1963-12-20 - Circus Came to Town
Summary: Log Summary
Related: None
Theme Song: None
http://marvel1963mush.wikidot.com/character:illyana http://marvel1963mush.wikidot.com/character:amanda 

[[size 150%]]The Circus made a point of coming through town, as always. The difference here, is the city was much, much larger than they had expected. They're used to small English countryside towns and villages, and maybe a few bigger cities. Nothing on this scale! Still, they made the decision to cross the ocean, and so here they are. It's been a full day since their arrival, and in that time everything has been set up properly - faster means open for more nights, means more profits. Despite the workers and performers having a significant amount of Germans, Sinti and Vlax Roma displaced by the war two decades ago, there are plenty of English too, and the circus comes complete with a few of those vardo - horse drawn wagons - that people expect from such a thing.

Amanda really has little to do when it comes to setting up the circus. She has her little place at the end of the game booths. She helps out where she can, mostly in making sure the animals are fed, though she helps get the smaller things set up. Then when night falls and the people start to file in, she heads back into the vardo people expect with her role, and puts on the outfit that just screams 'gypsy' to non-Romany. A part of her hates it, but… she has to make a living, right?

The circus? It's hard to find elephants entertaining when one has ridden demonic war-oliphaunts in battle, or find tigers intimidating when one has killed them with bare hands.

Illyana's not here to be entertained. There's a /stench/ on the air. A scent she's not caught for years, and one that causes a blind, seething irritation to surge in the Demon Queen's belly.

It takes six trips by stepping stone to find it, then a lot of sniffing around— literally— near the circus.

"Know you are here, twisty vodruke," Illyan mutters, fingers clenching and relaxing in stifled irritation. "Can /smell/ your Winding Path. Where are you hiding?" the Russian woman remarks to herself, flipping open tent flaps and peering inside one tent after another as she tries to find the source of her instincts triggering.

There was a reason Amanda changed the exterior and interior of the vardo she uses. A reason too that she grew her hair. Started going by 'Amanda'. All a desperate attempt to hide herself from her mother. At least changing the vardo has removed some of the magic 'stink' from the Winding Path that was practiced there over the years. She knew changing things would make it harder for mother to track her; she didn't think anyone else would be seeking her out. Still it /does/ mean that it's a lot more difficult to follow the scent through the circus, coupled with anyone who may have active or inactive magical prowess… Well, it means things are just slightly more difficult. Nowhere near impossible, though. And eventually half the crowd filters into the biggest tent.

For a moment Amanda is there, outside her vardo, drawing a couple inside. Fortunetelling isn't exactly a difficult branch of magic; divination comes as easily to her family as healing. Still, she does give it her all, letting the couple think they paid for a glimpse into their futures. After 15 minutes she's outside again, smiling at passersby.

She's older now, than when Amanda saw her— a teenager's scrawny knock-knees and coltish limbs have turned into hard sinew and purposeful adult strength. Illyna moves like a predator, like a hunter, not the uncertain scion of a mad sorceror bent on self-empowerment. Her blonde hair, straight, hangs like a sheet from her temples, at an angle to the hunch of her shoulders. She moves like a hunting dog, nose extended, eyes wide, snuffling at the air to gain some better scent of what she'd caught on the winds of change.

Perhaps it wasn't that Winder girl— perhaps it was an errant scent, a string of false magic or someone's family ghost unstoppered for a while. She stops within Amanda's line of sight, her right hand curling around an invisible weapon in the air, her left stretched out to blindly feel along patterns of the Warp and Weft.


They're both older. Amanda's short brown hair has become long, black and wavy. Her eyes almost black themselves. The scrawny teenager has filld out, though while Illyana has matured into a predator, Amanda is more of a dancer. There are enough Romany working at this circus that the traditions stay strong, including song and dance, when the work day is over. She notices someone darting through the crowd, but thinks little of it, assuming it's just someone being eager. Because that definitely happens all the time around here, when someone hasn't seen the circus before.

