1963-08-04 - By the Deep Blue Sea
Summary: In the aftermath of a visit to Muspelheim, a girls' night out.
Related: None
Theme Song: Nero - Into the Past
illyana rogue 

Now the fiery cat's out of the infernal bag, the scarlet-tressed bohemian takes a little R&R far away from any flammable items. She squarely notified anyone involved with Ferris Louis' Day Off where they might find her, and promptly vanished off to Long Island near one of the quieter beaches not overrun by a thousand tourists or Gatsby's cousins. Sensible decisions put her entirely at the mercy of the sky and the sea, two elements well disposed to the flawed prodigal daughter of the Norns. Central Park, too tempting with all its trees. Anywhere near an Asgardian, much too risky for reasons beyond the obvious.

Thus she stands in the surf surging up to her thighs, churning her long dress to spindrift and soaked, semi-transparent linen. A steady breeze churns off the rocky spit giving the cove she occupies some privacy, though the bight isn't much wider than twenty feet. Someone walking along the beach path intending to get down to a more hospitable part of the rocky shore need only crest a mossy knob to find her standing there, worshipping the sun, and naught to join her except one intrepid seal splashing around in the shallows.

Brine coats the air, kicked up by the waves thick with oxygen and the dissolved minerals found in all seawater. The strand isn't much sand, and previous occupation disrupts a sense of untouched nature: a few pieces of driftwood are around the remains of a beach campfire.

She raises her hands to the sky and pays homage to a distant father, her foot pressed to her calf, the dramatic lines of her figure unimpressive except they are so very different from what most Americans know. This isn't casual yoga: she is a practitioner as serious as a martial artist is to their kata, and lets the energy of ninefold realms proverbially flow through her. It's the only way she knows how to apologize.


It takes Illyana a few tries to find Rogue. The raw crackling energy of Muspelheim is in the redhead now— a scent like brimstone to the magically inclined. But as unfamiliar as she was with the city (and, she found, /hating/ crowds), Illyana needed to do more than just beat feet to get to the redhead's position.

So, portal stones. Which had led to a very confused old lady near Bristol, a surprised pack of street performers near Staten Island, and then a very brief purple-misted pop into a women's locker room at the YMCA on 12th.

Then Illyana had dialed it in, and appeared a hundred yards off from Scarlett. Enough at least to decide to trudge the last distance. Still wearing that yellow skirt and vest ensemble, she looks more like she escaped from a dance troupe than anything else, particularly lacking a weapon or a purse or the like. Trudge, trudge, trudge.

"Hey. Red. You, with the… face." Illyana stands right on the edge of the high water line for the tide, calling over the water to Rogue. She beckons at the redhead. "Come here, will you please?" she asks. Her tone's a bit blunt, and her English is… decidedly Slavic-accented.

Someone really should mention to her the dangers of a thick Russian accent. She's preparing to raise her voice to call to Rogue again when she stops, really /stops/, and looks at the ocean. Her jaw slacks and her eyes go wide, big blue saucers.

"Oh… bozhe moi," she gasps, backing up a pace from the sheer /grandeur/ of all of it.


Someone really ought to warn her about the dangers of calling people by obvious descriptors, and demanding people do things. In this particular Republic, the denizens tend to take badly to being bossed around by anyone who isn't a bald eagle or a man in a tophat shooting semi-automatic guns, riding a velociraptor with eagle wings and laser eyes.

The voice reaching her over the hissing susurrus of water seething among rounded boulders causes a mild adjustment. The waves actually help keep Scarlett standing, her heel driven down into the sand, and twisting her torso slightly towards her left hip allows her to centre upon the source of that voice. A mustard refugee from the banquet dance hall line warrants a faint smile, a dip beyond her usual polite expression.

If anything, under the current circumstances she seems less a creature of the living world, fallen from the otherworld and calling to her missing kin. Tiny eddies form around the marble columns of her legs, breaking in long trails all the way to the ragged curtain of water gathered on the cove's floor.

It might be she understands the response as Illyana witnesses the Atlantic in its unrestrained fury. Next stop, northern Morocco.

