Not All Stories End Happily

Summary:
December 24 2014 (Backdated Scene): Jericho and Illyana escape to Limbo after their run in with Evil Pepper and pick up Zatanna along the way

Limbo, kind of

Limbo, but not the one Jericho and Illyana know. This one followed another path. Or this version of it anyway, since Limbo is all things to all people.


Characters

NPCs

  • Demons
  • Other Illyana

Mood Music:
[* None]


Whatever Earth Jericho and Illyana had been on, they hadn't particularly wanted to stay there. Not with Nazi Pepper Potts after them. With Illyana's portal abilities and magic still scrambled from the vortex or whatever the hell had happened back there in that apartment building, the only way they were getting out of there was by tapping Jericho directly to step into Limbo. Trouble was, of course, that there was no way of knowing exactly which Limbo they were going to. Limbo may touch everywhere and everywhen but part of that meant that there were simultaneously one and multiple versions of the place with multiple versions of whomever had come there. Multiple Illyana's, certainly, multiple Belasco's, it's even possible there were a few extra Jericho's floating around out there. The whole thing made his head hurt a little so he tried very, very hard not to think too much about it. It's not like they could control where and with whom they ended up, so it's not like worrying would help any.

"Ready?" The hacker murmurs to the blonde next to him, hoping that rest did her some good.

-

HYDRA has definitely put themselves on Illyana's 'naughty' list. Sadly for them, the consequences are likely to be a bit more dire than some coal in their stockings.

The rest has definitely helped in that Illyana can stand on her own now, but her mutant ability is still frustratingly offline. The blonde gives Jericho a nod, the touch on his shoulder as she steps behind him nudging him down to his knees so she can place both hands on him, the light touch of her fingertips against his throat and cheeks and temples coaxing his traces to that faint red glow.

Illyana's eyes close and her head tilts forward and Jericho feels that distinct sense of Illyana tapping into the well of power within him, like a bell being struck. Silver flames edged in black kindle at points around them and then rush outwards as though someone laid down trails of lighter fluid, inscribing a pentegram with the pair of them at the center.

Without words, Illyana draws the power from Jericho and shapes it with meticulous care. While the teleporter may seem brash and impetuous to others, there is no sign of that when she works her magic. The power rushes through her like a drug as she bends reality around them. The pentegram rises from the ground, tilts and starts to spin faster and faster until the pair are in a glowing ball of light and then with a boom and an implosion, they're gone.

-

Jericho's still on his knees when the landscape of Limbo fades in about them. Also he's a bit dizzy and feels kind of… off balance internally. That last sensation is at least a familiar one. He's aware that when his magic levels go down he gets a bit 'off center' and while it doesn't feel like Illyana had to take everything to manage that teleport, he can tell she didn't need a small amount either. At least it doesn't hurt when she taps him anymore. Actually it feels kind of nice, if odd.

After a moment the hacker rises to his feet and takes a look at where they've landed. They're in Limbo. A green part of it, which is a good sign probably. There's a citadel in the distance, that's familiar. The Citadel he's used to doesn't have a really defined shape. It changes fairly regularly, even on the same visit, but somehow he can tell it's not the one he's used to. He can also feel a tug and pull at the magic in the area that isn't centered on the blonde behind him. What he can't tell is who it's from.

"Well, not immediately surrounded by hostile demons. That's a good start." He murmurs, glancing about. Hrm. There's hellscape behind him, but it looks pretty distant. Maybe five or six miles, though Limbo landscape can be hard to judge because it too changes when you're not looking at it.

"Feeling anything?"

-

Illyana's touch slides away from Jericho as he stands, but she stays close enough to let the fingers of one hand linger at the small of his back. Just a light touch that's really not needed to access the magic in him. It's purely to use him as a sort of touchstone. "It's… different." She admits. "Like there's a pane of glass between me and here. I can see it, but can't quite touch it." The blonde is frowning, and it's not her 'thoughtful' frown. "Reminds me of when I was separated from Limbo after the war." She glances to him. "Which means you're pretty much it for my magical oomph."

-

A dark haired young woman, in her late teens, seems to step out of nowhere, pauses and looks around carefully. The look of realisation that creeps over the teens face is replaced quickly with one of resignation.

Wearing a cute little black dress that shows a fair bit of leg, knee high boots over black fishnet tights and small purse hung over her shoulder it looks Zatanna Zatara was enjoying a night out on the town.

As she turns in a slow circle she spies the couple, the blond and the hacker, and her eyes narrow slightly as she frowns in their direction. How unusual for Zee to not smile. Slowly, she makes her way in the couples direction maintaining her silence for the time being.

-

Jericho hasn't seen her yet. The combination of odd sensations from the area and from Illyana are rather distracting and he's a bit worried about whose Limbo they've ended up in. Someone helpful would be nice but his understanding of the entire thing is that anyone who owns the place is likely to be wary of people just dropping in.

