1964-10-02 - Lighting the Way
Summary: During the Lantern Festival, Baba Yaga attempts to steal some souls.. instead, a ragtag band of paranormal specialists assemble to stop the broom-mother.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
wanda wicked constantine marc-spector hellboy 

The lantern festival has just recently started. Those in Chinatown know of the tradition and there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of lanterns that are lit - impressive in the array of colors and designs. They are all used for the same reason, to send messages. Small handwritings carry notes to be brought to the dead - for those with the sense of the departed can feel that their presence is here heavily tonight, looking down on loved ones that are still here.

They are not the only ones, however. A small portal opens in one of the dirty and laundry strewn alleyways as a group of trolls make their way out into the darkness. They carry their own lanterns as well - perhaps for nefarious means, but have yet to make their presence known.

On the rooftops above, the avatar of Khonshu, God of the Moon, the Reaping Sickle of Justice, keeps his watch. He is cloaked in white, a long cape spilling around his body, a hood obscuring his features, the mask beneath smothering and claustrophobic. It makes him feel a sense of panic, almost, as if he were about to die. It makes his vision sharper and his muscles tense. He is ready for the night.

Moon Knight has been called by dictates beyond his own, one of the numerous voices in his head, the one he calls a god, telling him that something momentous will happen, that bloody-minded evil lurks somewhere amidst the lantern light. Whatever it is, whatever is out there, will answer for its crimes. But, until they make their presence known, he will wait, still as a statue, a mad-eyed gargoyle high above the milling crowd.

Drifting through the festival, Wicked wears a black above-the-knee mini-dress with a white Peter Pan collar. The teen's straight dark hair is tucked behind either ear and let to hang down between her shoulder-blades. She's not Chinese or anything. Hell, she's not even from NYC. But the general theme of the festivities has a certain appeal and well, here she is! Slowing at a standalone lantern, she reaches out and just barely taps the paper with the pad of her fingertip.

Constantine knew the festival. The famed necromancer never missed out on exalting rites of the dead. John was still wearing the suit he slept in last night, and it smelled like two day old cigarette smoke, sage, hickory root, and a faint campfire air that clung to him. Somehow the man managed to stay functioning in spite of his best efforts to the contrary. He could complain, and one might say that was truly where his mystic talents lie, but no.

Tonight was for the dead. Tonight was for the unfortunate living that grieved their losses, and John Constantine was no different bartering whatever favours he could with the other side, whatever offerings and tithes, and vigils he could to curry favour back into Their good graces. Well not Theirs. He'd hold two fingers up to the so called divine beings and tell them right where to shove their high and mighty attitudes. No, tonight he came to give his respects and beg the forgiveness of one little girl, too far from home, and beg her forgiveness.

As irony would have it, his fortune always found him right where he needed to be for ill or better. Some might argue it was karma helping him do exactly what he trying to accomplish: Get back in karma's good graces. Funny that.

Chinatown's smells are so varied and different. Sweet, smoky, yet cleanliness hangs in the air over the whole scene, the smell of cleaning chemicals that is so thick that it could be it's own blanket. A group of people in a dragon costume dance down the street while several more patrons celebrate, not mourning, but exalting the lives of the ones that have passed.

In the alleyway, the trolls finish setting up, talking to each other in Russian.

«Is it time?»

«It is. Begin the chants.»

The lanterns that have been set out around a roughly hewned pentagram that takes up most of the alley is alit with the lanterns set at the corners.

«Come home, come home, the broom-mother calls you. Come home, come home, the broom-mother needs you. Come to find peace. Come to find release. Come now, the day is done.»

The spirits, invisible to most, start to feel the pull. That want to move away from the lanterns of their loved ones, towards that alley. A cold chill passes through Constantine as one of the spirits passes nearby.

Wicked can feel it too - a certain tug. A pull of the soul - one that calls to be answered; but answered with reluctance. They do not want to leave their family, but some supernatural force is pulling forth their immortal souls towards that alley.

