5676/Feast of Souls: A Handful of Dust

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Feast of Souls: A Handful of Dust
Date of Scene: 22 March 2021
Location: Wilderness Campsites
Synopsis: Illyana plans terrible things in a tree. Julio, Shan, and Bobby leaf safety behind.
Cast of Characters: Illyana Rasputina, Julio Richter, Xi'An Coy Manh, Bobby Drake

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Dice left lying around an institution full of teenagers and a few twenty-somethings aren't out of the ordinary. Some particularly pretty ones cut to reveal an inner fire or displaying peculiar metal caging around a seemingly luminous core might be more than the average roleplayer can afford, but gamers get particularly inventive about their very expensive gear. But be as it may, these dice don't actually just lie there. They wait for the right targets to come by and scramble into action on slender, slinky little legs.

Julio confronts an ice-blue D20 poking out from the leaf of a philodendron giving a room some greenery, and it hops and skitters about until he deigns to follow or at least accepts the hint to go for a walk in the woods after dinner -- or before, no judgment. The tiny little thing keeps capering around in circles until he spots the blonde seated on a platform in the zipline course she had a notable hand in making. Illyana's possibly more visible by the boots dangling over the side, black leather and buckled to all hell, one of the myriad incarnations of her armoured uniform that her incarnated magic likes to summon up.

For Xi'an, whether she questions a pale green d12 sitting there among her books or poking a shy face out from among the spines and covers is another matter. No, she hasn't a bookwyrm but one of the magical daemons shedding a patina of falling leaves onto the ground. None of those leaves is larger than a pinky fingernail and they burn out in a soft glow, but it truly tries to make itself discreetly conspicuous and run her outside. Whether or not Karma cares for D&D or other variations of games played by her fellow graduates is another matter, but the daemon hopefully wiggles and shimmies along, its awkward shape not exactly beyond making the poor thing fall on its face. The end result: following a bouncing green skitter-die all the way into the woods, along one of the more established paths. Mind a few points where it gets stuck in a mucky hole left by, say, Piotr's big bootprint.

But all roads lead to Rasputin. Err. Rome.

Julio Richter has posed:
Casting a wan look at the impatient little diemon, Julio finishes loading his laundry into the dryer before following along with it. He has an actual life, you know. It involves completing mundane tasks from time to time. Not every Friday afternoon invovles banishing a towering infernodemon. The upshot is that by the time he makes it to Illyana's woodland perch, he's smelling like dryer sheets and wearing gray sweatpants and a blue bathrobe.

When he spots the boots dangling from the platform, he fires a little burst of vibratory force into the ground, popping up a column of earth under the animate die fast enough to kick it into the air. He catches it, one-handed, then flattens his hand and looks down to see what face is up. 12 -- not great, but not terrible. Things might be looking up.

He settles the die on his terrycloth-clad shoulder, and waves a few thorns of bright magic into the air above it, in case it wants to play with those again. "Hola," he calls out to his Russian friend. "No blood and nightmares this time. Are we meeting for a good reason, for once?"

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
Something is rattling in the shelves. Shan suspected a mouse. A case, indeed, for Catyclops Investigations, if ever there was one, but when she moves the volume on international relations and the "Wakanda Factor" in east Africa, she is confronted, instead, with a pale green d12.

Shan gazes at the D12. A memory appears, unbidden and clear:

'19, wow! How does Lieuhanh convince the harpy queen?'
'Ah. Well, er... ahemh, that is to say... She... I can't say it, let me write it down.'
'Sure. - Oh damn. OK, the harpy queen accepts, but before you guys can have the ceremony, you're going to have to--'

It's a positive, if embarrassing one.

The d12 then clatters, rattles, and sheds little leaves after itself, rolling steadily and platonically along. Shan looks at her armful of returns to reshelf, and after the little shape, and it takes her about four seconds to put the books down and stalk the little pale figure. After she follows it out the yard entrance, she says aloud, and perhaps rhetorically, "Do I get to choose my class this time, I think I want to be a barbarian this time. Oh, or a dark knight, that would be fun. But with my luck, you need a healer. Don't you?"

