2304/Kingmaker: Where Would You Go

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Kingmaker: Where Would You Go
Date of Scene: 02 July 2020
Location: Limbo - Other Dimensions
Synopsis: Julian, Illyana, and their team goes to Limbo to make a deal....
Cast of Characters: Emma Frost, Illyana Rasputina, Gabby Kinney, Ruth Aldine, Julio Richter, Julian Keller, James Proudstar, Rahne Sinclair

Emma Frost has posed:
When souls are bartered, there is only one place that currency can be spent and retrieved. Time has been taken to look at all the loopholes, the ins and outs, the devil, they say, that is in the details.

Julian's soul had been sold to the Kingmaker... a demon known for making deals of power and glory. In Limbo, he is known for having a penchant for setting up families to be destroyed by their own contracts. It's a beautiful twist of the knife, especially given that which he takes in return.

There are so many things one can wish for. So much one can bargain for. But what is the real cost in the end? There are micro transactions that occur off the page, outside the binds of the infernal documents, floating on ether and dancing in the ethereal breeze...

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
For those unprepared, stepping through space and time come accompanied with a mystical trip beyond anything LSD or ayahuasca could ever hope to achieve. Once those luminous cobalt flames close, physics cease to operate normally, catapulting subjects to another dimension for as long as needed and the portal's terminus instantaneously. Life on this score can be interesting. Behold the soul-scouring freefall through the births and deaths of stars, the peculiar technicolour voids splashed by nebulous figures and immense penumbral denizens fashioned by countless unconscious minds. The body plummets away on multiple different axes while the mind gets shunted backwards in a swandive, all at speeds accelerated to the light fantastic. That's with Illyana's protective influence exerting a somewhat stabilized effect, diminishing the sickening freefall only to some extent.

Then everything collapses onto itself, body self and mind recomposed as it's all shunted back into place more or less on the threshold of what appears like a Damascene souk combined with Mughal India: a marketplace enclosed under lavishly decorated archways and strung with countless lights. Demons don't like darkness or grayness when they can have scraps of colour and texture and patterns. Though 'here,' exactly, isn't friendly or organized. It has the feeling of a place in the throes of war, a marketplace established by necessity, reoccupied countless times over, and a Star Wars cantina on the fringes really has nothing on what takes place here.

The grotto they're in clearly belonged to a shop no longer intact, the fallen beams and the detritus suggestive of someone leaving in a hurry. Maybe it's part stockroom for other dealers, but where else to put a host of humans unseen? Here they are, one and all, buffeted by the vague shouts for hagglers and hawkers, dimly traced by the speculation in a pitted amphitheatre deeper into the souk.

"Who wants to go shopping?" she notes, smirking. No signs here of her armour or that horrible sword. "First, you better dress the part."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Knowing they were going on a mission into enemy territory had Gabby prepare the only and best way she knew how: By wearing her old suit. It was black of course, save where she'd switched out a few parts for items of color. The leather boots she wore had laces changed out to be green on one, and red on the other. The bodyarmor that was worn couldn't have much done to it save for the little scribble she'd drawn on one shoulder in yellow paint maker depicting a toothy scowling face which might be reminiscent of an attempt at Logan's visage along with three 'claw mark' slashes just beneath. The most notable part was the white face mask which wore a blank expression. Eyelashes were drawn on it, a bandaid covered one cheek, and red lips in a pouty pucker that would make Betty Boop proud. This is nudged up atop her head for the moment rather than pulled over her actual face though it's there to swing down as soon as she feels the need.

The lurching, soul jarring tumble through Limbo was something she'd only experienced breifly through portals before. Actually coming here? She stands still a moment then wiggles her fingers, rolls her head to the side, and flashes a grin. "That was ... fun? Sorta. I mean. I'm okay but wow. Is that what a rollercoaster is like?" The question is asked of all gathered as she looks around thoughtfully. "Oh, I've got a disguise already," she assures Illyana cheerily lifting her hand to tap against her mask.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
In close to two weeks, Ruth can faithfully say that she's seen the world through the skin that covers her eyes. But nothing has quite prepared her for this. Transporting to Limbo was something of a magical feet, that sunk and swam her brain; tugged and pulled at the elasticity that formed, shaped and adapted, and unadapted yet again. It was a feeling like no other, which was true, but she made due as the doormat whom never complains for fear of upsetting others.. but with a little bit of adjustment as soon as their feet touched ground.

Focusing took a moment and -hurt-. So much so that Ruth had to scramble away from the others to crouch down and hold her head. She was beinga assaulted by her own gifts, like turning everything on attempting to turn it all off at once save for the ability that allows her to walk.

"Oh no!" She begins to sob loudly, trying her best to lower her voice. "OH no oh god, pardon I'm sorry.." She shakes her head completely, snuffling.. her fingers ripping away her blindfold to reveal herself in a way that she never has around -THEM- before.

"I knew what I had to do when I got here but I did not want to do it, yes. They have to see because I am hell walking. I am hell walking with the powers of the devil.." Oddly enough, the tears that she does cry do not surface. Hard to do when what covers your eye-sockets are nothing but skin.

Julio Richter has posed:
For a long time, Julio didn't know why Limbo hit him especially hard on his first pass through it, or why he didn't get used to the place over time the way most of his friends did. Now, he knows: his psyche is tied to earth magic, and there is no earth quite as potently and chaotically magical as Limbo. Knowing the reason behind it, unfortunately, doesn't make the thing itself any easier to tolerate.

