Demon Bear: In the Beginning

December 01, 2017:

Doctor Strange manages to find one of Danielle Moonstar relatives, the shaman Black Eagle.

A cabin in the Colorado mountains

Characters

NPCs: Black Eagle (emitted by Dani)

Mentions: Ripclaw, Magik

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Although unconvinced the Demon Bear is any kind of family curse, Ripclaw suggestion it might be something tied to Danielle Moonstar's family cannot be disregarded without some serious investigation.

Thanks to the Justice League database and a bit of magic, Strange has found one of Moonstar's living relative. Not just a living relative, but a magic-using living relative. Her grandfather Black Eagle.

Which is the reason Stephen Strange is walking through a icy mountain path near Boulder, Colorado. Looking for an old Cheyenne shaman that had no phone number or any less mystical way to get to him than summoning and bribing a spirit guide.

*

Technology is definitely at a premium here. In fact, it's almost non-existent, but as Strange continues down the path and through the sharp facades of mountains and hillsides he'll eventually see small hints of civilization.

A tended patch of dirt, now dormant and covered, a clearing that isn't natural and finally a small cabin when he draws close to the end of that pathway he walks upon.

It's appearance is rustic, but smoke puffs from the chimney and lights can be seen shining from the curtain covered windows.

Though whether Stephen Strange will make it inside is hard to say - upon the porch an elderly man stands.

His white-streaked gray hair is pulled into two neat braids, and in his hands he holds to mugs. Heavy ceramic things and from the depths curls steam - and once Strange is close enough the scent of what it holds can be smelled.

Coffee.

Strong coffee.

"I hope you take your coffee black. Ran out of sugar a week ago." States the elderly gentleman as he proffers the cup outward.

*

"Anything warm is welcomed, thank you," replies Strange. He is wearing a coat (actually not, it is the Cloak, shape-shifted) and it is hardly as cold as the mountains of Tibet where he learned magic. But it is still true hot coffee would be nice. And also an offering of hospitality that deserves a polite response.

"You must be Black Eagle. I am Stephen Strange," he offers his hand, "Doctor Stephen Strange," which is a name that is usually known for other mystics. But the old man lives in a cabin in the mountains, so Strange won't presume anything.

*

Even with Black Eagle's age his gaze is still quite sharp and bright.

Those brown eyes, so like Danielle's, watch the man's approach and then the acceptance of coffee.

When he takes that mug that earns a fraction of a nod from Black Eagle. Along with the smallest of smiles. Hospitality is clearly something Black Eagle holds in high esteem.

Arthritic hands curl around Black Eagle's own hot mug now, as the man turns and tilts his head toward the cabin door. "I know who you are, Doctor, just as you know who I am. The winds whispered your coming arrival. Come, we can talk inside. I'm too old to pretend I don't mind standing out in the cold and damp." And even though he speaks of his age, the man still moves with surprising lightness, as he turns and leads the way inside.

The interior of the cabin is small, but even with that it still holds the man's personality within. Woven rugs hang upon the walls, alongside a few animal pelts, and while the furniture is heavily worn it's clean and set neatly within the room. A fire crackles within the fireplace, which keeps the living area quite warm. An open kitchen can be seen to the left of the living room, while a door opposite of the kitchen leads to the bedroom and bathroom.

"Sit, please." He intones, more of a command than a gentle question. "Then you can tell me what's happened with my granddaughter." And with those heavy words said, the Shaman settles into one of those thread-worn chairs.

*

Strange offers the other man a brief smile, "indeed," he says, sipping from the bitter coffee. Then follows the old shaman inside the cabin, looking at the place with a magician's eye, eventually settling on the offered seat.

The Cheyenne's question is given a considering pause. How much Strange really knows, how much he can guess.

"I wish I could tell you everything, but I came here myself seeking answers," starts the doctor. "As far as I know Danielle Moonstar and this bear spirit hunt each other for a few weeks, and then I suspect there was a confrontation and she lost the battle. Now someone that looks like your granddaughter has been seen helping the bear in attacking people in the New York area."

*

While there are some things that read as magical within the cabin, even the living room itself, the taste and feel of that magic is quiet.

The roots sunken deep into the earth below, where it sits, waiting for Spring to return. Dormant for now.

The mention of the Bear brings a vague reaction from the old man. He leans forward slightly, heavy worry lines appearing around his eyes and around his mouth.

Even with that worry seen upon his features, however, he doesn't give too much away verbally. Instead he lifts his mug up in a 'go-on' gesture, "Ask what questions you have then and I'll see what answers I have for you."

