2019-06-03 - The Great Game


With all the bits in place, Illyana seeks out Siffror

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Jun 3 08:19:48 2019
Location: The Hall of Bone and Ebony

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Theme Song




The Hall of Bone and Ebony is the palace and fortress of the Splinter Lord known as Sifror the Lifeless. It rises above a plane of pale green grass and bleached bone trees. The main room is a long walkway with a vaulted ceiling full two hundred feet high and almost gothic in it's construction. Columns flank the central walkway and lead up to a tiered set of rising platforms upon which sits a massive throne. Everything in this place is washed out. Even the solid construction of the building seems ghostly by it's color palate. The torches and braziers all host ghostly blue, heatless flames. Even the sunlight filtering through the windows seems wan and pallid.

Atop the throne sits Siffror the Lifeless, red eyed, covered in grey fur. His slightly muzzled face is half hidden in shadows cast by the massive pillars. There is not a single sound in the hall.

This is the domain of the lifeless. This is the stronghold of a Splinter Lord who rules over his realm with unquestioned authority.

A flare of golden light pierces the washed out radiance of the hall and Siffror looks up, disturbed from his meditations and deliberations. It fades to reveal a blonde woman, a muscular man with a collar and an dark haired woman with a similar prominently displayed collar. The splinter lord shifts ever so slightly on his throne.

"Who dares?" He rumbles.

A circle of stone juts up from the stepping disk that stays open a few inches below the surface that the trio stands on. Carved into the rock is an elaborate magical Circle of protection that burns with purple flame. Illyana warned the others not to step beyond the circle, or else they were at Sifror's mercy.

The ruler of Limbo took that power that Koa had pulled from Darque, and used it to tune her own magical signature with and it turns her usual silver-flames-with-black-shadows deep purple and blue. It crawls over the pair with her, anchored to the collars she locked around their throats so she wouldn't have to cast anything on *them*. The blonde is careful, so careful, of how she uses her magic to try to avoid putting others on the path to damnation. Even if she'd enjoy the company.

"Mighty Siffror! I bid you greetings. I am Darque." She most certainly is *not*, but Siffror isn't human. He's unto a god, and telling the difference between one human and the next is just too much work unless you deal with them regularly. The blonde's hair is caught up in a French twist, and she wears black hose with red boots, tunic with a voluminous cloak. She gives a sly smile to the Splinter Lord. "I've come to bargain."

At my feet.

Those had been Illyana's words to Keiko some time ago when they'd hatched this harebrained scheme. And that is just where the tattooed peruvian is, kneeling on the floor at the Limbo Queens side. Her head is cast down, eyes watching the floor - almost. She's managed to turn her eyes up to watch the other Splinter Lord.

She's been dressed in a tank top that displays the ink on her arms and torso. The signature marks of just what, and whose, she is.

Koa is behind and slightly to the left of Illyana, and a few feet from Keiko. Sigils are glowing above his bare arms. He's using the fitted, sleeveless shirt left over from the club. Not the leather pants though. Jeans and boots. He's full to bursting on the magical front. So much so that it's got his eyes wide and wild. He's still there but… well he'd told people before that Beast-Koa is an ass and stronger when he's full of magic.

That is very much true.

Siffror rises, ponderously. It's like watching an enormous furry bronze statue sit up. There's a sense of momentum to even his slightest movements.

"Sorcerer." He rumbles and his voice shakes dust from the ceiling which floats down around them.

"Servant of Plokta. And your… pet servant of Plokta." Koa is looked over but dismissed. Keiko, though, is very, very much of interest.

"You are bold to enter my presence unannounced and uninvited. What bargain could be so important that it risks our very essence to journey here? What need so dire that you would forsake your master… and bring me a gift…" That means Keiko. A gift? Possibly not in the way Siffror is thinking right now…

The being slowly comes down the dais toward them, each step echoing in the hall.

Illyana Rasputina sets her hand on Keiko's head. A few of her fingers are decorated in rings and finger caps which comb through the Peruvian's hair. "I'm announcing myself, aren't I?" Her tone is cocky, but not outright rude or challenging. "And if I waited to be invited well, you'd miss out on my offer."

The blonde waits for Siffror to start down towards them before she goes on. "It's come to my attention that 'my Lord' Plokta has been interfering with your agenda, and that you might be willing to pay for the chance to stop that." She doesn't contradict that Keiko's the gift. But neither does she confirm it.