The lurching, careening trip leaves him dizzied like most of the rest, but even when the marketplace stabilizes around them, he's bent nearly double, hands at his temples and misery on his face. It's like a neverending foghorn blast from a foot away. Still, he's here with a purpose. His friend needs his help, and he's supposed to be getting to grips with this magic stuff, anyway.

He slowly straightens and reaches out for a bit of energy to work with, but instead of the tense grumble of the mundane earth, it's like biting down on a live wire of magic. His aura springs outward from his body like a screaming sawtooth wave on a green-screen oscillator, then with teeth gritted, he clamps down on it, drawing on his protective spell. The jagged thorns of uncontrolled magic don't go away, though, they simply stabilize: fanglike teeth jutting from every joint, a thorned vine encircling and piercing him, a visage like an ancient caiman swallowing his head like a hood. And here in Limbo, instead of remaining glowing green traceries, these icons take on a physical aspect, filling in with scales and rocklike texture, becoming opaque.

This earthen crocodile, pierced like a saint and covered in devouring maws, stoops next to Ruth and says in its familiar, accented voice: "It hurts. I know. It's okay."

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller is still quite unsure of himself. These mystical elements feel disconcerting to him. Perhaps precisely because he hasn't got a soul, he isn't sure. He wears a red Balenciaga hoodie, his eyes naturally glowing their eldritch green and surrounding him in a corona of power so that he's hovering just a bit off the ground. Whatever discombobulation he suffered from the transport, he's not showing it, putting his coolest face on. He had to stay focused, he had to hold it together. He was still angry enough that he could latch onto that, holding it tight, using it like twine to snare together the disparate feelings he had.

A mask slides up and out from where it's tucked into his pants, sliding in and latching into place before the battery pack is activated and it begins to glow with neon light, that green spilling from the X eyes and making the figure even more eerie. He wore it for his first rave back when he was fourteen. He had sentimental memories of his friend Javi throwing up for an hour because he looked at the mask while tripping.

"Well, I feel suitably fucked up. Time to get started."

James Proudstar has posed:
Jimmy Proudstar, barring Illyana herself, is likely most accustomed to the transit to and from Limbo, but while he's gotten quite good at showing no outward signs of distress from it, it does remain something of a harrowing experience. That said, however, not quite so harrowing as to expect the reaction that Ruth evidences. So he moves to crouch next to her, a big hand lightly placed upon her back.

"Hey...you still with us, Ruth? It's OK. We're all right." For now. But separated from the Sanctum he can feel a little tug on his own soul. A call to a whole lot of angry that he usually keeps tamped down beneath a veneer of calm. Nothing critical...but an ephemeral threat he now is suddenly aware of. Forewarned is forearmed? Here's hoping.

He glances to Illyana and shrugs slightly, "Surprise me." By way of disguise, that is.

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
    It is a sensation that Rahne knew well enough. After all, she has step foot in Limbo many a time. She has walked within...seen its sights.

    That doesn't mean that she enjoys the trip. Not by any means.

    This time, the foot that steps onto the surface is elongated, furry, and clawed. The petite redhead is not so petite as she stretches to her full current height...7 feet of fur, claws and teeth. The hands are pulled into a monstrous apparition of sinew and talons, the red hair of the hands hanging. The body is decked in a familiar black and grey bodysuit, the usual combat attire that Rahne has taken to as of late. The head, more wolven than not, swivels as the smells of Limbo flood in.

    And, judging from the reaction, it isn't exactly Rahne's favorite.

    "Ah will never quite get over that." The words are deeper, a bit more guttural than Rahne's usual speaking voice. "No matter how many times..." The green eyes shift to regard the others, taking a mental inventory of their well-being, before turning to Illyana. "Ye sure this is what we ought tae do?" Another glance is given, this time for the surroundings. "If ye think it needed, then let's get it over with."

    The comment from Jimmy draws a confused expression to Rahne. Turning back, she mutters. "Ye think Ah need a disguise?" After all, in her current form, Rahne looks rather monstrous as it is. Far from the normal waif she usually is.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Home as Illyana knows it isn't quite the same as the troublesome borderlands where her dominion extends but defiance seeds trouble. She mirthlessly weaves a slender ribbon of energy around herself, turning her blonde hair into a bath of chestnut tinged darkly to the bottom and the slender facial features reorienting into something most definitely not Illyana. Softening the cheekbones, eyes brown, a smattering of freckles across her nose. Reshaping herself means gaining height, losing tone some, resembling no one of their company at Xavier's but a good third of New York. All this matters only to establish her as an other, carved from a different cloth, someone a bit more ephemeral.

"I so love it when you give me latitude." Her knuckles crack as she loosens her limbs, rolling her shoulders under the spell settling in. The fabric of her weaving here is infinitely faster and smoother than on Earth, threading together mana under capable hands. In this case, the first variation is subtly wrapping them in armour with the fabric of Limbo's own power, anchoring just enough of the smut-smudged halos to bleed into their auras and coat their bodies, making them belong a little more.

"So," to Keller she turns, not addressing him by name. "We discussed possibilities last time. What have you decided on?"

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller turns his neon-soaked visage to Illyana, patting a hand on Gabby's shoulder for reassurance. Not that she needs it. Gabby's not scared of anything. Julian wishes he were so lucky.

