3585/Harpying On About Trouble

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Harpying On About Trouble
Date of Scene: 27 September 2020
Location: Limbo
Synopsis: Harpies are how Warpath burns off steam.
Cast of Characters: Illyana Rasputina, James Proudstar

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Stars prove a rarity in the sky in New York, as in Limbo. One, due to light pollution, the other due to the soul's condemnation in a strange and utterly unfriendly dimension. No constellations peek through a restless sky brindled violet, but they burn in a lake where Illyana sticks her bare feet, having ignored the need for wearing comfortably high boots here. Not a romantic picnic, this, for all the lapping waters on a black sand beach might just hint at it.

So, too, having her boyfriend standing there.

But the glowing sword buried point-down in the sand is a necessity for her to wash the grime and gore off herself. Her bare hands scrub off the grape cough syrup-coloured stains, handfuls of grit used to wipe it away. "I dislike the Chorus of Harpies," she explains in a somewhat louder voice than normal. Demons naming themselves after those horrors of Greek myth do, after all, scream discordantly and make for a noisy moment when not trying to seduce the mind. "Such a mess." The smell isn't grape cough syrup, more like dumping a vat of whiskey and rosewater over someone and then adding a healthy lick of brine. Hardly a smell that goes together except in a hipster bar.

The whole issue of appearing in one of their roosts and slaughtering the lesser vindictive souls has everything to do with the nest on the cliffside aerie a good thousand meters up from the lake, where presumably more slaughter awaits or they'll just have wisely left the chunk of an obscure key needed to find their way to one of the Three's lair. Violence in reclaiming her soul and all that.

James Proudstar has posed:
"Yeah, not exactly their biggest fan at the moment myself." Jimmy Proudstar replies, doing his own imitation of Illyana's cleansing routine once he realized the water wasn't going to do the job by itself. He's not squeamish by any stretch...he might have dismembered a couple Harpies by hand...but sticky and gross is sticky and gross regardless.

He glances in the direction of their destination, eyes narrowing a bit, "Yeah, that's a LOT bigger than the last one." He doesn't sound dubious so much as resigned.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"Better suited as the whetstone for the sword," Yana's gaze flicks to the blue-white fire of the blade within arm's reach. "Launching a crusade to make an object lesson of them might prove considerably more pleasing." Her teeth grit together briefly, the effort of getting the gunk out between her toes hitting all those sensitive nerves on the webbing. Dried grape goo is no one's idea of fun.

Better than dead anyway. Glancing over at Jimmy, she gestures at the breadth of his arm. The nest on high is ... on high. Lofty perch well above the surrounding planes, the jutting rocks offer minimal handholds, though hardly any of that matters with a teleporter. "We could put it off for a short while. Or storm the Bastille with loyal forces. But better to terrorize them personally."

James Proudstar has posed:
"I don't mind busting some heads to help you out. Spending as much time here as I do, probably better off if the locals get to realizing I'm not someone they want to mess with." Jimmy notes, also scrubbing away with some of the coarse black sand. He's not squeamish by any stretch, but sticky and gross is still sticky and gross regardless. "Gonna have to look into getting a weapon or two that can stand up to being used by someone like me without you having to beef them up." Mundane weapons of good quality work for a while, but inevitably break before too long.

"Anyway...better to hit them sooner...don't give 'em time to prepare." Jimmy advises, taking another gander towards that nest. "Doesn't look like they're aware that anything's up yet...or at least there hasn't been any change in their activity that I can see. Are they divided into separate tribes or something? Maybe not talking to each other much?"

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"No, you are not. Your soul is not negotiable here," Illyana concurs. The last of the gunk sluiced off doesn't require an actual knife to pare away, but it's close, leaving her nails begrimed by the foul wreckage of death. Gross is gross; she washes her hands clean in the lake afterward. Those slow, methodical movements distinguish the lethal intent in her slim body. "Are you asking for a present, darling? Because I can assure you harpy bones are fine for a hilt, but the nightsteel cooled in a soulforge is the way to go. Though we might have to make a few stops after that. Lucky for us." A dark smirk touches her lips. "Harpy bones can sell well. Need more to make the deal sweeter, but it's not hard to acquire what you want, unless it is perhaps vibranium or unobtainium."

