Central Park by Moonlight

Summary:
July 03 2014: Magic in Central Park is usually of the street variety. After nightfall, though, tonight…?

Central Park

Just about as close as you can get to getting away from it all without actually leaving the city.


Characters

NPCs

  • Wannabe Witches

Mood Music:
[* None]


It's not a call… not precisely. But it's quite easily felt by anyone with a shred of magical talent in New York. Something stirring, something undeniably potent. Those closest to central park may hear it as a sound, a wolf's howl and shudder though they could not perhaps say why. The echo of the power is even felt in other realms, all emanating from… somewhere in the wide semi wild area that is Central Park, though what that is and why it would be there in the middle of the night? Who can say for sure.

*

There are enough mutants for them to have their own neighborhood in New York City. The number of magical practitioners of any real skill would probably fit in a large room. That's why while Illyana may not be involved in the day-to-day of the X-Men's mission when she senses something disturbing the magical fabric, she goes to check it out.

*

The darkness is broken by a sudden sliver of light that yawns wide, into a two-dimensional circle limned in eldritch fire that drops a diminutive figure through. With her hood up and mask on, Magik drops into the area, the stepping disk winking out behind her. She has her Soulsword in one hand, the flames on it burning brighter in the presence of magic. She looks about, tasting that magical disturbance.

*

It doesn't take her long to find it. In fact it's about to run right past her. Four people, three men, one woman, bolting through the brush in the park, off the paths in the pitch darkness. There's the a flash of silvery metal from most of them, pentagrams on chains, an ankh, a few other symbols of power. Some… thing is moving in the darkness behind them. It's big whatever it is, moving very fast and staying out of the light. The four fleeing people don't seem to see Illyana or her soulsword. Not yet anyway. They appear to be occupied with just… running. Very quickly.

*

The running quartet almost don't read to Illyana's magical senses. One, they're overshadowed. Two, their magical spark isn't very bright. Having a long history of demonology in her background? Illyana's first guess is pretty easy.

Stepping in front of them, the cloaked figure of Magik holds up her free hand, light flaring bright in her palm to get their attention. "If the four of you summoned a demon, I'm gonna be *really* pissed off." She tells them in an icy tone. Her own attire is simple, no overt magical symbology anywhere to be seen.

*

The four, all in street clothes, magical paraphernalia aside, slide to a terrified halt as they notice Magik. Behind them, the black thing in the shadow's looms. A low growl comes from it that is more felt in the sternum than heard with the ears. "Ohgodmarkwe're gonna die." One of the small men squeaks, getting a good look at Illyana's sword.

'Mark' is apparently the tall sandy-blonde one. "Um! No! No, no demon summoning… er… at least, um…"

A low rough voice in the shadows speaks, seeming to come from all around. "These four couldn't summon an imp with their so called talents. I already dealt with the only one of any consequence. Now I'm deciding what to do with them. I do like a snack after a run like that…"

The four would be mages seem more or less on the verge of wetting themselves now.

*

Illyana's hand with the light drops, the witchlight guttering out as she walks forward and through the quartet. Her attention has moved past them now, to the shadows behind them as she closes both hands on her sword with the grip of someone that knows how to use it.

"Tell me what you summoned." Illyana snaps at the four, her gaze sliding about as the voice comes from everywhere and nowhere. Information is the only thing that she figures they're good for, and knowing *what* they were trying to do would go a long way to knowing how to combat it.

"Nothing!" Mark says immediately. "We didn't try-"

At the same time the whimpering, cringing man in the group blurts out. "Mephisto tried to summon Duke Flauros!" Illy may well recognize the reference to a 'demon' found in the 17th century grimoire 'The Lesser Key of Solomon.' Barnes and Noble Demonology this. Allegedly Flauros can give true answers on all things, past, present and future. The deep, rough voice around them laughs, sounding grimly amused. "Eeep! We'd just started chanting when something in the shadows grabbed Mephisto and… we… we heard him screaming. Then the shadows told us to run…"

*

Illyana can't help but lower her guard just a bit to turn and stare at them. "Mephisto? *Seriously*?" Because she's familiar with Mephisto. They're not friends or anything but enough to know that the guy they're talking about? Yeah. Not him. She rolls her eyes, but obviously there's something bigger going on than their ignorance. Which is pretty damned big. "You're idiots." She informs them, bringing her attention back to the much more dangerous presence around them. Just because they're idiots doesn't mean they didn't attract the attention of something kill-happy.

