2019-06-19 - Abyss Gazing


An accident leaves Koa stranded in Limbo

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Jun 19 08:26:45 2019
Location: Limbo

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Limbo is not an entirely inaccessible plane. Actually for a dimensional realm it's fairly easy to access. It's never a good idea but it's pretty easy to get to from Earth. It's also possible to get there by accident. While not common, the stepping disks that are used by its ruler are naturally occurring features and they do randomly open and close sometimes. Usually nothing gets in, or if something does it's a bird. An animal. Some water. Nothing lasts long. Stuff getting OUT is usually the bigger worry.

But every once in a while something does get in. Such is the case to day, when the a disk opens to disgorge a rush of water, several fish and a human being in SHIELD issued form fitting wetsuit. The force of the water slams said human into something large and hard.

That human is Koa Turner, and this was an entirely unexpected turn of events. He lolls his head upward and looks at the red sky. "Ow…"

"Hey." A deep voice says from above him. "Why you hit Skunge?!"

For the next two minutes the noise can be heard for miles. Eventually though, Skunge stops moving, his head encased in water which he cannot apparently breathe. His fist is wrapped around one of the fish, which he was trying to use as a weapon. Koa sighs and lets the water go.

"Okay. So. Limbo…" He murmurs, glancing up. There's a big castle not too far away. Looks like a mile, maybe less. Koa's… not entirely sure he should go there. But he is rather STUCK at the moment.

It doesn't look that far.

It's further than you think. Luckily, time is *not* short and Koa has more than thirteen hours to solve the err—right.

Time does move oddly in Limbo, but without anything to reference it against it's not always easy to tell that. As the wetsuited man starts to trudge off towards the citadel, he and his wetsuit dry out. The ground is dry and crumbly beneath his feet. And the castle doesn't seem to be getting any closer.

A faint plume of dust does rise in the distance, and what looks like a figure on horseback slowly starts to come into sight. It seems to make damned good time, getting closer and closer even though it moves at a sedate pace. It becomes clear that the animal is not a horse, even if it is definitely a mount. It's not near so fuzzy and majestic. Instead it's more lizard-like and terrifying, with blazing eyes and the teeth of a carnivore and on its back rides an amused looking blonde. "There are easier ways to get my attention." She points out.

Her attire today isn't goth/metal-head. Now it's more fantasy dictator, with silvery breastplate, sleeves and gloves and black leather pants and boots.

The sight of the creature in the distance has Koa tensing. He knows where he is and he knows what lives here. That instinct is not in any way relieved when he's close enough to get a good look at it. That thing is not something Koa would want to meet on earth where he is relatively comfortable. It's definitely not something he wants to fight here. Not with the magic that crawls over his skin and almost seems to want to push in. And the trouble is, he wants to take it.

He doesn't though and when he recognizes the rider of the beast he looks relieved - which might amuse the blonde even more.

"Illyana." Koa is barefoot and the now dry wetsuit isn't REALLY designed for hiking. And it's somewhat dusty at this point. The Agent's guard is clearly still somewhat up. He knows that here even more than on earth, appearances are important.

So he drops to one knee. "Sort of got here by accident. Ran into one of the locals. He's taking a nap back behind me somewhere. Wasn't really expecting to interrupt your day." And it DOES look like she's having a day. In fact he's never, ever, seen her dressed like that.

"You look dressed to inspect the troops."

Illyana Rasputina has her arms crossed casually on what serves as the pommel of the frightening beast, which is much more massive than your typical horse. It's tail lashes behind it and it watches Koa like he's food. Which, he probably would be if the thing weren't being reined in. Literally. Koa can see the tight hold Illyana has on them, and they're pulled tight so the beast doesn't have its head.

The blonde arches a brow as Koa goes to one knee, smirking down at him. "Oh. I like this." There's practically a purr to her words, her pale eyes glinting with amusement as she looks down at him when he kneels. "Mmm. Some days the troops need to be reminded that even if I spend time with humans, I'm still their Darkchilde."

Illyana straightens up and tilts her head towards the cantle of her saddle. "Come on up then. It's unlikely anything would take a bite out of you, but they'd probably try to get a taste."