A couple passes, blocking Amanda's view, and they start chatting with her. She affects a bit of an accent - not difficult since German is her first gadje language. It's all part of the act, even if unlike most, her fortunetelling is rooted in real magic. She has to keep some trappings that the others use, after all.

Frustration stamps itself on Illyana's face when that errant wisp of magic blows away in the wind. She growls under her breath. She was /so sure/ she had felt that familiar tickle, that knowledge of an old foe— someone eternally associated, in her mind, with Belasco— nearby.

Finally she relents and dismisses the curling anger around her, looking around almost… disappointed. She'd so been spoiling for a fight, and without a familiar face upon which to loose her ire, she looks almost chidlishly petulant at being put out.

"Ah, just right over here," Amanda murmurs with her German accent. She quickly makes sure the door to her vardo is locked, and then promptly leads the people down the arcade and around the big tent. "Down this way, the green roof you see on the right there." The couple thanks her and she smiles broadly, rather unaware of how close this brings her to Illyana. Or maybe she saw Illyana, but didn't connect this taller, more confident young woman to the scrawny teenager she had to push away from the Winding Way all those years ago.

Her good deed done, she turns and heads back to her part of the circus. The main show will be starting now, the announcement going out. She'll get a straggler or two, and then lock up until everyone comes filtering out again.

It's when Amanda ducks into a 'blind alley' between several tents that Illyana attacks. It's a shortcut corridor where circus folks know how to weave between barricades and make quick trips between attractions, or do quick costume changes out of sight of the attendants.

The attack is fast and brutal, entirely physical and lacking the nuance of most magicians. Illyana blindsides Amanda with a shoulder tackle and swings a crackling blade of absolute, amythyst power at the woman's join of neck and collarbone, the weapon literally draining magical power around it as it stops a hairsbreadth from bisceting Amanda.

"Winder /suka/, did you think you could sneak on me again?" Illyana snarls, teeth bared in a rictus grin. "I'll see you join Belasco— in Hell!"

Amanda hits the side of an abandoned booth (well, empty) with a hard thud. Her first thought is her mother has returned, so her right hand traces out the patterns she memorized in years past, coming down to aim in Illyana's general direction… just in time for that amethyst blade to come around, draining the energy before Amanda can even finish the casting. And that's when it dawns on her just who it is she's dealing with.

Oh hell.

"Mahrime!" she almost spits. "You're remembering it wrongly - I shouldn't be surprised." The blade keeps her at a severe disadvantage - at least when it comes to magic - and of course Illyana knows it. "He sent you to a place neither of you had any right to take from. I was doing my duty." She keeps up the chatter, putting on the brave face - being bisected is not something she wants to have done to her after all, but letting Illyana know she feels fear is even worse! And when she realizes she's not actually being held in place, she quickly rolls against the wall of the booth away from thr sword, if only to get herself in a better position.

Illyana's quick— much quicker than she once was. And that sword, that /awful/ sword, she brings around in a guard position as she nimbly leaps to try and cut off Amanda's escape. She doesn't quite get ahead of her— Amanda's back is to the booth, but Illyana's got enough reach that she's not closing the gap to make the attack, leaving herself a position to dive and pursue Amanda if the woman dodges left or right.

"Lies! You think I forgot the lesson Belasco sent you to teach me?" Illyana says, teeth grated. "One more of his /pawns/, another /game/. You thought I'd forgotten, eh?" She waves the ethereal blade menacingly. "So now what? Do you serve some other dark master? Someone like Belasco? I'll cut you down and send your tongue to him as a warning!"

Amanda reaches for the knife - one of the knives - she keeps hidden amongst the scarves and skirts she has to wear as part of her 'costume'. Though maybe it just looks like she's putting a hand on her hip? Maybe. "And what lesson did your Belasco send me to teach you, mahrime?" she wonders, frowning. "I didn't work for him then, and I don't work for anyone now." She of course does not realize that she and Belasco follow the same Path. "What possible lesson did he have in mind that only I could teach better than he could?" She's desperately /trying/ to connect with Illyana's rational mind here, and worried that she just won't.