"Just the power still in me. Got it." The good news is that he is slowly absorbing the power from their surroundings as well as Illyana's touch, as evidenced by the fact that his traces are starting to go coal ember red. "We should probably get off this hill before someon- hey wait a second…" Now his eyes land on the cutely dressed figure below. "That looks like… Zatanna Zatara." One hand goes back to his blade case. Normally he'd not be worried about it but Pepper was evil and he can't be sure this is anything like the Zee he's met.

-

And there's that whole eye-narrowed thing. Illyana's frown doesn't budge. "But probably not the one you know." The blonde says, likely finishing his thought. Still, it could turn out alright. Illyana lifts her free hand, the one not touching Jericho, in a small wave Zee's way but she doesn't make a move towards the dark-haired woman yet.

-

As Jericho reaches for his blade, Zee stops and holds her hands out, down by her side, palms out "Where have you bought me now, Jericho?" The blonde by his side, gets a glance and a nod as she waves but Zee is more concerned about the hacker and that blade of his.

-

Really, Zee should be worried about Illyana's blade. Not that she can see it. Jericho's blade just cuts things, changes sizes and doesn't break. Illyana's blade unmakes magic. The hacker glances over to Illyana briefly and then back to Zatanna. "I never bring you anywhere. But you've wound up in Limbo." Beat. "Some version of it."

He glances back to the blonde now. "We need to get out of sight before-" There's a shrill demonic cry from up in the air. "- we're spotted. Damn it." In a moment the cry is answered by the distant replies of other demons, coming from the hellscape behind them and not the Citadel. "We've got some space. Run, or stay?"

-

Illyana clucks her tongue at Jericho, but the sarcastic, mocking tone lacks any real humor. "Making time with other women, Jericho? Remind me to punish you later." The sarcasm is habit, but the situation has her more worried than usual. Otherwise hell yes she'd laugh in the face of danger.

Illyana's head turns at the sound of that cry and her answer is immediate. She remembers her days of living in Limbo when it *wasn't* hers. "Run."

The blonde doesn't wait, she starts running herself, heading towards the Citadel and away from the cries of hungry demons, aiming for the dense cover of the Green. Her comment to Zatanna is a brief thing in passing. "Come with us if you want to live."

-

"Maybe not, but my teleport tends to fail around you more than not." The dark hair teen frowns more deeply "A version of limbo… huh"

The blondes sarcasm earns a smirk from the teen as she shakes her head "Just so not my type."

The demonic cries have Zee glancing up and around and at the blondes invitation, the raven-haired teen starts running, tucking her bag into her hand. "Can I use magic here, or will that attract them more quickly?"

-

"Well it'll certainly make you more interesting!" Jericho says as he runs next to Illyana. He's already gotten his sword out and the silvery metal embedded in his arms has flowed out and around them like bracers. "I don't know at this point that there's anything that'll make them come faster. I wouldn't stop running though."

The Citadel ahead seems empty. And ruined. Jericho's used to it not making sense. It defies all the precepts of sound engineering and architecture. But this looks like it went through a battle and was abandoned. He doesn't see any signs of the demons usually hovering around it, though as they get closer he can start to feel that tug of magic that isn't from Illyana more clearly. There's something in there. Maybe someone. He can't tell.

-

Who will make it there first? That's a good question. Moving around in Limbo is more a matter of intent than anything else and not knowing where you're going, or at least where you want to go, can have disasterous results. Jericho has a fairly clear idea where he'd like to be: The Citadel Throne Room. They rush through the gates just ahead of the demons and Jericho throws the door to the Citadel proper open, turning at bay to keep off anyone who gets too close.

-

"Hey, are you saying he's not a catch?" Illyana asks as they run flat-out, her breath coming a little fast but even in the so-very-not-running gear, it's clear that the blonde is no stranger to the activity. "Magic's fine so long as whoever's running the place at the moment doesn't try to stop you." Being a pocket dimension, the ruler of Limbo is the equivilent of Earth's Sorcerer Supreme. "Also, he wasn't with you when you teleported. He was at your termination. He couldn't have affected your spell without you having some kind of sympathetic link to him." Hey, it's not often that Illyana has someone to talk shop with! And running is like 'thinking time' for Illy.

As they run into the Citadel proper, Illyana comes to a sliding stop when Jericho makes to block the gate, looking around at the ruin. "Something's definitely wrong here." She says, tone gone a bit grim. "We need to find the source." Jericho gets a look. "You OK playing Gandalf?"

-

"I'm saying" Zee responds "He's not my type… Catch is in the eye of the beholder." the running flat out is interesting "These boots weren't made for running, let's see if I'm stopped"

~ sehtolC gnikroW ~

Zee speaks as she runs, not missing beat. The costume isn't a helluva step up from what she's wearing, but the boots are sturdy and she does get her hat… if the magic is allowed that is.

