2303/Kingmaker: What Does It Mean

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Kingmaker: What Does It Mean
Date of Scene: 02 July 2020
Location: Recreation Room
Synopsis: Plans are made! Stealth, guile, trickery... easy enough, right?
Cast of Characters: Emma Frost, Illyana Rasputina, Julian Keller, Gabby Kinney, Douglas Ramsey, Ruth Aldine, Rahne Sinclair, James Proudstar, Julio Richter

Emma Frost has posed:
It's been a couple of days since Julian and friends had brought down the house... literally... in Los Angeles, retrieving the demonically written contract for the possession of Julian Keller's soul. Illyana has had some time to pour over it, looking for fine print, loopholes, tidbits of information.

And so they've gathered to discuss the details... and how to retreive something very, very important to Julian himself.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Illyana's absence in the school should not be terribly surprising, given her general protectiveness of her privacy. When the time comes, she appears on time with trusty backpack slung over her shoulder and its contents completely obscured by sufficient warding to fell an ox for a decade. The two heavy tomes wrapped in the musty pretext of time land lie on the table, exuding a frosty chill to anyone within close proximity. "The terms your father struck are laid out here." It's an unimpressive document on the surface, not written on human skin or painted in blood, but sufficiently detailed to warrant her laying her hands on either side and drawing a double seal: one charged with elemental power, the second one responsible for blood staining her lips because the celestial magic channeled through a beseeched prayer flays flesh and soul.

But there it is, the weight of betrayal. The stylings are elaborate and almost ornate, for Julian alone to read in any detail. "The demon was thorough, I grant him that. William received generous rewards for two human souls. Your older brother and your own, on the conditions that your life would not be cut short by the malignancy in your genetic code." A brief pause. "The predisposition for specific cancers, as it is. He lays it out in exquisite detail on pages four to nine, such the corrections and side effects are sufficiently clear for me to confirm he fulfilled that term of the contract. You are not dead, after all. Your family profited handsomely. For the most venal and unconcerned of men, a more than fair trade. Given the desperation that drove him, William must have bargained. And your brother and you held special value as currency, which he never contemplated." Trust someone mired in infernal politics to understand the finer points of demonic law. Don't ask the routes walked through Limbo and among the damned souls caught in different realms ruled by her fellow Hell-Lords to reach that understanding.

It's in moments like this her tenuous humanity lies by the slimmest thread.

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller had mostly kept to himself after the events at his house. Probably not surprising. A great deal of time spent in his room listening to ear-bleeding music or going down to the Danger Room and unleashing his TK in a protected environment, allowing him to just destroy things to work out his aggression. The rage in him now was almost a permanent state, a bubbling, seething cauldron in the soul of the privileged boy.

When Illyana called the meeting, he'd arrived in a loose tank top and a pair of baggy shorts, the sheer lack of fashion a sure sign that not everything was right with him. He listens to Illyana's explanation and slowly sits up, "Not sure I followed all that. Does that mean, if we find a way to undo this...thing," he says, "That I'll end up getting cancer and dying?" He almost said like my brother but held it back. He wasn't entirely sure his brother succumbed to illness. He'd had visions of his father plunging a knife into a kid stuck in his head. He couldn't imagine even that old bastard doing it...but he couldn't avoid a suspicion that it was possible.

So yeah, he's a little fucked up right now.

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney was there as well regarding Julian with a look of obvious worry. She's by his side though being near and hoping it helps because there wasn't a lot she could do right now regardless. This wasn't something she could just shoot or stab or hug away. So she listens to Illyana intently hoping with a half-forced smile that there was some way to get out of this without making matters worse.

"I don't... I don't quite get it. I mean, clearly he was upset over Julian's brother. He fought for a long time for him it seems. And," she adds with a gesture toward the Evil Tome of Doom and the contract, "It sounds like he was worried about Julian's future, too, enough to add in about him not getting cancer. So why was he always such a giant dick to Julian all his life? Or, like, if he was so worried about Julian's future he could have offered his own soul." A sigh escapes her, and she shrugs. "Sorry. I know I think too much. I guess I kind of am wondering if doing this made him go evil in some kinda way. It's a pretty evil thing to do."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug, having gone through an array of mishaps not relevant to the current crisis, is sitting with one foot up on another chair, in his slacks and sweater-vest and incongruous hi-tops, fingers filded in his lap as he listens intently.

