1963-10-24 - Beautiful But Terrible
Summary: One of Dracula's Brides ventures forth to survey the new Hellmouth and crosses paths with Wanda and Pietro. A one in a million chance is all it takes for the hex of the Favoured of Cthon to interact poorly with the vampire queen and her Darkhold-granted gifts of Varnae. Dracula will be unamused. PS: Keep off the Grass!
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
wanda pietro dracula 

The Hellmouth expands. This displeases the Lord of the Damned. He receives reports, first from rats and bats and then from minions in the area affected. It is difficult to create stability — and stability is necessary for any power base — when forces get meddling with a hole in the fabric of reality between planes.

It is not only the magical distortion around the Hellmouth that frustrates him. The logistics of gathering and creating troops, keeping them fed — blood for the young, food for the mortals — requires transportation, reliable supply lines.

"Go see for yourself," he says to a young woman at his side. "We will have to re-route our lines from the bay if this persists."

Danica appears young. She is a willowy thing with sleek raven hair and wide grey eyes, porcelain skin. Her teeth are needle sharp when she smiles, though, and her white hands that flutter like wings when she speaks are tipped with black claws like those of a crow. She is rare and ancient and as capable of surviving the Day as her master.

"I go," she says, even in the same moment that she becomes a glossy black bird.

The great raven circles the Hellmouth slowly, banking on the hot and sulphurous winds that belch forth from time to time. What she sees, she knows will further displease her beloved Lord.


The Hellmouth is an affront, draped in black shadows, a burning wound bleeding the night out of its ragged shape. Leylines throughout the New York area tremble and shudder at the new demands put upon them. For a sensitive, it almost hurts to feel the wild, unstable power humming through the earth.

Ever since that night dropped and sent a surge of pain through her skull, Wanda abandoned the pretenses of research in the library or meditating in the sanctum.

Old habits die hard. Hunting demons and undead, mystical oddities and magical problems give her a certain lifestyle. Leather coat slung over her shoulders, she grabs her belts and checks the weapons, vials, and pouches over. A note sketched down on a page, stuck to a door, warns of her intended direction.

A sanguine figure under the blasted trees, the girl moves quietly. She's been doing this a long time, taught by a paranoid demon cultist who treated such lessons as lethal opportunity to test her defenses. Checking the dead squirrel on the ground is no trouble. A knife at her side is sheathed, and she holds a slim wooden dowel to scratch lightly at the broken, dusty earth with.

Gaea has been so abused. Her daughter touches the ground, breathing a silent prayer into the grass and leaves. Reassurance for herself as much as the goddess, her gaze lifts to the branches. Things of a bigger, worse variety hunt here.


The raven is natural, yes, but not entirely. It trails an aura of smoke when seen through the magical eyes, as though its wings were burning. Danica knows when something powerful walks her way. She spirals higher, watching, her raven eyes bright and red. This newcomer hums with life and reminds Danica — on some level she does not consciously understand — of the magic that still clung to her sister when Annabelle staggered home in pieces.

Another affront. She swoops down, her shadow passing over Wanda, to perch in a tree. A little of the Hellmouth's evil shimmers in her eyes, the sun glints off her beak and feathers.

She is beautiful, but also terrible. She waits to see who will open the contest, if it will be this thing poking the wounded earth with a stick, or if it will fall to her.


Everything magical has its arcane signature. Some radiate waves of power across a magical spectrum. Others burn, some splash with water, and Wanda's essence radiates with the music of the spheres: the soulsong of the universe, a constantly changing, harmonious symphony of tones, a sacred resonance. It is the sound of life, interrupted by occasional variations in a minor key at unpredictable times. Otherwise the redshifted aural spectrum vibrates with the embodiment of the om, the logos, the sraosha.

Wanda's sight, ever on, traces the plumes of grey vapor staining the already diminished daylight. Slowly she straightens, running a circle around her palm with that wooden object. A slanting look through the corner of her eye a lights upon the crow.

"Go." One word, no more. She speaks in German, which better suits her than bothering with English or Transian, which puts her to close to Mount Wundagore. Too close to many questions.

Already the components of a shield are brought to mind, the vision of its shape and the invocation crystallized. "This is not a safe place for you, and you'll destabilize it worse."


Not safe. Danica caws raucously, mocking. She winds her will into the edges of the Hellmouth, draws its darkness deep into the roots of the blasted grass that still clings here. The darkness seeps into the grass, replaces its life with death, and the roots drive upward through the soil. They seek blood, not water.