In the midsts of it all, there is a large red demon in a diner, chowing down on a large plate of food. "Look, Bennie, you still owe me." he says to the ghost across from him. "I won that bet fair and square."

«You collect now, I go..» the ghost response to Hellboy in broken English as he too is pulled away.

"'ey, wasn't done talkin' to you yet!"

Inexpensive herbs and produce unfamiliar to a western eye draw Wanda out, on the surface of things. For all the world she steps from a traditional apothecary shop tucked off the main drag into a full out festival. Rotten fruit, crushed flowers, and moon cakes greet the senses primed for the odd. Her acquisition hangs from the belt of oddments wrapped around her waist, carefully placed. Wouldn't do to crush her purchases before they see their use. In that typical burgundy jacket of immaculate tailoring and layered wards, she melts a little better into the riotous night. Celebrations represent life on the bleeding edge, joy elevated over a weak sheen of anxiety and hectic perturbation that calls to the witch.

All the better to sink into the revelry, covered by the lanterns and the smiling masses. The landscape conceals her on her hunt, the snow leopard using natural camouflage to conceal her presence. It's easy; she's just a girl among ghosts, drawn deep into the masses. Her heels beat the dragon dance, the Sight utterly saturating her vision cued to the blur of impressions and the hollow tolling of Saturn and Antares.

The Knight may sense something in the air, a tingle on the back of his neck, a footstep crossing over the grave. But he doesn't have the awareness possessed by the more sensitive denizens of the street, attuned, for the moment, to the physical alone, but remaining watchful and wary until hell breaks inevitably loose.

Wicked pulls her finger away from the paper lantern she'd been touching. Her head turns on her neck and from behind heavy, wing-tipped mascara, her dark gaze settles in the vague direction of the tug. Breathing in through her nostrils and holding a good supply of air in her lungs, Wicked… 'tugs back.' The young woman goes through the inner motions of manifesting a spirit, stopping just short of going all the way. A quiet, ever-so ladylike 'I'm here.'

Constantine was passing the diner. It was the chill that stopped him. That he expected. When he turned it was noting the demon that caught him. His feet pulled up short and he turned with a sigh muttering, "Not my problem… not my problem… not my… bollocks." He winces and cursed inwardly to himself. Damn damn… and damned again. He pulled the door open and approached… Hellboy? He paused at the sawed off horns, and the stone gauntlet hand. he lobbed the probing question out there, "They giving you a sport of trouble, mate?"

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d20 for: 13

|ROLL| Wicked +rolls 1d20 for: 6

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d20 for: 8

|ROLL| Constantine +rolls 1d20 for: 5

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d20 for: 14

The spirits, those that are older, and the very young, are drawn to the Russian's song as it eminates from the portal. Soft at first, the cheerful tune coaxes and tempts - and is unheard by most except for those with spiritual awareness. As they come into the alley, the trolls usher them towards the portal, collecting, quietly, gleefully stealing the dead from this place.

Rising from his table to set down some cash, Hellboy blinks as he's approached by Constantine, the large red demon with yellow eyes giving a snort. "Ain't got a problem here. But we're both about to have a problem." the large demon mutters.

Wicked's pull is tugged upon harder. Whatever is drawing in the spirits has definetly grabbed her as well. It wants to pull her close, perhaps something that senses her abilities, and wants to twist them - to use them in its own way.

Wanda and John can hear the song - the pied piper's call, and the old woman's voice that is behind it.

//Ysabella, beware the Baba Yaga
If you're caught out late at night then
Ysabella, if you see the Baba Yaga

Pestle and mortar in full flight then
Ysabella, run from the Baba Yaga
Run from the Baba Yaga
Run girl, run girl, run
If the Baba Yaga catches you you're done//

Wanda walks in the dark. No lantern for her to light the way and serenade her ancestors across the veil. Her thumb toys with a bone charm hung around her waist, one of many embedded spells carried on a scattered variety of media. Coins and tokens hum on the knotted, angled scarf. Her ears are alert to a patois of Cantonese, Mandarin, and English interrupted by those odd sighs and murmurs beyond. Russian sticks out to a girl raised in the Union's long red shadow.

