Summoning Circle

May 30, 2015:

Constantine and Kitty discuss what happened with the sword and Constantine summons a spirit

House of Mystery


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

John's had an eventful couple of days. Literally twenty-four hours after Zatanna's trapped sword had injured him, he'd been goat-roped into a major occult attack in a local restaurant while out trying to feed his face, of all things.

Sitting in the parlor in his shorts, he's covered from head to toe in tiny nicks and slashes that make him look like a bad pulp fiction character got who lost a fight with a razor blade factory. Invisible to the naked eye, they're the result of expert carving that breaks the lines of power that feed strength into the magical runes tattooed invisibly under his skin.

"It's called Keoghtum Ointment," John tells Kitty, taking a heavy belt from his scotch glass. "It's a bit spendy but for a bunch of little nicks, there's nothing better. Slap it on an open, festering wound and it'll work better than stitches, and detoxify it," he explains, turning so she can apply it to the wealth of slashes on his back. "A bunch of little wounds like this, it'll have them healed in days."

While Kitty's no nurse, she can at least spread ointment on John's back. That doesn't take a degree or any other sort of medical training. Her touch is rather gentle as she spreads it across his back, making sure to get each nick and slash. She doesn't seem to be embarrassed or shy about the process; she's helped wrap up wounds of her fair share of people. Usually she's told what to do or has help, but this is no different. "You know, you were stabbed the other day and had to operated on. Don't you think you should take it easy for a day or two?"

It's not a nagging, it mostly just sounds worried. "And what exactly happened that got you all slashed up like this?"

"I've a bloody lot of magical tattoos inscribed under my skin," John explains, wincing as the ointment starts the slow burn that means it works. "They're invisible except under a certain kind of moonlight. I can't walk around inked up like a bloody piker, but tattoos can be a formidable source of magical strength. Unfortunately, the infection breached them," he explains sourly. "To excise the poison, Zatanna had to cut most of the runes apart so she could drain the wound, so to speak."

"Under your skin? Um, ow. How can you even do that?" Kitty raises an eyebrow, though she knows he can't see her. A few more moments and then she steps away, rubbing away what ever is left of that ointment on her hands. "I mean, I'm going to guess the answer is magic, but still ow." Stepping away, she adds, "Alright, that should be all of it. So, this stuff'll heal the cuts and hopefully put the runes back where they were? And the poison's gone completely, right? Healing this stuff isn't going to trap any of it still in there?"

"I hired a pixie shaman," John explains. "Cost me a bloody fortune, but his work is incredible. I'll have to have the runes redrawn, though." He glances at Kitty with a frown. "Luv, /all/ tattoos go under the skin," he frowns. "It dyes all the way through so it lasts longer." He grabs his loosest fitting pants and climbs into them, wincing as he buttons them, and pulls on one of his more stained overshirts, buttoning it quickly as he redresses. "Once we get you a bit more training in channeling energy, we'll get you some ink of your own," he tells Kitty. "It'll give you a leg up in managing power."

"One, I've never had a tattoo before, and two, with you, I have no idea. I thought you meant literally under the skin, as in pulling it up somehow, drawing on it and then putting it back." Kitty moves to sit down and rolls her eyes. "You have a house that can go anywhere and doors that open up to strange places. If I thought you could take off some of your skin and tattoo under neath it, can you really blame me?"

Politely, she averts her eyes when John starts getting dressed again. "At least put on a clean shirt," she tells him. While he may be the man training her, she sounds a bit more like the one trying to take care of him. The idea of having invisible tattoos is met with a raised eyebrow, looking back over when it seems clear he's dressed. "Well, it'll be interesting that my first tattoo will be invisible."

"We can get you a bloody butterly on your ankle or something if you want to impress your friends," Constantine says, flashing a grin at Kitty. He eyes the shirt. "This /is/ clean. I just had it laundered," he says, sounding puzzled.

"There's a good pile of little tricks I've picked up over the years," he explains. "As much as I can't stand that wanker Batman, I've got to admit he's almost always prepared for a situation, and I've tried to emulate that mentality. I spend a lot of time thinking of bizarre situations and how to respond to them."