The tank top covers the brand on Keiko's chest and as long as the peruvian doesn't lose her temper, it shouldn't radiate too much power. From the outside, Keiko looks calm - it's something she's had to do on a number of occassions previously. Not face a Splinter Lord in his own domain, to be sure, but face the unknown and her own … mortality.

When Illyana sets her hand on the darker womans head, she'll feel the faintest of trembles and then they're gone. The word 'gift' is not lost on her but she knows the risk - she might not leave here. Alive or Dead. That's been an acceptable risk.

Not necessarily by herself.

There's the faintest change to Siffror's face and he stops short of the circle, ten or twelve feet away. He might be smiling, slightly but it's hard to say. "You're very quiet, gift. Tell me, do you have enough wits left about you to know what is being said? Or are you simply a good pet?"

Beings like Siffror do not generally understand relationships like humans do. Much like in Limbo there is the master and the servant. And that's really it. Keiko will know this dynamic. Illyana will as well. And they'll know that while the offer has the big guy intrigued they're being tested.

"Or is he the gift? He's full of life, I can see it. Full to bursting. You know what happens to life here, do yo not?"

Koa sets his jaw but doesn't answer as Siffror actually crouches so he can get a better look at Illyana and Keiko.

"You're marked, aren't you Gift. Plokta's earthly servants have had their way with you. Mmm. Well. Only some of it, perhaps."

There's a short pause and his head turns up ponderously. "Darque. Yes, you are correct. His servants and mine have been clashing. He's sought to thwart me and for that I owe him a debt of pain. Tell me. What is it you are offering. Tasty as these morsels would be, they will not aid me against your master if we spill their life here. So what are you offering?" That's to Illyana.

"What can you do for me?" That's to Keiko.

"Ahhh, I'm sorry lord Siffror but while I might be persuaded to let you taste them, I did not come to give you my pets. I'm afraid I still need them." How hard was it for Illyana to apologize without choking on the word? While she's playing the part of a very powerful necromancer, she usually considers herself superior to someone she'll argue to be a peer of. But no splinter lord is a peer in another's domain. That's just foolishness.

Illyana's hand in Keiko's hair tightens painfully, dragging the brunette's head back to expose her throat. "I've made them a matched set, bonded them so I could make you this offer." That might be news to Illyana's two 'pets'. Illyana's hold goes from pulling Keiko's head back to shoving her forward to prostrate herself on the floor, putting her back on display. "You see, they started the spell, but left it incomplete. They didn't close the loop and it still tastes of Plokta." And thereby a sympathetic link.

Keiko risks a glance up as Siffror draws near, but only a quick one before dropping her eyes again. She won't speak. She was told not to speak unless she was told to - that's probably for the best given she can still be … stubborn.

She doesn't wince when her head is wrenched back - though it has to hurt. What she can't do is hide the shock that flashes over her face at the information the Limbo Queen had omitted. That hadn't been the deal and she'll not let Koa be sacrificed for this.

It takes a moment to school her face but fortunately, strange thing to think that, she's sent sprawling, the gaping back of her shirt showing the indistinct outline of the tattoo that was started.

No need to speak. Illyana is doing it all.

"Is that sooooo…" Clearly they have Siffror's attention now. He peers down at the blank spot on Keiko's back and smiles. "I see. So you are good for something little Gift." Even through Illyana's protective circle the three of them can feel power gathering about them. Siffror's gaze is on Keiko even though he's conversing with Illyana and the woman can feel herself being judged. Weighed. She'd only ever felt power like this before when the magi were doing the rituals for the final test and even that was faint echo of this.

Illyana will know that this is the most critical, but most important part of the negotiation.

"What is it you want, then, Darque? What do you want in exchange for this… opportunity?"

There's just the faintest taste of the power of the lifeless realm near the edge of the circle where Keiko is. A pull. Sort of like what Koa does, but more diffuse. It's less that her power is being pulled out of her and more that it's just leaking away. Fortunately, Illyana's circle will prevent that from being a problem really but the sensation can't be pleasant and if any of them were to LEAVE the circle…

Illyana Rasputina steps forward, moving towards the edge of the circle. She does not step even a damned toe past it, however. It's all to sort of tease at the splinter lord and cement that it's 'Darque' he's talking to. Moving close to the edge of the Circle, the Realm bleeds off tastes of 'her' power. Power that tastes like Darque.

Powerful mages at the level of Darque are cocky. They have to be to try to test themselves against Powers such as these. Illyana spreads her hands, again with that sly smile. "When one wants Soulsteel, where do they come but to the forges of the Lifeless Realm?"

