5457/A Thorn In The Side

From Heroes Assemble MUSH
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A Thorn In The Side
Date of Scene: 06 March 2021
Location: Robinson Park - Miagani Island
Synopsis: Felix Faust might very well have added another ally to his ranks, but again he finds himself driven away by the Justice League and their allies. More and more eyes are turning towards him and he is accumulating enemies as quickly as allies. Soon he may have nowhere left to run. Or will he manage to bring his hidden goals to fruition and at last gain his revenge on those that have humiliated him so often before...
Cast of Characters: Bruce Wayne, Jovian Anderson, Stephanie Brown, Arthur Curry, Zatanna Zatara, Diana Prince, Hope Svelgate

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Some people consider Gotham City rather dark and gloomy. And it is not as if there isn't cause. The sky does seem to steely grey and overcast a disproportionate amount of the time. When it isn't raining. Or when one can see the sky at all with the thick banks of fog rolling in off the Atlantic Ocean. And don't even get started on the atmosphere, with it's love for towering skyscrappers with their gothic accompaniments like the ever present gargoyles.

Yes, the reputation is very well deserved. But then there are afternoons like this one that almost make believe that just isn't the case. The sun is out and the weather has taken on a distinctly more mild bent, doing one heck of a number on the lingering traces of winter that still hang in the air and coat the ground.

In Robinson Park, perhaps even more then the rest of the city, the chilly season seems to be in near complete retreat. Snow has been relegated to small, isolated patches that might very well be gone altogether in a day or two if the warm spell holds a bit. The grassy lawns of the park are rather damp still and the trees -- minus the conifers of course -- are absent any leaves, but the sight of green is a most welcome sight after a couple of months of white.

Given all that it is no surprise that so many people have taken advantage to get out and about and there are plenty of people wandering or biking along the trails that criss-cross the park in the very heart of Gotham. Plenty of people enjoying the sunshine and mild weather and the company of others.

And a few people that are here for much different reasons...

Disguises, illusions... those are pretenses for lesser sorcerers, lesser men. Artifice that the great Felix Faust no longer has to engage in. There is no sutble approach to his next objective this time. No, instead a stark black circle, about fifteen feet in diameter simply appears out of nowhere, smack dab in the middle of one of the most popular squares in Robinson Park. Emerging from that dark, starry void is Faust in his purple robes, marked with that silver runes running along the edge, marking his sleeves. The red jar, green bell and silver wheel that have become his favorite accessories wheel in a slow orbit around his head.

Emerging swiftly in his wake is another man, more portly in stature and dressed in robes of white, an arrogant smirk on his features as he glances around. Some few might recognize him from the dust covers of his self-help books -- more perhaps from the series of self-help videos or lectures. Professor Amos Fortune.

Each of them certainly cut a noticable figure. But the real attention grabbers are the two towering, fifteen foot tall purple demons that emerge after the pair. It's those two that sends the crowd scattering, shrieking and yelling and in moments the square is empty as if no one had been there at all. Faust pays no mind to any of them, instead walking to the center of the area, to the display that sits there, a large petrified tree sitting atop an elevated dias, an insignificant plaque mounted close by outlining the history of the unusual find. A history missing certain key details.

"Soon. Soon you will be back amongst us. And more powerful then ever," Faust says, reaching out a hand to rest on that hard, petrified bark. Then he glances back towards Amos Fortune with a smile. "Our numbers grow. Let us begin."

Bruce Wayne has posed:
A glowing, golden half orb of shimmering light surrounds the square in question, preventing anyone from getting any closer. A pair of uniformed police officers stand huddled together, shaking their heads and muttering into their radios, waiting for instructions and occasionally yelling at the few dozen people that have gathered around the dome, peering curiously at the pair of men that sit cross-legged on the ground within, seemingly chanting, while those huge demon creatures -- now cast in a golden hue thanks to the dome -- stalk around it's edge, looking at the gawkers as if they might want to snack on them given the chance.

Jovian Anderson has posed:
Jovian Anderson was dressed in uniform a block away in costume with a pair of binocs on the room watching the whole thing since the giant big 'DO NOT GO' sign in the Nazca network that he had penetrated and been watching for signs of what the HELL this 'hunt' the lawyer was talking about was about. So far, he had found no less than a hundred legends of buried treasure or fortunes that could apply and not one of them had a thing to do with the Nazca cartel; and he simply could NOT believe that he was enough to cause a cartel mostly active in South America and the Asian Pacific to suddenly start avoiding their strict rules about not operating in New York and yet...

And yet....

Well it was pretty obvious why they hadnt wanted their agents to be here. He is glad he has armed himself with two Desert Eagle pistols, albiet with conventional ammo. The silver ammo he ordered in the mail order catalog hasnt arrived and he is, frankly, entirely out of his depth here but does a little bit of crowd control guiding folks who dont REALLY need the help so it takes a few minutes for him to arrive since he also doesnt really fly or sling or swing or any such things. He runs down the stairs, directs some civilians and walks/runs to the threat that is, frankly, likely out of his league.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Economics class is boring. Boring. Boring. Boring. Stephanie Brown underlines the final 'boring' three times as she writes the comments in her notebook. The subject itself is dry. But toss in the personal style of the professor that teaches her lecture session, and the combination are so dry they could make the Atlantic Ocean seem like the Sahara Desert.

The chime of Stephanie's phone is so soft that even she barely misses it, though the distinct pattern of five short buzzes would have caught her attention anyway. Her phone has mute mode, and then it has mute everything but the Batsignal mode.

She stuffs her notebook into her bookbag and does her best to slip out of the classroom without disturbing the other students or the professor. Once she's out into the hall though, she sprints, dodging sideways through the doorway as someone else opens it, and getting yelled at in the process.

It takes minutes to get changed and on her Batcycle. But soon there is a purple and black blur heading towards Robinson Park. Oracle's algorithm changing lights in advance to help avoid hurting anyone as Batgirl starts getting additional audio updates from Alfred through her comms on what the problem is.

Arthur Curry has posed:
Aquaman had been in New York when reports of the disturbance in Gotham came in. While he can't match someone like Superman in his speed of reaching problem areas, Gotham isn't all that far away when you can fly.. or at least when your trident can and takes you along for the ride.

