Rescue from the Deadside

August 18, 2018:

Ripclaw, Doctor Strange and Magdalena travel to the land of the dead to rescue Lara Croft.

//Deadside - Somewhere Beyond //

"The Deadside" —- "What we see in Death's dominion is as void as a
deadman's gaze, as cold as the light from a dying star."

The "Deadside", "Wasteland", "the Nothing Beyond" or "Afterlife" is one of
the many nether realms and outer dimensions separated from our Material
Plane yet lies parallel, it exists through, with and connected to Limbo.

A shadowy realm that is a dark mirror to the lands of the living of many
worlds, through the expected entryways of 626 most portions of the Deadside
reflect Earth locations, cities, jungles, oceans even bars. Though they are
gloomy echoes or reflective counterparts in appearance and nature.

The dark environment of the Deadside can vary widely, much like Limbo it can
be shaped by what it is connected or influenced by, yet the misty, gloomy
and dark taint of it never lifts.

The Deadside's native inhabitants are the souls of the departed from many
worlds, though the living can also be encontered here human travelers and
otherwise, as it's dim boundaries are vast and not restrictive beyond
finding a way in. For many this is the final destination, the 'Afterlife',
for others it is but a waystation and to some, home, a source of necrotic
power or even a nightmarish tourism trap.

To find the Deadside through Limbo one must simply seek the bone-backed
pillars, the Marrow Gates. To find it otherwise, the quickest route is…
death itself.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Through the 'Netherscape' a connecting point specific and tied to the /beyond/, a tear through space, time and of course the fabrics of reality drops the wielder of the Longinus, Earth's Sorcerer Supreme and the Ghost Warrior at the Boneyard Gates of the Deadside.

White ghostly spires of energy trail upwards pushed forward upon a backdrop of black and purple, towering structures made up of bone grafted and melded together line a pathway in to the darkness beyond with no particular symmetry to them. They simply lie and wait.

The air is breathable if one could call it that, there is an atmosphere of power, divine and otherwise, dark and far reaching gloom, largely it is black magics, necromantic in nature but there also lies some life and order hidden. The scales are just tipped one way over the other…


Traveling to the nether realms is not something even the Sorcerer Supreme can take lightly, so there was some preparations and some precautions to take. Strange even switched his typical mundane doctor attire for the blue tuning and traveling boots, letting the cloak of levitation take its natural form.

He has been in many of the fantastic realms that exist beyond the veils between worlds. Almost any of them would be better than this bleak, dead place. "The air is heavy with necromantic energy. We should not tarry here a minute longer than necessary," he comments. "This place shouldn't be," he adds bleakly.


"No." Robert says in a hoarse tone. He hates teleporting, it is far too disorienting and hypersenses are thrown that much more, a leap through the 'fold' in to the Deadside even more so, they are disconnected from the Earthly realm and it's connected boons. Here though, Ripclaw has a faint glow to him, lines across his form like swirling tattoo markings of blue-white and his eyes are a gleaming white. That spirit part of him thrives, he is in some measure kindred to the Loa that call this realm home. Some measure.

"There is no way to just track her for me. We at least know this is where she is… "

"But shes not." A voice quips, a rattling sound and bones clatter together before a serpintine unfurling reveals a snake of bone rising above them, upon it's head is a tophat, its face a skeleton. "This is but the gateway. She whoever she is lies beyond if you seek one of the dead, damned or lost." It's lower jaw chatters and it looks like it is smiling wide. It at least speaks English or what they hear it to be.


Vivienne's expression darkened, as she looked over towards Robert, and considered his words, and not only his words, but the look of him, alive and not so, and the two were so melded together, it was difficult to tell them apart. As if he had left something of himself back in the world they came from. The sound of the voice behind her turned her head, and she moved to put herself between her two companions and the speaking snake, "We do seek her, and I will go where she is, no matter the cost to myself."


"We are not looking for one of the dead or undead," points out Strange, folding his arms across his chest. Lost? Maybe. "Who are you and what are you doing here, where the walls between words are so thin? Waiting for someone, perhaps?"

Strange knows a few spells to find people. He could try a telepathic contact with Lara. But in this realm he is wary to draw attention, and the costs magic could bring. And they are in a hurry. Still, a brief chat with a denizen might be useful.


"Waiting I ssssuppose." The skeletal snake rattles at them, its body swaying to and fro.
"I am… an assssistant you could say to a caplata maybe now. Maybe unsssure. Time moves different."

"You are the Sssorcerer of the flesh lands." It weaves then lunges at Doctor Strange only to stop about three feet from him.