And while that worry continues to be visible there's a definite lack of surprise from the elderly man.

*

"I was there when the creature crossed over into reality," starts Strange, sipping from the coffee mug again. "I don't know where it came, but I closed the tear into reality while the monster escaped. Perhaps a mistake, since it has proven so difficult to find aftrwards. And now I suspect it was not the first visit to Earth."

He looks at the other man, "you are not surprised, you know what was going on. So tell me, Black Eagle, what is this monster and why is it linked to your granddaughter? And why is it still haunting my city when it looks it has achieved its purpose?"

*

Silence reigns for several minutes as Black Eagle considers what to say.

What to explain. How much to explain.

And while these secrets aren't necessarily his to tell there comes a time when confidences must be broken. Lives depend upon it.

"I can't tell what this monster is, but I can tell you this isn't its first visit to our world, no." His head cants vaguely to the side, a gesture that's echoes his familial link with Danielle. "But it started with Danielle's parents. We received word something was attacking people. Animals. Most described the thing as a Bear, but others who were attacked added detail. Shadows -" A questioning look is turned to Strange with the mention of shadows, "- coldness. It was larger than what normal bears would be and it seemed far too canny to be just an animal. Or even just a cursed animal."

He pauses now to sip at his coffee, when that drink is finished the old-man continues, "While we never told Danielle, her parents were killed by this Bear." Here is where the first emotion might be seen from Black Eagle. Regret.

"Perhaps we should have."

"As to why it still haunts your city I can't answer that. When the Bear took Danielle's parents they were still able to banish it - perhaps using their own deaths to lock it away."

*

Strange ahs. So the old shaman lost a child to the bear years ago. How to say this diplomatically? "Was that the first time ever? Some mystic suspect this bear is part of a family curse." No, there was no way to say it diplomatically.

"I do how we can still rescue your granddaughter and some of the other victims," he adds, looking at the old man cautiously. "Souls have been taken, leaving behind empty shells. And the bear has grown stronger. But his actions seem random, as if it has little control or plan."

*

A rusty snort can be heard from the old man when Strange finally asks his diplomatic question. That sound covering the old pain felt at the mention of Danielle's lost parents and his own child too.

"A curse." He says, his cup being set aside to rest precariously balanced upon the arm of the chair. "You speak of the Mockwamosa? Yes?" He states somewhat rhetorically, a hint of amusement to his voice, "I can tell you that is not the case here. Not with our lineage."

With the mention of other victims, Black Eagle's gaze turns pensive, his gnarled hands steepling in front of his long face a moment. "Perhaps it is lost in its own pain. What plan it had gone to whatever its agony is." His dark brown-eyes raise to meet Stephen's, "I imagine you know a thing about pain? And loss too."

*

“Yes, for I am also old, despite my body being now held at the age it was when I was tested by the spirits of death.” The sorcerer sighs. “Some mentioned the Mackwamosa, indeed. In truth I am suspecting this is an ancient and powerful spirit somehow fallen into darkness. But I am at loss to explain his actions. Why Moonstar? Perhaps the woman holds a great destiny. She rides one of the Valkyrior steeds. An honor rarely given to a mortal and as far as I know never given since the Asgardians cults disappeared from Earth.”

He finishes the coffee, making the polite sound of approval. Coffee is never wrong, anyway. “If the bear spirit is in pain, perhaps we are not approaching this problem the correct direction. A rite of healing might be more useful than a war party.”

*

The old man known as Black Eagle considers the man who sits across from him. There's a twist to his gaze as he looks beyond the mortal flesh of the man and into the ether that surrounds the two.

Destinies branches out for both of them, roads that spiral onward and up, and others that are tragically cut short. The Shaman's old and aged eyes follows a few of them, to where paths knot and give way to clusters of violence, of happiness, of sorrow. Then with a shake of his head the old Cheyenne's attention shifts back to the reality of this world.

"So many pathways." He murmurs, "All destinies to be found, lost or ruthlessly taken." Sighing now, the man reaches for that cup of coffee that rapidly cools. "Lineage." He states again, perhaps cryptically, "It comes to that." And while it may seem like Black Eagle is going to leave it like that, the old man doesn't. Instead he drains the coffee the dregs of coffee grounds clumping together at the bottom of his cup. He's used to the graininess that comes with a very old-style coffee pot.

He rolls the grounds idly in the cup before he shakes them into the palm of his hands. Then with a casual toss he flings the specs of beans into the air. They hang there trapped by the Old Man's magic and slowly they rearrange themselves into a shadow of a tree. "The Bear is connected to my granddaughter by her mother and father." Two faces appear on the top branches, both hold characteristics of Danielle, the woman especially. Her mother.