"I don't want to put you in danger, but you kept mentioning trying to trade you for the soul, often enough that I'm pretty sure you think it's our best bet. I also know it m eans that you feel really sure nothing bad will happen to you. I can't be sure if that's hubris or ego or just plain facts. It's all Greek to me. But if you feel sure you can escape any...danger that it presents, then we can go with that. Maybe create the illusion that we're a group of young upstarts who don't really know what they have..."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Thankful for the comforts surrounding her, she nods her head towards Julian and James, trying her best to keep her 'shit' under wraps.

There was no sense nor use of her wiping away at her face, but with a wave of her hand she lets the two men know that she will be fine, or was fine. What have you. Her look was much of the same. Nothing new save for shaggier hair. The clothes upon her were regular street clothes she'd usually wear in school, though this time she did not carry a throw around her shoulders or a ruana.

"I am ready, thank you.." She says to the rest, as if everything was held up because of her. (Note: It really wasn't.) She was ready to move if they were!

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney watching how the others react causes Gabby's stomach to sink in a way that had nothing to do with Limbo. If anything it was a bit of guilt at her blaise handling of the situation so far. "Oh... I guess it feels different for you all," she mumbles with a little frown as she watches Ruth seemingly get the worst of it. "We're here with you, Ruth," she adds in attempting to offer some consoling herself. Even as Julian pats her shoulder, she looks up at him with a grin.

"Man I wish my mask was glowy that's awesome. But it'll do," she reasons as she reaches up to tug it down over her face hiding the fact that she was no ethereal beauty like Illyana had made herself into. When the decision is made she nods reluctantly. "Seems our best bet."

James Proudstar has posed:
"All right." Jimmy rises back to his full height, Illyana's disguise flowing into place over him. Now looking more like some kind of post-apocalyptic warrior, in piecemeal and patched armor. There's a clenching of his jaw at Julian's suggestion of taking the route of offering up Illyana or what remains of her soul for Julian's. He doesn't immediately gainsay it, though. She rules here, and it's her risk to take.

What he -does- say is, "What about the counterfeit idea? Maybe...I dunno, take a little piece from all the rest of us to give some authenticity and then...make it seem like it's more than it actually is? I don't know."

A hand briefly rests on Illyana's shoulder, "But I do know you're a lot more at risk than the rest of us...when it come to that kinda thing in particular."

Julio Richter has posed:
"Ruth. Ruth. Guess what I am," Julio says from beneath his hood of a grinning caiman's visage, already solidifying into living stone. He wants to make a last attempt to cheer her before they move on. "I'm a /rockodile/." Every single one of the mouths on his magical armor grinds its prodigious teeth.

In truth, he's mostly trying to focus on others to keep his own shit under control -- but the armor actually seems to be helping, mitigating the roar of Limbo's background magic to an infinitesimally less intolerable level. He turns to Illyana and Julian, the eyes on his 'mask' rattling as they move to stare at them. "I am a young upstart druid and very ignorant," he says, without a trace of falseness in his modesty. "I can sell that story if you need me to." He glances over at Jimmy and then emphasizes the Apache's point: "If we can keep you safe, 'Yana."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Illyana is fortunately not the one with a hand on her shoulder, as there might be one and a half, possibly two, beings in the whole of Limbo permitted to do that without seeing curling horns, sharp teeth, and a body going up in reactive flames. Here is the place of torment, the pageantry of suffering, the souk humming with activity and unfathomable degenerate acts to the benefit of the mind. She hums a note of her own in Ruth's direction. "You do not need to apologize. The first time is always the worst." She isn't able to quite say she is sorry, not in a way that counts, but that's probably because one side of her never apologizes and the rest are held in check. A flick of her.

"This is a market. Have something to buy, something to sell. We discussed its purchase, but our subject cannot be his own buyer without affecting the price. Someone disinterested arranging the purchase for their own means is the best route," says the brunette, distressingly normal girl looking between the others. Her gaze rests on Julio a bit longer as he speaks, or maybe he's turned into the top purchaser of things. "Find out a price and buy it. Making a substitute for the missing piece is as pricy as handing me over, though for that, you're going to have to believe in what you do." She rolls her shoulder languidly. "Betrayal is sweet to a demon. The cost for falling back on third and fourth options is ugly. If you want a false soul, the payment is high. That is why trades are so popular. However, if you all sacrifice pieces of yourself, I can form something sufficiently viable to act as currency."

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
    Silence rules Rahne as Illyana works her magic. There is the uneasy shuffling of the feet, weight shifting from side to side as what appears to be leather armor, a deep forest green, flows into existence about the werewolf. The arms are bare, though that red fur of Rahne's hands are covered with a pair of fingerless gloves, allowing the claws to remain free for use. Everywhere that the combat suit would appear is covered with the gleam of leather and metal studs, giving Rahne freedom of movement. Even her legs are covered with what appear to be breaches, making Rahne look more like a classic adventurer, as if she stepped out of some fantasy novel.

    As Julian states what he thinks...the frown upon Rahne is very, very evident. Since she is not wearing any mask but her own wolfen visage, it is extremely clear that she is not willing to barter Illyana for anything. However, as Illyana suggests pieces of everyone, that...seems to mollify her indignation. "Ah...Ah'm willin' tae offer a sacrifice a bit of mahself."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
"There will be nothing left." Ruth says outloud, using the ground to push herself upright into her full height. She wasn't that much taller than everyone else; though the sneakers she wore gave her an advantage height. Ankle support, memory foam, all of the good stuff you give to someone who would probably trip oversomething and fall.