As the woods come nearer to her, Shan turns her head to look back at the mansion. But the most she does is leave a short thought at one of the older students in the library-- <<I'm going for a walk. Lock up for me if I am not back by six?>> -

And stride in among the cool boughs of the forest. And when the D12 gets stuck in a big bootprint, she crouches down to fish it out, holding it gently in her hand. Until she reaches the zipline course and familiar-looking boots. Shan gazes up at them, then down towards Julio. "Careful," she says. "We shall have to roll for initative." She lifts her voice a little: "Hallo Illyana, is this little fellow with you?" She holds up one hand, palm outstretched, die atop it.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Now the daemon of the 20-faces smells like dryer sheets after a bit of a womble through the Bounce sheets, or whatever amounts. It protests the kick, no matter that earth and dirt and needles all rise to impel it up. Blue fire smokes and sparkles, but Illyana raises no hand to defend her little creation.

"You forget the time difference," she warns Julio as he dares at something foolish, like a good mood. "Wait until you experience six of them in two hours, and lose all the sleep of six days." Her thumb brushes her bangs away from her face with only so much luck. "Da, though wait. I want to see if-- ah. There."

Meanwhile, the d12 hops off Shan's palm and playfully skitters up the vertical incline of the tree like someone moseying through a plain, chattering feet barely making any sounds at all. Neither of the two daemons actually speak, though they can certainly brighten or shake things out through their curiously shaped bodies. Shan can probably easily pick the green thing out as it rolls around insistently and lurches onto a twiglet directly over the other mutant on the ground. "Da, you brought her. Go back if you want."

That's to the die, of course. If Shan will catch it, it'll jump, fast-moving bastard that it is. "We might need to cover initiative. I would put a proposal between two of you."

Julio Richter has posed:
"High initiative is for rogues," Julio answers Xi'an with a wry snort. Yeah, the New Mutants may have roped him into a game a while back. He played a barbarian and had an absolute blast until he was done in by a spike pit: a betrayal by his real-life element (that being holes in the ground) that he has never entirely forgiven.

If the D20 is especially put out about its impromptu dirt trampoline, the Latino mutant isn't losing much sleep over it. He seems fond of the little construct, but not to the point of being fussy. "So I have more horrible dreams to look forward to? Wonderful," he answers Illyana when she speaks her words of ill omen about her ongoing issues sleeping. "I wonder if I can just tag-team it with Daniel. I put him in charge at night, and nap, then he can sleep when I take over, and the body never sleeps."

He laughs sardonically, obviously not betting a lot on that being a good plan, and then cocks his head to the side. "What kind of proposal?" he asks, glancing over at Xi'an. They are certainly friendly, but don't seem to have a lot of overlap in skill sets, as far as he can tell.

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
Shan looks upwards at Illyana, one hand on her hip. To Julio she says, "How are you?" in a quiet, sidewise tone of voice. Not with her mind, though. That's /context/ for you. A moment later comes a leap - Shan tottles back a step and catches the little die with both hands. After this, she blinks once, her attention resting on Julio more firmly than it did a moment ago.

"Daniel? Forgive me - is that...?" Shan asks of Julio curiously, quirking up one eyebrow. After this, she calls upwards, "I will be glad to hear it, Illyana." She contemplates the die-mon for a moment, and then opts to just sort of rest it on the soft flesh between index finger and thumb in lieu of wiser plans or convenient pockets.

"Should we come up there, by the way?"

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Betrayal by holes! Alas for poor Grarr, which is probably what the druid's barbarian is best known as. If not, it now acts as the rallying cry of a rage spell that ends up with a trap. Illyana, the usual DM, isn't quite about to jump down out of the tree. Not having wings presently, that would make a messy splat. The zipline platform is big enough for at least two or three people to cozy up in, though the wires also make a reasonable place to hang and she will shift over as necessary for them to come up. "Perhaps. Your body will suffer and eventually fail?"

Right, not the golden-skinned healer. Probably best to consult with a medical professional before taking a demonic sorceress' advice.