As appreciative expressions go, hers is diaphanous and ephemeral to the utmost. Still, those eyes are almost too intense a green rather than bleeding the hue of magma and a fire opal's incarnate dreams no longer tinge her. Much. The slight iridescence to her skin on a magical spectrum is there, proof the lingering effects haven't entirely dissipated from the soul thief.

"Quite a panorama to absorb," serves as greeting. "Take your time. I understand the impact seeing it for the first few times."


If Scarlett's some sort of elemental— caught between this world and the world of earth and water— then Illyana's a stranger twice removed. She scoots her toes back from a menacing lap of water that edges towards her new boots, as if afraid the brine will eat her toes away.

For all Scarlett knows, maybe that's how water works in Limbo.

The blonde girl stares at the water and the tide and the lowering of the sun, yellow spilling into orange and red, and fights an errant tendril of straggly blonde hair that seems hellbent on slapping her in the face. She doesn't seem to mind— it keeps landing in her mouth, and she keeps pulling it out of the way.

Finally, she realizes Scarlett's talking to her, and her blue eyes shift from the water to the redhead. "Oh, uh… yeah. Never… seen this. Before," Illyana admits, a bit wonderously. "It's…"

"Big," she concludes, lamely.


Water still frightens the locals when its moods churn, and a realm of demons and terrors beyond human ken adds another dimension again to the habitual fears.

Scarlett lowers her foot to the ground, allowing her toes to curl through the dragging wave action that rubs down the shoreline and devours the broad coastal plain bit by bit. In time it will consume its way inland, and erase the traces of humanity under chronic erosion. For now, hanging suspended on a threshold between realms suits her very well.

Still, she turns. A retreat towards the littoral zone happens rather easily, as though she might have something to worry about displacing the water or avoiding the knocking effects of waves perishing by the gallon on the stones licked smooth. Her skirt immediately drops in a sodden handkerchief, points hung around her knees and sticking to her calves.

"Very big, but more manageable when you face north or south. Having the land for scale might help." She gestures gracefully towards the ragged line of beachfront homes and fenced in properties, a stake claimed by all the would be wealthy families not quite good enough on the social ladder to aspire higher. "I apologize we were unable to speak earlier, though it wasn't quite a social visit."

A Muspelheim tea party is absolutely something she would consider, though. Bookmark that idea.

"Thank you for your assistance, however. You and the other gentleman were not taken too badly by surprise, I hope?" The question isn't mere nicety. She means it.


Illyana turns to her left, then her right, casting around. Her arms hang at her sides, and she's visibly more than a little confused. North and south are words she understands, words that Strange's magic translate for her— and words that have no personal context, no /relevance/ to her. Illyana's looking for a literal compass rose hanging in the sky.

Then, Scarlett is striding through the water towards Illyana, and the petite blonde turns her hard focus onto the redhead, but her pride takes a small ding when Scarlett strides up and Illyana has to look up at her. Just a little. Being short sucks.

"I'm fine. Strange is fine. Mad at me because I accidentally banished him to Limbo," she says, jerking a thumb over her shoulder. "He'll get over it." She gives Scarlett an unapologetic once-over, head to toe. "I didn't get your name. What were you doing there?" Well, so much for diplomacy.


Scarlett gets all the genetic breaks, including the literally broken genetic code that hungers to devour all sentience, the sort of anti-Phoenix you never want to introduce to your friends or enemies. If height compensates for an absolute lack of connection to people, is that fair compensation?

"Scarlett. I introduced myself before we were called to action. And yourself, ma'am?" Manners rule, and the young woman does not offer her dripping hand but instead inclines her head in a measure of politeness carried through her body. It matters little she's wearing a dripping wet dress, standing off the shore of Long Island. She carries herself with an unconscious sense of poise.

"I was part of a diplomatic team attempting to prevent open hostilities," she explains simply enough, not mincing words and not giving a straight answer. It may well be she cannot. "As a danger appears imminent, we needed to parlay if we could with the opposing side. It appears they were in no mood to negotiate. You conducted yourself very well, though I doubt they will forget anytime soon the dangers of a blonde woman." Is that an impressed tone. Not quite. But respectful of talent, without fail. "I hope they do not target you as a result. Nor the gentleman, for all he was apparently an unwilling noncombatant."


