The Market: Man with the Valkyrie's Mark

August 12, 2014:

A motley collection of 'mundanes' and magical types is drawn together at the Nowhere Market

Nowhere Market

Part street market, part nightmare, this place is peopled by the fae, the magical and the downright strange practicing a very literal brand of capitalism.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

There is, if one knows where and how to look, a market. It's a place where anything and everything can be sold. Dreams, wishes, the tears of a virgin or an apology from the unrepentant. The market never stays in one place. It moves about, often appearing in it's hazy way on nights when the city that never sleeps seems closest to actual slumber. There's an odd mist in the air, and no matter where the market seems to be, once inside it is much, much larger. Vendors, some of whom might be human or human ish, rub elbows with creatures that are quite eldritch. Normally, this is only for those who know. But sometimes the lucky, or the interesting wander in, and the market accepts them. Those are the rules.

*

Or you can cheat. When in doubt, cheat. That's what Constantine does. No following rambling statements from an ancient crone, no delving into the unspeakable abyss under a city, no murmuring backwards tongues in front of a mirror.

Constantine enters the market through a door. It's a simple door- in a frame, no less. It would look quite ordinary in a Colonial style home. Of course, plastered at a slight angle on a nearby brick wall, it looks very much /out/ of place.

Constantine exits through the door and nearly pratfalls, frowning and looking back. "Bother, I really need to work on the landing," he mutters under his breath. The Brit lights a cigarette up and snaps his fingers, the door *clicking* locked, and pops his collar up higher to protect the back of his neck. He starts moving through the crowd purposefully, tie askew, trenchcoat flapping, and most people who recognize him clearing out of his way.

*

Falcon does not know where to look, and he does not know the rules, and he sure as hell doesn't know anything about a magic traveling market, but he does know a freak updraft laden with unseasonal mist just about sheared a wing off when he tried to fly over this place. He touches down across the street, flicks his goggle filter through some of the more esoteric spectra, and whistles as he comes to one that projects a psychedelic lightshow around (and above) the building with the door that Constantine just plowed through. "Ohhh-kay. That's weird," he comments to himself. He's an expert on the arcane, honest.

(He used an eldritch squid monster as a club once.)

*

Less the cheater, more the wanderer-in, Ange (aka Seraph) was going to hit one of those "club" things that isn't a blunt instrument, but more of a trap. He is the arcane, but not so much of an expert on it yet. He turns the corner and says, "Oh. Really? Is this a job thing? Fine."

He throw open the conduit to the Living Light, and lets it charge up the tattoos that cover much of his body: gold, laid out in complex phrases in languages of Edom and Enoch. Once again he has no quarterstaff with him. Maybe someone here will have what he wants.

*

Like any good story, Tony's trip to the Market begins with a dream. A nightmare really and one that woke him in the middle of the night in a fit of coughing, clutching at his chest and drenched in sweat. The sheets are wrapped around him like tendrils trying to hold him flat against the mattress, trying to sufficate the life out of him based entirely on the high quality of their cloth.

Out of the bed Tony finds himself standing infront of a mirror in an AC/DC t-shirt and a pair of really comfortably worn blue jeans, staring at a mirror where the soft glow of his Arc reactor set in the center of his chest flickers every other six hundred beats of his heart.. It's been doing that for a few weeks, but it's getting more regular.

Fully dressed, Tony walks through the dark penthouse like a zombie. His hair is a mess and he's not shaved in two days. Thick bags have appeared under his eyes, bags big enough that the airline would make him check them. No carry on here.

Next he even realizes it, he's walking into some chinese shop that really has no business being up at this hour. Unaware how he got to Chinatown or even where he parted his car. On the other side of the door, spread out in front of him is a market quite inappropriate to the size of the building he originally observed.

The engineer in him is questioning it almost as soon as he sees it. Certain, without a doubt, that he has to still be dreaming… but at least the nightmare has ended right? He's not dying anymore.

*

There's a tall, lean, predatory looking man stalking through the market stalls. The crowd parts for him as it does for Constantine. He's seen the tall coated man and is making for him… at least, he was before Angelo walks in the door. That gets a curious glance from the god-wolf.