"Perhaps I can help you travelersss." It swivels to hover over Vivienne not going nearer than it had Strange, the spear getting a particularly long examination.

The Ghost Warrior straightens his shoulders and stands upright, he appears taller here, less mechanical as well. Part of being a sort of ancestral and spiitual avatar likely.
"We are not here to bargain. Can you use your magics or spear? If we get past the gateway I may be able to pick up a scent."

"Rude and foolish." The snake-skeleton fires at Ripclaw, "Never let the emotional onesss leaddd anywhere."


Vivienne did not stop Robert from speaking, but she did not look away from the snake either, though she moved to place herself between Strange and the…well, whatever it was, "Why would you help us? And what would you ask for in return?" Seeing the creature examining the spear, she gripped it more tightly, until her hands were white-knuckled. As in in answer to her, the spear increased it's radiance, washing back over her and the two men with her, possibly as far as the snake.


"I am a sorcerer," confirms Strange with a brief nod, giving the snake no names, since he (it?) gave none. "As for your assistance, we can talk about it as we walk," he offers. "We are looking for another visitor, so we won't linger here for long."

Now he is concentrating, trying to find Lara's spirit in the alien landscape using his psychic senses. Distance might have no meaning in this realm, or more meaning than in Earth, but he starts with the use of his personal scale abilities before relying on the ambient magical energies of this eerie, dead place.


The snake recoils from the light of the spear, ducking its head back and rising higher, "Damn woman. That burns… mind yourself."
"Its disrespectful to bring such a thing to the land of the damned and forgotten." It headshakes at her as if mock chiding then motions towards Doctor Strange, "As we walk. Yes." It joins them, slithering alongside them down the road of bones, grinning but not speaking.

Robert looks over once at it then the others before he strides on, taking up the rear for now.

It is hard to seek out Lara Croft in a realm full of countless between souls, so many unlike and like but such a specific task. The silence appears to be growing on the snake creature and it starts to speak again, "Your question before you blinded me, why to help. For… sssake of my missstress. She was of your world once, a helper of the needy. I do my bessst to pay homage by offering when I can even if none of you are the Shadow Massssk or his I see, no sssmell, the stench on you of the corruptor."


"I apologize if I did you injury, but these two are mine to protect, and I will see them harmed, if I can do anything to prevent it." She does call back the light, though she does not extinguish it entirely, "Perhaps it is, but perhaps there are some here who can be saved. And that is also my charge." She falls into line with the trio, two men, a being from another realm, her words offering a soft, silent prayer, not for herself, but for Strange, to aid him in his search, "Who is your mistress?"


"If we are in a place where bringing a holy light is disrespectful, we are certainly a gang of barbarians," deadpans Strange. The Shadow Mask, it says? Strange considers this nickname, and if it fits the suspected, returning dark lord.

"Yes, snake, tell us of your mistress and this Shadow Mask person, hmm?" He offers. "Do you sense anything familiar, my friend?" He asks Robert. "I am afraid I will have to risk a location spells, as I said we shouldn't wander here for long."


"Abssssolutely you are." The skeleton-snake agrees as they proceed towards the further end of the bone stands, "An apology, eureka… " The sarcasm is evident but its tone is always the same hollow sound everything is one delivery.
"Sssalvation. There are some but this is not Hellll, not the one you may think. Judgement issssn't in fasshion here."

"Sshe is wonderouss my Nettiee who created a thing like what you have, the shining thing just not sssoo old."
"I sspeak no more of her or the massk as this is not theirs but yourss, we reach the end of the bone road, sssson youre on your own in to the Deadside's gullet then further. Your magic will weaken here, your light will fade sssoo linger not."

"I don't sense anything familiar, Doctor." Ripclaw says, "We are in the correct spot, I know some of the Deadsides yet not much, it is… massive."

"I can help… for a price." The snake creature insists. "You'll find we love to barter here in the Deadssside."


"The damned exist in many places, not just Hell. And perhaps salvation comes when it is least expected or when one has given up hope of it." Vivienne continued on, following along as they moved, watching the landscape thin around them. She gave no reply, yet, as she listened to Robert, before she turned back to address the snake, "And what is your price? And how would you help us?"


"Of course, there is a price," Strange looks at the skeleton snake, searching the creature's mind and nature. "And since we don't know the rules of the bargains we are always in disadvantage. But know this, snake, we sorcerers bend the rules everywhere we go, as such is our nature. Draw us into something our barbarian ways consider unfair and you will find far, far more you have bargained for."