*

Out of the shadows steps a very, very large canine creature. Four legged, five, feet tall at the shoulder, easily nine feet long from snout to tail. It's eyes are the dull red of spent coals. "Yes. They are… fortunately for them, I now have someone more interesting to deal with. Run along, little mortals, and consider this night your warning. Your only warning. Attract my gaze again, and I'll pick my teeth with your bones."

*

The four magelings edge away from the canine presence, looking fearfully at Illyana. Likely they'd have bolted already if they were not afraid she was going to start using that sword on them.

*

Illyana has her back to them, so their chances of escaping is pretty high. The silver fire that sheathes the blade burns higher and brighter as the huge figure seems to resolve out of the shadows themselves. She stands her ground with grim determination, feet set and blue eyes hard. "Don't you know New York has leash laws?"

*

The four young witches book it, disappearing down the path. The great wolf creature watches them run for a long moment, until they're out of sight, and then begins to advance on Illyana. He shimmers slightly, shrinking as he does first into a smaller and smaller wolf, then, as he approaches merely man sized, his form begins to contort. In the space of a few steps it's resolved from that of a gaint wolf into that of a man she met in M-Town some days ago. Jeremiah Wolfson.

"Hello Illyana Rasputina." He greets, his voice still low, but no longer rumbly nor coming from all directions at once.

*

The advance is slow, so Illyana stands her ground, neither retreating or attacking. As she watches the transformation her expression goes to grimly determined to somewhat surprised. Her stance relaxes a bit, though that sword that blazes with eldritch power is still kept in a practiced hand. Blonde brows finally wing upwards as he greets her. One hand releases the sword to push back her hood while the other sets her sword down point-first in the earth, resting her hand on the pommel. "Jeremiah." A damned good memory is what let her memorize Belasco's library when she was a pre-teen, and got her through University, even with her rotten sense of time and occasional absences due to bad guys. "Taking the last name a bit literal there, aren't you?"

*

"While I do deplore gross theatricality, there is something to be said sometimes for making an entrance." His eyes cut down the path that the four would be summoners disappeared. The little silver necklace he's wearing - a simple fine chain and sliver of unworked silver hanging from it - is stained with blood, and his hands appear to be somewhat bruised.

"So yes, perhaps I was, just a bit. I must say I'm a little surprised to see you here…" He eyes her speculatively, as if gaging her for… something. "What drew you to the park this night? Perhaps that which drew me?"

*

Illyana's gaze sweeps downwards, taking in the blood, rising again with a flick. "I sensed a disturbance in the Force." Illyana jokes, frowning. "Something big. Don't tell me it was their 'Mephisto'. Was he someone with some juice that planned to use them as sacrifices or something?" That he's surprised gets a light shrug. "There aren't a lot of people that have any clue of how to deal with matters arcane. Usually if I don't look into it, no one does. And that just means trouble later."

*

"Mephisto." Wolfson snorts. "A mortal warlock with enough power to rend the veil, enough charisma to convince those idiots to help him and enough arrogance to think that he could bargain or intimidate whatever came through the tear. No fanciful goetic demon he would have summoned, I assure you. Fortunately I, like you, felt the ripple of power from his rather sloppy summoning."

His eyes narrow. "Slaying one arrogant mortal and scaring his dupes badly enough that they'll have nightmares of this night for the rest of their lives was simple enough. I do not tolerate such things on my hunting grounds. Slightly more worrisome is the question of where, exactly, a two bit mortal sorcerer dug up this." He holds forward a large book and a nicked chalice stained around the edges with blood. Power, very dark power, radiates from both.

*

Illyana gives a soft sigh, shaking her head. "Killing is wrong, you know." She tells him, like she's reminding a small child that you're not supposed to hit other children. "Why can't the stupid ones try to summon benign critters, y'know? The spirit of Kermit the Frog or something."

When he brings for the items of power, she steps closer with a frown but doesn't try to touch the items. "I don't think I recognize them off-hand." She looks to him, to see if he knows what they are. Demonic items are her specialty, but dark power is a lot broader than just demons, despite what some people think.

*

"Allowing children to rend the veil and invite something through is wrong. Killing is sometimes necessary when there are other things at stake. Could I have defeated what would have come through? Perhaps. There are many powers and against some I have not yet been measured, but even if I could have done so there is no guarantee the loss of life would not have been worse."

The god-wolf cocks his head, observing Illyana curiously. A protest about killing was not what he had expected to hear. "That said, I do not disagree with you so far as it goes, though I suspect that we approach the topic from different points of view."

Fenris is, after all, a predator. Even mortals with no magical ability at all can sense it. People like Illyana can feel it quite keenly, even if their magical senses may not always tell them precisely what manner of predator he is.