"Well…" he rumbles. "I've not seen Those Above in here in a dog's age. Not just figurative for him. "Hmmmm… we appear to have a pair of normals wandering in. A Daedalus and… ah. Lord Stark, if I do not mistake the visage." Tony is kind of recognizable after all.

*

"Oye!" Constantine barges into a conversation, waving around a piece of paper. To anyone who reads it, it's something about him being an appointed representative of the Interdimensional Council on Fae Markets and Etheric Exchange. "Excuse me, everyone, I'm John Constantine, duly appointed representative of the ICFMEE," he explains, "and I need a few moments alone with /this/-" he claps the proprietor of the stall on the shoulder, while the scrawny, trollish-looking individual is trying to shrink away, "fine fellow for a short chat about his last income earning reports. So, if you'll all excuse me," he says, smiling disingenuously. The crowd starts to disperse, and John turns and with his fingertips, gently shoves the troll back up against his own cart, leaning waaaay forward into the fae being's personal space.

"Selling nightmare candy to kids again, Trevor?" he asks, arching an eyebrow. "We talked about this, we talked about this -at- -length-," Constantine says, bapping the troll on the noggin with the now-blank sheet of paper to punctuate the last two words. His eyes, blazing with anger, bely the broad smile on his face. "Do I need to start making some calls? Maybe let the Krieger clan know that you're slummin' 'round here, eh?" he asks the troll, a bit threateningly.

*

Falcon retracts his wings and hurries through the door before it can shut behind Angelo. He would take a second to cover up his flight pack, but he figures that the glowy tattoos guy will attract more attention than mundane little him. And once he gets through the door, he realizes that there is literally nothing back here that isn't more strange and eye-catching than a big dude with a metal backpack. Which is to say, of course, that nothing back here sticks out quite as badly as he does. He edges away from the door, hoping no one has noticed him.

*

Ange stops for a moment, to catch his bearings. The gentle thing with the jackal head who is walking from shadow to shadow to try to get ahead of him has the grace to look slightly abashed when Ange says, "While you're skulking there, tell me where to find a weaponsmith."

The anubis-fetch wriggles but it's been spotted, and by a creature of light, pinned in the awful certainty of a direct gaze. It can't just escape. It points. Two Stalls Over To The Left it says in an inverted speech.

"That will be all," Ange says, "go and harm no-one."

The thing skulks away whining. Why do they never let it take them?

Angelo looks two stalls to the left, and they do sell weapons. They just don't look very healthy. Unwholesome. Vile.

*

Tony steps into the market proper, brushing shoulders with the elbow of something he can only describe as an ogre. He turns away from the creature, mouth working in a vague attempt to put words to thoughts, when the creature shifts a little and very politely, if thunderously, says "excuse me." Fucking polite? Seriously?

And it spawned. The creatures that walk around this giant… it has boobs… wow, that thing has breasts. He was certain th-… whatever, it has children and all of them are just a finger shorter than Tony himself.

"Oookay…" Holding his hands out to pat the air, eyes widening. "I knew the peyote was a bad idea, but this…" Wiggling his fingers around in a wave circle. "Not cool." Wait, did someone say his name?

No, they said Lord Stark. It's close enough that he's looking for the source, rubbing his fingers absently against the glow in his chest, until he sees Fenris, who is approaching him. Vaguely aware of them having met, possibly in a previous life.

Give him a break, alright? This is a lot to take in.

"I'm pretty sure this isn't where I parked my car…" To Fenris, mmm' facing, lips pulling back, chin tucking down against his chest, and his hands spreading out wide.

*

"Stark!" Fenris strides over. He's not sure if Tony remembers him or not. They've only met a couple times. "Stay close, you two." He calls back.

A woman with hawkish features and black feathers for hair eyes sam. "Mmmmmmm. Pretty feathers you have there. Care to trade one of your pinions for a luck charm? Or perhaps a nip of aura. Yours smells like sky and bottled fire. I'll bet it's quite… unique."

Angelo is getting… looks. It's not the glowy tattos either. The creatures that are looking at him, a woman with spiders legs growing out of her back, a man with the head of a mantis and a dapper cane, a child with two heads, all seem to be looking into him. "Is this the reckoning?" The child asks.

