2019-11-08 - Blood And The Tree


It's just another day in Limbo

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Nov 8 04:55:57 2019
Location: Limbo

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Limbo and time do not mix well, or rather Limbo and earth notions of time do not mix especially well. It's not just that time flows differently in Limbo - which it does - but that Illyana can re-enter Earth's time stream in a flexible fashion. All of that combines to give her a rather bad sense of earth-time when she's in Limbo.

Ordinarily Koa goes to find Illyana if she's missing too long just to make sure something unfortunate hasn't occurred but he's been rather busy dealing with an escalating series of attempts to breach the barrier around New York which have occupied both his and Keiko's time for the past week. It's only recently that Koa's collar and the tattoos on Keiko's back have begun to 'feel' off. It makes both feel a bit run down. Like they're sensing an illness. Like something is sick. Like, perhaps, Limbo is sick.

That is what brings Koa and Kieko out. Rather than coffee, this time Koa has a bottle of Vodka. He and Keiko appear near the large tree in Limbo with a flash of light. The teleport was ideally supposed to land them somewhere near Illyana but the tech said that the dimension was 'off' so Darkchilde only knows if they've actually arrived near her. All the same the WAND agent takes a look around. His eyes INSTANTLY go red when the ambient magic of the place hits him.

The off feeling in Keiko's tattoo and collar hasn't just made her feel run down. She's irritable and cranky - more so than usual, as evidenced by her snapping at her english teacher this morning. And throwing the book she was supposed to reading.

Appearing in Limbo, the small spirit caller turns around to take in the sights. "What is with this tree…" she mutters, peering up at Koa and grimacing. "I don't know about my changing, you … seem to enjoy here."

Now. Where's the Darkchilde?

The giant tree is a good landmark these days. It's near Illyana's citadel and even though space is nearly as fluid as time, it continues to stay within sight of the large stone structure built over the heart of Limbo. It changes what *direction* it is from the citadel, but it's always within sight.

And Illyana is within sight of the tree, though far enough away she might be more 'felt' than seen. She's been out here what seems like forever, and that's starting to show. In the horns and glowing white eyes and fangs, in the armor she wears as she weaves spell after spell to try to slow the creeping tide of black and gold. Stopping it is off the table. Now, she can only try to slow it.

Lines of spellwork, line upon line, layer upon layer are slowly consumed as the invasive blood of the machine moves inexorably forward, like a slow moving lava flow. Were one to take a birds-eye look from above, they would see that the lines of spellwork are actually giant circles, with the citadel at its heart. On the horizon, there is nothing but black and gold.

"It feels good." Koa confirms to Keiko. "And it's harder and harder to keep out." And he wants to try less and less. Even now he can feel the ambient magic sort of seeping into him even though he's not actively drawing on it.

He spots the creeping tide of black and gold before anything else and just gapes for a moment. No wonder she hasn't been back in so long. There's a LOT less limbo than there should be. Now it mostly seems like it's whatever this stuff is. "Oh… hell…"

"There." Koa says pointing toward Illyana as he spots her more by the brightness of the aura that he can see than anything else. "Come on. Hurry." And then he's off at a good clip. Not a walk, for sure. Not a dash but definitely a run. Keiko can feel something crawling on her back as they move. There's nothing there, of course, but it's like she can feel a metallic coldness creeping up her spine as the blood of the machine advances. In the black mass beyond Illyana's circles, shapes move. Shapes like demons but entirely covered in liquid circuitry.

"Illyana." Koa says, slightly panting as he comes to a halt nearby. "What can we do?"

What can they do? That's a good question.

Something prickles at Illyana's senses. Someone's opening a portal outside her circles, on that black mass.

"I know it does." Keiko answers quietly, turning her eyes in the direction of that 'feeling' of Illyana. "And you don't want to keep it out either, do you?" She can't really blame him or chide Koa about it.

Not that they really have to discuss it at the moment. "That is not good." She follows, keeping up easily, concentrating on Illyana's location - Limbo is strange like that, you get where you're concentrating on.

The coldness on her back actually has Keiko squirming unconsciously - not that she realises she's doing it.

