1963-10-09 - The Path of Least Resistance
Summary: A slightly battered Jillian is discovered by an entirely care-free Louis. Not everything here is as it seems.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
louis jillian 


Central Park has been a focal point of late. So many troubles, so many transgressions. It has seen demons burst forth from a lake, gateways opening and closing, heroes gathering to leap across the worlds in an effort to save others. Even, of late, it has had a proper gateway to a lower dimension and matters don't seem to be letting it up. For most that is a matter of immediate concern, so many hurried conferences have been held, worried plans of attack. Yet, for the man now titled 'Protector of Midgard', he's been taking it rather well.

It's around that very same lake that a mass of harpies had emerged from that he wanders, footsteps light with his hands linked at the small of his back. Oh he can feel the ebb and flow of the magic around this area, and it is disturbing. Yet for him he is fairly at ease. A hand lifts to lightly make a rune in the air, a rune that flutter away and settles in the water, then disappears under the surface of water, even as rain droplets begin to disrupt the peace of it all.

For a moment the walker's brow furrows, his head turning to the side as if he heard something so distant and his eyes seek whatever it could be.

*

The lone walker's ears don't deceive him, for a sound has been made. Elsewhere within the quarantined section of the city one of the uniformed men has made the mistake of becoming separated from the proverbial herd. The sounds which follow include a muffled *snap!* and the subtle whoosh of displaced air beneath large wings.

Jillian is on the hunt. She has suffered recent injury, though there are easy ways in which she can begin to treat such wounds. Much like the stories of vampires all it takes is a host, alive or dead matters little to her, and a moment to ingest their blood.

The officer in question has seen better days, his head rolling around with what is clearly a badly broken neck. This just makes it easier to get her teeth into his skin after pulling her partial mask away, the glow of her eyes reduced to tiny golden slits from within the ragged looking trees as she takes what she desires of the removed man.

And watches… Openly using magic is a good way to draw her attention, and this man..? He's got it. Something seems..most peculiar about him.

*

Wending their way through the world, some beings can definitely detect the ripples projected by beings with a magical nature. There can be an almost palpable sense to them, a taste, a smell. It would be difficult to explain to those who are ignorant of such things. How does one describe a color to those born blind? Yet even as she may be able to discern such, that being there is different. There is a potential in his power, like a spring wound too taut and left ready and primed. Yet when one perceives him directly… that sense of power fades, as if seeking to understand it as best one can leads it to slipping away ephemerally.

Whatever his nature, however, he is very real. His footsteps make faint clicks of sound upon the sidewalk. His breath is warm and in the faint chill of the evening causes that subtle flare of steam. And when his eyes shift over towards the creature that draws the ichor of life from her victim, the flaring of his eyebrow and the small wry smile might speak entirely of something unimagined for that reaction is not typical for the mortals of this realm.

What might be even more surprising, however, is when he turns his feet to lead him towards her.

*

The way that the Neyaphem perches with her prey is not unlike a territorial cat, staring in silence at this other being and watching his every move while she remains largely motionless, guarded, and suspicious. It isn't long until the blood starts to flow freely from the man's ruined neck, either she didn't require much of it or she's managed to become so distracted that her meal has been forgotten.

Probably the former, as she simply lets go of the body and allows gravity to carry it away from herself. Her demeanor doesn't improve any, quietly drawing backward into the tree where the shadows themselves seem to step forward and surround her, blurring the outline of the indigo-hued creature within. She has some control over the gloom, either it responds to her or she is capable of melding herself into it.

The eyes, though… They remain.
"I have had my fill of Outlanders today," she announces in a low-pitched tone. Though rather than threaten the other person away, it's that peculiar shifting sense of power and the manner in which he carries himself which suggests she try a different approach.

"Approach with caution, for I am in no mood for tricks."

*

"It takes a curious individual to travel through a gate and accost the locals, then to proclaim them outlanders." Louis looks like most any of the others that dwell in this realm. A little taller perhaps, more angular, and that smile is a strange thing. But that suit he wears, albeit well-tailored, is not out of the ordinary. Yet his manner is self-assured, though a touch curious as he shifts his weight to the other foot. With arms folded over his chest he lifts his voice, "Have your meal, or don't. It makes little nevermind to me."

He uncurls a hand towards her, palm up as he gestures. "Tell me, young lady. From whence you hail and why you trespass so? Clearly this is not a path you would set foot to on your own choosing."

