We Are Going to Go Swimming

August 19, 2018:

Magdalena, Darkedge, Strange and the recently rescued Lara Croft talk about the next step in stopping the Lilim now they believe they know what they are after: The Serpent Crown.

Strange Sanctum


NPCs: Wong

Mentions: Ripclaw, Magik, Azrael

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It has been a rare quiet day in the Sanctum. Quiet in the sense no mystic alarm fired off, not strange visitor came to ask a curse removed or a ghost appeased and no (else) dropped by for breakfast bringing dire news from another corner of the Nine Realms or beyond. For the first time in the week Doctor Strange could make some good progress in his studies.

But it has not been truly quiet because it had been years since the Sanctum had so many guests. Wong is busy. But he seems also be in good mood. In many regards the Sanctum is more his house than Strange's. The wizard tends to travel, but Wong is the guardian and caretaker. Telling people about the mysteries and peculiarities of the house is a rare guilty pleasure.

Now it is a few hours after lunch but not yet at dinner time and Strange finally comes down from his study, carrying a couple large tomes and a folder with freshly printed documents he got from the Justice League databanks.

"Good afternoon," he greets. "I think I figured out what Lilith is trying to do. I have good news and bad news."

It was interesting, being in the Human Realm and in a place so infused with magic as this house was. Wong was an odd fellow, but when the elf found he was willing to talk for hours about everything and nothing, the elf found that with little promptly the human would talk about many of the artifacts found in the house.

Darkedge had been walking through the room, sensing how the home sensed him moving into a room with too many windows and too much light, and moved to adjust for him. Of course, he had his hood drawn, his mask on but up on teh top of his head like some oddly shaped baseball cap, and his eyes were lidded to try to get a jump on if the light was going to be too bright for him before the house could adjust.

The elf was testing the limits of how quickly the building reacted, the flavor and potentcy of the magic that controlled these reactions. In short, he was passing the time.

Hearing Strange's voice, the elf turns to face him, a brow quirked. It's silent invitation for the human mage to speak further, it's the assassin hinting that he is 'politely' waiting for Strange to speak. Polite for the elf too often reads as rude and detached by most humans around him.

Vivienne had settled by the fireplace. In many ways, it did not matter that it was really not cool enough for one to be required. The flames were low, casting long shadows out behind her, rifling through a tome that she had either brought with her when last she dropped off her supplies, or that she had been given access to by Wong. It has no magical tome, however, that was plain enough. It was new, freshly printed, a hardback, though she had removed the cover and set it on the table beside herself. The Sound of Strange moving into the room brought her head up from the book, a slip of paper put into mark her place. Darkedge she noticed as well, though she had not heard him, "I would prefer the bad news first."

Since returning, Lara had closed herself up in a room she'd asked to be given. She'd spent quite a long time inside it as well. But when she emerged she was cleaned up and wearing a fresh set of clothing that she'd also asked for. A dark navy blue tanktop and charcoal grey jeans tucked inot a pair of black leather boots.

As of now she's seated at a table with her gear spread out in front of her and she's cleaning all of it, handguns, handgrenades, that old shotgun she'd had when they'd found her and a number of other items used for killing… She's got it all nicely spread out and about half of it all has been serviced and cleaned.

She pauses a moment to glance up to where the talking is coming from, then her eyes drop back down to her gear and she bends down to gently blow a pile of dried dirt off of the table in front of her, and once its gone she can see her reflection in the polished wood… she stares at herself there-after.

Bad news first, alright. Strange drops the books and folder on a tall table that is used for dinner in the rare occasions Strange has several guests. Like now. It is going to double up as meeting table. Not without a double take at Lara's arsenal.

"Those sheets the Lilim were looking for are alchemical plans to build an artifact called a 'Cobra Crown'. It seems a terrible thing of black magic bestowing a fraction of an Elder God might upon the wearer," explains Strange. "As I suspected they are very old. Testing done by the League technicians put them at twenty or twenty two thousand years old. Ms. Hong academic contacts revealed they were found during an underwater archeological expedition, near Hawaii. Nowhere close to Atlantis, however. They are not Atlantean. They are Lemurian. And I know very little about ancient Lemuria."