That last bit comes as a joke in Russian deadpan, so indistinguishable except in close proximity.

Still, having Jimmy that close keeps her from simply climbing up a cliff and ramming a Soulsword into anything remotely resembling a living being. Her eyes narrow slightly as she considers the cliff. "They communicate differently than we do. They may know the murder is down. Good hearing and shrill clicks, subsonic shrieks, da? I can feel them up there and not moving. I have never determined if someone turned to stone would still be detected. Maybe good to know?"

James Proudstar has posed:
"Not really." Jimmy replies on the subject of fishing for presents. "Not that I'm inclined to automatically turn one down, but..." He frowns a bit, "Don't know that I'd want to wield something made from the bones of something that...sentient. Feels like bad medicine." Not admonishing exactly...Jimmy rarely judges the things Illyana must sometimes do to maintain her rule, because he knows he'll never fully know what horrors she had to endure to claim it. He feels like there's an edge he wants to keep her from falling off, but so far he hasn't quite felt like she's gotten there. They are, after all, fighting demons. "Innocent" is not a term that can be applied to much in Limbo. Do evil unto evil? Jimmy can get behind some of that, but there are limits.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"Da, understandable." With that single statement, whole volumes are spoken.

Illyana swivels to snatch up the black hilt of her sword, swinging it back to rest effortlessly in the holster at her back. Whatever incandescent danger the blade represents isn't to her, at least. Slender fingers pull her hair around to avoid it entangling with the black metal, a shrug almost required after that. "Take the bones after and we can sell them. The other parts are no use; they dissolve or turn to dust. Watch out for their spit. It's... how do you say? Corrosive?" Not the perfect word, but trying to warn Jimmy about the nasty qualities that break down bonds between matter really isn't all that easy to do, even for a mystic. The sorceress breaks into that cold little smirk and nods to the cliff. "Do you want the fast or scenic route?"

James Proudstar has posed:
"Normally I might enjoy the scenery, but we're not here for a nature walk, are we?" Jimmy answers, a wry expression flitting across his face, for a moment. "Probably a good thing you warned Tabby about all that stuff ahead of time. She would have /hated/ this." Goo and gore? Not so much her thing. Though put on the scales of "grossness" and "getting to blow stuff up" it might have been a closer decision than one imagines.

"But yeah, let's go fast. Wouldn't want her to get bored back at the Sanctum."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Tabby confronted by... bathing in a lake. Splatter art on her sunglasses. Nope, that would not end well.

Not a good idea at all.

Illyana probably knows a great deal better than to deal with a high-strung, explosive mutant slogging through a swamp or getting filthy. Easy when a bit of prestidigitation will take care of that for Yana, less so in waiting it. "Getting it out of her hair..." She shakes her head and then smirks. "Get bored? Boris will not let that happen. Hold still," she warns. Because her teleportation through Limbo is breathtakingly quick, faster than thought, since there's no intermediary needed. Silver fire leaves no scorch mark on the ground. The distance to the top of the cliffs and inward a good ten meters is no trouble at all, though the frisson of Limbo's eerie energies plays over Jimmy all the same. Solid ground to ground that's... well, less pleasant. Guano covered, with a huge heap of bones piled atop bent and crushed 'trees' made of bleached wood. Wood as never imagined on earth, anyway. The teacup-shaped monstrosity slopes back to a point that makes a nice launchpad for harpies. Harpy demons up here are, as below, wrinkled with leathery hides, wings fringed in mottled feathers, and faces that could strike Medusa dead at fifty feet.

James Proudstar has posed:
Superhuman reflexes can be a wonderful thing, like when you're able to strike out almost before the disc has disappeared. One surprised harpy gets whacked across the canyon and into the stony wall opposite. Guano makes for a slippery foundation, though, so even as Jimmy takes a first step, he slips and slides down a length of stone, barely managing to keep his feet, but that doesn't do him a ton of good as a trio of the creatures swoop down towards him, one of them attempting to blast him with that acidic spray as she(?) goes.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Doubly beneficial if, say, blonde girlfriend wants a piggy-back ride. She might never admit to wish to being carried like a hog but even the Demon-Queen of Limbo knows how to engage in entertainment as the mood takes her. No one expects the troublemaker with an Apache fist, though.