He's got a book settled on one thigh - he's been reading "Faust" - in German.

"People can love another person - and still be completely messed up and absolutely selfish. The language of the whole thing indicates a proprietary attitude toward the soul of another person - which is both deplorable and decidedly shaky theology. How can another person's soul be yours to sell?" He wrinkles his nose.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Ruth was at the table when the meeting was called. She's been there since the beginning of this whole mess, and it was just downright sad. There were times she wanted to cry for Julian, and the whole mess, but her .. well, physicality wouldn't let her do so.

She wrapped herself in her ruana, tightening it around her. Her blindfold for once matched the ornate decor of the ruana, some sort of weird and random glyphs that some people probably worn in the 70's or found on someones couch. "Yes, sorry Julian." An answer to his question of death.

"You will die of cancer. You will be set on fire. You will be shot to death. You will die in your bed. You will die of radiation poisoning." She begins to rock back and forth, an odd smile on her face. "Its funny because you will die missing legs. Sorry. But not funny." She draws in a breath, then lets it out.

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
Wearing an oversized t-shirt, frayed shorts that look like really she just took a pair of scissors to some jeans with holes in the knees for repurposing, and bare feet, Rahne seems not completely thrilled with the talk of selling souls. The contract, such as it is, gets a glance, those green eyes giving it a once over before the Scot noticeably shifts, sliding juuuust a little further away from the infernal document. There is a sigh before she speaks, her words tinged with that Scottish brogue of hers.

    "Doesn't matter. What Julian's dad did was wrong and he knew it. Tae say otherwise is just addin' tae the sins he already committed." There is a glance towards Doug...then just another shake of her head. "Ah don't care how far down you think you are. There's always hope that help will come, if ye have faith." A shiver shakes through Rahne, before she falls silent, sullenly staring at the contract, lost in her own thoughts.

James Proudstar has posed:
Jimmy Proudstar holds up a wall not far from Illyana, listening to the conversation intently, thick arms folded over a broad chest. He shakes his head, frowning a bit, and notes, "William Keller sold his soul as surely as he sold his sons' when he made that bargain." He glances to Doug and shrugs a shoulder, "They're family. Their souls are bonded in ways that can't really be broken, or at least that's along the lines of what my people think. William's soul may still be in his body, but it's gonna end up in the same place as Julian's when he's gone. Great Owl didn't pass him by...just saved him to feast on later. And he just might be a selfish dick...or if we're being more charitable than I think we ought to be, he thought he'd be able to use the resources he gathered thanks to the Demon's bargain to somehow get out of it later, but that's just me guessing. Personally I'm leaning towards "selfish dick."

Julio Richter has posed:
News has traveled fast in the little cluster of X-kids who were gathered around Julian when his life was upended yet again, and Julio damned his stars when he heard the news of the outing to Palos Verdes. Someone needed a building brought down -- within spitting distance of a major faultline, no less -- and he wasn't there? He has one job in this group of mutant misfits! ONE. JOB. And in his mind, at least, he completely dropped the ball.

Illyana's explanation of the contract, if nothing else, distracts him from that annoyance, substituting an outward-focused disgust. "Because he's an asshole, Gabby," he answers, summing up Jimmy's commentary and for once not bothering with a language switch to throw off the censors. Yes, he does know those kinds of words in English, too. "And because some dads will find anyone to blame for their own terrible choices, and take it out on them every single day."

He pushes a hand through his dark hair and grimaces. "So if the contract is all settled squarely, what do we do? Can we just ... steal it back?" That's his first instinct, but he has a creeping inkling that's not how things work in the realm of the soul.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"Nyet." A slight shake of her head throws gilded highlights off Illyana's barely stirring hair. She licks the blood from her lips, giving an unusually garish colour against her wintery colouration. "The offer I made was not idle, Keller. I will permanently correct any side-effects for recovering your soul." For emphasis, she pauses only for a moment. "Free."