Her steps change to follow the rhythm of the song, speeding up to the tempo or slowing with it. Far from her to haunt the mouth of the alley. Her silhouette melts into the darkness so very well, all but her golden face.

In a sense she mirrors Wicked's path at a remove, headed to the building rather than the gap. Fire escapes are beautiful things. She hasn't seen the knight on high or the gutter mage on low with his brindled red demon quarry. Or if she has it's a blur through the phantasmal lens.

The confrontation between the big red devil and the rumpled man in the trenchcoat certainly draws Moon Knight's attention. He fires a line from his truncheon, swinging across the street to land like a gargoyle, perching in a windowsill with his cloak wrapped tight around him, like a shaft of moonlight made flesh.

He feels the pressure behind his eyes, Khonshu's presence roaring in his ears, blotting out song and light and thought, yet he doesn't know its source, can't hear that siren call. He just feels it, like a barometer dropping before a storm with him a lightning rod, trembling in anticipation of the strike.

The air trapped in Wicked's lungs escapes as through no will of her own, she finds herself taking a step forward and then another. The muscles in the girl's slender neck flinch as she draws back her head in indignation. The teen's small hand traces her dress, balling up the fabric at her chest as she, perhaps naively, allows herself to be drawn closer towards the source of the sensation. It becomes her focus and though she's mindful of maneuvering the crowd, she isn't exactly looking at faces.

Constantine eyed the demon for a long, long moment. There was a problem, he was certain and it was the one thing he really hated most; someone being needy. It was even needy in a compulsive manner which he really hated. His eyes were drifting, searching for something. Absently he agreed with Hellboy, "Oi, you may be right. We have us a party crasher I think." Idle note to self, come back for that. He looked down and curiously wondered when he exited the diner. When did he cross the street and where was he presently headed. Instead of slowing down a hand dropped to his pocket and the tattooed Brit started picking a path towards the sound source. In retropect this was a terrible idea.

When they enter the alley, the view is bleak for those that are able to see it it. Within the parthenone of lanterns, the outline of a ramshackle home stands. It barely looks like a shack, and there is no way it could hold the people that seem to be willingly walking into it. Outside of it, near the spiritual home is four trolls, making sure all is well.

That is until one of them seems Wicked enter the alley. "«Interloper!»" comes the cry in Russian to the others.

"«Stop her! She'll break the spell!»" They seem to have not sensed Wanda or Marc above them, as one of the trolls moves out to try to grab Wicked. "«I will have her bones as my toothpicks!»"

|ROLL| Marc Spector +rolls 1d20 for: 5

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d20 for: 17

|ROLL| Constantine +rolls 1d100 for: 7

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d100 for: 68

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d100 for: 17

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d20 for: 8

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d20 for: 18

Pretty glimmering caught in wedged paper does not distract Wanda overly much. Hand over hand she climbs the fire escape, scraping her heavily treaded soles on the risers. A sketchy lift elevates her over the lip of the building, her hands firm on the topmost rung as a bit of wiggling and importune scrabbling help her attain the rooftp vantage she wants. There are faster climbers, notably her twin, but she gets by and approaches the alley low, crouched down.

Well enough to see the trolls and their ephemeral quarry in the wrong light, maybe even the shape plied on the ground. Her teeth set but it's too late to cry out. Rather, she does what she knows best: her fingertips reach forth to catch the silvery strands caught in smoke and peppery moss that define Wicked in her enchanted gaze. Oak strands snap and braid to newfound arrangements as she lightly twists a fresh destiny of the old. Neat gestures carry a fluid precision that comes quick, the protection invoked in Gaea's name descending light as a dream.

Moon Knight follows from above, another line fired, swinging in the wake of Hellboy and Constantine. He finds himself at the apex of the alleyway, looking down upon the scene as Wicked enters into the purview of the trolls. His Russian may be a touch rusty, but he gets the gist well enough. The dark-haired girl is in danger. These monstrosities serve no good.