"Belasco's /dead/," Illyana snarls, eyes filled with blue fire. Some of it literal fire, reflecting from the crackling weapon in her hands. Whatever that thing is, it hungers for the magic in the Romani's blood like a piece of superchilled steel pressed near her skin— hungering for warmth.

"I killed him myself— watched his life force soak into the water of Limbo." That worry, that niggling fear in Amanda's voice, almost touches Illyana and for a half a second, she hesitates.

"You— don't play the fool!" she grates, with a heavy Russian accent. "I remember well! You /humiliated/ me," she growls, flushing with anger. "One more ploy by that monster. Do you deny it still?" she demands, scornfully.

"…. if that's true, then I'll pray for you." That hand is still at her hip. Still waiting for a reason to pull the knife. "I don't wish that stain on anyone's soul, then or now." Her eyes open wide. No anger there, no hate. Nothing, really, that could associate her with Belasco. As far as the little she knows of that being. And by little, it's 'this guy existed with that name, and this was his apprentice'.

"I humiliated you," she agrees with a nod. "You were on a plane that did not belong to you. You came to steal. The Winding Way told me to stop you. I am sorry I didn't do it in a more dignified manner." She means it. She really does. The sincerity of those words resounds in her voice. She too has been humiliated, and though she managed to escape, it stings at her still. She can only imagine that familiar was made all the worse by being Belasco's apprentice.

Illyana's lips alternately tense, curl, relax, curl again— anger visible on her features, but warring with Amanda's simple, even plaintive request for peace. The words 'sorry' jar her, words she seems to not quite hear as often as one might expect. As if responding to her emotional upset, the blade in her hand flickers and dims some degrees, and she cautiously abandons her guard stance.

"Belasco said" she comes up short as she realizes she has to spit past the words, a flush of awareness on her face when she realizes that even in death, Belasco is playing her. "/asserted/ that you had taken something from Limbo. I… it is … not … impossible, he was misleading me," Illyana says, teeth grating with anger. That admission clearly cost her something.

"With those above as my witnesses, I have never been to Limbo," she promises. "Mother forbade it. I was not permitted to teleport to any plane but the Winding Way." Margali never mentioned Limbo directly, but Amanda /was/ forbidden to teleport to any dimension but the Winding Way. She thinks a moment and then steps forward, arms spread and hands open to show she has nothing. And Illyana already knows the sword works on her. Instead, she makes a simple gesture, extending one hand. "My name is Amanda. May be we should have started last time this way, instead."

Illyana would not have been cowed had Amanda turned into a rampaging beast, but this gesture of friendship and peace— it stuns her. She drops her gaze, then turns away, embarassed. Her face turns red and something wet appears at her eyes before she can face away from Amanda, with the sullen pain of a girl who learned long not to let tears reach her cheeks.

She stands there forlornly for a long moment, not responding to the handshake, not acknowledging the woman— then lets loose a thunderous, abrupt scream of utter /rage/ and with a single hand— and far more strength than a girl her size should have— grabs a cart full of densely packed haybales and flips them all into the air, sending two at least a dozen feet overhead.

She bellows her fury to the sky overhead, which grows dark and puckered with shadows and tendrils of purple energy— the stuf of Limbo itself responding to Illyana's emotions.

It passes in less than five thundering heartbeats, leaving Illyana looking weirdly small in the wake of the outburst.

"<Damn you, damn you, damn you, Belasco,>" she whispers, over and over again, in the fel tongue of the underworld.

In the later years that Amanda was tutored by her mother, she saw similar rages. Not quite a whole dimension responding to her mother's angry cries… but that bellowing is nothing new. The strength Illyana shows is surprising, but she has seen similar - it still makes her back upon one step, but only until she is sure the gesture is not being made in her direction. In her later years Margali was cruel and cold and made Amanda's life hell… but then she vanished. As she watches Illyana, she perhaps sees what she could have become, had Margali stayed and made things worse, and worse.

"<Please watch over her.>"

By the time Illyana turns back around, Amanda's head is no longer bowed, her lips no longer mumbling a prayer in Romany. She also does not comment on the outburst. She looks patient, and perhaps more than a little concerned, but she does not say a word.

