1964-10-17 - Asgard Aflame: Yggdrasil I
Summary: A brief interlude between the gasping violence and the horrors to come.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
rogue kai bucky strange 


They've been through the dark, and the cold. Taken wounds, drained magic to the dregs, gained new selves and taken more lives. Storm and strife and struggle.

Which makes where they arrive now perhaps….anticlimactic. For it's somewhere fair and calm. They're on the side of a low hill, which rolls down into a broad flat valley full of tended fields and groves, glimmering lakes and houses, and what can only be a village in the distance. Behind them is a wood of what looks like aspens and beeches and oaks, leaves shimmering in a breeze. The slant and brightness of light is that of an early afternoon in the beginning of autumn. No sign of giants or dark elves or anything that doesn't belong in the pleasanter sort of storybook, really.

Thor comes down in the obligatory superhero landing, because Rule of Cool, right? Mjolnir's still in his hand, his posture battle-ready….but as he looks around it relaxes, his shoulders drooping. Then he's turning in search of each of his companions.

Kai comes rolling hard and hits the ground like a sack of wet potatoes. He's usually so light on his feet, but this is a hard landing, curls flopped over his face. He blows them out of the way and drags himself to his feet. "Wait a minute," he says. "I know this place." His moonglow dims to a thin aura. "We can't be…"

Up the hillside, there is a house. A fine house. One might call it a manor. It's a lovely place, stately in its way, and it overlooks a vast vineyard. "Oh son of a—" Kai shoves his hair out of his eyes. "Can we go back to Svartalfheim?"

Drained a magician to the dregs. Fell through the black rainbow. Crossed the veil of death enriched by life. Scarlett unleashed those bold, cruel succubus smiles on white-masked gaunts. All good things must come to an end, and by the same token, all bad things halt too. It's about the only thing she can hold onto, shivering under the borrowed guise until selectively dispelled. When they do, the proof lies in the complectory pudding: emerald eyes are replaced by flaming rubies hotter than the surface of a supermassive red giant, her skin the dusken shade of hotter stars and glacial lakes. It's rare for the totality of an absorption to so dramatically shift her body composition, but there it is, the study of foxfire braids and frost giant soul, dark elf ears. A rime of ice on her gloves attests how dark, how deep from that chalice she drank. It may be they can't see this but the Sorcerer Supreme of Midgard (and not here), in which case she's a slightly ragged and self-possessed Trickster manifesting the kiss of winter without the least hint of difficulty. Disquieting?

Separation and distance around her gives the conceptual notion of self-control. Stocking feet gives an excuse to pull off those mired boots, mangled despite using handfuls of snow that appear whenever she thinks of neige, obscuring drifts, and billows. The blood and muck shunned onto plants sickened by the odd acid rain spell add another unwanted dimension. Well, so be it.

With the escape from the collapsing realm of the Dark Elves markedly a success, Strange could count himself happy. That being said…where is the crimson Cloak? It's a rather vibrant splash of color, even in this bright place full of fresh air and a cleanliness nearly to be tasted.

From on the edge of the trees flits the relic, checkered internal laying flashing sans a body to block it out. It wiggles its collars imperiously — dramatically? — before whirling about again in a fluid rippling of hem and back towards the woodline, specifically to a limp bundle lying on the very edge of the canopy's shade. Drank to the dregs indeed — the Vishanti use their chosen hard.

OF course, it's too good to be true. He may be no close friend of the Doctor, but Strange has stood Buck in good stead more than once. Which is why his heart clenches like a fist at that sight. He's running for the fallen Sorcerer with that ungainly bulldog hustle, skidding to a stop at his side. What he can do for magic shock or something else….not much. But he's lifting Strange into his arms, without hesitation. "Cloak, can you help me carry him?" he asks, as if the relic were a loyal pet who might understand.

The moment Kai spies Strange, he forgets about where they are and bolts for him. "No, no, no, no, no," he murmurs. "Wait," he says. "I can help him." As he jogs up, he pulls from the inside of his cloak an baseball-sized crystal apple. "Remember?" he says with a weak, strained smile that does little to dispel the worry etched in his youthful features.