Justice will be served.

He makes his presence felt with a flick of his wrist, sending razor-edged crescent darts down at least -towards- the faces of the trolls, somersaulting to land between them and Wicked. He snaps his truncheon, breaking it into nunchaku, the chain gleaming between the staves as he starts to swing it in promise.

«The only bones about to be broken are yours, monsters.» he says in their tongue.

Wicked is shaken from her compliant mental fog and with a sudden jerk, resists the tug with a PULL of her own. Her hands lift in the air in front of her as if to form claws. "What are you doing to them?!" She demands in a strange accent of her own. A scentless, ethereal-mist the color of putrid pea-green rises up around the girl's feet. It's a vulgar, necrotic influence not fit to intermingle with Wanda's lovely magic. The deathly mist creeps its way up Wicked's legs and back before accumulating into a single grotesque likeness above her shoulder.

A ghost nearly twice Wicked's size materializes there. In full decay with the tattered remains of a traditional Chinese bridal headdress atop its sunken scalp, the ghoul pantomimes an aggressive gesture towards the troll before it passes through Wicked entirely — aiming to place itself between the girl and her aggressor.

Constantine held out index finger and pinky on both hands and knew this was going to end poorly. Good god the trolls were getting uglier by the day too. Their smell didn't do much to impress either. All these people? They were here to grieve the lost and many far from their families overseas. Too close to home. Maybe it was the whispers in the wind. Maybe it was the pitch that the troll kept singing in that sounded like Astra's voice that threw his concentration. Neither he nor Hellboy were making headway here.

Halfway through the attempt at the counter curse, trying to sing over then and change the course of the summons there was a push back. He was unfavourably out of practice at ancient Russian charms. The discord from the house stabbed at his head sending him staggering. Teeth set he took a moment and growled back to them, "Baba Yaga? Vernites' domoy i skazhite babushke, chto oni ne sobirayutsya s ney segodnya. POZVOL'TE IKH OTDYKH!"

Pulling out the large sidearm that Hellboy uses, the large demon was just about to fire when one of the demons catches him across the jaw. And then Constantine starts speaking in Russian, and the creature just blinks in confusion. "Damn it." he growls, feeling the magical energies from Wanda and looks up at her. "Hey! You, the hot witch! Can you disrupt the circle?!" he calls up to Wanda.

The Chinese bride pulled from Wicked takes it's defensive stance - but like candy to a child, the powerful spirit summons forth the house. Tendrils leave the circle, breaking it's protective barrier as the green broom-mother's avatar reaches towards the bride to try to take her, claim her as her own and draw yet more power from Wicked's abilities.

The troll that Marc was attacking moves out of the way and yells at him in Russian, before swiping his claw at the Moon Knight, before trying to smash his hands down on the Knight.

Marc Spector takes a glancing blow along his shoulder, stumbling to one knee as the troll assaults him. The roaring in his head grows more intense, Khonshu screaming in his head for his failure, demanding her make up for his lack.

Low as he is, Moon Knight takes advantage, his nunchaku lashing out at the troll's knees, trying to take his legs out from under him even as he drives up and forward, a violent rage overtaking him as he fights his inhuman foe.

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d20 for: 1

|ROLL| Marc Spector +rolls 1d20 for: 4

Wicked cries out, stumbling backward and swatting at the air around her as if throwing off tendrils as if they were coming at her personally. To avoid capture by the tendrils, the ghost is prompted to bob and weave around the troll's face and head, swatting menacingly (but also, y'know, ethereally) as it goes. From behind Wicked materializes a second ghost. A groom to spiral forward in a dance with the spirit bride, aiding in further obscuring the troll's focus and hopefully, splitting the house's attention.

