As the Sun Sets

November 19, 2018:

Scene backdated to a month ago. Just after the defeat of the Dragon Herald. With the rift in Limbo closed the Shadowpact conspires against Demon Queen Illyana. Meanwhile Lorna makes a reckless deal. Part 2: Toward The Sunrise. Part 3: Inferno's End.

Strange's Sanctum and Stark Tower


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Quicksilver


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The sun has set over New York City, and the Darkchilde stands in her throne room in what was once Stark Tower, surveying her domain from one of the great windows. The city is spread out before her, electric lights still holding back the night in many places, but others only fitfully illuminated by the flames of unchecked fires. Demons still run wild through the streets, seemingly without direction beyond their base desire to hunt out what human prey has yet to flee the city. So high above, and behind glass, it should be impossible to hear anything, and yet the crackle of flames, and the occasional scream, reach the Darkchilde's ears clearly.

Perhaps oddly, they seem to give her no pleasure.

There have been changes, of late, in the Darkchilde's stolen realm. The great dragon no longer encircles the tower. Illyana's mortal servant has escaped her grasp. These are affronts. The Darkchilde should be filled with rage. Vengeance should be swift and terrible.

Instead, the Darkchilde stands all but motionless, only her tail, lashing behind her, betraying any sign of the thoughts within her inhuman mind. Her partnership with the dragon is ended. She stands alone. Unchallenged. Supreme. She need only stretch forth her hand, marshal her demon army, and the city will truly be hers. And then, and then…

With an infuriated hiss, the Darkchilde turns from the window and stalks to her throne, throwing herself down upon it. She gestures with a clawed hand, and a scrying crystal appears before her, images chasing across the facets as it slowly revolves, and she studies it avidly, as if seeking her answer within its depths.

The sun has set over New York City, but the room where Doctor Strange sits has not ever seen sunlight or starlight. The city is spread out before him, but seen through the mystic veil of the all-seeing Orb of Agamotto.

The Sanctum has been hidden from mortal or demonic sight ever since Inferno fell on the city.
From the Sactum Strange has worked great magics. Redirecting ley lines to insulate the city, misguiding demons with subtle magics, jumping out sometimes to help heroes or civilians out of particularly dangerous jams, and doing trips to other dimensions to obscure or shatter the paths the Elder Gods craved to try to attempt to bypass the magic Illyana used to thwart them.

He has also been hiding from a certain dragon and his wayward disciple, though. Because the rift in Limbo was still open, and a confrontation with Illyana and her pet dragon would have likely ended with either of them dead. He had to bide his time.

Now the dragon is gone, and the rift is closed. The Elder Gods have been foiled again. It is time to recover his best-worst student. Or kill her. Hopefully the first.

The Orb view closes on Stark’s tower, pressing against whatever wards the Darkchild has set. He wouldn’t have dared to do this with the dragon present, but Strange has studied how Illyana builds her wards, and he can be devious when required.

Vivienne seemed content to sit in silence while Strange worked. She had not spoken in hours, nor looked in his direction unless she was directed to. She simply abides, having already prepared everything she might need for the moment Strange announced that he was ready. She had given up on disguising herself weeks ago. Hiding herself was not a thing that she was capable of doing in the face of demons, alas. No bushel was that big. So it was the traditional black and red armor for her, the cross standing out in gold high relief on her chest. The Spear sat dormant in her nap, glimmering now and then, but it did not blaze with its usual light. She was not entirely inattentive, however, and something in the images she could see in the orb turned her head, and she studied the approach to Stark Tower, her curiosity piqued. But she, out of politeness, waited until Strange addressed her.

Time was short when one was racing against others to save a friend. Lorna knew she had limited time to try to scrap together the time and find Illyana, to try to save her once close friend. The green haired mutant had to untangle herself from the chaos that was Mutant Town, to help rebuff any demonic incursions as she went. The few days she had spent in Genosha had cost her, even while they gave her a chance to recharge mentally.

Weeks spent in darkness, in gloom, and cold. Constantly fighting against demons. It had all been a drain and taken its toll emotionally on the magnokinetic who's moods waxed and waned with the Earth's magnetic fields far above. She hoped that the time she had taken off to recover from the chaos was worth it. That she could still do something to try to save one Illyana Rasputina from the metaphorical hangman's noose.