*

"You are not of the others in this realm," Jillian declares with a voice gone cold. "Your body stands easy upon the land but your energy flows with an unusual current. I do not believe you." Frankly there's something about him which reminds her of the other 'Outlanders' she just had an encounter with. Possibly because it's easier to lump everyone unusual into the same broad category, she's not skilled enough to get any more specific of a 'read' on them.

With this other man yet approaching she no longer retreats into the darkness, instead shifting forward and quietly dropping from the tree to stand her ground in a more literal sense. Within one hand is an impressive looking glaive, not kept battle-ready but something which she is clearly very comfortable with. "It can rot. I desired that creature's energy, nothing more."

Then things get a little more interesting. The Neyaphem's head dips forward, her stare holding firm. "Your belief is incorrect. I am here because it is where I wish to be. Where I have come from no longer matters, I shall be pressed into servitude no more."

It can't be the first time an Infernal has decided they don't like being pushed around by a stronger Infernal. The demonic pecking order tends to get rather literal in its translation.

*

"That is a lovely sentiment, is it not?" Louis seems to show no fear as he stands before her. Those green eyes of his, now those do stand out, now that they stand all the closer together. There's something alive in them, something from the smile that reaches them, perhaps crinkling the corners with a hint of mirth. It could also be the brilliant emerald sheen that has a hint of the otherworldly, and a shade that matches the tie he wears.

Turning his head to the side, a fingertip lifts to scritch at the stubble along the curve of his chin."Freedom, I mean. I didn't know your ilk pursued such. That community was all, proper place, proper pecking order. So lovely to find one can learn something new after all these years."

He rests his hands upon his hips then and asks of her, "Who then, if not your overseer, do you owe your loyalty to? And if you have broken your bonds, what spurred you so? I know I am rather curious and nosey, but I figure you have naught to lose. And perhaps you will make me your second meal, and thus you have no reason to deny knowledge to one you may well kill later."

*

The idea of a 'charismatic draw' tends not to work on the Hell-bound, not unless they're the ones possessing such a talent, but this man standing before her… She can't get a read on him, perhaps because there is simply too much to read. His draw is less of beauty and more of curiosity. Mystery. Now that he stands still it is Jillian whom steps forward, to the point of pacing a slow circle right around him if he continues to stand there.

"Some of us do," she cautiously admits. "Most do not have a desire strong enough to pursue it, as the cost of failure becomes more than they can afford. Still, many of us share the same desires. Power. Revenge. To strip the freedom away from those above us and ..as they say, 'turn the tables.'"

Coming to stand in front of him once more, the heavy glaive held like a simple walking stick, she states "One whom is very much alive, and not bound to be pleased with my undeclared absence. My desire was strong, though it does not mean that I can also afford the failure."

Translation: She's in deep shit if she gets found.

"My 'overseer' may rot, as well. I only wish to see him again once I am able to rip out his throat before his own army."

This creature, she be power-trippin.'

*

A small wry smile meets her, even as he stands there unmoving. When she circles he merely turns his head to the side, gaze following her, and then when she reaches the other side he turns his head that way as well. "There is something refreshing about your primal abandon, I should spend more time speaking with those from other realms."

Louis touches fingertips to his chest in way of introduction as he murmurs, "I am known as Louis King, a teacher of sorts in these parts though I have been known by other names amongst other beings. Yet what matters such between two newly met travelers?" He steps towards her, just a step as his nostrils flare slightly taking in the scent of the abyss.

"So you are in flight as it were, in rebellion, fleeing reprisal while seeking revenge. Is this the extent of your plans or have you more?"

*

Is that..a compliment..? "It has served my needs well," Jillian says with an increase in confidence. 'Primal abandon'… Certainly when comparing her behavior to everyone else's around this place.

With his introduction, and one more step closer, the sense of curiosity within her solid yellow eyes returns. More so than caution. This 'Louis' seems much more ..amused by her story than looking to overturn everything she has worked toward. And, magic or no magic, she's still holding the only obvious weapon here.

"I am Jillian, and now..you are correct in your belief. It is within this realm which I find sanctuary, resources, and the opportunity I require to grow in strength. Magic is rare to these lands, yet still it desperately latches on in the most peculiar of places, yearning to be discovered and returned to its true purpose. I wish to find such artifacts, so that they might speak freely once more as they come to serve me. One does not challenge and defeat the General of a dark army by merely stepping upon his toes."

That..might have been an attempt at humor..!