Handfuls of snow packed down the line of her supple boots leave a myriad rainbow of black, oiled blood suspended in a garnet infusion. Rust bleeds out onto the ground, whatever constitutes ground. Earth. Stone. The air holds no cold to the Trickster en ciel, and if anything, the cloying air draws clammy and too moist into lungs preferring the bitter chill and lofty heights. Still, 'he' holds his arms around himself after sending a spray of razor-sharp ice shuriken flying out with a shake of his hands. Inconvenient, that. Winter Soldier-Thorling, meet Winter King-Lokasenna. Footsteps crunch as the rime forms and cracks under each impression, a trail of frost whispering ghost white in the tapering wake. Ruby eyes seethe with flame behind the illusion.

"Other options. I can reset parts of his pattern. Ugly. But not impossible."

The Cloak doesn't pause for a second. Help is at hand, both flesh and metallic alike, and it's quickly one-half of the support for the limp Sorcerer. Is he dead? He certainly lies there as such, all long limbs devoid of movement and head pillowed by chance against Bucky's chest. Over six feet of lean muscle is still hard to hoist, so points to the Soldier-Thorling for his efforts before the relic begins to aid.

With the nearness of the hauntingly-different guise of LokaScarlett comes the presumed comparative drop in temperature. Strange breathes; this becomes clear by the faintest wisping of mist before his lips. It's a slow thing, a bit unsteady, but still, proof of a candlelight, even low-burning as it is.

"Shit," says Thor, and the voice and accent are, for one moment, still pure Brooklyn. "Kai, let's get him back to the van and try that first." He's got first-hand experience of that apple's abilities, and maybe it'll work even better, here in its homeland. Or a variant of it, anyhow. "This is more than just hypothermia, isn't it?" He looks at Scarlett and blinks for a moment, before he and the Cloak are scooting back to the relative shelter of the van - because of course the van came with them. It's a pleasant afternoon where they are, but it's cool enough it won't help warm up someone in desperate need of heat.

Kai shoots a less than friendly look Scarlett's way. He's looking at Loki, only it's not Loki. On some level, he's a creature of instinct, and his instincts are screaming at him It doesn't belong, get rid of it. "This is a less ugly way," he says, then looks away.

He follows after, and the apple lights up a silvery moonlight glow from within, thrumming to the elf's heartbeat. Never mind that he looks tired around the edges. He's of Alfheim. He's made of stern stuff. "Loosen his shirt, please," he says.

Thinned eyes veil the pomegranate treachery bleeding under the false front that distorts race, height, hair, gender. Snow falls from the parched air, the dewpoint driven through the bedrock. Lips circle, and blow out a snowy cloud of condensation. Flecked by flakes, the cold radiates outwards hard to claw the centigrade lower and finer. "Suit yourself." Fingers roll and curve, a snowball dripped down, shaped from the lump that forms. The Soul-Thief takes a short route away from the others, headed to the cover of whatever constitutes trees, rocks, a very pretty little house with gardens if that's all that is there. Hardly relevant what. Something to pass through, nebulous mists of the temperature-shocked air closing around. Take a jotnar from the mountain heights, and eventually heights they will find or winter's unbeating heart. Shunning sky, the trail goes literally cold when elevated off the ground an acceptable number of inches. Neither is the Trickster particularly given to staying with the others or being followed, it seems, and off she goes.

A little cold, yes, especially in the peripheries, but that's to be expected when the heart rate is sluggish. Blood carrying warmth doesn't travel fast and thus, much of it stays in the torso, which benefits the organs in their own way. One can survive without a hand, after all.

Strange is nonresponsive, even when someone works open the storm-blue battle-tunic and the lacings of the undershirt, a sturdy dyed cotton beneath. The cuts upon his temple and jawline are clotted and blood still dries in a sheet on his upper lip, but it seems the outfit in celestine took the brunt of the frost grenade's sharding earlier. Still, there's the rosacia of subdermal bruising, as if the concussive wave alone did a bang-up job. The Cloak lingers nearby, casting a shadow outside of the van, absolutely doing an imitation of the patient hound beside its master's bed.

There's a glance cast after Scarlett - dog-longing is plain, even though Buck's features have been recast on a far nobler scale in the transformation. But he's clearly assuming that she's gone in search of help or aid. He sets aside his winged helm, settles by Strange's side - they've got the Sorcerer lying on the blankets in the van, the better to wrap him up if it proves to be warmth he needs more of.

