Rule in Hell

Summary:
December 29 2014: Jericho heads to Limbo after raiding the HYDRA hideout and has a conversation with S'ym and Illyana.

Illyana's Citadel

Limbo - Illyana's Citadel is the heart of her rule and the home of many of her demons, including the most powerful.


Characters

NPCs

  • S'ym
  • K'nert

Mood Music:
[* None]


The revelation that HYDRA was not only targeting him by magical means but also - at least possibly - a selection of SHIELD agents was disturbing to Jericho to say the least. After dropping off the files with K'tten and Deplo to be analyzed for non-arcane points of interest, he'd headed to Limbo partly to clear his head and partly to check in on things there. And he'd done something when he got there that he doesn't often do. After about an hour's worth of gardening (an hour? He thinks it was an hour anyway) he'd walked in to the Citadel.

Jericho walks a lot of places in Limbo, though generally around the green. Usually though when he wants to go to the Citadel he just goes there. K'nert knows it's odd though he's not saying anything. He's got a shoulder perch after all so it's not like he has to walk unless Jericho decides to knock him off. Once there he comes in through the front gate and into the throne room. He's not particularly expecting to find anyone, though he knows folks are always about. He's got a mind to head up to the music room shortly but he just wanted to see things on the way in, he supposes.

Maxwell approves.

Shut up, Maxwell.

-

There are a lot of demons that make the Citadel their home. Or, as much a home as demons seem to have. It's not like Jericho's ever seen rooms or dormitory-style accomodations for them here. Hell, maybe they don't sleep. But there's always some. Standing guard, fighting, and of course watching. Always watching when he's around. Glowing eyes in yellow and green, white and red that all follow him.

Now though, they give Jericho more space than they used to. They don't press in close, trying to find that sweet spot between makes-him-nervous and makes-him-respond like they used to. When Jericho gets to the large throne room a too-familiar purple-skinned figure lounges near the throne, but not on the main dias itself. S'ym gnaws on his cigar, managing to be intimidating despite the shade of almost lavender-purple. "G'day, boss." He drawls in a manner that almost makes his words seem mocking. It's a thing that Illyana herself does. Like there's some larger joke that only she knows the punchline to.

-

The thing with S'ym is that he'd believe that there is. Most of the other demons would get a smirk or a backhand, depending on how it was delivered. S'ym? Well the big purple chain-smoker has proven to be one not to underestimate, and this is laying aside the fact that Illyana explicitly warned him to avoid fighting with her Heavy, and not out of concern for her image either. So far as she was concerned, he's the most dangerous demon at her command.

Which is saying something.

"S'ym." Jericho nods, looking about the room. He doesn't spend much time here. He's fairly sure he wouldn't be unwelcome but the throne room is where Illyana 'works' when she's in Limbo - well one of the places - and often he has his own work to do, here or elsewhere. So this is a room he's passed through and not really spent much time in. Plus there do tend to be more demons in this general area than usual and while he's no longer worried about being attacked - much - he does think it best not to provoke things. Especially now that they've seen him in action enough that they know what to expect if they do. Even rarer than his being here though is S'ym addressing him. He sees S'ym often enough, but the big guy's usually watching quietly from afar.

-

'Working' when ruling demons can often be something that requires a strong stomach to watch. Also, not something Illyana generally does when others are around. Jericho's acceptance of her demonic side is still kind of new and unusual, and she hasn't stopped all of her old habits. Like not dealing with her demons when other people are around.

S'ym has, in his time, beaten and broken other versions of various X-Men. To date, none have managed to take him out though the last decade or so that's been helped by his being loyal to Illyana. Or as loyal as a demon gets.

The big purple demon takes a deep drag on his cigar, then lets it out in a smoke ring that floats Jericho's way. "Ya feel it yet?" He asks cryptically. Demons can be painfully direct at times, but others they're so damned coy.

-

S'ym really likes blowing smoke. That's the first thing that crosses Jericho's mind because it tends to feature at some point in most of their conversations, laconic as they usually are.

Does he feel it yet? He has to assume that S'ym is referring to the binding and honestly, he's felt a lot of things since then. It's nice, often, just knowing in the back of his mind that Illyana is well (ish) wherever she is. And having the sense that he could find her if he really, really had to. Not as easily as she could find him, but not being a mutant telelporter he likes to think he's doing pretty well in that department.

"Perhaps." He says in a tone that suggests it depends how S'ym means it.

-

S'ym's laugh is low and carries that wicked edge that sends shivers down the spines of most people. But most people don't deal with the strange and bizzare, the violent and the evil like Jericho does.

The demon pushes into a lumbering walk that makes the stone tremble just a bit, moving towards Jericho with a lazy manner. "Limbo. Feel it under y'r skin yet?"