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller sighs and turns his head to look at the rest of the market, "In for a penny and all that," he says. "False soul it is, then. I'd offer a piece of me, but, well...we know I'm dry as a Golden Girl without cheesecake," he says.

"I've already tried talking people out of sacrificing themselves to help me, but you're all determined enough to do it and I'm tired of telling you I'm not worth it. Decide for yourselves." he sighs, putting his hands on his hips. "Before we can do any trading, we have to figure out who we're trading with and where they're at."

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio takes Illyana's glance to mean that she approves of him playing the purchaser. His stony second skin groans as he turns to look over his shoulder -- the rock itself shifting to complete the motion, just as the orbs of the eyes rattle around in their sockets. "Like Julian said, who do I talk to? This demon, Kingmaker... do I just ask for him?"

He moves closer to what used to be this ruined stall's entrance and looks around. "Also, do demons speak Spanish? I might be able to bargain better that way..."

James Proudstar has posed:
"Is there an option where we just kick this guy's ass?" Jimmy adds by way of options. "Yeah, I know, probably easier said than done. Some way we can bait a trap? None of these plans are gonna be without risk, just seems like if we trade one to get one we're not really meeting the spirit of what we want to do. Or we're just gonna be back here later to get the other one back." He looks to Julio and nods, "But yeah, we gotta find who we're dealing with and where first. I don't have a problem volunteering up a piece. I'd /like/ to get it back, but well...long as I keep most of it I figure I'm mostly OK, right?"

Gabby Kinney has posed:
"I'm okay with giving up a part of my soul. I mean..." Gabby glances down at her hands with a shrug before looking up once again. It's hard to tell what her expression may be beneath that mask, and with the added glow of tarnished halo filtering her appearance, it might be a bit frightening with that blank, emotionless expression on her mask. "I haven't killed anyone, or done anything really criminal so I think my soul would be pretty well intact to begin with. A smidge isn't gonna matter much to make a fake."

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
    "Messin' with souls at all issa dangerous thing. Even if it's only a little bit." Rahne honestly has no idea for certain, but damn is she sounding convincing. Gotta love that strict religious upbringing. "Givin' up just a little means that they got some control, if they know what they got." Still....she isn't just going to give up, either. "But, yeah. Ah'd sooner give up part of mah soul than to let any of ya offer yer own. And...since ye would let me just offer up mine whole..." There is just a shrug as Rahne trails off...

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"You're mystic," Illyana dryly tells Julio. "Ask for a soul, claim no reason, and ask the price. In a market, you go in and ask where he is today. Just as in any old market. He will probably expect you. I know where all of them are, but you walking all the way in knowing his location will cause too many questions. Da, they speak Spanish. We all can here. Let the bargain go first. Find out what he wants. I will not spin any work with your souls here if it fails. We will do where it's safer. If you all go to the market and look, you might find ways. See if anyone dislikes him. R and G may be useful for that. Our Scot is likely wise to find locations. And of course, we need currency. The Sword goes with the Apache."

Julio Richter has posed:
Gabby's comment causes Julio to duck his rockodilian head, the teeth of his mask/hood/face grinding together like so much gravel. "I have killed people," he admits. "A lot of them. Maybe makes me a little more believable as a buyer? But a lot less valuable as a trade, too."

He turns as Illyana offers her advice, and nods once -- again, that organic creak as the stone reconfigures -- and answers, his accent vanishing into perfect vocal neutrality: "Oh, yeah, that makes sense. If I'm just a rookie, why would I know anything like that?"

He turns to face forward again, continuing, "Wow. I didn't realize everyone could understand me here. That almost makes up for all the noise."

And with that, he's out into the flow of the market, grinning stonily at stallkeeper after stallkeeper and asking after intact, fresh human souls.

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller sighs and shakes his head at James, "My understanding is that we can't just...rip it out of his hands by force. Worse, if we try force first and it doesn't work, we can't really go back to other methods. Believe me, I would much rather just TK some demon face until it pops over and over again."

He feels so far in over his head, but he knows it's about his soul so somehow he's supposed to have a say over it. But he spoke the truth, his rage makes him just want to lash out and he's going to have to work hard not to just do it whenever they come across this Kingmaker. He nods that Julio should take point in terms of the asking, thankful for the grinning visage of the mask so that he doesn't have to show his face.

James Proudstar has posed:
"You sure?" Jimmy asks of Illyana, but he does extend a hand despite the query. It's only the second time he's actually held the sword, but in it's own way it's as much of an experience...if a less disorienting one...than Illyana's unique method of transportation.

"Might need something to..." He doesn't even finish the sentence before the proper accoutrement to sling the broad blade across his back appears, looped in unobtrusively amidst the armor. Funny, on Jimmy it doesn't look QUITE as oversized. Still something certain JRPG protagonists might drool over, though.

And with weapon in hand, he moves to follow after Julio. A looming presence, relatively speaking (as there are likely demons as large about), bodyguard, perhaps? Probably not the least prudent course here, but his jaw still clenches, and he generally keeps his mouth shut, occasionally shooting a baleful glare to those that look like they might be inclined to start any trouble.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Three intoned words sends a dozen runes running up the length of that blade Jimmy carries. Other weapons that might be presented are treated in kind as Illyana adds invocations as suitable to the roles they take in the epic tale still being written. "Stealing the contract will not help. If he is subjected and I claim mastery over him, his contracts are mine. But it is signed and sworn; it will hold, and your soul will not acknowledge your body in its separation."