"The chalice is old. Carolingan, if I do not mistake my metalwork. And it has seen much blood. It was empty when I took it, so I do not know what what it was intended for. The grimoire? That I do not know about, save to tell you it does not conform to any kind of magic I have seen on this realm in twenty centuries." The book itself is heavy, bound in red leather and etched with runes.. The power emanating from it could be demonic, but this particular book has been altered somehow. "Both are quite powerful and it has been my experience that as a rule, minor practitioners simply do not have access to this kind of thing. Not on their own, at any rate."

*

"And you helpfully ate our source of information as to where they came from." Illyana says, her dry tone slightly mocking. The sword winks out, as if it never was, taking the press of its own power out of the mix and Illyana holds out a hand for the grimoire.

"You have somewhere to put items like this to keep them safe?" A very real inquiry, but also lets him know she's not planning to make off with them. What you kill, you keep, right? "You think someone's trying to stir something up and using the wannabe warlocks to do it?" Apparently that's all the chastising he's going to get for taking a life. It wasn't anyone Illyana knew, so it's all academic to her.

*

Fenris shrugs. "There is that, yes." He admits. "Though I doubt anyone with access to items like these lets two bit warlocks know information useful enough to locate them. And yes, I do. As I said, I do not tolerate this kind of thing on my hunting grounds, and this is the fouth summoning this week that I have had to clean up after. The other three were not done within the city limits though. Their idiots at least had the sense to take it out to the state parks."

He looks down at the objects. "No. I know a great deal about magic, and can work some to my advantage, but I am not an especially gifted mage. My talents lie elsewhere. I could secure these items against the curious and misguided, but I could not ward them from someone with a true gift." He pauses. "That, and I have 'family' in town. I'd just as soon they not get their hands on things such as this. They're trouble enough on their own."

*

Illyana accepts the heavy book, a whisper of an incantation to make sure it's not magically trapped. Unlikely, given 'Mephisto' was using it but there's a reason she's not dog food and he is. That whole 'is not an idiot' trait. She doesn't flinch under the dark stain of the magic it holds as she looks it over for some clue as to where it came from. Or what it might be used for in conjunction with the chalice.

"If you like, I can take care of them. I… inherited a lot of dark artifacts that can't just be destroyed. It would also give me a chance to do some research on them. Figure out what their purpose is."

*

"That seems more prudent than sticking it someplace where mischance may present it to a god of chaos and lies." Wolfson makes a wry face. "Be my guest."

The book is written in a confusing combination of old norse runes and demonic writing, neither of which makes a whole lot of sense. It's also cloaked in some kind of an enchantment that, it seems likely at this point, is intended to confuse prying eyes, which is probably why neither of them can make out quite what it is. It's a very, very potent spell as well, clearly beyond the level of 'two bit warlock.' And on closer examination it bears none of the hallmarks of the actual 'Mephisto.' Perhaps that was some kind of arrogant occult pseudonym?

*

Not wanting to handle the artifacts overly much, Illyana accepts the chalice along with the grimoire and then teleports out and back in a flash. Now her hands are empty, however. And her costume is gone. All in the space of a heartbeat. Now she's in jeans and NYU T-shirt with knee-high boots. As he already knows who she is, her all-white outfit would only serve to draw attention. "Shall I assume you'd be interested in my findings?" She asks the wolf, hooking her thumbs in her back pockets.

*

"I would be, if only because I would wish to express my disapproval on the matter before he passed beyond the ability to register it." Jeremiah give her a sharp smile and takes a relaxed stance now.

"I've had little contact with anyone of your obvious potency in the area… well, in some time. In fact I can think of only two others who are not immediately hostile. Given the relative rarity of magi playing on your level, I should think it would be a concern to all of you if one were intentionally stirring up trouble. In my experience, those with arcane power rarely do inscrutable things for no reason. And not knowing at this point bothers me, it may be that I can help you find the trail, if only you can give me a sign to follow to extend a hunting metaphor."

*

"Yeah, I get the feeling that you're good at tracking things down." Illyana notes, gesturing with one hand to invite him to walk with her so they're not lingering any longer at the epicenter of that sense of magic. Just in case it invites others with more nefarious motives. "I'm not really a significant player on this plane. The bulk of my magic is tied to another, but I do have the knowledge." Enough to know when people are playing with fire. Hellfire, usually. She lets them walk a bit before she glances over at him. "So. 'Jerimiah' hmm?"

*

The man falls in beside her, giving her a sharp grin when she questions his name. "Yes. My true name tends to disturb people, especially when confronted with evidence that I am not lying about it."

