5416/Break the Silence

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Break the Silence
Date of Scene: 02 March 2021
Location: Bronx
Synopsis: Leena barely survives being the human sacrifice, but now the King of Hell, Vinea, walks New York freely. That can't possibly turn out poorly.
Cast of Characters: Meggan Puceanu, Julio Richter, Jacqueline Falsworth, Amora, John Constantine, Eric Brooks

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Layout: https://imgur.com/a/8Tsici7

The Ministry's second floor differs from the dance floors on the first. It's an open-beam loft, floors bare, walls brick. Worked into the masonry are a few rare touches: a circular mask on the wall, a pretty arch crowned with a keystone bearing a visible glyph. Here the elect favoured by Winter Santos spend their time in his graces. The DJ clearly lavishes all expenses on the celebrations, though they're far and away more ceremonial than pretty people sitting in the lounge or knocking back cervezas and well-mixed drinks. Different songs undulate between the brick walls than thrumming electro-pop beats keeping the dancers sweaty and entranced downstairs.

The narrow stairway connects all that to something older, infinitely more powerful in its purpose. Spitfire's incandescent flames hang in the air up the staircase and halt at a guard-rail looped around the squared-off landing. Beyond her, two worlds collide: the sacred-divine and the mortal.

These dancers, fewer in number but still plentiful, serve a distinct purpose. They stamp and twirl through a primeval ritual. All the necessary accessories are present: bare limbs sweaty, bare chests nicked with cuts, beautifully elaborate dyes and paints. Participants wear grass skirts over their clothes. Some only wear feathered cloaks and loose trousers, feet bare. A broad ring of people in the upper corner leap in whirling displays of athleticism, crouching and jumping as high as the rafters. Spanish ululations and obsidian rattles add to the cacophonous sounds blending in and out with the sound system.

Here is power in action, the protective triple barrier nothing like the circles favoured by European magic. Styles here are intricate and elaborate, difficult to ascertain between the Nahuatl stonework, the technoshamanism that weaponizes sound into a physical barrier and something harder to trace. Weapons jammed into the ground at intervals could be suggestive of physical foci, but the complex web of energies spans to points in the ceiling, the dancers themselves engaged in ritualized blood-letting and maiming. All that expresses why signatures might have been dampened, coated in a tarry black darkness.

Whatever their purpose, a knot of dancers writhes around Winter Santos -- handsome, dark-haired, drinking from a beer bottle -- and a man with a coin pressed to his brow. His gaping throat smiles a red, red wound even in that poorly lit place.

Julio Richter has posed:
Tucked beneath Amora's concealing spell, Julio lifts his hands and creates a wardwall, not unlike the ones he usually projects in the image of Tlaltecuhtli, but this one is a canted cross, wreathed in traced vines and leaves, shedding silent sparks. He holds the X-shield in front of him as he precedes Amora up the stairs, as hot on Jac's heels as it is physically possible for him to be.

As the ritual space comes into view, tendrils of brilliant verdant energy are curling out of every gap in his coat and clothing, like he's Sleeping Beauty's thorn-enmeshed castle bedecked in crust punk graffiti and risen up off its foundations to kick some ass. He hits the ritual area's sound barrier, a standing wave of mystical and sonic power, and if anyone thought vibrations could keep Julio Richter out, they don't know Julio Richter. (Of course, they /don't/ know Julio Richter. Who the hell is Julio Richter?)

An inverse wave dampens the barrier, and Julio's own mutation draws what power remains into himself, bleeding it into the earth like these dancers are bleeding themselves. Of course, the moment the barrier comes down, Amora's deceptive shield is defunct for Julio. There's no way Santos won't see what he has done, and Julio has broken out of the spell's area of effect to grin at him with a mouth of green fire.

"'Sup, pendejo?" he asks, his voice a mocking challenge.

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
The gunman at the door slumps into a heap. Jacqueline enters the room, dark eyes taking in the ritual, its dancers, its participants, and its guardians. What she doesn't know, however, is how best to disrupt it. Consequently, the speedster actually stays put for the moment, waiting for Julio and Amora to join her, looking to the sorceress -- the more experienced of the two magic users, since John got his (okay FLORA'S) ass nabbed down in the hallway below -- for some indication of what they need to do against this... insanity.