Illyanas' comment about a sympathetic link has Zee groaning. "Oh don't say that please, that means there's one with Constantine too. There must be another answer."

The sliding stop catches Zee by surprise and she overshoots the couple by a fair bit before turning around to rejoin them.

-

Zee isn't stopped… but there's a definite tug on the magic. It's harder to work here and the younger mage can't help but feel as if she's just gotten something's interest.

Jericho nods to Illyana as demons lurk just beyond easy blade or gunshot range. "For a bit, yeah. I'll collapse the archway and rejoin you if it gets too hot. That'll at least buy us some time."

The argument as to whether or not he's a catch gets a faint grin. That's not really ever something he ever, ever expected to hear. He reaches back and finds Illyana's hand to give her a firm squeeze. "Be careful. Based on what's out there I probably won't be too far behind you."

-

Illyana doesn't sniff or pout or even given Jericho a longing, pleading look. Instead it's a steady one, her mouth set into a determined line. She does give his hand a squeeze in return and then she's turning away without looking back, heading towards the source of this-Limbo's magic. "C'mon." Puzzling over Zee's magical attraction to guys that aren't her type can wait.

-

Watching the couple interact and Illyanas' stiff upper lip, Zee turns on her heel to follow. "Just so you know" the teen murmurs as she does "there's a pull on my magic here… but you probably already know that."

-

The throne room is full of slash marks and blade scrapes. The throne itself looks like it was hacked at several times. Behind Zee and Illyana the sound of gunfire breaks out shortly replaced by blade fighting. That tug that they both feel seems to be coming from an upper level. Actually, the location should be quite familair to the Darkchilde. She spent a lot of time there…

"Yeah, it's tugging on mine, too." Illyana replies grimly. Admittedly, most of her magic at the moment is in her Familiar and he's the one that's really feeling that pull but she doesn't bring that up at the moment. As one, dark and light (hair colored) mages heads tilt upwards. Illyana frowns. "Spit and Hades." She mutters under her breath. "Hurry." It's almost a whisper as Illyana heads for the stairs that twist upwards.

-

At the noises behind them, Zee glances back, forward again and then up. "Up…" but Illyana is already muttering and moving. Following along behind the blonde, Zee's frown deepens "I'm hurrying and following you but I have no idea what's going on here… except that up there doesn't feel so good." the teen-mage whispers, modelling the behavior presented.

-

The fighting behind them seems to intensify. The shrieks of demons meeting a rather pointed end mingle with echoing grunts of effort from the blade wielding hacker. Illyana can feel Jericho's life force flicker as he begins to project his power fields. About thirty seconds later theres a crumbling, grinding noise, then silence. Zatanna might find that vaguely worrying, but Illyana can at least sense that her Familiar is alive and getting closer.

The tug on all the magic around them is stronger as the two mages enter a rather familiar looking hallway that leads to a familiar looking warded door. It's doubtful that any demons would ever make it this far. It's uncomfortable and without a more than magical presence to anchor them, the drain would eventually absorb them back into Limbo. Which seems odd, that there would be something here designed to be accessible only to people who have some measure of humanity, however small it may be.

There's a humming behind the door and a lot of pressure, like all the magic thats being pulled in is… going somewhere.

-

Limbo's rules are as slippery as magic itself. One can understand the broad picture, and various slices of it, but the closer one tries to look the more everything around it changes and so Illyana doesn't try to puzzle out why Limbo is acting so out of character. "Jericho's on his way." Illyana says, her tone still hushed as they get to the warded door. She still has that frown in place of her usual mocking smirk and if Zee knew her better the dark-haired mage might be praying to see that irritating smile. "If you can undo the Wards, feel free. Otherwise I'll get them when Jericho makes it here." Because she'll need him to draw on.

-

The crumbling, grinding noise causes Zee to look round again but not for long as the sense of the magic around her deepens. Illyanas words about Jericho receive a small nod.

Speaking equally as quietly, the young mage replies "I can normally do wards… " Zee's already examining the door, biting her lip and brow furrowed in concentration as she does. "I think I have it…" Twisting her hands, like she's undone a rope, Zee speaks in that strange way of hers

~ sdraW eB enodnU ~

Faint tension lines appear around her eyes, indicating the she's channelling more of her power into the spell than she normally would.

-

Jericho appears around the corner at the moment that the wards break and the glow around the door subsides. His blade is stained with black blood and there are burns on his arms. Illyana can feel more on his chest and left leg. He seems alright otherwise though, but he's wincing a bit as the tug on the magic within him gets stronger. It's not anything that's going to rip the magic out of him but he can feel it all the same.

"Wards are down then?" He says, glancing behind him. He's sealed the demons out… but them in at the same time. And if they get determined about it he's not sure how long they'll stay out.