Illyana snorts. "Yeah, he's kind of a tall drink of muddy water," she agrees, with that heavy Slavic accent. The lanky blonde kicks at the water with one toe, looking a bit shellshocked still. It's just so… endless.

"Scarlett. Right." She looks Rogue up and down. "I can see that," she concedes.

"The Fire Giants came to my home once before. They're tough enough when it's neutral ground, but I don't think they've what it takes to be a threat to me on my home ground. If they do, I'm more than prepared to see if Fire Giants can burn." She flexes her fingers pointedly. "But they're big and strong, but not smart or quick. That's an advantage to me." She gives Rogue a look. "Not you, though. I saw how hard you hit that captain. That wasn't all magic, either. I could feel it."


The very notion that Doctor Strange, man of mysterious garments, got flung into Limbo by accident has not been lost, to say the least. A bookmark to make later. "Feel free to poke a toe in if you wish, or splash about. You cannot possibly soak me worse than I soaked myself, I think, and the temperature is so warm right now, the evaporation will be a welcome thing."

A simmering measure of amusement still teases along her full lips, kept in check as a contingency against the haunted psyche whispering from the abyss to speak of fire and revenge, belligerence and hunger. Fire always hungers. The appetiite to consume will never cease, a flawed division of the elements, but then it likewise seeks to create and conjure.

"The eldjotnar provide a definite threat to us. Have you expected they will invade your home again?" Her head tips, a wave of copper burnished by the low light of the sun comes almost alive, though nothing akin to the heat shimmer that literally shed sparks and a hellfire glow in a ruinous realm. "They make few allies, but such is not their way. Martial bearing and the desire to test themselves against sharper, harder whetstones, that is how their culture operates, and the weaknesses must be purged out by forging themselves harder and better. You might find them too eager to test the boundaries. What doesn't kill them makes them stronger?" The phraes turns up in a question at the end, lingering as though she is uncertain of whether that quite makes sense. "You did comport yourself quite magnificently. I haven't ever seen a woman fight with a blade that proportional to her own height, and nor one that changed. It was possible to follow some of your guards and cuts, but beyond that all looked like a choreographed dance." Of death, no less. "A lack of intelligence on part of an eldjotnar is no advantage for me?" Her eyebrows wing together, settling in a fine line. "Truth told, intelligence is all I have to evade them where I can."


Rogue has partially disconnected.


Illyana doesn't dither for long before sitting down and removing her boots. Bare toed and clad in her skinny tights, she wriggles her feet a few times and then pads over the stones into the sand.

She 'eeks!' at the first lap of water, dancing, then shivers and plunges into the water up to her ankles. With a determined stride she wades out to Rogue, the ocean up to her scrawy knees, and looks at the redhead.

Up at the redhead. Illyana sighs, finding one more person she's shorter than. Again. "They're welcome to show up. I killed Belasco… I don't know, I guess you'd call it a few weeks ago?" she tells Scarlett. "Time's funny in Limbo. But the day after he perished, Kazzol the Grey decided he wanted my new home. I met him at the door and we had a conversation. Then, he was dead and I had a new summer palace." She quirks her lips. "Well, we don't have summer," she amends, "but you get the idea."

She reaches out and without asking, tugs on Rogue's dress, examining the material curiously. "How many clothes do you have?" she asks the redhead woman. "I've the one dress and I thought that's all I needed. But everyone here has lots of different clothes."


The water churns over the largely stony shore. The lack of sand makes for a rather rocky approach into the shallows, and a clump or two of seaweed clings like a maiden's hair beneath the water to rounded boulders. Surf flies up where the oceanic crests descend upon slope, clashing upon the knobs of the bedrock yet emerging to defy the Atlantic a moment longer.

Unable to help it, Scarlett laughs at the initial eek. She steps back into the water, her long and sopping dress hanging like a handkerchief from her waist, clinging to dancer's legs. The translucent fabric is a linen finely spun, Egyptian, and turquoise in shade. "You have the gist of it. Well done!"