Koa comes up to his feet when she says to and is slightly surprised when she tells him to get on the… whatever that is. Demon is the easiest word that comes to mind. Everything in this place is a demon. Even the ruler - though there's some grey area there. Still, he does come up. It'd be rude not to at this point and anyway, he doesn't want to keep walking. He's been doing it for a bit now and barefoot is not the ideal shoe situation for this place.

"Better than you saying you need to lead them somewhere, I suppose." Koa says as he gets on up. "And yes. I suspect they would like to get a taste. Skunge - or whatever he called himself - seemed keen enough."

There's no point in asking 'where they are' since the answer is Limbo and there aren't any landmarks that he can see other than the one they'll be presumably headed to. But he wonders anyway if places in this blasted land have names.

"I'm not sure why anyone would ever doubt that you're their Darkchild." It's certainly not something Koa ever forgets. And indeed is keenly reminded of it as somehow when he's in position the collar sitting low around his neck seems more… noticeable.

Illyana Rasputina clears her foot from the stirrup and offers Koa a hand so she can pull him up behind her. She's strong for a woman her size. "Skunge hmm? Haven't seen him in a while." Not since the last time she killed him. "Still ugly, I bet." Because some things in Limbo are constant.

letting out the rein a bit for her steed, the big creature tosses its' head with a braying sound of annoyance before Illyana kicks it into movement. The blonde laughs, a low, husky sound. "Demons don't have great memories most of the time. Kick their ass once and next time you see them they forgot that you broke half the bones in their body."

Illyana turns a bit, so she can look at him over one shoulder. "So. How did you get here…" Her tone is sort of sing-song as she asks. Her gaze slides lower, over the form-fitting wetsuit. "Not that I'll object to the eye candy."

As Koa comes up behind her, he brushes up against that shiny breastplate which is like forged magic. The feeling might be similar to the Soulsteel they got from Siffror.

Koa's eyes go a little bit vague when he touches that breastplate. It does feel like soulsteel, but in some ways the opposite. Soulsteel always feels like there's this 'draw' to it. Like it's pulling in things around it. This is not. This is pushing. Like there's so much magic inside it, it can barely be contained. It's a second before he recovers from that.

"Still ugly yes. I take it you've met." It'd be interesting really if she remembers. She has to see thousands of demons. That one might stick out means he's either good at something or annoying.

Or just big and smelly, which he was.

"I was exploring a temple underwater. Something opened, sucked me in and out a came onto what I think was Skunge's leg. I didn't really have time to look before he took exception." There was no bone breaking. But a great deal of choking.

"And I'm happy to be of service." He says with a short chuckle. By way of being eye candy. Yes, Koa knows he's a decent looking guy. It's just that things rarely come of it and the two of them have spoken on that before.

It's really tempting to put a hand on the back of that breastplate but… he doesn't. "What is that you're using for armor?"

The question comes out quietly.

"I know most of the major demons. And when I say 'major' I don't mean like some of the Judeo-Christian ideas of Archdemons or anything. They're demons that can reason enough to have a sense of identity, and then they tend to fall into one of two camps. Those that are big and tough, like Skunge, or those that are smart. Some of the demons here have some magical knowledge, but generally nothing too worrisome." They won't be turning the hordes of limbo loose on the world.

"Sounds like you were at somewhere with a dimensional weakspot and a stepping disk opened up. Normally they just swallow some stuff and chasing it or messing with it amuses the demons." Illyana remarks of his unexpected arrival. As they move, they seem to cover a lot more ground than the demonsteed's sedate pace would lead you to believe. There are mountains in the distance that seem to be getting closer at a rapid pace.

The question of her armor gets another slight turn of Illyana's head to catch sight of him. "Mmm. I forgot about that." That would be Koa's devouring of things magical. "It might be like trying to drink from a firehose." She warns. "Which means it'd be amusing as all hell to see you try. It's Promethium." The magical metal native to Limbo.

Koa lets out a short little bark of a laugh. "It's yours. I'm not quite stupid enough to try devouring something that belongs to you unless I really don't have a choice, though I know I look it sometimes." Even here he's aware of rank and propriety. That might be a survival skill that comes of dealing with spirits a lot. "Though I will say it feels…" He shakes himself.

"Well, it tempts that part of me. I've heard of Promethium but our texts on it are pretty scant. Belasco wasn't keen to let anyone else really know what it was, so all I've heard are whispers and hints. I wasn't even really sure it existed."

