A Talent for Magic

January 11, 2017:

Illyana goes looking for a teacher.

Oblivion Bar

Characters

NPCs: Vampires

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It will be dusk soon on the Eastern Coast of the US, but the Oblivion Bar is not in the East Coast or anywhere in Earth. Its own little pocked dimension floating somewhere between Faerie and Earth, with a few anchors also in the Lower Realms, the bar never closes, and never opens, and yet somehow manages to have downtimes to allow the staff to rest, probably due to some clever time-warping.

Obviously it is not happening soon, as the place is half-full, and today it has only a small number of humans around. Monsters have taken over. Over the tables, that is. Vampires sip from their blood, undead horrors talk about the ‘old, good times’ and werewolves prefer beer. Some enterprising goblins mingle with this rather dangerous group, trying to sell mystical trinkets and wicked-looking weapons.

Doctor Strange is seated at a corner, away from the monster crowd, talking with a handsome young man who thankfully is nor sparkling, but one almost would expect he should be. Wong told Illyana where to find the doctor, and warned her he wasn’t expected to return to the Sanctum until very late.


Very late isn't a problem for Illyana Rasputina. Being out and about until the early hours in the real world is hardly unusual for her, and in Limbo she often loses track of time completely. Patience, however, is a different matter entirely. The prospect of sitting around waiting for Doctor Strange to return to his residence doesn't hold any appeal, so Illyana's only recourse is to track him down.

The Oblivion Bar is a new experience for Illyana, but she's not exactly left in open-mouthed wonder when she arrives. Blue eyes range across the patrons, and a smile pulls at her lips. "How did I not know about this place?" She asks herself, then moves off in search of her quarry.
Vampires, Werewolves, none of these things seem to bother the slim Russian as she wends her way between the tables. The goblins get a little more of a reaction, even if its just to be shooed away and told their wares are overpriced.

Finally reaching Doctor Strange's table, Illyana's mildly miffed to discover that someone's already monopolising his attention. Making sure she's in his eyeline, Illyana raises a hand and wiggles her fingers in a little wave to announce her presence.


Doctor Strange glances to Illyana as soon as the young woman spots him, but he waits until she is closer to say anything. His companion notices Illyana as soon as she takes two steps in their direction, and he stares for several seconds. He has black hair with a white streak in the middle, red eyes and visibly pointy ears.

“Thank you, Doctor. I’ll see you soon, in the city,” he stands up, silently offering his seat to Illyana. “Lord Bennett,” nods Strange, standing up. And then to Illyana. “Ms. Rasputina, good evening,” he greets.

Bennett reaches out, lightning fast, and grabs… another vampire’s wrist. This one was a blonde, shirtless boy that somehow was just behind Illyana, completely quiet. “Hey, I just wanted to play…” protests the second vampire. Bennett ignores his protests and drags him back to their table.

Doctor Strange hrmphs, clearing his throat. “Do not worry overmuch, this place is a sanctuary. No fighting is allowed and it is enforced by powerful magics. Please, sit down.”


Illyana returns the scrutiny she receives from Doctor Strange's companion in kind, finally raising one blonde eyebrow to silently ask if Lord Bennett likes what he sees. She doesn't say anything, though. Impatient she might be, but she doesn't want to get herself thrown out of this place on her first visit.

However, when the vampire offers her his seat, he'll get a nod from Illyana. She knows how to be polite, after all!

She's not expecting the sudden move, and she whirls around, hand on the hilt of the Soulsword which, impossibly, is jutting halfway out of her chest, before she sees that the situation is in hand. She glances across to Doctor Strange. "So Billy Idol's really a vampire. Who knew?" She says, as if this happens to her all the time, and pushes the Soulsword back inside her.

"I wasn't worried." Illyana says, breezily, as she sits down, smirking a bit. "After all, I play rough." Leaning back, she glances around the place again, then zeros in on the Doctor. "So this is where you go when the Doctor is Out?"


Strange sits down again and offers Illyana a faint smile. “Sometimes. The Oblivion Bar is a good place to meet peacefully with unnatural enemies or allies. Would you like anything to drink?” He offers, quietly casting some spells to prevent them to be heard from the keen-eared denizens of the monster meeting, “what brings the Queen of Limbo here?”


Illyana nods, but there's still the ghost of a rather evil smile on her lips. "I guess so. I like showing my unnatural enemies my place. Most of the time they stop being enemies pretty quick." Sometimes they stop being anything else, either, but she doesn't need to spell that out.

"A drink sounds great. You pick." She suggests. She wouldn't be so trusting, but the Doctor is supposed to be a good guy. That and she's busy watching him cast spells whilst trying not to look like she's watching him cast spells. At his question, she pulls a face. "Not Limbo." She tells him. Wouldn't do to have him think things were going badly at home. "Apparently I'm not /quite/ as accomplished as people expect 'me' to be." She says sourly. He'll know what she's talking about. "I think I should do something about that."


Since he can pick, Illyana is going to end with a cup of chai once the waiter processes his telepathic request. “I meant dealing with them in alternative means than… sword point,” comments Strange. “So Limbo is pacified right now, good. I had been detecting instabilities from that region of the Shard Realms. But they stopped roughly at the same time you crossed over.”