The D12 rolls around happily in Shan's palms, showing off the various swirled metal frame of its many faces. And settling between her fingers, legs wiggling hopelessly in the air. "I can come down, if you prefer. Either way," Yana offers, pointing to one of the rope ladders that she can easily reach or they can seek. "I offer the best kind of proposal, the one with dizzying benefits but a fair bit of risk. What do you know about sealing wards?"

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio answers Shan's question with a wan smile and a wobble of one hand, saying, "I have good days and bad days." Then he gestures at his outfit with both hands and adds, "The outfit is just from laundry day, though. Not depression chic." He inhales deeply, then continues, "Daniel is this guy whose soul I saved. Not like Jesus -- like a jailbreak. I was trying to return it to his body, but his body's, uh... gone." His expression sours with that last word, and that's him putting a brave face on things. The actual circumstances are definitely worthy of being euphemized.

Illyana's warning about the effects of trying to tag team daily sleep gets a snort and a snarky answer of, "Bien, that's just life." He eyes the rope ladder skeptically, puts a hand on it and tugs a couple of times, then thinks better of it and steps back. Green fire snakes up through the fuzzy fabric of his robe, then with a tremendous shudder of Earth, he repeats the trampoline trick with the ground at a much bigger scale, sending himself flying up toward Illyana's platform.

It's a tricky move to judge properly, and he quite nearly overshoots the platform; at the last second, his flailing arm grabs the post that anchors the zipline, and he spins halfway around it before sliding down to the boards. He lands shakily, doing a little dance move to steady himself on his feet, but stabilizes without any real injuries.

"I'm OK with risk," he says to the demon queen's proposal, quite unnecessarily.

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
Soeur Lieuhanh, the Lady-Killer, knew how to deal with the risk of holes in the ground: Wait. And if necessary, use a 3-meter pole.

"I understand," Shan says to Julio soberly. From her tone, there is no hesitance or anything - she gets it. "Be careful," she adds, before trailing off in a "gah!" of surprise at the invocation of magic. As Julio sproings his way upwards, Shan looks at her little d12 and then tucks it into her hair, near the hairband. She climbs up to the zipline platform the regular way, the red-decorated claw-toes on her prosthetic leg making it surprisingly stable. (And it's actually silent for once! Thanks, Shan thinks, silicone grease outlet in Metropolis!)

"Very little except in stories, and of course what I have picked up," Shan says as she gets up onto the platform, wiggling herself into place while leaving as much room for Julio's landing as possible. "This is not the same as the circle you summon the demon inside of, yes? The pentagram?" Shan seems to be about to trace one in the air, but she stops on the second stroke, as if thinking better on it. No need to tempt fate.

"I love dizzying benefits," Shan says. (And more quietly, "And of course, I can tolerate risk.")

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Nothing ever becomes boring where mutants are involved. Fuzzy robes, library books, and occasionally saving the world from itself all fall under their regular remit, between paying the bills and youthful drama. Illyana tucks her feet up onto the platform, and springs back with a fairly strong jolt of her leg muscles. Enough to give them more room, though she reaches for the zipline cable just in case. No one is likely shuttling to the platform at speed, or faster than she can fall back onto nothing, so it's a rather safe move. "How are your hands?" she asks when Julio bolts up there in a frisson of verdant energy and manages not to faceplant the nearest pine.

The D12 busily kneads Shan's hair a little, the respectful kind of grooming a cat does when it intends to hunker down into a comfy spot. It does not make a daemonic nest, smoothing it out, and snug under her headband. A faint glow still shines through the fabric, though, blippign to say here it is, just in case no one has eyes. The die-mons aren't running at genius intellectual levels, sadly.

Illyana holds out a hand to the other young woman if needed, and then settles for holding onto the cable for balance thereafter. "Da. At its simplest, a sealing ward keeps something in or out. A perimeter system with something at its middle, say, a school full of sleeping children." She draws a neat circle. "A pentagram could be an example. Right now, nothing halts any supernatural or spiritual from entering Xavier's except us being there to notice. Not many even in the X-Men can. Invisible threats, you see?"

