Mauled by a Bear

August 31, 2017:

Investigating a breach in dimensional veils Dr. Strange is ambushed by a powerful corrupted bear spirit. (Emitted by Dani Moonstar).

Westchester County - New York City

Once out of the city proper and on the roads north, green begins to become the prevalent color on the trees, and the rolling hills at the base of the mountains can be noticed. Fields, farms, trees and lakes line the roads, as well as large houses and cozy neighborhoods of 'America'. As a county that serves as a suburb to the sprawling New York city, however, there are larger towns within the county that boast a large population.
Just north of New York and home to around fifty thousand people spread out over about ten square miles. White Plains is the commercial and governmental seat of Westchester County. For those able to handle the commute, it provides a nice escape from the crush and bustle of the Big Apple without sacrificing the amenities of a a developed city.
Salem Center is, for the most part, a sleepy little hamlet on the east end of the Titicus Reservoir, part of the North Salem Township. It would be a lot sleepier if not for the nearby presence of Xavier's Institute for Higher Learning, the students and faculty of which regularly are regular visitors to make use of the Hamlets' three restaurants, coffee house and general relaxed atmosphere. Because of the business and prosperity (and general lack of trouble to date) the townies have a neutral-to-favorable attitude on the unusual students of the school nearby and the place can generally be considered pretty safe, even at night.

Characters

NPCs: The Demon Bear

Mentions: Magik, Ripclaw

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

There are always many rumbles upon the psychic and mystical plans. Creatures appearing, creatures disappearing, some good, some bad and then there are some that are worse. The type that can be found in nightmares. The type of creatures that people would attach the descriptor of 'evil' to it.

Or malevolent. Dangerous. Deadly.

That is the type of creature that's currently making its way out upon the mystical side of the psychic plane. There's a rip, a shred, a thin tear, as blackened ivory claws literally rip open the walls from one dimension into this one. The shuddering and rendering of those walls echo out across the plan alerting those with such senses that something terrible is coming. Something that will bring darkness, death, destructions. Something with enough power that easily migrates from one dimension to another.

From the crack between worlds movement can be seen and when that movement stills two unblinking red eyes can easily be seen. The low thrum of deep-throated growls can likewise be heard as the beast upon the other side prepares to breach through the opening it created.

Its prey has finally been located and now the hunt must truly begin.

*

As the pressure on the surviving wards between dimensions increases, Doctor Strange is more and more often forced to choose between the greater and lesser evils. Twenty years ago controlling what and who crossed over was simple, he had only a few visitors every year in all North America. As the Heroic Age reaches its apogee and the dimensional barriers start to look more like Swish Cheese than real walls, many days he is lucky to have some control over the New York state area.

Today a powerful corrupt spirit is crossing and this is really Illyana Raputina's territory, but the Demon Queen is nowhere to be found. Strange teleports into the immediate area avoiding flashy displays of sparks or sound, already clasping the Eye of Agamotto with a hand and concentrating on his mystic senses to find the intruder.

*

The area is (thankfully) devoid of most human life. Mostly because it's far outside of New York. Where trees grow, where the wild things play, where trace bits of elemental magic can still be found within their roots, their leaves, the motes of air around the wooded area. Magic left over from years gone by, when people practiced more earth based magics than those higher magics that can now be found.

When Doctor Strange appears he'll find himself in a small copse of trees. With the Eye of Agamotto boosting his mystical senses to such a level he'll easily be able to trace a pathway between trees toward the spot that sings with wrongness.

That wrongness is from the rent that hangs mid-air, the darkness from the other dimension bleeding into this one. The energy that can be sensed from that tear is dark, foreboding. It reeks of demon, mutation, of something that was once pure, but has now soured. Delving deeper into the energy that bleeds through, Doctor Strange might find hints of shamanistic energies buried deep within, and with further studying he might see it points to a specific Native American tribe - the only thing? He likely won't be able to get too much time to study, as finally the creature shows itself. Or, at the very least, shows that it is near.

His mystical senses will suddenly sing with warning as a fluid dark shape materializes behind him - it's a large dark shadow, fur sprouting along the edges of it, with red-eyes, sharp teeth, sharp claws. It's those claws that are used now as the growling beast slashes through the man-sized trunk of an old tree. With a creak and a tip the tree falls over, falling directly for the Doctor.

*

In truth Strange does not know much about Native American shamanism. Not for lack of interest, but because much of his arcane library has been written by Asian and European sorcerers and the bulk of the rest long before the tradition developed. What tribe? All he can think about it is to check out with Ripclaw later.

Later as in 'if he survives' for later. The demon monster appears some distance away, so the sorcerer turns quickly, confident he has time for a spell or two. But instead of closing distances the demon cuts a tree and shoves it to on top of him.

Which is actually a good tactic, as a tree of that size is likely to shatter mystical shields that would have held up well against claws or powerful spells. The tree, of course, is pretty much not-magical despite growing in an ancient mystical place. So Strange needs to jump aside and roll off the ground quickly without time to call upon fancy spells.

*

It's a good thing he rolls away for when the tree falls it brings other smaller trees with it. It's like a domino effect - the largest tree goes down, then a smaller tree, a second, a third and a whole host of branches. It's literally raining bark, branches and leaves right now.