Kitty raises an eyebrow, gesturing at the shirt and the stains still visible. "It certainly doesn't look clean. Are those stains just there permanently? It may have gone through the washer and dryer, but I wouldn't call it clean, exactly."

As for the butterfly on her ankle, she rolls her eyes. "I doubt that's going to really help me in the magic department." Her head tilts and raises an eyebrow. "So, you're saying you're prepared for possessed poisoned swords that almost kill you?"

John frowns at the stains, then shrugs, reaching for a pack of his hand-rolled cigarettes on the table. "Probably. It's not like this is a formal wear shirt, luv." He reaches for a lighter and the smoke flares to life, cherry tip crackling.

"I'm prepared for a lot of things. That sword could have been a bloody mess worse, though there's not much you can do against a bullet," he admits. "Particularly a magical one, and that's what that sword was. Still, the jacket's got good wards and my tattoos did a lot to halt the spread of poison. So, not prepared for that, per se, but prepared for individual components of the attack."

Kitty sighs, not pushing the matter further, though it's a pretty sure bet she's going to buy him a shirt or two if he thinks that is clean. "Normal shirts can be clean to, you know," she grins, her last word on the subject.

"It certainly did seem like it was a guided thing. Was it just magic that set it off? Or was it Zatanna specifically?" Remembering the attack and the sword suddenly sticking out of John's shoulder gives her a bit of a shiver. It wasn't exactly a pleasant rest of the evening.

"It went after Zatanna. I'm just tougher and meaner than she is- better for me to take the blow than her," he assures Kitty. John puffs on his cigarette and gestures vaguely with his free hand. "She'd tripped a magical booby-trap an old enemy of hers had set. Hopefully it's a dumb trap and her old foe thinks she hit our erstwhile friend with it, rather than poking a hole in a grumpy old bastard like myself."

There's a frown as Kitty thinks that through. "Well, you're certainly something." Maybe tougher, maybe meaner. "She gave a good fight, though, and certainly made sure you didn't die." It's a credit both to her and possibly to Constantine's training. "Well, at least everyone is mostly okay now. Never a dull moment."

She pauses. "And what if it's not just a dumb trap?"

"Then that bitch knows she put a chunk of steel in my back, and John Constantine's a poor bastard to have as a for," he says with a wicked, ugly little chuckle. "Hopefully she's sweating a bit, wherever she's holed up, wondering if and when I'm going to pop out of a potted plant and lay a blood cricket bat across her backside." He grins at Kitty and downs his scotch, going to the bottle on the table to pour a refill.

"Well, I certainly wouldn't want anyone as my enemy who just took a blow like that and came out walking around like nothing happened and their main complaint being they have to get new tattoos." Kitty smirks and shrugs her shoulders. "So, who is this woman? And why is there a problem between her and Zatanna?"

"That's… complicated," John hedges. "And it's really Zatanna's story to tell. I don't want to step on her toes, so to speak. Professional courtesy. Though, I'm sure she'll tell you," he tells Kitty. "You've become sort of peripherally involved at this point. Suffice it for now to know that she's a bloody dangerous wizard with a LOT of ambition and the talent to back up a serious bid for power, on a cosmic scale. She'll be troublesome."

"Ah." Complicated stories. Kitty knows about those all too well. "I'll ask her, then," she nods. "If she doesn't mind. I mean, I'm only tangentially involved so much as I pulled a poison sword out of your shoulder. Though, if she's dangerous and ambitious, that may not matter so much." She knows the type. Peripherally involved or not, there are those that think anyone is fair game. "Cosmic power. That does not sound at all good."

"This game is all about people overreaching their grasp," John explains, settling his butt on the edge of the table to face Kitty. "Especially when you're talking about peers of Zatanna. She's got a phenomenal amount of talent, real, raw magical aptitude. There are others out there, too. Most magicians are constantly striving for a bit more power, a bit more energy, and that's where a lot of us go wrong- they start making moral compromises in exchange for just one little iota more energy."

