To Find and Kill

June 09, 2017:

After four months searching Illyana finally finds a clue on the identity of the demon lord that stalked her and her friends. When she tells Strange, it is all bad news.

Dr. Strange Sanctum


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Laura Kinney


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Sleeping in Limbo is dangerous for anyone other than Illyana. It can be unhealthy for Illyana, too, but at in her case it's only her soul at risk…
Illyana lies sprawled face-down on an enormous four-poster bed, high in one of the turrets of her castle. Her boots are in a pile by the door, her X-Men uniform's jacket is in a heap on the floor, having missed the chair she threw it at, and the only sound is the soft noise of her snoring.
Illyana needed to recharge her batteries after channeling so much white magic on Earth during her recent trip to Antarctica, and she couldn't crash at the Mansion. Someone might discover how much the battle had taken out of her, and she doesn't want to reveal that sort of weakness.
Finally, the rhythmic snoring is broken by a snort, and Illyana flops over on to her back, yawning hugely and finally opening bleary eyes. She sits up on the bed and stretches her arms over her head, then tries to work a kink out of her neck. "Magic." She decides, "Is SO much less fun when you have to work at it." For a while she considers just staying in bed, but with no idea how long she's been asleep for she finally drags herself out of it. Pouring herself a drink from an ewer of perennially fresh water, Illyana looks at the state of the room, complete with discarded clothes, books of magic strewn about the place as mute reminders of her scramble to prepare for the mission, and general untidiness, and reluctantly decides she doesn't trust her demons to clean up the mess.
Taking another drink from her goblet, Illyana pads over to the nearest book, about to flip it closed, then freezes. Her eyes widen and she swallows her mouthful of water hurriedly. "Son of a bitch." She says under her breath, then snatches up the book and vanishes into a stepping disc.
"STEPHEN!" Illyana calls, reappearing in the Sorcerer Supreme's Sanctum. "You'd better be in! I found something in one of your books that I need to find and kill!"

There is a picture in that book, a magical portrait of a tall, dark-haired man with piercing blue eyes that transforms into a seven feet tall, powerful built demon with glowing green eyes. That book chapter was about the fallen gods of Shem. A human nation that vanished 9,000 years ago and that (the author speculates) was in current-day Turkey.
There is not much. Bal-Pteor. Former sky god. Presumed long dead.
The sanctity of the Sanctum is interrupted by the blonde witch screaming, and Wong pauses in his cleaning, directing at her a placid, yet somehow very disapproving glance. “Mistress Illyana,” he greets. “The Doctor is meditating, would you like some tea before you explain him your plans for murder?”

And the horns. Don't forget the horns. Illyana particularly remembers the horns. They're one of several parts of the demon's anatomy she intends to chop off for the indignities it inflicted upon her and her friends.
Illyana spins around when Wong speaks, having been too absorbed in her bloodthirsty plans for revenge to notice his presence. The expression on her face suggests she might be about to berate him for sneaking up on her, but then it smooths out and she takes a breath.
For some reason, Wong is something of a calming influence on her. Go figure.
"Unless you feel like going and waking him up right now…?" Illyana asks, despite her relative calm, she's obviously still impatient to be getting on with things, and not quite managing to hide an irritable tone. She takes a second, deeper breath. "He's going to make this a lesson about patience, I just know it." Illyana mutters to herself, before finally managing to put on a bland expression. "Tea. Thank you, Wong. That would be… nice."
Illyana drums her fingers on the book with unconscious impatience.

“Patience is a useful virtue,” mentions Wong with a faint smile, vanishing in the direction of the kitchen. A few minutes later he returns with a full tea service. But as he is preparing Illyana’s cup, Strange appears too, coming down from the staircase.
“Good afternoon, Illyana,” he greets. “What has awakening the ire of the Queen of Limbo?” Yes, he heard her. He was not sleeping since he rarely sleeps. Nightmare is a nasty enemy and meditation is enough most days. “It must be something… unique if you are telling me first,” instead of telling him first -all- your killing plots, as a dutiful disciple would do!

Illyana returns Wong's smile with an impish twist. "Are you suggesting I'm virtuous?" She asks him as he departs, leaving her to her own devices. Fortunately she doesn't have long to wait before both Wong and Doctor Strange himself reappear.
"Hi." Illyana replies briefly, adding a gesture with her free hand that's mostly a wave but with a definite hint of hurry-up beckoning about it, too. Illyana's lips twitch as she gets the impression that the Doctor is amusing himself at her expense, but what she's here for is far too important for her to even mention it. She crosses to meet him at the foot of the stairs. "It's unpleasant enough I HOPE it's unique." She tells him, spinning the book around so that he's looking at the page the right way up. "This thing." Her tone drips with dislike. "Is loose in this world. It's killing, it's taking thralls, and it nearly possessed a friend of mine." Illyana frowns. "And I can't find it. I couldn't even identify it. But…" She taps the page with her index finger. "Here it is."

