It was not death, for I stood up

October 13, 2014:

The Circle Oroboros catch up to Vorpal.

Gotham - Chinatown

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The nights in Gotham are getting longer, the shadows darker and the streets more dangerous. They do this every winter. Something about the gloom of the Eastern winter draws out the worst in people and in Gotham that always somehow seems to take less effort than in other places. Tonight though, there's a particular chill in the air and a peculiar sense of stillness in the reaches of Chinatown. The streets are nearly deserted as a light rain and biting cold drives most folks indoors to whatever warmth they can muster aginst the soul-numbing cold and through it all a pervasive sense of something, somewhere watching… and waiting.

It hasn't been the best of days for Keith. First there ws that enormous crystalline person rampaging through the city… that ended well enough, but that mangy mutt had come out of nowhere and slobbered all over him, pinning him down in what it clearly thought was mutually agreed doggy playtime…

He did not like dogs that much.

And then there had been the warehouse thing with Midnighter. It unneved him and continued to drive that eerie feeling. He saw how cheaply Midnighter treated life, and it reminded him that his own life now had a price tag, and it was very cheap.

Still in his Vorpal form, the Cheshire cat is making his way down the street hoping to make it home before the rain gets to be too much. His phone now and again pinging his location as he goes near some landmark or another.

Earlier, the FBI came to take the metahuman prisoners and collect what evidence they could from the warehouse itself. They gave Midnighter more than a few cautious looks at the body count but Stormwatch made sure to let them know he was one of their agents. It wasn't a Stormwatch mission but stopping metahuman trafficing is something they can all get behind. His enoucnter with Vorpal left him curious about what was supposedly hunting the crazy guy. He could feel something gathering and eventually tracked it down to Chinatown where the feeling ws most intense. The question is just what is it.


A strange gargoyle squats atop one of the rooflines of one of his favourite Chinese restaurant. Robin tugs the cape around him a little tighter as his eyes stare out at the world below. He's used to lingering on rooftops in the cold Gotham air. Puffs of breath visibly emit from his mouth and he shivers once. His hair is becoming damp from the ensuing rain, but patrols still need to be done.

He stands as he sees the Cheshire cat running down the street. With a vague curve of his lips, he leans forward. His eyes narrow as he peers about the street, giving himself an extra beat of consideration. Even without a ping, the Boy Wonder reaches for his new grapple gun with a smirk and shoots it to a building across the way. With a soft clink, it catches the buildings edge and Robin uses it to lower himself safely to the ground. He pushes another button and the cable retracts itself into the tool.

His smile turns lopsided as he clips it back to his belt.


Gotham isn't like other places; there are no dangerously premature Christmas decorations creeping into store displays, no unwanted Thanksgiving displays before Halloween is over. The Halloween displays aren't even as amazing as one might expect; the clown costume selection is really creepy and over-represented. This causes more than a little frustration to Gar Logan as he wanders through the selection looking for outfits for the kids at a local foster home… he picks those places up like purple cat hair.


Something wicked this way comes. In this case, Keith may have a good idea what it is. A portal tears itslef open in front of him. And behind him. Rather than the green clad knights of last time these are robed and hooded. They're carrying wooden… the best word to described as 'voulges' though that only kind does them justice. Also with them, a number of… horse sized wolves.

"Sidhe… the time nears." One of them intones. It's impossible to tell which one.

Panic. Vorpal's fur actually poofs out, the same way an extremely frightened cat does in order to seem bigger and more threatening. He stops in his tracks and begins to walk back, the chill of the street freezing his feet and his heart drums in his ears.

"Go back! Go away! You have no right!" he hisses, looking around wildly. Had to get away. Had to get away now.

Small mercies, he thinks. At least nobody else is near.

~How can I get away?~

~YOU promised him!~
And finally, the long-silent voice stirs inside him
+++Don't look at them in the eye, don't let them touch you+++

Vorpal takes this in and tries to calm down. Let them make the first move…


Sound travels well at night and Midnighter hears a clink. While there can be many causes, they're often the sound of criminals trying to break in somewhere. Or, as it turns out when he rounds a corner, a bat scion. Not to mention… Well. This might prove challenging.