As for his magic weakening here, he is irritated enough to consider -that- a challenge. The Doctor has his pride, and many tasks waiting for him back home.


"I will make sure the gateways sssend you on the right path. Deadside issss very large, very confusssing." The snake insists, "We bargain, I help. Simple." It looks at the Sorcerer then bobs it's head, "I do not doubt you, Ssstrange."

It's form rises high, casting a shadow from the odd lit up gloom around them, "Then, maybe no bargain assss I don't see anything you can offfer me and I don't care for your world or ways, nothing for me to enjoy I do like a game, a riddle, no threeee riddlesss. Get all right and I ssssend you to her. Fair?" It questions, there is no mind to search the nature of it feels as though its some automaton of bone, an animated thing infused with broken halfsouls in to one… creature.

"I don't care. Riddles, whatever. Send us to Lara Croft and we will be in your debt." Ripclaw slashes the air in annoyance.

"But jussst said no debt, just riddlesss."


"If we attempt to answer your riddles and answer correctly, how will we know that you will send us where you have said you would? And if we answer incorrectly, you will allow us to leave unharassed? And will not bar our way?" Vivienne shook her head, looking between the other two with her, as if she wanted to make certain that they would both agree to this…challenge, before it continued.


"I have no meansss to bar your way." The skeleton-snake replies, "For the ressst… some faith."


Strange looks somewhat distrustful. No means to bar their way, it says. It has not easily discernible nature, no mind he can feel, and yet it knows his name. No great secret, but none of the others said his name.

"Faith and trust is hard-earned in some circles, snake," mentions Strange. "We are living in a dead land, so we are wary of strangers. Now, riddles, those old games are sacred in its own surprising ways. So go ahead and riddle us."


"Ssssplendid." The snake says before it shoots its head foward again, "You sssssaw me where I never was. Where could never be. Yet within that very place. My face you often sssssee. " It jerks from Strange to Magdalena, "What am I?"

"So ssssimple yesss?"


Vivienne waited to hear this first riddle, having accepted Strange's decision. Her attention shifts from the Sorcerer to the snake, as it seems to be addressing her, her expression lightening, as she listens, repeating the words to herself. "A reflection." She seemed confident enough, but did not look to either of the men with her. begin as you mean to go on and all.


Strange clenches his jaw when the snake ignores Robert, the shaman, to address Vivianne and himself. Maybe he is being too paranoid, but still… still he does not rush to respond. Vivianne does that. The sorcerer smirks lightly.

“Fair response, I believe,” he comments, supporting the young woman. Riddle games can be played in many ways. Or attacked directly and without hesitation.
And they are in a hurry anyway.


"A reflection…. correct." The snake circles loosely at a distance around Magdalena then drifts towards Doctor Strange, rising high again enough it is at eye level with the magus. " I can bring you a sssssmile, a tear, a thought but no one can ssssee me and know one knowsss me the ssssame as you, what am I?"

"Think Doctor… things ssstir." The skeletal snake draws back as Ripclaw flexes his claws out.

"Two of three right?"

"Well I sssaid three but two is fine if it can be anssswered."


Strange hrms, looking at the snake and taking a minute to think. It needs to be a valid answer, not necessarily the one 'right' response. "You are a memory," he decides. "If it is correct we should get moving, you can ask the third riddle when Lady Croft is with us. I think the lady is quite good with riddles."

Alternatively he can test his magic against the necromancy in the air. Because he is still quite sure they can't trust the flesh-less snake thing.


Vivienne was attentive, calculating, as she watched the snake turn his (it's?) attention towards Strange, and despite the fact that the question had not been given to her to answer, she clearly was thinking on it, just on the off chance that it was needed. She had always enjoyed a good riddle, though she had never riddled for such stakes as these. She offered a smile as she heard Strange's reply, and a nod. A fair answer and with any luck, a true one.


"Very good." The snake rasp-rattles at the two then bows back and slithers forward, it's mouth opens and in the center of it smoke pushes forth, a black and purple mess of it that swirls in the middle of that white brilliant glow that dominates the end of the skeleton trailway.

Through it they can see a plain of black reeds and red, the sky is orange and hellish with greys to more dark shades of blacks, perhaps clouds. Moving across it in a line is what appears to be an army of mishapen and demonic creatures from storybooks of old at their front is… Lara Croft. Though her attire is different but then one can only guess how long she has been here. Time passes differently of course.

The snake whips its headback as the portal starts to tear open, to give them passage to that particular point.
"There is the closest thing that tastes like one of you or your kind, closesssst." The thing repeats, "Her name is circulating the demense, domains and territoriesss of the Loa and their overlordssss… Lara Croft. Yesss?"