Several minutes after the dome has gone up he drops out of the sky about a hundred yards away, having actually learned something like caution when approaching the unknown, though his first instinct is 'Hit it with the trident and see if it breaks'. He walks up towards the glowing dome, guiding any remaining civilians towards the quickest path away from what's probably going to become a mess quickly.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
Some people like the lack of sunny days. They probably have significant British or Irish lineage, a dislike of the sun, or criminal intent requiring as little broad daylight to counter their crimes as they can get. Zatanna Zatara probably fits none of these descriptions and so questions Gotham's turn to a partly sunny, even daresay a fair day. It's patently unnatural.

She has other concerns to worry about, out for a run around Finger Castle. Beautiful as the tumbled-down stones happen to be, they don't make up for the first little twinges of spring. Too early to shed a hooded coat or adopt shorts, but does any of that matter? Her running shoes strike a regular patter on the asphalt. She never got into the habit of running with wireless earbuds, too unsafe in a city like this. Instead, she has the companionship of a great, big excitable white fluff-cloud of a hound, a Great Pyrenees probably as big as she is. Pupsitting and jogging on a perfect day could only be spoiled by something truly horrendous like the emerging demons sending a shockwave through the park.

Her friendly toothed cloud barks. She doesn't need any help figuring out what concerns him. Being homo magi usually reaps some fabulous benefits, but splitting headaches and the world around her reeling like a struck carillon isn't among them. Zee pulls back on the dog's collar to keep him from running off to herd frightened children or adults under 108 in age. She also gets to curse John Constantine's name behind some fascinating big sunglasses that further obscure who she is. Cue hasty warning via Oracle, a doubled up message to the League: <<On the ground in Robinson Park and old 3 friends decided to show up. They set up some kind of containment and Faust won't be happy to see me.>>

Diana Prince has posed:
Diana has been rather busy since she returned to consciousness. It was to be expected really. She was told to take one whole day off by her staff, and even though she knew she didn't need even that, she complied. But since then it has been all work, all day, and well in to the night. Thankfully she only took a few hours of sleep on any given night anyway.

In the here and now, the Princess is preparing the last steps to get caught up and there-by be able to accompany some of her friends and companions back to the homeland of Themyscira, a reward to those young women who'd put their lives on the line to help her get back to the world of the awake.

The 'Invisible Jet' is traveling on the fringes of Gotham City, the Princess had come here to meet with a few contacts related to the Ambassadorial position as Themysciran's representative in the mortal world.

When the Justice League emergency channels begin to speak of a demon appearance in Robinson Park, the Jet turns its course for that side of Gotham, Diana standing behind her two sisters in the cockpit controls. She watches the city rushing beneath the Jet and listens closely to the comms, a dark blue robe worn over her armored body.

Zatanna's voice on the comms gets a response from Wonder Woman. <<"I am here, observing from the sky. We will engage the demons with the jet's weaponry, unless there are other -- possibly quicker -- ways to deal with them?">>

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Since Faust's latest return -- in spectacularly devestating fashion -- at the the Gotham Museum weeks ago it should come as a surprise to absolute no one that the Dark Knight has been doing everything he can to keep tabs on and where possible track one of the most dangerous magical threats on the planet. It's not an easy thing to do. Conventional methods don't work so well with someone who can jump around the planet seemingly at will and might spend times in other dimensions entirely. Having a world-wide network of satelittes certain helps, but there is really only so much even Batman can do.

Still, even with more limited information he had a fairly good notion that Faust was headed back to Gotham. The when and where might be a mystery, but truth be told it is the why that bothered the Dark Knight the most. He already had acquired the Red Jar of Calythos, the Green Bell of Uthool and the Silver Wheel of Nyorlath. So what would interest still interest Faust about Gotham? Not for the first time Bruce mutters something a little unking about magic -- or perhaps his own lack of familiarity on the subject. He is an expert in so many subjects. He can't pretend to be when it comes to the mystical arts.

So, as with others, it is the police band, followed by Oracle's social media algorithms that first alert him that something is wrong. But why Robinson Park? "Run query on all points of interest in the park. Filter further as additional info comes in," he says as he rises up from in front of the Bat Computer, turning towards the circular platform that houses the Batmobile. Moments later the cave is silent as the sleek vehicle roars it's way towards the heart of Gotham.

<< Batman here. Take care. The last two times Faust has shown his face he's been after something or someone he can use to enhance his power. The Demons Three the first time, and then Fortune. Chances are it's something similiar this time. If anyone has any notions, let us know.>>

In the park itself, the twopolice officers struggle to try and clear out the area around the square. Everytime they manage to get a few people to back off more have crowded in around the other side of the dome. One would think that the locals would know better, but clearly human nature has a few issues. Fortunately, while they might not be all that interested in listening to the GCPD, Aquaman does have slightly greater pull. Though even then most still linger at the nearest tree line, or down the path, eager to see just what's going on.

Inside the glowing golden dome the pacing demons continue to roam the edge, staring out with those oversized eyes and creep, inhuman motions while their master for the moment continues to chant away with his new apprentice. It is almost unnoticable at first, but slowly that petrified tree seems to be... shrinking in on itself, inch by inch, collapsing into some other form.

Jovian Anderson has posed:
Jovian Anderson runs to the edge of the park. His costume is enough for law enforment to let him by even though a few arch eyebrows as they know him and this is out of his league but he goes forward nevertheless. As it is, he stops about 50 feet from the dome just...staring at it. He has tricked his power by allowing him to phase through things before but that was on the guise of avoiding pain or destruction and given the translucent nature of the thing, he is unsure that he can 'convince' himself to go through it...and could he phase through a magical barrier? He has never tried it. As it is, he pauses, unsure, frankly, what to do. The civilians are evacuated, the property damage is minimal except for a tree and...well, they're stealing a TREE. He is sure this is bad but is not immediately sure WHY.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Batgirl pulls her Batcycle into the park, driving on the cement paths and crossing grass where needed to take the most direct path to the distrubance possible.

When she gets near enough to see the glowing energy field, she stops and pulls out some binoculars that will zoom in better than her cowl's optics can. She focuses them and surveys the scene.