The ground under Wanda's feet cracks as the root tips surface. The last hints of green leave the remaining blades of grass that were stirring in the Hellmouth's winds. Now, they flourish and blacken at once, edges sharp and points gleaming in what little light filters through.

Danica polishes her beak on her gleaming black feathers, shrieks again. The aura of grey smoke around her darkens, manifests as a swirling sphere of warding.


The musical dissonance in her being resonates alarmingly close to that rent in the earth. Wanda and the Hellmouth share a common origin, one betrayed at the very core. Good thing no lesser minions are stepping out to behold the younger Maximoff, though they might start turning like so much powdered iron eventually.

The corvid makes the ground unsafe and the reaction to that is immediate. She drops her hands below her, rings of brilliant light flooding out from her gloves. Rose lies on the air as energy twists into a ball and buoys her up, shuttling her out of the slicing reach of the grass. Floating is next to the simplest spell there is, and she invokes it while her eyes shine garnet.

"Such a lack of manners," Wanda says to the great black bird. Her boots will need some loving affection, and that annoys her. She doesn't own enough to ignore the value of good footwear.

Wards shine before her sight. Mentally she plunges down for the leyline, pulling for the stable earth energies to fuel her own effect, though it's foremost for deflecting whatever comes. There may be a purpose. There may not. But she hasn't called to the black infernal birthright. Yet.


Danica's raven-eyes see much, see things other than that which human sight allows. Let the creature call on what it will. It is conflicted where Danica is not. Her connection to the dark is pure, unfettered. She loves that which dies, that which rots. The wind smells more strongly of decay.

The grass has wound through countless corpses, large and small. It still seeks to feed. Hungry, and newly corrupted, it drinks the energies of the Hellmouth even as its roots and blades proliferate, seeking warm flesh, and it flowers in moments. The sigh of the Hellmouth tugs at the spikelets, lifting a shimmer of black pollen into the air.

Manners. Danica stretches her wings, laughing in her raven tongue. When she closes them, she stands on the same branch as the raven, a sure-footed young woman draped in a raven-black hooded cloak.


A poisoned blight passes so close to the shining glass towers leaping towards the heavens, a spontaneous burst of joy for capitalism. So many souls behind them stand at risk, and Wanda brushes her hand to the side, the pollen meeting a simple shield constructed from a thin barrier of energy. It wouldn't do to keel over in a sneezing fit after calling for a parlay, for whatever good it will do.

Cackling is never a positive sign, after all. Croaking would suit much better.

A gesture made, a flick of her fingers, gives the right of speech courteously to Danica. She has taken human form, it might well seem proper. Besides, it may leave the impression of being awed or overwhelmed, which suits just fine. Nothing to see here but a floating girl, after all, her hair and coat undulating lightly in the breeze.


What's this, another emergency? Yeah, yeah, Pietro'll get to it. Eventually. He's got all of the time in the world. And a hankering for some Twinkies. Seriously, it was worth coming to this country just for the plethora of junk food available! Wanda wouldn't ever understand it but she's crazy, we already know this much.

Sometimes you just have to enjoy the simpler things in l—

"Yowza, that doesn't look right."

Standing riiiight at the edge of the wackygrass stands a Pietro, hands held out in freeze-frame fashion with one foot lifted and hovering a few inches over the top of the blackened mass. Past experiences suggest that if something doesn't look right then it -isn't- right. And things in this country..?

As screwed up as his sister.

"Yeah, I'm just gonna hang back here. Have fun," he calls out before taking another bite out of Twinkie #4.


Danica is rightly wary, though unafraid and a little amused. She is, after all, her master's property — it would not do for her to mar herself in the way that Annabelle did so foolishly. Illona was lost entirely, to the Viking woman, and now Serafina must wear blue. When the wind tugs at Danica's cloak, it reveals a mail coat beneath, black metal overlapping like feathers, a swaying skirt brushing the tops of her boots, a curved sword in a scabbard.

The boy — tied to the woman somehow — arrives at the edge of Danica's slowly spreading garden. She would be happy to plant the world with her particular flora. The boy is warm, though, inviting. The grass roots proliferate under ground, weaving into a surging mass beneath him. When they draw back into a webbed ring, the ground in the center will collapse and he will have to move — one way or another.

Danica, almost thoughtfully, sends a black bolt in the form of a great raven from her brow. It leaps into being from the pale, unlined skin, as though manifested directly from her mind, and moves too fast for the eye to see. The impact, though, comes against Wanda's shield.