He was watching. But that is to be expected, since Limbo is now very close to the Elder Gods’ hideouts. “As for the accomplishments… have you met a problem you can’t solve from your Realm?”


Illyana cradles her cup in both hands as if her hands are cold, before taking a small sip and smiling at Strange over the rim of the cup. "While the cat's away…" She says, before giving her head a little shake. "Don't worry. My mice are behaving themselves now." If she caught the implication that he's keeping an eye on her domain, she's apparently less than outraged by it
There's a flicker of annoyance in her eyes, though it's directed inward. She really doesn't like confessing a weakness. She takes a deliberate sip of her tea before she replies. "We'll see." She says. She's definitely holding a grudge over something. "But I have some… friends who I'd like to help. And teleporting their problems to Limbo isn't always the best answer."


“And neither is bringing demons back to Earth,” adds Doctor Strange. “No, I am not really complaining. You have been very restrained at the time to bring minions to this plane and as far as I know none has managed to cause real problems. For that I am grateful.” Although grateful to Xavier, mostly. “As for the rest. You have your sword and your mutant abilities, do you seek more power?”


Illyana snorts quietly to herself, at the mention of employing her demons on Earth. Just because she hasn't done it lately, it doesn't mean she hasn't thought about it. Or that she won't, if she feels the need. "I'll let them know you approve. They'll be so pleased." Her tone is, of course, teasing.

Putting her cup down, Illyana leans back in her chair and regards Strange for a long moment before answering. "This is either going to be the… those who seek power shall have it denied them… or the power corrupts speech, isn't it?" She asks with a quick grin, before schooling her expression to something more serious. "I seek the power to help my friends without bringing Limbo to Earth, or Earth to Limbo. Is that so bad?" Her lips twitch again. "A girl likes to have options, after all. I'd hate to become boring."


“You already know that, so I will skip the usual warnings,” admits Strange, sipping from his cup. “And add some advice. You have great talent for magic and you should cultivate and expand on it. Not just for your friends or your heroing career, but because you love the mystic arts. If you don’t, then find a better sword.”


Heroing career? That seems to amuse Illyana for some reason, but she chooses to reply to something else Strange says. "There is no better sword. Not for me, but I think you know that already." If he didn't recognize the Soulsword for what it is, then maybe he shouldn't call himself the Sorcerer Supreme. Still, she senses that he's about to let her walk away empty handed, so she finishes her tea to give herself a moment to think. "I have a talent for black magic. It comes easily, in Limbo, and I do love it. You should see my library." And she memorized it, when she was still a child. She's proud of that, proud of her proficiency. It's why having her limitations revealed stings so much. "I probably love it a little too much. I need a teacher."


“No such thing,” as too much love for magic, he means. “I don’t think you have a talent for black magic. Humans do not have a talent for black, white or any color of magic. I think you have a talent for all magic and you were pushed to learn a twisted magic that only works in certain dark places. The Elder Gods were looking for someone like you to open the way, but they did not create you.”

Strange sighs, finishing his tea. “Frankly, I don’t want to see your library, I doubt I could learn any magic there. Although I suppose the information on demon lore must be very accurate and complete. And useful… but not pleasant.” He tilts his head. Seeking a teacher. And she went straight to the top! Such gall!

“Now I am going to do the warning bit.” He continues. “Magic always has a price. You know this because it cost you at least half your soul already. And I am sure you paid even more than that. It was the same for me, I lost my old life, I lost my freedom, I lost my brother and I lost my wife. Keep learning and you will keep losing pieces of you. But if you love magic enough, I will teach you.”


Illyana wrinkles her nose at the snub. And she was being so nice too. "No. Not pleasant. But necessity usually isn't." The lightness that never quite left her tone is now wholly absent. Look down on her if you will, she's not going to apologize for what she had to do to survive.

The warning is expected, and Illyana smiles. "And if I stop now, I won't lose any more?" She shakes her head. "We both know better. It's one thing to lose a part of yourself, it's another to have it taken from you. No-one's taking anything else from me. Magic saved what's left of me." She tilts her head to one side. "So when's the first lesson?"


“If you stop now? I don’t know,” replies the Doctor, thoughtful. “Life is not always fair, but you are not ensured to have to pay a price for just living.” While with magic the universe really insists to tax the power with pain.

“I am almost free next Friday morning. And in the afternoon I need to review and reinforce certain wards all over the Appalachian, you can come if you are curious. You can also visit the Sanctum and spend time in the library, which is likely one of the best occult libraries in the world, since I inherited it from previous Supreme Sorcerers. I have to admit you will be lucky if I can give you more than two or three formal lessons every month. But I can guide your studies.”


Illyana's already rejected giving up now. Once the door's been opened to the world beyond the mundane, it can't be closed. Not that she wants to close it.

When Strange relents and actually sets a time, Illyana does her best not to look smug as well as victorious. It's something else she probably needs to work on. Still, she's magnanimous enough not to cast aspersions on HIS library. "I'll be there." She assures him, looking a little hungry, and perhaps a touch disappointed when he clarifies how much time he can spare for her. "I'd better be a quick study, then." She says, with a decisive air. "Thanks for the chai, too." She smirks. "Now I need to go and teach a demon some manners. I'll see you Friday." With that, and a friendly seeming nod, she takes her leave of the Sorcerer Supreme.

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