<< Looks like they are after a petrified tree. They are shrinking it somehow. It is gradually getting smaller. >>

After she sends that message out on the Justice League frequency, Batgirl guns the engine and pulls forward, driving up to stop about twenty yards away from the energy field. She looks over towards Aquaman. "Breaking in?" she asks him with a glance back at the dome.

Arthur Curry has posed:
Arthur Curry glances over as the Batcycle comes to a stop near him and nods, "Yeah, I don't really see too much reason to screw around with it. This guy's kind of an ass anyway." Over the JLA channel comes <<Aquaman on the ground, taking the direct route in.>>

He breaks into a quick run, covering the remaining distance to the dome, the rare Gotham sunlight sparking off the full Atlantean battle armor he's wearing, and if one of the demons or sorcerers doesn't do something to stop him before he reaches it, pulls the Trident of Poseidon back and rams it into the dome.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
Big sunglasses may scream celebrity but they equally indicate being cool and anonymous. So commonplace among women of a certain age or status, especially with black leggings, Zatanna has at least four other lookalikes swarming around the park. None of the other stylish sorts have a big white dog, much less one looking utterly miserable as he guards her side. She looks to be cajoling him by the walking harness to go upon his way. With a nearly two hundred pound pupper, she might be negotiating. The hook on the leash unsnaps more easily than she makes it seem, fiddling it with it to take her time and get a long, pointed look at the dome.

<<It's not protected from below. Unclear if you can get through from above, sister.>> Diana coming through is something of a relief after so long without the Themysciran princess. At least it feels close to a lifetime. She might be heard smiling. She relays the latter in crisp Italian, finally unhooking the Great Pyr and giving him a little push to hurry him on. <<I trust your judgment. Any utility access points running under the square?>>

The dog looks at her, and unhappily trots away, watching with his ears flat. She slides back against a non-petrified tree, looking just like a very tired runner caught up in the confusion. The others on the Justice League or Birds she keeps an eye out for if they happen to be in range. More than likely those binoculars see her instead, might catch the way she cuts her palm deliberately with one of her pronged rings. The sting hurts, not in a good way. Writing in blood and speaking in tongues follows a Zatara's skill.

"deeH em srats dna etaf. dneS eht neerG lleB of loohtU ot nhoJ enitnatsnoC thgir won!" Glittering ruby marks well up, a price paid as she whispers to the sky, trees, and cement. The words turn to Silk Cut smoke, golden light closed in her bloodied fingers shut into a fist. "oG, uoy dratsab."

Diana Prince has posed:
Wither others gathering around the park to assist with the situation, Diana's reaction is to give her sisters a few directions before she moves to the Jet's interior exit. Within moments she's exiting the vehicle in its floating / hovering patrol around the sky above the dome of golden energy.

The Princess appears in the middle of the sky and descends at an angle that has her landing on the ground not far from where Arthur had been before he started his charge on the dome.

With the winds rushing through the park and over the scene, Diana looks on as the brave Atlantean tests this... very direct approach toward trying to break through and in to the energy field. She starts to move forward as well, but at a slower jogging pace, her sword and shield still mounted on her back and her blue robe flowing around her form as she moves. <<"Be careful, Arhtur.">> Diana warns, hearing STephanie on the comms, and not knowing who Jovian is, unfortunately.

<<"Zatanna, be prapred for these Demons, should the barrier come down.">> The Princess asks of her magical teammate, not that the Magician needs to hear it really though.

Hope Svelgate has posed:
Lady Death has appeared too often of late, which is really to say at all when she is trying to keep off the radar of various organizations she would rather not deal with like these modern 'governments'. So it is in the illusionary guise of her once mortal self Hope Svelgate that she steals into the park wearing a hooded cloak. Still at 6'4" and built like a valkyrie she stands out a bit or would without some subtle magic to keep most mortal eyes off of her as she steals closer to the golden dome.

Drawing closer and seeing it is indeed the same one who summoned the Demons Three, Hope's face twists into a mask of displeasure. But for the moment she has only just arrived and continues to guage the situation, watching as other familiar faces from her last encounter with Felix Faust appear.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
A tree? All of this for a tree? Of course Batman is well aware that in the magical department, even more then in the rest of life, looks can be deceiving. The trip of artifacts that he stole from the Gotham Museum hardly appeared to be impressive at first glance, and even when the illusions were broke, a Jar, a Bell and a Wheel don't scream great and mighty power. And yet they bind three of the most powerful demons in existence. Demons that Felix Faust now has at his disposal. Or, at least two of them according to onsite reports. So then what power does this petrified tree harbor? "Pull up everything there is on the Pterified Tree of Cymru," he instructs, the uplink to the Bat Computer proving ever useful -- even if all of the Bat Family tends to increasingly rely on Oracle for these things.

<< If you can disrupt whatever they're up to, do it. But be careful.>> the Dark Knight offers up over the comms. He would know doubt be cringing -- internally only of course -- at Arthur's direct approach to the matter. But it will still be a minute or two until he's onsite and that can be an eternity in these situations. In the end, sometimes you just have to trust that those in the field know what they're doing.

At least that's probably what Batman tells himself. Even his glower is only so effective over a satelitte uplink.

A few more uniformed officers trickly in at the fringes of the park -- not nearly enough to set up a perimeter or the like of course -- but they can at least steer people towards the exits. And if a few costume weirdos want to run towards trouble -- like Bolo -- well, who are they to get in the way, right? Odd looks or not, no one tries to interfere with the man as he makes his way towards that golden half-sphere that envelopes the square.

Lets hear it for the direct approach. The two purple demons might stare at Aquaman from the other side of that translucent dome, but there is no other reaction as Arthur hurls himself against that magical barrier. No power lashes out, no pillar of fire suddenly rains down from the heavens to stop the flying Atlantean Royal. That trident strikes true... and it is a testement to the power of it that it does not simply shatter. It is like striking a barrier of diamond. Despite the force of Aquaman, the power of the Trident of Poseidon the magical barrier does not shatter under that blow. But if Faust was not so distracted he would no doubt find it shocking to see a noticable crack begin to run along it's length.