"And what of you and your interest in my desires, Scholar? You do not seem to wish a return of balance to the Gateway." As in, not looking for a reason to kick her back into the hole. "You hold no parchment to record your discoveries. What are -you- searching for, I wonder…"

*

"Ah, as to that." Louis turns his head to the side, standing shoulder to shoulder with her as he looks towards the central lake there in the middle of the park. He draws his lower lip in between his teeth and shakes his head, then looks back sidelong towards her. "To be entirely fair, I will seek the closure of the gate, ultimately. Though I am allowing others to try their hand. For, you see, my efforts will be more…" He looks upwards and clucks his tongue. "Direct, while others wish to be a touch more subtle in the matter."

He waves a hand to the side, brushing off that concern as if it made no nevermind. "If you do not wish to be trapped here then yes, I would advocate your return. Make what peace you can. If not, then you may wish to plan for a future here amongst mortals. Seek to serve someone greater than yourself, for if you attempt to gain some element of control I fear your fate may be woven ill."

He takes a few steps forwards and takes up a small stone at the shoreline of that lake, casually tossing it into the water with a 'ploop' of sound. "Tell me, are you in control of your rage and desire for violence, or is it your master?"

*

Now with them both facing outward to the park it's easy for the portal itself to become the focal point, both in her attention and in their conversation. In this respect it would seem that their interests are one and the same, "The gate must be closed." So long as it stays open she could still be tracked down, there's precious little which keeps Jillian hidden from the eyes of her overlord.

The golden band around her neck, in fact. The runes carved upon it are very specific, and serve to hide her from only one being of the Brimstone realm. Decypher the runes and you'll have yourself a name.

It's the next thing that Louis says which is easily received as a subtly veiled threat. One which has her looking sidelong at the teacher, now with equal parts of caution and defiance. "My rage and bloodlust are my own burdeons. Now explain to me why I should trade one master for another."

Suspicious demon is suspicious.

*

"Not necessarily a master, but service is not ignoble, in and of itself." Louis steps away and to the side, "I simply offer it as an option considering the other one is rife with danger and would end ill for you most likely." He cants his head to the side and for a moment he looks at her, gaze sweeping over her and gauging her. It's clear he's judging her in some capacity, his eyes noting her stance, the musculature of her body, the lines of her strength and the sternness in her expression. "If you seek to carve out a place for yourself as some sort of leader, then you will most likely face those who oppose you."

A pause as he steps across the way towards a bench along the sidewalk, hopping up to take a seat upon the back of it, his feet resting flat upon the bench itself. "Do you see yourself doing what? Becoming an overlord of sort? Gathering brigands to you? An army? Down that path lies madness and defeat."

There's a pause as he looks to her again, "Oh you seem rather formidable, s'truth. And you have this rather curious beauty, but I fear neither would be quite enough to trade upon for a path that leads to rulership. Peace, however, could be possible. A niche for yourself, but I am not sure that is your path either."

*

There is that… Really, Jillian didn't know what kind of resistance to expect around here. Sure, like any demon her thoughts ran wild once freedom became her own. Upon first getting here she absolutely had a mind to conquer it all. After getting clocked by an ingot on a stick earlier today..such a goal might be a bit loftier than even she can fly.

"There does appear to be an abundance of opposition in this realm," she admits in a low tone. "My priorities may benefit from further consideration."

The alternative which he offers causes one eye to narrow in a mixture of puzzlement and..once again, suspicion. "You would suggest I follow a path of -peace?-" she asks, not even sure what to make of the idea. "As if this is something you could offer? I am a soldier, not a scholar. Tell me, what use would I have for a life without conflict? It is battle which gives me purpose and there is no end of battles waiting to be fought."

Though now that he's gone as far as to say the word 'peace' she's starting to understand a little more about him. The way he moves, the way he speaks, it's as if he's already discovered this peace for himself. The very means in which he sits upon the bench while she stands firm beside it, wings loose but never closed, tail endlessly questing about overtop the grass. For one like her, peace seems the most foreign of concepts yet.

*

"Who says one must never have battle to know peace?" Louis' smile is amused as those green eyes remain upon her. "There is a lovely release in responsibility in pursuing peace, and then when one is forced to draw blade or raise hand… or claw, it comes with this fine feeling of ethical superiority." His smile widens, and perhaps she might get the feeling he's making light, for he is, but not dishonestly so.

"As for what I can offer, there is rather little that I can't." He gestures towards her with one hand, "What is it you seek right now more than aught else? Safety?" There's a tilt of his head to the side, "With a word I could most likely ensure your safety from whichever creature of hell dared raise hand against you." He then gestures with one hand, "Sustenance? You could enjoy the richest nectar flowing down your throat and warming that chill thing you call your heart." He looks away from her, as if the whole matter bored him, "Power? You could stand in royal courts, unassailable simply for being known as being my creature."