The definition lingers, of course, and she pauses, holding up a finger. "Belasco? Limbo? Kazzol? Names, ma'am, that confuse me somewhat. Limbo the plane of a temporary pause, separated from the upper realms and the underworld, the 'limbus'? Or something more akin to Hades, I suppose? I cannot imagine you mean that it's help up helplessly."

Her fingers sketch a gentle circle, and she tips forward from the waist a fraction. "Apologies, ma'am, if these questions are not proper. I am still learning the etiquette speaking of them among enlightened company."

For the question, an answer: "Far too many. Clothes are a form of self-expression and we are expected to wear them to match our social class, the season, the events we attend."

Illyana stares equally blankly at Rogue when she endeavours to try and categorize Limbo. The individual words make sense, but the precise spatial arrangement of Rogue's understanding of cosmology jars against Illyana's.

"It's… I have no idea," Illyana says, finally. "I just know how to get there. It might be Hades, but I know we don't call it that where I'm from." She seems to imply she's /from/ Limbo, which is… odd?

She examines Rogue's dress again, something atavistic working on her cornflower blue eyes. "Hmm. It's… I think that's kind of… nice," she says, struggling a bit for the word. She lands on the right one, and seems as surprised as anyone else to hear herself make a compliment.

"So I feel like we kind of… um… didn't get along," Illyana says, struggling a bit with the proper words. Her heavy Slavic accent comes through in her uncertainty. "I mean, afterwards. You were all glowing, and then your… companion," she says, neutrally, "sort of… well." Rogue was there, after all.

"But you seemed kind enough. A little weird," the walking blonde weirdness says, "but nice. So I thought I'd— I mean. I thought I'd try to say hello." She gives Rogue an utterly unreadable look, face inscrutable.


"Limbo is not here, then, but somewhere separate that somehow links here." The question is one that Scarlett asks cautiously in her attempts to arrange temporo-spatial knowledge to something vaguely common to both of their languages even if they happen to be English speakers. One possibly by spell, the other by apparent birth.

"How do you travel between here and there, if I may ask? Physical gates or willing yourself there? I wouldn't wish to trip over a rock into a sacred pool and be lost." Apparently this may be something that happens enough for her to contemplate the possibility of it. Her fingers coil around the edge of her damp cyan skirt, flapping the hem with a flag snap that sends a line of water sprinkling into the heaving, otherwise quiescent sea.

The compliment registers, and she smiles, one of those dreamy creations softened all the more by the gentle light around them. Far from harsh, it rounds contours and blushes shadows in great sweeps of a brush, taking away the stark lines. "You were taken by surprise after a hostile engagement in a foreign realm. Afterwards my boyfriend took you by surprise, and my own state disquieted you enough to compound what naturally must have left you uncertain." Her own opinion on glowing and sucking the life from an eldjotnar cannot be traced from her voice, turned towards a polite register.

She tips her head slightly. "Truly I don't wish you to be ill at ease. Is there anything I can do to ease your mind?"


"Fearwine?" The closest approximation phonetically gives Scarlett pause. She tips her head slightly. "They sound rather akin to dwarves, less like the huldra. Upholding the gateways and the subterranean paths of the world, they shrink beneath the weight and gain great density. In some places, stone pillars were thought to be the eldest and would grant insight if you spoke to them aright." Full of odd lore, her.

Her mouth curves up as the surf plies over her feet, carrying flotsam closer to shore among chipped, cloudy glass and rocks, speckled kelp, and the odd wave of suspended sand. "I saw how you held your own against the eldjotnar — the fire giants. Knowing that, how could you not earn at least a measure of my respect? Soldiers and warriors are not always known for being diplomatic or mincing words. It can be refreshing."

Probably the more so when her head rings with a hundred voices at certain hours. She sweeps her foot through the water, drawing a pendulum arc. "The man with you, the one whom ended up accidentally sent back. Were you leading him to Muspelheim or the other way around? I hope there should be no difficulties for you there. Perhaps you sought something? I can tell you the patrol schedules for the next few… Days don't quite pass as days there."