This … is like the last the time Keiko went before the magi, in a way. The way the power pokes and drags at her. She can't help the shiver that runs through her as Siffror's attention settles on her - the mark on her back seems to crawl. It doesn't, it's all psychosomatic, but she's aware the thing is there.

As carefully as possible, the peruvian draws her hand back from the edge of the circle. That's nowhere she wants to be.

"Soulsteel, mmm?" Siffror smiles a smile which is not at all pleasant. "Bargained and struck, Darque. But to prove to me you are sincere about this… you're going to power this spell. I'll direct it, but you have to put your… signature on it."

Siffror smiles. So clever is he, or so he thinks. He rises from his crouch and folds his arms and… waits.

The dangerous part is over.

Now the part that imperils their minds, bodies and souls starts. This should work. They've gone through it. They all know the plan. But what will it cost them?

Behind them, Koa shifts slightly, widening his stance to support what he knows is coming next.

It's easy to dismiss Illyana as just a pretty face. She doesn't have a job, which is what most people tend to use to ascribe importance to someone. She doesn't dress professionally. To those that know what she is, she seems mostly benevolent as she hides her darker self from most. Even for those that recognize how powerful and dangerous she is, they don't always realize how cunning and manipulative she can be.

When Illyana put the collar on Koa, it may have seemed like a whim. Something done because she could. When she put it on Keiko, she said it was to pull off the con. But she didn't say *how*. Now, the plan she didn't share with either of them comes to light, as Illyana grins darkly as the deal is struck. "Plokta offers the illusion of granting you your dreams. I want the real thing, and I don't want to sign over my soul to do it." Implying that the Soulsteel will help her gain the power that Plokta promises.

Illyana reaches out, and a chain of eldritch energy forms from one hand, connecting to Koa's collar. Then the other hand to Keiko's. Then Illyana brings the two glowing purple chains together and they fuse as one and the spells laid on them with the collars activates.

Magic joins to Magic, and with it Soul brushes Soul. It doesn't bring minds and thoughts and memories, but it's more intimate than that. It grants a taste of the other's being. And then Illyana's hand closes over the chain, and Darque's magic, not Illyana's, rolls over them. Dark, and steeped in Death. Illyana brings up her other hand, arcane circles forming before her hand as she opens a tunnel through the magical Circle to allow the connection to Siffror.

There's a sharp intake of breath from Keiko as she lays there, prostrate, as the chains join. She actually whimpers this time as the power rips through her, her bound spirits responding as well.What Illyana has wrought doesn't just let the others taste Keiko souls. There's six others she carries with her and each of them is evident.

Keiko's taste like bedrock, stubborn and unyielding. The Dragon like smoke and fire. The Wolf like the forest. The Raven and Eagle like the Air. All it combining to one heady concoction.

Worse perhaps is the way that outline on Keiko's back seems to try and draw power, and souls, to it.

The peruvians fingers curl claw like, digging into the stone beneath her. Her teeth bite her lip to stop her from crying out and the scent of blood fills the air.

Koa's eyes go very, very vague and the power rushes out of him in a shower of 'sparks'. Motes of multicolored light that flow down the chain, over Illyana's hand to Keiko. Both will get a taste. Both can sense the flavor of his soul. A rush of power, the scent of blood, the tang of salt. It collides with Keiko, with that tattoo. That predatory rush fills her spirits, all predators themselves, and they start to writhe on Keiko's form.

Illyana has to guide this. She has to put Darque's magic into it so that she can convince the other splinter lord that he's been betrayed and she can't add her own magic. But is there any way that she can't taste the both of them? Koa's soul. Keiko's soul.

Is there any way she can't taste the power she wields right now?

Siffror extends a hand and the power funnels into Keiko like it's being directed by a cutting jet. It sinks into her tattoo. It BURNS. It HURTS. It SCREAMS through her along the channel to Plokta. A channel that wasn't possibly designed to handle this much power.

"Say hello to your former Master for me." Siffror says, darkly amused at the pain and power on display here.

Magic is always a rush. It's when Illyana most feels alive. For all that she rails against what's been done to her, if it could all be undone and she would be left without her magic, would she make that deal? Reply hazy, try again.

The blonde's pale blue eyes wash out, glowing with power but instead of glowing white they glow purple, tainted by masking her signal with Darque's. She feels it all, serving as the binding between Koa and Keiko, her fingertips on the heartbeat of their magic and souls. Their essence. And then comes the Power, rushing like a river from Koa, and then screaming like a hurricane from Siffror. It's more than a man is meant to bear, and Illyana funnels that all into Keiko.