The harpies are not as tall as Jimmy, being somewhere bigger than Illyana. Their wingspan makes up for it, though, and those hollow bones are surprisingly durable. Helps to be made of impossibilities and bitter dreams, still. The thunderous clap of their wings is met with that shrill, awful noise escaped when the creatures open their maws. Full of razor teeth, just like birds shouldn't have, but their leering gets much, much louder in harsh tones when Illyana takes the field.

Look, she's the one they said no to. Conceivably they had reasons. Better bustline? Younger? Either way, she snarls a warcry right back and flings a globe of fire at them. Foolish, right? Fire and demons? Sulfurous harpy poo, guano after all, is sort of a component in gunpowder from days of yore. It doesn't just ignite like that... but it sends up smoke and puts them on the move, which means leaping and stabbing things becomes fun.

James Proudstar has posed:
Jimmy narrowly avoids getting splashed with that stream of acid-spit, reaching out with a hand to snatch the closest Harpy but its' throat. Harpies make an awkward club, and their bones are not as easily broken as one might expect, hollow or not, so while one does get swung about to bat its' comrades away, but even as Jimmy is buffeted by it's wings, he hurls it away before he gets another face full of acid. Maybe if he's lucky some of it will land on the other harpies...if that even hurts them.

Of course, now he's fighting amidst a bunch of guano-smoke which is...decidedly unpleasant. He makes a mental note to have Illyana put some kind of healing spell for diseases and parasites on him after they get back. You know, just in case there's something magical here that might bypass his usual resistances to such things.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Having the benefit of an enchanted sword may prove useful, doubly so when Illyana can simply cheat her way through the process of dismemberment. She isn't nice about what she does, but at least she isn't sadistic. Ducking a jab fit to shatter her jaw, she careens over the slippery surface and uses the leverage of the nest to fling herself into the air. Flight may well be possible, if not outright preferable, but the careening harpy can't dive bomb her so easily by those sudden turns. The glowing blade sweeps up, intercepting vicious claws made of some horny substance that would easily shear flesh. Not so much metal, where there isn't any, and if they didn't know who these two were, the Harpies do now.

"Bitch child" is just the nicest of the terms, if it were translated. Fortunately there is no need, since the hysterical shriek of rage gets cut short when she cannot gouge out the blonde's eyes. Instead, the Soulsword breaks through her guard and the leathery hide, passing through like the girl swatted a bubble. It pops just about as characteristically, sending a caustic sweep of fluids down that sizzle upon impact. For good reason, the blonde drops back onto the bones and wood to be jarred all the way down. So much more fun to appear to reverse turtle, stomach exposed, while the demonic avian flaps around and her sister comes in to slash. Yes, yes, come closer.

The big Apache's the one to watch out for.

James Proudstar has posed:
While that last bit is true it's also a lie. There is likely no being in this dimension as powerful or dangerous as Illyana, as she so ably demonstrates in these moments, even with the merest fraction of her power. By comparison Jimmy is, for the moment, a fairly blunt instrument. Not that he lacks in finesse when he fights, but he punches, he kicks, there are elbows and knees and grapples and even the occasional headbutt in there. He's an interesting comparison to certain individuals of their mutual acquaintance when he fights. While there may be an almost feral edge to it, it's a very focused and channeled, even cultivated one. Not a berserk rage so much as a cold pragmatism. Against these foes, at least, there is no holding back. He just kinda wishes he didn't enjoy it as much as he does.

Speaking of which, it's that lack of wanton cruelty that so far has kept him...if not comforted, at least not critically worried. Enjoy it a little bit? Can't fault someone for that. Start enjoying it too much? That's when you worry. Or he worries or...whatever.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Ah, but they know Illyana. What she is, what she portends for their wishes elsewhere. The blonde's show of slipping or vulnerability is simply that, a show, playing on instincts, playing on the very instinct not to /trust/ their gut intuition.