Demons with magical knowledge? That's a hell of a scary thought. "I wonder…" He says apropos of nothing, "What makes some of them more aware."

That's not a thought that sticks in his head very long though as he sees the mountains getting closer rather than the citadel. That's… interesting.

"Well I'll not lie I'm glad I'm not a getting chased around." He's human. Given enough time the thirst or hunger would get to him." He gives her a look that she might not see. But she might hear it in his voice. Where are they going? He doesn't ask. To ask would be to question her, possibly and he won't risk it. But…

Well, where are they going?

"Time? Attention? Limbo is psychoactive. It tends to react to those in it. The demons are part of Limbo." Illyana's likely giving Koa all sorts of stuff he's going to run back to WAND to write down in his books. He can definitely bill this time as 'Research'. "Most people can't actually *control* Limbo, though if they're good at staying focused they can influence it a bit. But its ruler *can*. So Belasco probably paid Skunge some attention back centuries ago and it made him… More 'real', I suppose."

"You don't usually find Promethium outside of Limbo. It's not a currency, like Soulsteel is because it's not a 'renewable' resource. It's finite, and is what makes Limbo it's own realm, I suppose. Take it away, and Limbo would collapse." So of course no ruler of Limbo would want the Promethium to be taken out of the realm. "That's the theory, anyhow." Because it's never been done. And that's why it'd be akin to sucking on a firehose. It's the reactor that makes Limbo Real.

"My critters have been stalking you for hours." Illyana says, her tone dryly amused. "But they know better than to mess with my toys." They're suddenly at the foothills of those jagged mountains, and a hot wind blows the sparse growth — no. Those aren't shrubs or brush. Those are demons. The hills are covered in demons.

Illyana swings down from the saddle and tosses the reins to Koa. "Indiana Jones sort like you can keep a mount in order, right?" She flashes him a feral grin even as the hulking thing shakes its' head and prances sideways a bit, looking to jostle Koa. Illyana snorts at the antics of the beast, reaching up to slap its' neck in a rough pat though her eyes don't leave Koa. This time when she smiles, it's a bit more grim. "Don't freak out, hmm?"

Then the pretty blonde turns away from him, walking towards the demons who have started to gather. Dark, indistinct shapes flowing over the craggy landscape like a black river. It looks like a suicide march, even if Koa knows better. And then she changes.

Between one step and the next, it's not boots that hit the parched ground, it's hooves. Dark brown fur covers the lower part of her legs and her legs bend in a manner than no humans ever should. A tail gets Koa's attention, red and spade-tipped as it sways and flicks, perhaps in agitation. He can only see her from the back, but the horns that curve upward from her brow are easy to make out. She still has the long, blonde hair. The figure is… mostly the same. But it is far from human.

"Sounds like a pain…" Koa says quietly. Not being able to permanently get rid of demons is bad enough but having any demon that you pay attention to - even if that attention is negative, he presumes - is orders of magnitude worse. It means that anything that is a problem becomes a larger or at least more annoying problem over time. The information on Promethium and what it IS has his eyes widening though. Something capable of creating and maintaining a realm sounds a great deal to him like a spell. So, a persistent, powerful spell given physical form. And she's wearing it as armor.

Sort of makes him want to eat it more. Sadly.

Koa can indeed handle animals though this is - pun intended - a very different beast. Still he takes the reins, tightly and as Illyana walks off he does one of the two things he does best.

He watches. Watches as her form shifts. Watches as the demon inside is revealed. It takes most of his awareness not to let his mouth fall slack. Not just at the change, but at the power he can see.

One of the blessings, and curses, of being able to SEE magic is the fact that he can't unsee it. He always knew that Illyana was powerful. But he had never SEEN until this moment just what that meant.

Here, she is near divine. And she's about to address her… hordes. The Hordes of Limbo. They're called that in the literature and he sees why now. There's no other word for them.

Illyana isn't watching Koa to see his reaction. She doesn't want to, really. Doesn't want to see the horror that usually comes from those that bear witness to her letting her human guise fall away.

The conversation that Illyana has with the demons isn't particularly clear. She's a bit away from them and the demons are making noise, and the demonic tongue of Limbo is just a bit different from those that Koa knows. She continues through the throng, and they part to allow her to walk amongst them and then flow in behind, surrounding her. Most of them seem to grovel at her feet, and those that don't offer proper respect are cuffed away with far more than human strength. When she backhands one, it goes plowing through the other demons for a good thirty feet before lying there and twitching.

