Into the Shadows, my Friends

July 30, 2018:

Ripclaw, Magdalene and Doctor Strange prepare to rescue Lara

The rooftop of Dr. Strange Sanctum


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Lara Croft

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Where better a place to sit and welcome the morning sun in silent prayer than the very rooftop of the Sanctum Sanctorum. It has been several days since Doctor Strange recovered Robert from the seidman named 'Otto'.

Calls had been sent out to those close to Robert, which are very few to update on the man's status since his return from Oklahoma, this number includes however Vivienne and Sara. A trip intended to be short that went overlong, disasterous as these things have been going.

Kneeled down facing the east the pale skinned man keeps his bladed hands curled on to light and loose pants, flowing things, likely supplied to him by Wong. He is unsure, they are not his. Hair in a topknot the man is looking well now at least, well enough to leave here and to update his comrades in their options, what needs to be done soon.

It had been well on two and a half months since Vivienne had seen nor had any word of Roberts whereabouts, much less his well-being. And so to receive the call now, was more than a bit of a shock. But whatever the woman's reaction, she did not hesitate to set her business in order and set off for the Sanctum Sanctorum. She wore armor, as she always did these days, though it was the more modern jumpsuit and trench coat, and so, she did not garner much attention at all, save for those wondering why she was wearing such a coat in mid summer. Wong she greeted warmly enough, and the monk was kind enough to escort her through the sanctuary and up to the roof.

Once he had left her on the roof, she picked her way along its surface in the direction of the familiar figure, the position of his body allowing her to approach him from behind. She did not, however, attempt to mask her footfalls. Though she did stop perhaps two feet behind him, "Robert."

A man who considers himself spiritual enough breaking is prayer could be seen as disrespectful but the newcomers presence behind him urges him on, hastens himself enough he can at least tip his head to the side enough in acknowledgement. His lips wetting as he catches scent and the voice, unmistakable who the owner is.

Within several minutes he stands up in a fluid motion from knelt to upright turning to phase the Vatican's huntress. "Vivienne." He says, tone impassive but a smile appears across his lips. Robert' smiles are never large or toothy things unless someone is about to be hurt this one has no teeth. Just warmth and familiarity reserved for those he considers 'packmates' or kindred spirits.

"The doctor got ahold of you?" It doesn't feel long to him, not as long as it has been. He's somewhat of an ethereal being in that sense, time, its always a lost thing. This being the case shes getting extra scrutiny, a careful and watchful once over as if to make sure all limbs are where they should be.

The pants are maybe Wong's. Strange favors tailored suits, the proper clothes for doctors back in his youth. But most likely they were conjured for him, since Robert is about twice as large as Wong.

Almost twice as large as the lean wizard, too.

Those suits are not good to climb onto the roof. There is a steep cupola, a spine made of brass and a few gargoyles that possibly can move if they want, but for now they are behaving. Maybe because there is sunlight on the sky.

Strange, himself, has not been around often. He is looking for Lilith, it seems, and without much luck. He came late last night, went to meditate a few hours, and only now he is leaving his trance to notice the presence of the holy Magdalene in his Sanctum. The rooftop? Why the rooftop? What in the name of Omnipotent Oshtur draws the superbeings of New York to the rooftops?

He needs his morning tea, and the Cloak of Levitation. Because levitating beats climbing rooftops. Give him a minute.

The distance standing away from Robert allowed Vivienne to study him, as if a visual exploration could ascertain the breadth and extent of his injuries, and if he had them, th state to which they were healing. Her eyes tracked him as he came up to her full height, tall enough that she seemed almost small by comparison, "You've been traveling."

The question brought a shake of her head, as she finally stepped forward to settle into a more comfortable conversational distance, "Wong called me. He's usually kind enough to serve as a go between when it's needed, as I am only a rare visitor here." Vivienne looked, much as she always did, hail and whole, physically, though her expression in her eyes was darker than he would remember.

A brush back of his foot to clear the small gathering of gifts and ceremonial set up behind him and looks past her out across the rooftops lip to see Doctor Strange joining them, not near enough yet when he speaks, "I have and we should speak as soon as we have that liberty."

"Doctor Strange, good morning and thank you for coming to my aid."

"I hope you do not mind me making use of the space. Some things can't go overlooked for too long." He glances from the Sorcerer to the Artifact-Bearer.

Having given her greeting, and the shift of Robert's attention to turn her own gaze to take in the sorcerer, Vivienne once again stepped away, her hands folding across her chest, as though it were some action she settled into when she had nothing better to do with her hands. "Of course." And with that, she offered nothing else, turning to watch the approach, offering a polite, "Good Morning," once Strange was close enough.