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d100 for: 57

|ROLL| Constantine +rolls 1d100 for: 2

|ROLL| Constantine +rolls 1d100 for: 64

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d100 for: 10

|ROLL| Hellboy +rolls 1d100 for: 35

Constantine looked back to Wanda who was composed and regal as ever in the survey of the battle. It was in Russian still that John asked her "Help me counter the circle around the house. We can push it back and buy them time" There were restless souls being fed to the house. Innocents that should be laid to rest. Dammit he was no closer in helping Astra, but he could prevent another from following suit to a fate they didn't deserve or earn.

The trench coat… came off and the sleeves went back up. He waited for Wanda to be ready and began the counter spell, this time in unison tacking the circle from two sides. "Vo imya Sudenitsy i dolguyu noch' ya vas izgonyayu i suzhu. YA prikazyvayu vam uyti i vernut' etikh detey v beskonechnyy son" ("In the name of Sudenica and the long night I cast you out and judge you. I command you to leave and return these children to the endless slumber")

The words came out with an intent of purpose that was finally befitting of his reputation as the Constant One and not simply 'Gutter Mage' as some have condemned his rakish tactics. Those tattoos down his arms seemed to glow faintly like smoldering embers. The house was a force of nature, and this was going to take teamwork and precision, and between the two of them there was a wailing as forces collided and they started to push it back and unbind that protection barrier.

The second summoning draws the house out further, as it seeks Wicked's groom with the bride.. at the same time, it does draw it out of it's circle of protection. Hellboy's Good Samartian barks out, missing the troll he was firing at completely. The troll on Marc moves to strike and then trips on itself, leaving itself completely open to the Moon Knight's attack, the creature screaming and dissolving into a pile of gunk that's not fit to leak out of a trash bin.

Constantine and Wanda's concert is a good one. A powerful one. And with the witch herself not present, the circle is broken and the house screams out in pain, flailing as it grabs the trolls to drag back into its own hell before the lanterns wink out of light and collapse to the ground.

She worked her fingers to the bone
And when she thought she was alone
She knelt and clasped her hands to pray.
No sooner had she started speaking
Baba Yaga stood there, screeching
Broken, crippled, howling out in pain.

The spirits that were gathering disperse, as the midnight hour approaches, the celebration in the streets continuing behind the heroes as if nothing had ever happened.

Marc Spector flicks the muck off of his white cloak, the fabric luckily highly stain resistant. The grim vigilante turns and looks at his fellow warriors, meeting their eyes for a brief moment before he gives a simple nod. His arm flicks again, sending a crescent boomerang up and into the rafters, lashing a grapple in place before he scrambles up back into the shadows from whence he came.

The moon god, for tonight, is satisfied. Or, at least, as close as that bastard ever gets.

Wicked dissipates her ghostly thralls just as soon as it is safe to do so. She staggers, dizzied from the frenzied flying of not one but two. With a hand pressed to the flat of her stomach to right her nerves and a worried glance spared for those still present, the girl backpedals her way out of the alley — towards the relative safety that the Lantern Festival's crowds might offer.

Constantine looked like he'd been rung through the ringer. It wounds like chanting and a lot of clutched fingers waving in the air but when some entity forces it's will on the world to say I exist, and your response is 'no you are mistaken, sod off'? It took a lout out of a person.

John was catching his break when the last vestiges of the house and its custodians vanished. He looked up to Marc and Hellboy with a slow nod, and a modicum of his respect. "Well done lads." The young woman left. Interesting though it was for the best. That was a different pile of interesting skills all together. He pulled his trench coat from where it was tossed earlier and then, almost reverent with apology he picked up a dropped lantern. John looked around for it's rightful owner. Gone. Maybe it was kismet that it wound up with him. Maybe karma was letting him know he could let these people go in responsibility. Maybe karma could kiss his arse.

John Constantine took the lantern and rejoined the parade of lights quietly keeping an eye out again for someone he owed apology to.

Hellboy stands there for a moment, as everyone else runs off, and gives a grunt. "…I ain't writing the report for this." he says as he turns to plod off. "Damn Chinatown. Beer around here tastes like piss and lucky cats everywhere." And he's on his way as well.

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