Wanda's connection to the leyline deepens over every passing second. The wrongness around her blights her sight — the infernal gouge, the grass blackened and murderous, the silhouette Danica represents. More of the planet's power suffuses her floating body, an energy matrix humming and growing incandescent as she spindles more and more through the widely developed network. Storing power when her nerves start to tingle invokes certain checks, opening up the floodgates a fraction more. Pietro might recognize something is up when she doesn't even respond to him.

She calculates how badly this might hurt, how well she might speak. Head modestly bowed conceals the growing intensity filling that willing vessel. It gives her no chance to answer the grass, nor the gathered sorcery Danica summons and shapes.

//Goddess. Help me against the poison in this place. Hear me, lady, help me. // A mental whisper to the only power she follows, the earth mother of all, given as pure a prayer as she can. When the raven crashes into her shield, the claret light erupts around the bird, converting its potential sizzling fury into momentum. Unfortunately there's a lot of movement.

Floating off the ground, Wanda has little friction to worry about. Danica's force sends her flying backwards, a sonic shriek of the shredded barrier booming through her scarlet comet trail. That will hurt.

At the same time, the witch releases the earthly energy stored up in her from the leylines along the same track and the soil heaves, torn. Flipping over, the fresh scar of loam spreads in a widening fan. It may not be graceful, and it hurts, but what landscaping!


Frankly, Pietro's used to Wanda not listening to him lately. It's one of the more frustrating points of having skipped across the Atlantic to this place. When magic is pitted up against magic there's little he can do about it, that stuff is all way outside his realm.

When things start to energetically shift about beneath him it doesn't go unnoticed. When the ground begins to cave in he doesn't stop to consider what's taking place anymore. He gets the heck out of there!

In fact, he gets the heck out of the entire area. One second passes, then another, then he's back with a small red metal canister in one hand. The cap comes off with a satisfying *thunk*.

Then comes the cheeky grin.

Fighting poison with poison. Pietro experiments by pouring some gasoline onto the darkened grass. Moving swiftly, at that. The 'ground caving in' trick looks like it could become a problem if he hesitates too long.

Fortunately, he's not real keen on hesitation.


Interesting. The spell's flight, its failure, its impact, all carry information back to Danica along the lines of her connection with it. She can taste the power that washes back toward her, it stings at her skin and gives her pause. Surely, there is a weakness she can exploit.

The grass doesn't shrink from the gasoline, but neither does it flourish where Pietro douses it. The grass might catch fire, though, as grasses do. It is dry and sharp, with a strange feel of grease over crystal against the skin. When the wind blows, the heavy seedheads bow and dance, as though urging Pietro on.

Danica drops to the ground — for her, the grass parts easily, she has nothing it wants and, after all, she is its mother — and steps forward. As fast as her thoughts, she moves from where she stood under the tree to behind Pietro. The dark aura of her magic and her evil curls in her wake, the grass dances gleefully.

Her hand on Pietro's throat is as strong as a steel vise, her long, raven claws dig into his flesh to sip at his blood. Her touch is so cold, his nerves sting with a numbing frost that spreads throughout his body with every beat of his heart.

«Pretty,» she says, in a language Pietro shouldn't understand, but does. Her grey eyes are alight with a crimson fire that invites him to accept it, if only to keep him warm. The dark coils of her wards swirl around them, slowly weaving into another barrier.


The earth energy that flipped over the earth took more than a little grass with it. Trembling and settling, the great swathe of raw soil continues to spread a little until Wanda crashes through the bushes, her arms crossed protectively over her face as though that will do anything against a psychic bolt. That hurt. That hurt not a little.

She lies stunned for a long moment out of immediate sight, staring up at the canopy into clotted murk. Daylight cannot penetrate, though a building notion about opening holes in the mystical darkness flits through her mind. Then the witch smells gasoline. Gasoline she presumably wasn't responsible for. Forcing herself to sit up is an effort; the sonnet of pain dancing up her ribs and the whirlwind of sparks exploding in front of her eyes does not help.

Then she floats up, brushing twigs and dirt off her coat. Gaining her bearings takes a moment, a precious few shreds of seconds, in which Pietro's trachea may be meeting his spine.

Twin. Brother. The shudder running through her goes incandescent and the magic vanishes, instead supplanted by the protective cords binding twins, emotions fueling the sanguine wave forming between her hands. She barely has to give it shape, a violently rotating orb swelling like a red giant star, fed on sight of the blood so much like her own.