Something tugs on Constantine's jacket. Someone… was bold enough to approach him. "'scuse me mister? But are you the guy who saves children's souls? Do you happen to have a spare one? I misplaced mine." Says a little ghostly, too-thin, slip of a girl.

*

Constantine turns and winks at the little girl, once, then turns back to Trevor, grabbing a bag from under a cloth where it had been hiding and pocketing it (somehow). "Never again, Trevor," he says, overriding the troll's pleas for mercy. "If I have to come back here again, we're going to have more than words. Pack up shop. Leave this dimension for a few decades. If I get wind of this again…" he trails off ominously, before pushing Trevor once more and stepping away.

"Of course, my little specter!" Constantine beams, taking the little urchin's hand. "I specialize in souls, recovery, and candies. Want a jammy dodger?" he says, offering the snack to the girl. "Where did you misplace it at? Did you see something shiny and someone offered to trade you?" he asks the little thing, clucking his tongue. "Some right cowboys up in here," he tsks. "Show me where you lost it."

*

Sam Wilson keeps his goggles on, and doesn't switch away from whatever spectral filter is sussing out these arcane energies. The bizarre tableau he's confronted with is a bit easier to cope with if it's bathed in a cascading psychedelic light show. He can just pretend it's a music video.

This precaution serves him well when he's approached by the woman with the avian features. Clearly the crazy talk is just a hippie songwriter at work. "Sorry, the aura and the feathers are a set. Collector's items. Can't just give 'em away separately, even if I did take the bubble pack off." Great, now he's babbling too. Pull yourself together, Wilson. He scans the crowd, picks out the least colorfully magical person his display shows, and edges toward them. Clicking off the filter, he realizes: it's Tony!

"Hey, boss," he says to the industrialist. "Weird place for a staff meeting."

*

"No thanks," Ange says to the hawk-woman. "I can trade you an imprint of a pinion for an accurate, current map to the market if you have one."

In other words, a single dose of the Serum of the Seraphim, quote, the most potent medicine known to the occult, end quote. He waits for her to check her stock, and while she does, he says to the alien child, "Not that I know of. I'm just doing some shopping."

Hopefully that will encourage rather than discourage the little monster.

*

Tony is well out of his area of expertise and it shows. Not because he's unable to adapt to this, which to his mind is quite weird, but wouldn't other people say he's not terrible normal as well? No sense getting all judgmental over here… Even if it is a little on the creepy side to be surrounded by creatures straight out of the Monster Manual.

Again Fenris calls to him and this time recognition finally settles into Tony's blue eyes. Focused on the wolf-lord with a sigh of relief that he actually recognizes someone in this dream… definitely a dream. "Alright." Nodding, accepting, moving on. If it's a dream, and it is, he can deal with that. "Alright, I'm good now." Stick close to the big guy.

Where are they going? And maybe most importantly, why is Sam here? "Sam…?" Breathing out a sigh, okay maybe it's not a dream. "What is this place?" To Fenris, maybe to Sam too, but he's hoping his new employee can't answer. 'Hanging out in crazy ass half realms full of Lord of the Ring extras' was most certainly ''not'' on his resume.

*

"You're in the Market." Fenris rumbles, eying Sam now. "You two know each other? I suppose I should have expected. I take it, Lord Stark, that you did not expect to be here?"

Sam gets a slightly longer look. "You wear that often don't you?" Is all he says, with a smile. "Don't sell it. The folk around here are like as not to eat it. You've put a lot of love into that. It's… delicious."

The Finder grins to Angelo. "Rawk. Very good. I have one right here." It's just a blank piece of paper until Ange looks at it. Then it becomes a glit and guilded map etched in gold and silver. The market is, apparently, both very bewildering and slightly non-Euclidian.

"I think I saw it over there. I was holding onto it but then I dropped it. I haven't been able to find my mum or brother sir." And yes, she would like a Jammy dodger. Until… "EEEEEK! THE WOLF!!"

Everyone stops and stares at Fenris, who just rolls his eyes.