Because, seriously, this is insane. The Englishwoman has seen a lot of weird stuff in her long life. This ranks right up there with the craziest of it.

Amora has posed:
Amora is certainly not the type to be the first rushing into the place, remaining in the safety of her illusion spell even as Julio goes all action hero. She has patience, and nothing like sending some meat shi--, I mean valiant companions ahead! It also gives her time to examine the room more thoroughly with her senses, looking at the traces of energy in the air, the ritual being done and specially *what* is being done here. She peers up at the ceiling with her crystal gaze before her feet leave the ground..

Effortlessly flying now she takes note of the barriers ahead, studying on a way to break through. Mmm, interesting. She smiles faintly.

She focuses on the energy transferral spell in the air, hooking into it as she tries to divert it *somewhere* else.

Like her for example. She is divine afterall!

"There are three barriers here." she explains, "I will focus on breaking this energy transferral that is connecting to his .., God." and maybe gain some power in the process. But no need to share that!

"Sacrifices power him, and so does blood-letting. Those people should be stopped from the ritualized dancing they are doing."

"Do not tear down at the foci randomly, for there is a curse ready to be triggered if you do so."

John Constantine has posed:
The door bangs open behind the trio. One might never have expected to see a pugnacious expression on Flora's face, but her battered features show a rush of angry victory. One sleeve of her scrubs has been torn, there's blood on her knuckles, and contusions on her fine features.

"Fat lotta help you lot were," Constantine informs the trio. He digs a pack of cigarettes out of Flora's pocket and lights one up. The magus stops near Amora, giving her an inscrutable once-over, then tilts Flora's head at the dancers. "I've got the payload if you've got the delivery system," John tells Amora, and holds out a small phial. "Essence of ipecac. Won't be pretty, but it's hard to join bloody revels if you're puking your guts up. Just gotta get it to all of 'em at once, smart-like."

Eric Brooks has posed:
If you listen for long enough, eventually you're going to hear something.  Blade has been following snippets and rumors, often (but not always) coming from reluctant vampires and familiars.  He also has a sixth sense, a prickly and skin-crawly sensation that kicks into overdrive around supernatural phenomena.  Lately, he's been prickling whenever he visits the Bronx.

Which brings us to tonight.  As always, he unabashedly wears a trench coat and bulletproof vest.  There's telltale bulging at his shoulders and forearms that indicates he's added extra pieces of armor to his outfit.  His sword is very much in evidence, as is his silver weaponry.  About half of the latter has been replaced, though.  Where extra stakes and knives often hang, now there are bandoliers of grenades and extra clips.  He's carrying a shotgun, which is something that never makes him unhappy.

The only thing he knows for certain about this place is that plenty of stuff happens upstairs.  That, and very few people are likely to get an invite up there unless they also belong on Blade's dance card.  He's already discarded the idea of using ladders or fire escapes.  It's time for something a little more direct.  He kicks the back door in, sending it exploding off the hinges.  A few shotgun shells and punches later (thank goodness for loud music) and he's making his way up the stairwell so recently used by everyone else.  As he does, he whistles a bit from a Miles Davis song and methodically reloads, alternating between shells with red and green casings. 

The door opens one more time.  Blade arrives in time to hear the brief conversation, luckily.  Stop people, don't break everything, something about ipecac.  Seems simple enough.  "Hey, guys. Uh.  Are we not killing people tonight?" he asks, as if he'd been here all along.  "I know I invited myself, but I could, you know..."  he gestures with his weapon.  "Just saying."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Despite the obvious challenge, the dancers barely halt. Through masked features, they throw a few looks at the duo who becomes a trio. Amora's protective illusion keeps her as the nameless fourth, though her spellcasting sends resonant chords ringing across any magically aware minds.

The dancers exude joy and purpose as they exert themselves. Taking out the guards on the stairs hasn't stopped them and neither does the sonic ward falling, swallowed up by Julio behind his X-shaped shield. Electric knives and staccato beats flense something when he absorbs them, cutting the psyche from the inside. Loud music below filters up through the floor where no longer dampened, spilling muted pop lyrics and the thumping bass line around ecstatic chants in Nahuatl and Latin. Beautiful if not so brutal, fascinating if not so fundamentally foul.

The whole loft seems smaller, lesser, more cramped as something immense folds itself down to a proper form. Even on the fringes, the atmospheric pressure feels like it's doubling.