Ancient rules govern the contract, terms and conditions in gritty punctuation that spill out across sections, subsections, and keenly eloquent indifference about the wages of sin. She skims a fingertip over the language without touching the paper, since the simmering wards rotate like radiant clockwork in proximity to her. "He assured you would not want for mundane illness or sickness. His children's imminent death and his domestic prosperity mattered most at the time. I can taste the desperation, and it's foul. For William Keller, he acquired position in the world. After the initial gain of five million dollars, his personal investments continued to grow at a substantial rate and they would never recoup less than a fixed value established by an arcane formulary that won't matter. Know this: he played with loaded dice. They could not lose as long as he personally governed his business empire. Within his lifetime, the financial stability of your family is assured. The bargain ensures success dealing with monetary trade through a standard variety of instruments. Rub two coins together and he makes a dollar." The cold calculation of her words lifts across the table to the other young mutants in her midst, not only Julian. As though sharing the burden might somehow help.

"A fairly standard instrument to bargain with, especially someone who believes souls do not exist. That he has not damned his children to such an afterlife because he lived only for that moment, afraid to see face forward and see his son's death. He tempted fate to forestall it. Ask Ruth how well that ever works."

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller listens to all of that and goes to run a hand through his hair...only to realize that he can't. Phantom limbs are still an issue for him and there's a brief flare of green flame at the end his arm as he grips it, letting the fire flare. That fire was born of rage. It's almost comforting.

"Standard. How shitty is this world if there's a standard type of way to sell your kids to demons?" he says. Ruth's words draw an amused snort from him. He's been feeling nihilistic. "Well, at least I'll have variety," he smirks.

He leans momentarily against Gabby, giving her his shoulder. He's been a pretty lousy boyfriend lately. If he ever was a good one, which he probably wasn't.

"What can I do to help?" he says finally to Illyana.

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney doesn't hesitate to drape her arm around Julian's head letting HER fingers run through his hair as he leans on her. Doug's asessment earns a firm pursing of her lips along with a small shake of her head. "I don't understand parents I guess," she mumbles not really having known any herself. They were something held to an ideal for her and William Keller fell WAY short. Even Logan was better than that.

"Okay, so... Question is how do we get it back? If it was traded like currency, or gambled, does that mean we have to gamble for getting it back? Or buy out the contract somehow? By somehow I mean fighting because I'm not trading anything."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"...While I'm good at languages and picking out nuances and loopholes, demons can be - er. Slippery." Doug says, "They wrote the contract on their stationary and it was signed with their pen, as the saying goes." He rubs his temple and then says, "I mean. You could figure out a way to make THEM break or dissolve it - maybe?" He shrugs. "Or offer them something they want more, but that just creates more problems down the road, and kicking the can isn't something we really want to do here. I should've gone to law school like dad wanted."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Ruth shakes her head towards Illyana. That 'shake' agreed with her. "It never works out well. Thank you. The rooster comes home to roost." It looks as if Ruth would say something majorly important, the way she suddenly rises up in her seat, one hand lifted, finger pointed towards the ceiling, lips parting..

"I'm thirsty."

If anyone were to ask for a drink or even think of one, Ruth would get it for them. She was already moving out of her chair towards the soda fountain, stopping to make sure that she could hear the low hum of the ice machine so that she could have her fizzy bubbily on the rocks.

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio stares at the arcane tome for a moment, letting out a quiet 'hmf' noise. "You're not missing as much as some people might think, Gabby," he says, lip twisting. As if this entire situation weren't evidence enough of that particular fact. "But it's a good question. I don't know if I'd make a good demon fighter, but they do live underground," he says with a quick smirk. "I think according to the rules I'm technically on their side, though? So many thou shalt nots, so little time." He pauses, kicks a heels back against the leg of the table he's sitting on, and adds: "Never coveted anybody's wife, at least." That's a joke. The mood can lighten, now.