Julio Richter has posed:
The Julligator doesn't initially have much luck. Everyone in this part of the market wants to sell him soul 'stones' instead of the full, unadulterated human spirit. "Do I look like I need any more fucking stones to you?" he asks one of them, his gravelly voice rattling through tombstone teeth under a mask of stony diffidence. With the blazingly armed Apache backing him up, no one seems too perturbed by his mouthiness.

After a few more tries, he finds himself sent toward another side of the demon's souk, as the stalls and blankets give way to more permanent buildings. Julio and his escort find themselves at the foot of a grand marble staircase, leading up past seated monstrosities through a grandly columned portico with the words SOUL PROPRIETORSHIP EXCHANGE etched across the top. As his stone claws clack up the steps, Julio gives the chimeric guardians a wide berth -- they don't appear to be statues -- and makes his way inside.

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
    Location hunting, is it? Well, in that case...

    Rahne steps up, craning her neck to look down over the marketplace that they are walking though. But, it is not so much the looking that Rahne seems to be doing, but smelling. Anything that has the waft of something familiar, in this foreign landscape. Perhaps the soul, since it is Julian's, might have something of Julian's scent. Not that it makes absolutely any sense at all, but Rahne is willing to try anything.

    But, it isn't also just scent...but hearing, as well. Sharp ears means that there is a better chance of her hearing things others might want to keep secret. Still, it helps to ask questions. And standing taller than most does wonders with self-confidence. Soft murmurs are heard as the rather intimidating werewolf inquires about where the Kingmaker may be. Perhaps it is the height, or maybe the sharp teeth in full view, but demons do seem rather eager to say something, anything, before moving on. He was seen yesterday, today, a fortnight ago. In the square, at the Exchange, on the outskirts. Perhaps even some of it is true.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Julio-gator was an easy mark to follow, as well as the big man who had his back. Ruth remained a little bit behind, people were offering up for stones and she'd listen to their sales pitch intensely. It was as if their pitches were the last thing that she'd ever hear in her life and she enjoyed it.

"But I do not like opals, sorry." She tells one vendor, who rightfully tells her off. The other, shoo's her away and explictly told her she looked broke as hell and to not waste their time.

Slowly she was getting used to this new 'wiring' of the brain pans. Secrets were at the front of their minds, some which made her snort quietly along with a shake of her head.

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller just keeps floating in the wake and trying to look suitably henchman-esque. He's also prepared to throw a TK field around everyone for protection if things start getting out of hand. In this environment, he m ight be mistaken for some sort of corrupted monk or chaos spirit, especially when he invokes his burning hands. He might feel like an alien, but he actually fits in pretty well.

Maybe not the Jordans. But c'mon, a guy's gotta have his kicks.

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney follows along easily enough. Quiet, though she tips her head to the side regarding some items here and there as if she were considering... but she doesn't speak, or show any other interest. She was the smallest among the group yet she keeps up easily. Even when distracted she trails along as if she had some way of keeping track of where they went and would not let them far out of sight. Should any get too close she doesn't run or seem scared. She merely flexes her hands causing bone claws to slide out with her own fingers hooked like she were tempted to tear into some. Maybe it was overkill. Who knew.

Julio Richter has posed:
As the Julligator passes into the lobby of the exchange, he finds himself surrounded by a strange admixture of different earthly financial institutions. Demons squat in barred booths like bank tellers in old-timey movies, but they're screaming at and over each other like brokers on the floor of a stock exchange, and hammering wildly on their counters with some sort of gaudy baubles.

As he watches, one who's doing such hammering seems to break a polished brass trinket, its casing popping open. A brilliant light spills from inside for a moment, then is suddenly dimmed, and a few opalescent stones go clattering across the marble. They quite perfectly match the stones the stall holders tried to press on him outside, and he sucks in a breath through his stone teeth as he realizes that, if they're soulstones, the baubles must be souls.

He quickly approaches the nearest demon that's still intent on its hammering. "Hey, hold up a second," he interrupts, waving a stone claw like he's attempting a Jedi mind trick. "I need a soul -- a whole soul. A rich man's son, someone ambitious and stylish. You got anything like that? Or who do I talk to? Ain't got all day; I pay these guys by the hour." He points over his shoulder at his little entourage.

Emma Frost has posed:
Hour? Days? Minutes and seconds? Time is fluid and at the same time solid within Limbo, passing backwards, forwards, standing still. Ancient demons and new alike trade and barter, bringing in those brass, gold, silver amulets to be traded whole or split into stones.

But the demon Julio addresses laughs as if he's telling a joke. "By the hour! Ahahahahahhahaha!" He shakes his head. "Thessssssse are all for breakdown, whole soulssssss, whole soulssss in the Soul Exchange."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
While her friends face their dooms and their dangers, the Demon Queen walks under an assumed appearance that by itself may be interesting. What mortal just walks around here? One who clearly isn't just a human, especially considering she spins a slender torc and a pair of sigils on a bracelet that marks her as a vouchsafed servant of something much bigger. Thus woe betide anyone thinking her prey to mischief, though in the dark, crowded souk with lights glowing overhead and the many stalls heaving with mysteries and purloined wonders and horrors, anything can happen. Attempting to pickpocket a girl in a robe really isn't the most advantageous of situations.