Julio Richter has posed:
"They're not bad," Julio answers, settling back against the cable anchor and stretching out his hands in front of him. The cuts at the beds of his fingernails that appeared last night have scabbed over; with a grunt of annoyance, he notices that one split when he grabbed too tightly to arrest his mutant-assisted leap. He pops that finger into his mouth, sucking away a small amount of blood, then blows on it to help the scab reform.

He judged it unnecessary to talk Illyana through his own familiarity with warding spells when she asked; she's been tutoring him in the use of his abilities, so she knows as well as he does what he's capable of. Probably better, since she has the outside perspective he lacks.

He sketches a little loop in the air with the thorns of light he manifested earlier to entertain his D20. "So we're not talking about a little wall to block off spells in the middle of a fight," he says. "Something bigger, something to last. Is it like D&D, where you just cast it every day to make it permanent?" The polyhedral demons made the comparison inevitable, really.

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
Shan takes the hand up, and scootches herself to lean against the tree as Julio settles in. She feels that faint motion in her hair and part of her thinks it's like an insect, but it's honestly kind of nice. She can't see the light, of course. Not in this weather. But perhaps she will keep this little D12.

Illyana speaks business. Shan hugs her knee. "Ah, I understand what you are thinking," she continues. "I know that there are psionic matters and such, the Professor, our dear headmistress, et cetera; and of course, the X-Men ourselves. But you would imagine a sort of a more permanent thing, Illyana?"

"I think that is wise," Shan continues, eyes casting down. "I think that I met a demon recently; and I do think he may know me, as well."

Back up, to Julio, then to Illyana. "So yes, I think this is an excellent plan. But what is the risk? Are these hard to construct...? I suppose if we were to make a pentacle around the entire school grounds we would need a very dreadful amount of chalk. Even with stone or something, there is the road, there is the lake..."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Hanging out with friends in a tree stands as one of the better ways to spend an evening. No complaints to be had from Illyana, once she settles on her footing. Shadows pool beyond the branches knit together in a patchy canopy, the evergreens supplying a narrow pitch needle for those spreading limbs barely gone into bud. New York's countryside is never perfectly dark, but night settles into a velvety curtain drawn close and the lights twinkling in the windows might feel somehow dwarfed by the grounds surrounding the stone pile out there.

"Layers of security protect us, between Scott and reinforced rooms and people who laugh at bullets." She concedes this easily enough, gaze turned away from the pair long enough to trace a few stars weakly peeping through the clouds. "Reactive defenses for demons, ghosts or magic would be useful. Something secure must be substantial, da, with parameters at least as far as here." She gestures to the trees one-handed; two hands means she's tumbling to the ground, rather awkwardly. "I can finetune a ward around the school or the grounds, like programming a firewall." Computer vernacular is inevitable if one hangs with Kitty long enough. "Something like that requires special arrangements to not require us babysitting. Rather bad to need a constant refresh. What happens if we travel? Someone is busy? It ceases to have any use. I want a long-term, independent option and this is where you both come in to facilitate the ward and act as a synergized point in the ritual to raise it."

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio fires a look of concern at Shan as she seats herself next to him. "You met a demon? Where?" he asks sharply, glancing around as if expecting to see one sneaking up on them even as they speak. He has just about had it with demons lately. "If they're already on the grounds, bothering our librarian, we need to get those wards up, fast."

He toys with the little whorl of light that he cast into the air in front of him, the sparks of magical power reconfiguring as he speaks. "I can do a few different kinds of protective magic... There's one that's just a physical shield, against objects, force blasts, that kind of thing. I can also make something that already exists super strong, especially against magic, if it's made of Earth: rocks and dirt, but also brick or metal. Then there are walls specially for things that walk through walls. You or I could go through, but a ghost or something? //Bonk//."

He's very much about practical applications, rather than theory, as one might guess from his in-depth explanations. So he gives Illyana a curious look as she starts talking about computer science and ritualistic synergy. "That's a little, um, high level for me," he tells her with a half-frown. "I guess the question is what you need us to do. I am happy to help if I can. Maybe I can dump some of this demon energy into it. I don't think it's good for my brain."

