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Bulls On Parade
[Image: 145031_SBNP3KMQHB56D7XHSAXA2P68IHLWSR_07_H190958_L.jpg]
Achilles, son of Priam

Achilles looked at Tammuz with a challenging smirk. "It's you this time,"
he said to his friend, as he held his mug in his hand. The pretty silver haired bar maid stood next to him with the skin ready to refill. The girl next to Tammuz, out of place raven dark hair, had the same. Their eyes constantly flicked to the small pile of silver on the table. Whoever won would give a share to his girl.

The sounds of dicing and raucous laughter filled the tavern, though a few were betting on their own game. In the foreign accents of these northern lands, the one girl counted "One. Two. Three. GO!" Immediately, Achilles began.


Tammuz immediately threw out "Two."


On up the numbers they raced, as fast as possible. They were getting close to 21. Wait. Who was gonna be the one to avoid saying it? This was already their third game and his head was a bit foggy from the mead and whatever else these people had fortified it with. Him. It was him.

Tammuz yelled.

he repeated just as quickly.

Tammuz heard the number and immediately responded "21!!!"
instead of 19, like he should have. Laughter erupted from them both and Achilles thankfully put his mug down and then watched as the girl filled Tammuz's to the brim and then him down it all as fast as possible. When he was finished, he burped long and loud and the whole tavern exploded with laughter. They didn't often get visitors from the south, but Achilles and his friends had been liberal with their coin and the buying of drinks. Drinking was the great equalizer.

Enki had said it best. Men need alcohol. It's the first thing every civilization makes along with weapons and shelters to enjoy prostitutes. Course that was a joke. But that was Enki. Always with the jokes.

Anyway, Tammuz's eyes swam. If Achilles had had three, Tammuz was up by almost double that. He was having fun. Prometheus and Coyote should be returning soon. He eyed the blued eyed beauty next to Tammuz- curse the man for a face that was almost as pretty as a girl's- as she commiserated with him over his loss. Her loss. This had been the final round. Just because she liked him didn't also mean she wasn't working him. Women could do both.

Achilles smiled and sat up to scoop the winnings towards him. He split off a few for another round for everyone, and then a few for the girl next to him, to whom he winked. "You're my luck now. Don't run off on me.'
She laughed and tapped his nose. He sat back into the chair thinking as Tammuz settled his girl. She wouldn't be disappointed long. His head was warm despite the chill of these lands. He might stay, one of these days. Might but probably wouldn't. Home called to him. The war. The War that was his life. The tattoo of the Iasan's tooth- the Dragon's tooth- was visible on his forearm. A remembrance. His father had given it to him. His father.

He would be going home. He would see his mother. But it was time to bring the war to the Gods.

The door to the tavern opened, the cold gust of wind sweeping into the room, causing the flames to flicker. He looked up, hoping it was Coyote and Prometheus. That they had succeeded.
[Image: 34j56ph.jpg]
Prometheus, Son of Iapetus

It isn't like they really trusted me to begin with,
Prometheus thought as he walked unnoticed through the city streets. Jötunheimr was called the land of the giants, but all Prometheus could see to show for it was a penchant for obnoxiously tall doors and roofs. It would have been more accurate to call it the land of unnecessary cold. The middle season was barely half way gone and frost already coated the buildings and cobblestones. Even so, chariots still blazed down the streets with reckless abandon. The northmen certainly lacked any sense of self preservation.

Just twenty years ago, Prometheus betrayed everyone he'd ever known. He did it because it was the right thing to do, at the time. The Titans had grown fat and corrupt, living out lives of obscenity while the people under their rule starved and died - if they weren't snatched up as pawns in some horrific game. But now the wars were winding down, the last holdouts being squeezed into pudding. They were rallying around Cronus now, and Prometheus had spent long enough with his former family to know how that would end. But Pallas was in the wind, and he was a dangerous man.

With peace on the horizon, however, everything comes into perspective. It wasn't what Prometheus thought he'd seen. The Olympian Gods were no better than the Titans they replaced. It was all about power, and those with none were being ground into dust under foot. So, for a second time, Prometheus betrayed those to whom he had pledged his life. And this, he hoped, was the last time that would ever be necessary. Democracy was just a theory, barely even whispered about in the darkest corners of academia. If Prometheus had his way it would be a reality.

Prometheus suppressed a smirk and clutched the tablet closer under his coat. Filed away in lattices of the Power was all the information they needed. Now it was up to Coyote to crack it. Only the edge of the sun still grasped the horizon, bathing the sky in red. The first misting of an aurora was starting to come into view with the dying of the light.

The shadier sorts would be coming out into the air, soon, but Prometheus was unafraid. In what world could a simple human threaten a Titan? And that's the problem, isn't it?
Prometheus thought. Without weapons, without a leader, what chance did the humans have?