Stealth is the power of the bats which is why Vorpal didn't catch sight of Robin right off. Or it could be the opening of not one but two portals designed to flank Vorpal in the centre. Quick draw to the grapple gun brings another soft clink to another side of a building. And the Boy Wonder is swinging forward to try to grasp his friend.

Even as he swings, Robin can't help but mutter to himself, "Not my most thought-out plan…"

Gar has been told he has a second sense for trouble happening to the people he cares about and tonight it's proving itself … a cold chill, Gar checks his phone, looking at Keith's StalkMe feed, and he's three blocks away from a graveyard only a minute ago. Gar leaves the basket of plastic outfits behind as he turns into an owl and heads in the direction of the last stalker mark.

As one, the druids - there seem to be about a dozen of them and twice that many dire wolves, draw glass blades from beneath their robes. Easily thirty inches or more in length and they look pretty damn wickedly sharp. "Do not worry, Sidhe. You will soon be free of your prison of flesh." That Keith might object apparently doesnt' matter.

And then Robin swoops right down among them. A couple of the nearer wolves leap, as if trying to catch a bird.

In a way, they are.

"This prison of flesh —" what Vorpal would have said next is lost in a scream of rage, as Robin sweeps in and the wolves leap towards him.

That's when the Vorpal Blades appear in the cheshire's hands, chaos magic constructs that he thrusts towards the belly of the nearest jumping wolf- because he is not going to let his friend get killed in the process of defending him. He exhudes fear at the sight of those glass swords, because the Cait Sidhe is not silent anymore.

+++Tanlladwyr- Brightkillers. Made by the same magic as the Heavenlyt Mirror, my prison.+++ The knowledge only increases Vorpal's fear, +++It needs to be plunged into your chest to free me+++

Which meant he needed to get out of there immediately… if Robin's sweep succeeded…5r


Midnighter's ability to evaluate his opponents is automatic and near instantaneous. That many opponents is always a challenge but on the bright side, they get in each others' way too. Robin swoops down to go for the rescue so he doesn't need to do anything there with Vorpal about to stab the wolves. With them paying attention to Vorpal, he uses the shadows to get close. And them without warning, jumps one of the druids from behind, reaching around to try to grab the sword and use it against the man. Hopefully, Vorpal won't mind /too much/ if he kills these guys.

The bird 'flies' straight and true. The wolves jumping at him, especially with their size, are truly terrifying, but Robin stays his course which is how he manages to grasp Vorpal tightly as he continues on his swinging movement.

With one wolf dealing with Vorpal Blades to the belly, that only leaves a second to take down the bird.

But the Boy Wonder isn't resolutely one thing. Some would say capes are a waste; that they're merely a fashion accessory on the runway. Others consider them a danger. To the bats, normally they're tools. Today, however, the cape acts as bait.

The wolf catches the cape and wriggles it free from the base of Robin's neck. Fortunately, it fastens into the Robin suit itself through a series of clips that, quite uncomfortably jab into the back of the bird's neck when they release. Causing a sharp intake of breath, and a tensing of his muscles (that Vorpal can likely feel) when it eats his skin.

Capeless, Robin hits the button on the grappling hook, causing it to draw them upwards to the top of the building on which the hook is gripped.

The owl overhead picks out the locations of the dire wolves and their riders too late to prevent, or interfere, with their assault on Robin, but not too late to attack them for being here.

There is a moment where the green owl considers the form of rage before something whispers from the Red, a form that was terror before the devouring worm first cut its egg-shell. A scream from a flying shape, ten meter wings and impossible claws and a beak that was used to hunt sharks in water and velociraptors on land. Druids are simply tasty soft things, and the green monster attacks, wing-claws and beak, into the ones closest to the Vorpal Cat.

Midnighter wrests that glass blade from the druid's hand. It's a lot harder than it looks, able to plunge right in to the luckless sorceror with ease. Robin is winging away as a horrible Garodan swoops down on them, grabbing a wolf and a druid in each talon and crushing them. Vorpal is getting away.