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
"Ah well," Shan answers Julio, "I don't know if it was, exactly, a demon. It was some sort of... creature, an entity. It was not from around here. I don't know how to describe it. Like a... It had power, I think, beyond magic itself. There was some sort of gray false Superman that it had summoned, or created, to disturb a parade I was watching on a day trip. I tried to drive it off, with my possession."

Shan is silent then. This does leave a pretty open question, which Shan seems to opt not to answer in favor of looking towards Illyana as the sun begins to set. In here, the sunset does not burn the sky; it is soft, almost nostalgiac, even if the trees are different from the ones of childhood. "I would be pleased to play a role in this, but can you speak of what it would entail? Do I need to remain at the mansion, then, or coordinate? Or is it just a matter of... how do you say it... a matter of raising the cone? Of power?"

That was a movie you saw with everyone, Shan. (Or was it?)

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
A possessed man, a possessing woman, and a woman absent much of her soul. The choice for help shouldn't be too surprising right now, should it? They currently stand on a zip-line platform in a tree a bit of a ways back into the forest, Julio and Shan sharing more of it with the blonde Russian on a cable, still toes-planted on the wood.

Illyana listens about the 'demon' in Metropolis and shakes her head. "Too broad a desription to declare it a demon with certainty. Power beyond magic can be explained by whole classes of beings, many alien, or denizens of alternate or adjacent realms. You do not want the lesson on cosmology," she adds, giving a grim shake of her head. "You are okay?" As much as grinding away at the gears of strange social rhythms can be, there are moments when she shares more in common with her empathic, thoughtful brother. Fleeting, but they do exist.

Finding the right words, even with the Oxford English Dictionary literally inscribed page by psychic page on her mind by the hand of Charles Xavier isn't easy. The smudged shadows painted against the sky bedims her expression, softening edges cut by a knife, an absent vulnerability cast over the landscape itself as the hour deepens. "The best way to set a permanent seal will be a ritual. Rituals slowly channel large quantities of magical energy, using incantations to focus power and prepared components to add fuel to the spell. This kind of magic is demanding, precise, and draining to any sorcerer. Even me." Arrogance? Of course. See also: sorcerer. "Greater rituals benefit from other prepared participants who contribute by grounding the energies and contributing their own focus. More hands lighten the burden on the principal caster, if that makes sense."

Bobby Drake has posed:
~Me and you, and you and me
No matter how you toss the dice, it's got to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy togetheer---~

Bobby Drake can't sing. It's one of his better qualities. This is the reason why he's not singing loudly, but mutter-singing. Speech-singing ,really. Sprechstimme, as the German school of recitativo secco calls it. It seems fitting, though, it's also the only song that Bobby knows that has dice in it, unless it's 'The Winner Takes It All', but that song requires you to wear enough blue mascara to make you look like a palette-swap raccoon and Bobby isn't just feeling that particular mood.

"So happy to- hey, don't get excited there, you're going to fall off!"

The incredibly excitable D10 in his hands, white as snow, performs very enthusiastic acrobatics, making sure that its point, or its legs, are leading Bobby in the right direction. He glances down at the most recent change of direction and groans. "Geez, Dicey. That's a 1 I just rolled there. Not a good omen, you know?"

It doesn't take him long to come to the platform, the D10 making a little can-can to mark the way, leaping out of Bobby's hands. As the icy one makes his way up onto the platform, he calls out "... does this involve ziplining? I only ask because I'm allergic!"

Julio Richter has posed:
"Sounds pretty demonic to me," Julio says, as though that settles the matter. "If you see it again, let me know, and I'll see if I can eat its magic heart. The monsters mostly leave, after I do that." As the picturesque sunset captures the others' attention, an unrelated shadow passes over his face, with roots that delve down to the psyche. After all, in his experience, the monsters either leave... or succumb to blunt force trauma, depending on how mad with rage he happens to be at the time. So he doesn't ask how Shan's attempt with the possession went -- driving off demons exacts a cost, in his experience.

He mulls over the concept of a ritual ward casting in silence, considering what it might entail. "Would you need me to cast with you, or just hold energy?" he finally asks. "I can do whatever, but I'm guessing I'd need practice for the second one. That's all he has to say; he accepts Illyana's 'even me' without the slightest hint of an objection. He might run with Asgardian enchantresses and Sorcerers Supreme, but he'd match Illyana against any of them in a heartbeat.