"Darkchilde…" All the spirt caller really wants is something to hit.

Illyana Rasputina has her staff out, arms wrapped the shaft as she leans a shoulder against it, the butt end resting against the blasted earth. As Koa and Keiko get closer, they can see how she leans heavily against it. Exhaustion is there in the set of her shoulders and the hang of her head. Her hair is messy and dirty, hanging limply around her.

Illyana finally turns as the pair grow closer, a frown curving down as she sees them. "You shouldn't be here."

"No." Koa says as he and Keiko run. "I really don't." It's honest at least even if the answer is a little bit horrifying on some levels.

As Koa comes to a halt near Illyana there's a slow, deep 'th-thump' from the direction of the citadel and the earth ripples. Well. Limbo ripples. That sounded an AWFUL lot like a heartbeat.

"Maybe not." Koa murmurs. "But here we are." It's trouble and while there's a fair bit of Limbo left this is starting to look an awful lot like a last stand.

"Is it my imagination or is it trying very hard to creep in the direction of that tree?" That tree. Which very much looks like an ordinary if rather giant tree. It's even swaying as if in a wind though exactly WHAT wind is a good question.

"Let us help." Koa urges even if he isn't yet sure how. He and Keiko between them have a fair amount of power stored in them, after all.

The portal opens and Witchfire steps out, sword in hand. Behind her four other human figures step out. Well, mutant figures. Two men, two women, all roughly the same age. Around them the mass of black surges and bubbles and creature-like masses seem to rise up and surround them.

"Hello Illyana. You look tired." She smirks.

She's standing on that infection and it isn't touching her. It has eaten everything else, but not her or the four behind her.

"Maybe you should lay down and rest…" The tone from the witch-woman is soothing but the expression is one of triumph.

Infected demons start pressing on Illyana's circle near the tree, as if trying to push through. Several of them seem familiar to Keiko. Demons she knew during her time here. They seem to recognize and bare teeth at her. "This will be your end, false consort."

"I do lots of things I shouldn't do." Keiko says quietly. "And we are to help. For you to use." The spirit callers slitted eyes look out towards that tree "It was when the tree sprouted, I don't see why not now."

The thump thump of the heart is offputting, causing Keiko to shift uncomfortably again.

"Witchfire… " without thinking, Keiko's quarterstaff is extended, the small woman moving to take up position to the left and just behind Illyana.

"K'nar, G'rok. You are too weak to challenge me. You have to bring others, just as weak as you are. Try me, if you dare." False consort, indeed.

"If there were something you could do to help, I could have brought you here to do so." Illyana says, wiping a hand down her face. "But it doesn't matter how much power I throw at it, the best I've managed is to slow it down. I can't contain it, can't purge it…"

And then those figures enter, and Illyana's attention turns towards them. Her eyes flare with anger at Witchfire's words, and she brings up a hand and fires off an eldritch bolt at the woman who has gone after those she cared for. The blonde bears her teeth in a snarl. "Maybe you should lie down and die."

Witchfire brings her hand up and a shield appears to absorb that bolt. Even as exhausted as Illyana is the strain of deflecting that power shows on Witchfire's face. She brings her black bladed sword up and points it at the shield near the tree. The infected demons begin throwing themselves at it. They don't claw at it. Don't punch at the barrier. They just hurl themselves at it and push all along a hundred yard wide area near the tree.

Two of the four mutants raise their hands and begin to cast, directly contesting Illyana's containment spell. Even in this dire circumstance that is bold. Illyana is STILL the sorceress supreme of this realm. Entering a contest of wills with her here would be suicide in most cases. They're betting that she's tired enough that maybe, with the deck stacked in their favor, they can get through.

"I'm going to take your throne, Illyana." Witchfire says, brandishing her blade and stalking forward. "I'm going to take your throne, kill your pets and make your brother kneel. Maybe I'll go find some of your friends if they survive Siffror's arrival and modify them to my tastes." She arrives at the edge of the circle directly opposite the Darkchilde and strikes it with her sword. A sword made to be a bane to demons, thanks to Piotr's soul.