Which sets the entire group to baying. Magic begins to come into play. The concrete of the local landscape is apparently stone enough for chunks of it to rip free and hurl themselves at Gar and Midnighter. Chucnks large enough to crush cars. Half a dozen of the remaining druids climb onto the backs of the wolves which begin (under some enchantment or other) to run up the walls of the building that Robin has landed on.

"Robin, no! You've got to get ou-" Vorpal turns around at the sound, though, and his eyes go wide as he sees massive things going for Gar and someone who looks like Midnight. And then there are wolves running up the walls.

"Get back!" he says, running clear to the edge and raising his hands. Massive spikes appear and release, flying towards the climbing wolves. "Get Gar and Midnighter out of here, they're after me. They're going to kill all of you if you don't get away—"

"It's like I'm bleeding capes," Robin murmurs to himself as they touch ground on the roof. But the words about getting back probably have the opposite effect as Robin slides back towards the edge.

"What? We leave so you can kill yourself — that still doesn't sound like an option to me!" Not until all others have been well-exhausted. And even then. He reaches into his utility belt and tugs at a single electric batarang which he throws towards one of the pursuing enemies. He has no idea whether any of this will work against very magical creatures, but he's certainly going to try.

Pteradons and quetzalcoatlosaurs are tough but still breakable; the car-smashing chunks slam into the sides of a beast the size of a building; Dreadnoughtus schrani, 65 tons of sauropod, a tail lashes out against any druid stupid enough to be on the ground trying to animate more rock, while the head, the size of a large car, possessing armor and spikes that might've not been part of the original, easily reaches up the side of the building to lash at any wall-crawling-wolf riders in range.

"Mind your own fu#@ng business you fake illuminati," the dinosaur roars in very contemporary English.

The hunted Orborosian Druids scatter. Not that there are many left between Midnighter cleaving a bloody path through them and Gar scattering them like crows. Only two pursuers make it up. One catches a baterang to the leg and goes down in a tumbling heap. Lightning flashes through a clear sky. Up on a rooftop another druid, cloak whipping in the wind, raises his voulge and calls down a torrent of lightning on everything in the street. Lighning being Lightning, a lot of it goes to Gar.

Another portal opens on the street near Midnighter. Out of it steps a gaunt, emaciated figure seven feet tall with an impossible long blade and antlers growing out of it's skull-like head. It points with that blade to the super-soldier. A challenge.

Up on the rooftops Robin hears a caw. And then another. A cloud of crows descends from the sky.

Murder of Crows indeed….


Vorpal feels the lightning before it is called down- the ripples of the magic make him shiver. When the lightning comes down towards Gar, the Cheshire snarls . "Robin, duck!" it was the Boy Wonder's only chance to disorient the incoming birds. There was only one way to keep his friends safe, and that was facing the spellcaster. But first he had to help Robin- "Close your eyes, quickly," he whispers to Tim as he raises his hands.

It is as if the sun itself is nestled in the Cheshire's hands, as he involes an illusion of pure brilliance, aiming to blind and disorient anyone or anything with a direct line of sight with him, hopefully the incoming winged monstrosities would end up splattering against the nearby buildings. He tries not to think about the dinosaur being struck by lightning just yet- one thing at a time. If the birds were taken care of after this… he'd have to face the spellcaster on the other rooftop before more magic was called down upon them.


Once there's nothing nearby left to kill, Midnighter comes to a halt to take stock of the situation. He's bleeding from numerous wounds caused by blades or teeth since he's quite willing to trade non-disabling injuries for kills. And then he's obviously challenged. He'd scoff if he felt the need. Like he needs to prove anything. A bolt of lightning hits not far from him which makes being next to the much taller, antlered creature an attractive option. Still, he takes the time to throw a shuriken at the spellcaster before leaping forward to engage the skeletal horned one.

There's a smirk as the batarang works on the very magical beast. He tosses a second one towards the other still standing beast. "Welcome to the laws of physics," he offers only to be interrupted by a caw Not that it one single caw is unsettling. But when its voice is echoed through the Gotham sky, Robin's head turns upwards and the Boy Wonder stares at the onslaught of birds in pursuit.