"I have never told Danielle this, but her parents still live." His eyes lift to the tree and those two faces, before cutting to Doctor Strange. "Within the Bear. Trapped just as much as that Bear. I had planned to tell her when it was time, but I've found fate often disagrees with our own timetables."

A branch forms beneath the parents and upon it forms the image of Danielle Moonstar, linked to the two above.

*

Strange’s eyes widen briefly at the revelation. Yes, the old man should have told Danielle. Maybe not when her parents vanished, a quit mental calculation reveals she would have been a young teen. But now Moonstar is an adult woman and an agent of SHIELD.

It is not important now. It will be a problem for the old shaman if Danielle is freed or escapes.

“And yet the parents banished him,” points out the sorcerer. “I dare say the girl was the real target. Parents will die for their children, and such sacrifices are often more powerful than the very will of ancient gods.”

*

There’s the slightest twitch to Black Eagle’s arthritic joints and the coffee grounds drop back into the cup.

A sigh almost escapes the man’s lips, but for the most part that sound is stifled.

“Hindsight is always twenty-twenty.” Comments the old man, even as he slides a look over to Strange.

“And yes, they banished it. Locked it away for a time. Perhaps long to us, but short for the beast.” His head cants to the side now, a gray braid shifting with that movement of his. It’s a contemplative look. “I cannot say who was the real target that night so many years ago. Perhaps it was Danielle, perhaps not, but I do believe her parents hold some sway with the Bear’s thinking.”

A look focuses upon Strange again, “All the souls within the Bear do. It is why logic has no place in this conversation when discussing the Bear’s reasoning. There are none. Or, I should say, there are too many conflicting voices tumbling within the Bear to be seen as anything logical.”

*

That is not the way a true soul-devouring spirit would deal with victims, considers Strange, “that is… actually good news. All those taken might yet be saved, and the monster must be unable to carry on complex plans. It also gives strength to the idea the bear is a corrupted spirit and not a demon from one of the dark realms.”

And on further consideration, “and it will keep haunting the same people, friends of family of the captive souls. Black Eagle, you might be in danger. The Bear is doubtlessly stronger now, and will grow stronger if it can capture more souls. At one point even skillfully crafted wards will be insufficient.”

*

“I do not think it’s a demon.” Murmurs the old man, as he considers Strange’s words. “Not in the general sense of that word.”

And while more could be said Black Eagle pauses, when Strange brings up his own potential vulnerability.

“I will not hide from it.” States Black Eagle firmly, his voice consigned to whatever fate may prevail for him. “If it finds its way here I shall fight. We will see what happens. But you, Doctor, you must help my family. It will take more power than I have. Perhaps even more power than you have.” The man’s eyes unfocus a moment, his senses winging up into the ether, “Even now it hunts.”

*

Strange nods. “I won’t hunt alone. I believe the Ghost Warrior will be with me, and also the Queen of Limbo. If those are not enough, I will involve the Justice League.”

Not his preference, since they are busy stopping an invasion of rage-fueled ring-bearers. But the Bear is getting stronger with each soul-stealing. It might have more power than even Strange can wield safely.

“You can sense it?” He realizes. Of course! Black Eagle is linked by blood to three of the Bear victims. Victims that lost not just their souls, but also their bodies.

*

“In flashes.” He says, “When it feels something so greatly and right now it hungers.” The old man says, his gaze shift slightly again.

When his attention returns he adds, “Sometimes in vision. Sometimes in dreams.” He shrugs, “Not as reliable as I wish, but then whatever part of life is.” He muses with an alacrity that might not belong in this conversation.

But Black Eagle is old. Sometimes humor strikes at the oddest of moments.

“What other questions may I answer for you, Doctor.”

*

Strange considers Black Eagle’s words. He has learned much, although not really what he came to investigate. The Bear and its origin is still a mystery, yet the very nature of the conflict seems to have changed in a few minutes.

“I am not sure, but I believe my research has concluded and it is now the time to strategize and act,” the sorcerer stands up, peering outside briefly. “You might have other visitors soon. I hope they are not all hostile. But I am not the only one seeking answers.”

He turns to the old shaman. “I will do all I can to rescue those trapped by the Bear, you have my word. Please, send me a signal if you are in danger and I will come to help as quickly as I can. And should other hunters of good disposition visit you, ask them to contact me.” He will leave here his card, for those of more mundane disposition. 177A Bleecker Street, New York City.

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