Cleansing A Haunt

January 30, 2016:

A trip to cleanse a haunt in ex Dark Zone outside Metropolis meets a strange Necromancer

Dark Zone - Metropolis


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…


Close to a year ago a powerful Necromancer named 'Master Darque' had pulled off the impossible and brought a portion of the realm of the dead - or one fo them at any rate - into this one. That area, encompassing about a hundred square miles, had been called 'the Deadzone' and had been the site of intense conflict between the Military, various heroes and Darque's minions before it had finally been dispelled. A year later, things are slowly returning to normal in the towns. People grieve, rebuild and move on. But the land? The land remembers. And there are places where such wounds are not so easily deealt with.

The Cedar Swamp State Wildlife Management area is… more or less what it sounds like. A small, marshy delta area that drains into the Delaware river not far from the ocean. Brakish. Smelly. And full of death even before it got caught at the edge of the Deadzone. The necromatic energy of that event lingers yet here, not fully healed or disapated.

Today the place has a visitor. A tall, lean faced man in a long coat with a predatory aura about him looks over the whole thing sourly. The spirits are restless here. He can hear them. The viel is weak and probably needs fixing before something happens or someone else takes notice. "For the record." He rumbles sourly to no one in particular. "I really hate necromancers."

"Me too." A young native american woman dressed in black jeans, leather jacket boots and shirt appears near the man and moves to his side. Jesana really hates necromancers. "I.. this place is messed up." She looks around and shudders. At least at the moment she doesn't see any lost spirits or ghosts wandering around, but then, this kinda not an area people lived in. Hopefully.

"I think that even if the mushrooms I was looking for are I'm just gonna leave them and try some where else. Nothing here looks healthy." Of course the mushrooms aren't healthy either if you don't what you're doing with them. She frowns though and glances up at her God. "But then, I'm guessing I didn't actually come here to find mushrooms." She sighs. Sometimes the Indian woman would be worried about how often she'd like to kill her Father for his meddling ways but he'd just come back and she's pretty sure Fenris feels the same way.

The necromancer tugs on his gloves.

This is not the infamous 'Master Darque', but a first time visitor to Delaware. A tourist. Although he looks like he stepped from the pages of a hundred-year-old romance novel set in some faraway country. He walks slowly through the marshy delta, garbed in a suit and bearing a satchel slung over his shoulder. Pausing in his stride, he lifts a gloved hand to his face, pensively stroking his bearded jaw while peering about with grey eyes.

He sees the fellow with the predatory air about him, frowns — just curiosity, there — and takes a breath.

"…So, ah, wot we doin' 'ere, Boss?" chimes a voice near the necromancer's ear. It would appear his jacket is talking to him. "Place is a jolly cesspit, innit? Can we stay?"

Walker Beck — the necromancer in question — glances down at the face of a little rat in his inner jacket pocket. "No. You may enjoy it here, Crotchet, but some of us like to maintain a modicum of… good taste. The magic here reeks." He continues walking, his footsteps bringing him closer to the others visiting the same area.

"Keep it down," he tells the rat. "We're not alone."

"Aw, but Boss!"

"Quiet! Or you can ride in the bag."

Zee shivers as they walk through the area. Master Darques hold on this place was one of her darkest times. That may have been because it came so hot on the heels of the HYDRA threat, or it might have been because the young magus had nearly died a couple of times.

Pity that her magic is bound… she might have sensed the new arrival as they walked.

Walking quietly beside Fenris, Zee keeps a hand on her messenger bag, focussing on the land ahead of them. No need to say anything, not really.

Fenris sighs and starts forward. Magic pools in natural places. Or rather, supernatural ones. But it usually follows some fairly simple rules about how it spreads and radiates. So he's fairly sure that the 'source' of the necromatic taint will be ahead somewhere. Already Jesana and Zee can see evidence of it. The plantlife is rotting even quicker than usual and the animals are sickly. More than that, there's definitely a 'haunt' somewhere he. They can feel an unnatural presence as they push into the swamp and Zee and Jes… and even Walker, may get flashes of a 'shift' between regular vision and a ghostly greyscale one.

