The world changed and I didn't notice?

May 14, 2017:

Illyana visits Doctor Strange to check out Nate's wild claim that reality has changed. She's surprised to discover that he's not crazy.

Sanctum Sanctorum

From the white marble floor to the artistically painted domed ceiling, everything about this foyer expresses opulence. Two wide curving staircases balustrade with filigreed wrought iron skirt the east and west walls of the oval shaped room, leading to an expansive mezzanine. Elaborate sconce trimming marks the point where the walls meet the ceiling, decoratively illuminated with hidden candles casting a bright golden glow throughout the room. Light beige marble pillars border the square archways leading north, east and west to other parts of the suite. On either side of the entrance are two large golden urns housing meticulously kept white roses.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Nate Grey

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

A circle of light appears in the well appointed surroundings of the Sanctum Sanctorum and a certain blonde Russian bounces out with a jaunty step. As usual, Illyana's chosen outfit isn't in keeping with the decor, but for once it's not because she's decked out in black, leather and skulls. Oh no. This time she's wearing a pair of skinny blue jeans, white sneakers and a pink (yes pink) hoodie. She's also wearing an impish smirk that suggests an ulterior motive.
"Stephen?" She calls out, "Is the Doctor in? Someone told me the world changed while I wasn't looking and I need a second opinion!"


Certainly jeans and hoodies look out of place in the posh, classy and so very mid-20 Century mansion-like place. Even Xavier has a more modern ambiance. But that is probably due to having his mansion blown up a few times in the last 15 years.

The Sanctum, being somewhat alive, tends to stubbornly rebuild at it was when some inter-dimensional monster crashes some walls. Even installing the modern electronics was quite the adventure.

Illyana's call takes a minute or so to be replied, and it is the doctor himself, coming in full Supreme Sorcerer outfit and looking as if he had little sleep in the last week. "Ms. Rasputin. Good to see you. It seems so, indeed. Changed. Although I am surprised you weren't looking."


Illyana waits the required minute. It's not like she has much choice, but she's still starting to get impatient by the time the master of the Sanctum puts in an appearance. Illyana looks up from inspecting the roses by the door, and narrows her eyes when she sees the condition of the Sorcerer Supreme. How very like someone else she's seen recently, she thinks… and then he has to go and confirm that on this one point, Nate probably isn't crazy.

Illyana's eyes narrow and she straightens up, folding her arms. "Really? You're not conspiring with a guy, about 6'2", premature grey, glowy eye, to weird me out?" She shakes her head. "Forget I asked." A horrified look suddenly appears on her face. "Be right back." She says hurriedly, and vanishes in a flash of light. Less than a minute later she reappears, not entirely hiding a look of relief. "Sorry. Had to check on something. So what happened, why didn't I notice, and why does everyone who DID notice look like hell?"


"Er… no," Strange goes through the list of people with glowing eyes he knows. But… just no. When Illyana reappears, Strange invites her to sit down, "I needed to go over all the wards all around the world to see if they were altered, and fix more than a few. Then I have been cataloging the changes. What happened… actually what has been happening for months and I was trying to puzzle from a magical standpoint. Which was the wrong way to proceed…" he sighs, and flops down on an armchair somewhat unceremoniously. Unusual for Doctor. "The best I can figure out an immensely powerful metahuman has altered the whole reality, affecting the minds of most people in Earth, even supernatural ones. He also rebuilt a whole city that had been destroyed and resurrected tens of thousands of dead humans. And it wasn't made with magic."


There's a tension in Illyana that wasn't present before she abruptly ported out, and the impish look has completely vanished. She sits when she's bidden to do so, but she fidgets, drumming the fingers of one hand on the armrest of her chair. Usually she's a lot better at masking her emotions, particularly unease, but something about this has her on edge. In spite of that, Strange does have her attention, and she does listen without interrupting until he's finished.

"Just like that?" She asks, when he falls silent. "Someone changed the world, just like that?" Illyana looks like she's just bitten into a rotten fruit. "I don't like the idea of someone messing with my life. I really don't like not knowing that it's been done." She grimaces. "What are we going to do about it?"


Strange looks grim and nods. "This is not the first time I see this happening. Powerful cosmic forces, cabals of sorcerers and extra-dimensional conquerors attempt to alter reality to their designs fairly often through mystical means. But this time it was different. This time it was a single, unstable human being without a grand, nefarious purpose. And he didn't use magic, he… I suppose he used psychic powers, the Astral plane was in turmoil for a week." He sighs, "in any case, I can't undo what I can't understand. I have been studying the phenomenon and the only other individual I could see undoing this is your colleage, Wanda Maximoff, and even she would need a major power boost."