"And I thought birds weren't threatening," he mutters as he heeds Vorpal's words and hits the deck to avoid the onslaught of crows. His eyes clamp shut and he observes, "I wish I had my cape," because sometimes even adults want security blankets.


Lightning. That's really painful, but fortunately it's just a (very ugly) flesh wound; Gar is stunned for a moment and instinctively shifts into a form that could be mistaken for an electrocuted lump of flesh — a multi-nodular sea star, half the size of the dinosaur he was, and attached to the ground and the side of the building.

Just in case any druid or spell-wolf makes the mistake of touching him, he has some of the lovely stinging cells from the box jellyfish (australian variety) ready to move to the surface of his outer skin… but that's still mostly instinct.

The stink and smoke are really disgusting though.


The cloud of circling crows parts to reveal another trio of druids all armed with glass swords. They advance on Robin and Vorpal as the crows form a barrier of sharp beaks and talons.

Below the skeletal creature, a Lord of the Feast, an incarnation of slaughter from an age past advances on Midnighter, blade at the ready. It seems to recognize a peer. Respect in it's eyes…But it's totally going to try to kill him.

The Druid at the top of the building is going to try the same on Gar. More lightning. And more rocks. Sharp, jagged spikes from the concrete jutting up.

Vorpal snarls and puts an arm around Robin's waist just as the Druid on the rooftop begins another barrage of lightning at Garfield who- to Vorpal's eyes- looks like a mass of flesh at this point.

Keith's firm control over Vorpal and the Cait Sidhe simply breaks, and all balance goes out the window.

Dozens of sharp sword constructs appear at the same time that the Cheshire cat unleashes the Chaos Wave- Treguna Mekoides, Trecorum Satis Dee. The constructs snap to life and begin to fly at the crows and the Druids, as he activates a Rabbit Hole under himself and Robin… destination? The other rooftop. He doesn't care how brutal the swords get under the auspices of chaos control. He is beyond caring at this point.

"You killed him," the Cheshire hisses at the spellcaster as soon as he drops onto the adjacent rooftop, letting go of Robin. "No more running. No more ruses. I will return you to the breast of your gods."

An enormous blade appears in Vorpal's hand, and he sprints forwards towards the druid, driven by sheer bloodlust and revenge.

Midnighter nods once to his foe and then springs forward, ducking under the blade and slashing for the hamstring as he gets behind it. As he rolls past, one of the two swords is thrown at the thing's back.

Robin straightens as an arm is put around his waist. "Wha — " but there's not even time to put out the word before he's being transported to a different rooftop. There's a weird unsettled feeling at being in one place one second and another at the next, even if it's straightforward enough.

The most disorienting part is the sheer quickness of the action: being in one place and then the next. Robin's lips part as Vorpal is attacking the druid. He reaches into his belt and extracts another batarang — his last electric one he'd packed in his belt tonight — and throws it towards the druid. It's not about incapacitating this one. It's about buying time.

The moment of primal clarity provided by being an invertebrate stinging monster gives Gar a clear notion of what is needed and necessary to deal with this pestiferous Druid; he needs to be a pestilence in his own right. The stinging star vanishes as lightning strikes the building and runs down well-grounded water drains; the massive swarm of ancient arthopod monstrosities resemble ants, and scorpions, and they're moving fast enough to swarm up the building and reach the Druid, though whether their nasty stings, vicious bites, and stinking, burning secretions will have the desired effect is to be seen.

The Druid hefts his blade as things come to a faver pitch. Midnighter's blades bury themselvess in the Lord of the Feast's back and it stumbles forward.

Gong goes the clocktower.

Gar finds himself dancing a deadly dance with a druid on the rooftop, biting, swarming as he hurls magic at back at him.

Gong, Gong

Vorpal is locked in a life or death duel, swirling, hacking, ducking, parrying.

Gong, Gong, Gong, Gong

And then, as robin watches, as his batarang impacts the Druid and drops him… the glass blade goes right into Vorpal's chest.

Gong Eight P.M…

~It really isn't much of a blade…~
~More like a~
+++mirror shard+++

Vorpal stands still as the last bell rings, and it seems to him that it is ringing across his entire being.