"No Jesana, we're here to 'clean up' as it were. This land isn't recovering quickly at all and if we leave it, it may well fester, a haunt may take root - probably already has actually - or some necromancer may come along and try to tap it.

He can't smell Walker yet. Walker's down wind of him. But he is, coincidnetly, on an approach that will take him right up to the approaching magus.

Wanda has been drawn here as well. Woken up in the middle of the night by voices telling her of the magical pollution and urging her to attend. She would have been here faster but since her extra powers from the Vishanti have been taken away again - how rude of them - she couldn't fly here. And since she was in a rush, the voices can be insistent, she didn't ask for a lift from any of her X-Red crew. So that means…bus.

The driver was kind enough to stop the Greyhound alongside the swamp so now Wanda is running through the wet ground, drawn to her fellow mages, and getting her clothes spattered with mud. "I know where they are" she hisses to the voices. "Just let me get there…first…" A bit of panting between her words now.

Jesana definitely sees the ghostly vision, just not any ghosts yet. She's glad, sometimes she can't tell the difference between spirits and the living but whatever is going on here, she sees it. "Hey Zee." Jes smiles and checks her friend over without being too obvious about it. "A haunt?" She turns and starts looking about.

"Well, it looks like anything we can do to fix this would be good." The mention of necromancers draws a soft growl from her. She hates them, anything even vaguely related to them. Darque had almost cost her, her God. And she'd killed a Wendigo when she was fifteen after it murdered her first bonded. "If we find one can I kill him?" Jes tries not to sound to hopeful. She also quickly adds in case Fenris already heard about it.. "I warned the guy earlier! I swear.. What..?" She turns again, catching Wanda's voice.

"…y'know, Boss — most o' them wot can use magic don' fancy necromancers. Ow!"

Beck abruptly thwaps his left breast as though he were swatting a bug. Or a demon in rat-form. "I said be quiet," he hisses under his breath to the Familiar. "No one just 'visits' a damp swamp — "

"They visit England — I'll be quiet! I'll be quiet!"

Beck closes his eyes as he continues to walk along the path toward the other people in the same area. It is hard to look around, mostly due to the fact that part of him finds the 'woundedness' of this place… enticing (like the pleasure one derives from picking at a scab, knowing it is not the best thing to do to an injury). Beck tugs at his gloves self-consciously again. The glint of silver can occasionally be seen around his wrists.

As his vision shifts between 'mundane' and the greyscale 'shadow-world', he puts a hand to his chest and hesitates. The Familiar in his jacket squeaks, but Beck shakes his head. "I have a wretched feeling about this," he murmurs as his pace quickens. "And I think they do, also." With a flutter of his 1920s-era coat, he breaks into a jog.

"Hey Jes." Zee offers her friend a tight smile. She can see the shadows, she nearly feel them. Perhaps they call to the darkness that she's seen running her magic.

Canting her head, she looks up at Fenris "And there's Wanda …" her voice dying out as Beck closes on them. "Heads up…"

Her hand reaches for the Sgian Dubh in her boot… anyone in this area could swing either way.

Fenris turns at Wanda's voice pausing enough to let the woman catch up. "Maximoff?" He has a moment to wonder… why hasn't he ever invited her to the Primal Force… but that can be discussed later. There's a sudden sensation of magic around them and before Fenris can counter it reality bends a little…

When it finishes they're at the edge of a wide circular, very marshy clearing at the center of which stands a single tree, tall and old. To mortal eyes it looks simple, though to those aware the tree fairly brims with malice and necromatic power.

"Hell… so you know what I said about haunts?" That's one. "Not all haunts are human spirits. Some are older. More powerful. And more malicious."

Just as he's finishing Walker's path will take him right up to the very same clearing. There's the tree yes. At its roots, under the water, are countless bones. People. Animals. All have died here and nourished it. And now it wants more.

Wanda catches up with the group and offers them a fond smile and wave…once she's finished catching her breath. And then their reality changes. She nods to Fenris's words as she looks up at the giant tree. "And most haunts are not what they appear to be" she mumbles, more to herself than anyone else.

Wanda offers Zatanna in particular a comforting smile. "They took my power away" she explains softly, "So I know exactly how you feel. Not all of it but I'm no longer anything like a goddess." An apologetic shrug to all that she will be operating on her old power before she spots Walker. "Is that a ghost?" He dresses old.

