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Continued from: Beggars (Market district)

They both had errands and agreed to meet up for their respective needs. Grym wasn’t the kind of girl that went shopping with another girl, for car parts or shoes. She procured the necessary piece that she found online, and negotiating a good percentage off the top price too. Which meant she had enough cash to front a night out.

The place she recommended was a basement bar off Pushkin Square, Pod Mukhoi, which was Russian slang for tipsy. Off a back alley there was a set of concrete, narrow stairs leading to a rackety door. The neon sign above was broken, such that the P was dark, leading the name to look more like Od Mukhoi.

On Thursday nights the place was busier, mostly with locals, but a tourist or two wasn’t unheard of. Grym pushed the door open, but the sun was still up and the bar was mostly empty.

An older woman well past her prime was leaning against a wall, broom crooked in her elbow while she tapped away at a Wallet in her hand. She wore a leopard print top with a bulge of fat squished out the sides where it had ridden up above her hips. Her hair was pulled back, a mix of old black dye and unfinished roots. Her legs were bare below a mini skirt, and she wore black knee-boots.

She glanced up when the door opened, looking annoyed by the early customers.
‡‡ GRYM ‡‡
Zephyr didn't really have anything to do, so she wandered around the city until the appointed time. Or at least to give Grym enough time to do her thing. She wouldn't have minded hanging around, but the other woman didn't seem comfortable with Zef standing around. Which was fine with her, a little more exercise was always good. Specially before stopping in for a drink.

It wasn't quite happy hour yet, and it was Thursday, but the bar Grym had chosen was open and while it was empty when she pulled the door open. Well not completely empty Grym was already there, and the woman in leopard print was staring her down with a glare that said she was unhappy. and when she walked in that glare included Zef too. "Seems we have the whole place to our selves." Zef joked as she walked past Grym and took a seat at the bar. There was an old man sitting at the far end of the bar, who had to be a regular. "Mind if we join you at this hour?" Zef said to the man.

She looked back at her new friend. "Or would you prefer a booth?" Zef stood up and smiled. "A table would probably be better." It was probably better.
As they moved toward the bar, the old fart squat at the other end looked long in their direction. Grym had to assume it was because he was twenty years past the sheer possibility of nailing anyone half as hot as either of them. However, Grym, being the suspicious bitch that she was, moved careful and studious. She didn’t like dark corners filled with shadowy characters.

The tables were a better option than the vulnerability of an open bar, but since Zephyr offered, she pointed out a booth. “If you don’t mind?” she asked, but before waiting for an answer, she scoot into a corner booth with a good view of the room, entrances and exits. With an apologetic tip of the lips, she added a quick explanation. “Old habit, you know how it is,” she said.
‡‡ GRYM ‡‡
Zephyr chuckled. "I don't mind at all." She slid in next to Grym. The seats were chosen with care.

The waitress came over and Zephyr ordered "I'll take a scotch on the rocks." She waited for Grym to order and the waitress to leave and return with their drinks.

"How much do you know about the beginnings of the Remnant?"
Grym propped herself against the corner, one arm draped along the edge of the seat, the other resting on the table. She was comfortable and open, but her posture was ready with a tension that never seemed to really depart. When their orders were taken, she asked for a beer. Somewhat familiar with the establishment's stock brands, she selected a cheap German hefeweizen, bottled.

While they waited, Zef started out with the questions. "Shooting straight to the point, huh?" she smirked. After a minute, her brow lowered (along with the volume of her voice), and she answered with a long, drawn out sigh. "Just enough to remember the name, Remnant, but remnant of what? I don't give a fuck. Why do you ask? Are you one of the librarians or something I've heard about?" She would be disappointed if that were so. Besides, it would make Grym the grunt street-jock and her 'date' for the night, a big, boring nerd.
‡‡ GRYM ‡‡
Zephyr laughed then sipped her drink. "To the point, maybe, but you asked for the story of my ink, and to understand that I needed to know where to start. I'm no librarian, my brother might be considered such. I am a keeper of stories told from generation to generation, fight the monsters in them and preserve the traditions as they were handed down."

Zephyr pulled the sleeve of her left arm up and tape the image of the four winds tattood on her wrist. "At present I am the last of a very long line of Greek hunters hailing from Atalanta herself -- huntress of myth and legend. Rumored to have been born and discarded, raised by bears and found by hunters who raised her to be the huntress she was." Zephyr reached behind her and patted the small of her back on the right side. "The story begins here and ends here." She tapped her wrist where the four winds ended. "I will tell my tale to my daughter and she will tell it to hers and on down the line."

Zephyr raised the sleeve on the other arm and showed the ink, "This side represents my kills." Zef tapped the four slashes along her arm. "My first hunt. My first mark. My father killed the dreyken." Around the scar held icons of each kill after the mar. Wolf heads for wolfkin, torn skin like had happened to her for dreyken, skull and cross bones for godlings, the fewest of them that marked her skin.
At first, Grym could only blink. Her mouth was parted slightly like someone in disbelief. She’d heard about people like Zephyr, big fancy great important families with blood-born duty to serve the Atharim. She’d never thought she’d sit at the same table as one, but the significance of everything Zephyr stood for was not lost to her.

Grym finally swirled her drink in her hand and took a swig. At least it gave her lips something to do besides gape. “I guess I’m sharing a table with some sort of celebrity, then.” She raised the bottle, tipping it toward the other woman. “I guess I don’t know what to say other than ‘Impressive as fuck’.” She chuckled.

After a moment of thinking, she sighed. “My question is why. Why put up with all that bullshit of being responsible for thousands of years of duty? Why not leave it all behind and just go live your life?”
‡‡ GRYM ‡‡
It was an honest question, and she didn't expect anyone to truly understand. Zef smiled, "When I was a child I thought about it. But that was before I saw the danger of hidden world. And the return of the old ones makes remembering and making others remember why we are is important."

Zef took a long swallow of her drink and laughed, "And the Ascendnacy is only the beginning, imagine a world where we follow others like him. Where men and women become slaves to the things they can do. That's what we fight for. The pyramids in Egypt weren't built by man, but by gods on the backs of men and their power."

She sighed, "But the truth of it is, this is my life. I've known nothing else. It was all my father ever knew." Zef leaned in, "And to be honest I like the hunt too much to give it up."
“I know what you mean about the hunt,” she said with a curl of a smile closing around the bottle as she drank. “You can still hunt but leave behind this destiny bullshit and be your own woman. Like me,” she added coyly.

When she name-dropped Ascendancy, Grym tensed, actively searching the room like the man may manifest right then and there. “Careful,” she hissed. “Their ears are everywhere. This place is clean, but I’m still alive because I trust nobody. Actually-“ she cut herself off, eyeballing Zephyr with a suspicious study. “Maybe I shouldn’t trust you,” she added, but the accusation was a tease.
‡‡ GRYM ‡‡
Paranoia ran deep in the Atharim. It wasn't like the Ascendancy was going to strike them down dead in the middle of the bar like the gods of old were thought to do. Just men. And by the time the whispered words of two women made it back to the ears of the Ascendancy Zef knew they'd both be hidden among the mundane and no one would be the wiser. That was if it even made it back to his ears. Their own eyes and ears were everywhere, even amongst the Kremlin's own people.

But the tease was taken with a smile. "Maybe you shouldn't." Zef replied with a wink. "There are traitors and gods among us. Maybe I should leash one of them." The latter as said idly, but it it sparked her own thoughts. A trained hunter with the power of the gods under my control. That sounded diabolical. But why there were reasons not to do that. To keep a god alive could mean her own death. But one sworn to the cause already? Under her control.

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