT! BUT! "Urgh…" It is a blow to her very core. She cools down all at once and the spitting electric light drains out of her with a deflating whine. "Ramius, I was," she reaches over and grabs his sleeve, sagging almost unto DEATH, hanging onto his sleeve and braid touching the ground. "I was all geared up to fight."

"Poetry? That is…" The Bear grunts, also settling back onto his heels. The sight of that Sidhe Steel put ice down his back, especially after thinking he was just about to trounce the witch and add to his little herd of lady bears. But does he really want to fight now?? He looks between the witch and Ramius, weighing his options. Two challenges are laid before him before the terms of the first were properly laid out.

"Why has he got a bear head on the top, and just a… a man body on the bottom?" Myra mutters into Ramius' shoulder. "Why do we get these ones?" Before shaking her head and getting her shit together. Together enough to suck in a big breath and to toss her head back a little, setting her necklace to jingle and a little fizzle of nerves over her clothes. She pulls up her hood and turns on a heel to stand next to Ramius, arms crossed sulkily. "Isn't it supposed to be reversed? Like the goat satyrs in the hills of Evellio that threw rocks down at Darius' knights and-"

"That is traditionally allowed!!" the Bear finally just talks over grumbling Myra, raisng his voice a touch more than necessary. "YES! We shall battle in wits, son-of-Arran! Are you ready to judge us, witch? Grandmother?"

"I'm judging you right now," says Myra, crossing her arms and scowling.

"Excellent!" The bear spirit clenches his fists. "I'LL EVEN GO FIRST!"

There's a long pause. Apparantly he wasn't prepared for this bullshit. His hands twitch and his face scrunches up as he casts his gaze up to the canopy of whispering too-bright branches and… and…!! SHIT! The bear needs a second to think!! "I… I need a slate," he grumbles, rubbing his snout.

===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================
Despite the Bear God's boasts, no rhymes are forthcoming. Ramius' expression slowly degenerates into progressively more bored yawns, until finally he seems to get tired of it.

And then something /terrible/ happens.

This is the story of how Ramius Arran murdered a man(bear).

"Was that it?" Ramius asks, rolling his eyes like a petulent teenager. And then he /begins./ "'Cause I don't hear any applause. Could it be maybe that I've snatched defeat from victory's jaws? Hah! Your lines are as dull as your claws! Brace yourself, brute of a god, 'cause when I'm done there won't be enough gauze." Oh no. He's gesticulating now, not just with his hands but with his sword too.

"I guess a bear is a bear, no matter its divinity. Wandering the woods, shitting behind a tree. You'll never be a king, you oafish excuse for a faerie. Look at these women, whose beauty you've stripped. Each and every one you captured, kidnapped and enraptured. Trapped in a cage that you would have be their crypt. But what kind of man uses trickery, what hearts can be won with brute force and gross misery!? I am your better in every way, behold my rugged features, my biceps that slay" Ramius… pops out of his tunic. It's not a hard task at this point, having been thoroughly ruined by an avalanche of bears. He just flexes hard enough and the buttons go *pop* and the shredded fabric goes *rrrrip*"all the ladies in the court and half the men gay. But that's just the beginning my ursine friend, let me tell you of the deeds of this king of the mountain men! My legend is writ not in the tapestry of stars, but upon my skin in a constellation of scars!"

Ramius bounces his pecs. Because of course he does. WHY WOULDN'T HE AT THIS POINT!? There are myriad scars there, and he points to each and every one in series like he some kind of morbid flesh-timeline.

"The beasts I have slain are many and fierce, though you are by far the least of my fears. Vampires and serpents, demons and beasts, I even once danced in the court of the bees! Just last week I slayed a monster most foul, slaughtered cannibals and horrors from Hell's deepest bowel. There came from a bronze pyramid the blood god of old, whose diabolical power struck terror into heroes most bold. A vampire ancient named Teleko was he, wielding black lightning, black blade and contemptuous glee. His ire was terrible, his body unbreakable, power undeniable, resolve unshakable! His sword cut the freshest wound 'cross my chest, so how is it I still stand to hold you to test? Elementary, because Teleko's dead, turned straight to ash, killed by a band of heroes who won that fateful clash. I might not have landed the finishing blow, but damned if I didn't help bring the beast low. His magic my blade divided at the last crucial moment, turning the tide and ending his eternal torment. So now do you see, you cantankerous bear? You had no chance from the very beginning, just a bag of hot air! A fleabitten sack of fur, not even fit to be worn as a skin! I don't know how you even thought you'd win— you've picked a fight with Ramius Arran," Ramius says, holding his sword's pommel to his face like it were a microphone. He fixes the bear-god with a stare, cracks a wicked little smirk, and delivers the finishing blow. "The best that's ever been!"