For the scientifically minded, there is a good deal of reports from the experts in the Watchtower, they are good professionals coming from STAR Labs or Waynetech. Most of them couldn't believe something like those metal sheets could exist. Many archeologist today refuse to believe there was an Thurian, or Obsidian Age long, long before the pyramids of Egypt were raised.

"The good news is the artifact can't be built in this age," add Strange. "The Axis Mundi has shifted and turned, magic has changed too much. The worse news is I know there is a similar, much more powerful artifact to the one describe in the sheets. It is called the Serpent Crown, and in this time and in the hands of someone like Lilith it could shatter the whole world."

The good news is that the artifact cannot be built in this age really isn't good news to the timeless elf, whose life span gives him the capacity to sit and watch a star from birth to death… if he had the ability to survive in space and the light of a star. A small thing like waiting for the Human Realm to once more return to an alignment in which magic was once again as potent as it once was is a trivial matter and one that would happen multiples times before he could even begin to consider himself an old elf. His arms unfold as he approaches the table, eyes skimming over the offered information too quickly to read anything, quick enough to reassure himself that as usual humans use odd squiggly things on bits of film and call it information. He settled himself within arm's reach of Lara, his back mostly to the light of the fireplace.

"And the Fae Realm after. Let us hunt Lilith, part her body from her head. The pieces of the Serpent Crown we locate and dismantle to ensure it can not be pieced together," says teh elf coldly. Still gravelly, his voice is more clear than it usually is, evidence that he has been spending enough time around those that need him to talk out loud to hear him.

Having marked the book so that she could return to it, Vivienne uncurled herself from the seat she had set herself into for the last few hours, taking a few minutes to straighten, stretching her spine, before she made her way over towards the table. She offered Lara a smile, friendly, but filled with sympathy, as she saw the woman at work, "We'll see about replacing the swords. Josef is looking into it." She continued on, heading towards the table and the reports Strange was laying out there, "So if this thing can't be built, then why were they so desperate to find these scrolls? A creature of such dark magic, surely she would have been able to feel that the world had moved on." She took a moment, hearing the bad news on the other end of the good, and glancing to Darkelf, as he offered his suggestion, "And you know where this 'Serpent Crown' is?"

Lara just continued to stare at her own muted reflection in the polished dark wood of the table, listening to the other speak and she didn't look up until Vivienne spoke directly too her. Her dark brown eyes stare directly at the Magdalena's own when she speaks of the swords and for an instant… she seems confused or unsure of what Vivienne is talking about. But then it fades and is replaced with simply a single nod of understanding.

Lara's eyes then look over to Darkedge where they linger a moment before going back to Strange. "Lemuria is an ancient place, a mythical place like few others." She speaks and her voice is low in tone and very relaxed. "I would… very much hope to see it with my own eyes. Someday." She then reaches a hand up and extends it out to take hold of a handgun and draw it across the table so that it rests directly in front of where she's seated.

"Well, without studying the scrolls Lilith might not know the artifact can't be built right now," explains Strange. Or rather, he is speculating. "And to be honest I have never heard of this Cobra Crown. It might be it was never completed, or perhaps it is long destroyed. But I know of the Serpent Crown. A more malefic construct is hard to imagine. Although I seen the Darkhold…" of which he better not even talk today.

"The Serpent Crown has been used in recent times, though," he explains, leaning heavily on the table. "After being lost for millennia a madman used it to attack Atlantis shortly after World War Two. He was defeated, and the crown lost briefly. In more recent times an industrialist, Hugh Jones, by then chief executive officer of the Roxxon Corporation and secretly a priest of the Elder Gods, used it to take control of every man and woman of Washington DC. Just… like that. He was not even a spellcaster, just a power-mad human. He was defeated at great cost and the incident covered up by Stormwatch. But the crown was lost in the deeps of the ocean."

Lets hunt Lilith. Easy. Decapitation? It won't work on Lilith. The ancient Sumerian god-heroes cut Lilith in small pieces and bound her to the corpse of a pan-dimensional leviathan. And nevertheless she came back a few centuries later. But that is the reason why Strange invited Magdalena to this party. The Spear -might- be able to destroy what not even the Sumerian gods could kill.