"Yes." Ripclaw confirms his eyes set on the plains that have been opened before them, "Do we have a way to get in and out quickly? She is being followed by… an army."


"Yes, that woman is the one we are looking for," confirms Strange, reaching for the smoke with one of his hands and making a few quick gestures that don't look quite like sign language. "I have the metaphysical position," he comments.

A glance to the others, because it could be a trap. Get ready, for anything. He projects in their minds silently. Then starts a larger, more complex spell involving both his hands and some murmured chanting.

Space folks, a portal of kaleidoscopic light forms from nothing, to almost seven feet across. "Follow me, please," he offers, stepping through.


Vivienne's expression hardens, as she finally catches sight of Lara, though, from the distance, it's difficult to tell is she's being chased, or if she's leading some sort of procession. While she trusted the woman not to fall into that sort of Stockholm Syndrome, well, the world was different here. As she waits for Strange to do his magic, she turned back to the snake, "You did not have to help us. I thank you for that, and offer my thanks to you Lady as well."


"Do enjoy yoursselvesss." The snake says with a bob of it's hat towards Magdalena. It is then reeling itself away from the portal that Strange has opened.
"Two riddlessss two favorsss. I owe one ssshould you need to collect." He informs then it's grinning face disappears in the mist and gloom of the boneyard pathway.

Ripclaw doesn' say a word just falling in line with the doctor and his sorcery, he can feel it, the runic like tattoos on him flare as they drop from the pathway in to the Deadside to be fully immersed in one of it's many territories, the blood plains. Where endless war is waged on and off by warriors and monsters caught in a timeless battle, its back and forth surging mirroring the real world itself.

This is fortunately one of it's adjacent fields, full of scavangers, those passing by and ones who seek to free themselves of endless war. Explosions, screams, things in the sky, a storm and roars are audible in the far distance, a backdrop to the black and red fields the three outsiders will now find themselves in.


Strange winces at the metaphysical shift. That was not just moving spatially, and he was not quite ready. If not for the Cloak he would have fallen on his face, very undignified. Instead he hovers a few feet, to locate Lara more easily, and to scan for immediate threats. "A battlefield. I suppose these are commonplace in the deadlands," he comments.

No casting for now. Again, not to draw too much attention. Maybe in the confusion of this conflict it wouldn't matter, but he is trying to be cautious.


"I should have tried for that third riddle." Vivienne's voice was not entirely grumpy, but she was not a woman who often allowed herself to fail to take advantage of any advantage. But that was in the past. Now, Lara was ahead, and whatever the woman might be doing, she fully intended to retrieve her from this dark place. Whether she wanted to go at this point or not. The spear she kept in hand, the swords at her sides still set in their scabbards. She moved to take the lead, allowing Robert and Strange to follow behind her. Of the three of them, she seemed to have the most immediately useful weapon. And the Spear did not require her to tax her energy or mind.


As the others draw near to her, they'll start to see a shift in her direction as she in-turn notices them. And when they do become visibly closer to her she picks up her pace and runs at a faster clip, her eyes locked on them and her speed quite tremendous as her athletic prowess is showcased in how perfectly formed her running is. With boots slapping down on the filthy ground and one hand clutching a tattered shotgun by its center mass, Lara draws closer.

"Their armies are upon us!" Lara shouts ahead at Robert, Strange and Magdalena. "They're seeking our end!" Robert will likely note that Lara is completely changed from clothing and gear than the last time he saw her in the mining caves where she'd been lost. She's at least not overly filthy, considering the wretched state of the lands they're in… so she's had some recent shelter from all of this, plus the near gear would further suggest she's found at least some sort of aide while here.

When Croft reaches them, she turns around, raises the shotgun up to her eyes… aims down sights and blasts a lunging creature of slimey dark grey skin right in its rounded stomach. The creature screams in agony and splashes down into a muddle puddle. Lara turns and levels the large shotgun down at it once more while it writhes about. She fires again, right into its gaping open mouth! The monster goes silently in the sludgey puddle of water.

Quickly, Croft turns around and closes the rest of the distance between herself and her three rescuers. "We have to go. Immediately." She all but orders them… with an army of creatures closing in no furuther than fifty yards away now.


"The Deadside is nothing but uncommon." Ripclaw says, his lips peel back to show his teeth as his eyes flare with that ghost-fire blue and extends one limb claws reaching out to latch to the black grass and propel him forward like some catapult, he drops on to the back of the nearest demonic creature, it looks something akin to a bull with a humans face and snakes for tails. It goes down with the Ghost Warrior in a spray of upturned ground and blood. Muffled sounds of breaking crunching bones escaping the two.