The newest arrivals -- Wonder Woman and Lady Death respectively -- really does not making the gawking crowd any more inclined to entirely exit the area and fingers are pointed their way. But they do not crowd in any closer at least. That's something. Though when magic is involved it is possible that there is no minimum safe distance. For those who see both the good and bad of any situation.

<<Checking,>> comes the Dark Knight's voice over the comms at Zatanna's question. <<There is a subway line that runs beneath the park nearby with the associated maintenance tunnels but they are at least fifty feet to the north. The storm drain is the best option. There are at least three access points within the square proper to insure water runoff.>> Not the most pleasant of options, but it is an option nonetheless.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
While Zatanna's revelation that Faust's spell does not run underground opens up some avenues, the results of her other words -- those backwards words -- are much more dramatic. While Faust and Fortune continue their incantation, continue to shrink down that petrified tree, those long limbs retreating, falling in on themselves until increasingly the tree appears to be taking on the crude shape of a man, the orbit of the three magical artifacts around his head suddenly begins to... wobble. Something is out of balance and Faust's eyes snap open, peering about malevolently though he does not cease his chanting. And then it happens. The green bell suddenly breaks from formation, careening wildly away. For just a moment it looks like it is going to smash into the golwing golden sphere... but instead it vanishes at the last moment. And then there were only two.

The two purple demons glance at each other and then glance towards Faust, those dark, inhuman eyes unreadable. But for just a moment, whatever Faust sees within those alien orbs banishes his own malevolence and replaces it with worry.

Jovian Anderson has posed:
Jovian Anderson decides that he has value in this scenario, even if it is a distraction. He knows this is insane, and its even worse than when he helped with the breakout, but despite the insanity of it, he runs RIGHT at the barrier, clouding himself in a larger loom of darkness, trying to hide himself from any cameras that might be present....this is the first time he has tried to will himself IN to danger but if all goes well, he would briefly phase into shadow at one end of the barrier and phase right on the other side...

If successful, he immediately sends a construction of darkness at the nearest demon trying to wrap its legs, the shot is true and the darkness is stronger than it was before, though probably no match (yet) for the Demon's strength but it would likely also be well, frankly, unexpected.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Batgirl is looking around for power lines that might be employed to zap the barrier, when Batman's voice comes through about the storm drains. She has the Batcomputer send her the map that Batman is looking at, and then looks about, getting her bearings and talking over her subvocal mike.

<< Batgirl heading for the storm drain. >>

She guns her motorcycle's engine, the rear wheel spinning while the brakes lock up the front wheel. Spinning the motorcycle about a hundred and eighty degrees, she lets go of the brake and zooms over to a larger entrance into the underground drains. Blocked by a set of bars with a door in them, she launches something from the front of the Batcycle that hits the lock and blows it apart. The front wheel hits the iron door, slamming it open as she zooms inside, light on.

It doesn't take very long before she has to abandon the bike to get into the smaller drains beneath the square.

<< I'm in position. Ready to come out of the drains on your mark. >>

Arthur Curry has posed:
Aquaman hmms and rolls his shoulder, working out the shock of his strike stopping dead on contact with the dome. He lightly taps the trident against the ground, hearing it ring with it's normal pure tone, and glances at the sharpened tips to make sure there's no obvious damage. This done, and seeing the crack his blow has started in the dome, he grins, "Ok. Trident one, morons zero."

Taking a two handed grip on the trident, he places it against the crack in the dome and starts to push, wiggling and angling it to try and widen and slip into the crack, hoping to expand it and cause all or part of the dome to shatter. As he does, he calls out, "Yo, Felix! Is your shield supposed to break this easy? I thought you were good at this stuff!"

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
Arthur's direct assault on the shield rings loudly in Zatanna's ears. Hammering the Trident of Poseidon into an expertly-crafted magical dome banishes the words from her head for a moment, and her knees lock to keep her from dropping several inches. A deep breath follows Batman and Wonder Woman's dual recommendations, something close a laugh barely registering. <<Got you. I don't think I can pull that trick off twice, but I've taken care a bigger problem for later.>> She tests her bloody palm, flexing her fingers and pulling down the thumbhole of the sleeve to cover the worst. Nothing that antibiotic ointment or a clean bandage will not fix but those thin scratches supply back-up in case she needs it.

<<Let's assume that tree imprisoned a criminal, okay? Probably a terribly strong one. A convenient way to store someone for later times, if you think about it,>> she whispers over the comms. Because the last thing she wants is someone overhearing her. Still keeping to her relatively protected position a distance away is just a safe option until Diana joins the field and distracts from Stephanie hitting the maintenance tunnels.

She is a magus and without hellfire in her veins, magi like her are pretty squishy. Using concrete and trees as barriers, she jogs away from the dome to find a spot to halt and scratch a glyph on the ground. Thin crowds milling about make it easier to melt among their curious faces. Another pause to scratch a sign into the flaking paint on a lightpost, one that needed repainting anyway. Further along, leaving another double-barred ZZ scraped on a bench.

Her circuitous route will take time, much longer than the other superheroes setting up. Again she halts, scribbling a mark with a pen on a sticker already slapped on a water fountain. <<At least he made it small. Thanks for the little things, right?>>

Diana Prince has posed:
Everyone seemed to be falling in to a set position or plan, even the unknown in Jovan seemed to have an idea.

For Diana, her assistance in this imemdiate blocking threat of the dome is to rush up to Arthur's side just as she sees him pareparing for another cleaving blow to the shield barrier.

She aides him...

The Princess' running legs carry her right tot he side of the Atlantean and just as his trident crashes down again, Diana's forearms sweep upward, crossing together to slam the bracers of submission together, pressed directly up against the golden energy dome, the resulting release of unabashed kinetic energy is focused entirely upon the edge of the barrier where Aquaman had cracked it moments earlier!

The onlookers around the park will get quite the view resulting from this, no doubt!

Hope Svelgate has posed:
Drawing close to the barrier, Hope Svelgate reaches out of a hand to touch it as she tries to sense the mystical energies coursing through it and the structure of its creation. There is part of her that would like nothing more than to take the Aquaman approach and simply summon her blades to try and slash through it, this whole subtlety thing is hard.