His mother, talking to him from a bed, a shadow of herself-
A man with green eyes and skin, kinder than anyone-
'You guys, me, the Titans, what do you say?' a man in a scarlet suit says.

The pain is indescribable, and he cannot scream. The glass blade sets his insides on fire and for a moment it seems as if the cheshire cat himself is lighting up. He glows, that is for certain, and then he is doubled, or tripled, like a refracted image.

The sword shatters, and so does Vorpal, breaking out of existence and falling to pieces like shattered glass, fallen pieces that dissipate into sparks of pure chaos.

Keith O'Neil falls back onto the ground, grasping his chest with heaving breaths even though there is no gaping wound, no blood, but he can't get up. There is pain, too much pain.

And the Cait Sidhe stands up for the first time in thousands of years, in his own body. A black feline with a spot of white on his chest, and glowing yellow eyes.

He turns back to look at Keith, as if suddenly reminded of a promise-

But the problem with the Fae is that, when free to exist on their own, they are victims of their own stories as much as those upon whom those stories are visited. He is chaos, he is mischief. He cannot be held to promises. But still, he remains standing there, not even regarding the druid, but staring at the young man who is clearly dying.


The shattering of the sword is audible but that's up there and Midnighter is down here. As the creature stumbles forward, he springs to grab it's antlers, planting a foot in the middle of its back and then with a twist, yanking sharply backward. "Someone up there sitrep!" he calls.


There's an air of confusion at the sword fight on the rooftop. Tim Drake, for all of his time as Robin, struggles to understand the extraordinary — his more logical thoughts always trying to piece together a better explanation for what happens.

But even the fantastical can be understood at its base.

Clinking blades make sense enough. Fencing is tangible. Understandable.

But when the glass blade goes through Vorpal's chest, this isn't something Tim fully understands. He springs forward, little regard given to anything but his fallen friend. Confusion only wins further when Tim finds no sign of wound, his gloved hands frantically search for something he can do — something he can employ to resolve to bring Keith some sense of comfort.

"H-help!" he calls loudly as he stares back upwards towards the Cait Sidhe. "Help him — " the request comes out lower and more gravelly than Robin intends thanks to the words catching in his throat, and, for the first time since taking on the role, Batman's put-on voice actually makes real sense. While it might seem wise to cover one's voice, the deep cadence and urging rather fearlessly cover one's emotions.


"No!" Gar screams, and the swarm consolidates into a green spider the size of a horse; whipping out with his forelegs he bites to paralyze and wraps the druid into a rough package of silk and pain, then leaps across to the roof next to Keith and the Cait Sidhe.

"Don't let him die," Gar says, reverting to human form. "Please …"

The Circle's forces are scattered and beaten. The ones that remain mobile escape back into the Green, fleeing Gar and Midnighter. The ones that aren't… er, well largely they're dead. The druid that Robin hit with the electric batarang rolls over, opens a portal and vanishes into it. All is silight now as magic and mage both fade away leaving just the heroes, the Cait and Keith…

The Cait's contours blur and sharpen in quick succession, as if he were struggling with something.

"I am not the giver of life." He says, with a voice that is surprisingly melodious. A trickster, it's part of the stock and trade.

Keith's pallor increases at an alarming rate and his vital signs become alarmingly precarious. One hand darts to grasp at Gar as he tries to say something, but no words come out.

The feline's black hands clench into fists and he seems confused. "Everything has a time to die. His time was long ago." He knows. He interfered with him. What do these creatures want from him?

Something about a promise. It was hard to remember.

As his foe flees, Midnighter goes up the side of the building, leaping for the fire escape and then going up the outside till he's on the roof and can see what's happening. The best course of action isn't immediately clear however so he waits.


Still staring at the Cat Sidhe, Robin squints behind his mask. There's little that he really understands about what's just happened but he shakes his head, "You saved him once." Tim straightens and takes a single step backwards. "Unless you can't do it again. Which you're suggesting." His voice keeps that gravelly sound and his eyes train on the Cait Sidhe.

"You said you would not leave me alone, and I will hold you to it, Cait Sith," Gar says, voice rough. "You promised him life for your freedom, will you be foresworn?"

Gar reaches for the Fae Cat with one hand and the red-haired man with the other.