The surge of monsters and shadows doesn't slow, shrieks are heard and a finger pointed, a javelin of eldritch fire and bone launches itself at Doctor Strange.

The ground riptides and sprays up dirt in Bugs Bunny tunnels are created but these are not friendly or cartoonish in the least, spines jut up between the upturned soil points as they zigzag across the ground letting out screams from under the earth, all of them working in towards Lara and Vivienne who are nearest one another.

Ripclaw launches himself free of his own scuffle to start running towards the group.
"There are too many!" He is shouting, running towards his companions.


"Ah, but be wary of the favors of snakes and skeletons," suggests Strange, making it sound as if he was if quoting an ancient proverb. In truth, he might have been overly suspicious of the odd skeleton creature, but this alien environment so heavy with necromantic energy is making him cranky.

Which is not a bad thing, given they come immediately under attack. With a quick gesture of is hand and a muttered word, he blocks the fiery javelin. A second later he replies with an energy blast that explodes into a fireball. "Too many, indeed. This seems pointless conflict. I will try to pull us away, but let me form a warding circle first," he states, reaching for the Eye of Agamotto to use the artifact as ward focus.


Vivienne did not move to intercept Lara, trusting the woman to get herself back to the group. Instead, she, as Robert himself, moved to press the battle, attempting to establish a perimeter behind which Strange could work his magic. The Spear light with flame and divine light, the same spilling from the woman's hands as she moves into the wave of the oncoming dead, she sheer force of the divine power she had called forth pushing the creatures back, turning them and allowing her to press on and eliminate as many as she could. But the Ghost Warrior was right. There simply were too many for them to battle. And that was not their aim. They had come for the Tom Raider. Vivienne lifted her voice, calling back to her companions, though she never once slowed in the battle, "Take Lara and Strange and go, Robert. I'll be right behind you."


Lara keeps her shotgun held up for several more seconds, aimed of course at the incoming monster army that had been behind her. But when the others speak, she lowers the weapon to aim is barrel down toward the mud.

"We have to leave, or they're going to enslave us all." She tells them, giving a glance to Robert, then a nod to Magda before her darkened eyessleep deprived appearingfall upon Strange. "Are you capable of getting us out of here, Wizard?" She asks him, her voice sounds… haggard, lower and more sultry than it used to and both Robert and Magdalena could likely notice that, but its most likely a side effect of being stranded here for WHO KNOWS how long, since time in this wretched place ticks so differently than it does in the real world.


The wash of flame and deadly arc of the Spear of Destiny causes an enroaching wave of a centaur with hellish horns and glowing eyes, a pack of bent over werewolf like creatures and a countless shambling dead to slow their rush towards them, those things under the earth pop and burst in an explosion of boiling insides and fire.

Ripclaw's spirit infused larger self clears a long leap to land on several skeletal shamblers, crushing them under foot before he lurches in close not bothering to care about the horde or the danger and slides in next to the others, past the wardings created by Strange and Magdalena.
He cranes his head to the side looking at Lara before one arm wraps around her in a hard quick hug against his chest, "Glad you are with us again." As quickly as he embraces her he releases. "Lets go… lets go." He murmur, knowing they must act quick but one cannot really 'rush' a magician in their arts.


Strange could RUSH.

But then they might end up in the Dark Dimension. Or the Nightmare Realm. He has learned not to rush except in the direst circumstances. That is why he cast a ward first. The horde crashes against the ward, the Eye of Agamotto glows and groans in protest, but it is a powerful holy artifact and the ward stands.

It is not as if he needs an hour, no. Just a moment to reorient, another to gauge how far he is from the Sanctum, and half a minute to weave the spell, trying to minimize the use of the local dark-tainted energies for this particular crafting. They want to get out, not just appear somewhere else in the Deadland.

There is a flash of light.


Vivienne could not spare a moment to look back and see what the others behind her were about, she simply had too many enemies on her. Whatever the Spear was doing to them, or her own radiant light, no one ever said that the dead had any sort of intelligence and too many of them were simply throwing themselves into the fray, as though they thought they might overwhelm her by sheer force of numbers. And yet, Vivienne fought on, doing what she could to buy Strange the time that he needed. She seemed to have no thought for herself. Whatever happened, she would make it out. Strange's shield, though, gave her some breathing room, and she turned, at the last minute, to follow them through, the last man, er, woman, out.

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