Instead she gathers the glowing blue power of her Energy Arcane within her hand upon the done and begins channeling it into the magical barrier, attempting to weaken the fundamental mystic bonds that hold it together, while muttering what almost sounds like incantation under her breath in Swedish. It is not a huge display of power, but perhaps just enough to help Arthur to break through the crack he has already made.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
The tires of the Batmobile squeal as it comes to a sudden stop in an isolated corner of the park, the canopy rolling back with alarity and the Dark Knight all but launched from the interior as one of his grapnels takes him airborn, up into the trees as he uses all those bare limbs as an improvised pathway deeper towards the heart of the park and the square where all the trouble is. Closer. Still too far for his liking, but closer at least. He continues to monitor things with the comms, with the satellite coverage that provides him a high angle overview of the situation below, beamed directly to the HUD in his cowl. He also listens to the Bat Computer's report of the petrified tree, trying to understand just what the interest might be. One of these days he is going to have to trap Zatanna or, ugh, Constantine for a week or two and study up a little on mystic lore. Or go outside the League entirely. It's possible that if he locked himself away with Constantine for that long only one of them would come out.

It would appear that there are a lot of hero types in Gotham today that favor the direct approach. It has it's merits of course. Of course in the Dark Knight's view it is a good way to get killed. Certainly throwing one's self at a mystical barrier has it's drawbacks potentially. It is, afterall, designed to keep people out. But not, apparently shadows. Bolo is indeed the first to breach that golden dome. Of course, that means he finds himself inside a confined space with two of the world's most formidable mages and two primal demonic entities that once formed a triumverate that ruled most of existence. Not a place just anyone would want to be. When he throws those shadowy bindings at Rath the demon glances down curiously. Then casually snaps the restraints as it starts to lumber towards the costumed man.

See? This is the disadvantage of operating in the shadows. In doing one's utmost to remain unseen. So often, no one sees the truly kickass things that they do. Like Batgirl tearing into that storm drain on her motorcycle, navigating the wide tunnel, a spray of melted snow left flying in her wake. Or the impressive dismount that takes her into the side tunnel that leads directly under the square where Faust is plainly up to no good.

Perhaps Faust truly believed that his golden barrier was impenatrab le, even against the might that the Justice League can assemble. That it could stand up to Kryptonians and Amazons alike. If so he failed to account for Atlanteans -- or the power of the Trident of Posideon. Of course, all that power is about to get a huge helping hand from one of the said Amazons. And of course there is Lady Death, taking a more subtle approach, her own powers worming their way into the underlying structure of the magic, eating it away from the inside. Hard as diamond on the outside, but increasingly mushy in the middle.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
If the barrier cracked under that first blow, it is obliterated by the second. It might appear to be an energy field, but there is an audible crack as that trident strikes home again and those hairline fractures spread into a spiderweb pattern of light. Between Arthur, Diana and Lady Death's efforts? Well, it's not really fair is it? At least not for megamaniacal mages at least. But who cares about their opinion. The dome abruptly explodes -- at least mystically. There is no sound for the mundanes -- just a rush of energy that threatens to blow back anyone standing outside the dome. Those mystically attuned? It's like standing at ground zero of a mystical missile explosion.

On the bright side? Those preparations that Zatanna began to make around the periphery serve their purpose. Like dams against the unrushing floodwaters that burst of magical energy hits them, making glyphs flare brightly as that energy is channelled away, up into the sky or down into the earth without affecting those standing behind them.

Even as things begin to go wrong, even with one of his mystical artifacts lost, even with his barrier shattered, Faust bites out the last words of his incantation. With one last sudden rush the tree contracts and left standing there? A... different sight to be sure. It is still wood, perhaps even petrified wood. But it is in the shape of a man now. A cloaked, robed figure. Odd brnaches still jut out of his very humanoid body and he grips a staff in one hand. The detail -- for anyone close enough to observe, is nothing less that perfect. A wooden replica of a human being. It would appear that Zatanna's warnings were indeed correct. Slowly, the wooden man steps down off that pedestal. "So," it says quietly. "The forces of magic are under attack by non-believers. This time I shall not fail. You who have liberated me from my prison. You shall have the aid of Blackbriar Thorn." And with that, he raises that staff high.

Jovian Anderson has posed:
Jovian Anderson has read up on magic just enough to realize just how incredibly bad this is. These aren't garden run of the mill demons, but demon lords or something like it. His shadow constructs, in theory, could hurt some of these guys but that was his unhinged doppleganger who likely was driven to limits that Bolo simply can't reach. As it is, disrupting the spell isnt an option. Hurting the demons isnt an option but then again neither is running per se. As he considers his options, he doesnt really WANT to attack any of these guys, but he has to do SOMETHING. He ALMOST considers shooting guns but given the people in the immediate area, something tells him guns wont work. So as it is, he decides to reach into his pouch and produce garden variety flashbangs on the demon that just ignored the shadow construct. He isn't going to directly help here, BUT what he can do is wait for one of the more effective heroes around him to attack ...well...any of these guys and then immediately pile on with a bolo darkness construct and thrown flashbang.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Batgirl crouches beneath the bars of a storm drain, whispered messages going back to the Batcave and Alfred. And the negative response only makes her grit her teeth in a more determined way. Batgirl then pushes up to pop out and-

Holy crap that thing is heavy. It barely budges.

She gets her footing nearer by, knees nearly to her chest and her back against the metal grate and heaves with all her strength. Lifting the heavy bars that were designed to be too weighty for teens to easily move and cause mischief with. She shoulders it aside and finally jumps out of the opening.

A flurry of equipment is launched towards Faust, Fortune and Thorn. Doubting she can do much damage to them, Batgirl's choices are meant to distract. A sonic batarang draws near before letting out a screeching noise, the pitch and volume chosen to debilitate someone. A double handful of pellets is next, the first erupting in some kind of special tear gas of the Bat family's own blend, while the second, much smaller handful release a smell so vile that it would make most normal people within twenty feet of it retch.

She runs in a circle around the trio, trying to distract them from being able to focus on the other heroes.

Arthur Curry has posed:
Arthur grins over at Diana as the barrier crumbles under the combined assault, letting out a quick, "Hell yeah!" He looks back to the now exposed area... 2 big demons, Faust, pasty hanger-on and now a tree dude. As Stephanie comes up the grate and flings her handful of hurt at the sorcerers, his mind is made up.