The Sidhe flinches at Gar's touch and tries to pull away, but remains.

"Our souls are split. I have no power to reunite us. The mirror was the conduit, without something of that sort…"

He looks over his shoulder, eyes wide. "The ways are calling for me. I cannot resist."

Golden eyes turn upon Keith, and he sees him as all Fae of his particular kind see humans- by the amount of essence in them. And that essence is almost gone, bleeding out of Keith O'Neil. Slowly, but there was so little there to begin with because he was in his Vorpal shape, and when Vorpal was destroyed so was the essence there.

"I cannot resist the call. But I will grant you a boon. What you do with it is up to you." The cat holds out a hand, and sa blinding surge of chaos energy flows from him onto the pale young man.

Keith stops writhing after the energy dissipates, though his breathing is still hard and labored. The Cait nods, he is full. He will bleed out again, but it is slowly. Perhaps slow enough fort them to do something. Perhaps not. The pull is too strong.

"Beware. When we meet again, I will not know you…" And the shadows gather all over the roof and converge on the Cait… and he is gone.

"G-Gar…" Keith's voice, dry and hoarse, his eyes are open now. "… Empty… he's gone…"

"He didn't try to resist, and that was an excuse for a promise of behaving badly," Gar says under his breath. "We need to get him home and inside a circle of salt … it should slow the leaking … maybe I can ask the Parliament of Bones for a new body for him before the magic fails."

He picks Keith up and begins moving towards the apartment. He'll shift into whatever he needs to, on the way.

"I'm sorry," Keith says quietly. "I thought he had killed…"

He feels strange. He's himself, but at the same time, there is a large part of what he has come to think of as 'himself' missing. He's screwed up, majorly. And now the Cait was loose.

Fenris knows how to make an entrance. A Way opens and an enormous white wolf - quite dead - flies through it to crunch open the building. Step by step a large black one follows, glowering. When he sees Vorpal he knows he's too late. The Circle anticipated his interferance and sacrificed a dozen champions to delay him. "Vorpal? You yet live?" And yet he can see that's not going to last forever at this rate.


There's no objection to anything Gar says and Robin just traipses after while he watches the Cait Sidhe leave. "Salt?" there's a really there, but he doesn't push the issue, instead offering, "The Redbird's down the block I can grab the car — " and then Fenris makes his entrance prompting Tim's forehead to crease and his eyebrows to draw together.

"Not Vorpal, the Cait has been cut loose," Gar says, stopping on the roof and turning around. "If you know a spell or ritual to keep him from evaporation it would be good to start it very soon."


Keith looks at Gar, and then looks at the ground, not feeling capable of looking at anyone in the eyes right now. Now he begins to feel the leak- it is subtle, at least. It could be worse… it could be a torrent.

The great wolf, and he is the size of a fairly large car at the moment, eyes Robin for a second before looking at Keith sadly. "He's beyond my help. I can heal wounds of the body. He's wounded in spirit. Hollowed out. The Cait had the lion's share of the life force. Without, there isn't enough to sustain what's left…" Keith's mortal shell, he means. "He has… a couple weeks. Maybe a bit longer if he fights for it…"

"Not what I asked," Gar says. "I just want to keep him from fading faster than he has to, I know we'll need to find a source of life. If there is one. I've lost too many people I love to just give him away by being careless."

He doesn't put Keith down, holding him very carefully.


Fenris shakes his head. "I don't do soul magic. Sorry." He says gently. "I can save you a trip home, though. Unless you'd rather drive. Then I'm going to be very busy. The Cait is loose and that means people are in a great deal of danger."

"Gar, I'm sorry-" Keith says quietly. It's too tiring to talk right now, though. He needs sleep, and hopes that some semblance of function is returned to him to the morning. There's a countdown timer on him now, and if they can't fix him… he needs to be aware, and to be able to speak.

He wants to reassure Gar that he's not going to leave him alone, but he is not the problem. Keith isn't the one who broke his word.

And then, something Flash said comes back to him. "Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange. Find him," he looks at Fenris, before sighing and resting his head against Gar's chest, closing his eyes and holding on to Gar. "…find him."

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