Jericho walks over to Illyana and puts a hand on her shoulder for a brief moment before reaching out a little hesitantly toward to the door.

Before he can actually touch it the door swings open silently. It's Illyana's room. Mostly familiar though there are… things missing and things added. The center of the room, the bed, is surrounded by five lamp sized crystals focusing magic and a very bright light obscuring whatever they're focusing it on.

Those with actual magical education might recognize a pattern of white magic. It's meant to wake/revive but… it's incomplete. There's not enough power to actually cast the spell and the focusing crystals are pulling in ambient magic just to maintain it in a state of readiness.

-

When Jericho's hand touches Illyana's shoulder she opens the channel to the magic that still inside him and anyone with magical senses are going to see the way their magic flows into a seamless whole. "This was mine." Illyana says in a hushed tone. The room could have been inhabited by someone else, but some of the things here… they're hers and the list of White Magic users in Limbo is pretty damned small. Jericho can almost feel the weight of Illyana's thoughts. "It needs more power." She says, having picked that up pretty damned quick. The next decision she makes could be taken as reckless, but between it being 'her' and it being White magic…

Illyana brings up an arm, fingers spread and starts to feed the magic stored in Jericho into the spell, careful not to channel it so fast as to bring the hacker to his knees.

-

Illyana and Jericho's magic flowing toghether has Zee turning to look at them, cocking her head in interest.

"You're pulling the magic from him…" Zee murmurs, remembering how his traces ate her power before. "Is he like a battery, storing magic for you to use?" the raven-haired woman frowns "Won't you drain him? If so, I can channel my magic through him to you… or straight into the spell, what would you prefer?"

Looking around the room, Zee takes a hesitant step forward towards the bed and then thinks better of it….

-

"I'm her Familiar." Jericho says, turning his head to look at the dark haired mage, swaying a bit as stored magic leaves him again. It's an odd statement, or probably is to Zee. Familiars are normally small animals. In fact, they're pretty much always small animals. Mice, rats, birds, cats. People? That's unheard of. It would mean staking a claim over their soul, amongst other things. It fits though. It's not as if she's taking his magic. The magic in the two of them matches together like two halves of a torn piece of paper.

She could drain him, and might, though he's confident it won't kill him, though that confidence has more to do with faith in Illyana than knowledge about magic. He actually has no idea what would happen if he were utterly emptied to the last mote.

The crystal arrangement around the bed begins to glow brighter and there's a sudden pulse. Perhaps just a little push more. Through the light a form is taking shape on the bed. A figure.

-

"I have the control not to do it accidentally." Illyana says with shades of annoyance when Zee mentions draining him. It's more reaction than anything personal. Those that can tell what she is usually think the worst of her. "You should be good to channel directly in." Given the way it's drawing at everything. "Almost there…" But Illyana's backing off the stream of magic she's feeding into it as Jericho's reaching dangerously low levels.

-

Jerichos words are filed away for later, there's more important things at stake for Zee.

Illyana's annoyance triggers some of Zee's own and it flashes briefly across her face before she turns and focusses her own power on the crystal arrangement and channels into it.

~ lennahC cigaM oT slatsyrC ~

She feels the pull on her own magic and exerts as much control as she can so it doesn't just go rushing in.

-

Jericho's eyes are glowing brightly now and he's feeling… uncentered. In truth when low on magic the demonic alterations to his personality come to the fore though that's not immediately obvious… well, it might be to Illyana, but he hasn't said or done anything yet but watched.

The crystals pulse once more with power and the 'circuit' completes. The tug on everything abruptly ends with a flash of white light as the figure in the center of the bed crystalizes into reality. Jericho blinks and stares at what's there. It's a blonde, dressed in armor which is rent and ruined though where there should be wounds there now are none. "That's…" He glances over to Illyana and then back, then to Zatanna in confusion, and then back to Illyana. "That's you."

-

The abrupt end to the drain has Illyana staggering back a bit, one hand catching the wall to help her keep her feet. And help keep Jericho up as well as she's expecting him to be shaky. "A me, anyhow. Let's hope I'm less of a bitch in that version." Her words are more of a mumble than anything else, but the pair with her are definitely able to hear it.

-

Zee staggers back as the light flashes, off balance and nearly hitting the ground. Taking her time to steady herself, pushing her hair back from her face she looks to the bed then to the blonde beside her, eyebrows raising at that statement. "What do you mean A you?"

-

Jericho is a bit shaky and by the looks of things quite grateful for the support he's getting. The other options had been sinking to his knees or hitting the floor. "Limbo…" He pants. "Touches all times and places… which… makes it… a bit odd…" Bit of an understatement there but it'll do for the cliffs notes.

The blonde on the bed is breathing, alive and not visibly injured but not at least immediately giving any signs of waking up. Also of interest, the demon sounds seem to have abated.