Given the combined facts that Jovian has a fifteen foot demon headed for him and that Diana is right there to help with whatever else is needed, Arthur levels the trident at the demon approaching Jovian. Arcs of electricity jump between the tines, glowing and building until a wide bolt of lightning leaps from the trident to the demon.

Arthur can be impulsive, but he's no dummy.. the lightning is aimed at the back of the demon's neck so that it's headed up into the sky at an angle if the demon dodges or somehow ignores the bolt. No need to blast the guy he's trying to help.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
Zatanna ceases her jogging in a circle around the golden hemisphere enclosing the park. She needs the time to catch her breath when the wrenched magical energies fall and backlash against her protective barrier. Though not perfectly composed, the circle holds as her hastily etched sigils burn themselves out directing the veritable fires into the heavens. Reabsorbing the energy into herself would be a nice touch. It requires sticking a straw into a raging river, so no thank you.

Her attention swings back to Jovian and Arthur taking on one of the Three. She can just make out the electrical sparks, as good a sign as any they have something under control. Stinking pellets and the batarang flung into the mix by Batgirl offer inspiration when Blackbriar rears up.

She draws breath when the wooden statue threatens to pull a Gandalf with his staff. How fast does it take wood to connect with the ground? Short options, no lengthy declaration is possible. The film of those Silk Cuts still befouls her lips, like any declaration involving John Constantine typically does. Coughing it out instills a tangible force into the elegantly rasped declaration: "ffatS si ekoms." In the mind's eye his staff becomes the twisty column of smoke belched out from a burning cigarette, the last gasp. Something stained by cheap tobacco and vile compounds that one day are going to kill a man, burn his lungs down to nothing.

An irony Blackbriar Thorn invokes protection against non-believers, considering a direct descendant of some of history's more interesting magi channels copious magical energy to thwart his efforts. She already follows up with a second chant, reopening the cut on her hand deliberately until the blood traces the same summoning.

Diana Prince has posed:
Diana watches the barrier crumble, from the combined forces of all the people working on it. She knew that Lady death was here again for another one of these events, assuming that the woman must have some measur eof magically inclined 'radar' to know when these things are happening... or at least assuming that.

With the golden barrier gone, and the Tree Man making his rather cryptic speech, the Princess starts forward again. Arthur rushes past her on one side to assist Jovian and Batgirl's screaming batarangs are assuredly assisting, but the Princess' eyes are solely upon the Petrified Wizard.

Her hand reaches for her coiled lasso at her side, and with the target of the Wizard's staff in her eyes, she watches him raise it only to try to move quick enough to get within range, to twirl her divine length of golden rope and lash it out at the staff's birchen length, hoping to snare it, hoping to pull it, should she even get that far with her attempt to disarm the unleashed menace.

Hope Svelgate has posed:
The shockwave of mystical energy from the collapsing blasts past Hope, taking her hooded cloak with it, long blonde hair flowing out behind her from the force, though she stands her ground. Really it is all that she can do to maintain the glamour illusion of mortality, though staring down two immensely potent demons and three powerful magic users now, the case for subtlety is growing weaker and weaker, but revealing herself too much will bring its own reckoning.

In the midst of the distraction caused by the magical backblast Hope summons a sword to her hand, one that looks an awful lot like Lady Death's chaos-forged blade Apocalypse, as her other hand directs a blast of Energy Arcane at the second of the demons while striding forward. She has had about enough of Faust's antics.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
There are certainly no shortage of distractions, that much is certain. Which is probably a good thing, given the assemblage of mystical might that seems to have been unleashed. Faust and Fortune are at least know entities, at least the Leaguers and the Bat-types. But this Blackbriar Thorn? That's a new one to the Dark Knight. Perhaps Zatanna might know something more. If they can get the situation under control perhaps he will even get to ask her.

Bolo has attracted the attention of the Demon Rath, and he might be sorry that he did so. Especially given the almost casual way that he all but ignored the shadow constructions, his simply movements breaking them as if they were silly string. And while he might seem a little ungainly at fifteen feet tall it means that his reach is quite substantial. The flashbangs go off around the demon, a flare of light and it does indeed seem to recoil slightly. Then lunges forward, that huge hand looking to simply grab hold of the tcostumed man. And likely to squeeze him to a nice, juicy pulp.

Distraction, misdirection -- it is highly underrated as a tactic. As the Dark Knight is more then happy to lecture too when discussing tactics with his protegees. They're not invulnerable afterall, or super strong, or able to leaps tall buildings in a single bound. They need equalizers. And taking away a foe's senses is rarely a bad play.

It is also almost surprising how many of the truly powerful entities out there don't have very much defense against having their sight or hearing stolen from them. Which is exactly what happens to Faust and Fortune as that sonic batarang lands amongst them even as they try to scramble to their feet. A cry of pain escapes them both, instrinctively clutching at their ears to absolutely no effect as the sonic attack pierces flesh and bone, resonating within. The tear gas is pretty unpleasant as well and it's pretty hard to chant anything when one is emptying the contents of their stomach.

All things considered, Bolo probably could use a hand. Before he's pulped. And with Rath reaching for him, he needs it soon. So it's a good thing that it's Aquaman to the rescue. With his back to the Sea King the purple demon never sees the bolt of lightning that flies from the tines of the Trident in hand, nor does it have the chance to dodge aside as the energy strikes true. So that's definitely a victory. Less good? That huge, hulking demon is still toppling right for the costumed man. And really, whether he's pulped by a big demon hand, or an entire hulking demon body, the result is much the same, right?

Bruce Wayne has posed:
As concealed Lady Death pulls forth that sword, the second of the Demons Three turns it's attention to her. Ghast, he of the concentric circles covering his body and strange, twitching motions that make it look as if his limbs are broken... or liquid. He moves towareds her in fits and starts, the broken motion making it hard for the eye to follow as if it just does not belong in this reality.

Felix Faust might be the mastermind behind all of this, might be the driving force behind whatever the end goal is here. But right at the moment? He has been rather efficiently and effectively neutralized between the sonics and the vomiting. Tactics have their place, over sheer power. Sometimes.