Prometheus rounded a street corner and the meeting place came into view. The Icy Nipple was a tavern like many others in Jötunheimr, with a bawdy name and serving women wearing barely a thread. They were lucky the Gods of the north were civic-minded enough to set standing flows of warmth throughout the city's structures. The tavern itself was nestled in a small cross street, its sign with two snow capped peaks hanging out over the path. <em><strong>Now that's just lazy,</strong></em>
Prometheus thought as he glanced up.

The scene inside was exactly as expected. A blonde haired serving girl who certainly fit the image the tavern was cultivating walked up to take his coat. Prometheus had to give the northerners credit - their women definitely beat out the offerings in Olympia. He sent her on her way with a smile and a pat on the bottom. Then he locked eyes with Achilles, and with a nod towards the back room, it was time to set their plans in motion. Whatever those were going to be.

"It turns out the Olympians don't suspect anything yet,"
Prometheus said. They were standing in a back room normally reserved for - well, Prometheus wasn't planning on touching any of the cushions. The stench of cheap perfume was overpowering. He pulled the small tablet out of his pocket. "I have what we're after. Now let's hope Coyote is actually as good as he likes to say."

Achilles smiled. Prometheus could smell the alcohol. "Yeah. I hope your buddy is all he says."
If Prometheus didn't remember what it was like at that age, drunk off of newfound power, he'd have found the optimism in that smile sickening.

Prometheus looked at Achilles for a moment, tapping the tablet against his hand before replacing it in his pocket. "You know once we start this, there's no going back."
The fact was, if Achilles wanted he could turn around and blend into the world. He hadn't done enough to warrant a long hunt, and the world was big enough for him to have a normal life. "They'll never stop hounding you, if we lose."
Twice a traitor, and Prometheus knew the price he would eventually pay.

Achilles ran his hand through his hair. "My path was set a long time ago. I may be a god, but I'm not a god."
He smiled again, continuing, "Let's do this."

Prometheus smirked. "Neither am I. They used to call me a Titan, but I don't think anyone's too sure anymore."
He sighed, and almost leaned against a chair before catching himself. Good way to catch the rot, that. "You have to sober up, Achilles. No more drinks. I can't just wash it away with these wardings the northern Gods have set."

Achilles laughed. "Just waiting, pops. And making sure no one wonders what you all are up to."
The words were a little slurred. "So let me drink in peace."

"I'm not asking, Achilles,"
A fire appeared in Prometheus's eyes. "I'm telling you. You are going to be a part of making some very important decisions when Coyote finally crawls in here. You're useless if you can't think right."
Pops? Prometheus's mouth narrowed. He wasn't that old.

Achilles laughed and smirked at Prometheus. "Don't worry about me. I was just trying to make sure no one asked any questions about you. When it comes down to it, you don't need to worry."
He smiled again. Why were children so hard to deal with? "Come on, man. When have I let you down?"

"Just because you haven't doesn't mean you -"
Prometheus cut the sentence short. He heard footprints down the hall.

Edited by Nick Trano, Oct 17 2016, 12:45 AM.
[Image: cd30b328-aa54-4ec5-9b59-5e692f6a999c_zpsxwspssoc.jpg]
Coyote, outcast of Shipololo

Some had whispered that Coyote was a bastard son of Wakonda, the god-King who had built the City of Mist in the Heavens, accessible by the common folk only through the Hanging Road to the Sky. They whispered that was the only reason he'd been tolerated in the their home for so long. His mother had died in childbirth and with no family or clan support he was left dependent on the scraps of others. The Gift had bloomed very early on within him, however, strong enough for even Wakonda to take notice. It did nothing for the rumors when Wakonda announced to the grand Kiva that he would bear the expense of Coyote's training. Wakonda's son Hare bore an immense jealousy toward him after that.

Even though Coyote gained access to instruction in the Way of the Weaves, it didn't mean his teachers would pay him much mind. Often he was left to observe rather than practice directly. So he became very good at watching in patience. Watching, and waiting. Especially when he walked the ways of the Dream. All secrets could become known to him, and they became like currency to him, to barter against or to stockpile for another time.

And what a wicked weave his fellow gods made! An incestuous, selfish, petty brew, as they plotted against each other, formed and broke alliances, almost on a whim! Shipololo was hardly the most extravagant Hold, especially when put up against the distant halls like Olympus or Valhalla. But even here, people wanted for nothing. The gods lived among opulence and beauty, cleanliness and plenty, wrought by the power at their fingertips. They had risen up from the ashy floor of the past and triumphed over the natural world. For what reason except perhaps sheer boredom at having achieved transcendence from the surface was there to squabble and fight?

And then the dreams started. First he didn't understand them to be anything more than nightmares. But then things began to come to pass, and he began to see more clearly that this way of life was not going to remain forever. Indeed, the gods were doomed to tear themselves apart through sheer selfishness if they remained on this course. So he turned to Wakonda and began to help the god-King keep order through his abilities. The man put him in charge of his spy network and Coyote quickly became both the god-King's greatest asset and the most despised god in Shipololo. Especially when he took note of their treatment of the surface dwellers.