-

Ah that. Under his skin is an… interesting choice of words. He has noticed that he can feel the ambient magic here a bit more, but had chalked that up to being finely attuned to Illyana and Limbo reacting to the things that she wants and fears, even perhaps unconsciously though he hadn't put too much thought into that particular part.

"I can feel it more, if that's what you mean." A lot more, sure. Jericho's particularly sensitive to Limbo these days. Well, perhaps magic in general but he's only ever really exposed to Limbo magic. And he tends to walk around with a fair amount of it in him as well.

-

S'ym gives a snort, like Jericho just made a joke. "Cut ya and you'd bleed it." The demon remarks, one clawed hand reaching for Jericho's wrist. At the last moment he pauses, hand caught inches from actually touching Jericho.

-

Now that's interesting. Jericho can't remember the last time that S'ym actually hesitated. Possibly something Illyana had a 'word' with him about from the last time. It's been a bit since then but he has no doubt she'd have wanted that lesson to stick. Oddly, he has equally no doubt that S'ym would have anticipated at least some of that…

With a small smile that might qualify as a smirk Jericho folds his arms and looks up. "Probably." He says. He does have quite a bit of magic now though thankfully only Illyana can get to it. "But that's not unusual here."

-

When Jericho crosses his arms, effectively denying S'ym the easy grab the demon lets his arm drop to his side. His sharp teeth worries the end of his cigar and smoke leaves his mouth in a slow hiss. "True. But most of th' demons here. They're manifestations of Limbo." S'ym's glowing eyes watch Jericho from his stance a few feet away and a few feet *up*. "They're as much a part o' this place as th' rocks."

-

"Most, yes…" Jericho can think of a few he knows aren't. Belasco is most decidedly a demon lord these days even more so than Illyana is a demon queen. Honestly, actually he tends to think of Illyana as simply Illyana. Still, the point stands that there are things here that are demons that didn't start that way.

The hacker's own eyes simmer and glow as he watches S'ym. Was that the point of all that? To pull him closer to Limbo? "Some are a part of it. And some just call it home."

-

S'ym nods, still watching Jericho with that eerie directness not normally found between people. It's more of an animal thing, but at the same time it isn't quite challenging. "Most of 'em, yah. But some started as somethin' else. Th' strongest ones. Humans usually. Rivals. Friends."

-

The implication, is, of course that he might be becoming a demon himself…

Perhaps he is. But then, this is the man who said he'd do anything to remain near Illyana. "And after?" He's curious how this has historically gone. Not because he thinks that's necessarily what will happen this time. He gathers there are a lot of things about his situation that are unique. But it's good to know.

And, curiously, it might say something about S'ym.

-

S'ym's gaze is unflinching, but he lets thing drag out a bit in silence before answering. "The real Hells, those that traffic in souls like currency, they don't have a lot of respect f'r those that aren't 'true' demons. An' Earth ain't no place f'r 'em either. So they linger. Some become more an' more part o' Limbo, til ya can't see nuthin' close t' human in 'em."

S'ym's gaze shifts with the tilt of his head briefly, looking over at K'nert before he finally turns away and starts to lumber off like they hadn't actually been having any sort of conversation. Deceptive, that slow movement.

-

Especially since Jericho's seen him crack heads in battle before. "So they stay in Limbo." Jericho murmurs and glances over to K'nert for a moment before taking his own path out of the throneroom, walking the winding halls up toward Illyana's chambers and the music room.

"Figure that was about me? Or her?" He murmurs half to himself, half to the imp on his shoulder. He doesn't expect an answer and he's not sure what he thinks about that yet.

-

K'nert seems to bristle a bit, which is odd from something that doesn't have fur. It's in the hunch of his back and the set of his shoulders that makes him seem bigger. Jericho's rhetorical question gives a hissing reply that doesn't seem terribly pleased. In fact, Jericho's fairly certain the imp insulted S'ym's manhood. Demonhood. Whatever.

The doors to the music room are open, though the demons know that's not exactly an invitation. There's no actual music but there is a blonde lounging in one of the deep window openings with a book in her lap. She's dressed in yoga pants and tank-top, her hair damp and pulled back into a ponytail. The wolf's head pendant/charm winks at Jericho from where it dangles on one wrist.

-

Jericho smiles at the sight both of Illyana and the thing that just sparkled at him, his eyes lighting up again this time with delight and not suspicion. He leans over and brushes K'nert off, letting the imp get purchase on a lamp post before he comes further into the room. The demon will end up nearby again, he's sure.

"Hey there." Jericho comes on over to the window, glancing out on the green before he turns his attention fully back to the sorceress and what she's reading.