That //is// 'Sorcerers Supreme,' by the way. It's like attorneys general. Sorcerer Supremes would be, like:

You can't conjure love;
No, you just have to wait;
she said: love don't come easy;
or else they burn you at the stake....

As Bobby's voice drifts up to their platform, and the rope ladder starts to sway, Julio shuts his eyes, takes a deep breath, then turns with tectonic slowness to stare at Illyana, his expression strained with the effort of damming up whatever it is he desperately wants to say. Instead, he simply murmurs: "You could have //warned// me."

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
She really does not want the cosmology lesson right now, it is true. Shan listens but does not look up, quite, until near the end of what is being said. When the question comes, Shan runs a hand over her hair, indirectly petting the tiny d12-demon as Illyana asks if she is alright. It takes her moments to answer. "I think so," she tells Illyana. "... Yes, I am; don't worry. I just... mmh! If these things can be kept away, I am all for it." ("No offense, m'petit," she adds, towards her hair-guest.) After this she regards Julio as he offers to eat the heart of -- /that/ -- and it makes Shan smile.

Illyana explains more. Shan shifts herself, hugging her prosthetic knee to her chest now as she frowns in thought. "Ah, I see. It is like spreading out the damage, right? A hundred hit points would kill one, but thirty-three across three leaves three alive. Perhaps even able to continue?"

"Or twenty five, across four," Shan says quietly, before calling towards him, "Hallo Bobby! I don't think so, no." Having said this she scoots over to where she can dangle her legs off the platform while staying securely anchored-ish.

"We COULD zipline, later," she says to Illyana.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
The little white daemon leaves a trail of vapor in its wake, somehow brighter white in contrast to a man who can turn himself transparent. It launches itself for the tree and lands en-pointe, though arguably having tiny legs that slide between grooved bark proves very easy. It skitters up and points again, clunking into the wood a few times in its bouncy hopefulness. A back leg waves to the green, glittering light on Shan's head under her headband. Blinks convey a scrambled Morse code message, or just 'Hiiii'!

They like one another, these silly things.

"Nyet," she asides to Julio when he turns something like accusation her way. Blunt the arrow and it still can strike home, still. "I could not. A condition of the spell, they select who I need." Homing beacon daemons prove more true than compasses; she wasn't lying about that when they were talking the night before. Though the blue D20 slinks about, protectively waving a leaf it's stolen from some poor branch at Julio.

"Mmm. Yes, a ritual reducing the difficulty check of the spell. People make it easier than items. I am starting at one hundred and trying to get it to fifteen." Right, cheating at magic, that bodes really, realy well. She looks down at Bobby, and then waves. "We are talking about sheltering the school behind a very large magical ward so demons and ghosts cannot get in. Or necromancers, drunken faeries, that sort of thing." Sober faeries exist? Who knew. "You're invited to help if you want. I am explaining, da? The easiest correspondences to achieve the seal without everyone being master of magic are elemental. Either the Chinese system, the wuxing: earth, metal, water, fire, wood. Or the Vedic: earth, fire, water, air, and the aether. You can use that correspondence to supply the energy yourself into the spell, but that is very simplified. Yes, you would have to learn how to join the spell. It won't be a ward raised in a day. Not with this level of magic."

Bobby Drake has posed:
Bobby glances at Julio's getup, and the geomancer could probably predict at least six or seven quips that might come up in Robert Drake's brain, but he seems to spare Julio. Well, words are spared, but glances aren't. And then there's a quick glance to Shan- "You don't want to see me zipline. Trust me. Ever seen a cat tangled on a vine?"

He stuffs his hands in his jacket pockets, because he is fully dressed and he doesn't own a bathrobe anymore. "I see. So we're taking part of a ritual with... elemental powers," the nerd part of him wants to say 'except those /aren't/ elements, elements are things like-' and his Common Sense part of him wants to say to his Nerd part 'Yeah, but we're talking magic lingo, not science lingo, and you're not a magic person so you shut your nerd mouth and accept the professional's words for it. You know that every profession uses words differently, so shut it.'