"Oh— not really," Illyana says, nonchalantly. "I mean, sort of. I mean, y'know— I don't /technically/ know the way there. He opened the gate. I have to go somewhere first before I can get there again, otherwise it's a dice roll. I know enough of Muspelheim to arrive there, but it's a big world and we might have ended up a continent away."

"He's fine, though, he can get himself home safe. I mean, I'm pretty sure he can. He's a sorceror. Like… a powerful one."

"…Mostly pretty sure," she amends, shifting a little.


Her gaze tips slightly, lifted through the shimmer of her copper lashes. A hint of a smile touches Scarlett's lips, and the harmonic imbalance is met with a laugh. "Is everyone about here a sorcerer, and I am merely late coming to the studies? He opened the way, you can leap through, and…"

Running her hand through her fiery hair, the young woman dashes her tresses away and the merest hint of actual flame starts to dance on the edges. A look shot at the rippling ends conjures up a sigh, and the wrinkle of her nose might indicate a measure of dismay at the appearance. "Such I have tried to control this, it remains stubbornly resistant to easy manipulation or suppression. I do not know precisely what it requires other than focus of will to control the elements, yet."

A frank admission given by the bohemian follows as twin faint sparks light in her pupils and fade. Almost out of reflex, she withdraws deeper into the intoxicating brew of air and water churning up in the tiny cove.


Illyana shrugs. "I guess I am. I mean, I didn't set out to be. I learned a lot of it from Belasco. The old bastard decided I needed to know enough sorcery not to get killed, and he took a real pleasure in teaching me just enough to not be a threat to him. A friend of mine helped me fill in the gaps, and then when we were on an equal footing, I struck him down with my sword. Then I went to work with a knife." Her eyes flash hot with remembered vengeance, lips curling in a bitter smile. "Takes a long time to die when the clocks don't run properly."

She looks at Rogue's curling, literally fiery mane, and absently rubs her toes against the back of her opposite calf. "Uh, I can probably help with… some of that," she says, gesturing with a flicking palm at Rogue's hair. "You're absolutely leaking ambient energy everywhere. You've got more absorbed than you're able to handle. I might be able to just um… whack off the extra bits. Won't hurt," she promises.

"I mean, shouldn't hurt."



Belasco, another name. A person or thing from Limbo. Teacher to the woman. These are connections Scarlett makes in height and breadth and depth much beyond what meets the eye. Patterns take manifold shape when she attempts to link the limited measure of her knowledge. What might be sifted out of the dross in search of gold, she needs patience and experience to muster. "You are lucky to have such a friend. They can make all the difference between success or failure, and life or death in this case." Ambient thoughts linger upon that point, vengeance meeting the endless soft mist of acceptance.

If murder is meant to disquiet her, it doesn't. Then she burns with Muspelheim's borrowed flame, seized of a splatter art giant reduced to nothing by a god's pique.

The very soft arc of a smile painted over her face holds a measure of eternal sadness. "On the contrary, I have absorbed near not enough. Where I efficiently place the energy longing for release is rather the problem, and it keeps popping free from the lid. Not the natural energy for me to manipulate, I think."

Because you can't just say 'I eat souls and your sword is my second cousin, could we have a chat?' Her smile fades a fraction. "Not much hurts me anymore. Do as you would, if you should be kind enough to tell me what needs to be done."

Go for it.


Illyana frowns at Scarlett, but reaches for the air. Her Soulsword responds to the summons, manifesting in her fingers and glimmering with argent and amethyst energy.

"I can't explain it well," Illyana admits. "I don't have the words. I just know how to do it." She moves towards Rogue, letting the woman see she has no menacing intent, and waves the sword near Rogue's shoulder. That sensation is a familiar one— something that exists only to consume. A negative vacuum that sucks all energy into it. Even passively, standing just near Rogue, her internal magics are tugged towards that eldritch weapon.

"Just a touch," Illyana says, and lays the flat of the blade against Rogue's shoulder, at a spot where the energies inside the girl are in most violent conflict. Just enough to relieve a bit of the bubbling pressure within.


"You learned somehow, surely?"

No. Apparently she did not, and the outward shift of the sword from hammerspace leaves a widening of those verdant green eyes. Scarlett does not jerk away or start to radiate a dangerous amount of energy, though her folded aura writhes and hisses with a flaming intensity out of sight.