Strange takes the book and his eyes narrow. “Did you see this… creature recently?” He asks, closing the book and thinking for a minute. “Of course you did, but how? A demon this powerful should have tripped many wards if he crossed over from the nether realms.” He paces to the window, then looks back at the young woman and drops the book on the table, just alongside the tea tray. Then the sorcerer takes a seat and sighs. It was a quiet week so far. “Please, tell me all you know.”

There's a flicker of satisfaction in Illyana's cold blue eyes when Strange takes the book from her. One step closer to finding this thing. Illyana doesn't answer immediately, recognizing a rhetorical question when she hears one, and lets him pace without interruption.
Now she's getting somewhere, it seems she's capable of patience after all.
Illyana only moves when Strange looks at her, walking over to join him and picking up her teacup. She blows on the hot liquid, deciding it's probably still a little /too/ hot, then finds a biscuit to nibble on. She hasn't gotten near breakfast today, and apparently it's after lunch. A pained look, quickly hidden, passes across Illyana's features. 'Everything she knows' is going to be embarrassing in place. Ah well. She wants his help.
"I wasn't there when it crossed over…" Illyana begins, and proceeds to sketch out what she does know, starting with what she learned from Laura of its earlier activities - and victims - then moving on to exorcising the infected blood from Laura, to scrying for the demon within Limbo, and finally to the disastrous attempt to attack it directly. "You can see why I want it dead." Illyana finishes.

Strange nods. He is also less than pleased she has waited all these months to tell him a monster this caliber was loose in his own city. But… he is more alarmed by the fact –he- failed to detect the demon’s presence.
“We need to know more about this creature. I think I remember…” he stands and makes a few mystical gestures, a very specific conjuration. Suddenly there is a huge book in his hands. A book that irradiates holiness and invisible, supernatural light. It is the Book of the Vishanti, that Strange had not even let Illyana see yet.
Sitting down again, Strange opens and peruses pages quickly, near the end of the book. “Here. The Ancient One confronted Bal-Pteor nearly three hundred years ago, in Kabul. There is a fairly detailed account. He is a master sorcerer and necromancer…” he grunts, reading quickly the Sanskrit entry.

Illyana didn't sit down while she filled the Doctor in on her encounters with the demon. It was her turn to pace, tales of demonic possession incongruously interspersed with sips of Wong's excellent tea and the occasional snaffled biscuit. So when the Book of the Vishanti is called forth, Illyana's perfectly placed to sidle over to the Doctor's elbow and try to take a peek at the pages as they flip past.
The general aura of holiness about the mighty tome makes her soul itch, but it's a small irritation when set against her inquisitiveness… and the obvious power that the book represents. "Don't keep me in suspense, Stephen." Illyana prompts him.

“No… just,” Strange seems seriously concerned. “By the Ruby Rings of Ragaddorr. Almost as powerful as Loki,” he decides. “We need to find him! Do you still have his blood? I will use the Orb of Agamotto right away.” He closes the book, but leaves it on the table, standing up. “If this fails, we should warn the other mystical residents of the city. No doubt the demon will want powerful cultists and minions. He targeted your friends for a reason, and this city is rife with the super-powered, both mortal and immortal.”

Illyana looks reluctantly away from the Book of the Vishanti when she hears the shift in Strange's tone, and frowns when she realises that he's not affecting disquiet, he really is worried. "I still have it." Illyana confirms. "My place or…" She begins, then shakes her head. "Never mind. Give me a minute." She opens up a glowing portal, Belasco's library clearly visible on the other side. Padding across to it, she steps in, the turns to look back. "If we're going to tell other people about this, don't feel you have to give them ALL the details." Like the small fact that she got her butt kicked by the demon. She doesn't want that getting around. That warning given, she steps all the way through the portal and vanishes.
True to her word, it's only about a minute later that Illyana reappears, having transferred the demon blood to a glass sphere for transport. She's also a little more suitably dressed, wearing a white tunic and boots over black leggings. She actually looks a little like a sorcerer's apprentice, for once. "All yours. She tells him, passing across the sphere.

Strange nods and takes the blood. And he is worried enough to teach Illyana where the Orb is kept, and the passwords to get there. No doubt some mischief will happen in the future.
The Orb of Agamotto is a scrying device of unfathomable power. With it Strange can spy even the dens of powerful demons in faraway hells or the halls of all but the most magically adept Asgardians.
But it can’t find Bal-Pteor.
Something is going on that is very, very seriously wrong.

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