2020-02-09 - A Hand Print


Returning to Limbo, Keiko and Koa find it dramatically changed.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Feb 9 09:48:03 2020
Location: Limbo

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Theme Song



It had taken two more trips to Limbo but Koa and Keiko have established a few basic theories. One, the Citadel is gone and the place where the Staff is stuck into the ground is the new center of Limbo. Two, the staff is definitely projecting some kind of field that is holding Limbo together and protecting it from intrusions which Siffror is definitely attempting. Three, there's a LOT of power bound up in the staff though Koa doesn't know what it is. He theorizes it MIGHT be the Darkchilde's power. Four, the Heart is still somewhere out there but damned if either of them can find the entrance to the heart chamber.

Oh and five. There are almost no demons to be found. And not much in the way of animal life. Lots of plants, though. LOTS of plants.

They're in Limbo now. Koa has determined that keeping Limbo secure is vital to Earth's defense since if it falls into Siffror's hands he will be able to easily get to earth. The arcanophage has spent what feels like the last several hours setting up magical trip lines to tell him if someone or something comes along this way. Of course this is still Limbo and it's near-impossible to tell exactly how long anything is taking. There's still no visible sun - though there is plenty of light and the sky is at least blue-ish here.

Keiko is torn about Limbo. The fact there are no demons here is a worry for two reasons. One - Limbo is their home and they are who Illyana rules. And Two - if they aren't here, they have to be somewhere - what's left of them.

"I don't know how I'm supposed to learn this stuff…" Keiko grumbles as she fetches and carries for Koa as he works. He still isn't aware of what Pandora has tasked her with - so he might think that's a Keiko-ism and then some.

"And I think we need to find the demons that are left and return them."

"Oh?" Koa says as he looks up from his work. Keiko's had a lot of opportunity to watch him do it and Koa is not above answering questions about what he's doing when she asks. It's not a complicated process but it does clearly rely on some underlying magical knowledge that he has picked up.

There's other things she can observe though. Koa had seemed to stabilize shortly before Illyana had vanished. The three of them all seem to have a place and know it. Now he's losing ground to his beast again and what's worse, that part of him seems to be able to act semi independently. Certainly, she's caught it emerging from his skin to look around or sniff at something.

"That would be quite a project." Koa says straightening up. "What do you want to do with them once they're here?" He supposes, strictly speaking that they wouldn't HAVE to do anything with them. The demons can run around on their own. Though the last time they were left to their own devices they DID kidnap Keiko…

"Oh what? You've had years to learn this stuff and I'm a soldier. What did you call that? A thingmawhatsit? I can't even pronounce it, let alone spell it." Oh, Keiko's in good form today. "You know your beast keeps making an appearance?" she asks conversationally though. Is she worried about Koa? Perhaps a little.

"Who says I want to do anything with them except make sure they aren't causing problems elsewhere. They're the Darkchildes and they belong here … " her eyes gleam yellow for a moment. "… If they step out of line while she's missing, I'll just beat them."

Koa looks up, his expression mild which is a sure sign that he WOULD be giving her a mild glare under any other circumstances. "It's a ward. But I meant 'oh you think we should round up all the remaining Limbo demons?'" Oh. That oh.

He straightens up and pockets his pendulum which continues to weep a thin film of promethium every time he uses it. Which is… just a bit bizarre. He hasn't figured out why other than it's reacting to him after reacting to Illyana… somehow.

"Yes. I can feel it doing so but I can't seem to get it to stop…" Which is… sort of worrying actually.

"Well. Those demons WILL be making trouble for other people, I am sure. But let me get this straight. You want to bring back all of Illyana's former subjects and… rule them in her absence?"

The mild look gets one in return. Keiko has become increasingly … confident … perhaps intransigent … over the last few months. "That's not what you called that symbol right there." She points. "I know the whole construct is a ward, Koa, it's the individual bits that are …"

She sighs and walks away, folding her arms around her waist for a moment. She's not going to argue with him. She doesn't want to.

The sight of the pendulum makes her scowl even more. She doesn't like any of this, not at all.

"You can't? I could bop it on the nose next time it sticks it head out. When did it become a part of you like that, anyway? Normally that's an astral projection. Not … whatever you call that."

"No. I don't want to rule them. I'm a soldier - I can keep them in line. Like I did for Piotr."