But yet again time was spent trying to find the blond woman, blind searching yielded few results, tracking down and scaring the (not literal) hell out of demons, worked only somewhat better. Which is how after searching high and low throughout darkened skyscrapers and the towering buildings taken over by demonic presences.. Lorna found Illyana. It really should've been clear to her, with the fell silence that hung over the place, draped like thick velvet over entire tower. The green haired mutant flew to the highest point of the tower, where she figured of course Illyana would be. It's where her father took his position in The Spire—and all ruling despots seemed to reside.

The windows rattled in their frames as Lorna flew passed and found herself an entrance and slipped into what served as a throneroom. Her heels clicking softly as she landed and approached. "I'd say you did some lovely redecorating here, but it's not that much of an improvement.. I mean.. hell, Tony had his face everywhere.. but this demon-chic isn't really doing it for me."

The scrying crystal revolves, and the Darkchilde's claws tap the arm of her throne in irritation as the visions it shows her hold no answers. Until finally, an image forms that she cannot ignore. A sword, shining silver.

Her Soulsword. In the hands of those who've made themselves her enemies. Anger, never far from her since her transformation, begins to rise in her once more, blotting out her earlier disquiet. Claws scrape across her throne as she draws her hand into a fist… and then the windows rattle as something powerful makes a fast flyby of the tower. Of her tower.

Flocks of bat-winged demons that have found roosts in every nook and cranny of the tower explode into flight, moving to intercept the aerial intruder, but Illyana looks again into her scrying crystal narrowing its focus, and she smiles as she sees the flash of green, showing elongated canines. A snap of her fingers and the bat-demons peel off, screaming in frustration as the Darkchilde's will denies them their prey, and with a wave of her hand she banishes the scrying crystal, too. The Darkchilde waits. She has patience enough for this.

When Lorna enters the throneroom, the Darkchilde is still in her throne… but the torches and braziers that ring the room are burning low, and her full 'majesty' is lost in the shadows. There's a glimmer of light from blonde hair as the darker shadow in the throne shifts. "I can't please everyone." The voice from the darkness says, "But then I no longer need to please anyone." The Darkchilde leans forward, the light now giving an impression of her horns, and her eyes burn as they lock on to her visitor. "Why are you here, Lorna? Or should I guess?"

Strange's eyes narrow when he finally spots Illyana through the Orb's sight. Shrouded in black magics, the Orb identifies her as a Hell-Lord class demon. A dire threat to the whole Earth.

"She is soulless," murmurs Strange. "And she did it herself, which is interesting. It means she must be keeping her soul somewhere. Unless she sacrificed it for the merging… no, it would have killed her." Strange glances to Magdalena. "And as I suspected, she doesn't have the Soulsword. Which is also part of her. A pure part."

His eyes return to the Orb. Who is the green-haired woman. One of the X-Men, most likely. Oh yes… he blinks slowly at realizing the young woman is Polaris. Magneto's daughter. Like many older super-heroes the sorcerer met Magneto years ago, and it was not a friendly meeting.

With permission to come and go as needed, the elf materializes into a shadow. Silver eyes skim the area before moving toward the group of mostly familiar faces. He pulls his hood up to help block some of the light these humans need to see by.

"Soulless? Will one be needed to reach hers?" he asks, just taking what little he overheard and running with it.

A grimace as Lorna sent out her senses far and wide around them, even as her gaze remained firmly on shadow-enshrouded Illyana she snaked her magnetic powers around the metal structures that supported the floor to the throne-room. Her green eyes narrowed faintly, as she continued inward until she was front and center of the throne. A green eyebrow hooking upwards as she slowly crossed her arms.

Lorna's own figure was clad in metal, from tip to toe, metal riveted leather with plates magnetized to protect her chest and important organs. "Well, you're my friend. You were one of my bridesmaids. And there are a lot of people upset at you, and they'd rather see you die.. and I'd rather not see you die, if I'm being honest. So I wanted to find you. See why you've done what you've done." She tilted her head to the side, her voice carrying through the echoing room with practice ease of a woman that knew how to project without yelling.

"I am assuming your first course of action will be to locate her soul." It was not that Vivienne was an unkind soul, far from it. But her primary purpose was to kill demons and to protect the world from their evil. Clearly, the woman of the hour had been partly human once. Vivienne had known her then. "I will help you to save her if I can. But I will do whatever is necessary to end this blight on the earth. She has caused an unaccountable amount of damage." Vivienne glanced away, as the elf appeared from nowhere, or so it seemed. "If one is needed, there are at least two souls here." She dipped her head in Strange's direction. That she still had one went without saying. She was still herself, and still human, as ever. She did look back to the orb as the unknown woman entered the throneroom, "That one I do not know."