He nods at her description of her power. "Ah yes, much the same reason that I am not especially potent in arcane matters here. Though part of that is also simply my nature." He trails off for a moment giving her a curious look. He may be able to sense in some fashion that she is not only something other than human, in part, but not even of this plane.

"Your 'scent' as it were, is rather muddled. You do not seem as I, a stranger to this place entirely hiding by cloaking your power. And yet you seem far to other to be entirely of this world. In truth, I usually take exception to such beings. They are often more trouble than they are worth. You however…" He cants his head slightly. "Well, I do not feel compelled to contest your presence. I do not imagine it would go quietly in any case though…" He says with a chuckle, acknowledging her clear potency here.

*

"If you're going to protest folks in your territory, you should pick a smaller territory." Illyana jokes. "Or at least, something that's not freaking *Manhattan*." Because between the density of the population and the people that visit it, there's a lot to object to. "And I'm human." A pause.

"Kind of. Mutant, really, but I figure to you that's the same as human. But part of me is demonic. A sorcerer decided to use part of my soul in a magical ritual and filled the void with demonic energies." So it's not that one of her ancestors was a demon or anything like that. It's pure metaphysics. She gives a small shake of her head. "I'm not here to power grab or disturb anyone or anything. I do try to herd cats when needed though."

*

Jeremiah gives her a chuckle and a shake of the head, as if she's not quite getting it. "Who said anything about protecting the people in my territory? I protect what is mine, yes. Fiercely. But other than that…?" He frowns, trying to think of a way to explain it. "In the wild, does a wolf protect the the rabbit from the fox? Or the deer from the mountain lion? Or… does he simply object to the presence of another wolfpack." He glances back, seeing if perhaps she understands when explained in that manner.

"Ah, yes, well perhaps that is why you do not raise my hackles. Or perhaps it is because you have not attempted to messily sacrifice anyone to draw an elder demon across the veil. I do not object to the presence of magic, only to foolish uses of it. It tends to make things very, very messy. Messy things make humans ask questions… and humans have this curious way of finding things out."

*

Illyana shakes her head as they apparently pass each other by with their points. "I don't mean find a place with less people to protect. I meant find a place with less people *in* it, because the chances of having one you object to goes up as the number of people does." She flashes him a smirk. "If you object to white rabbits, don't live on a rabbit farm. They're gonna turn up."

Illyana actually frowns as he mentions elder demons. "I'm rather intimately familiar with the Elder Gods," A step up from the demons that serve them. "And I have a vested interest in them *not* coming to Earth." Given that her soul is the doorway they'd take. "This is a plan I can get behind." She says, agreeing with him on the Objection To Stupid Magic.

*

"In times past I have done just that. My living in places like New York is a… let us say a relatively recent development. In the last seventy years or so, at any rate. It is not very different in most ways to living without people, providing you are willing to ignore most of them." And mostly he is. It helps that he lives in M-Town, a place where few people go and where the ones who live there know to leave well enough alone. "In any case I fear that a relocation would do me little good in these days. The world seems to be getting stranger by the day. Perhaps I should say 'again' though for in one sense it is merely returning to equilibrium." Wolfson chuckles.

"What of yourself, Illyana Raputina? Are you the appointed guardian of this place? I have not seen a blade like that in the hands of anyone even as close to mortal as you are. Not in an age, at any rate."

*

"Yeah, fewer and fewer places to run, I suppose." Illyana notes, ambling along at a comfortable pace, no fear despite the long, dark shadows of Central Park. Not with her particular companion, not to mention her quick escape ability. The question gets a chuckle. "I'm more of a prison guard, to help keep folks here safe. But I grew up around heroes. I even pretend I am one too, some days." The mention of her sword has her glancing his way. "It's my Masterwork. The physical representation of my magical might."

*

That seems to impress her 'peculiar companion' as he seemingly escorts her toward the edge of the park, which is a bit distant it must be said. "Indeed. And what manner of prison for Those Below might you be keeping that such a blade must be invoked?" He clearly doesn't really expect an answer. "Mmmmm. Heroes. I've had my fill of them. Where I am from those who bound me in magic and lies called themselves heroes and were worshiped as such. I'd much rather honest magi like you, Illyana Rasputina, who do what ought be done without pretensions… at least, that is one old predator's opinion."

*

All things are just a step away when you're Illyana. "Things that should not be Named, and never, ever let loose." Is the cryptic answer.

His comment on Heroes has her chuckling. "Yeah, I know. And a lot of them are pretentious as hell. But I know one. And I try to do what I think he would do." That's right. What Would Piotr Do. "So tell me puppy," She grins over at Jeremiah, her own flash of teeth almost wolfish. "You like ice cream?"


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