Some of the demons, she has items to hand over. Some of the demons hand items over to her, jostling with each other for a spot to make their offering. Finally, she starts to make her way back towards where Koa sits, the thicket of demons parting so he can see her stride forward. Her eyes are fixed on him. Watching him as she approaches with head slightly tilted forward which tosses her bangs across the glowing white eyes and highlights the curve of her horns off her brow.

Koa urges the beast forward a little as the procession happens. Enough to give him a very clear view of what's going on, atop the ridge. He doesn't make a sound and curiously the demon he's riding doesn't make many either. No more then the occasional grunt or growl. The authority she has here is on display but so is the very, very inhuman nature of this court. There might be analogues for this in human history - Koa's quite familiar with many of them - but the spectacle drives home the simple truth that Limbo was never made for human hands, human minds, human anything.

And that extends to the ruler. What Limbo has cost Illyana goes far beyond the damage done to her soul by an infernal sorcerer. The very act of possessing and ruling this place forces her to display the same kind of demonic strength and dominance that the demons themselves inflict upon one another. What does that do to the ruler's mindset, their worldview, their attitudes over time? What does it do to their soul?

Koa has no answers to that question. But when she turns around and comes back he continues to watch. His eyes remain human - ish - though the perceptive might see a little bit of light behind them - leftovers of the magic he'd used before.

What does she see, he wonders? What is she afraid he'll see? Or what does she wish him to see.

His eyes leave her for just a moment, glancing over the hordes assembled below and knowing they too will be watching. As she closes the distance he slides off the beast - remaining on it simply will not do. He doesn't hold her gaze. But he also doesn't look away. There isn't horror behind his eyes, though. If it was there he's driven it from his features. Awe, certainly. One cannot behold this, or her in this place, and not be awed. Fear? Not fear. He feels it, it's impossible not to feel some but he's good enough to keep it from his face. Respect? Yes for what she's done here is beyond what most could ever have hoped to accomplish.

And behind all that, difficult to pick out, perhaps behind that a bit of melancholy tinged understanding from someone who knows what it is to make yourself a beast among beasts.

"I swear to various gods I will eat you from the inside out if you bite me." Koa mutters to the demon beast whose head is perilously close to his shoulder now and reaches up with his free hand to loosen the neck of the wetsuit and expose black collar underneath.

When Illyana gets near enough to speak to, Koa kneels once more and tugs the beasts head down to do the same.

Illyana makes her way up the rise with a slow, almost casual stride. Where her hooves hit the ground, it literally trembles. Because Limbo is hers to command.

The demons don't come beyond the base of the rise, but so many eyes are turned towards them. Watching. When Koa kneels and tugs the beast's head down it fights him, forcing him to use some of his strength to drag it down until it has to bend its' own knee and bows its' head.

Illyana stops in front of Koa, close enough he can feel the heat of her skin, see where human-like body bleeds into the demonic. She reaches out with one clawed hand, tracing his jawline until she gets to his chin, and then the tip of her nail forces his head up to look at her. All-white eyes search his for a long moment, her hand moving to cup his jaw and when her thumb strokes a line along his cheek, the sharp talon comes very close to his eye. Her lips quirk in a familiar smirk, thrown off just a bit by the fangs. "A smarter man might have run while I was busy." She teases.

'And gone where, exactly?' is the question that Koa doesn't ask, though it IS the first one that springs to mind. He could just trot into the wilds of Limbo sure but she could find him effortlessly if she chose and also, pertinently, he has no way to get back to earth.

Though in truth, that isn't why he stayed. Call it a combination of curiosity and something else. Sympathy perhaps? He's not sure. Kinship might be a better word. While she lives orders of magnitude above him in terms of her power and authority, they do share one basic experience. By their own actions, their own choices, do they push their souls toward a precipice. And what waits below them?

Neither particularly want to find out.

Koa's arm strains to keep the beast bowing because it does NOT want to remain there. Not for HIM anyway. It does make that arm stand out a bit but he manages that while still remaining very still when Illyana brings his gaze up.

"Smart never was one of my qualifications." He says with very quietly with a half smile. Koa is intelligent, yes. He's got that in spades and the knowledge base to prove it. But smart?