While Amos Fortune might be in a similar state to his new mentor, his magic operates a little differently. It is less incantation and more uncontrolled will. Usually that is a liability. At the moment though? It's an advantage. That batarang and it's sonic scream that feels like it is tearing apart his brain? It suddenly breaks, the sonics breaking off with one last squeal. The gas that makes them vomit? A sudden breeze whips through the park and it begins to gust away -- right back towards Batgirl and her allies. Probability goes wild and suddenly those in the square must deal with the laws of unintended consequence and good, old-fashioned bad luck.

And then their is newest ally. The self-proclaimed Blackbriar Thorn. As much plant, to all appearances, as he is man. He stands there, wooden staff upraised, ready to do something terribly impressive no doubt. And then Zatanna strikes. Her magic coils around that staff and it starts to go insubstantial, smokey. Perhaps it is Fortune's work at play, but that actually serves him well. Because Diana's lasso flies straight through that wooden staff. Then, the wooden man frowns and the staff that was dissipating abruptly solidifies in his hand once more. What becomes apparent in that instant is that it is not seperate from the wooden man. It is as if both man and staff have been carved from one giant block of wood. "Triffle with a druid will you? Not again. The Romans might have slaughtered my kin, but you, all of you, will bear the brunt of my revenge," the wooden man intones. And then he brings his staff down.

Faust likes grand displays, likes to rely of summoned demons, on destruction. Fortune manipulates luck to his advantage. And Blackbriar Thorn? He is all about the primal. The elemental. Gotham was enjoying a sunny day, true. But not anymore. Overhead, the sky returns to the city's more accustomed steely grey. And then the clouds go black. Brief ripples of lightning bounce back and forth, illuminating the sky. Right before the rain falls. Not a pleasant spring shower. It's closer to a monsoon, water pounding from the sky like hail, all but obscuring sight more then a few feet away. Then Blackbriar Thorn throws open his arms once more and his name sake Thorns suddenly appear all around him, hanging in midair. Except these thorns are more like javelins, flying off in every direction seconds later, ready to impale any in their path.

Closing in on the square just as the rain begins to fall, the Dark Knight is forced to drop from the trees, raising his cape overhead to provide some cover from the pounding downpour, even the lense inserts in his cowl struggling to see more then a dozen or so paces in front of him. <<I'm not one to complain about the weather but if there is anything you can do Zatanna...>> he says over the comm. He's not usually a big fan of the sunlight while he's working, but he's willing to make an exception here

Jovian Anderson has posed:
Jovian Anderson has a lot of control of his ability but not ENOUGH to avoid phasing into the ground despite trying to stay and continue the distraction. The thing is, his power right now responds to 'flight' more than flight and the fact that AQUAMAN is facing it and it shrugs some of it off is enough to convince his subconcious to dial it up and out as he fades into the ground, such that by the time he gets back the combat will be over.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Batgirl sees the wind swirl up and begin to blow the noxious fumes back her way. She pulls a see-through shield from her utility belt, letting it click into place on her cowl as eyepieces drop down and her cowl goes airtight.

She continues her sprint, circling the three men and staying on the other side as the demons. A pair of batarangs are pulled out of her belt as the skies suddenly darken overhead. The crackle of lightning illuminates her as Batgirl lets the weapons fly.

Whatever payload she had for them this time, we'll never know. The torrential rains drop down from the heavens, catching the weapons when they are only halfway there, causing them to thud into the pavement and skitter for a few or two before they stop.

Stephanie cycles through her optics, but neither infrared nor thermal vision are any good against such a heavy downpour of water. She slows just a step or two, debating her next tactic when she catches a glimpse of something in the rain. She through herself to the side and twists in the air. A pair of spear-like thorns shoot past one just above her body, another just below. Hard enough she doesn't know if her body armor would have stopped them. She drops back to the ground, crouched and ready to move as she tries to spot their opponents.

Arthur Curry has posed:
Aquaman looks up as the skies open. Strangely, he's grinning. A few seconds later, one of the thorns hits. Between his armor, his own invulnerability, and his natural magic resistance, said thorn hits, does nothing and drops to the ground. Difficult to hear over the sudden downpour, his voice rings out, "Giving me this much water was a mistake!"

He begins spinning the golden trident over his head and around his body, and the falling water changes course, gathering into a dense mass of water around him. He gathers the rain for a good thirty seconds, then unleashes it with a thrust of the trident towards the gathering of sorcerers.

The gathered mass of water solidifies into a wall that blasts across the open area to slam into demon and sorcerers with the force of an oncoming car. He's done his best to avoid sending it into Batgirl, but she is in the area and hard to see in the sudden storm.

Diana Prince has posed:
Diana's lasso passes through the staff as it shifts in to a non-corporeal status. She draws the gleaming golden lasso back ust as the rainfall starts to downpour across the Park. Diana's cloak is hooded, but the hood is back behind her shoulders, and with the rain fallen hard now she takes a single step back.

Just as the thorns come.

The princess' initial reaction is to raise her left forearm up to block away the thorns one by one as they com eher way, quick motions that send the throns bouncing away from her in the rain.

Hope Svelgate has posed:
As Thorn unleashes his magic, Lady Death has had enough. There are times for subtlety and times to show the manifest displeasure of a Hell Lord. Lately she is learning which are which as she spends more time on Earth again.

Under the cover of the raging storm and torrential rain, Hope thrusts her sword Apocalypse skyward and the glamour melts away leaving Lady Death in all her glory standing against the storm and the demons. The blue glow of Energy Arcane swirls around her mixing with the red and orange glow of the Chaos energy that surrounds her blade. The sword is directed at the black clouds above, "Blixtnedslag!!" The Swedish incantation echoes across the storm winds and there is a loud rolling crack of thunder as she summons a massive lightning strike down upon their foes.

When the javelin-like thorns come flying in her direction, Lady Death holds up her other hand glowing brightly with the Energy Arcane as she projects a translucent blue barrier to ward off the oncoming impaling implements.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
It would appear that Bolo has found an escape -- both from the Demon Rath and from the suddenly violently inclemant weather. Would that they were all so lucky.