Jesana's murderous mood seems to fade as quickly as it sprung up. The fastest way to calm her anger is usualy to bring out her mothering instincts and Wanda always does that. It's not that Jes thinks her friend is crazy, she doesn't. She's just aware that Wanda sometimes needs a little looking after, really though, who doesn't?

The native american pauses to stare at the tree and then glance up at Fenris. "It's.. a tree?" She seems to think this over for a moment. "Okay. I guess that makes sense." A lot more than some of the things she's seen. Smiling at Wanda, Jes turns to look and the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, her human form's version of hackles raising. "Noo I don't think so." She growls and reaches for her gun in a sudden blur of motion. That motion not so coincedincely puts her slightly to the side and in front of the other two women.

As soon as Beck reaches the clearing, he comes to a dead halt. His eyes fixate upon the tree in the centre, and both his hands seem to moves toward it (still attached to his arms, as if they were trying to drag him to the tree's embrace). Scowling, he closes his hands into fists and crosses his arms over his chest in protest.

"So easy would the taking be…" The words leave his lips like a thief sneaking out through an open window. Beck shakes his head and motions toward the group.

"Play it cool, Boss," murmrus the rat in his jacket pocket.

Beck wets his lips with his tongue and crosses to the group of strangers (to him). "I say, please tell me you're flesh and blood and not… restless remnants of whatever foul deeds were visited upon this hapless place."

"I said 'cool', not — hey!" The Familiar goes silent as Beck clamps his elbow down upon his side. "This place is a stain," the necromancer continues. "If you are… corporeal, would you mind telling me what you are doing here?"

"Hello Wanda …" Zee might wonder the same too, about Primal Force, except she's focussed on the newcomer and that tree. "I'm sorry to hear that Wanda." At least she's still alive. Some of the readings she's done recently indicate that some testing didn't end up so well.

"We are corporeal. We have come to cleanse this place."

Fenris turns at the voice and in a second there's a very large silvery blade in his hand. He had not been expecting company and this is going to be difficult as is. "We are corporeal and y-" The god-wolf's eyes narrow and he twirls his sword a couple of times. "Necromancer…" He hisses. "What are you doing here?"

"Corporeal?" That's a big word for an English as a second language person and Wanda has to think on it. "Does that mean I'm alive?" she asks the others with her before nodding to Walker. "I'm alive. I came here because of the…" She taps the side of her head. "I hear voices sometimes. I used to know they were other people but now I'm not so sure anymore. I get confused easily."

And then there's suddenly a sword and people talking about necromancers. Wanda looks from Zatanna to Fenris - Jes is in front of her, "Is this a bad thing?" Her eyes narrow in the direction of Walker. "Are you a bad person? Are you…corporeal?"

Jesana growls again. It's only that she thinks that Fenris will kill this necromancer that she hasn't shot him yet. Unlike the elf he let run away. There's a momentary shifty glance in Fen's direction. The elf that she is so not trying to hunt down on her own and kill. "You either have the worst luck in the world, or the best." She mutters towards the man. There is a second reason she hasn't fired her weapon yet that also has to do with Fenris. He's the one person in all the world aside from her Father who can control her actions. He hasn't given her permission to kill yet and the guy hasn't done anything threatening. But he's a necromancer! It's a bit of a struggle to just stand there. Necromancers aren't good guys, Like, ever. Right? "He's real." Jes murmurs to Wanda. "I think..I'm pretty sure."

Beck holds up his hands and looks between Fenris and Zatanna.

"Ah. Yes, well. Actually — funny story, I assure you." He takes a slow step backward, shifting his gaze toward Wanda and Jesana as well. "I had just arrived back in the States when I felt this place… calling to me… Yes. And, given that it's obviously such a fell place, I thought perhaps I might be able to — "

"Oh, for cryin' out loud!" The black rat scampers out of Beck's jacket and onto his shoulder, perched there on its haunches while pointing at the group opposite him and his master. "Yes, 'e's corporeal," he replies in a Cockney accent, with a heavy helping of sarcasm, like a teacher talking down to the worst students. "No, 'e ain' bad. Yes, 'e's a necromancer. No 'e — I already said 'e ain't bad, didn' I? An' 'e's 'ere to… to… Boss, wot we 'ere for, again?"

