1964-11-08 - Season of the Witch: Strictly Taboo
Summary: Black Magik visits Cypher in his neatly appointed suite in the castle of Him, and gives him something he's wanted.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
douglas illyana 

It's been a few days since Doug was brought to Limbo.

Well. 'Brought' may not be the right word. Kidnapped to Limbo might be more accurate.

Whatever the case, despite the fact that he was stolen away from Earth, locked away in a suite of rooms in a castle that seems to have erupted whole from a volcano (basalt walls, thin sheets of obsidian for windows), he's been treated pretty well. Demonic chefs have brought him meals that are quite good — and without meat, because really, ANY meat one finds in Limbo would be suspect. He's been kept entertained by demons performing somewhat more violent Three Stooges routines (they aren't good at much else in the theater arts, and you do NOT want to hear them sing).

But he's still a prisoner.

Today things are a little different. The usual guard disappears from the door, and then it opens, and Black Magik walks in, regarding the room briefly before turning her eyes on Doug himself. "Doogie, darling," she croons. "I hope you're enjoying your little vacation." Her smile is sardonic. She sweeps her straight black hair black as she approaches the young man.

Eventually Doug gave up on the three stooges routines. "Could I just have a book?"

They brought him a book. He didn't much care for it. Lot of violence in that book. So instead, when Illyana comes in, Doug is doing push-ups, while counting backward to himself in various languages. It keeps the mind occupied and the blood pumping.

"Oh, yeah, it's great." He drops into a sit on the floor, "Being locked in a room, watching demons slap each other… whoever or whatever your chef is," He says, sweeping sweaty blond hair out of his eyes, "Tell him, her… it that the grilled asparagus was perfect. Can I go home now?"

"I'll let him know. There aren't many female demons in Limbo," she observes. "And no, Doug. You can't. I'd say I'm sorry, but that would be a lie. We need you to do some work for him." She drops into an easy cross-legged position not far from where he's sitting, elbows resting on the knees of her black leather leggings. "Once the work is done, we'll see." She pauses a moment. "Assuming there's a home to return you to, anyway." Shrug. "Things break."

Doug looks up, andthen he rolls his head back. "Okay! Well, that begs a lot of questions. Like… who is him. And…" He gets to his feet, "Why in the world would you think I'd do anything at all, especially given that you're cryptically implying that whatever it is you want me to do will probably end the world. I like the world. I live in the world. I get my Sci-Fi magazines there… and so on." He puts his hands behind his back. "Listen, you're being awfully nice to me, for someone who kidnapped me and wants me to unleash something unspeakable. But you're not making the sell here."

"I'm not implying it will end the world. I'm suggesting that there is a possibility that the Institute will be crushed or disintegrated or… you know, things of that sort." Black Magik smiles wryly. "Really, I don't care, though I suppose I can understand why you would. As for -why- you'd help…" Here the woman shifts, leaning back on her palms. "There are plenty of possible reasons. Among them, there are rewards for helping, and punishments for not helping. Really, Doogles, he takes care of those who help him. He's taken fantastic care of me." Her lips quirk. "His name is N'astirh."

"Oh. Well… names have power, so I'm just gonna call him Nasty." Doug sticks his hands in his pockets. "He sounds like a nasty." He bites the inside of his cheek, and then exhales. "Punishments beyond agony? Rewards beyond my ability to conceptualize pleasure? I read a lot, so." Then he looks down, and says, "You know… I feel sorry for you. I can tell just by looking at you that you hate him. Nasty, I mean. But you're stuck, aren't you?"

"Well…" He says, "I guess I'll play along, for now, since I'm guessing I'll be stuck in here until I do, unless he gets annoyed and orders you to put me on the rack or cut off my fingers or go back in time and change my past so I wind up going on Mission and then to law school like dad wanted."

Illyana clucks her tongue softly. "I don't know that I'd call him that to his face," she muses. "But it might be funny if you did. Hate him? No," she says. "I exist because he took the steps that made me possible. And he doesn't ask anything of me that I wouldn't want to do. As for punishments and rewards and yada yada yada, Doogles, the punishments we could perform that are 'beyond agony' are mostly things like killing things you love. And you're a smart guy. You can think of plenty of fun things. I'm not threatening you with anything ridiculous, though really, I like to think you'd appreciate -some- of the potential rewards." She muses on this for a moment or two, glancing away, before returning her eyes to Doug's face. "Torture tends to be pretty pointless anyway. He just wants you to help you construct a spell."