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
There is a definite shake of the head in the negative as Rahne pipes up, those arms crossed and holding herself. "Aye. We definitely do not want tae just push this on down the line. That's exactly what Mr. Keller did, without thinkin' of the consequences." There is a shrug as the arms fall down. "Though, really, Ah wouldn't necessarily know how one goes back tae claim a soul. My particular experience tells me it's a done deal."

There is a glance over to Illyanna, as Rahne shifts in her stance. "But...Ah know mah friends. And Ah know that we're not going to give up. And...that Illyana has a plan." Those green eyes lock with Illy's own for a moment, before Rahne looks away on her own. "Because she wouldn't have promised a way to fix everythin' unless she had an idea on how tae do it."

That...tells how much trust Rahne has in her friend. "And...Ah'll do whatever it is needed tae help." And...that confirms how far Rahne is willing to go. Because, the answer isn't probably going to be very happy for her...yet she promised to do whatever, knowing that.

James Proudstar has posed:
"Pretty sure it still counts if it's somebody's husband, Julio." Jimmy notes with a faint, wry expression. It fades fairly quickly, though, as thoughts return to the matter at hand, "I'm gonna guess that it's not as simple as kicking the Demon's ass, because if that's an option, I definitely vote for that." He knows it's not exactly "simple" to fight a demon, either, but hey, fighting is one of the things he's good at. Work with what you know!

He does, however, nod at Rahne's sentiment, "Said we had your back from the jump, Julian. Ain't going back on that."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Julian's question about mortal society earns no response from Illyana. Humans doing shitty things to one another is nothing new. A slight glissade of a smirk curls her full mouth, all cherubic innocence tilted on its head. Gabby and Julio earn a slight upnod. "You ask the right questions. Theft is unworkable for soul pacts sworn to a greater demon. No bond links stolen soul and original body, it will not fit." She taps the larger of the two books, one fell in its baroque beauty, wrapped in a thin filament of opalescent fire that probably is fire in case someone opens it unexpectedly. A bookwyrm in every sense. "We need loopholes to exploit. The contract lays forth conditions the demon must fulfill. He violates a clause, he must abide to the secondary terms. A total breach restores your soul in its present state. The cleanest but hardest option would be forcing him to break terms, but demons excel in not doing so. We might convince him to negotiate a fresh contract, but with what leverage?"

Questions for them to answer as she slides along the circumference of the table, eclipsed under Jimmy's shadow and drawn back a step to skim the barest intimacies of contact. One half the essential anchorage in the room. "Brute force runs risks, dispersing Julian's soul in pieces, but I can mitigate your chance of death. After all, he flouts my authority. If he kneels or loses his head, I claim right by vassaldom. How good a gambler are you, Gabby?" The other reason she's standing where she is: Rahne has to go through Julio and the Apache to reach her. "Your soul has a price, one that I might pay to acquire it." Space falls in slivers, a rotation until the back of her head rests against Jimmy's chest. Some small fragments of humanity cling dear in that mute movement to one person in the room who could probably snap her neck, if it came down to it.

"There comes a different gambit, an uglier one by far. You grant him something he dearly wants more than mortal currency, a higher price than a mere man. The question is, can you stand to see it through to the bitter end and pray he doesn't know he is played?"

They can fill in the blanks on that themselves.

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller isn't precisely sure about filled blanks, but he does narrow his eyes at the address to Gabby, "Nobody else's soul is going on the line," he says and he means it. He's selfish enough, sure, but he's not so selfish as he would put anyone else in his shoes. "If you mean me...I either want it back or not at all. I'm not sure I'm doing any better just transferring my soul around like a slush fund. Not even to you. I want what's mine. If I could have my brother back, I would, but I know that's probably far beyond the pale. If I did, I'd get him back as, like, a baby and be his weird brother-dad. No thanks," he says.

"All of this reminds me of my father trying to explain contract law to me, which, I suppose, this is. I didn't pay attention to him and, even though it's still my soul, I'm not good at this sort of...fine print. The details. Normally I would just hire a lawyer to sort it out for me. I guess you're my counsel this time, Illyana. What do you advise?"