"That's an Akesh. It's pseudo egyptian. There's an old hermetic derived symbol set I use for some of this. Kind of… when 14th century Europeans thought they might borrow Egyptian magic but didn't really understand it." Fun times, he swears. "Anyway…"

He doesn't like it either but he has to understand it. That is how he wins his most important fights. Not by bashing things, though he is good at that, but by understanding what is happening and acting accordingly. And that, actually, is probably the most important thing he has to teach Keiko. In the world of magic, knowledge wins more fights than muscles.

"It still is an astral projection, it's just now projecting subconsciously." Koa sighs. "That part of me is basically big enough now that it can act on unconscious desires without me really thinking about or directing it. Like 'what is that over there' or 'I wonder where Keiko went'. It's… disconcerting. Makes me feel at once more and less connected to that part of myself." It doesn't SOUND like great news, in truth.

"When you were keeping them in line, weren't you demonstrating that you were in charge?" Koa points out before adding. "It's actually not a bad idea, but I do wonder how many are left. The only ones have to be ones that were outside of Limbo when the reset happened. All the rest are… dormant or obliterated or something. Or…"

The ground shakes and Koa quirks a brow. Since WHEN does Limbo have earthquakes?

Keiko's eyes glaze over as Koa talks about the symbol and she stifles a yawn. It's hard to tell if she's joking or kidding - the woman hasn't smiled for so long, Koa would be forgiven for thinking she was serious.

She might be.

"What are you going to do with that." Her head jerks toward the pendant and she sighs again. "Like I said, I could bop it on the nose but if it's like my demon … " Well, that thing is a constant battle for Keiko right now.

"Being in charge of them doesn't mean I rule Limbo. It means that I am the Darkchilde's vessel. Eh. Not that … I can find them, if they're out there. Well, Conner can and … Elena."

Keiko is well away that she has very little power or position of her own. "What in Limbo was that …" She snaps as the ground shakes.

Koa glances around. His eyes are solid silver here rather than just being normal eyes that are silver in color. She might guess that he is looking for magic and magical auras though if she thought about it she might also guess that most things here are magical so it's of less use than it might be otherwise.

"I'm not really sure…" Koa says, with a frown. He turns to take in the vista. The place where the Staff is grounded is on a mountain, the only one for miles around. It's not the highest point on the mountain but there's still a pretty good view and from where Koa is standing he can't see anything that might shake it. Though the fact that the Staff is near blinding his aura sight doesn't help any.

The ground rumbles again and this time there's a splitting sound as it cracks near Keiko and a jagged spike of rock juts up from the crack. Koa stares. he has never seen anything like it, not in Limbo.

The rock is, despite being fresh from the earth, covered in mosses and it has only one flat face. On that face there are a series of concentric circles that look like water patterning but are far too regular to be anything of the sort…

And on the bottom right corner of that flat area… what looks like the impression of a child's handprint.

"Isn't nearly everything here magic?" Keiko has certainly realised that much of Koa's power. Even she has to have an aura that he would see.

The small peruvian jumps as the rock bubbles up next to her, glaring at the thing like she might crack it with her mind. "What the …. Is it growing more mountain?"

No, no it's not. Is that … Celtic?" The celts love their circles, Keiko knows that. "And that's a handprint." Kneeling next to the stone, uncaring of the rocks and grits that have been strewn in the area, she leans in to look at it more closely.

"Preeeeety much." Koa conmfirms. He also jumps at the crack. It has been basically silent here but the wind and occasional rain - though where the water goes is an utter mystery, there are some streams and the odd waterfall here but not a whole lot of water.

"I… if it is it's the strangest mountain I've ever heard of and that's saying something considering this is Limbo." Koa peers at the circles and cants his head. "There's no patterning on them. They're worn smooth. But they're very regular. Could be celtic but… why would it be?" He wonders out loud before crouching to look at the hand print.

"Hrm. Elena?" Koa tilts his head one way and then another. "No… bigger than Elena. Maybe… fifteen?" That also doesn't make a whole lot of sense. There have only so far as he knows been two children in Limbo ever. And only ONE recently.

"Why would it be Celtic. That's a good question. It's the only thing I know of that does circles like that." Keiko says frowning at the hand print and then at her hand. Fifteen. It … might not be a child but a very small adult.

Koa can see her looking at her hand and then the print. With a glance at Koa, Keiko moves quickly - placing her hand against the mark to see if it fits her.