Beck puts a hand to his brow, massaging it between his eyes. "As my… mouthsome friend here is trying to tell you," he offers in more of his refined, polite tone of voice. "I am a necromancer, but I am not evil. That is to say…" and he looks at Jesana in particular. "I try? to do the right thing? My name is Doctor Walker Beck, and — believe it or not — I came here to destroy this place." He glances at Zatanna. "But your plan sounds much better! By all means, cleanse it. You… clearly don't need me, so I'll just be going…"

At Fenris' hiss, Zee's blue eyes fix on Walker, Sgian Dubh brandished in one hand her other hand on her bag. Letting the man talk, she listens carefully, casting Fenris a sideways glance.

"My father has spoken of necromancer like this." He hadn't seen one in her lifetime though, they were a bit like unicorns, really. As the man starts to walk away, the younger mage looks up to the older "If he is what he says, he might be useful …." and take some of the pressure off the group.

Fenris is by nature territorial and suspicious… but he's also well aware that not everything with a monster's nature is too monstrous to be allowed to be. He is, in fact, a walking personification of that.

"We could use the help." He says without a trace of shame. Because they could. "Also I'm not sure if it will let you…"

If Beck keeps walking he'll note that the first turn he takes curves right back to the grove. "… leave."

The god-wolf sighs and looks back to the tree. "I'd say fire but I'll bet it won't burn… pendulums. We'll need those… and dark magic…" Which they have here… "Alright. Jesana, Zee focus through your pendulums. It's warping reality here. You'll need to strip that away from it before it can be hurt. Wanda, Doctor Beck if I'm not wrong this thing is quite old and quite strong. Chaos and darkness might be just the things we need after its shell is gone…" If Beck will stay that is and assuming he can't just teleport out.

"A talking rat!" Wanda is excited even if no one else is. "Did you see that? The rat was talking. How cute is that?" She's starting to wander off after Walker before Fenris is getting to business. "Oh, yeah, sure."

A deep breath before the witch turns to look at the giant tree looming in front of them. A few mumbled words and her scarlet energy starts to form around her hands. Not as vivid as recently but it still has a spark to it. "So this tree is poisoning reality?" she asks, trying to figure out what they are facing. "Some would say I do the same thing…"

The fact that Jesana can scent the rat isn't a rat is not a point in the man's favor. The fact that he looks at her in particular is however, because she finds it amusing. She doesn't want to believe him and she's knows that plently wouldn't. A non-evil necromancer just wouldn't fit most people's world view. Jes's very nature is born of change and chaos and so it isn't a huge step for her to believe such a thing. But dammit she hates necromancers!! She also never hurts innocents if she can help it. But he can't be an innocent if he's a..

"Oh holy fuck. What do I do?" Jes gives up on chasing her tail in circles trying to decide and listens to Zee and then Fenris. Slowly, grudgingly she puts her gun away and turns to do as Fenris asks. It will at least prove she isn't afraid of the man. It's also a sign of how much she trusts her companions. She pulls the smoky quartz crystal from beneath her shirt and lets it rest between her breasts as she closes her eyes and goes to the focused state of mind she needs to do this. Magic is different for her. Most of the time it works for her only because she believes that it will. It will do what she wants because she demands it and her will won't be denied. It's not entirely what actually happens but since often in magic beliving a thing is half the battle, it works well enough. "Oh Wanda.." Jes shakes her head but doesn't sigh. She's gotten used to this kind of thing it seems. She's actually smiling. And more willing not to kill this thing her friend finds cute. Yet.

"Looks like they aren' gonna kill ya straight off, Boss!" says the rat in a cheery voice, then it looks over at Wanda and — in a very human…ish manner — blows her a kiss. "'Ere's lookin' at yew tew, luv."