*

"Who him?" Constantine says, looking at Fenris. "He's just a big softy," he confides to the girl in a stage whisper, squeezing her hand reassuringly. "Get him right behind the ears and he's practically a puppy," he soothes. "C'mon, let's go meet him!"

Constantine walks over to Tony, Fenris, and Sam, bringing the little girl along by dint of personal presence and a firm handhold. "'allo, you lot," he says cheerily. "Old Wolf, you bringing normals into here again? Bad show, old boy," he chides the man. "They're likely to walk out of here sixty years older and befuddled by a fae."

*

Sam is as in the dark as Tony. Which is to say: he recognizes Fenris, too. What a great comfort to weary travelers is that gigantic terrifying wolf-person. "What, they don't get enough titanium in their diets?" he asks, only half joking. Some of these things have teeth for days. "But yeah, I'm not about to hock it for a lucky rabbit's foot."

Then Fenris becomes the target of a lot of unwanted attention, and Sam turns in a subtle movement that will hopefully give everyone else the impression that he's never met the guy. "I got hit by the thermal from hell and wanted to figure out what was going on," he tells Tony. "Didn't realize it was a thermal from actual hell," he explains.

*

Ange generates a feather-plume of light, which does NOT remove the original plume from his inks, thanks, and tells it to stay manifest and inert until the Finder has need of its power or sells it, in which case to grant the same to the buyer. He's not sure it will go past that, but that's fine. It's not a drain on him once she takes it. The piece of paper is useful. It says herein there be dragons dwelt, here there be dragons vended, here there be weapons accurs'd, here there be weapons blest and vended, here there be tygres, here there be barbecue vended, … so he turns and crosses the market to see the 'blest and vended weapons'. Still looking for the elusive collapsible/expandable quarterstaff.

*

Tony ahs at Sam's explanation of how he arrived at this most interesting of locations, where his own story is more of lost traveler sort of thing. "Intended to be somewhere Chinese." He indicates to Fenris, turning to look up at the big wolf as everyone else does. What with everyone else doing it and all, might as well right?

"All I wanted was one of those mango sodas with the.. marble? Is it a marble?" Tony shakes his head, "Well, one of those. I love those, they always make me feel better for some reason." It's half that they're delicious and half that he likes that they use a marble to stopper it.

Constantine gets a leveled nod, "Sup…" Try to look natural. Try to look like he belongs here. "I really wish Pepper where here right now…" She would know just what to say to him to at least make it seem like this wasn't him losing his shit. Then she would probably blame him, but honest to god, he's okay with that right now. "Seriously, I need Pepper.."

*

It never fails. Tony wanders away from the Tower, and he NEVER bothers to tell Pepper where he's going. Thankfully, Pepper has an Ace up her sleeve: she has JARVIS tell her were he is, with a real time update every few minutes. Of course, when the AI's directions stop at the edge of a completely empty parking lot, all she can do is stare. "JARVIS? Are you sure about this?" When she receives an affirmative, all she can do is take a deep breath and step into the parking lot, and nearly smack into a very strangely dressed individual. Smiling an apology, she quickly sidesteps and looks around. What does it say that she's seen so many weird things lately that this morrocan open-air market that looks like it belongs on Tatooine barely registers with her?

*

Fenris snorts to Constantine and the little girl half following half cowering in his wake. "Bringing normals here? As though I'd be that fool-" And that's when Pepper wanders in behind him. The Old Wolf sighs, in a put upon fashion. "Miss Potts. Your timing is impeccable." Actually it is. Tony could really use her help. Though it did just look like…

"Rawk. Of course. If you need anything else…" The oddly not-unattractive crow-feather-haired woman grins, "Come find the Finder. She'll set you straight." This magic feather will do a lot more than make Dumbo fly after all, and she'd not be opposed to having another.

Sam gets an amused smile. "Hell? No no, Daedalus. This is the Market. It's actually rather pleasant so long as you know to not sell your soul."

*

Constantine promptly turns and takes cover behind the little girl at Pepper's arrival, then turns again and hides the girl behind him, lifting his chin in a semblance of confidence. "Miss Potts!" he says, cheerily, with the expression of a man knowing he's walking to the executioner's noose. "Yes, 'allo, nice to see you, this is /not/ my fault," he babbles, holding a warding finger up. He brings the kid between them and rests his hand on her head. "This little moppet lost her soul and I'm helping her find it. Easy thing to misplace here," he clarifies.