Some of those metal structures that Lorna touches with her powers seem to feel that touch. Pipes, ducts, cable runs… they shift and flex, some seeming to flinch away, others leaning toward the magnetic contact. Not the way that dead metal dances to Polaris' tune. But the way a living thing might react.

The essence of Illyana's dark magic has seeped into the very fabric of the tower. It's not exactly aware, but its more than it once was.

There's a quiet chuckle from the throne when Lorna's finished, and the Darkchilde rises to her feet and steps toward her visitor. There's no threat implicit in the movement, although the reverse-joined legs might be an unsettling sight. "You've been practicing. Getting ready to inherit your father's kingdom?" The Darkchilde asks, but seems uninterested in the answer. "I've done what we always do. I've saved the world. Of course people want to kill me for it." The Darkchilde's head tilts to one side as she studies Lorna's armour, and she smiles. "Are you sure that's not why you're here?" She asks, in an almost teasing tone, before becoming a little more serious. "But people want to kill me. Your brother and sister, in particular. And they might actually have the means to do it. If you really don't want to see me die… are you going to help me stop them?"

"Soul to soul minds do touch, and through one Soul can another be found," entones the elf, his accent showing through the melody and the cadence and the lilt of the words.

"She spoke my name. I know the feel of her against it. Perhaps it is possible to back trace her own through mine," offers Darkedge, eyes on the scene unfolding before him in the orb.

"Of course, should that prove impossible, My Queen will be alerted. I doubt the Human Realm is ready to deal with a fae invasion so soon after a demon one."

"Greetings, Master Darkedge," says Strange without showing surprise. "Yours is a fortuitous arrival, I think." He turns again to Magdalena. "Yes, restoring her soul would be the preferred course of action. She brought her realm to New York, true, and many people suffered for it, but it doing so she prevented a much worse invasion, as if any of the Elder Gods had reached Earth we would be facing the destruction of most of humankind."

If -all- of them did, well. Say goodbye to the whole galaxy.

"We need to find where she is keeping it," murmurs Strange. "It will be well hidden. Or maybe she keeps it close to herself?" Hard to say from here. Not even the Orb can pierce all Illyana's defenses when the essence of Limbo is making her easily as powerful as Strange.

"Many people suffered for it? Strange? People are dead. Not just hurt, or afraid, or displaced. Innocent people. That is like saying it is alright to kill one of your children to save the rest. Death is never an acceptable choice when we are dealing with innocents. She would have been better served to have reached out to the world's heroes and those who have the power to fight the Elder Gods than to take it upon herself and to bring everything that she claimed to hold dear to the brink of destruction. I understand that you have some affection for her, Strange, but if if we find that, at the end of this, that she is lost, your sentimentality will not save her, or any of us." Vivienne rose to her feet, the spear clasped loosely in her left hand. She shifted her attention to Darkedge, "If you can locate it for us, we can retrieve it."

Lorna's internal senses recoiled at the strange, alien sense of metal that lived and moved and reacted to her powers. Her eyes widened briefly as she turned her gaze downwards to the floor beneath her feet and fought the urge to curse. She jerked her powers back, inhaling deeply as she turned her green eyed gaze back to the demonic blonde before her. The full extent of Illyana's transformation was shocking compared to the memory of what Lorna had pictured before her.

Still, she managed to maintain her composure more or less, her arms falling to her sides. "I don't plan to inherit anything anytime soon. My father is nearly a century old and I'm waiting to hear I've got another half sibling somewhere." She drawled, her stance shifting as she shrugged with a false lightness to her voice.

"What did you save the world from? What happened Illyana? I feel like I missed something important, and I'm sorry I wasn't there to back you up like I should have." She pursed her lips together. "I don't want to see anyone die. My siblings or you."

@emit Strange shakes his head. “If she was one to trust easily events might have been different…” well, we are what we are. There was a time the Doctor also though he could save everyone. Then he got older.
Eventually he might have to kill a city to save the world. He dreads the day he will have to make such decision. But he if he was not ready to make it he wouldn’t have been given his title. “Lets careful watch what transpires here. I sense this… interview might give us the opening we need to end this Inferno.”

The smirk when Lorna talks about unexpected half-siblings appearing from the woodwork could almost fit Illyana, despite the fangs, the horns, and the blank glowing orbs that are her eyes.