The more Strange explains, the less happy Illyana looks. "So this happens regularly, and no-one except people like you and Nate notice? I'm starting to wish Nate WAS crazy… or at least that I'd never asked you about it." That's pretty clearly not entirely true. Illyana's unhappy with the situation, but she's not one to prefer blissful ignorance. She broods for a few moments then abruptly shakes her head. "It wasn't Wanda. She was busy hunting N'garai." Illyana scrunches up her face in annoyance. "Or at least that's what a usually reliable source told me. But maybe that was one of the things that changed." Her eyes narrow on Strange suspiciously. "If I ask you what's changed about me between now and last week, am I going to like the answer?"


"No, it wasn't Wanda," replies Strange calmly. "It was a man called Alfred O'Meagan. A native of the no-longer destroyed Steel City. As for your memory, that would be easy enough to restore, if you wish. You would end with two sets of memories, but you are a skilled sorceress and I believe your mind can handle the strain without major trauma."


Illyana's expression doesn't change, but the wheels are turning behind her eyes. "Minor trauma only?" She says with a smirk. "Let me think about it. A headache AND having to admit Nate was right might be a bit much to take." She needs to think about whether she wants someone to perform magical brain surgery on her before jumping right in. "But I'll take a lesson in how to stop this sort of thing happening to me again, if you're offering."


"Indeed," admits Strange with a humorless smile. "You wouldn't enjoy waking up one day as an alcoholic derelict because a former co-student managed to alter the past and adjusted reality. After that, I warded the Sanctum heavily, and now it is much harder to write me off the temporal continuum. I am quite sure you would have been safe in your Limbo fortress, but I expect the change hit you while you were on Earth. And… I have to admit there were signs, there had been hints for nearly a year. But I expected magic, not this. We can be thankful the reality warper was not trying to destroy the world or set himself up as supreme ruler."


Illyana's expression of general disgust at the situation in which she's found herself starts to ebb away as Strange alludes to… "That happened to you? And I was just starting to think you were boringly infallible." I wonder what other interesting secrets you have, Illyana doesn't say, but the thought is plain from her expression of amused curiosity. "I'm not going to move to Limbo." She says decisively. "You can't get ice cream and only having demons for company gets boring." She's being flippant about the reason, but not the decision. Too long in Limbo and she forgets who she's trying to be. "I could leave a piece of my soul there to compare notes with." She muses, then shakes her head. "If I could trust my critters not to mess with it, which I can't." She's not entirely giving up on that idea, though.


"If only," Strange shakes his head, "It has been over forty years since I became a master sorcerer and I have learned some unpleasant lessons I can try to teach you so you can avoid… ah, you will make different mistakes, I am sure. In any case, I can certainly teach you the wards to protect a place from reality alterations. If you find a suitable place on Earth, you can build your own sanctum."


For some reason, the idea of building her own sanctum draws a small smile from Illyana. The school itself is too large, and as for her room… she's not fourteen years old any more. Even so, the idea of designating a guest bedroom at Xavier's as a mystical sanctum is amusing. "I'll see what's on the market." Illyana replies, before her amusement takes a darker tone. "I've made a few mistakes already. There are at least two more I'm trying to avoid." She doesn't elaborate, but she's talking to the Sorcerer Supreme. He already knows she's three fifths demon. She decides to change the subject. "Is there anything I can do to help, before I give my friend the good news that he's not crazy?"


"Just let me know if you want to have your old memories," decides Strange. He is not going to mention Illyana was from another parallel Earth, since it is not true anymore. It will be interesting to see if she chooses the extra burden of knowledge in this regard. "Do you want anything? I have time for some lessons, if you feel balanced enough to study."


"I feel fine." Illyana assures the Doctor, a flicker of mischief in her cold blue eyes. "You, on the other hand, look like you need about two days' worth of sleep." She tilts her head to one side, as if daring him to disagree. "I don't want you falling asleep halfway through the lesson. You always tell me the warnings last." Illyana pushes herself up to her feet. "I'll be back once I've let Nate off the hook and hunted down some N'garai to make myself feel better." She pauses, one hand still on the arm of her chair. "Seriously. You look terrible. Get some sleep." She smirks, gives a little wave, and vanishes into a circle of light.

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