-

There's a short rail, more a curb really, at the edge of the window and that's all to keep someone from falling the hundred feet or so to the ground below. There are cushions on the broad 'sill' and Illyana scoots closer to that edge to make room for Jericho to join her. The book is full of arcane symbols and notations in several different languages. It looks to have something to do with tears in reality.

"Hey." She greets him in return, her tone holding a soft, but very real warmth to go with the smile. Here, in this room, with the green beyond, one might almost think they were somewhere on Earth.

-

Jericho sits down, taking in what he can understand of the book before glancing back up. Tears in reality. Portals, except not quite like she does them. Stepping disks, near as he can tell, simply are. She can make them, but they're natural. Tears are… well, not.

"Light reading?" It's almost something out of a fantasy novel, really, the castle and music room and the green beyond. Were he to see a knight or hear a tournament downstairs he might not - but for the fact that he knows where he is - think them hugely out of place.

-

Unfortunately the best he's likely to hear are some of the demons squabbling. Limbo's gates haven't been actually assaulted in quite some time.

The question gets a chuckle from Illyana. "Most of the useful stuff I've found is on how to make tears in reality. Mostly chaos-based stuff. My demonic-based Black magic is… hmm, more 'orderly'?" Much more Lawful Evil kinda stuff. "I'm trying to see about how to back-engineer it to mend tears but a manual on how to cut someone's arm off doesn't usually give a ton of insight on how to reattach it."

-

Jercho nods and drapes an arm lightly across Illyana's shoulders. "Makes sense. Is there one in particular botherijg you or did it just seem like something thats good to know." Since he can think of at least one trar in reality that might have her attention. on the other hand there might be others. He mulls that over, turning it in his head along with his recent conversation. She can likely sense it. Not that he's ever minded her having a window into his head.

"Well, there's one obvious one." Illyana remarks dryly, that little smirk curving her lips but it's gone a heartbeat after. "But they seem to be happening too often. Or else it's easier to notice or detect them now. If it's the former, I'd really like to know why." Illyana may not be the Sorceress Supreme of their universe, but that doesn't mean she isn't concerned and most folks don't even have the vague 'feeling around in the dark' chance that she has. So she takes the job on herself. Without even telling other folks it's on her plate.

-

The hacker nods. "That one's odd, to be sure." He still hasn't gotten round to headed through it. Or sending Cal and Carol through it. "There's also the ones that have been opening up with that tech from… somewhere else." She's right in thinking that there's definitely something going on.

"Anything I can do to help?" He asks, his tone quieter now. Much as she doesn't do tech, he doesn't do magic but he'll assist where he can, even if it's just providing a sword for things that need swording. And a fair amount of people have needed swording recently. Which reminds him…

"I raided a HYDRA hideout last night. They had mages and a demon. Which… isn't anything we haven't seen before. A bit more worrying is that they seem to be trying to prognosticate SHIELD agents so that they can trap and kill them. I found, among other things, a drawing of May bleeding out in a pentagram."

-

Illyana's eyes narrow at that news. While May herself is a bit two-dimensional on Illyana's emotional grid and she doesn't feel much for the woman personally, she knows that May is a friend of Jericho's. More than that, HYDRA and demons is just Bad Juju. "You still have the drawing?"

As to what he can do to help. She considers for a bit. "I know computers are good at crunching data, right? Is it possible for you to help me try to find some… trends? between some of these incidents?" Just because she doesn't like tech doesn't mean she discounts it.

-

"Sure, I can do that." Jericho's good at setting up networks to do these kinds of thing for him. He can pull in anomalous data from… best not to discuss where. Anyway he can get started on that soon as he's back on earth.

As for the others, Jericho produces a single sheet of paper. It's a police sketch artist quality rendering of Melinda May restrained and bleeding out in the center of a pentagram with the words 'best fit solution' scribblined in on the side. "There were half a dozen files like this, all on SHIELD agents and affiliates."

-

"But why draw it like this." Illyana murmurs, more to herself. She's thinking about the person behind it, that drew it, and what that might say about their adversary. As clearly that's what they are. "And they were all sketched out with this kind of detail? No other common factors but the SHIELD connection?"

-

Jericho nods. "Yeah." He says softly. "The worrisome part is this style of art is usually only done for something you have a picture of or can describe in detail." The hacker's not super up on the ins and outs of scrying and prophesy but he's guessing that HYDRA is attempting to find a future in which people who are in there way suddenly find themselves out of the way.

-

Illyana's lips are still set into that thoughtful frown. She looks over to Jericho. "Are you done with this? Mind if I use it?" If someone's focusing that much energy into it, so much of their 'self' she might be able to trace it back to a source. But it might not survive the process.

-

Jericho hands the paper over. He'd been hoping she might be able to help with that, or at least have something to say about it. Death curses are not things he suspects Illyana does, but if anyone would know about black, black magic, or know where to find out, it'd be her.