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
    "I mean that could be doable... buy out the contract and then discharge it--" Doug thinks about that, his hand on his chin. "Especially if the demon was convinced Julian's soul wasn't worth anything, that happens all the time, collection companies buy debts for pennies on the dollar--" He turns that over in his head. "But that would require conning a supernaturally gifted con-artist."
    "I mean, what happens if by some extenuating circumstance the demon can't collect on the debt? How is it discharged or who does it pass on to?" He furrows his brow, "The way they all seem to work, *somebody* pays."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
The offer earns a little breath from Gabby as she considers the suggestion weighing the value of her own against getting Julian's back. "So... Sell my soul to you so you can then use it to wager to get Julian's back," she reasons with a slow nod and deeper frown. There's no yes or no on that though. No. This topic has her glancing to Julian with worry, and the others, as she is often known to be reckless. "I can put up with a lot of torment and torture and other things, but I heal. I don't think I can heal that."

"So what are the loopholes that would cause them to break a rule? Causing harm to Julian directly?"

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"No," clarifies the demon queen without looking up. "I buy Julian Keller's soul back through a proxy."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
The racket of the ice machine draws Ruth's thoughts away from the situation at hand. The knocking of the ice against the cup almost sounds like bowling pins, the choice of soda was nearly a hard one. Plain Coca Cola, filled in her cup at a tilt, mostly to keep the fizzies away. She takes a sip, then refills what she had taken, leaving the straws where they were. She had no holes in her lip, so..

Returning to the table, she settles right in, tugging the blanket with one hand as she takes a deeper sip to feel the burn. "If we are caught, sorry, the entire school will burn."

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
Rahne's eyes narrow, as the short redhead just *glares* at Illyana. That gaze does not turn away as Julian speaks about no one else's soul going up for grabs, to which Rahne gives a rather stern nod. "You're not doin' that, Illy." It is almost comical, this short slip of a girl, staring down the Demon Queen of Limbo. "She ain't talkin' about selling your soul, Gabs. She's talkin' about usin' part of hers tae buy Julian's. Even if it's by proxy....tae do that is throwin' away her own salvation. And that's not happenin'. Not while Ah'm around."

The righteous anger is certainly within Rahne's words. Yes, there is a reason Illyana placed a couple bodies between herself and Rahne. "If anyone's soul is for the taking, it's mine. Ah'm already going tae Hell anyways." On that, Rahne seems absolutely resolute on.

Gabby Kinney has posed:
"Oh." Gabby shakes her head quickly at that too, lifting a finger to waggle at Illyana. "You can't do that. You're a Queen. Giving part of yourself away like that is gonna make them have power over you and that's not gonna keep you a queen. No trading yourself off either." With that she nods in agreement though she considers, tipping her head upward. "You're not going to hell, Rahne. You're like the most stick-to-your-guns religious person I know." That she seems pretty sure of, too.

Letting out a puff of breath in annoyance she says, "Too bad we can't just trap this demon and make giving the soul back a part of releasing him."

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio shakes his head slowly, then looks up at Illyana with a quizzical expression. "You said 'hope he doesn't know he's been played,'" he says, skipping past the dramatic (and seemingly compulsory) stage of offering his own soul as collateral. "Do you think we can write our own loophole? Get him to agree to a contract for something so amazing, so valuable, that he can't say no, but with a trick word or two in it that ruin the deal?"

James Proudstar has posed:
"Well there goes my idea of having Julian make him mad enough to attack him." Jimmy notes, arms dropping to his sides, though one partially wraps around Illyana's waist. Perhaps oddly he doesn't voice any protest to Illyana's theoretical course of action. Either because she already knows what his opinion would be, or he knew that everyone else would have the reaction they've already had to dissuade it. "Is there any way to counterfeit a soul?"

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"You would rip through a demon's domain or break into his vault to recover a soul, yet you retreat from direct bargaining." The carefully selected words land with deliberation given so casually, nails plunged through the coffin of innocence that youth and appearance might lend them all to share somehow. Illyana's upticked smirk lingers a moment. "The school will burn because well-meaning teachers shall interfere and attempt to cross a line they cannot." No should. No must. It holds a weirder finality than that. "Your soul rests in Limbo, Julian Keller. Were our roles exchanged, I would use a multifaceted approach." See, she has Charles' vocabulary after all, and she /did/ pay attention to contract law. Try losing three-fifths of one's self, and cease to have total personhood, you start paying attention real fucking fast.