Tall and fit, Winter knocks back the last of the beer for the moment. The screen of dancers makes him hard to see directly, and they might get glimpses. He sets aside the bottle instead of tossing it anywhere, for why be wasteful or risk nasty cuts on bare feet? He stalks within the invisible barriers and casually gestures, saying something. A revolting surge of energy blossoms as one of the dancers drops to her knees, then to her side. Dark hair fans on the ground with the dried grass skirt. Panting, gasping, the young woman doesn't even raise her head. Vines spun with serrated green grape leaves curl from nowhere to wrap around her ankle, wrist, shoulder, and waist.

Julio Richter has posed:
"Daniel, take it easy," Julio mutters, just to himself. This is not the time to have a terrified voice in his head, interfering with his game face. He's already holding his willful braggadocio together mainly on adrenaline and the knowledge that he has friends nearby in case he //really// screws up.

Having shattered through the first barrier, he drives forward into the second layer, scraping apart the revel's defenses like a sawblade shrieking its way through metal. He had expected his frontal assault to delay or at least distract the ritualized party; since that's not happening, he elects to inconvenience the dancers a little more directly.

Driving the power he absorbed from the first barrier down into the dance floor, he sets up a resounding, destructive tremor that should shake apart the ground beneath the dancers' feet, maybe drop them into the party downstairs where they can bump and grind harmlessly, like normal half-naked ravers, instead of feeding Itztlacoliuhqui's ritual hunger. Regardless of how effective that is, he's still pushing forward, and when the dancer falls at Winter's spoken spell, he hisses, "Jesucristo, no. You're disgusting."

He doesn't really do counterspells, but he does know a powerful earth-cleanser, and those vines do not feel like a natural phenomenon. The ground here isn't ground, properly, but it surely must count for ritual purposes. He calls up his own thorned vines of bright green light in that spot, not the sort to tear into flesh, but the sort to churn the ground, resetting it to a primal state, chewing away Winter's enchantment and freeing the girl, even if she seems to have little control over her body to make good an escape.

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
Soooo... stop the dancing and don't get cursed. That's what Jacqueline takes away from Amora's words. She glances over her shoulder as FloraJohn makes herhis presence known offering... to make everyone puke. Nice (*le-sigh*). Followed, of course, by Blade. She gives a wry smile. Some things never change. "Actually," she tells him with a shrug, "we rather need to *stop* the killing. It's a blood sacrifice ritual." Such a fun place to be for vampire sorts. Not for the first time, she's really, really glad she doesn't have the bloodlust to contend with.

In her mind, Theo is aghast. She can't blame him. If she hadn't found herself too often in the clutches of the Blood Cult, she'd be more affected than she is. But, unfortunately, this *isn't* the worst depravity she's seen in her life. Which will probably make the old Jesuit recoil even more (given she's only about 20 years older than him).

She *could* just wade in and start bowling people over. With her strength and speed... it'd be like watching a popcorn maker tossing kernels carelessly into the oil. But it seems to her the key to this ritual, as so many others, is that bloody (but not bloody enough) coin on the throat of the one man in the center.

So, the speedster makes a snap decision. "Try not to get cursed," she tells the others, apparently intending to ignore her own advice.

A bright streak of spitfire trails behind her. She weaves through gyrating bodies, slaps a hand over the coin, spins on her heel, and speeds right back in the direction she came from -- heading for the stairs. No sense leaving a token of power in the middle of a ritual, right? She just prays the building doesn't explode as a result of removing it.

Amora has posed:
"Mmm, you should not let that happen." Amora says as the dancer starts to get sapped of it's energy. But Julio is already into it. Meanwhile, fingertips continue to motion towards the golden ward, manipulating it to her own ends. Ah, yes. Here it is. And Amora being Amora means she *taps* into that power. She lets out a gasp and then lets one of those wicked smiles that would leave any wicked witch of the east (or west) proud.

"One barrier down..." of course that it's most likely a good thing she hasn't seen herself in a mirror yet, the Asgardian's eyes now bleeding down her cheeks, all the way down to her chin.

She distractedly takes the vial Flora gives her, looking at it and then at the man. "Smart." and now with the wards open to her it means delivering it is a child's play. For she is the Enchantress. Potions, and having people be affected by it's effects is her bread and butter. She uncorks the vial and gestures with her hand, magicking to spread it's effects like an insidious tendril that goes to infect them with that essence. And she is cheeky enough to try and affect Winter Santos as well with Constantine's concoction.