"Could be one of the thirteen …"

Koa cants his head this way and that. "Could be. It's just a bit hard to say with nothing to go but a hand print. Odd that it should be here though. Given that this place is new. Ish. Then again by the standards of this place it's probably been around for a while." Limbo time. Ugh.

"One two three four five six…" Koa is counting circles. "… eight… fuck." There's nine circles here. It's not a huge leap to guess what THAT is for.

Then Koa pauses. "Wait. Keiko. Doesn't Elena have one of those plaster handprint things that everyone makes in the third grade?"

"Why on earth would Elena have that? She's been in 'school' for maybe six months and it's not like we did them when were in Limbo." Keiko grouses, looking at Koa and then looking at the Circles. She's thinking though "Oh, wait. Yeah. Piotr did something, we'll have it … at home. That, or we bring Elena here - it's not like we're worried about the corruption, is it?"

The small woman steps back looking at the monolith "This … is this the replacement for the heart?"

"I don't think so. I can still feel the heart. This looks more like a… status board." Koa makes a face and rips a piece of paper out of his sketchbook, hands it to Keiko with a crayon.

"Take a rubbing of the print. Then we won't have to. Just want to compare the prints in the plaster to the prints on this thing. That'll tell us if we're somehow dealing with her or something else."

Odds are something else. Hopefully something else, anyway. Why WOULD it be Elena, after all?

"Why did we never see any of this before? Was Limbo always like this? Or did something happen when it reset?"

"I told you, my demon says it was. Then something came to start the corruption, then Belasco." Keiko takes the crayon and gives Koa a look. "We can just bring her here, you know." She starts the shading. Having seen Koa do this several times before, she's used to it.

"If there's nine Circles, that's the virtues, isn't it? How many are filled in or whatever?"

Why WOULD it be Elena? Keiko can think of a few reasons - not withstanding the child is related to Illyana and seems to have inherited some of … her gifts.

"Maybe this is a manifestation of something that was here before - and the reset makes it look like this now."

Koa shakes his head. "No not the forest, Keiko. This." He points at the mountain and the stone slab that has emerged from it. "Limbo feels active in a way it never did before. Did Belasco end that when he corrupted it? Or did the reset change it somehow?" It's a hard question to answer, really. Koa doesn't expect one at the moment.

"None, at the moment. So I could be wrong about that. But that specific number makes me… suspicious."

Keiko's theory about it just being a new form for something that was already there is a good one and gets a nod of approval from Koa.

"Could be. If this is the new center of Limbo it might be a new form for the Citadel." That's also a theory, but one that does fit what they're seeing.

"What does your instinct tell you Keiko? What seems right to you?" She's very in tune with this place after all.

"It was here. I think. At least, that's what the demon is showing me. Not like this though … it was … blank. Or it doesn't remember seeing those." Keiko runs her hand over the stone slab, heedless of any potential danger, thinking deeply.

"Maybe it's trying to reset fully and remove what happened before … I'm … not sure, Koa."

The slab rumbles at one point and Koa tenses, but nothing seems to come of it. It reacts to Keiko's touch by warming. Enough to be felt. Almost like Limbo is 'alive' somehow. This place always did have sort of it's own purpose and quirks. Could those somehow be manifesting in a more conscious way?

"Maybe it is. But with the heart still here and that connected to the Elder Gods, that's probably a losing battle. This place will corrupt again over time. But maybe it will take a long time."

Left unspoken, though Keiko will know it, is what would happen if Illyana were to for some reason take up the staff again. Would it remain like this? Would her own corruption be cleansed? Or would it seep back in from her?

"Well I'm good here. We should probably head back unless you want to walk around this mountain more." No sign of Belasco but Koa suspects he's still out there. Just a hunch.

"I want to come back and monitor this. See if those circles change at all." Keiko keeps her hand on the tablet, enjoying the warmth of it. It's like …. and old friend, in a way.

"Let's walk. I want to see more. Maybe something will come up for us while we do. Maybe my demon will see something that will prompt a memory." She's wondering about Illyana and what this means for her, as well. If Limbo doesn't corrupt, what does that mean for Keiko.

"Come on. Then I want Ice Cream when we're done."

Koa nods to Keiko. "Let's have a walk then."

The two of them descend the mountain, moving for the still heavily forested lowlands beneath this isolated and strangely small massif. Behind them they leave a land pristine in possibilities and ominous in the portents that they see. A land unspoiled and untamed.

But this is Limbo. And the mountain rumbles at their backs as if to say that nothing is ever that simple.

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