Inferno Interlude

September 18, 2018:

A short time after: A dragon and demon make a bargain.


NPCs: Dragon, emitted by Pietro



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

There's a sense of darkness around her. Of speed and wind and dizzying heights.

Of being carried over a vast distance.

Or perhaps it's a short distance.

Unending. That's it. It seems unending up until it's not.

The cessation of movement, of wind, of everything, is what finally prompts Illyana's return to wakefulness. Beneath her cheek she finds a cold stone floor, the grit of the great flagstones a familiar feeling to her face.

Gods know she felt it many a times when she was under Belscao's tutelage. Typically that feeling of stone pressed against face was also accompanied by a boot upon the other side, helpfully pressing her head down hard against the unyielding floor.

Punishment for lessons not learned.

From that, Illyana knows exactly where she is and it causes the demoness to roll neatly to feet. Her movement turns smoothly into a pivot as she moves to face her throne.

There's an expectation of what she's going to see there. Or rather, who she's going to see. And what greets her eyes is anything but and it's enough to cause surprise to writ itself momentarily upon her features.

Surprise and then suspicion before finally tucking itself away to calculation.


She states in both greeting and name.

"Where are your Masters?"

Upon the obsidian throne of Illyana Rasputina sits something even blacker still: the head of the Dragon. Its hovering bulk is smaller here than it was out in the open, sickly skies of Limbo, but still vast enough to eclipse her regnal chair in its drowning shadow.

Its coiling neck recedes up into the darkened recesses of the chamber's cavernous ceilings, lost to sight.

Where are your Masters? Illyana demands.

"I have a wife, yes," the Dragon laughs. "A wife who waits for this world to be worthy for her feet. Though that is not what you meant, is it?"

The Dragon's yellow eyes flicker, and the entire citadel groans with sudden pressure. The walls of Illyana's citadel briefly flicker as transparent as glass, and all up and down the spire — is the Dragon, with the great spire caught in his grasp. His coils wrap it completely.

His Masters…

"They are nowhere," finally answers the Dragon. "Everywhere. Here, and there." His jaws curl in a fanged facsimile of a smile. "They are in your heart, Darkchilde. Shall I pull them out?"

The dragon speaks.

His words cause a sneer to form upon her features and words jump to her tongue -

'A wife. What do monsters know of love? Of family. Of friendship.'

Those words of hers echo within her mind, ringing sharply back at her. It's enough that Illyana is brought up short. She pauses before those damning words can be send. There's so much irony with the fact that her words can be used to describe herself; for isn't she the same thing? Isn't she just as monstrous. Just as demonic as the beast that now holds court within her throne room.

It's what causes her expression to smooth, to revert to it's typical icy stoicism. However, before she can achieve quite the blase mein her black Citadel groans in protest. The pressure the dragon exerts echoes deep within the castle and likewise deep within Illyana herself. It causes the woman to expose teeth in an expression of both sympathetic pain and its answering fury.

That fury only doubles when she realizes just how much of her Citadel is compromised.

Her furious blue-eyed gaze turns back to the dragon and her anger burns brighter at his last words.

"No." She states, "They are not my Masters. I am my own Master."

Her head tilts now as she takes her eyes off of the dragon, a purposeful move on her part, "A pity you can't say the same for yourself. Or your wife, apparently. I suppose that's how it usually goes, isn't it? There are those of us who are strong and then those -" A look is cut back to the dragon, "- who aren't."

"And then those who are wise enough to see an opportunity when it presents itself."

The great Dragon laughs again to her declaration. He seems to be a creature of great humor, laughing frequently and often at his own private amusements. "Your own master, are you? Little Mistress, I sit upon your throne. I hold your palace in my grasp. In a single stroke I have thrown you down. What are you master of now? Ash and dust."

But the answer is implicit in her reply. She remains master of herself. She can still say that — unlike some. Unlike him and his 'wife.' The Dragon's fangs bare silently.

Yet there is an opportunity to be had here, she proposes.

The Dragon pauses. His head slides down off the throne, eeling closer, until the tip of his nose rests inches away from Illyana Rasputina. This close, his flaming yellow eyes dominate her entire field of vision, hypnotic and corrupt…

…and interested.

"You are a sly little thing," says the Dragon. "Speak."

The speak of failure causes the young woman to simply settle for a hard stare. Her expression shut tightly down, closed off.

While she could respond to what the dragon says, she doesn't. Instead she recalls a lesson Belasco taught her.

'Failure is hardly defeat. Only fools allow themselves to think in such ways.'

That lesson was taken to heart by Illyana Rasputina. Perhaps the only one that ever was.

Others might flinch when the great dragon's head comes so close, when the creature's breath is felt, when she can literally look deep within those yellow eyes. Not Illyana. Not when she can see her fortune possibly changing.

His remark about being sly prompts the expected smile, even if that expression doesn't reach the young woman's eyes, "I am."

"Eschew your old weak Masters." She states boldly, "Join with me and I will give you your freedom. If you don't, well -"

She shrugs, "You and your wife can stay a slave to the whims of madness. Children too."

The Dragon regards Illyana closely for a long few moments. In those eyes gleams the slow, leisurely thoughts of a monster who lives on an entirely different timescale than brief mortal men. He is in no hurry to decide. Kingdoms of men have risen and fallen in the time it has taken him to make a decision.

Fortunately, this time, Illyana does not have to wait quite so long.

"Children," he eventually laughs, and licks his long fangs.

"You are a bold thing," decides the beast. Ambition burns lowly in its sick yellow eyes. Isn't that the way of demonic princes? Ever the lust for more… ever the treachery and deceit. "It amuses me. You do not know what you ask, opposing the Masters. But perhaps it is time for a change."

He grins, a hellish expression.

"Done. Impress me, little Mistress."

When the dragon accepts her bargain the demoness smiles and offers a layered response of, "I'm glad we understand one another."

Now to impress -

Illyana extends her right hand outward and with a thought darkness gathers in that hand. It solidifies into a weapon. A small thing and while the edge of this particular dagger is sharp, it's not meant to intimidate a dragon.

It's use is far simpler. Ritual and rights. Magic and power.

A shallow slash is cut across her left hand and she allows the blood to well up. When a small pool of the carmine liquid gathers the woman glances down, eyes fixed upon the red pool. Almost there's regret upon her features, but it doesn't long. Instead it turns to resolve and with a casual toss of her hand the blood is flung into the air where it catches and floats.

Slowly the globules spin and it's here Illyana addresses his earlier words.

She steps to the suspended droplets of blood. "I know what I ask."

She reaches for the first with bloodied fingertips, "I know." At her touch the blood coagulates into something small, jagged, hard, but mostly round. The jewel is caught within her palm and for a second Illyana looks upon it. When her gaze rises upward again no longer are her eyes blue, now they're as similarly shaded as the crimson beads that continue to hover before her.

"I was to be there sacrifice." She continues, "But now I will be their downfall. I will thwart their plans."

And then without hesitation Illyana reaches out and touches the second droplet. The last one. What little that was left of her soul finds itself secured within the stone and with that binding Illyana is no more.

What stands there is something more. A demon lord with horns upon brow, pointed teeth, a tail and hooves. Her voice is deeper now, rougher, a thread of something intertwined within it. "I will be more than what was ordained for me."

"Prepare yourself Dragon. Limbo merges with Earth and soon your former Masters will cry bitter tears as their freedom is denied once again."

"So commands the Darkchilde."

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