The noise that accompanies the falling timber also doesn't seem to help, as it blots out the movements and the sounds of the bear.

And perhaps that will help aid the bear in scoring a hit upon Doctor Strange's form. For quick as a snake, the bear's shadowing form blurs and then moves. It seems to hop from one side of the forest to the next, specifically where Doctor Strange rolled to. And once it's past the great oak that it felled, its claws will glint as it raises one large paw high and then slams it down. It's going for a simple sort of attack, slash, gouge and stab.

It's also clear with it being this close that it holds the shape of a bear, but no bear ever looked as this one does. Shadow makes up the majority of its torso, with the head, arms and legs holding the most definition. Its eyes are likewise a mirror to what it really is; alight with demonic rage, fire, insanity. The height of the beast is much taller than Strange himself and while it has yet to be monstrously large, just wait. It can be.

Lastly, because there's always something more, should those claws get close Strange might sense something even more troubling. Each claw holds the ability to steal the essence of a person; their soul. To enslave it, manipulate it, make it part of the bear's self. Just one cut, that's all it would take.

*

Stick and Stones. Bones. Mostly sticks.

Strange manages to avoid the trunk of the tree, but not all those falling branches and leaves that almost bury him. Demons are usually more talkative than this one, he got caught with few defenses and he almost drops the Eye of Agamotto.

When the demon is on him, and he can't avoid the huge claw. But on a mental command the Cloak of Levitation unfurls and stands on the way. Nearly indestructible, it doesn't tear at the demon's claws, but it doesn't offer much protection from the raw kinetic force of the giant bear paw. The impact sends the doctor flying and he lands on the ground with a pained grunt.

"Enough," he grunts. Raising his talisman to the monster. "In Agamotto's name, begone!" The Eye opens, and bright golden light burst towards the bear.

*

Those claws drag against the Cloak of Levitation. If sparks could fly they /would/. Thankfully, there's no sound of cloth being rent and sheared. Instead there's only the snarl of an angry bear, one who doesn't seem to /want/ to talk. Nor reveal why it's attacking the man, or why it's here.

When its claws come away empty-handed (versus holding a soul) the bear rises up, to a two-legged stance. As it straightens upward the form of the bear grows, up, up, up, almost hitting the canopy of the forest above. It's mad-lit eyes are focused upon Doctor Strange and with a roar it releases its anger to be heard by all. What few animals that remained near the two take wing, or scurry beneath the ground, seeking refuges from the two.

And while the bear was just about to stomp (literally) upon the much smaller Strange, that attack is forestalled by the timely intervention of Agamotto's name and the man that wields it. By the time the last syllable of 'begone' is said the bear's form has dispersed with an inky flash of darkness and the soft sound of a snarl. Was it sent back to its home? Hardly. The trail of magic that can be found can be seen leading away and while Strange could follow it, there's still the tear within the fabric of reality to deal with. If one were to leave it open it'd only invite more things that go bump in the night into this realm.

*

Well, that was an odd effect. Gone as if it was a mirage. A normal demon would not have done that, but a corrupted spirit? Strange is not sure.

The sorcerer stands up with some effort, checking for busted ribs. Maybe he got lucky, but he will have many bruises and need magical healing soon. And definitely no rest until that crack in reality is closed. Given the high chance of that bear returning if he goes into hours-long ritual magics, the doctor decides to use the big guns. Coughing weakly to clear his throat, he chants:

"I call upon the Mystical Host of Hoggoth." He whispers. "Hear me oh Hoary One. Send your servants to close this breach to the outside darkness, I beseech you, in the name of our true alliance."

*

As if a mirage, yes. Though the tang of corruption can still be felt around; and it's not just coming from the breach between dimensions either.

Either way, when Doctor Strange calls upon the forces of Hoggoth, the breach begins to close. It knits up nice and neat, as if a surgeon came and stitched the reality back together again. Once the 'wound' is closed the atmosphere within this particular grove begins to lighten. The sunlight that can be found seems brighter, the air clearer, and the ground firm. The only thing that shows the brief battle that occurred is the fallen trees and the fading magical trail that leads away.

Should Doctor Strange follow the trail he'll find it a winding path. There are spots where the magic seems to gain some strength and others where it lessens, almost gone. A pattern might be seen from this. Where the bear walked for a short time and then teleported. And through all of this hop-skip-jump of a trail the tang of a corrupted demon can be found.

Keen eyesight might likewise spot a few pictographs; mostly found upon the bark of a tree, or crudely stamped into the ground. Mostly it consists of images showing a horse, or bird, by themselves or both symbols together.

*

There definitely more than meets the eye in this Demon Bear business. The teleportation makes very difficult to track down the creature, which now might be at the other side of the world, but Doctor Strange has options. He has the Orb of Agamotto for scrying, and a library and contacts to try to find out about the Bear. He also needs to tell his disciple, since Westchester is very much her backyard.

But for now it seems there is nothing else to do in this land. So with a few gestures and a muttered word, the sorcerer returns to Greenwich Village to heal and research.

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