"Oh, be silent!" Beck snaps at the Familiar, and promptly puts him back inside the jacket. He has stopped walking, having decided to stay. Beck's grey eyes focus on Jesana firstly, regret showing, and then track toward Wanda, Zatanna, and finally Fenris. Lifting his hands, the necromancer gives the group a nod. "Your… rather bestial-natured friend there is correct," he says, referring to Fenris. It's that 'predator vibe', or perhaps the 'Sha' inside Beck (being kind of a 'dog creature') reacting. "It will take more than one of us to do what you suggest, but… I may be able to weaken it…" and he nods toward the tree. "Just… try not to kill me? I'm not entirely sure what would happen."

With that, the man removes his gloves — revealing the withered hands of someone very, very old — and wiggles his fingers. He crouches down to the ground and places both palms into the dirt. "Whenever you are ready."

Of course he can't leave. Zee really shouldn't be surprised anymore. She doesn't even bat an eyelid at the Rat Familiar… well, maybe she does when it blows Wanda a kiss.

As the others take up position and start channeling their magic, the weakest of group (a change for the young woman), focusses her attention on her pendulum and lets what magic she can flow her through and it, reaching out to feel the warp in reality and to start, with the help of the others, strip that away…

Once everyone is in position Fenris adds his own spark. The God-Wolf has an innate connection to the earth, to life itself, and his magic is that of the fierce will to live. Nature, red in tooth and claw.

Both Pendulums glow and focus energy between them which begins to flow out and push against the sphere of warped reality that is keeping this tree - ancient and hoary - alive and feeding on the blood of any who wander here. Ordinarily it wouldn't be this strong but drunk on necromatic energy it can shape the area around it in rather blatant ways…

But now that shield is being eaten away. Jesana and Zee can feel the pushback. Feel the darkness. Fenris takes a lot of the 'weight' on himself but as bearers of pendulums they can't help but feel some of it. It's malicious. Bloodthirsty and very, very powerful.

"Now!" That was to Wanda and Beck. He, Zee and Jess will hold out as long as they can. The other two need to put this thing down.

Wanda feels it. The warping of reality. The chaos that comes with casual whims and too much power. A deep breath as her power builds. She has learned not to battle directly such magics - to get into a competition of who could change reality the fastest to destroy the other - now she concentrates on simply dispelling the chaos rather than mould it.

Scarlet energy shoots into the earth, seeking out the roots - both literal and metaphorical. Her magics doing their best to negate what the 'haunt' had created. Wanda is not as powerful as she used to be even just two weeks ago but she pours her heart and soul into her task.

Focused on stripping away the tree haunt's grip on reality, (she's Coyote's Daughter and Fenris's most ardent worshipper and no bloody damned tree is going to best her!) Jesana doesn't acknowledge the man's look just yet. She did see it though and once this is done, if he hasn't tried to kill any of them then she'll give him a chance. Her vow to Fenris 'I swear I'll stop just killing everyone who pisses me off' is slowly starting to get her to where she can look past her rage and see more of the picture. When the people pissing her off aren't trying to kill her anyway.

The occasional whiff of the demonic nature isn't alarming her like it might others but she's aware of it too and perhaps surprisingly it isn't a mark against the necromancer. She wears the mark of two demons on her soul in addition to wounds to her spirit that are ever so slowly healing. The darkness and the weight of the thing, she feels it of course but sets it aside. Her childhood training comes in very handy when stuff like this happens. She'll be able to hold out longer than most but she will still tire and weaken eventually.

Necromantic energy… against necromantic energy — at least, that is somewhat the case with Beck at this present moment. The moment his hands disappear into the soil… they really disappear into the soil. Down, down, down they go, all the way to the twisted roots of this unwholesome tree — although to an onlooker it might appear as if Beck is just crouching on his hands and feet. Praying perhaps.

He is praying. Words in ancient Egyptian issue forth from the necromancer's lips, and his body lurches as his hands grab hold of the tree's roots and start to siphon energy from it. "Gnnn…ahhHHHH!!" Beck yells at the onset of malice coming from the ground beneath him. The chanting coming from his mouth intensifies — references to Set, the restless dead, and… someone called Timat, for those nearby who can understand him. His voice changes, and it sounds like two people speaking at the same time, competing for the same power.

Beck opens his eyes and there's nothing there. Only empty sockets with fire burning deep inside them. The necromancer continues his efforts to drain the tree of some of its power, but the other… 'presence' in him also tries to latch onto the magicks of the other magi here.