Illyana has at least the grace to look slightly abashed, but she tilts her head up with regal poise and brushes her hair from her face. At some point, that crackling blade vanished into nowhere at all— up her sleeve, as readily as Amanda can discern, anyway. She takes a few seconds to comport herself then turns to face Amanda, fingers curled one over another at belly level in a gesture weirdly reminiscent of the British Royal Family— a gesture she certainly must have learned from the television.

"I… apologize," she gets out, a tendon in her jaw flickering wildly. "I seem to have made mistake. You are not who I thought, and I am… not injured as I had remembered." She ducks her head a few fractional degrees, eyes flickering downwards in a suggestion of a bow.

At some point during Illyana's outburst, a few circus workers poked heads outside the big tent, thankfully only catching the darkening sky before ducking back in. Amanda watches them come and go, breathing a sigh of relief. She does not need to try to explain this. Their lives have been difficult enough. This is the place they have to restart. "Already forgiven," she says as soon as the apology is offered, even offering a little smile of assurance. She doesn't even press for a name after she offered her own. Well, not her true name anyhow - that is remaining with her - but the name she chooses to identify with.

"Are you thirsty or hungry? I haven't had a chance to head into the city yet, but I have enough to entertain one guest, I think."

Illyana seems painfully unaware of her lapse in social nicetie— she looks on the edge of demurring, still smouldering with resentment for the woman trying so hard to befriend her. "I… Da. Have not eaten," Illyana concedes, the rules of etiquette she'd been absorbing coming to the forefront. Rule 1: Never pass up a polite invitation to dine. "Some food would be good— I have some dollars, I think," she says, fishing in her dress pocket for a carefully folded wad of small bills.

Amanda glances to the tent beyond Illyana, pausing. Listening. "Elephants have just come out. We have a little time before the crowd comes back out. Follow me." Through the booth and the various displays until they come to the little vardo that Amanda calls home. She retrieves a key from a pocket and unlocks the door. "I have some tea. I may have a bottle of whiskey from before we left England, as a parting gift." For a moment she is painfully aware how… still in costume she is. It's one thing to be in character and ply the trade. It's another to be standing with a fellow sorceress. It feels so…

No, no. She can't think like that. She'll need to be dressed when the visitors come back out.

Illyana examines the vardo. Carefully. She glances over her shoulder, once, and flings a small splash of magic against the doorway, checking for wards or, more importantly, traps. She gives Amanda a thoroughly unapologetic look— apparently she's run into trapped wagons enough times she doesn't feel particularly embarassed doing her due diligence before climbing into one.

"Tea. I um… do not drink alcohol," Illyana tells Amanda. Vodka is Emergency Stuff Only, and she eyes the small shot glasses as if they contain a quadruple dose of knockout each.

There is nothing. No wards, no traps. Inside it's very much what one might expect for someone telling fortunes. A table, a nice tablecloth. Cards in a nice pile sitting at the centre of the table. Everything else is behind a curtain. "Take a seat. I'll get everything ready." She moves through the curtain, then purposely opens it, allowing Illyana to see every movement she makes. Back there is her little kitchen and her bed. It's a larger than normal wagon of this time, because at one time it housed two people. For now it's home - on this plane. "I usually don't drink alcohol either," she admits, as she pulls two old teacups from a cabinet. "But I keep some around. Some of the workers here like to have a drink when we're done working."

"Only drink with brother," Illyana explains. "And had one bad day. Did not want after that— even wine does not sit well," she admits.

Her intensely blue eyes meander around the wagon, taking it all in, and watching particularly as Amanda prepares their drinks. She sits with a weirdly ladylike posture that's at odds with that predatory mentality— back stiff, legs together, ankles crossed, and hands folded in the drape of her dress atop her small clutch. "Erm. So… living on Earth now, I see," she remarks, stiffly. "And how do you like it?"