Well. This is a man who works a job in which his best friend is an eight hundred year old fox spirit and his long term retirement prospects mostly consist of 'lose the battle for his soul, rage out of control, get imprisoned behind a line of impenetrable wards'.

So perhaps not smart. Dutiful. But not smart.

"I can almost taste you, this close." That's another quiet admission. And of course, being Koa, he means that literally. Her power wraps around her like a mantle. It swirls and eddies and gusts. He can see it oh so clearly at this very short distance. And feel it. And much like everything else in this realm, it's very, very tempting to a portion of him that he has struggled mightily to control in recent days.

He's still got that control. But she can see it's an effort to maintain it. Like his arm off to his side, an effort he can sustain for now. But an effort all the same.

Illyana grins at his admission, and with the fangs it's ever so much more predatory. She leans down, long blonde hair slipping over her shoulders to tickle at Koa's cheeks as she leans in. Her clawed hands still hold his jaw, keeping him from pulling away as her lips press against his and she takes his mouth in a slow, almost lazy kiss. She tastes of smoke and cloves. Pulling back, her tongue skates over her upper lip as she smirks down at him. "And now?"

The sorceress leans back, letting her touch fall away and eldritch flame licks over her form, returning her back to the human-looking woman that Koa's gotten to know the past few months.

If the goal was to make Koa shudder - to stretch his inner control to it's absolute limit - then it worked. She can feel the shudder. His eyes go vague and for a moment colored red as the last bit of the magic he'd consumed surfaces. The only thing that stops him from taking a taste of the Darkchild's mantle is the fact that he's not entirely certain he'd be able to stop if he did.

"Definitely now." He says. His voice is hoarse and why wouldn't it be? No 'almost' about it. The taste of her power is pushed right up against him.

If the goal was to wind him up, well, that worked too. And why wouldn't it?

He is, at least, smart enough not to let any of the several things demanding to be let loose to run away with him. Barely.

When Illyana changes back Koa slow blinks, taking the momentary darkness as a chance to take a breath and recover some shred of his now absolutely tattered control. What he cannot see, but she can, is the fact that the sharks tooth design on that collar has replicated itself. Now it looks very much like a shark's maw. Or at least a pattern suggestive of one.

He's still down on his knee. He hasn't attempted to get up, though the beast has stopped fighting him. Maybe it hurt its neck trying to rise. Or maybe Illyana being this close made it think better of that.

"There's a kind of… purity to that, you know." To her other form he means. Not purity the way that most people would think of it. Untainted. No it's definitely tainted. But it's unfiltered. Raw. A pure expression of herself. And of this place.

And the two are closer than most will ever realize, though Koa has some inkling now.

The smirk lingers on Illyana's lips, but that more predatory air about her has… not gone away but perhaps relaxed. There was certainly the impression that the more demonic-looking side of her would enjoy tempting his darkness to the fore, and that it would be even better of Koa fought that side of himself the entire way.

The blonde gestures off to the side with one hand and a stepping disk opens, like a hobbit hole out of hell. She jerks her chin at the reins he holds. "You can turn 'im loose. The demons will chase him home." Or catch him and eat him. "Let's get out of here."

She pauses as he says that. Standing in profile to him, he can see the slight tilt of her head, chin dropping. She doesn't look back over at him. "Like the wolf? Or the shark?" She asks, forcing some lightness into her tone as he makes his observation.

Koa lets the reins go and - to his relief - the thing begins to move away rapidly rather than take a chunk out of his neck. He watches it out of the corner of his eye for a moment and then rises to his feet - a touch stiffly perhaps. He's still not in 'real' clothing. And still barefoot, which doesn't help any. Not that it shows on his face. He's very careful about that.

The agent is all on board with getting out of here in any case. He gives the blonde a tight smile and gestures for her to lead the way. Not that she ever seems to have a problem with that.

"Maybe like those things. Or like a lava flow. It might burn your house down. Or it might fertilize your fields. Or it might do both. But it's pure." It is what it is, and nothing else. Though a wolf, is perhaps an apt comparison. No one doubts that the Darkchild is an apex predator.

Koa takes a deep breath, mostly to try to center himself again, reign in his racing heart and tamp down on his various hungers. All of which are still demanding his attention. And all of which he is ignoring. Very. Hard.

Limbo does not make that easy. But this time, at any rate, he manages.

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