*

Sam rushes to clamp his hand over Tony's mouth, but it's too late. "Oh my God, Tony! you did not just say 'I wish this thing really super hard' in the middle of a strip mall full of demons!" he hisses. "Have you never watched a movie in your life? What, next you're going to eat a bunch of freely offered food? Maybe sleep with a lady dressed like 'black' and 'spiderweb' are the only color and pattern ever invented?" Pepper's appearance moments later leaves the flier with his face buried in his hand. "Great. Now you owe the Wicked Witch of the West your firstborn."

*

The Anubis spawn tries to go through the shadows in the Finder's stall. Bad Idea.

Ange is crossing to the weapon shop when he glances over at the FREAKING HUGE WOLF from the Gotham incident, and Pepper Potts, and two guys he doesn't know, one of whom is REALLY unhealthy in some interesting ways. Why does he have a machine hooked up over his heart like that? Never mind. Don't dig, not here. Especially since the other guy has just clamped… Oh, man. Fine. Worry about the quarterstaff later. First, see what's up.

He walks over to where Pepper has just appeared, and says, "Small universe. Miss Potts. Mr. Wolfson." Of course the doctor from the gala for PolyGlobal and the other companies, isn't in a tux tonight, and those glowing wings made out of magical writing in the shape of feathers are probably what he was hiding last time he ran across the woman.

*

Tony grabs Sam's wrist and pulls it away from his mouth and turns towards Pepper with a look of elation spread upon his face like a child on Christmas morning. "Pepper!" Did he hear nothing said to him by his employee? Well the hell with that noise, he wants out of here. And the only person he knows for certain will know is Pepper Potts because in his experience Pepper knows 'everything'.

See? She even knows these folks. Theory, proven, right. Suck it dream world.

"Get me out of here?" He's not begging so much as, well… maybe a little. "I don't like this, I feel like I'm back in college and someone slipped me blotter acid. Everything is colorful and swirly and I have the strangest desire to have sex with that…" Pointing to the Ogre. "Baby moma drama…" Side whispering to his assistant. "Help. Seriously."

*

Pepper Potts actually looks relieved to see Fenris — even if he DOES make the hair on the back of her neck DOES feel like it wants to run away — and then a winged man says hello… "Dr. diLucci?" Oh, thank god. There's Tony. And Sam Wilson. At least he's not here alone. She offers the winged man a smile and the great wolf a light hand on his furry foreleg or shoulder as she steps past both of them toward her boss. She hooks a hand through one of his elbows as if they were about to walk down a red carpet, though anyone who knows her well enough (Fenris) can probably pick up on the protective set of her shoulders. "Mr. Stark. Was there something you were hoping to purchase?"

*

'Wolfson' nods to Pepper. "Miss Potts. Just popping in for a bit of shopping?" He kneels down to look at the girl. "Hello. Lost your soul did you?" He looks up at Connie. "Might be hard to get here. Lost things tend to get found. But surely we can find her another. As for the rest of this…" He turns to the crowd of people not usually included in the market as he stands. "This… cannot be coincidence. Whose fate here is…" Eyes light on Tony. "You… have a Valkyrie's touch on you, sir… Odd. Perhaps that's what brought us all here tonight. Well, brought you all here. Constantine's just here to troll the trolls."

*

"Trolling trolls and finding souls," Constantine says, rolling the vowels around with a soft hoot of laughter, rubbing his hands together. "I rather like that. What's your name, my little jam cracker?" Constantine asks, hoisting the girl up onto his hip. "I'm John. It's nice to meet you. Here, have another jammy dodger," he says, offering the biscuit to the child.

"You all best follow Fenris' advice around here," Constantine advises the group seriously, though he still smiles. "You can sell your soul entirely by accident, or get eaten by a grue. Nothing here is given away- there's a price attached to everything," he reminds them. "You could wake up tomorrow and find you've forgotten the entirety of your childhood."