In the end, she offers up violence on a platter as a goblet they can both drink from. James churns up the earth and the seasons of gunk accumulated in a multicoloured strata, and she dares to laugh, his coldness at odds with the fiery spirit wrapped in Baikal ice a million years thick. Slipping under the nails slamming into the ground and bracketing her isn't easy; getting her knees beneath to ram into the underbelly of one of those monsters serves her perfectly well, punching the harpy up to meet Jimmy's fists or his knees. Two can play at that game, though demon hunting with the equivalent of Excalibur in a fist fight hardly /counts/ as fair. Who said it had to be fair, though, to be fun? She swings and brandishes the blade, short jabs opening up space, using the brilliant fire to blind the screeching monsters that leave her half-deafened in facing them.

It's not focused but simply an act of joy, waving a torch at the wolf.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Onwards, to trouble! The vicious horrors of a harpy-like demon descend on the fair queen and the copper-cast champion, such as they are, fearlessly bruised and flung about.

James Proudstar has posed:
In Jimmy's mind, there's no such thing as a "fighting fair" or "fighting dirty"...there's just "fighting" and you fight to win. Certainly there can be "honorable" ways of conducting yourself, but those are window trappings. Combat is win or lose, and often in this line of work "lose" means "you die" and he just really doesn't have time for that right now. To the untrained eye Jimmy's fighting might seem wild and unrestrained, but a seasoned fighter would recognize the discipline in it, and one that knows Jimmy's capabilities would see that they are reflected in it: You can afford to give a little less to defense when you can take the hits, for example.

So the costume gets torn up a bit, but Jimmy himself not so much.

The harpies though? Yeah, they're getting torn up pretty bad.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
The harpies wail and shrill. The sound is godawful, the Greeks had it wrong. It isn't beautiful but mind-shattering to hear them in a full flight. No songs or cries awaken the senses to delight, lost in the bliss of an opium den.

Brutality rising up from Illyana's broken soul seethes through the gaps, pouring out from the cracks that eventually mend by proximity. Belasco ripped the last chunks out; her own dross contribution to Julian is another matter. With the sudden snap of the Soulsword, she reflexively unleashes the anger held on the shortest of leashes. It doesn't bark or snap, no more than a neutron star blows off gas and magnetic anomalies from its intense spin or a shark makes an ufufu sound of delight when coming on a seal. The raw barbarity of attack is fierce and direct, an unkind demonstration of power when the bleeding flames that engulf the sword grow that much hotter. One shrieking wail deafens the Demon Queen as the emaciated arm sweeps down, claws too late, the harpy connecting with her pauldron that bursts with those glittering spikes of silver corroded black. She punches the blade straight up, running through the beast that bursts into holy flame.

Or unholy, but that shriven purity of the soul cast into bladed form holds a grudge against demons, and this one went too far. The next circling her from the air doesn't necessarily have a chance; Jimmy can jump further and longer, but a teleporter has a few tricks up her sleeve, including stabbing into a portal that emerges from the back of the second monstrosity on wings.

James Proudstar has posed:
Jimmy isn't nearly so fancy as Illyana, mostly due to lack of flashy mutant ability and massive sorcerous might. But that's not to say he isn't effective! Fist, feet, forehead, elbow, knee...all quite effective weapons in their own right. The occasional stone, guano-covered or not, hurled at lethal velocities with frightening accuracy. Moreover he's gotten the measure of these creatures now, and found them, while stronger than a normal human by a nmassive (one might even say "monstrous") degree, well within his own bounds. Does that make him a bigger, badder monster?

He almost likes that idea. Who do monsters look in their closets or under their beds for?

All told though, there are limits...in this case limits to the numbers of the harpies and how many casualties they're willing to take before discretion does become the better part of valor. The flock thins.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Hate has a colour: black. A dangerous poison that floods the veins if let off the hook. It's just too expensive for Illyana to manage; too damn dangerous for any mortal to play with lightly. Even altered sorceresses like her.

The swinging strikes of the Soulsword bite deep into demon flesh. It's built to kill them, an instrument of revenge and righteous justice.

It's all about precision, at the end. Stabbing through a portal opens her up to another punch from one of the dwindling harpies, to be flung sideways, rolling across the guano-soaked stones and making a sound of utter disgust. James can throw it; she doesn't like it. Monstrous wail met by gritted teeth behind black lips, she shouts, "Catch!"