"Good morning, my friend," greets the sorcerer, "and welcome again to my house, Ms. Benoit. The rooftop part of it. It doesn’t see much use, to be honest." And it is hardly as neat as the inside. New York has smog, and pigeons (and gargoyles).

"It is good to see you have recovered so quickly, are you ready?" He asks, looking again to the Native American. He did say they had to go help Lara Croft, so Strange did some searching and came up with nothing.

"A shameless waste of good reality." Ripclaw teases with a fading smile.

"Ready?" A confused look at first but then it dawns on him, "We are unlikely ready. Unless it is that easy."
To catch Vivenne up he adds, "We sought what we thought was an artifact on a reservation near the Witchita Mountains. It was not what we are directly but I feel it will lead us to one… it is with me."
"So on that front we succeeded but… " Robert's cheek bounces with a muscle under it, "We lost Lara."

"She is not dead just not of this plane anymore and I have requested the Sorcerer Supreme's aid in getting her back. For as long as I have been away… she has been /there/."

Vivienne ahs, as though the explanation of where Robert had been and what he was doing had been enough to answer the question of why she had been called when he had returned to the city. It was all a question of business. "I see. Well, such service in that as the Spear can provide, I will offer." She looked to the sorcerer, "The Spear will allow me to pierce the realms, if I need to, but I do not believe its powers will extend to being able to pinpoint her location." She looked back to Robert, "When you were last with her, did she have a pair of wakizashi with her?"

"That device," comments Strange cautiously. "It is not a mystical artifact per se. It is a seal. One of four. To one of the 'hell' planes." So if Lara is in the other side she might be either very bored (if in-between) or in extreme danger, if she went all the way.

Either would explain why scrying was unsuccessful, too. A knowledge which makes the sorcerer frown deeply. "We should hurry," he decides.

Robert nods at Vivienne, he had assumed she would declare as much. Duty and design dictate much for those like himself and she is no different, though discerning her emotions beyond what she presents is the real trick. Even for a supernaturally hyper-aware type like himself he often fails in reading others, especially women.

"Will it? That is good to know. She did, yes, she had two of them with her."

"Right, one of the Hells and someone was after it enough that they hounded a man to his death, I tore in to the cavern that Lara delved in to after she was taken, seen aged remains and managed to question the nearby wise woman. She told me several stories and they tie back to our immediate enemy who lies in Metropolis. That dark thing and it's master."

"If he has sent agents after us, to stop us or stall us… then she is not alone even in other realms."
"Why they are seeking Hell gate keys is a serious question as well."

"An extraction team." Robert confirms both of them, they do need to hurry but they cannot go in blind. "Immediately… "

Vivienne nods, as Robert confirms that Lara did have the two swords she gifted the woman with, "If she carried the blessed blades I gave her, then perhaps she had no small amount of protection from those denizens she might have encountered in whatever hell the breaking of that seal drew her into. "I have everything that I need with me. So if we are all ready to go then I am as well. The sooner we retrieve her the better."

"Who is your enemy in Metropolis?" Asks Strange, somewhat alarmed. He knows most of the mystics this side of the US, so he is going over the list of hostiles in his head. "I am ready. Relatively speaking. Current events are keeping me on my toes, so I have to be prepared all the time. Still, if you want to spend some time on research, it might help… but in this case I would advise celerity."

"They'll no doubt help her wherever she has ended up. The woman is a survivor, I have faith shes still alive."

Robert remarks as he rubs one biometallic sheathed hand up his shoulder as if testing out what is underneath, his own pains exist more at a phantom level now.

"I am not going to give it name and power yet but you are not unfamiliar. My contacts are still attempting to confirm but if anything they all connect to a certain manner of darkness. One thought banished… "

We all ready it sounds but… I don't know where she is, I tried to follow her and the pathway wasn't one, it was twisted and I wasn't capable of making the breach. The thing that took her, parts of it remain in the caverns in Oklahoma. They may help but if neither of you can scry for and find her through your means… being ready is far different than being capable."
able not capable second time*

Vivienne stood still, silent, attention shifting between one man and another. There was a thoughtfulness that entered her features that did more than anything had before this moment, to lighten the darkness in her expression. "Doctor…would you gifts allow you to see what I see? To…dreamwalk in my mind as Robert can in the other planes?" She had seen him do such a thing, she had been brought along when he did once. Vivienne stepped back, slipping off her jacket, setting it out like a blanket on the roof, before she knelt, a hand reaching back to release the spear, in its small, compact travel form from her back. She took the weapon into her hands, her left on the shaft, the right curling around the blade hard enough to slice a line in her skin which quickly pooled with her blood. "I am going to ask for guidance in finding her."

Dark one thought banished.


HE was vanished by brave mystic warriors now gone of changed beyond recognition by the deeds of the superhuman O'Meagan, and an ill-thought reality warp. Heroic efforts undone by the foolish and the greedy.