"Illyana… didn't you say… place felt… like after the war?" Jericho takes a deep breath to steady himself and lets it out slowly. While he knew the possibility of other Illyana's existed, that he might ever see two in the same room hadn't really occurred to him. Then again, he's not sure how they're kept separate either so… maybe it was more likely than he thought.

-

"In how I couldn't touch Limbo and my magic, yeah." Illyana says, glancing over towards Jericho. "The Soulsword kinda hit a reset and I was just… a normal girl again." It's more information that she'd normally be giving with someone she doesn't know in the room but this is kind of some extenuating circumstances.

Illyana draws in a slow breath and then starts over towards the figure on the bed. "It cut me loose. Tossed me back to Earth. And this was a lot stronger White magic than I can usually manage." She looks about then, "She's got the Eldritch armor… but where's the Soulsword?" The one Illyana can't summon at the moment because she's not the recognized ruler of Limbo at this 'time'.

-

Watching and listening to the couple, Zee takes the time to recover. Most of this goes over the young magicians head, but it's noted for when she can get back to Shadowcrest. The confusion causes her to frown slightly as she looks between the hacker and the blonde and then the one on the bed. "Two questions" Zee tries to ask politely "Who can wield that much White magic then and Why don't you wake her" nodding to the woman on the bed "up and ask her directly?"

-

The honest truth is because Jericho doesn't think she'll wake, though that's not based on anything in particular. He's also vaguely worried what might happen to his Illyana if this one turns out to be less than understanding. "I have another question." Not a better question, since those are all good questions. "Her armor is torn, looks like it was damaged in the fighting. She had to have been wounded pretty badly… so how'd she get up here?" He pauses and forces himself upright, taking a moment to steady himself, and then Illyana.

"It has to be nearby… Maybe that's why she's not waking. Someone set things up such that no one could get in here who was purely demon, and no one could wake her without white magic. Someone… expected to be back." But… who?

-

"Well a lot of sorcerers can, just not me." Illyana says with that sharp-edged tone that comes from a lack of control over the situation. "As to why not to wake her?" Illyana says, glancing over to Zatanna. "Because she's the Darkchilde."

It would depend on Zatanna's area of magical interest, but those familiar with the otherdimensional planes, especially the demonic ones, know the Darkchilde. The chosen of the Elder Gods has ruled Limbo for more than a decade, Belasco's successor, but for whatever reason doesn't seem to stir up much in the way of trouble. The Darkchilde is well known in magical circles. That Illyana is she? Is not something the blonde tends to advertise.

"So it could have been someone that's got that kind of White Magic that put her in a kind of suspended animation, instead of her doing it as some last-ditch effort." With a deep breath to steady herself, Illyana steps over to lay a hand on… well, herself. Given that they're the same person, kind of, even if this Illyana doesn't wake, maybe the connection will reveal where the Soulsword is.

-

Zee's heard of the Darkchilde but in vague references from Constantine, so she nods and files the information away again. So much reading to do.

Jerichos' question has Zee taking a turn round the room inspecting it carefully before turning to the blonde and asking "I don't know this realm, so how can I be of assistance?"

-

Jericho just motions for Zatanna to wait a moment. He's not sure yet but Illyana's trying something. Perhaps they'll know soon. "It's also possible that she did it herself and hoped that someone would come find her." Given what he knows of his own Darkechilde's history, that doesn't seem out of the question. But as to where the blade is…

Contact with this Limbo's Illyana reveals several things in a flash. First, she's had two bloodstones created. Second, the Soulsword is at the top of the citadel, at the highest point. Third… it's presently sticking through the remains of her brother. And forth, it's got most of her power hidden away in it. It had been a desperate gambit, placing all of her power into the blow that could end the one who sought to take Limbo by force, led the rebellion against her. The final blow had robbed her of the power she needed to survive her wounds and so, hoping against hope to keep the place sealed, she'd placed herself in an incomplete healing spell. So long as there was still a nominal ruler, no one could take the place.

"We'll know in a moment, Zee." He still seems like he could use that moment to collect himself.

-

Illyana's hand flies away from the comatose Illyana as though she were burned and the blonde steps back so fast that she trips herself up in those heavy boots. She hits the stone floor hard, but that doesn't stop her from continuing to move away as fast as she can until her back hits the wall. Her eyes are wide and her already pale skin has gone white as a sheet. "No…" The sound is… broken and Jericho can feel Illyana's anguish like a weight settling on his heart, so heavy the pain alone seems like it would take him to his knees. And it's not even his.

Illyana drops her head, her arms folding over as her face is hidden away and all that can be heard is the sobbing sounds of her denial.

-

Jericho actually flinches at the weight of the pain and anguish and it takes an effort drained as he is to remain upright himself. He leans against the wall for a moment, wavering and then staggers over to Illyana, kneeling down beside her and wrapping both arms around her. He's got one very small impression from all that, beyond 'no'.