"You'll have to tell me what to do because the closest thing I've ever gotten to taking actual part in any stuff like this was when Kitty and I watched that old movie with Fairuza Balk when we were punch-happy from cramming for exams and we spent half an hour trying to round people up to play Light As A Feather, Stiff as a Board."

He pauses and, in his defense he adds, "Sleep deprivation. I used to rack up a lot of that."

Julio Richter has posed:
As Bobby joins them on the small platform, Julio glances askance, looking sorely tempted to take Shan's suggestion and zipline off into the twilight right now. Some moves are too melodramatic even for him, though, and he stays put, leaning against the tree trunk that anchors the cable. "Hola, Bobby," he says, resigned, sighing quietly and letting Illyana off the hook with a shift of his eyes. He really is looking some kind of laundry-day best in his gray XSGY sweatpants and fluffy blue bathrobe, so he can't really begrudge the other man a few judgmental glances.

The die, with its leafy blade, gets a sour look, but nothing more. It's only in the nature of dice to turn on you every once in a while, after all.

He willfully shifts his attention instead to the ritual they're expected to perform. "Are you going to walk me through it as we do it, or can I study? Maybe even practice? Maybe I can try doing my room, or something, before we try the whole school. Or I could practice with a demon, maybe." He's not exactly jabbering, but there is a thread of nervousness underlying these questions. It's one thing to throw himself into danger, making up the magic as he goes; something all of his friends will witness and even rely on is a different kind of pressure. Let's not forget that the last time he got an Xavierite involved in his magical shenanigans, their entire body was melted by hellfire.

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
"The Craft," Shan offers to Bobby. She also watched the movie with Fairuza Balk. She did not pay attention to the content about Wicca or whatnot because she was watching Fairuza Balk, probably.

She contemplates Illyana's elemental outlines. "Hmh," she says. "Like getting the geomancy right for your shop. I knew something was going on with all of that, though I am certain it's all blown out of proportion." Shan, of course, has reasons to trust in extrasensory phenomena of various sorts; and reason, too, to trust Illyana. Her nose wrinkles as she smiles, involuntarily, at the tickle of the D12.

"Before you got here, Bobby, Illyana was saying that we face moderate peril and enormous reward," Shan explains, "and I think we are now at the point of considering the peril. But if this with magic should work the way that things do with... other sources of energy or focuses, would it not be rather harmless if we do err, as Julio says? It would just mean it doesn't work and we have to start over, or it takes longer, or something. Like a leak in the plumbing. The magic plumbing."

"I have no idea actually," Shan concludes with a shrug. ("No, I've never seen a cat in that situation. I thought they were too good for things like that?" she asides to Bobby.)

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
The little blue die lowers the leaf, drooping in its little legs. It drops the withered bit of foliage to float away, and it slinks away to scramble over the thick metal cable. Illyana's wrist is conveniently used as a ladder to crawl down, hiding on her shoulder.

Questions prove more important than zipping down, though she asides to Shan, "We should run the course." A nod. "I would like it." Strategically leaning into the cables supporting her, she eyes the trio gathered with her. "Nyet, I am not instructing you while casting. We go over everything before any spells start. Explaining this is strange because I have done it for so long." Like a fish explaining swimming. How does it work? you just do.

"Magic is enforcing will to make a change in reality, and reality goes along with it. You cannot see what I see, so a ritual works best when we have common symbols, stories, or touchstones to work with. This way everyone has a specific role. Philosophical elements are effective for a visualization magically. You can imagine them." A gesture at Julio. "You are the earth. You have a focus, a prepared item that expresses whatever the earth is to you. Say, a stone you worked into the shape of a turtle. You literally focus yourself and your power through the stone, and because we are all using a common language, the spell works. It works even when the person contributing lacks formal magical ability or training. Our mutations work just as well if they fit the theme or the pattern." A pause to see if she makes sense, converting terribly high ideas into a much simpler format. Simple for her, anyway. Being raised by an evil sorcerer since she was knee-high pretty much discounts normal teaching.