But she can't help to comment. "You call yourself Blade and you come in here with a shotgun?" cheeky.

John Constantine has posed:
"Oye lad, mind yourself!" Flora's voice cracks with John's words, a reprimand borne of concern. The kid's got the chops, sure, but charging headlong into the fray is often a sure forerunner of getting oneself killed.

He glances over Flora's shoulder, then does a double-take at Blade. "Oye, izzat you, Eric?" The woman's voice is unfamiliar, but few people *anywhere* would take that tone with Blade-- let alone use the familiar name. "Bout bloody time you showed up, I thought you'd miss near the whole show."

His attention's pulled back by Spitfire charging after the coin. Flora's face contorts in frustration when the heroine bursts through that raw ritual magic and makes for the coin. No one's as fast as the speedster but there's nothing wrong with Constantine's brains or the reaction times of Flora's body. Her hands dive into Constantine's old overcoat and dig out a small jewelry box, the size of a ring case. It's made of some heavy, dense material that is utterly inert to the senses both preternatural and supernatural.

"Oye! Lass! Give it here!" John extends Flora's hand towards Spitfire. "The coin!" It's all he can do to get the words out before she leaves the room, and to catch the coin in the snow-white kerchief in his hands. A keen eye would see gold thread invoking the name of several greater angelic Powers embroidered in delicate letters around the cloth's border.

He catches the coin and palms open the box in the same moment, adding the coin to a small stack of tarnished silver. It's radioactive waste for the psyche, a combined pile of Apollyon's entropy sitting in the palm of the hand.

Flora's palm spreads over the box and a string of fast and urgent Latin flows from her lips. Constantine invokes the names of martyrs and angels, powers associated with the primal agency of the universe. The chant is insistent and precise, a prayer for intercession.

Golden light curls around his fingers, forms a cage to catch that entropic field and drive it backwards. It draws those same energies away from Amora, a mystical lightning rod. Flora's features strain in effort as more and more of that entropic energy, even the parts of the other wards and the ritual magic, are sent crashing into the nothingness in that box. The entropic field is greedy and consumes everything channeled into it, and the sole check on the drain is John's resolute willpower.

The golden lights flicker and bend into the darkness. The power of Heaven is absolute but John's focus is not, and slowly it starts to drain at his spirit as well.

The kerchief and coinbox are wrapped together to hold the aura at bay. John's prayer stops and he stamps a foot on the ground, twice. "Kingitus oelatele!" he barks. A portal barely the size of a basketball opens near his feet and John hurls the box, kerchief, and bundle of entropic miasma into the portal, then slams it shut with another gesture.

Flora's eyes look up at the others, and weary relief starts to shift into minor alarm. "Er... we should probably wrap this up smartly," John admits. "I panicked a bit and I think I just tossed Apollyon's little nuke into the heart of Abaddos."

Eric Brooks has posed:
"I didn't give myself the name," Blade replies.  "Besides, 'Shotgun, the vampire slayer,' doesn't have the same ring." 

The first shell, one of the ones with red casings, is fired into the ceiling.  It blows out a hole in some drywall and plaster, then the gun is pumped and leveled toward the dancers.  "Wait a second.  Ponce de John, is that you?"  The next shell, a green one, is loosed.  It's a beanbag round.  Hardly pleasant, but it's better than buckshot. "I thought I smelled stale cigarettes and mystical hoodoo.  You look... different."

The pattern is repeated several times.  Hole in the ceiling, pump, beanbag. Unfortunately, alternating his load has left him with fewer rounds.  When he's empty, which is all too soon, he reverses his grip on the gun until he's holding it by the barrel like it's a baseball bat.  Then, without further ado, he charges directly into the fray and starts swinging.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Ipecac syrup used for poisonings has long gone out of favour. As a panacea, it never helps. When cleverly accelerated among the dancers by Amora's spellcraft, tinged in a sickly black, inducing sudden gasping and choking is another matter. Winter holds a sliver of laminated paper when that first syrupy burst spews across his lips. The paper dart flies into the air and swings around, a swivelling needle on a compass. Cramps have their delayed onset; even enriched, it's not quite instantaneous. He wipes away the sheen, and curses when a speedster's fire dances inside the enchanted circle that should not be there. It's just a matter of time before nausea revolts.