She glides down those skinny aisles apart from the others, stopping to survey tables scattered with decanters and ewers cast in the dullest, dark shades. Battered metal doesn't call for touching. In mysterious realms, hands to yourself. The lessons learned as a child don't reflect outwardly as she examines the patterns hammered and tooled into something that looks like the bastard offspring of a coffee pot and an old-fashioned lawnmower, propped up to suggest the mulling and mowing of souls. The leering man on the other side barely pretends to be human, four arms contained within a capacious cloak, glowing red eyes watching her with interest. Better they do it, better they mind the woman with her head down than bigger dangers.

They have their entourage. She has the advantage of a heat-map of every non-mutant across a plane, her eyes narrowed as she stills, considering the handiwork. She doesn't speak directly to the proprietor. <<My master wants to know the most impressive acquisition in the last quarter. It is time to enrich the collection and the common options prove most tiresome. In your esteemed opinion, what must not be missed by a Great Lord?>>

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller pipes up from his place in the the back, "Yeah!"

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Coming to a stop near the rag-tag crew, Ruth draws her hands in front of her to capture her wrist within her fingers. Her head lowers for a time, then lifts.. head twisting to the left.. and then to the right. Almost as if she had heard something off in another isle. She then focuses back upon the crew, Julian's enthusiastic hype-man cry allowing her an all too rare moment of a snorted-laugh.

James Proudstar has posed:
Jimmy smiles a smile that doesn't touch his eyes at Julio's back when he makes the crack about paying by the hour. He continues a mostly-vigilant watch, trying to affect both a degree of boredom and wariness all at once. He does grunt something that might almost be a laugh at Julian's outburst, and take a moment to make sure they haven't lost any members of their party thus far. Barring of course Illyana's wandering. Rahne's more seemingly-random course is anticipated, but he tries to keep an awareness of her location nonetheless, at least when lines of sight permit.

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio cackles right along with the demon, finding the snide posturing oddly easy to fall into when hidden behind this particular face. "Whole souls, whole souls," he repeats. "Sounds perfect. You're a peach." He slides away from the counter, past more booths and hammering, yammering tellers. Each booth has a pen, chained to the counter, of course -- but he's willing to bet that if he signed anything with them, the ink would not be black.

Finally he reaches the back of the room, the soul exchange, approaches another counter, and repeats his little pitch. "Rich man's son. Need the soul of a rich man's son." His stone claws creak against the marble of the counter. "Something flashy, something sexy. It's for a lady, you know?"

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney follows along. When next Julio asks for the rich man's son she sing songs in a strange tone behind him as if it were some sort of mantra or chant. "Rich mans' son, spoiled little boy. Rich mans' son, daddy's little toy." It's not much to offer, really, but that was what was stuck in her head. A certain hunger and desire for such a soul. A little greed, a little need, a little ... She just hums along to her silly tune.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Everyone remained on task, Julio was calling out for his prize and she could sense something was going on with Illyana. James continued to be back-up, and Gabby was the lost triplet from The Shining. Rahne was perhaps the one who kept it cool the most and it brought a little bit of comfort to the blind girl. Save for that nagging.

That little nagging that tugged at the edges of her mind that had Ruth near scowling. She turned off into the direction of where she felt it and wandered on down. Clearly someone wanted to get her attention, and they got just what they asked for.

Julio Richter has posed:
"A lady?" the sprawled demon asks skeptically, staring down at the little rockodile before her.

The caiman cackles again, claws tap-dancing on the marble, and answers, "Might as well be a lady, when I'm through with him." Julio's not entirely sure where he came up with that awful line; he just knows his head feels like it's splitting open.

It has the desired effect on the demon, though: she guffaws and waves a hand toward a curtained door. "You'll be wanting the Three, then, you vile thing."

The stone reptile bows his creaking thanks and passes through, beckoning his entourage to follow along with him. The room he goes into is much quieter, the curtains seeming to block more of the shouting from the lobby than they should. There are tables here, there, everywhere, piled high with a bounty of soul-trinkets, whole and unmarred, but at the back of the room are three demons, much greater in power and position than those he has encountered before.

The caiman approaches with stone head bowed, and this time his request is phrased more obsequiously, if not more respectfully. "Lordly beings, in your greatness, aid me -- what is the price for a rich boy's soul? Whole and intact? Soft hands, expensive sneakers, hair like a soap star? Mad at his dad, glad for his money? Please, please, the price."

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
    Rahne? Keeping it cool? Is Ruth thinking of the right one?

    If Rahne seems more chill, it is mostly due to the fact that she is in her combined form. It provided more than just safety in size...but the slight mental change that the wolf girl just doesn't talk about. More instinctual, less cerebral. It is a freeing mechanism, to be sure...but also a calming one. No...it was no accident that she decided to disguise herself in her intimidating form.

    As for her seemingly wandering nature, well it does eventually find Rahne's way into the soul emporium that Juliogator decided to enter before. The scuttlebutt, such as it was, lead more towards there than not. Though, she does not join up with the crew right away, but rather circles towards the back, feigning interest in the wares there.

    Taking up a rear guard position...

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller isn't sure how he feels about this description of him being bandied about. It's mostly compliments...isn't it? Probably good that he doesn't have hands anymore to get nervous, although the flaming telekinetic projections that stand in their place do tend to flare up now and again. He's sort of cosplaying that he's a Boba Fett type, a bounty hunter who's only loosely affiliated with this band of miscreants, secretly much cooler than them because of his weird mask and the flying thing.

He turns his head a bit as Ruth starts to wander off and quietly TKs her by the back of the neck and turns her around to rejoin them. The last thing they need if things go bad is the blind girl getting lost in the devil's own flea market.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Limbo offers plenty of risks to the unprepared just beyond demons. Smiles and laughs at the wrong moment can earn a heart ripped from the chest or a tongue from the mouth. Illyana adopts that respectful, attentive approach, listening to the demon with a mix of trepidation and quiet self-possession.