Continuing, she says, "That stream of power blends with the other elements, and I take that energy to put into the ward. Three things right there to do: decide your element, find your focus, and learning to focus. I have to learn how to balance you, which I have not done before. Except Julio, really. The hazard and peril? We do it wrong, there can be gaps in the spell. The magic falls at a waste of our work and efforts. I tear out an abundant amount of energy or send it channelling back along the leyline, the city of New York shows up to yell at me about it. Westchester doesn't have a cohesive enough identity to be a risk, but the city does. Possibly we get hedged out and flung into another dimension. Bobby turns us into popsicles. The array of errors are delightful." They are! "I have backup on fine-tuning the dangers out. But nothing is certain."

Bobby Drake has posed:
Bobby nods, listening intently to Illyana's explanation. "Right. I'd be water. And I think I know what I'd use as a focus... what you say makes sense in its own way. I just have to get my... you know, my literal science nerd mind out of the way. I imagine that if I can't get into the right mindset, I might be an impediment? That's where the visualization comes in..."

He'd tried something like that in the past, when one of his dates tried to get him into meditation and crystals... but back then, he just couldn't get into the mindset. To be frank, the guy couldn't do what Illy could- and there was something more valuable at stake than an awkward date this time: the safety of the school and the students. That was an incentive.

He comes back to the world when Illyana is outlining the potential catastrophes that might happen and, because Bobby is Bobby, he can't help but say "Well, that won't be the first time I'd have been called a popsicle, anyways."

Yes. Blue eyes dart to Julio, and then back to the group. What?

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio squints at Shan, wrinkling one side of his nose. "One time, I tried to put my magic armor on at the wrong time, and a crocodile god swallowed my soul into a universe of skulls," he says. "I don't know about big rituals, but when my spells have gone wrong, they have gone //really// wrong." He looks to Illyana, though, daring to hope. "Maybe the ritual and the other people can be a sort of buffer...? I like Xi'an's version."

But Illyana goes through the specifics of their roles first, and he listens attentively, letting his nerves motivate him to focus. On his focus, as it happens. He's never used anything like that, but it makes a certain amount of sense. "Maybe my focus can be the school grounds themselves," he suggests. "I mean, I can focus my power through the actual Earth, and since that's what we're trying to protect, maybe that would make it stronger?"

When the sorceress does get around to the possible problematic outcomes, he tilts his head and says, "That's not as bad as I was thinking it might be. You have planned this out." Of course, if he'd follow that line of logic just a bit further, Julio might come to the conclusion that the reason his spells go //really// wrong is his own lack of planning. He doesn't get there, though; there's a reason Illyana is the Merlin to Julio's Mickey in a dunce hat.

At least it's a sparkly dunce hat.

His brown eyes meet Bobby's, interrupting the train of thought regardless. An expression of disapproval crosses his face, and he answers flatly, "That's not really how it translates." Yep. He's wiling to publicly engage Bobby in a linguistic debate about the old pet name he used to use for him. Bobby can either meet him there or blink. Sometimes the only way out of the awkward is to bull straight through it.

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
"Certainly, then," Shan tells Illyana with a faint smile, but then she draws herself up - this time rising, first to a kneel, but then to an upright posture leaning against the tree and tilting and turning her head to attend to the lecture. She has always been good at the attending to explanations part of things.

"I suppose I would serve as the aether," Shan muses, "or perhaps - I don't know." After this, she nods slowly along, adding with a tone of light encouragement, "The idea comes across. It's like when you synchronize your minds." A pause, and Shan then says, "You don't mean the city government, do you."

Bobby and Julio evoke a smile and a little cover-your-mouth-with-your-wrist laugh from Shan, entirely and solely over the topic of popsicles! Or their analogies. Taking a deep breath, Shan tells Julio, "I believe you, but at the same time it is hard to consider. I'm glad that you came through it, though. We have all been through..."

"A lot," Shan concludes. "I think that's not a bad idea, though, about the ground itself. ... Though that wouldn't risk causing a big earthquake or anything, would it? I guess we won't know."

"Is this the sort of thing you can do a practice run on? Protect the boat house from evil, first...?"