"Do it…" Beck grates through his teeth. "Do it quickly. Please…"

Meanwhile, Crotchet the Rat zips OUT of Beck's pocket and scampers away, squeaking in terror.

As the magic is focussed, so too is Zee's attention, her world folding down to a pinprick of concentration. It's like tunnel vision for the young mage, as she slowly works at the shield. She can feel the weight, the weight that Fenris can't keep from then, and she grits her teeth and tighten her knees.

Fenris grunts. It's working. He can tell. He takes the weight of pushing against the altered, augmented reality… and then feels the Haunt's strength start to wane. The necromancer chanting the dead languages gets a quick sidelong glance from the Asgardian but there's no time to pursue it further. Now is the time to strike.

The god wolf reaches out to his companions, gathering their energy. Wanda's strikes cause the tree to shake and shiver and then get bound up in the light from Jesana and Zee, the Darkness from Walker and the life energy from himself.

And then he lets it go. All of it slams into the tree and the thing cracks and splits as if struck by a bolt of lightning and catches fire. The bubble of warped reality collapses inward and Fenris opens a portal around them. When the air stops rippling and distorting, they're all in Central Park.

"Ow… ow…" Fenris shakes himself. "Well done, all."

Wanda is breathing heavy as she looks around their new location. She wipes the sweat from her brow. "Did it work? And…Central Park?" A concerned look for Walker. "Did your rat come with us?" It did run away before everything was done after all. The witch finds a tree to lean against and catch her breath. "This wasn't so hard a fortnight ago. Everyone okay?"

Jesana looks around and a speculative look crosses her face. Central Park. She hasn't checked here for that elf since this morning… maybe… "I'm alright." She turns to smile at Wanda and then look the others over. She's also quietly rethinking her assumption that the rat was a demon because really what the hell kind of demon screams like a little girl and runs away in terror? She'd heard the strange language but has no idea what it was. "…Okay. Maybe you were speaking the truth.. Thank you for your help." Jes looks at Walker. She opens her mouth as if to say more but then closes it and nods at him instead. It's as close to an apology for her aggresive actions earlier as she can manage. Apologies are not one of her strengths. She would rather bite of her own tongue and eat it.

Beck finds himself kneeling on very different ground, gasping for air… and trying very hard not to grin like a maniac. Shifting his weight, he sits down in the snow and reaches into his jacket for a spare pair of gloves. He loses no time at all in pulling the gloves over his emaciated, taloned hands, and releases a sigh.

"I, uh… I say," he stammers, in between efforts not to smile. His expression tends to shift between manic glee and… relief. "That was quite a spot of power. Good show all 'round, you — who?" He looks firstly at Wanda, and then at Jesana. "Oh. Yes. Well. One tries. I am simply glad we were able to overcome such a place. I shudder to think what other evils it must have drawn into itself…seeking all that power. Yes…"

He trails off.

"Oh, good Lord! Crotchet!" Quickly Beck stands to his feet and pats at his breast pocket, then all his other pockets. Then inside his satchel. He looks at Jesana and shrugs. "Never mind. He'll come back. He always comes back."

Zee holds the power as the spells and the others magic breaks around them, sagging as Fenris transports them clear.

Looking over to Beck, hands on her knees, she slips her Sgian Dubh in her boot. "Thank you, Doctor Beck. Should you ever require assistance, you can find me at Shadowcrest, in Gotham." That's a little of challenge in itself, because only those with magical ability can find it. Besides the house is well warded.

Smiling faintly as he looks for his familiar "I'm fine Wanda. Just a little tired. Fenris, may I rest at your house for a little?"

She's already moving in that direction, not expecting her mentor to say 'no'. That's one tired mageling, right there.

"Of course you may…" The Old Wolf straightens up and opens a Way back to his home. He'll also open ways for anyone else who needs to get around. "I am well Wanda. Just a bit banged up. And it worked. Good to see you. I shall catch up with you soon. And as for you necromancer…"

He smiles a bit. Toothily. "Well done. Be safe out there." Once everyone's away he steps through his portal, following Zee and vanishes.

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