Smallest of problems, one thing at a time.

Shotgun shells make for excellent interruptions as they crash into the ceiling. Chips fly everywhere, and where the luckier shots go, the night sky shines through. Only a few of the dancers stumble, but forced on, they writhe and leap. If they fall from Julio's attacks, they get right back up until holes in the ground form outside the main circle or the weapon foci. Several disappear from sight.

Blade's going to have far better success by just clobbering them with the gun instead of shooting the building -- which probably has more resilience than all of them combined, minus two. A rifle butt cracks into a jaw that breaks. He's lucky not to fall through weakened floorboards. His strength easily knocks one of the stumbling dancers into another, and another blow clean wrenches someone's head around.

Aside from a leering grin, the partier keeps dancing, regardless of a broken neck. Trickles of vomit or clutched bellies aside don't seem to make a difference.

The chaotic destruction only feeds a certain wrongness, one that bleeds right into Amora for every nine parts dashed elsewhere.

In Jacqueline's escape with the coin and Flora's banishment comes a vague alleviation of the white noise on the senses. The entropic field's absence still leaves both of their outfits faded, moth-bitten. Nonetheless, the awful weight in the loft doesn't cease. The ground buckles. Cracks shine on the walls. Julio's geomantic power play rips at the barrier, vines stretching and stripping those of a darker variety around Leena. Exhausted, shaking, she rolls onto her back and gasps at the luminous greenery haloing her. <<Hel-->>

Falling splinters and metal shards from the blown-out roof fall right into her exposed, tanned throat. Winter doubles over, gagging. A surge of power feeds the bleeding Enchantress, intoxicating, coiling lines of pleasure. Clapping dryly, a bland looking hipster with a finely groomed beard and gorgeous tattooed forearms. "Well done. Shall we play?"

Reality groans, pulled into the enormous gravity of a being from the start of creation. It vibrates, shredded, with the call of angels and a hole to darker places teased by Flora-Constantine. For an instant, the dancers are shown as shredded skins worn by beings with fluid, terrifying shapes out of nightmare. For a moment, fires roil around John's fractured skin and Amora's green aura is a ghastly shadow inverted. Caiman teeth score Julio's body where pustules of the beyond of night bubble and bend, scar-tissue of faded encounters.

For an instant, reality is a glass window and the manifested King of Hell is the only thing that's real, and the silence sequestered in the Pit louder than any dancer's scream.

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio's cleansing spell is just enough to free Leena from the bubble of cold power Santos is lurking in -- but it's for naught. He reaches toward her just in time to see her snuffed, senselessly, pointlessly. He doesn't see into magical realms, more hears their echoes... but the discordant shriek of her death on that profane patch of floor turns his stomach quite as effectively as any ipecac.

On the other hand, between his assault and Amora's, the defensive barriers have finally failed, and Julio staggers into the revel alongside Spitfire and Blade, his protective projection of vines knotted in the space all around him like an especially baroque type ornament. "Enough bullshit!" he yells raggedly, and those vines are flung in all directions, knotting and twisting through the space of the ritual dance like roots in a too-small pot, tangling the dancers where they stand and then lowering them gently through the floor. Blade, too, is entangled for a second, but then Julio collapses that particular winding ward to release him. Spitfire is simply too fast to catch.

The vine projections bending around him, he strides toward Santos. "I stole your disgusting coins, I ate your horrible demon, and if you don't cut this shit out, I'm going to whoop your ass so hard you'll beg for your mamá's chancla."

Florstantine's warning was, let's say, given due consideration.

But even as Julio is moving in range to physically grab Winter, a more potent player buys into the game. With a //slow clap// that burns old wounds like molten metal. "Jesucristo," he groans, turning to face this new threat with gritted teeth. "How many layers of you fucking lunatics do we have to //deal// with?"

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
Jacqueline hears John's call at the last possible instant. She twists, tosses the coin at him... and lets him do what needs to be done. With the aleviation of the entropic field, it's almost easier to breathe -- though the speedster is barely conscious of that fact.