A glance is given to Lara, and a nod. "Lemuria is where I need to go. As Lilith lost the scrolls, she will seek the source. I know little of Lemuria, however. It was an island in the Pacific Ocean, an advanced civilization that struggled with Atlantis in the centuries before the Great Cataclysm. Some unreliable stories say the inhabitants were not human, but demons that wanted to enslave the world. Yet Agamotto say nothing about Lemuria in the Book of the Vishanti. An island full of demons would have drawn the attention and wrath of the Supreme Sorcerer. Of this I am sure."

Darkedge pures his lips as he hears what the crown can do in the hands of a human. It is disturbing at the very least, and he exhales on a silent sigh. Of course, when Strange says he needs to go to somewhere then elf unfolds his arms, silver eyes on the sorceror.

"Then why are we standing here discussing? Let us go to this Lemuira. If it was not of worth, then we are unlikely to find demon," says the elf, metallic colored eyes flicking to the Magdalina.

"Although, I suspect that between those we have gathered, we can ensure everyone else's safety," he adds before he flicks his gaze down at Lara. Her quieter demeanor is noted, the lack of the emblem of her seritude gone.

"And do we have any idea where that Lemuria is? or how we might get there? Granted, I do not know the full extent of your abilities, Darkedge but I certainly not breath underwater, nor would I want to go somewhere without having first seen or at least attempted to ascertain what dangers we might be facing and then prepare as best I can for those dangers. As well, if this thing is that powerful, it may require more skills than we might now possess, and so we will need to, I think, gather more allies than just the three of us." She glanced at Lara, but seems not to have included the woman, as she was only newly returned.

Lara's eyes lingered a little longer on Darkedge now but she pulls them from the elf when Vivienne asked where Lemuria is. "No one knows, that I've ever met." Lara says softly before reaching down to put her hand onto a loaded magazine that she slides then across the table and glides it into the grip of the gun she'd finished cleaning. "Atlanteans moved to the Pacific. Lemuria was a dark place, lots of black magic and conflict." She speaks while staring at her handgun and slowly turning it on the table.

"Perhaps the Doctor knows a quick route there?" She then asks, her eyes going up to Stephen to stare at him now. "You found a way to and from the Deadside quite easily, yes? All things considered. You seem to be able to reach many places otherwise considered… hard to get to." And she shows a light smile then.

Her handgun is pulled off of the table and lowered down into her lap, where it can be heard slipping into a holster on her thight with a quietly muffled sound.

"I don't know where Lemuria was, but I can find it, I am sure," confirms Strange, leaning back and pacing around the table. Something as large as an island can't be hidden from his magic, even if it sunk millennia ago. "I can also bestow the ability to survive deep underwater to all of us, too. Then we… yes, powerful allies. Unfortunately the Justice League is leaving Earth to find Atum. Also a critical quest and I wanted to be there, but now I cannot, Lilith needs to be stopped. I am afraid it is going to be up to us and maybe a few others. I will ask Robert and Illyana to aid us, of course. If you know more suitable warriors or heroes, please ask them to come."

Darkedge inclines his chin at Vivienne once more pokes holes in his ideas. Well, it's for the best. He's no tactical warrior. He's an assassin. He doesn't think in groups. He thinks in himself. He is either given a location, or given a target, or both, or just teleported into the area with his target and told 'kill and return or just don't return'. His mind offers out a sense of willing to follow where the humans feel they need to go, without there being a hint of annoyance that he seems to have limited things to offer to this Council. There is the faintest touch of it being odd to him that he's even being allow to offer anything at a council, so there's that.

His arms refold as Lara holsters her firearm, the motion drawing his gaze again.