"She's goading you." Koa murmurs softly, then looks to Keiko, and the tree and back to Keiko. "Over there. Get between them and it. They want it for some reason. It's got…"

He frowns and looks at the tree.

"Holy… hell. That's a lot of power in it. It's like all of the Limbo this mass has eaten has been pushed back INTO the tree."

Th-thump. There's the heart again and this time Koa gasps as the earth ripples and his collar starts to glow.

"Don't run away false consort." The demons hiss. "We want to play…"

Obsidian scales ripple over Keiko's skin as the demon spirit contained in the tattoo on her back decides it wants to play. The spirit caller pushes it down and moves where Koa directs. "Better than you have tried, Witchfire. And failed. Just like you did the first time."

"And I think you mean Holy Limbo, Koa." It's all so very dry and emotionless, the way Keiko is talking at the moment.

"Come then K'nar. G'rok. If you want to play, so do I." Koa's discomfit gets a flashed look - he's probably going to end up with another filled in tooth.

Illyana would throw more at Witchfire, but she *is* tired, and what strength she has needs to slow the encroachment. She can't even hold the line.

When the 'demons' start to throw themselves with force at the containment, it gives way faster. The wide arc bulges as they push a path in, faster.

Illyana's snarl is turned on Koa this time. "You think I don't know that?" Instead of trading insults with Witchfire Illyana turns her back on the woman, stalking towards where the Blood reaches towards the tree. She pauses as the earth ripples and thrums with the slow heartbeat, looking towards the citadel and her lips thin. She glances back over her shoulder at Witchfire. "What is it you want from Limbo, anyway? Why…" She gestures at the ocean of black and gold. "This?"

"You stood in our way. My Lord needs Limbo to get to earth in a way that HE won't be able to stop." She points to Koa. Koa who has spent the last several weeks making sure that a barrier over New York doesn't fail.

"As for what I want?" She smiles almost savagely. "I want what you have but were never brave enough to use. I want the gift you've spent years fighting. I could free myself with it. I could free everyone. But you don't deserve it. I. Do."

The demons push in further toward Keiko. Drawing near to the tree. It begins to shake more, the branches behaving as if blown by a storm though there is no wind. Slowly a few of them push THROUGH the circle in ones and twos. Most of them are still held out but the ones that get through through themselves right at the tree, trying to get around Keiko. Except for one. K'nar goes right for the Peruvian woman even as the rest try to rip into the bark and make the tree bleed.

As Illyana turns her back and Keiko prepares to defend that tree Koa places himself in a line to intercept Witchfire if she gets through the barrier. Not between them. But in a place that he easily COULD be.

Th-THUMP. Koa's vision goes briefly white and his collar blazes with enough power to actually burn his neck a bit. The tree answers in sympathy, as if it too is connected to the heart. Finally the blood reaches the roots of the tree and begins to actually boil away. Something in the tree is burning the blood off. Perhaps it's just an overabundance of power. If enough of the blood gets on it surely it will get eaten like everything else, but if that power could be tapped somehow…

That thought apparently occurs to Koa. If it could be tapped. Well he IS very good at that. But it's a lot of power. Even more than he pulled out of the Nightmare Collar. He looks to Illyana, questioning, but not saying anything.

Keiko's good at a few things. Most them involve using her hands. Like fighting. As the demons push through the barrier, she touches two of her tattooes.

In seconds, Bella and Mirlo appear. Both already dreadfully affected by Limbo.

With a sound from the peruvian, the wolf and the bird launch themselves at the demons that break through the barrier. There'll be no quarter given - and it's a risk for Keiko, if her spirits are destroyed, she'll be injured.

Her quarter staff spins and rounds on K'nar, striking at the misshapen creatures head. "I thought you were better than that. Perhaps you should send someone else. Someone who will really give me a challenge."

The Blood gets to the tree too quickly, the containment buckling and giving way. Illyana's attention turns to it as the hiss of Blood meeting roots rises, as though she's ignoring Witchfire even after having asked her a question.

Slowly, Illyana starts towards the tree again. "You want what I have? To free yourself?" She shakes her head, chuckling as she reaches out to place a hand against the tree even as it's assaulted from other fronts. "You'd only be trading one set of chains for heavier ones. But don't worry. I'll spare you that."