Luck can be a double-edged sword. The Dark Knight would encourage everyone to make their own luck. Though probably not in the fashion that Amos Fortune does it. But just as that luck helped to make Zatanna and Diana work at cross purposes briefly, it now has Blackbriar Thorn and Professor Fortune working at cross ends as the chemical cocktail heading back towards the heroes is washed away by the rain. Luck giveth and luck taketh away. It's an unreliable ally at best. Probably one of the many reasons Batman has little use for it. Training and instinct though? That's what keeps one alive, that lets Batgirl throw herself into the air and twist away at exactly the right moment to avoid ending up impaled on that wooden spike. Good show.

Is it luck again, that the wooden Druid chose the worst possible element to hurl with the King of Atlantis on the field? Or just ignorance. They might know little about the capabilities of this new foe, but the reverse is also true. Certainly the heavens are more then engaging in providing Aquaman all the water he could wish for to make his counter strike and the wall of water that floods back to the gathering of wizards is pretty damn impressive. A shame that the raging storm probably keeps almost anyone from seeing as tidal wave sweeps across the square and slams into the very heart of the park forum.

That rain of thorns is no small matter really. Magic might have called them into being, magic might have propelled them on their path, but once on their way it is momentum that carries them on, not magic. While the immediate area might have been cleared, the force with which they are hurled out is considerable. And while Aquaman or Wonder Woman might be able to withstand them with ease the same might not be true for all. So the Amazon Princess abruptly finds herself very preoccupied with knocking those projectiles out of the sky well before they can reach anywhere they might still find an innocent bystander in the way.

Can Zatanna do anything about the weather? It seems lightly but there is no immediate reply. Probably because she's busy trying to do something about the weather. Indeed, there does seem to be a lessening of the sheer violence of the storm, whether because of the League's foremost mystical practitioner or for other reasons probably matters little to those who get a little relief from the downpour.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Things... are not exactly working out as Faust envisioned. Again and again the Justice League and it's allies have thwarted his efforts, if not completely. Enough to frustrate him. Enough to humiliate him. And worst of all, enough to delay him, him and his ambitions. And while he would like nothing more then to see at least some of them pay for this latest indignation he has an end goal. Delayed or not, he will see it brought to fruition and adding another to his growing ranks will help him see that end achieved. He knows it, feels it with every fibre of his being. And then, then the League and it's allies will pay.

Wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his soaked robe to clear the lingering traces of vomit away, Faust reaches out to grab at the wooden druid they have released. "We need to get out of here Blackbriar Thorn. There are others of our kind. We need to find them. Bind them to our cause. And then the modern world will know the power of the old ways," he says lowly but fervantly.

For a moment the druid stands there, staring into that downpour. And then he gives a slight nod. The stone of the plaza beneath them seems to... melt, to transform to mud and then grasping both Faust and Fortune the trio begin to sink down into the earth. Which is when things really hit the fan for the bad guys. That wall of water crashes down amidst the now empty display like a speeding train, the spray flooding all over. Up above the heaven's part, that channelled energy redirected by Lady Death seemingly breaking the storm in half and as that lightning bolt crashes down beams of sunlight begin to shine on the park once more. The bolt hits with a blinding intensity and in it's aftermath only burnt mud remains. And the trio of mages? Not a sign.

Rath and Ghast glance at one another and then at the assemblage of heroes arrayed before them. They seem to come to an unspoken decision and as if one two of the Demons Three simply vanish.

Reaching the field at last, the Dark Knight lowers that cape that was shielding him both from the downpour and the blinding lightning strike. He glances briefly towards the literal scorched earth before turning his attention to tracking down Batgirl, offering her a hand. "I am getting very tired of that man," he says lowly, his voice as cold as ice.

He'd like to think that they are gone, that they were caught by that lightning blast. But he doesn't indulge in that sort of thing. Instead the Dark Knight murmurs over the comm << Thank you all. Faust is becoming a problem and I think his intentions are becoming clearer. We're going to have to deal with this... >>

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Batgirl peers through the hard downpour, looking for more javelins. Or maybe war dogs. Or chains with spikes on them. She really has little idea of the kind of things these magic using people will dream up, but Batman's irritation with magic is starting to find fertile ground to take root in.

There's a sudden roar but coming from her right rather than where she last know the magi to be. Suddenly a huge wave blows through, Batgirl diving at it at the last second, hands above her head to shield it and going at it like a surfer diving beneath a wave.

It doesn't work quite as well as it does in the ocean. As the water passes and isn't renewed she drops and lands in the mud, a good distance back from where she started. The weather is clearing and she can see the magi three seem to be gone, and then spots the two demons as they depart.

The gloved hand clad in black reaches down for her, and Batgirl takes the assistance in rising. She dusts the mud off her legs, and sees how it cakes her utility garter. "Those are so hard to clean," she grumbles.

She wages a soft sigh as she looks around. "Going to need to come up with other ways of fighting them," she says quietly. "For when we find them again. I'm afraid they'll be ready for what I used this time."

Well, it was still better than sitting through the rest of her Econ class.

Hope Svelgate has posed:
With the storm dispelled, Lady Death strides forward to the scorched spot where the trio disappeared scowling. She is not sure she believes that did them in, in fact she doesn't believe it did at all given there isn't even a smigeon of blood or burnt flesh left behind.

Glancing up at the sunny sky and around at all the onlookers who will soon lay eyes upon her, she decides it is once again time to make her exit. Bringing up the chaos blade Apocalypse, she slashes a glowing rent in the fabric of space and time and then steps through the portal vanishing as it reseals behind her. Almost as if she was never there at all.

Arthur Curry has posed:
Arthur Curry blinks a couple times to clear the afterimage of the huge lightning bolt that struck in front of him, then blinks a little more at the method Of Lady Death's exit from the field. Shaking his head, he mutters something about mages, then clicks onto comms, <<Ok, I think I need to find out a little more about what this dude's been up to. I recognize him, but I didn't know he was back to causing trouble. Let me know when you can get me up to speed on him. I think he's already annoying me, so let's deal with him.>>

He looks around the area, making sure no bystanders need a hand after a combo of downpour, thorns and tidal wave, then shrugs. "Well, I guess I shouldn't have expected things to stay quiet for long after I got back." He chuckles a little, then heads over to Batman and Batgirl to check in before everyone goes their separate ways.