Yet as he finishes those words he spreads his hands as if dismissing it all, "But what is it you can offer for such service?"

*

Ah… There it is. First, tribute to his title of 'teacher.' In some respects it's as if she is a child being corrected by an elder, though soldiers aren't born and raised to be deep thinkers in addition to deep cutters. And, in truth, she really is quite young by comparison. Maybe some of her kind live for hundreds of years. She will not. Young, angry, getting her first taste of freedom, and with way higher ambitions than is probably healthy for her. Hardly any surprise, there.

Second, the truth lies in the details. The curiosity, the smug amusement, the casual grace. If he truly could offer her any of those things then it's really no wonder why he acts in such a manner. To follow him would simply be her exchanging one Devil for another. One that she knew, and did not care for, for one whom is either extraordinarily cocky, or..really is in possession of such ability.

This isn't a conversation amongst friends. He's just getting to their bottom line.

Herein lies the Neyaphem's problem. She came here to be -free- of another's rule, however she is not completely safe from the life she had departed from. A powerful ally is, perhaps, exactly the sort of thing which she needs. But this… This is the most dangerous of games. Any demon knows as much. They're usually the ones trying to lure everyone -else- in, not the other way around!

"This land is already an unguarded feast." And power… Until she has enough, which is to say a -lot- of power, it won't do her any good if she's caught. Which just leaves the matter of safety. She's not out of the woods yet.

Golden eyes narrow anew. Tonight, it would appear, 'need' trumps 'want.' "You have yet to explain what it is that you require. If I did not find place within your scheme, you would not have wasted your breath on me."

*

"I don't know!" Loki's smile is broad, open as he looks to her. And, curiously enough, there's no hint of dissembling there. He simply looks to her with his head turned to the side, "I am a creature that tends to follow his feelings, the threads of fate are often woven in shadow, after all." He holds up a hand, "How would you feel if you were wandering your dwelling and came upon this exquisite gem in the brush. You looked on it, and oh it was terribly sharp, perhaps it would cut your hand. But would it not intrigue you in any case?"

There's a moment as he smiles and a glimmer of fangs grow behind it, "Perhaps I will find out more of your kind. Perhaps any insight into your ethos will aid me." His skin darkens, colour shifting to that indigo blue of her and her kind, the fur ever so prominent even as his reddish shock of hair turns to that curious hue of her own. It's only when the transformation is complete, when he holds up a three fingered hand and considers it curiously that he goes on. "Perhaps I want a sparring partner to train me in how the forces of hell fight."

He streeeetches slowly, a large toothy fanged yawn showing his new smile to her. "Perhaps I am toying with you. But even if that's so, are you not having fun?"

*

If Jillian wasn't having trouble understanding this teacher before, she certainly is now. Who, or what, -is- this man, really? He acts as though he has everything, already. Like this is all one big game to him, with victory already resting within his court!

Well..perhaps not -everything-… He doesn't yet have her, though it seems he already wishes to change this detail.

Then -again,- in a sense, he -does- already have her because in a matter of seconds he's transformed himself into the spitting image of the typical indigoed Neyaphem. She doesn't know if it's a trick, but he is absolutely -not- one of her kind. She would have known it from the start if he was.

"Shifter…" she all but whispers, partly in genuine awe as she takes a half step away. Part of her is already questioning whether she'd even have the chance to turn down any offer he might give to her.

For the moment it all comes at the cost of a trick question. The normal response would probably be to run away. For her, this single display has proven to be the most interesting thing she's yet seen upon passing through the portal. Is it truly not entertaining..? He's single-handedly captivated her attention for how long, already?

"-Trickster,-" she soon corrects herself with a return of some of her resolve. "I understand now. You rule the house of Chaos. And that…" She hesitates just long enough to drive the blade of her glaive point-down into the cement sidewalk, three-fingered hands finding their way upon her hips.

"That has my attention. You offer protection, I offer insight into the Abyss. There are thousands more of my kind. We may both prepare for their arrival."

*

"Ah, as to that," Louis turns his head, now glowing yellow eyes focusing upon the distant hellmouth and then shaking his head. He turns back to look upon her, "I am charged by my father to insure the safety of this realm. A charge I intend to uphold." The demonic looking fellow meets her gaze and his smile is still as toothy as it was a moment ago. "If I have my druthers, you will most likely be the last of your kind here. If you are incapable of leaving your past behind you, then most assuredly we have little more to speak on."