It's sure as sunshine not for the harpy. The Soulsword she tosses his way. Let them play; her arts burn another colour.

James Proudstar has posed:
The blade is caught, and put to swift use in a flash-fire arc that causes a conflagration of three at one broad stroke. Holding the blade, much like Illyana's teleportation...is an experience in and of itself...not altogether unlike what he imagines grabbing a live wire might be like. But also like her teleportation, it's something that can be grown accustomed to. He's no master swordsman, but with a weapon this powerful and so pointedly-tailored for the task at hand, he doesn't need to be. Vorpal or otherwise, snicker-snack goes the Soulsword and a harpy loses her head. two, no three more follow in rapid succession and...that's really about all they wrote. Less than a handful of survivors attempt to make flight out of the canyon and away from their attacks. Will they survive to spread tales of terror among their kind? Well, that largely depends on the Demon Queen, whose blade is offered back to her in an absence of nearby threats.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
No stalking Jabberwockies here, but certainly the harpies could have a little in common with them. Their wrath and monstrous forms elongate as a few flap away, seeking consolation in the ramparts of higher spaces. Safety won't be found in those spires, either from someone who can move so much faster than Illyana on foot, or with someone given a longer arm's reach by plenty. She may be the expert duelist, but the unfortunate truth is that strength and speed can make up for a lot.

Besides, the sorceress takes dark amusement watching the Soulsword snatched up to be the instrument is was intended. Her willingness for the flaming shard of her soul to be carried off changes the hue of that eldritch glow almost instantly; the shift from balefire ultramarine to an incandescent blue a jump higher up the spectrum becomes almost the sacred turquoise of the south. She wheels on the creature that dropped her to the ground, throwing her crossed arms up protectively against any outstretched claws. Good thing, too, since the harpy tries to rake the front of her body and look, the abs are exposed and threatened, but that's really like going for a cat's belly. She spits out a spell and a wave of electrified sparks race down, so the point of contact is arguably thrilling. Shocking, perhaps, for the bird blown out of the sky.

James Proudstar has posed:
Jimmy isn't inclined to pursue too far, instead directing the blade against those lingering few who try to take their shot at the Queen (and miss). It's just another two, but it's not like score was being kept, anyway. And with the immediate threat dealt with Jimmy exhales, and glances around, eventually towards the largest pile of muck and detritus that looks like a nest, or near enough.

"I'm guessing we're gonna have to dig in there for what we're looking for, huh?" A wry, resigned expression touch his features before he hands the Soulsword back to Illyana moves to do so, burying his revulsion and putting his senses...in this case very much more so his sight rather than scent, thank goodness) to use. It still takes a few minutes, but he comes away with that which they sought...a piece of a soul medallion. Best not to speculate what the Harpies traded it for, he imagines.

"All right...that was foul, but this looks like what you described..." He holds it up, the glint barely visible beneath the coating of guano that near-covered it. "And now I need a real long bath."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Taking down a harpy spectacularly still only counts as one. Oliphaunts or not! Illyana scorches the air with an electric pulse that blasts off her, given that fire is useless in these situations and the spellcraft taught by her dark master is nothing short of Sith- or Dark Lord-like, anyway. Sauron would be pleased; the Valar, definitely not. Still, there's a spin and a turn for her to engage with the one last shrieking, demonic presence flapping about in search of chips to cash in on its life insurance, and the hideous feathers end up standing on end with another explosive crack that smells much worse than ozone. Limbo sends a whirling spire of sandstone tearing up to pierce the thing's belly, and she makes a disgusted look, proving there is in fact still a girl under that. "Ew. Just ew." The Sword gratefully taken hums, the fire quenched, the better she can thrust it back where it belongs. "Pests," she declares, as though that covers everything. Farmer's daughter; it should. Locust is likely a curse word where Piotr is involved. Eyes narrow, still glowing slightly, taking in the surroundings while Jimmy valiantly avoids gagging. She might have some immunity to magic but not the desire to wretch so close to the colossal nest. "You are serious about climbing in there?" The glint is enough; she nods sharply. "Soul in there. Come on, let's get to the lake where we can wash off."