"Invoke his interest for a deal. Determine the market rate for the soul and whether an intermediary purchaser can acquire it. Search for terms likely to be broken within the document and cause events to favour a likelihood of a breach, especially when any action will cascade the chances like dominoes. Acquire something he dreads by dealing with his enemy who wishes to see him weakened, and will ally with you temporarily to achieve a personal gain. Or you sell him the demon queen saying he gets Limbo for the taking, you sell the bloody utter truth out of that story, and you hold on until the moment you leave and he learns what the colour of human treachery is. You need the best liar at our disposal for that." She inclines her head to Jimmy, eyes cracking open. "Yes."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"Well." Doug says, thinking about that. He steeples his fingers over his mouth, and mouths something to himself. "Well, if you come up with the offer, I can give messing with the language in it a try. I'll rate my ability at wordplay against Mephisto himself. Like the late Charlie Daniels once said, 'I'm the best that's ever been.'"

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller purses his lips, "I'm a pretty good liar, but I don't think I could keep up with all that...shit you just talked about," he admits. "I never really believed in heaven or hell or god or any of that crap. Even though I'm confronted with it now, it still sounds like a load of crap, honestly. I can't deny it's real, but it still seems kind of stupid, y'know?" he shrugs.

"Generally, I'd say by whatever means necessary, but I'm not sure what the means are in this sort of situation and it seems like the downside's pretty bad if it gets fucked up. So, uh...yeah. Wordnerd over there seems pretty confident, but hell if I know. Can I really not drink? I think I deserve actual liquor."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney considers that a long moment only to nod slowly. She had a point. The urge to go in guns blazing was rather ingrained into her. "Honestly I was more trained in stealth and stuff like that, so the idea of bargaining is probably not something I'm good at. I mean I'm a good liar..." She was? "Just not with you all. I can be honest with everyone here. I haven't had to put on a mask for awhile."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
"I'm a good liar. Thank you."

But if Ruth had eyes, she'd look directly at Julian. His words? Her nose wrinkles as she sips her sodaas if she were drinking tea.

<< You sound like your father. >>

Words telepathically clear to Julian, but Ruth felt like she told the truth. "To be a freak is to be a good liar." She points out.

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
The redhead finally breaks eye contact from Illyana, as Gabby offers her viewpoint on Rahne's destination for eternity. "Ye don't understand. But...it isn't about me, so Ah'm not gonna go into it." Then....with the eyes to the floor, Rahne listens to Illyana and her recommendations. She truly listens...her thoughts twisting on themselves as she tries to find a way to apply her own upbringing....and failing.

Then...she hears Doug's boast. And that draws her ire just as sure as anything. "That's Pride talkin'. Ye go in thinkin' like that and yer soul's as good as gone." That fire she had grew cold. Ice cold. "Keep thinkin' that way and we'll haveta go in to save yer damned soul, too."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug glances up to Rahne, and his expression is cool. He tosses his copy of 'Faust' up in the air in one hand and then catches it in the other. "Maybe I haven't been proud enough." He says. "Do me a favor, Rahney? Quit undermining yourself, and for cryin' out loud quit undermining other people. It doesn't suit you, *at all*." Then he sighs, and says, "I'm not much help here, at least right this second. Let me know what you guys decide, and if I can help. I'll do whatever you ask me to. We all hang together, or we most assuredly all hang separately." He walks over to get himself a drink -- a diet coke, with a twist of lemon in it.

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio rocks back and hums thoughtfully. "Not a fake contract, then -- a fake soul," he summarizes, slotting the new concept into the con framework he was already conceiving. "I guess the next question is 'how?' It can't be easy or we'd all have one." He's interested in the possiblities, although as tempers fray around the rest of the room, it seems that discussion will have to wait a little while longer. "People, could we focus?" he asks, sounding tired. "Julian's mojo is at stake."