Then came the day Wakonda died in bed. Coyote didn't believe it was natural, but he had no proof. Hare ascended to seize control of the city and swiftly moved to banish Coyote. He was hauled before the grand Kiva and one by one they voted to Mortalize him. With no one to defend him, it seemed likely he would be cut off from the Source and abandoned on the surface. Not everyone believed he was deserving of this fate, however. Nokomis, the dowager mother of Wakonda, helped him escape and flee to the surface in the dead of night.

It didn't take long on the surface for Coyote to learn the true meaning of poverty, and for him to realize just how much he really did have growing up in Shipololo. Survival on the surface was a much different game than survival on the heavens. There were places where nightmarish monsters or beasts of nature could kill you, or where mortal vassals of the gods ruled with an iron fist, happy to keep producing the goods the gods demanded in exchange for their leavings and their pledge to keep in power. Vast swaths of ground were warded against rival god factions and turned uninhabitable. And if the common people managed to survive all of that, they had to spend their days toiling just to produce enough food to feed their families.

With a mere fraction of the tools at the Gods' disposal they could alleviate this suffering, yet they chose not to. And then there were the gods who made the mortals their playthings. They were the ones who sickened Coyote the most. They were also the reasons he found a very cool welcome. Word was spread fast by the other gods that Coyote had been cast out and that other gods would not protect him. Coyote was run out of the first town he came to once it was revealed who he was. They hated and mistrusted him, and he didn't blame them much for it.

No home below, no home above. Coyote searched from hold to hold to find a new place to lay his head at night. He kept his ability carefully concealed through the use of inverted weaves, and he wore many disguises. His once-fine clothes, even woven with Keepings, began to show their age.

And the dreams continued. He would wake in horror with what he saw. The more powerful the gods became, the worse the downfall would be, and the more the people would suffer. It became clear the only way to save the world was if it were allowed to be destroyed. They had cast him out and rejected him for trying to do better for others. But one day things would be different.

Which brought Coyote to this place, in the land of giants. Ashes of pine, it was cold and dreary. He wasn't even sure how to pronounce the town's name. At his side he kept his stun-stick and a simple belt knife, left carefully concealed behind an inverted weave. The name of the place matched the signs. Twin peaks of ice towering above a bushy plain. They looked like they could use some warming up.

Way in the back, he saw his new acquaintance Prometheus, chatting with a youthful blonde male with big muscles. The man was a known betrayer of the gods, exiled by his own kind for turning on them. Not much different from Coyote, he supposed. He didn't recognize the young man.

"Hello again friend, I hope you left some of that drink for me,"
Coyote said as he approached the table. He rubbed his chilled hands together. "My veins are feeling as icy as those twin peaks on the sign outside. Let me get warmed up and we'll see what you've got there. A dream I had says that it's important."
[Image: 145031_SBNP3KMQHB56D7XHSAXA2P68IHLWSR_07_H190958_L.jpg]
Achilles, son of Priam

Prometheus looked so serious. He did it well. Of course, they all had a role to play. Achilles and Enki were to seem stupid and fun-loving, Prometheus the long suffering uncle.

He looked over and raised an eyebrow. Tammuz was gone. And so was the dark-haired beauty. Well, he couldn't blame him, not really. She was far to pretty to ignore. And if it was part of their ruse...He laughed to himself. Tammuz always putting the team first. That would be the excuse he used.

In any event, he had to play the dolt a little longer. Prometheus' friend had arrived. To him, he said, "You have the right idea, friend. I am Achilles."
To Prometheus, he added, "You need a drink,"
He waved over the serving girl. Brunhilda was it? He couldn't be sure. The drinks were strong. Maybe he'd gone a bit overboard in his ruse. Where did 'pops' come from? "Dearie, please be a doll and get my friends whatever it is I'm having. Mead was it?"

She laughed and gave a wink through long silver lashes. "Not just mead. You wanted the special. I made sure they put a good dollop of korn in it." What was korn?

The drinks arrived and they went back to their table in the corner. The room had returned to normal and no one's attention was on them. He put his drink down without taking another swig. He did need to keep his whits. "So, did you find anything?"

He didn't know this Coyote. From across the ocean. Despite having Traveling, it was a place he'd never gone. The gods in each area were territorial. And some had objects that detected channelers even if they didn't hold the power. It made sense. The gods in general were callous and capricious. But also paranoid. They knew they had enemies.

Prometheus had angered the Titans. At least the Olympians hadn't learned he'd turned on them too. He was as solid as they came. After his father and brother had died, well, he'd been burning with anger and desire for revenge. He hadn't acted on it. He knew how his father felt. But the anger and guilt hung over him. Prometheus had provided much needed counsel. He owed the man.

And if he said this Coyote was trust-worthy, he was. He couldn't help but smile darkly. At last they had a lead. Their people needed weapons to even things against the gods. And they had discovered that weapons from the south were being transported here. They had no wish to start a war with another pantheon. But they might find where they were coming from.

It was time for mankind- led by the Drakonadon- to fight back.

Edited by Connor Kent, Oct 19 2016, 12:28 AM.

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