-

Illyana puts the book aside, so that it doesn't touch the page. Impressions can be delicate things. "I'll see what I can find out so this doesn't end up a reality." She says with a sort of grim seriousness. "I figure the SHIELD types are likely to dismiss it as silliness." Even when confronted by magic and demons. Most people's brain just sort of breaks when it comes to the acceptance of magic as a living, breathing part of the world.

-

The picture is full of hate. Which perhaps shouldn't be surprising. Magic is about heart and belief as much as anything else and whomever put all that effort into creating this picture, in seeking out this future, must have truely hated either SHIELD or May personally. The vision leads back to a dank, dark lit room. It's stone and lit mostly by torch and candle-light. There's a couple of people standing off to one side while a small knot of five people stand at the points of a pentagram pouring magic into a large orb of polished obsidian at the center. That orb reflects images and phantoms darkly which others record. There's a hint of incense in the air and the sound of jungle birds. Somewhere rainy? Central American, sounds like. The iconography looks… Mayan…

Jericho watches Illyana carefully, not seeing what she can see of course but able to feel the magic working. Attuned, as S'ym noted, to Limbo and it's response to it's queen.

-

Clouds roll across that blood-red sky and thing seem to get… darker. Which is an odd sensation, given the lack of sun in the sky. Illyana's eyes close as she lets herself sink into the connection between the image and its creator. The hate is familiar. Tempting.

"They're using a Mayan place of power. It's not hard to push Blood Magic over into what they're looking for. Obsidian focus, too." Which was an important material to the Mayans. "The pentagram though… that's not Mayan."

Illyana's eyes open then, having gone all glowing-white with power. She draws a breath and then blows it outward, black smoke curling around her breath, surging upwards before cascading down and leaving a holographic-like image there of the dim figures.

-

Jericho's eyes flash, this time hard. The fact that they were using a Mayan place of power when the drawings were made doesn't necessarily mean that it's still in use. But it's a good place to start. "I'll look in on it. Soon." He glances over. "I'd love to have you with if you have the time." Not that Jericho doesn't always love having her along. Generally though he figures if she wants to come or feels the need, she'll show up. In this case, though…

-

Illyana gives a short nod as she lets the illusion fade. "I'll make the time if I have to." Which, given her ability to teleport through time isn't just idle conversation. She looks over to him, mouth set into a hard line. This kinda stuff? It's stuff she should be there for. It's more than just magical creatures, it's the manipulation of magical forces. Worse, it's a perversion of them.

-

He takes in a deep breath and nods once more. "Thanks." His smile turns a bit wry. "And sorry. Always the bearer of bad news it seems." The interesting times do seem to find the two of them, one way or another…

-

Illyana gives a soft laugh. Not the mocking chuckle she often has, but a real laugh as she puts her hand over his and squeezes. "You're just always getting into trouble." She says with affection. "Keeps life interesting I suppose." The blond gives him a wink before turning more serious again. "We'll save your friends."

-

Jericho turns his hand palm up and smiles back. The affection in her voice is as good as music so far as he's concerned.

"Thanks." He says quietly. "I've got a couple of different threads and I don't know how they all go together yet… I'm going to talk to a couple of other friends who may be involved. Might be time you met one or two. You may already know the other one most closely involved. I think she's been up at the mansion. Lunair."

-

Illyana threads her fingers through Jericho's, settling her shoulder against his as well. The name gets a nod. "Mmm. Yeah. I don't know her well, she showed up after I graduated." But Illyana's passingly familiar with almost all the Xavier folk. She gives one of those soft chuckles. "Want me to dress any particular way?" She does for Red Team business, mostly so as not to freak the clients out.

-

"Whatever you think suits a queen." Jericho winks. He'll take Illyana in sweatpants and a teeshirt if that's how she feels like showing up. It doesn't change what she's capable of or the fact that she's probably the best magical resource they have in this. Nor anything else about her. But he also knows that she likes to make an impression and honestly he gets that it can be hard to be taken seriously sometimes. Some folks don't get what 'Queen of Limbo' really entails.

"They're going to be one or two of my fellow Outsiders and possibly May and Bishop." More than that he'll let people handle on their own. His own efforts to interface more directly with SHIELD in particular haven't proven effective. It's usually best to just let May handle it.

-

Illyana gives a nod. "Alright. I'll take that under consideration." She says, eyes glittering back at him with that suppressed smirk. She turns her head a bit so she can nip his shoulder. "I'm hungry." And if he doesn't want to end up on the menu…

-

Jericho still holding Illyana's hand and tugs her a little. "Let's go get something to eat then. I can cook or we can eat out." He doesn't mind either way. Does he ever?


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