"Up." The hacker hoarsly whispers to Zee. "Find the sword." He'll join if Illyana recovers but right now…

-

Illyana turns in towards Jericho as his arms come around her, the hacker's chest a better hiding place than her own arms as she tries to escape the magnitude of her own feelings. She's not used to that kind of intensity. She rarely cares about people enough to feel that kind of pain. Her nails cut into Jericho's flesh as she clings to him, her tears hot against his shirt. For so long she's kept her feeling on lockdown, the sudden rush drowns her.

-

Up, find the sword. "Uh sure, the sword." She backs out the room just as Illyana turns to Jericho arms. Back to the stairs and she climbs and keeps climbing, checking each floor as she goes. Jericho didn't say where… Finally, she reaches the topmost point of the Citadel and there on the floor infront of her is a body, with a large looking sword embedded in it. Sensing the magic in the area, Zee stops and takes her time to investigate first.

-

The body is of a very large man, his form seemingly made entirely of thick metal. And he's a gaint of the man, toppled back on the floor with the blade driven clean through his heart. The face is frozen in a rictus of surprise, anger and - perhaps a bit shockingly - regret. And the features… the features seem so very like the blonde on the bed… and the blonde who just collapsed sobbing.

The blade - the Soulsword Illyana called it - is pulsing with power, buried half into the floor, though it comes out easily. It's quite heavy, both in physical and metaphysical terms. The moment Zatanna pulls it there's a shift in the magic of the whole realm. Like something starting to wake up.

Back in the chambers Jericho just holds Illyana. He can't say anything. Even if he knew what she'd seen the grief he can feel from her is near overwhelming. So instead he just does his best to concentrate on being that touchstone she often seems to want. One constant thing in a changing world.

-

While Illyana created the Soulsword as her Great Work, because of her magic's ties to Limbo and because of Limbo's own 'all whens and all wheres' nature, the blade was both new and had always been. He (or she) who holds the blade rules Limbo.

The Eldritch armor that covered the 'sleeping' Illyana dissolves away, sheathing Zatanna in the trappings of Limbo's ruler and the sorceress can sense Limbo like a living extension of herself. It's a heady thing, the power that comes with ruling Limbo. But like the One Ring, it's ties to the Elder Gods, being the door to their prison, brings with it an underlying corruption…

Finally, Illyana's trembling stops, but Jericho can still hear the catch of her breath as she tries to stave off the sobbing. Her head lifts as she senses the shift in Limbo, eyes rimmed in red and cheeks streaked with tears and for a moment, a world holds its breath.

-

She really should know better. Zee knows this and pushes the thought down as she takes the sword and holds it.

As the armor envelopes her form and the power of Limbo is sensed, the young magician looks stunned. As realization hits her, along with that sweet heady rush of power, she falls to her knees "No, no, no…." she did not want this at all. "Take it back…"

-

Jericho isn't connected to every Illyana everywhen and everywhere. He's connected to this one right here. But he can sense the shift in Limbo's magic and knows, in this case, where it's going. Zee's sudden, fervent desire causes her armored form to appear in the room she'd left the other two (or three, depending on how you want to look at it). He looks up as she appears, kneeling on the bed beside the comatose Darkchilde. Wordlessly he looks over to the sword in her hands, and then to the sleeping blonde.

-

Seeing that sword in Zee's hands, in the hands of someone she doesn't know and trust… It doesn't matter that Zee's a friend of Jericho's (presumably). It wouldn't matter if she were a hero as well-known as Superman. Illyana's knee-jerk reaction is the sparkflash of anger.

Jericho can feel her hands tighten on him again. Can feel her reach for those dregs of power in him.. and then she brings herself under control. Her jaw works, but she holds onto that anger. Anger drives action, where grief is cripling to her. "Return the Soulsword to her." Illyana's voice is a bit hoarse, keeping herself on that edge.

-

Illyana's demand is really the answer to the question Zee would have asked. However, phrased as it was, with the power of ruling Limbo coursing through her, Zee meets Illyana's demand with a long moment of icy cold regard. Not Zatanna Zatara like at all.

Zee's struggle with surrendering the sword to the sleeping figure or fully accepting what has been thrust upon her, crosses her face as her hand clenches the hilt of the sword tightly.

Finally, to Zee it seems like a millenium, The Mistress of Magic looks down at the sleeping form and with an obvious force of will, places the sword in the figures hand. Her hand lingers on the hilt of the sword before being pulled back. "Is that what you wanted?" she whispers to the blonde.

-

There's another, much more palpable shift in Limbo's magic. A shuddering pulse runs through the ground, shaking the Citadel, the grounds and the surrounding Green as this Illyana's magic flows back into her and her breathing, formerly shallow and slow, suddenly becomes more regular. She takes a deep breath in… and her eyes snap open.