James Proudstar has posed:
"So if we need the best liar we know...do we need to talk to Remy?" James queries now, though he does return to the idea of counterfeit souls, "Is it so difficult or costly that the risks and effort outweigh the payoff? Counterfeiting, I mean. Maybe we can kind of work the con from a few different angles."

Julian Keller has posed:
The quick flash from Ruth makes Julian slam a stump down on the table. His power flares in his eyes and a few pieces of glassware shatter, glaring at her angrily. Not that she can see it, of course. But Ruth can hear the curse in his mind before he strangles it, a lashing out that is both cruel and sharp in its retort.

But then he just sinks back into his chair, "Maybe we should call it all off. Maybe I'm meant to be soulless. I never thought I had one before, after all," he says. "Will...will I be different if I get my soul back?" he asks, looking to Illyana.

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
The retort from Doug doesn't have the effect he was probably looking for. Or...perhaps it does. Instead of getting her angry, like any other person would, the comment triggers her deep-seated self repulsion. Rahne's mouth just drops...then closes, wordlessly. For someone who actually pays attention, it is obvious as to what is going through Rahne's mind. She...is suddenly failing her friends, and therefore is failing herself.

And then the confusion sets in. Should Rahne stay there? Should she go? Is she even of any use to anyone at all? The thoughts race, fast and furious, as she falls through her own existential crisis right then and there. It effectively, at least for the time being, makes her useless. A self fullfilling prophecy.

All because of pride. Either hers, or another's.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"It is not an alternative." Simple and plain as that, Illyana seals off a path. "Your soul is coming back. It will be obtained through an acceptable method. Rahne has been a suitable compass to guide me where the intolerable risks lie, and I trust such judgment as you can offer me." She nods to Rahne, mercilessly direct in that gracefully pointed riposte. "We accept an amount of risk and cost. Your soul is non-negotiable. Step back if you prefer, Julian, but we do not forget one of our own. We do not abandon them even when they are content for that brief, shining moment. We stay with them, walk behind or beside, light ahead."

Her smile is bleak, mirthless. "For a scrap of paper and a mortal relic, I will stalk Limbo until he kneels or lacks his head. Accept the grace of friendship and renounce the concept you will endure without."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug looks down at his drink, and then back up at Rahne. He tilts his head at her, and then he sets the drink down, and he pushes it toward her. "I'm sorry. That was harsh of me, Rahney. I'm going through some things myself. Tilgidh esan aig nach eil peacadh a 'chiad chlach. It was out of line for me to say that to you." He pours himself another drink, and then says, "...Illyana's right. You're stuck with us, Hellion."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
"I don't know if having a soul feels different than not, but... If you haven't had one since you were a baby, then maybe? I mean. Maybe it's a good thing, like having a full belly." She gives Julian a side-squeeze hug breifly before departing.

The departure is quick as she shoots Doug a scowl. It's not him she's striding toward though, but Rahne, whom she quickly wraps in a hug hopefully before she lets her mind go into those darker places. "You're wonderful and amazing and one of the coolest people I know and didn't deserve Doug's little PMS snit," she assures giving a tighter squeeze hug. "Thank you for helping keep us from just jumping headfirst and making mistakes. We're all talking about the options and possibilities, and no idea is bad." Hmph.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
The feedback from Julian was a little bit horrendous. Ruth carefully placed her cup upon the table instead of smashing it upon the ground after dropping it. Both hands lift to rub at her temples, a muttered 'Ow' is heard, it's going to linger long enough to cause a migraine in the morning. "Sorry. I did not lie." Was said to no one in particular. But for the rest of the night, she remains relatively quiet.

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller sighs, weary and aching in the hollow where his soul should be. "Okay. We'll do it. But if we lose anybody along the way on behalf of that slip of paper, I'm going to go down to hell and do to it what I did to my father's house," he says. He can no longer think of it as home. Is this home? He's not sure yet. It could use a maid service.

"Tell me when and what I need to do. I'll put my trust in you, Illyana," he says. He turns his head slightly to Ruth. He's not good at regretting what he did. Guilt tends to make him angry. Doesn't everythig?

"Sorry," he says softly.