Reality bends under her fingertips. Who is to know what image fills her mind, except that razor edged bow wave of probability goes flying when she sends it forward, warped under its own velocity of making that crow woman go flying away from her and her brother into the furious embrace of the earth. Or the wards. Preferably both.


One empty gasoline can is set aside. Pietro's a bit slower in his motion as he reaches into a jacket pocket and brings out a nice shiny new Zippo lighter. Maybe Danica won't recognize it. Maybe it doesn't matter.

Before he can flick the top open and expose the flint and wheel beyond it suddenly falls to the ground, lifelessly bouncing away from him.

The yell he makes kinda sounds like "Hgg—gAAAAAH!"

Walls can be run around. (Or straight up over.) Obstacles are easily dodged. When caught in the dead center of something..there's nowhere left to run. Assuming his legs and thoughts are acting accordingly, which in this case neither really are. Instead of fight or flight flipping right over to 'flight' all he can think about is that icy cold chill biting its way through his skin, a feeling he could easily associate with the spread of paralysis.

NOT a good feeling. -Not at all.-

Even one spoken word in a strange langage lingers like an icy fog upon his mind. All he can do is try to hang onto Danica's own arm and try not to black out where they both stand.


The wind swirls, the vampire grass sheds its seeds to scatter. Any flesh they touch, they claim. They work in through fur or clothing, deep into skin and muscle, driving down to bone. Wherever they are carried, they will root.

Danica smiles at Pietro, a hint of color comes to her cheeks as his blood seeps up the inner hollow of her claws, into her fingers, and into her own, poisoned, blood. Her gaze is like the grass seeds. It works its way into his eyes, his nerves, his brain.

Wanda's spell envelops them both, even though Danica turns to use Pietro as a shield — such a good toy, but toys are made to be broken. The hex rips them apart, her long nails drag through his flesh as she's torn away from him. It would rip out his throat except that she and he were bound by her vampiric link — just enough that the spell preserves him by giving him her strength even as she is tossed away like a rag doll.

The grass lashes at her, winds over her, muffling her screams as it closes in. Without whatever bond she had with it, all it knows is that she is flesh.


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Foul one shall burn and rave at height of day;
Rage, rage against the rising of the light.

Good men, the last fall by, crying how bright
Their quick deeds might still strike true and slay,
Rage, rage against the rising of the light.

Wild ones, near tears, who see with blinding sight,
Garnet eyes blaze like meteors, and lips pray,

Rage, rage against the rising of the light.

Blood on her tongue, blood burning in her veins, bruises and pain melting into one give Wanda the full tincture of her vibrant aura. It swims around her head in a wavering halo, and oscillates as rapidly as a neutron star between her hands. Wisps of cosmic spindrift raised almost fuchsia bleed off her, and almost seem to search for a target.

The ringing dissonance of orchestral notes cascade around her, crashing down with shades of Holst — Mars — in rapid arpeggios and purpose driving the crescendo. Not a good sign, never a good sign.

"He is mine. The other is mine. Take that with you from whence you came," snarls the demon hunter, every sound driven out of her by force as she advances, clutching at the last straws of self control over the rage inside. Fists clenched, she advances up to her bloodied twin if he's not getting out of there. That means oddly, she will. The world has gone topsy turvy for Wanda, but they'll figure that out later.


For a few unnerving seconds Pietro can't do anything at all, only the occasional croak sneaking out of his throat around Danica's rigid hand as she starts draining the life right out of him. There are no happy thoughts to think, there are no happy thoughts to think!!

-This sucks!-

Not as badly as the sudden -hot- feeling at his throat as the vampire's grasp is violently torn away, the two flying apart like ..well, like hastily discarded toys. Pietro roughly collapses in a field of blackened grass..which completely avoids lashing out at him, reaching up to hold at his neck…

And finding it completely healed.

That split-second of agony at the end, gone. Everything else is all in his mind now. In fact, when he moves past what his brain is telling him what he -should- feel like..he feels great. Like, really -really- great..!

"I think..something weird mighta just happened back there. I, uh…" he trails off, frowning as he cautiously probes about at his throat some more. "I normally don't heal that fast. Um." Then he looks down at that dark, nasty colored grass which cares none that he's standing on top of it. Then his eyes grow wide, seeking out Wanda.

Oh, God…

"-What did you just do,-" he demands, fear suddenly in his voice.


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