Jericho loops an arm under his Illyana and rises slowly. He's a bit shakey and utterly tapped at the moment. The movement on the bed makes him defensive as a flash of suspicion and possessiveness runs through him. His eyes narrow, but he doesn't say anything. Yet.

-

As the other Illyana draws a sudden deeper breath, the Illyana in Jericho's arms wipes at her eyes and works on pulling herself together visually too. She pushes herself up to her feet as Jericho stands, giving his shoulder a reassuring squeeze before she stands on her own.

-

Zee is still kneeling on the bed, her head bowed, hair falling forward, breathing deeply. Feeling the deep breath of the figure, she doesn't make to move and hasn't yet realised the 'here' Illyana's eyes are open.

-

Jericho takes a single step back to place himself slightly behind his Illyana and does his very best to ignore the voice in his head telling him to draw his blade. His eyes are simmering though, looking like molten pools of amber as he watches this realm's Mistress rise off the bed and glance at the sword in her hand, then Zatanna, then her double and Jericho. Her icy blue gaze sweeps over them all in a moment.

"Who are you?" She begins to say, mostly to Zatanna when her eyes pass over Jericho. She sucks in a breath. "What…" She finally says. "Have you done?" Confused as she is by the presence of people she doesn't recognize (one of whom is her) she's outright alarmed by the fact that not-her has a Familiar.

-

"Aside from the obvious?" Illyana notes with some of her usual sarcasm. No smirk, though. "We're in the wrong reality. We need to get back to ours, but my teleporting is on the fritz and my magic… well." Illyana glances to the Sword and then back to the other Illyana. "It's otherwise occupied."

The clear alarm over Jericho? Illyana just ignores that.

-

At the voice, Zee raises her head and pushes her hair back from her face as she looks to the now standing figure.

The response from 'her' Illyana has Zee blinking before she replies quietly "I found your sword and returned it you… it wasn't easy."

'Her' Illyana gets a small frown "My teleports out generally work, it's the ones on the way in that seem to fritz." she explains as she too, stands up from the bed.

-

This realm's Darkchilde now gives Zee a searching look. "You're not mine… so…" She looks around, her mouth sets into a thin hard line. If Illyana knows herself (Jericho certainly does) then it won't be hard to decipher what she's thinking. 'No one came for her.' She turns for a moment to look out the window over the green, sword bouncing in her hand as she considers everything. The arguement with her brother. The war. The desperate fight at the end, at the top of the Citadel. Her brother, still trying to wrest control of Limbo from her 'for her own good', but his eyes now gleaming with madness - his brotherly intentions long since corrupted. Her shoulders tense as it all comes back to her.

Jericho glances down at Illyana. He can guess what's going on. Whatever happened here wasn't good and she's considering it and what their arrival may mean.

-

Illyana glances over to Zatanna and arches a brow. "You confident in your reality hopping?" The blonde doesn't sound skeptical, she just doesn't know what kind of experience the teenager has. At least, not being much older than Zee she doesn't discount her because of her age.

Illyana looks back over to her doppelganger. "I'm taking a gamble, that the White magic that kept you going means that you'll help us get back to where we belong."

-

The searching look is returned and Zee shakes her head slightly "Not yours, no." She stands quietly as the woman thinks and considers.

'Her' Illyana's word have her turning and Zee gives a small shrug "It bought me here, and I've got back from Terra Icognito, as long as I have a strong image, I'm sure it will work." With an upnod to the other Illyana, Zee frowns slightly "But what about her, won't she need help here?"

-

The other Illyana finally turns and gives both Zee and her duplicate a searching look. "I can…" She says slowly. It's easy to see that this Darkchilde is… less in tune with the demon than the one Jericho knows. "But should I?" The question is leveled right at the hacker. His eyes glimmer and he's silent for a long moment before he nods.

The sorceress blows out a long sigh and shakes her head. "You would say that. I'm not going to ask you why you let her do that but…" Her blue gaze cuts up to Illyana. She is tempted to ask why she would do that.

"Help?" The laugh is a short bark, laced with bitterness. "What would you do?"

-

It's there on the tip of Illyana's tongue to answer her other self with words that would likely twist the knife. That there's a version of herself out there that would gladly, gleefully lay claim to the soul of another human being. But she bites it back.

"I can't stay here." Illyana points out. "This isn't my time. Isn't my place. Sooner or later the fact that there is two of us will catch up to us. Not only that…" Illyana reaches up and fishes out the fine golden chain around her neck and tugs out the medallion that hides there. A press of her thumb and it pops open with its three Bloodstones in it. "Two plus three…"

The blonde tilts her head towards Zatanna. "Sounds like Fishnets can get us out. But you should definitely let us go."

-

Zee looks to 'her' Illyana "Don't let the costume fool you, I'm no idiot, it's Zatanna or Zee." It's softly spoken with a trace of steel underlying it, similar to the tone used with Fenris and Constantine not so long ago. "If you want me to try and get us back, I'll try, but don't do that." Anything the raven-haired woman is about to say to the other Illyana is cut short as the medallion is produced. "What is that?"