She's taken one point of power away from the evil priest. Time to take more. She can hear Brother Theo screaming in her head, begging her to get them out of there. The thing that is being called up here is too powerful for her. Too powerful for any of them, save the Creator himself. But Jacqueline is stubborn. "<<Shall I leave the girl to die, then?>>" she retorts. No. She can't do that. Thus, instead, she spins and heads back into the fray, dodging bodies at hyperspeed, flame stretching out behind her.

Her strong arms wrap around Leena, torn and bleeding as she is. She cradles the girl to her and keeps running, circling around, heading for the stairs. She's going to get her out of there. Going to find some way to stop the bleeding, if she can.

If only she could heal others as easily as she can heal herself. If only she knew someone else who could.

Amora has posed:
As those fallen debris fall and slice through the girl's throat there is a soft sigh that escapes Amora. One of resignation. Of a prophecy coming true. But also one of delight. Of power. She feels it coursing through her. The power. Oh, yes... Her visage turns even more terrifying, the blood on her eyes and cheeks now joined by hair that turns green and black, an influence of the power she is gaining with the sacrifices. Yes, so sweet.

"Ah, there you are. Vinea." She whispers the name, not afraid of saying it's true name, such is the arrogance she feels of the power burning inside her. "Naughty, naughty. Does Apollyon know of this?" she guesses not.

She eyes the sacrificial Leena being taken out. Too late to save her? Who knows. But it is not her priority. Green energy starts to form on her hands, ready to duke it out with this demon if it needs be.

"Seems your ruse is done. Are you to leave back to your hole or should we dispatch your cultists?"

Eric Brooks has posed:
No matter how much experience you have with the undead, some things never stop being disgusting.  Broken necks are on the list.  For his part, for the moment, Blade lets up his attack on any of the dancers who aren't currently a threat. 

Rather than reload his shotgun (he's out of non-lethal rounds, anyway) he drops it and kicks it aside.  His sword is drawn, along with a bulky pistol.  "If anyone has any really great ideas, now would be the time." 

And then... vines.  Cursing, he starts trying to hack his way free.  Luckily, it doesn't turn out to be necessary.  He glances at the cultists, or worshippers, or whatever they are.  He's relatively green when it comes to hell princes or demon kings.  He's certainly no healer, so he can't help with that.  But he knows how to handle a mob.  "Come on, then," Blade beckons them, tapping the floor in front of himself with the tip of his sword.  "I'm right here."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The dancers come to slow, grinding halts. Those not teetering into the brink or falling through the floor have a habit of falling to all fours. Some drop like marionettes snipped of their strings, vacant faces and limbs askew, as the infernal powers inside them flee. Borrowed meatsuits, cooling bodies, or frantically squirming, terrified victims trying to get away from the others. It's an ugly sight among the vines, whimpering or ghastly still. How many have been fed to the Destroyer? Enough.

"You look smashing." Vinea toes at the floor bubbling and starting to sink under his weight, no help from Julio. For the moment the ragged, wet boards stay intact. The same cannot be said for plaster raining down around them. Dust drizzles a fetching gray steak in his fair, proof genetics really do count. "Careful not to get too smashed." He shakes his head when Blade pulls a sword and a pistol. "No, I rather not. As much as I enjoy the company, the night is coming to an end. Call me."

He raises not one finger to stop Jacqueline dodging in to grab Leena. The girl's withered grass skirt hisses as a farewell. Bubbled, labouring breaths cannot pass the holes punched into her windpipe without drowning in blood, and her wide, frightened eyes roll. Locked in the speedster's mind, Brother Theo whispers the age-old rites in Latin. He cannot offer the gestures in the flesh, but only in soft, fervent prayer: <<Through this holy anointing, may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up. Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy name...>>

Blocks away, cumulonimbus clouds inscribe a torrential burst of rain across the community centre fronting Mill Brook Houses. Showers flood the gutters and paint the bright murals in a furious, wet sheen.

Winter Santos vomits again on the ground, curling up in pain. Gagging with agony and /still/ he radiates smug satisfaction that the Fallen doesn't.

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio ate a demon not too long ago. He's still kinda full. Hell lord guy, no way, too rich. Santos, on the other hand...

The mutant crouches next to him, glaring at the priest of Itztlacoliuhqui, and a shining flint knife of insubstantial traceries appears in his hand. With an expression of deep disdain, he plunges the blade into Santos's back and twists it through a ritual pattern. There's no blood, no wound, but when Julio yanks it free again, there's an icon like a sacred heart pulsing on the end of it, suffused with all the magical energies Winter managed to bind to himself through his rituals and his soul thefts and his sacrificial murders.