A and lifts to scritch at the stubble of his beard upon his chin, his smile shifts wry, "Curious, this form seems rather…" A word escapes him for a moment, as if he were trying to exactly decide how it's making him feel. "Intriguing." He'll settle for that, since perhaps any other he chose would be unflattering.

"So here, Jillian. Tell me how ideally you would wish for matters to turn out for you. As for me, I would enjoy having an alien mind to examine, perhaps a retainer of some sort if she wished to serve willingly."

*

Wait. Wait wait wait. "Your father instructed you to -protect- this?" Jillian asks, as dumbstruck as if she had just been physically struck. NO one told her this realm had such a warden! And after all that she just…

This does not look very good. Not at all. Like she's just set foot upon a landmine with the trigger stayed merely by her continued downward pressure.

And still he remains eternally amused. Now it feels more as if she is being mocked rather than admired.

"You leave me with choice, though the options are unfairly weighted," she sort of growls. Giving up the violence, the madness, going against her very nature? Probably not in the cards. But if she ever is going to become powerful in this realm, she must learn all that she can. This man gives her reason to fear him at the same time that he gives her a strong reason to remain near his side. To understand madness, one must also experience it. To overcome such adversity as this, she must uncover all which she is able to.

Ideally? In a way which wouldn't pave a road straight to fire and destruction? Okay..she'll keep this both simple and truthful: "I wish to be free of the Abyss. Free of his rule."

What she would choose to do after the fact, that can remain her little secret.

*

"Well," Loki looks around their surroundings even as he slides down off of that bench to gain his feet fully. He stretches his arms wide as if stifling a yawn as he turns to look upon her. "Well, you have that now don't you?" A glance around is given, "There is no overseer here, you are free to rush around, to wreak what havoc you will. It's what you do now, however, that matters."

A moment passes as he turns his head to the side, as if trying to perceive her from a totally different point of reference while those glowing yellow eyes hold her own. "Yet if you pursue your goals as you may instinctively feel you should, you'll fade into obscurity. Your name will likely be forgotten." He steps closer to her, and for the first time invades her personal space as if he had naught to fear from her. Again his nostrils flare, his fangs bared subtly as his smile shifts wry. "But another nameless lost demon amongst the army."

There's a pause, and it's then that she might feel the touch of his fingertip under her chin, as if seeking to bring her eyes level with his own even as he leans close, his breath felt against the curve of his cheek as he looks deeply into her eyes with such curious abandon. "Tell me, Jillian, is that your fate?"

*

"For the moment, though there are always breaches between the realms," Jillian states while motioning toward the Hellmouth with a subtle dip of her head. "Closing this gate will only delay matters until another is created, which will always happen so long as this realm remains." She's free for the moment, but how long might it last? Anyone skilled in the darker arts could kick her right back into the hole if they managed to catch her.

Once more it seems that he knows exactly which nerve to touch upon in order to get her attention. Lesser creatures may not care if they pass on forgotten, but one who wishes to become a power of her own does not wish to fade into the darkness forever. Where before she would have stepped back, or perhaps tried to push -him- back, now..she stands right where she is. That much closer to the Trickster. Unsure of what to do. If this is war, her enemy is not clearly defined. Her orders left undelivered.

A damned -scholar- has her dead to rights with nothing more than words.

His hand can guide her by the chin, though it just means he can see that much more clearly how irritated she's become. "I would curse your name to my dying breath for such deceit," she hisses in low warning.

It could be argued that her fate is not yet written, but that would be giving into the whims of random chance. That would be going down without a fight.

"But I would not allow such an end to pass. I have escaped his army. I will be remembered."

*

And as quick as that, the form sloughs off of Loki, and leaves him standing there as himself again, with his smile gentle and his expression calm. The touch leaves and he turns away, a hand lifted as he starts to walk down the path that circles the lake. "Then let you be remembered for your deftness and subtlety, Jillian. For I fear if you embrace other aspects you may find your stint in this land short."

And with that he slides his hands into his pockets, his footsteps even and steady as he walks, his gait unconcerned even as he moves away from her.

*

Jillian knows a warning when she sees one. She may have been released from his momentary spell but the message it carried remains fresh upon her thoughts. Now this man knows of her, and seems confident in being able to deal with her should she become an issue.

Which leaves her wondering what in the Hell she's going to do with herself around here. Her kind don't just 'turn over a new leaf' and become creatures of the light. They're programmed -not- to!

As she extracts her glaive from the pavement she can reach only one conclusion for the moment: Be somewhere else when her bloodlust returns.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License