-

"Bloodstone medallion." Jericho answers without explaining what Bloodstones are. Illyana might explain, one of them, if Zee doesn't already know. It's bad though. If all five of those things are filled.

The medallion is a lock, and the Bloodstones are the key. And creating them is bad on two levels. One of which matters a lot more to Jericho.

Other Illyana looks flatly at the other medallion. Three Bloodstones. Well that does explain a few things. She cants her head ever so slightly as she considers and finally nods almost impreciptibly. "I can do you one better. Here." She reverses the sword and offers it to the other sorceress. Honestly how bad can she be? Well, bad, to be sure, but she hasn't tried to kill her or let the elder gods out yet so… "Between the two of you, you should at least be able to get back to your version of Limbo."

-

Illyana's lips quirk, briefly, as Zee objects to the nickname. There's the barest nod of the head given which… might be acknowledging the objection or might be aceeding to the demand. Hard to tell which.

When the sword is offered over, Illyana accepts it without hesitation or reservation. It's like having a missing part of herself back. Which is… kind of what it is, really. Reality seems to shift slightly. Nothing so simple as visual changes, but like the world suddenly turned two degrees.

Illyana's blue gaze stays steady on the other sorceress though. "What about you?" Giving up the sword, she could try to go back to being just a girl. A mutant girl, likely but just a girl. The touch of the demonic would always linger, but without living in Limbo, she could mostly free herself of it.

-

Swords, demons, bloodstones… all stuff Zee will have to research but for now the young magician looks between the Illyana's as things shift slightly. Canting her head towards the 'new' Illyana, she waits in silence for the answer.

-

Other Illyana turns away. Her other self may recognize the 'I'm not showing weakness in front of strangers' mannerisms. Even if one of them happens to be herself. "Someone has to keep an eye on the inmates. I'll be fine. Once you're gone the sword does it's 'everywhere, everywhen' trick and I'll be able to get it again." But she won't have to. She'll have a choice.

She looks over to Zee. Wants to ask what Zee would do in that situation but… doesn't."

Jericho looks to Zee. "With Illyana in control of Limbo's magic, getting out shouldn't be a problem." He hopes.

-

Illyana watches the other her turn away. Watches the careful quietness about her. She glances back to Jericho, her hand with the sword settling at her side with a comfortable ease. She's quiet herself for long moments and then finally nods. "Alright." She says softly. Then with more conviction. "Alright then. Think of home, and let's click our heels together three times, shall we?"

Illyana reaches for her magic. Not the resivoir that lies in Jericho that's painfully low. She reaches for her Black magic. For Limbo's magic. It fills her in an addicting rush and her eyes burn white with power. She steps forward, lifting one hand and Reality seems to inhale… then twist. A hole tears itself open, only the edges seemingly visible. Until one notices as they look through it that things aren't… quite the same through that hole. It's the same room but subtly different.

Illyana-with-the-sword looks back at the other blonde. It's not like she can say 'come with us.' Instead, she finally says: "Hang in there." It's not said cheerily, or with hope. It's almost a demand.

-

The look for other Illyana isn't lost on Zee and she considers the power the sword and the armour bestowed upon her, Zee frowns as she chews her bottom lip.

The magic used to open the portal causes Zee to shiver and she casts a strange look between it and Illyana before focussing back on the other woman "Do you have to stay her, why not come with us? I mean, she can right?" The last asked of Illyana and Jericho.

-

Jericho shakes his head, almost imperceptibly. Maybe, if you really know him, a bit sadly. "No. Same problem as if we stayed here. Five stones is bad and the fact that there would be two… also potentially bad." He looks back at the other Darkchilde and blows out a long sigh. There's not much else he can add. Does it get better? He's got no idea. "You can make it." Is all he finally says and motions for Zee to go through. He'll follow and let his Illyana conclude her business here.

This realms Illyana snorts at Jericho and nods to Illyana. "I will. I have to."

-

Illyana nods Zee through and lets Jericho go through before turning back to… well, herself. "Yeah… Yeah I know how that is." The white fades away, leaving normal blue eyes and with the other two gone on ahead they hold a quiet sadness. But she doesn't offer any more words. She knows all too well just how unlikely a happy ending is for the other woman. For herself as well.

-

Zee looks to the Other Illyana and back to the other two, and with sad shrug says quietly "I wish there was something I could do…" and then steps into the portal.

-

Limbo doesn't tell happy stories. Jericho knows that much. Or if it does, it makes you pay for what little it gives in blood, sweat and bitter tears. "I do too. I did for my Illyana also." He's not sure he found a way. But he's found something. "It's… just the way it is Zatanna."

He looks up at Illyana as she crosses over and the portal shuts. "Not every story ends happily."


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