"Always lived on Earth," Amanda says with a slight smile. "Always with this circus," she adds. "I enjoy it. Sometimes I could do without dressing up, but people don't believe fortune-tellers if they don't look…" She makes a face, "…gypsy enough." One can just hear the airquotes around those last two words in the way she says them. After a few more minutes she returns to the table with the teacups. "I hope you don't mind English tea. That's where we were before we crossed the ocean." She clearly means the circus when she says 'we' by the way she reflexively gestures to the set up outside.

The inside of the wagon is very simple. The front part is clearly set up to ply the fortune-telling trade specifically. The more personalized rear has a lot of books, though none seem magical. Lots of fairy tales from various countries, though the titles are all in English or German. The decor is predominantly in blue and green, as well. Even the two rugs kept across the wooden floor. "And you?" she finally asks. "You prefer Earth?"

"Do not know what gypsy means," Illyana says, shruggin one shoulder. "Or English tea over other tea. Will take word for it."

She glances away pointedly, then shrugs one shoulder fitfully. "I… suppose," she says, by which she clearly means 'not really'. Are some things on Earth I like," she says, pinking a bit at her ears. "But is not Limbo— Limbo was my only home for long time. So … takes some getting used to."

Amanda decides this is not the time to start educating Illyana on that word, and why she does not like it. Instead, she focuses on the rest of her answer, nodding. "I can understand that. I have never been, but mother told me other dimensions were very diffeent from Earth." She finally sits down, wrapping hand fully around her cup as she stares into the contents. "It's a little like here. I was born into this circus. I've lived my whole life with these people. Stepping away from this place and going into the city, or town, or whatever place we are near… it's very different… I know it's not the same thing as your Limbo and Earth, but…"

Illyana shifts uncomfortably. "I… may ask, then— what were you doing in that other place, then?" she says. Perhaps a more self-aware person would have demurred, but it's clear Illyana's the sort of person who takes a 'burn a path' approach towards cutting through awkward tension. "If live in Circus and with all these people, in this wagon, then… is strange place for girl from Earth," she remarks, completely missing the point as a Russian orphan who currently resides as the Queen of Limbo in that strange dimension.

Amanda doesn't seem to be bothered by the question. And Illyana is half-right, though Amanda won't admit it - she does maintain a residence in the Winding Way. She considers how to answer for a long moment, punctuating the silence with a sip of tea. Sssssssip. "When you choose to follow the Path, you do it not because you want power," she says carefully. She knows there are people who pervert the Path. People who think they can move ahead more quickly, maintain their high points of power. They're missing the point entirely, in Amanda's view. "It is supposed to teach you… duty, discipline, humility. The Winding Way can defend itself. I've never seen it do so… and you can laugh at my insistence, it's all right. But I can feel it." Surely when Illyana was there, she could note there was… /something/ lurking in the background, watching the two of them? Perhaps she just took it to be Belasco? "But when it comes under attack, or something threatens it, it calls upon someone on the Path. Someone who has proven themselves through their studies. They are asked to come defend it."

"Is that what you were doing there?" Illyana inquires, absorbing this new information like a sponge. Her eyes are alert and attentive as Amanda starts explaining her peculiar magics to the blonde woman. "I was— not entirely clear on why I was there. Er, on the Path," Illyana says. "Only told to walk a certain distance with staff in hand. I thought was perhaps experiment, or study. I could sense /something/ reacting to my presence but then you showed up, and thought—-" she lifts a shoulder in a negligent little shrug. No point in rehashing that. She carefully maneuvers her teacup with her fingertips, then takes a very slow, noisy, cautious sluuuurp of the tea.

Amanda nods. "That's why I was there. At that age, mother preferred I didn't go alone, but even she doesn't dare to go against the Winding Way." …Of course that was the mother she knew. She sighs inwardly, looking into her tea again, and wonders for the billionth time what has happened to her mother. To get her mind off that series of terrible thoughts, she resolves to find some kind of common ground with her guest and asks, carefully, about what Illyana thinks of magic know that she knwos what she does. What her favourite spell is - which seems terribly silly, but it… brings her back to thinking of her mother. Sigh. Something her mother used to ask, after every week's lessons. 'You still like teleporting? Okay…' The chat will last as long as Illyana permits it; Amanda won't force her to stay if she doesn't want to do so.

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