Turning towards Koa, the exhaustion is clear for he and Keiko to see, though Keiko has her hands full. And maybe it's that, for her, she's been doing this for so. damned. long now that she makes the decision she does.

"I'm sorry." She tells him, before she holds out the Soulstaff towards him. "Channel the tree into the staff." She sets her feet, her grip tight on the matte black artefact.

The blow to K'nar sends him staggering back. The infected demon is replaced by another and an alarming thing is happening to Keiko's spirits. The demons don't fight them. They just try to grab them and where they touch, golden circuitry tries to etch and crawl onto them. Keiko as well. Demons grab at her and the blood of the machine tries to infect her too. She can feel it, more than just on her skin, but deep in her bones.

And then the heart beats again and this time Keiko feels it as well. And the demon on her back feels it.

"No." A voice in her own head growls as black scale pours into her skin to try to reject the creeping infection. The offer is clear. The demon can save her. if she embraces it. If she takes it deeper into her mind and soul than she has ever let it before.

"It'll be okay." Koa says. Whether or not that is true rather depends on the definition of okay.. It's beyond unusual for her to say 'I'm sorry' let alone to say it here in Limbo but there's no time to dwell on it. She needs that power. And she needs it now. He's at the tree in seconds and his inner beast manifests around him, sinking ethereal claws into it. His eye glow white - both sets - and when he turns to stretch a hand out and arc of pure white POWER jumps from him to Illyana's staff.

"No!" Witchfire sounds really alarmed all of a sudden. "What are you doing?!"

"Leave them alone …" Keiko tries to unsummon her spirits but Limbo has it own rules and won't let her. Maybe it's because she's just focussing properly - these demons keep coming at her after all.

She's already got a few scratches from the fight - hopefully none of them are infected already. Twirling and moving, the small peruvian tries to dodge the attacks as much as launching attacks of her own.

You can't save me from this

I can. All you have to do is let me in.

It probably doesn't matter - as the demon spirit presses at Keiko, the scales not covering her skin anymore - her skin darkens and hardens on its own.

Power pours into the Soulstaff, and the expression of Illyana's magical might drinks it in. And in. And in. Until the black seems to, impossibly, glow with black aura that then starts to shift towards white until it's a blazing thing that matches in the real world how Koa sees it in the magical.

Illyana looks over as Keiko struggles with her spirits, stretching an arm out towards her and a stepping disk appears at Keiko's feet. Blazing white eyes meet Keiko's slitted ones. "Take care of Elena." And then she's teleporting the Peruvian out.

Both hands close over the staff again as she looks over at Witchfire. "What am I doing? Flipping the table." Lifting the Soulstaff high, she drives it down, focusing all the power in it and that Koa has fed into it and that he continues to be a channel for, down into the ground.

The Soulstaff is able to break almost any enchantment. Undo any spell. And as Illyana drives it into the ground, the magic that IS Limbo is torn asunder!

The hardened, blackened skin seems to resist the encroachment of the golden lines though her spirits are faring less well. There's a clamor in her head and it's hard to get anything from it all except one word. Phalanx.

Then the arc from Koa's hand washes over the spirits and Keiko. The spirits it simply blasts the demons away from, but Keiko's silvery markings on her back drink the power in greedily. That… will give her the power to blast away the remnants of the disease, but it also will feed the demon. Which is probably bad.

Koa is nearly entirely obscured at this point. Keiko can see a wave of power, centered on Illyana, shoot out. The ground begins to glow as white as her staff and there is an immense heat. Then the stepping disk takes her and she's thrown - rather roughly - back into her living room.

The disk shuts. And from Keiko's perspective there is nothing for a solid minute.

Then she hears a hiss. A demonic hiss. It's K'nert.

"Consort… he's heavy."

K'nert is - improbably, dragging Koa out from under a table. The man is unconscious, in bad shape and only barely breathing but the collar around his neck is still glowing brightly and from that she can see clearly that he has a fourth tooth filled in.

Of the Darkchilde there is no sign.

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