Vivienne studied Strange as he spoke, "And how much can we ask of you before your own power is exhausted, Strange? Whatever skill you have, I do not think it will extend to all of the things we will need for you to do and then ask you to be able to maintain all of that and fight potential enemies as well. No, in my opinion, and it is only my own, we would be best served by preserving all of our gifts for when they are necessary, and not to waste what we can do on mundane things, when we can acquire what we need through more normal channels." She considered, seeming to be checking off a mental list, "There is one person, whom might possibly have some assistance to give, if I can convince him to help us. Azrael, the strong arm of the Order of St. Dumas has recently come to the area. I met him in Gotham. We are not the same, he and I, though we are both warriors of the Faith, and he too bears a blessed weapon." She took a breath, "I will also speak to Robert, to see if he has any suggestions."

Lara stands up suddenly then from the table and just starts to sort the gear she has cleaned up enough to still be useable, her left hand reaching out for her dirty backpack that she starts to place the equipment inside of… she pauses though and peers inside the pack, then turns it over and pours out a bunch of dried up dirt, rocks and other little debris from the 'beyond' onto the table, making a small pile of filth on Strange's fancy furniture.

With that done, she starts stuff the weapons and gear into the backpack. "Where is Robert?" Lara asks while she placing items. "He has… information I wish to retrieve from him. I assumed he would've still been here for this, but apparently he has scurried off." With the pack filled she pulls it around her shoulders and just does a general sweep of their faces. "Where might I find him?" She asks then.

Exhaust his power? Strange hrmphs. "Water-breathing enchantments are hardly an effort, but we could rely on enchanted artifacts if you feel safer that way," or technological devices. But Strange is skeptic at the possibility they can find anything suitable to keep them alive miles underwater. Unless maybe Magdalena can borrow a few of Stark's armors.

Azrael is not a name familiar for Strange, but he nods to Magdalena. More warriors are welcome. Holy weapons are going to be most effective with the Lilim.

And maybe he can find something for Lara among the pile magical devices he has collected the last forty years or inherited of the Ancient One. Darkedge and Ripclaw come with their own weaponry, fortunately.

"Robert should be here soon," replies Strange. In fact, why isn't he here already? Wong quietly offers Lara a cellphone to call the Native American.

Lara's sudden need to get up and go… has Darkedge peering at the human as if she had suddenly turned into a hobbit… or an orc… or some other odd creature that humans should never turn into. This in contrast to the way he had absolutely nothing to add to Vivienne's commentary that mundane means should be used first. He didn't disagree, not even slightly. he just suspected that he had a slightly different idea of what mundane meant. Teleportation, for him, was mundane.

"I have few contacts outside of such circles as these. But I will do what I can to gather what assistance I can find and such equipment as I think might help us. Though it has nothing to do with feeling safer, it is about having options. What should happen if we only have your magic to protect us…and you are captured or rendered unconscious? We would all drown. Unless the plan will also including attempting to raise this place from the depths. If it were just me, I might be willing to take the risk, but it isn't." Vivienne turned her head, studying Lara, "Robert did not tell me where he was going, or when he intended to return."

Lara's eyes go back to Strange then and to the phone he offers out to her. She stares down at it like its a foreign object, something she's never really seen or knew how to use. Then she looks back up at Strange's face while the others speak, she just stares at the wizard.

"I was there for a long time." Lara tells the Sorcerer Supreme. "Too long for me to even know exactly the number of days. I have… questions that I need answers to. This is why I'm here…" Her eyes then leave Strange's face and she looks around the hall they're in as if she was searching for something. "This place." She rubs her lips together for a moment before she drops her stare back down to Stephen. "Tell Robert to find me at my home. I have to go there. I have to check on something. I will return if not contacted before."

The rescued explorer turns and starts to leave, a handful of filthy weapons and grenades still resting on the table beside that pile of dirt she'd poured out of her pack.

Vivienne watched the woman leave in silence, turning back to the two men still in the room, "I am beginning to wonder whether or not what we brought back from the deadlands was actually Lara Croft."

Darkedge too watched the woman whose face he knew but whose demeanor he did not leave. With only Vivienne and Strange in the immediate area, the elf's head tilted.

< She is quite changed, more than I have seen from most humans. > he comments mentally, his thought shared with those nearest to him, sent out from hsi mind to han gin the air to be collected and heard by those who can. After all, the only way to know for certain is to know the soul of a thing. Humans, the elf suspects, have no soul.

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