The sword drops.

That's right.

Ramius just DROPPED THE MIC.

===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
Myrana stands with her arms crossed, reacting to nothing, staring straight ahead with catlike malice as Ramius throws up his arms and begins the execution of one Mr Bear-nips.

This is not the first time she's seen this. Flyting, or the Insult Game. It's popular in Gendiel, which unsurprisingly has a strong tradition of warrior poets thanks to the generally gregarious nature of the people and the rough nature of their lives in the north. Most people enjoy it, and its usually done in jest. Sometimes it settles disputes, arguements.

The Armaz don't… tend to play the insult game.

Baron Vargas never succeeded in cracking old Adriono, who outright refused to play at all no matter how many times Vargas tried to get him drunk, or to trick him, or any number of things according to Unterfjell gossips of a certain age. None of them are surprised that the Armaz Zmeya has refused all attempts to cajole her into joining in. Several of her Thornesmen, on the other hand, are bringing a certain sailor's touch to things, and it's only making things worse.

Still glaring deadpan at the bear spirit, Myra can only reflect once again that it's a small mercy that Tavi is not here right now. The Soul Shield burning on the back of her hand throws a pink glow on the white fluff of her hair peeking out of the hood, which she has tugged quite grumpily back into place in objection. It narrows the field of her vision, but Ramius' antics keep him in the corner of her eye as she stands solidly next to her husband, despite the very real likelihood that nobody will ever, ever, ever believe her about any of this bullshit right here.

And his tunic just rips off down the back, blowing out arm gussets and shredding the threadbare and forge-singed linen.

Myra's expression doesn't change, but she does go red in the face. And she leans, very slightly, to the right, trying not to see— oh for fuck's sake! She puts a hand over her face, ears heating up.

"Merciful One," she breathes, pinching the bridge of her nose.

The Sidhe Steel sword drops point first into the ground and sticks upright with a SHHUNK!, wobbling a little and tapping her on the shoulder with its hilt. She drops her hand, elbow still tucked to her chest and her other arm crossed to support it. Like: Why? Why am I like this? Why couldn't I have picked a normal murderous criminal sociopath? Couldn't I have been a better criminal myself? A little more heartless? Would I not be looking at a bunch of much too naked nonsense right now? Could it have ALL BEEN DIFFERENT?

Privvy to none of this, the Bear Spirit staggers back, jaw dropping open and arms spread wide in shock.

"WH…WHAT!!" He thunders, sputtering. "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT??"

Gathered all alongside in observation, the villagers applaud, roaring and clapping huge claws together.

Myrana is forced to question whether she's drunk right now. The brandy mostly went down the Bear's gullet, but-

===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================
When you're king of a nation of happy, punchy drunks, you learn how to spar with your words so you don't end up having to spar with your sword. Or your chair. Or your broken bottle of firewine. "That…" Ramius says amidst a FURRY FLURRY of applause. He whips his sword out of the ground and slings it smugly over his shoulders, "…Was the sound of me beating your bear ass like a drum."

===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================

The King of Bears roars, and losing his temper throws his head back. He is so loud that the trees around the cave house shake and the women turned to bears huddle down around the unchanged grandmother, who covers her head and shelters with them. The sound batters at Ramius and Myrana like a physical thing as he rears forward and SLAMS his hands into the ground, dropping onto all fours like a tower of muscle and hair and yellowed teeth. The fur on the back of his shoulders hackles up, and while Myrana is still shorter than him like this as spittle flies at them, Ramius is tall enough to see that, yes… he has a bear tail over an upscaled human ass.

Maybe river spirits are just good looking.

"No!"

Myra's hand glows like a screaming brand as her fingers spread and she steps between the Bear Spirit and Ramius and lets a blinding bolt of lightning leap up from her white-hot core and break over the bear's face. He falls back with a wail, throwing his hands over the burning hair on his face. He shakes off the current and retreats back several steps.

Smoke rises off the bear spirit as he reverts to his normal shape, growing and changing in a fume of magic. Soon it towers over them, and shakes itself with a groan.