Kitty's certainly seen for herself the things that Zatanna can do. They're awe inspiring and certainly magical. The same goes for Illyana and even Jericho. She's been involved with the strange from a young age. "I've seen some of that. Illyana's had her fair share of trouble when dealing with Limbo." As for moral compromises for power, she nods her head. "I guess I can see that. People giving up little bits till it's a slipper slope into evil. I've heard of mutants that have done the same."

"That's the rub," John nods appproval as Kitty says the words. "And it happens so gradually that you don't realize it's happening. It starts out so small- no demons, no Faustian bargains. You make deals with someone who's a bit shady, in order to get your hands on what you need for a particular situation. You get lazy and attack someone instead of reasoning with them. Then you start looking for more shortcuts, better toys- and in this game, there is such a thing as forbidden knowledge," John warns Kitty. "Knowledge that'll change you to look upon it."

While John speaks, Kitty listens, nodding as she does so. "Well, looking at that swirly ball of light show was certainly a surprise I'm not going to forget any time soon." The mere thought of it causes her to clasp her hands in front of her. It certainly felt like a shift of something. "I've read Lovecraft, I know the dangers of the Old Gods and stuff. Speaking of, are there really Old Gods? Could I actually summon up Cthulhu if I went really evil? I won't, of course, I just want to know the scale of how badly I could screw up."

John winces. "Let's… um. Let's just say that you should be very careful saying names and certain phrases," John says delicately. "I'm torn between educating you on how incredibly stupidly dangerous it is for you to even go around contemplating Uncontemplatible Horrors, or putting you over my knee and smacking the curiousity out of you, like my mentors did for me." He downs his scotch and belatedly winks at his apprentice. "Kidding, luv. Just … don't think about things like that too hard, eh? And don't go summoning /anything/ without me in the room and stone sober."

Kitty's eyes actually widen at that. It's hard to tell if she's actually more curious or scared at the idea of talking about that. "But, there are books and stuff! People talk about that all the time and it doesn't seem to be incredibly dangerous. Is it just because I might be able to do something about it now?" It doesn't seem like the curiosity is going to go away any time soon. It's just who she is; she likes to know about things. "I mean, you can try to smack the curiosity out of me, but I do know how to fight, you know," she smirks. "And I don't even know how to summon anything, so I think that's a safe bet."

From ten feet away, John cocks a gamin eye at Kitty and brings up a slow backhand. "Right across the kisser," he assures her with a mutter she's long since learned is completely insincere.

"I guess today will be a lesson day," John remarks, getting to his feet. "You've cleaned the circle today, right? Let's whip up a summons and see if we can entreat a visitor." He picks up his scotch and wanders from the sitting room into the adjacent laboratory, pushing the secret wall out and revealing the glistening rune-covered circle set in the ground, made of precious metals in interwoven threads. He hums quietly and goes to the bookshelf, fingers running along a large stack of 3-ring binders until he plucks one off the shelf.

Kitty smirks but doesn't even flinch as he brings up the hand. Not only can she phase, she knows he's not being serious.

There's a nod at the mention of cleaning the summoning circle and then she follows him. "Uh, didn't you say you should be completely sober for us to try this," she adds, hand waving vaguely at the glass in his hand while they move locations. It's not that she's not curious, but she also doesn't want this to get out of hand. The summoning circle would most likely draw much more of her attention if it weren't for the fact that she's seen it before.

John shrugs. "I say a lotta things, luv," he says, distantly. "This is an instance of 'do as I say, not as I do'." He flips through the book a few times, finding the page he wants, and his finger skims down it, eyes reading. "Got it. I've talked to him a few times- he's a little spirit of intellect called Bob. A kind of faerie," he tells Kitty. "He works cheap, too. Can you get me a thimbleful of scotch and put it in the center of the circle?" He kicks a pillow over to the front of the circle and sits down on it, crossing his legs, and begins composing his features in preparation for the summons.

Kitty raises an eyebrow. "Yeah, but you just said that about five seconds ago." She sighs, shaking her head. "If we die from this, I'm going to follow you around in the afterlife telling you I told you so forever." However, she does as he says, getting a thimbleful of scotch and placing it where he's indicated.