"So he will remain unnamed for now," seems to agree Strange. "Yet further counter-measures will be taken. I wish I had known earlier, as it is more to factor in the current conflicts. Alas, at some point we need to toss caution to the wind and carry on courage and faith. And I am afraid it is one of those moments."

He smiles to Vivienne. Who seems ready to cast her vision to Hell. "So will I, with your permission." Mind magic is one of his strongest skills, so making a vision shared by the three of them is not very difficult.

"Faith," came Vivienne's voice, so soft it would not extend far beyond the sorcerer and the ghost warrior, "Has never been my problem. It is…as they say…in the blood." And having received her answer from Strange, she settled into a position that allowed her to sit back on her heels, head bowed over the spear as she began to pray. The words were soft, fervent, a mixture of Latin and French, almost a patois of sorts as some people developed, when they lived in one place with a shared culture. She prayed to her God, to his Son, to those two august Beings who had, in the long ago, set such wheels in motion that had led, eventually, to the Daughter kneeling in the still early morning son. And most of all, she prayed to the woman whose name she bore. She asked to be granted a vision of Lara, of where she was, of what circumstances she found herself in, and for vision and insight into how they might find that place where, once found, would allow them to find their way to her and bring her back, hale and whole.

"Then let us retrieve our friend." Wariors of Faith, they are indeed that even if of differing targets or specialities, be it churches, magical forces or spirits themselves. It's part and parcel.
Straightening up and squaring off his shoulders Robert nods, "I can if need be, it takes some ceremony and preparation so if the Doctor has something more potent or quicker, by all means. Haste is our concern… I would rather not think of her fate without our intervention." Though how long has it been?

"Sooner, you've been made aware as things have progressed. Where the artifacts and the darkness lies has been our task, you can't burden yourself with every great threat, thats why we are here after all. None of us alone." A look spared Vivienne from the tall-brawny albino Native.

Strange breathes deeply and makes a few gestures with his hands. But those are only minor concealment and warding spells. Vivienne is going to peer into the netherealms, so a minimum of precautions is what separate bold from stupid.

The mental link he accomplishes just by raw concentration and the (relatively) powerful spark on magic in his soul. His touch is light, subtle, but not both Robert and himself will see whatever the Magdalena is going to watch. The vision granted by the Spear, or the One Above All.

Vivienne had asked for help, that was true, but once she was, as it were, in the zone, she ceased to feel either man around her, all of her aim and focus bent on opening her mind to something that no normal sense could help her find. And yet, something outside of her touched that part of herself that was not, in truth, truly hers, that seed of the holy, and vision blossomed. And with the skill of the Sorcerer Supreme, hopefully shared between the three. It was hell, and it wasn't, a dark place that was not flame, nor pain, or suffering, or death, but something that seemed to be, no more or less than a place that was the simple absence of life as it was lived in the mortal realms. And yet things did move, thought, fought, survived in that grey twilight. In that place where the sun neither shone nor slept, but left all the land in an endless, bitter gloaming. And Lara was there, and even though they could see only flickering glimpses of her, the sheer force of her will was a beacon that fought against the darkness trying to snuff it out. But it was vision only, and no way came to the three who scryed. "I can't…get there." Something was barring their way. They could see their prize, but they could not reach her.

It is not a first experience with Robert to witness miracles at work from some diefic source of beyond, Vivienne's blood or divine guidance they are through a remote view of power scrying through the very realms themselves, bound to the same sight by Doctor Strange. Though Lara is not clear entirely the aura she exudes, her destiny force and great will are felt, illumination in an afterland of gloom and shadow where entropy rules and souls are collected, traded and bartered like mere currency. It is found though, where they must go and the weakest point between the veils that separate dominions, the place they must seek in order to rescue their wayward companion.

Ripclaw lets out a grunt, a satisfied sound likely and maybe some bit of awe. Their gifts at work together are impressive and always worth some awe.
"We found her then… " Apprehensive he is hard to keep linked, already jumping to the next desire, "Lets go get her." At best he could project himself there but he would of little to no aid in such a state but with Doctor Strange or the Magdalena's spear… the game changes.

That is not (quite) Hell.

So Lara is trapped in-between. Yet it is also not a good, boring place. The whole vision reeks to dead and death magic. The second being very high in the list of elements that Strange hates and fears.

But the vision is clear - and the breach between realities too. He needs to be quick to exploit what must be a temporary weakness. "Come then," he says, drawing a circle on the air that crackles and glows with black and dull red energy. It expands into a gate, and then space seems to fold, bringing a cold, dark wind into New York Summer's morning. "Into the shadows, my friends," he adds, stepping forward.

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