"Gotta get them young and fresh," snidely remarks the demon. He spares no quarter for her feelings or concerns. "Not worth the prize if they're worn out. The Three have the finest wares. Best be prepared to pay."

The Three, a title which earns a nod. She ignores the other wares for sale and the other stalls, choosing then to move along after having earned her piece. Another name scribed on her broken soul, another pact to pass along. Her dark hair falls over her face and masks the way her eyes dart from place to place, watching for the mooks and movement that could suggest a baseborn court of demons in rebellion plan to move. Hers is a terrible weight of the quiet hunter among other hunters, wearing different spots but dangerous all the same.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
"Atch-atch.." Ruth fusses about, her arms flailing to try to bat away the invisible TK that's man-handling her back to the crowd. It was almost a temper-tantrum, completely out of place in the market as well as limbo; a child being told no when they ask for the sharpest samurai sword on display with no great need of one.

"Sorry.." Ruth mutters to the rest, glancing off towards the area of where she was being called to. It was like a little both in the back, quite possibly selling something that Ruth would like (food).

"..the person over there said they had cocoa beans. You make chocolate with cocoa beans and coffee. You plant them in the garden and they grow and multiply. Burn the house down." Ruth's hands smack together, as soon as she's released, she wanders right off to Rahne to complain.

"They had cocoa beans, yes. They grow and burn the house down. I have twelve in my hands." Ruth shows Rahne her empty hands. "Had."

James Proudstar has posed:
The Three. Well doesn't that just sound important. Jimmy continues his "strong, silent type" act (such a stretch for him, really). But the scowl on his face is pretty genuine at this point. He knows what's being trafficked here, and even if some, maybe most of it is of the original bearers' own making, it's an affront to his sensibilities on a lot of different levels, if nothing else for the sheer scale of it. As he moves to flank Juliodile, he tucks his thumbs in his belt, if only to keep himself from fiddling with the sword on his back. He actually feels like having it in hand might be a comfort at this point.

So as they move into the presence of the Three, he casts his dark eyes about, taking measure of which others may be here. They don't want things to go south, of course, but best to have some idea of what you might be up against if it does.

Gabby Kinney has posed:
What did one DO when in Limbo other than try to blend in? Gabby's mind is wandering even as she focuses on the goal. What COULD she do to blend in more? She imagines herself to be a demon of course, even as she walks along looking relatively normal. An innocious demon. One that could easily be mistaken as anyone... Like in that one show she was watching. When the Avatar went to the spirit realm and faced that ... Ah, yes. Faced. The face stealer.

The little lie is built in Gabby's head as she does many other personas she's created when attempting to blend in. Sure some are silly, but the face stealer? Fft. No wonder she wore a mask. Yes.

Even the little distractions of her imagination don't mkae her completely unaware of the others as she looks back to Ruth when she's tugged back with the group. A quiet hum, and she shakes her head lightly at the pair. "Everything has a price. Don't waste what you have on such baubles," she advises before her attention is stolen away again by The Three and Juliogator.

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
    Cocoa beans. The comment, as Ruth speaks, is given a tilt of the head, as the green eyes alight upon the open, and empty, hands. Rahne just...nods. As if it made perfect sense to tie cocoa beans with flaming abodes. "Aye. Chocolate."

    It is a noncommittal comment...one made as if to try to make sense of the whole thing. But, it also prompts Rahne to reach down, placing a furry hand upon the shoulder. "Ah'll make sure ye only get the best for what it's worth." Another vague statement...but perhaps understood? Even if Rahne barely understands, herself.

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller hopes they get through all of this before Ruth decides to try and get some beans with the soul. Mostly he's trying to be patient himself. His entire life has almost literally blown up around him, all in pursuit of a soul that he isn't sure he missed to begin with and now he's wondering if maybe he shouldn't have preferred not to have it in the first place. What if he's made a terrible mistake?

Well. Too late for that kind of thinking, isn't it, Jules? Just zip your lip, shut your mouth and see how it all pans out and whatever happens...you'll deal.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Welcome to the land of second guesses, Julian. He is not alone. There are always times to ask if this is all a terrible mistake. It's not as if Illyana can opt to call up the Court of Silent Retributions that stood guard over a crater in Bushwick yesterday to fix a problem. They may long to dine on the failures before them or the human souls that dared cross them, but that time is passed. A fallen emperor should have been dinner, no?

They sell solutions in this market for problems, but they're the sort of cut-throat things you find on the frontier. Never cheap and never really worth the price. Illyana bothers herself again by stopping at a crossroads where the premium stalls hawk wares and are ripe for trouble, like overturning infernal cabbage carts in hot pursuit. So far, so good. No trouble. She stands by patiently, letting the transactions take place as they will, seeing what kind of success Julio has.

For all her palms itch to call forth the sword of swords and prepare for a dance.

Emma Frost has posed:
There are dozens. Hundreds. Of priceless, full souls.

They are scattered over tables lined with long rolls of heavily-stitched patchwork 'cloth' in beiges, tans, browns, blacks, and pinks... the tiniest smattering of more bright colors in the smallest amounts among the patchworks. Milling at the back are three beings, in conversation with each other as Julian and his friends come in...