His fingers are careful, as he undoes as much of the willworker's shirt as he can. It does need skin to crystal exposure. "Thank God you brought that," he tells Kai.

Guilt immediately pinches Kai's features when Scarlett moves away from them. He bows his head and says quietly, "Bucky, will you tell her I said I'm sorry? She'll probably be of more use than I in the long run. It's just hard seeing him like this." His worst nightmares about his mate brought to life is messing with him, even if the cause is good. It's not him, it's not going to be him.

He lays the apple on the Sorcerer's chest, over his heart, and he tugs off a glove to keep his bare skin against it. The silverblue glimmer brightens into a golden glow that beats in time with Strange's heart. The soothing, warming sensation flows into Strange, seeking out the worst damage first and, of course, using the elf's own lifeforce to mend. Something he's given no thought to. He's used to being much stronger than the damage most Midgardians can tolerate.

Of course this is an immortal being who can take levels of damage the elf probably can't comprehend, but he just doesn't think. Silly little elf.

The Apple counts the steady if not larghetto thumps of Strange's heart. At first, it's a predictable pattern, the crystalline fruit like a firefly in constant blips. Then comes the upkick, timed with a stronger rise of his chest.

Between the Alfheimian slipsilver of lifeforce into his soul-font and the Apple's clarion call to life itself, all seems to reverse in brilliantly quick motion. Visible wounds knit shut by an invisible needle threaded in moonlight and the reddening of swelling torsal bruise fades away as if scrubbed once by a large cloth. Another deeper breath…and another…and then the Sorcerer scrunches his eyes tightly. The exhale is rusty, ground out in an amalgamation between remembered sizzled nerves and the grogginess of a long nap.

"Son of a bitch from the seven hells, what…" He blinks a few times, dark lashes fluttering, and then the glassy expression fades quickly as the Apple pulses a few more times, clearing up the cobwebs of overextertion.

But — it can't overwhelm the geas on the Sorcerer: thou shalt not remember if the Vishanti borrowed you. Ain't that a kick. A smack of his lips and he sits up carefully in the blanket pile, holding out a scarred hand before himself.

"Kai — Barnes, good, what — Svartalfheim, it's…the winged Queen? Where's Scarlett?" She's the one missing from the interior of the van. Outside, the Cloak inscribes a happy dance in the air before returning to float nearby again.

"I'm Thor now, for this world. It's a long fuckin' story, Doc," Bucky says. He looks….like Bucky Barnes repainted by Frank Frazetta. Mighty thews, braided brown hair, blue-black armor and livery, the whole shebang. But the expression is still the same - he's developed a default of grim worry. "You got us out. I'm guessing from Kai's reaction we're in a version of his home realm. Scarlett's here……around somewhere. I gotta go find her," he says, levering himself out of the van's side door. He slings Mjolnir at his hip, settles his helm under his arm, and turns in the direction he saw Rogue depart.

Kai says quietly, "I was a jerk, and she left. Because I'm a jerk." He offers Strange a brittle smile. "I have nightmares, you know, about him becoming like that. I didn't realize seeing it would hit me so hard." He takes the apple away and puts it back in his cloak. He proves strong still, though the lines of tiredness around his eyes have deepened. He'll sleep this one off well.

"Can you stand? Are you going to be okay?" He gets to his feet and offers his hand to Strange. "We're in Alfheim, or the alternate version. That's my gran's manor up on the hill. I imagine she's even worse here since everyone has become all crazy and vile."

"I'll be fine," Strange replies to Kai quietly. He looks back to the Elf after watching the shifted Winter Soldier take his leave of them and slowly shakes his head. "…if I'd know what was going to happen in Jotunheim, I would have taken the Hammer myself." He swallows and rubs at the place where the Apple sat, overtop his heart. There's a warmth there, but nothing uncomfortable — it's a bit like a ray of sunshine, not hot enough to risk sunburn.

"…thank you, Kai." It's a smidgeon sheepish, his gratitude, but true enough given how he holds the Elf's eyes. "I am in your debt." And what a debt it is.