Freezing cold burns through the distance as that dangerous artifact could well threaten her very existence. Every sense aligns, honed to a single point. A thought ricochets around her, fine beam shot through ether though ears may not hear, a habit found by instinct. Naught would ripple to betray its existence but it remains, there, a note of shining intent.

Ice dwindles into her veins, meeting the flames, and the everlasting void no doubt lashes out in hopes of singing for something. Instead the two forces align and forge a new ribbon, biting into the flames and guttering them, drinking down what she might offer.

Illyana's careful, and her fask is a mask of dreadful concentration. Just taking off the rough edges, literally— draining that overpressure of energies exceeding Rogue's control. The woman is no slave to that weapon, though, it responds to her will as much as touch. She turns the spigot down to the merest of trickles, and positions herself so Rogue can easily step away if she needs to.

There is no tenderness in that embrace— the weapon exists simply to consume, and does not reward for creating emptiness.

After a long few seconds Illyana steps back, flicking the sword behind her non-threateningly. "Is that… better?" she asks, a bit guardedly.


Power leached away from her is such a reversal that the redhead clutches her upper arms and watches, dimly observant to the matters internal and vehemently aware of the inverted draw. Eventually she draws back a step, resilience of discipline and will tested, even as Illyana slips the sword out of the way and threatens no more.

Her breath is pulled in and out without great difficulty, the shiver lifting gooseflesh along her arms and bare legs in the water. An idle bit of chafing reduces the discomfort of her piqued senses, the roar of her nervous system thrown directly in opposition for the heat that once sustained her and still burns in a sustained ember, awaiting the next opportunity. Rhythmic breathing eases her way, at least,

"Hell's bells. That could be described as among the more effective uses of a sword, and most certainly unique. Yes. I am well." Her shoulders flex again, as though she tests range of motion. "Thank you. I appreciate the release from the worst of it."


"It's not really a sword," Illyana admits. "It's… I don't know. I just reached for a weapon one day, and I felt light in my hands. I knew I needed a weapon, and it became a sword. I can make it anything, really, it's just… y'know." She waves the blade in the air, which is apparently completely weightlessly. "Sword."

Well, there's a world of definition in that— swords are a fundamentally offensive tool.

"It eats magic. I cut Belasco down and took his power. S'ym, too, the bastard who tortured me for years. He's still in a giant wasp nest, I haven't decided he's done being hurt for that."

"But it's not really for classical applications of swording. Just for eating magic." The last of the fire trickling from Rogue vanishes into the blade, and it resumes its argent, violet hue.


Scarlett tips her head and murmurs, "You?" An interjection of a sort, a guess. An extrapolation she makes without much to go by except her own skill to derive upon. "I have heard of such things. Need delivered what must come forth, giving the shape anticipated or conjured. I am a poor one to speak of these things, though, for my expertise is far less than yours."

It's probably a safe measure to go by, even if they are absolute strangers upon that field. "It is something of beauty in its way, though I do not think anyone will forget the effect had they seen you whirling, a death wind, descending upon Muspelheim." For nicety's sake, she could end there. A compliment, a whisper, a charged set of words.

But she doesn't. Not quite." What draws you here, if you are liege of another realm?"


Illyana purses her lips, thinking. Staring at Scarlett. The woman is, still.. an ally of that overdressed drama queen. But, she's nice enough.

"I was taken there, when I was a child," Illyana says. "I was raised as a slave. Less than a slave. Belasco used me to advance his personal power, as a … plaything. As a tool," he says, eyes hard and flinty. "Once I cast him down, I spent some time securing my power base. I had to kill a lot of demons before the rest got in line, then I had to campaign near my home to roust out everyone who thought with Belasco dead, the castle was undefended. Once my home was safe, and secure, I decided I should return to Earth and find any family who might still live."

She exhales. "They were dead. Belasco had killed them. Sort of a last laugh, I suppose. That's when Strange found me. Told me I had a lot to learn about magic. He's… strong. Very strong. I decided learning some more magic was a better idea than seeing who'd come out the other side alive in a fight, and … that's that."
To be continued.

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