"I submit! Gods damn you!" The bear roars, rubbing its face with a paw. "Fucking witch!"

"Mind your manners!" Myra points up at the bear, still humming and sparking with magic. "You wanted a contest, and he picked embarrassing rhymes!"

===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================
The King of Bears thunders like the force of nature that it is. Ramius stares into its face, unflinching. "I know the stories, Bear God," Ramius fearlessly replies. "You can't hurt me. Not without suffering some terrible fate yourself. Violating the rules of a challenge with violence is the worst kind of infraction…!"

And then Myrana zaps him on the nose, and it's all good.

"Hrmph! Well, that works too," Ramius nods and gently pats at Myrana's hooded head. "Well then, Bear God! If you accept defeat, then you will hear my terms! Since we did not agree to any previously, I believe that means Iiiii can come up with whatever I like! Ha-ha!"

(This is probably not how it works)

"Firstly," Ramius raises a finger, "You must return these ladies to human form and allow them to go home to the village. You are also forbidden from further kidnapping, because that is /rude/ and I cannot guarantee that the next person who comes to get them won't just murder you for your skin. Second! You are to resume your duties as protector-spirit of this land and people. In return for these conditions, I will instruct the people to restore your shrine and the practice of providing offerings of food and drink, which they shall give as their circumstances allow. If there is a bad hunting season one year, I do not want to hear that you've gone back on your word."

"Do we have an agreement?"
===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
There's a hairy 'pop' behind Ramius.

"Oh!"

And another. A village woman can be heard to yelp. Soon another, and another, as one by one and then as a group the villagers are returned to their natural shapes.

"Don't look please!" Someone asks in a rushed sounding voice. There's a sound of scrabbling for the laundry they were doing minutes ago. Granny helps them quickly, and comforts each as they get themselves together, hugging one another and exclaiming in relief to be back in human form. Spurning clothes, one of the women picks up the washboard and hurls it with terrifying accuracy at the bear spirit. It bounces off on the corner and bounces on a stone, 10/10.

"Yes," the bear growls, still rubbing his scorched (and now with one rising goose-egg) face. "I only wanted somebody to keep me company and-"

"NOBODY CARES YOU BEAR FUCK"

Myrana crosses her arms again and allows herself a satisfied smile at the jeering reaction of the village women to the spirit's attempt for sympathy. She even looks up as Ramius pats her head and gives him a wink, all 'snowball' comments forgiven.

Taking out her anger on something usually does the trick. FIND A BEAR TO DATE YOU, YOU CREEP! another one shouts as they all put their clothes on (being turned into bears while still in their clothes being among the complaints being hurled at the shocked and increasingly shamefaced spirit, who growls and backs up under the torrent, ears flattened back and regret radiating off of him. TAKE A BATH FOR GOODNESS SAKES!

"I think we're done here, Ram." Myra reaches out to take his hand. "Lets escort these women back home. Then…" She puffs herself up. "I want to take a bath. Two baths. Two baths at once. And…" she looks at him, remembering. "Uh, you need a shirt."

===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================
"No I don't," Ramius says, wisely. His gaze is long and thoughtful, fixed upon a horizon only /he/ can see. "My muscles… It is not for their sake that I cover them up. I am just… too pretty to behold."

He flexes again, because Ramius is shirtless right now and taking advantage of the opportunity it presents.

===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
"Nevermind," Myrana turns away, deadpan. "I'm marrying the bear."

===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================
"No you're not," Ramius says, unphased. "You're just looking away because you don't want me to see you blush."

===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
"I don't blush," says Myra with perfect assurance. Assurance because Ramius is behind her and her very nice hood is ever so comfortable with its warm caped shoulders, and it sits just right over her warm kirtle, and well if its hot in this strange place that's not her fault! She didn't dress for magical springtime warmth! "It's not dignified."

===========================<* Ramius has posed *>============================
The back of Myra's hood is suddenly surrounded on both sides by firm pectorals.

She feels them bounce muscularly.

"My, Myrana, do you have a fever?" Ramius asks, innocently, "You seem /terribly/ warm."

===========================<* Myrana has posed *>============================
"Hey!" Myrana elbows Ramius on principal, ducking away and bursting into a laugh despite herself. The hood falls back onto her shoulders as she just shakes her head and jogs for the cold dark opening in the waving faerie trees.

Ahead of them the women have already gone, still hurling insults back at the spirit. The King of Bears offers no comment but goes into his cave and shuts the door behind him to sulk.

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