*

Sam had already given up and let his hand drop. Once the words were said, the die was cast, and he prefers not to oppose forces quite as fundamental as the flow of repartee out of Tony Stark. He just keeps an eye out for any supernatural cabbie who might show up demanding an exorbitant metaphysical fare. "Ms. Potts," he politely greets the redhead as she approaches. She seems to be handling Stark, so he turns his attention to Fenris. "A Valkyrie's touch meaning what exactly?" he asks him. "Do I need to punch more squid monsters? Because that can be arranged."

*

"Lost soul?" Ange says, and looks at the map in his hand and sighs. "Can you maybe find it using a map?"

The map seems willing to show other abstractions, maybe it can manage this kind of thing. Ange offers it to the British guy whose voice he last heard in a weird house that was even harder to find than this place.

*

It would be a surprise if Tony Stark had time in his busy day to read anything related to norse mythology, but then… he does sort of have some experience with that doesn't him? Or will? Crazy wonky wibbly wobbly time flow all making strange 'sort of' sense in this place that makes absolutely 'zero' to him. If there's rules, there should be rules.. not vague half rules or implied 'kinda' rules that are impossible to get around.

It has been Tony Stark's personal mission since he was twelve to bend, break, or at the very least get around anything even remotely like a rule. And those are just the ones he's 'aware of'. This stuff? Out of his league.

At least for now.

"I don't know what that means, but it sounds serious." Tony points up at Fenris, holding onto Pepper's arm like a lifeline. This is not a place he should be and not just because it makes him feel weird. It's like everything he is stands completely and totally at odds with this… Shop? SHOP?! "No.. well yes. I just wanted a mango soda.." All he wanted was a pepsi, just one pepsi. Far from suicidal…

*

Pepper Potts knows exactly which mango soda Tony was wanting, and she's pretty sure that it can't be acquired here. "We'll get some soda on the way home, all right?" she tells her boss softly. She looks at Fenris — she's still mad at Constantine for the whole House and Book thing — and asks hopefully politely, "What's the shortest way out from here? I think it's best if Tony and I go find some mango soda."

*

"No punching. The Mark… just a sign of things to come, Daedalus."

To Pepper, "Turn around and go back the way you came? Though honestly it couldn't hurt to look around here." Fenris pauses. "Well that's not true. It could absolutely hurt. But only if you agree to sell something you could not…" He turns to the girl and sees Ange offer the map. "Well, that's handy. Nice of you to offer that up, Sent From Above. You seemed to be looking for something earlier. I know the vendors. Can I help you find it perhaps?"

*

Constantine accepts the map with a smile. "Freely given, freely accepted," he tells the man in a strange tone of voice. "C'mon, little poppet. John will help you," he soothes the little child. With a wave to the group, he heads back into the market, holding the little girl's hand confidently.

*

"Back this way," Sam suggests to Pepper, pointing to the door he, personally, used to enter. Tony may still be jonesing for Chinese, but it's not like such places are difficult to find in Manhattan. And if it's that long a trip, he can always shorten it with an airlift, right?

*

"I'll try somewhere safer," Ange replies. "I think I need to help make sure these guys get out ok, and Mr. Stark … looks like he needs help that I can't offer here."

*

There's a way out! Tony is pleased by that, pleased to his core. Even if he's mildly interested, nothing against you mystical people I'm sure you're all very nice… but he's way to impulsive for a place like this. Everyone points to a door and does everything in his power not to jog to it waving for Pepper and Sam to follow him constantly mouthing, 'let's gooooo' over and over like a broken record.

Plus that desire isn't going away and that's just not sitting right with him.

*

Pepper Potts nods to Sam and looks at Dr. diLucci. "Would you care to join us for some Chinese, then?" It's all polite sounding, but it's clear that she's going to get Tony out of here before he starts dragging her along himself. And, there's that comment about help that sounded … ominous. She WILL find out what the currently-winged man means by that. "Fenris, would you like to join us as well?" Quickly, please, she can feel Tony starting to vibrate and lean toward the exit that Sam pointed out.

*

"Be delighted to, Miss Potts." If she doesn't mind the hair raising apocalypse wolf coming along for midnight snacks, well, Fenris isn't going to say no. He turns to follow the rest, leaving the market to the goblins and gremlins… and Constantine.

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