Doug considers this, and then says, "I can roll a quarter across my knuckles. Aside from reading a lot of Robert E. Howard stories, I always left the magic to, well, you." He turns his head to the side, and says, "It's never 'just wants' with things like this. It's 'pull the trigger on an H-Bomb'." Then he says, with a shrug, "But what the heck. I'll jump. I can't stop whatever's going on here from in here, can I?"

"Not so much," Illyana agrees, the corner of her mouth twisting upwards in amusement. "And I know, you aren't experienced with magic, but you -are- experienced with language, Doug. Here…" She pauses a moment, then speaks a dozen words in a language that might drive a normal person insane, hearing just that much. But Doug isn't normal, and neither is Illyana. Both of them can handle the language. Illyana's been handling it for years.

And then she opens a stepping disk, reaches in, pulls out a book. "You can understand the intent and nature of language, can't you?" she says mildly. "We need you to search for the proper spell in this book — they're very subtle. Something to make me the primary among my sisters."

"Limbo is weird." Doug says. "I always wondered if there was another me out there, somewhere — twisted and evil. I always secretly suspected there was, and that you were protecting me from becoming him — and the world from me becoming him. You can hurt a lot of people if you know the right words." Doug reaches out and takes the book, and begins to absently leaf through it. "I can… usually. My understanding is intuitive, hypercognitive. I start picking out the patterns in information and the rest just falls into place."

"Perhaps the other me was," Illyana concedes. "The one you know well. I don't think this knowledge will corrupt you, Doug. It would take more than that. It took more than that for me, or the other two would be as bad as I am." She leans back on her hands, smiling to herself.

"On the other hand," she continues, "while knowing the language doesn't corrupt, saying the wrong words can make things happen. So maybe she's protected you from hurting yourself by trying the wrong words. We'll see, I suppose."

"It's not like I'm some pure white knight. I have secrets. I hide my pot brownies up in a ceiling tile in my room because I think one of Illyana's demons is sniffing them out and eating them. I've said things, done things I'm not proud of." Doug continues to leaf through the book, flipping through pages. "I was in love with her. Am. Her-you-her. But then again, I was also in love with Kitty. And Betsy. Others. I suppose if I have a weakness it's that I fall in love easy. Well, that and being a guy whose power is to speak French around men who turn into steel giants and guys who look like they jumped straight out of scripture. It took me awhile to come to terms with it, but if you love someone, you're happy to love them the way they need to be loved, not in a way that gratifies you. That's just lust, and it's a dead language." He looks up. "Does that make sense?"

"In the grand scheme of things, Doug, somebody who can speak French and Spanish and Russian and Chinese and Swahili and Japanese and Korean and Kiwi and, you know, Lesser Demonic has a -lot- more power than somebody who can turn into steel and deflect bullets and throw cars." Black Magik smiles wryly at this. "See which of you can move a nation to do his bidding. Josef Stalin named himself Joe Steel, but it wasn't because he was literally made of the stuff. At any rate, I know. And she would have let you down as easily as she could, because she cares about you. Souls are weaknesses."

"Yeah, well, highs and lows." Doug says, before he shrugs, "I accept it. IF Illyana - which is to say both of you — has a weakness a lot like her brother's. Piotr always put people, especially Illyana, on a pedestal and didn't understand they weren't who he idealized them to be, and that it could hurt them. Illyana always saw herself as corrupt and everyone around her as essentially pure and in need of protecting. It seemed like an exhausting way to look at the people you care about… but then, you can never completely know another person, or what they're capable of." He looks down, and settles in to read. "I'm going to need to concentrate on this. The words are… strange. Like worms on the page. If you could bring me some tea with lemon I would appreciate it."

"Tea with lemon can be arranged," says Illyana — this Illyana, of course — nodding her agreement. She rises to her feet and heads for the door. "I'll send it up with the guard demon. Have fun, Doug. There's plenty of fun to be had here. Though you may be too pure to appreciate it." She chuckles to herself as she closes the door behind her.

"Something to make you the primary among your sisters, huh." Doug says, as he looks up at the door, and then goes back to leafing through the book. "I can do that. Just have to find the right words…" He flips a page. "And what's that saying? Technically correct is the best kind of correct…?"

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