With his enemy defeated and defenseless, Julio can pry such things loose of their bodies and just... chow down. Kind of like what Amora was doing earlier, but more up close and personal. So he does: tipping his head back and seemingly unhinging his jaw, he swallows the beating heart of Winter's magic whole. He's not killing him; not even banishing him, as this plane is where he belongs. But the bastard won't be able to do a thing in the magical world for quite some time.

And as he swallows and returns to normal human flexibility and dimension, something suddenly strikes Julio. "I know where the bodies are," he announces, looking stunned.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Julio in effect chews on rotten snow, glacial ice that has never seen the sun. He drinks a slurpee of the earth falling to pieces, stars collapsing, and inevitable demise. Rot and rust seals to his tongue, until that flavour falls apart and dust-dry elements collapse, nerves racing like acid. To eat that power is to feel himself hollowing out, torn in places that should never tear, introducing a corrosive force into a finely tuned system.

Behind that, the ice and the cold, but he is riddled by a corruption as black and dark as Amora's stain... except not something a pound-store warlock can just rip out.

Amora has posed:
Amora loves power. She won't deny it. And damn it if this isn't satisfying. But if there is something she hates is being deceived AND she does love to spite. And damn sure noone will be left laughing at her and /slow/ clapping as if they had done all the work for them.

Hell Spawn or not..

And with Julio, Blade and Flora already bent on taking care of cultists she lets out a wicked little smile, a wink to Vinea. "I will return soon, darling." a promise in her voice.

And then an enchantment. A whisper in the wind. It travels fast. VERY fast. Reaching the speedster's ears. "Stop." Amora's voice.

She twirls and disappears in a flash of light to go appear near Jacqueline. Wherever she may have been by now! But with the power she has now? She has magic enough to easily teleport around.

"Allow me.." She whispers when she comes to appear near Spitfire and the girl, hand reaching. And so as with the power she parts from some of it in order to heal the girl, to undo what that cut had done. Repairing tissue..

Some of the worst parts of her terrifying visage start to fade, leaving only the blood tears down her face.

Good luck explaining this to your boss, Vinea!

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
Even as she runs, Jacqueline is strong enough to hold Leena to her with one arm. It's just as well, since she jams the fingers of her other hand into arteries pumping out the young woman's blood, trying desperately to stem the flow until she can get her *somewhere* that might help her. She doesn't want to lose this child. Brother Theo may have given up on her, but Jacqueline Falsworth is not one to call time of death until death has come in earnest.

She blazes a trail of light, heading for the nearest ER, when she hears Amora's voice on the wind telling her to stop. Skidding along a meter or so of asphalt, she slows. The sorceress appears and the speedster realizes she is there to help.

Thus, as Amora reaches out with her power to heal the girl, Jacqueline cradles her in both arms, ignoring the startled looks of passersby on the streets who never expected to have such a bloody sight displayed to them on their drive home.

Eric Brooks has posed:
"I never get to have any fun," Blade grumbles when the mob starts to disperse on its own.  He holsters his pistol and exchanges it for a stun gun.  After thumbing it on to check that everything's working properly, he gives a satisfied nod at the sight of a substantial arc of electricity each time he presses the trigger stud.

Then, in a workmanlike fashion, he starts approaching the downed, sagging, and crawling former-dancers.  One by one, Blade zaps them with the stun gun, ensuring that each will remain unconscious for at least the next few minutes.  The process is tidy but takes time; his doing it frees up more mystical hands for things other than crowd control.  

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Blood on the face, a marker in the soul. There's always a price for a bargain, always. Amora's magic has a cold, shivery bite to it that wraps around the damage done to Leena's throat. The gore is substantial, the tears through her windpipe and the jagged breaks out the other side not the work of circumstantial matters.

Rather, the proof of destruction at work, inflicted bad luck on a victim to fulfill the toll. Her body is numb and limp in Jacqueline's arms, the glazed terror in her staring eyes wet with tears, blood, and something worse. Knitting her flesh means pulling out splinter after splinter of wood and metal nails. Barbs, wreckage of a life. Not unlike a man or woman nailed up to a board for punishment, and she doesn't make a sound when that energy runs through her to fix it.