The way that her lip curls with disgust as Lorna continues does not. "All of you. Running around. Trying to stop something you can't begin to understand. Don't you talk to eachother? If you do, don't you listen?" There's anger, but it's leashed. The mockery in her tone is not, but the Darkchilde turns away with a hiss and stalks back to the window, showing Lorna her back. "The walls between realities fell. The Elder Gods returned." She looks over her shoulder with a terrible grin. "They're not pleasant, as deities go. They would have destroyed your world… or made you wish they had. You couldn't stand against them. I could. I did. This was the price."

"And I begin to wonder why I bothered." She adds, glancing away again to look out at the city. She's silent for a long moment, before she turns to face Lorna once more. "I don't intend to die. But your siblings have something of mine." She gestures, and an image of the Soulsword appears in the air between them. "Bring it to me, and I will have no reason to harm them."

A shift of booted feet followed as Illyana moved about the room to turn her gaze to the horizon that loomed beyond the massive windows outside. The green haired woman remained where she was, listening with a careful, focused ear. Even as she kept her magnetic fields close, like a child's security blanket against the absolute wrongness that was everything Illyana said or did, or even just the skimming gaze of those emotionless orbs.

"I wasn't at the mansion. People are bad at communicating there, you know how it goes." She drawled, her voice carefully measured with a practiced ease. Green eyebrows furrowed and she watched the blonde demoness turn to create an image of Illyana's Soulsword in the air between them.

"My brother is a speedster.. I was worried I'd arrive too late to do anything here.." She murmured, her gaze lingering over the image of the sword, before it swept upwards to meet Illyana's empty gaze over it.

"You bothered to try to save the world because you're one of us. You're a member of the X-men. A hero. You've tried your best.."

The Darkchilde's eyes have no retina, no pupil. It's impossible to know exactly where she's looking, but Lorna will probably feel the demoness' eyes locked on hers as she offers her bargain. And somehow her disappointment is equally clear when Lorna doesn't bite.

"'Tried my best?'" The Darkchilde's tone is suddenly scornful. "'One of you?'" She shakes her head, the flames of the torches suddenly burning high, throwing shadows dancing around the makeshift throne room. "Is that gratitude I hear? Or pity? I like one more than the other, but it's a little late for either."

She waves a hand, and a portal, shining silver, appears beside her. "Last chance. Step through, and bring me my sword. Or I'll do it myself. But if I go?" The smile is slow and malicious. "Your brother will need to run very, VERY fast."

A glance was spared for the leaping of the flames all around them, a twist of Lorna's stomach reflexively followed the attention of the blonde demoness that summoned them and seemed otherwise unmoved by her words. At least nothing beyond anger and scorn. A sigh pulled at Lorna's lips, a slow shake of her head following as she tried her best to stay unruffled by the dancing flames, the showy portal or the threat in Illyana's words and motions. Her father had spent months trying to instill calm in her, and it seemed in the face of danger at least, here and now.. his training showed.

"I can't begin to imagine what you've been through Illyana. All that you've sacrificed." She exhaled a trembling breath, her chest tight.

Finally the green haired woman moved, stepping up toward the portal and turning a glance back to the smirking demoness that had once been her friend. The look made her skin crawl.

"I'll find a way to save you. Save both of you."

The rush of the Darkchilde's anger that sent the torches flaring is swift, but it doesn't last. The flames die down with surly reluctance, but die down they do, and the shadows all but swallow the room once more. Again, there may be the sense that the Darkchilde is studying her guest, but this time, there's no scorn. Just satisfaction.

Because Lorna kept her nerve? Or because she's doing what the Darkchilde wants? She gives no indication either way.

"Would you like to find out?" The demoness asks, all false sweetness. "All it'll take is five drops of blood. It won't even hurt." Something, perhaps some shred of honesty left within the shell that was once Illyana Rasputin, makes her add quietly, "Not at first."

It's a flicker only, and then all compassion seems gone once more. "Only one of us needs to be saved. This…" And she stretches her arms out for emphasis, the light rising again to show off the full extent of her transformation. "…is what I was always meant to be." She grins. "Hurry back."

Polaris blinked against the sudden darkness that left her half nightblind as the shadows resumed their reign over the throne-room. The green haired woman felt her heart hammering in her chest, even as she tried her best to stay calm and focused. The offer of five drops of blood, had Lorna any knowledge of magic, might've meant more to her. However it was simply just another item on the list of 'what was wrong with Illyana' to be ticked off.

"I don't think we have time for that, do we?" She murmured, arching a brow upwards. Her gaze swinging toward the portal and back.

"Since when do you follow anything or anyone's idea of what was 'meant to be'? C'mon.. both of us have had to deal with people putting those expectations on us in different ways." She offered before Lorna stepped through the portal.

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