As John starts to contemplate, Kitty keeps out of the way and against the wall. Her position gives her a good view of both what John is doing as well as the circle. The only way she'll learn anything is if she's able to watch.

John bows his head and starts murmuring, eyes lidding. Little sparks of light start to flow towards the center of the circle. It takes perhaps a minute and then with a flash, a brilliant blue spark of energy snaps into existence, filling the air with the stink of ozone.

<Hello, John. Why am I here?> the spark inquires, bobbing back and forth. It pokes against the walls of the circle experimentally. <I'm not a fan of being restrained, you know. Did you bring payment?>

John nods, gesturing at the thimble. "All yours, mate. This is another wizard," he says, gesturing at Kitty and deliberately not giving out her name. "I'm buying a question for her." He looks at Kitty and nods. "He's a spirit of intellect. There isn't much he doesn't know, and even less he can't find out. You get one question from him- anything you want," he says with an encouraging smile.

Kitty blinks her eyes a few times after the bright spark of light. She watches the spark curiously from her place against the wall, eyes flickering back and forth between the spirit and John as they talk.

The introduction is met with a bob of her head. "Huh. Cool." While she's about to ask 'really', she's seen and read enough genie stories to know that's what her actual question would be. But, being put on the spot to ask a question is something she's not quite prepared for, especially when she's told the spirit could most likely answer anything she asks. "How do you get your knowledge?" She's certainly curious about that, even if it's not going to give her any information on a few of the more personal things she's thought about.

John nods approvingly at Kitty's excellent question, looking at the spark.

<I'm a spirit of intellect, child,> the spark replies, bobbing in a lazy figure-eight circle. It lands on the thimble and… somehow… drains the scotch from the container, the liquid levitating upwards and vanishing into the flying spark. <Information is power- is energy. I can tap into the energy knowledge creates, via the waves of power that radiate across the universe. When knowledge is created it leaves a resonance pattern that my essence responds to, and I learn it- much as you remember things by what they look like.>

The spark zips in a tight circle. <Thus the bargain is fulfilled, obligation done, and I take my leave, wizard.> It flahes white, and John nods, holding a hand up. "Done and done, Bob. Thank you. I'll see you next time." The spark winks out as abruptly as a lightswitch being thrown.

"Huh," Kitty repeats as the spark winks out of existence and the scotch is gone. "That was pretty awesome. So, you just put out a thimble of scotch and he can come and tell you things?" There has to be something else to it, but for now she'll revel in that idea of how interesting that is.

"What would he have done if there wasn't a circle there to keep him in? I mean, he's a spirit of intellect, I can't imagine he'd rampage." Moving away from the wall back toward Constantine, she glances at the empty thimble curiously, as if making sure it was really gone.

"And therein is the danger," John tells Kitty, grabbing his drink up and rising. "I made a deal with him. It's a standing deal, but it's still a bargain, which is important to almost everything in creation. If I'd summoned him without a payment, I would have had to coerce, compel, or bully him into giving us that information. Remember, knowledge is power, so for him to give you that information is for him to elevate you over other mortals who might have gained that information. That has a cost, even a small one."

"Bob's a benign spirit, of course, but he's not human," he tells Kitty. "If we'd summoned him without the protection of the circle, we wouldn't have any way to contain him if he decided to burrow through your eye socket to rip your memories out of your brain. At that point, it's just a stand-up fight. And if you don't know how to properly contain a creature in an empowered circle… well, Bob's benign enough, but imagine summoning a demon for information." He shrugs, leaving it to Kitty's imagination.

Kitty's eyes follow him from sitting to standing. "And, well, I guess since I don't have any standing bargains with anyone it'll be way more difficult to try and get any information or get demons and spirits to talk."

The woman wrinkles her nose at the image of Bob boring through her head to get at the memories, shaking her head to clear it of that thought. "Ew, okay, message received, make sure they can't get out before you summon them." Moving toward the door, the horrified expression turns more into a more neutral, if interested expression. It's clear she's starting to think about how the whole summoning things works. "But, you've got to admit, being able to call in a spark of blue light to ask it questions is pretty great."

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