That would require the capacity to scream in a pain so intense that even blacking out isn't optional.

The speedster doesn't need all her strength to hold onto a limp, barely responsive body. She might need all the psychic fortitude she has when the presence inside her head reacts as though hit by lightning and convulses mentally in jolts of pain corresponding to someone -- something -- chewing. The same horrible rhythm.

Julio Richter has posed:
From that initial moment of revelation, Julio slumps, falling to his butt and then his back. A wave of dread and horror collapses him, and sends him on a short but memorable jaunt into shock. His heart hammering, his breath racing, he hisses a fluid stream of Spanish swear words at the manifold punctures in the ceiling.

It takes him a solid minute to recover, and when he does, he lurches to a kneeling position next to Santos, where he wobbles. Finally, he says, "Sorry, forgot something." Digging fingers down into the compromised architecture next to him, he dislodges a large chunk of the floor, shuffles over so that his knees are right against the back of Santos's head, and lifts the slate block over his head, with clear intent to bring it down with enough force to crush the DJ's skull.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
A good many bodies fall to the ground where Blade goes. Several of them haven't any signs of activity in there except drooling ignorance, and a few plead and babble at him for all the good it does. Put under the same, survivor, victim, and perpetrator. Several will never rise again despite best efforts to keep them sustained; no amount of life-saving medical technology can put back together what has been stolen.

The floor is a whole lot quieter up there with less chanting, though the stellar sound system below pumps out the tunes. The dancing and lounging for drinks probably ended with people falling through the floor, and those gut-wrenching growls and shrieks. Goodbye crowd at the Ministry until another night.

Winter doesn't get to do much when Julio closes in on him. The arcane teeth biting through mystical flesh steadily consume and devour. He screams like someone ritually disembowelled him -- and does, because the process of consumption of Itztlacoliuhqui's high priest is measured, slow punishment. However, the shaman doesn't find a kernel of icy power in there to quite munch down that hasn't been riddled by shadow.

"Remember what I said. I do so love good company." Vinea takes that fine moment to swipe his fingers across the wall. It abruptly falls away to reveal the street, crumbling into absolutely nothing with minimal effort at all. Leaping down is almost a non-issue for the hipster, his liquid viridian tattoos swirling, tightened and sharpened in lazy coils across his back. John, Julio, and Blade can watch him go, headed down the street into a tangled web of desolate misery and forgettable neighbourhoods on the teetering edge economically, socially.

Just a push might send them over.

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
Brother Theodore spasms in pain in the back of her mind and, eyes growing instantly wide and round in shock, Jacqueline does, too. Her arms curl around Leena, not wanting to drop her. But the pain that grinds through her with each gnawing spasm is visible on her face. She closes her eyes against it. It's not something her body can heal.

On the other hand, she *is* used to feeling considerable levels of pain, far beyond what normal people experience. She *has* been chewed on before. She doesn't know, out in the street as she is, who's chewing on them, now, but she knows it's something she will surivive.

Whether or not Theo survives, however, she can't say. And that makes her actually afraid for him. "<<Brother!>>"

But as the last of the Aztec's magic fades, swallowed down a distant throat, she can sense the ragged 'breathing' (go with the analogy!) of the old man's soul. Still there. Still alive. In pain, yes, but that means he's still there. And the pain fades as the magic does.

A relief to them both.

Amora has posed:
Amora is anything if not persistent, fingers weaving as words in ancient asgardian are spoken, fueling her power, mixed with that cold bite she senses. Something to consider later. But her work continues, piece by piece as she heals through the woman's body. The mind though? That is a whole other story..

Fingers run over skin and remake what had been broken. Yes, she'd be in pain, and would need further rest to recover. But the worst had been pierced out. All to spite a demon. Not to save a midgardian, of course. She isn't getting soft in her old age...

A look is given up to Spitfire and she nods sharply. "The girl will live." she announces.

A breath is taken and the woman exhales slowly, relaxing. Was the worst past them now? Perhaps.

Julio Richter has posed:
Blocks away, a vampire and an Enchantress of questionable morality bring a woman back from death, while upstairs in the Ministry, a 20-year-old kid -- one who thought he'd been doing pretty well, for a while there -- stares down at a man who has done a lot of extremely bad things, but is completely powerless to defend himself. He's too addled and woozy to trust himself with his powers, but he has got a big rock.