There is a humanoid, male, perhaps, with crimson skin and twisted rams horms, his torso bulky with muscle. He is wearing only some sort of trousers with what seems to be a stole over his shoulders, white and red.

A mundane looking human man, so out of the ordinary in this place of wandering demons and devils.

The third, feminine in form, skin a glimmering sea green and scaled, no legs, but a mass of serpentine tentacles, her long black hair to her waist, slicked back from her face, her eyes reptilian.

Julio Richter has posed:
The stone caiman attempted to generally beseech the Three, to no avail -- their own conversation took precedence, and he was ignored. He straightens up, and the marbles of his eyes loll about like those of a chameleon, taking in the wealth of infernal riches surrounding him.

Perhaps if he just took what he wanted... His paw rises, each claw moving independently, their armored scales scraping against each other at his joints with a dry sound. It would be such a trifling matter to gorge his many mouths on this feast.

Julio rises willfully against the burden of his aching senses and puts his foot down. The paw lowers, and the claws entwine in front of his scaled chest. /Fine./

Julio has no doubt what the face of evil looks like to him, and he pushes the stone caiman skin toward the mundane-looking white guy in his boring business suit. His toothy face cants to the side and he says loudly, "A soul, great demon! The unbroken soul of a rich man's son! I am here to buy, if your price is fair enough. Surely you have one in stock, among this great hoard?"

Ruth Aldine has posed:
"Old currency." Ruth explains. Was she attempting to buy cocoa beans to sell the cocoa beans to get Julian's soul back?


Perhaps she just wanted hot chocolate on demand.

But Rahne understood her, and that was all that mattered, the two women, lingering in the back of the Fellowship of the Soul, with Ruth attempting to look like the meanest cat to hit stray alley.

Which does nothing.

It was all silence as the stand in the room amongst the three. Ruth's head tilted to the side as she watches them converse, each word they spoke sounded like an echo to her. Away from Rahne's side she moves, not weaving through, but taking a wide berth towards the reptilian lady. Whilst Julio makes his stance, she stops in place, her arms drawn in front of her yet again. A teeter, a little totter, and Ruth was close. Not an invasion of space, but close enough to side whisper to the Third.

"You are very pretty. Yes."

James Proudstar has posed:
Jimmy continues the silent routine, studying the Three in turn. He can't help but wonder just how much these apparent power-players are rivals and even enemies so much as tolerant "businesspeople." Sadly he can't quite wrap his head around any obvious way to play them off of each other, much less in a way that would get them what they're after.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
It's a market. Things get bought and sold. Currency gets exchanged in a dozen weird forms among normal ones. Demons can look like people, people look like demons. The forgettable brunette in the most forgettable visage moves where the resistance is least, where the troubles are fewest.

Jimmy is busy working on guarding the rest from trouble. Ruth has been a subject of curiosity by dreaming of chocolate and serpentine women. That leaves the wolf, who might in her sharp hearing pick up on the murmured words. "The humble inherit the world and its wealth." A simple statement of fact, a bit of belief turned on its head, even as she drifts back from the room to consider the main offerings of less important souls. Souls, souls, everywhere.

Assuredly not hers in the room, but Illyana has reason to browse in case anything important -is-. Like, you know, an elder dead Keller.

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller floats there, a soulless sentinel, perhaps not even worthy of notice to the local demons. A vessel more than a person, an empty chamber to store the goods in, so to speak. Simply awaiting the purchase to be complete to fulfill his assigned task. He remains mostly still as he hovers, the radiant mask on his face seemingly well-matched to his silence.

Inside, of course, his brain is filled with a constant litany of swearing, but he's remaining cucumber on the outside.

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney watches as the Three that are apparently in posession of souls of quality ignore Juliogator. Ruth's approach, as well as the others, has her pause. A mental shrug is given to herself. Then she steps forward to the tables ignoring the Three and looking instead at the apparent wares on the table. Her head tips one way, then the next, before she gives a little derisive snort.

Lifting her head to glance at Juliogator she informs matter-of-fact and with confidence, "Baubles, nothing more. Nothing of real value here for trade. Perhaps something good is held back from display. Or else, they've nothing worth our pay."

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
    Oh no....Ruth wandered off again. But, Rahne doesn't seem to be all that worried. It is not particularly hard for her to follow the wandering seer by her scent. And, truth be told, the wolf does detach herself from the back of the shop to wander aimlessly towards her new-found charge.

    That is, until those ears pick up the faint speech of who exactly inherits the wealth. And that....that causes the wolf to lift her head...and see the unholy trinity for the first time.

    Humble...humble. Who is humble in the land of demons? Even its visitors, clad in the mystical vestige of Limbo itself, are far from humble. So, what is out of place? The man...the most unassuming of the Three. Humble in appearance, if not outright odd. That...has to be the entity they seek.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Wisdom's instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honour. Or when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Pick a verse, either applies, but there are lessons even in a state of shadow. Limbo is not Hell, but enough percolates up to leave a stain all the same. Five mortals left to bargain, one stripped of his soul acts the unexpected variable. Julian's silent ranting isn't likely audible to many, but perhaps he might accept a gesture to back away into the marketplace entirely in the company of the Demon Queen. An extraction of a sort with a purpose in mind, perhaps, as they stand on the threshold between participants and bystanders.

Rahne, warned about what to focus on, is another dynamic element of chaos put into play. Logical pieces arranged on the board in case a fair price can be struck and the players satisfied by whatever currency is offered. Three unnatural targets each with their own purpose, flouting authority.

Illyana swallows her pride and waits.