Were it just Keiko alone, it would probably kill the woman. And that's why Illyana tethered the Keiko, their sacrifice, to Koa. So he can bear a measure of her pain and agony. So maybe. Just maybe. Achieving their goal won't kill Keiko in the process.

The mark on Keiko's back was never meant to be used like this. The small spirit caller isn't physically capable of taking this power. Around her, her spirits lift from her form, Glydril, Cullen and Bella - her most problematic - trying to claw their way free, leaving bloody tracks on her arms and shoulder. They're not just ripping her apart from the inside but from the outside as well, now.

Her sheer stubborness comes into play, an iron will that says she will not break. But is it enough? Even with Koa taking some of the pain, it's possible there won't be of the peruvian left when this is done.

Cullen lets out an eeiry howl as the spell peaks, one that is echoed by the woman on the ground.

Koa lets out a cry as well. Not a howl, but a roar. Siffror directs the power like a laser to the being on the other end. It sears and smokes. Keiko can feel it most keenly when it hits Plokta. Illyana will too, but more faintly. Then the connection bursts like an old incandescent bulb going out. One bright flash of power and it burns out. Or maybe Plokta cut it. Either way, there's no connection left.

But there is power. Darque's power is gone. Most but not all of the power from Koa is gone. There is a tiny, tiny bit of Illyana in that tattoo though. Enough to maintain the connection so Siffror can direct it.

This is done right? That's all Illyana needed? Koa can't tell what she's doing now. What anyone is doing. He's dazed and panting, his eyes glowing bright sea blue.

Whatever happens next he's in no condition to say anything about it.

Illyana Rasputina's eyes still burn purple, and she's very, very careful now. She needs to maintain the illusion of Plokta's magical signature until they leave, and there's precious little of that left. She looks to the splinter lord, her breath coming a bit quick but Koa and Keiko, mostly Keiko, had to take the punishment. Because she still needs to be able to maintain the charade with Siffror.

"Is my part of the bargain fulfilled then?" Sweat drips down her brow, but she doesn't wipe at it. Doesn't acknowledge it. They're not out of this yet.

It has to hurt because Keiko whimpers on the ground, not moving. It's not clear whether she can or whether she doesn't dare to. Her hair has come unbound and lays lank and damp about her. Her arms, shoulders and even back a mass of bloody gouges. Her spirits though, seem to be settling, even if the odd limb, claw or wing can be seen.

If there's any connection left between them, Koa will feel her reach even deeper - drawing on whatever she can to endure the last of this.

"It is." There's a shimmering in front of them and a large bar of metal - well, BLOCK of metal really - drops to the ground in front of them with a muted thump. Even the sounds in this realm are washed out. It's iridescent, shimmering in multiple colors, too bright compared to its bleached and faded surroundings. Soulsteel. A metal forged out of living souls. It's been used for a lot of magic, and to forge mighty artifacts.

It's all fine as long as you don't think too hard about where it comes from.

Koa doesn't say anything and manages to keep his feet. He glances down to Keiko but here, as in Limbo, he doesn't dare check on her to see if she's alright. They're just… servants. Tools for a powerful, uncaring necromancer.

"Now, we are done here. Depart from my realm."

Illyana Rasputina herself feigns being just fine, tipping a salute to Siffror before spreading her arms and teleporting the three of them, and the soulsteel, the hell out of the Lifeless Realm. "Pleasure doing business with you, Lord Siffror."

The stopover in Limbo is brief enough to be missed entirely. Illyana doesn't want to have her demons anywhere around her weakened 'pets' or herself for that matter. She moves them straight to Koa's place since, well, he's the one who has his own place that isn't a dump.

Once they arrive, Illyana drops to her knees, catching herself on outstretched arms. Ow. Ow. Ow. She looks over to Koa, and then back to Keiko. "Just tell me we all made it."

Koa drops down to a knee and turns Keiko over so that he can check that she's breathing, has a pulse and isn't bleeding out. All three conditions are easy enough to verify and he doesn't even think of the fact that it puts both of them 'below' Illyana.

"Barely…" He says, the remaining magic inside him burning as it always does.

With an effort of will to make his body obey him he gets back on his feet.

"I've got bandages and such. I'll be right back. Help yourself to…" He waves wearily to the kitchen and the enchanted drinking horn. "Whatever you like…"

They made it. Keiko isn't going to die (probably). But magic is never free. Everything done with it costs something, whether the person doing it knows that or not.

So what price have they just paid?

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