He's trudging off in the rough direction….but he's not that good at tracking someone in flight. So he's yelling for her as well, veering in hope towards that house seen already. Maybe she's gone to seek help?

Gods willing, the inhabitants of the manor won't take offense at his presence. He's got his helm off and his weapon out of hand….and honestly, Buck's moving like he's immensely tired. That's been a rough few days, if nothing like it's been for the others.

Kai tilts his head as he regards Strange. "You're my friend," he says. Then he smiles, if wearily, and claps Strange on the arm. "Come on." The anger covering up fear has faded now that the fear itself has reared its head in his mind: his Loki could go mad and do this; what if there's nothing he can do to stop fate? He shivers a little, and he peers around looking for where Rogue might have gone.

When he sees Bucky heading toward the manor, he grimaces, then says, "Maybe in this version, she's a sweet old lady who has cookies." One can be optimistic. He calls out Scarlett's name as well, adding, "I'm sorry! I was a jerk!"

"I think I see…." Buck's voice trails off. "Kai, go see if we can get help from the house, please," He may be a thunder god, but he's not gonna boss around the elf. This is where elves live, ater all.

T hen he's wading in to the forest, following those traces of cold and ice, moving at that hunter's pace. When he finally does find her, he doesn't speak. The shake of the head has him nodding, and sitting down. Leaning himself against a tree, in fact, and inspecting what he can find of himself with a monkey's curiosity. Flexing the right hand, suddenly far more muscular and sinewy - Barnes was never a big man, not like Steve.

Kai nods to Bucky and murmurs under his breath, "I'd still rather face Svartalfheim than that battle axe." Still, this is alternate reality grandma, if it's even her at all. "Shall we?" he says to Strange as he makes his way up the hill toward the manor. "If she's anything like mine, she'll treat you fine; it's me she can't approve of."

He continues to search the land around for Scarlett, guilt nagging at his gut along with the lingering fear her current visage represents. He knows the Prince's heart, and it's not evil, but neither were any of them, not at first. And not one iota of that is Scarlett's fault.

Which rain ends up with a bit of inadvertant absurdity. Ice water down the back of the tunic under his armor has Bucky jumping to his feet in a rattle of mail and doing a whole set of shoulder isolations as he tries to get at the errant drop. It only makes it worse as it wends its way down the valley of his spine. Let me show you the dance of my people. If Mjolnir had a face, and a hand, they'd be meeting, palm first. You gotta make do when the pickings are slim. Maybe the elf would've been better.

Bits of snow and rain mingle if one knows where to look. No matter how nice it happens to be outside, it's not entirely pristine spring-time in happy Alfjar-land.

Strange takes a moment to relace his undershirt, drawing the strings to their proper tension and knotting them firmly. He shrugs the tunic back on and as soon as he's one step out of the van, the Cloak is on him with all the disturbing affection it can muster.

Thankfully, the group misses most of it. He's left to wrestle his arms free of the enveloping folds and wince at the friendly and soft slapslapslap of the collars. "Calm down," he mutters, "I'm fine." The relic does as told, though it does tickle beneath his earlobe in passing, probably to make the man dance. Hey, his legs work just fine!

He's otherwise a silent presence behind the others, trekking along in fine mettle given the Apple's healing. All better, even if his expression is moderately dark. There are some serious introspections going on and damn that geas to all the hells. The gap is memory isn't amusing.

Kai holds his ungloved hand to the weather and squints, though he's distracted by Bucky. He laughs, despite himself, and says, "I think that one will catch on in the Village." He takes a deep breath and lets it out. Breathe in Alfheim's beauty, breathe out everything else that has happened today.

He glances around to keep track of Bucky and Strange (and another vain glance for Scarlett), then he approaches. There are lovely roses growing on the grounds, a nice little garden to walk through on the way to the manor doors. "She loves these bloody flowers," he says to no one in particular.

'Tis a glance bound to be in vain because hiding away in the natural world by remaining terribly still and shrouded in shadow, foliage, and the occasional spinning of mist is altogether too easy. Scarlett's not moving to give herself up, any more than she has any intention of bestirring herself for something short of nuclear apocalypse. No suggestions found otherwise.

Strange goes home.

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