What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)   Posted by Magik.Group: 0
 GM, 130 posts
Thu 5 Dec 2013
at 21:03
What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
After three drafty, but mostly uneventful nights spent in the Lamasery of the Ancient One’s guest rooms, while Dr. Strange meditated in the Ancient One’s innermost sanctum, the group began to worry. They barely saw the Sorcerer Supreme. He stayed up late one night speaking with Interloper, and consulted with Doom twice, but for the most part, he remained alone with his thoughts.

Without Doctor Strange, the “glue” that had held this mismatched group together, each retreated in their own way for much of their time at the lamasery, with contact between them specific and sporadic. Perhaps they were all brooding on their own unique issues and difficulties.

On the last night, Stephen Strange had visited each of his guests in his mentor’s home separately. In each case, he first asked of the exact details of the bizarre events and troubles that had brought them here, probing with many questions until he seemed to understand the exact position they were each in. Then he explained the rising threat and his place in causing it, and asked for each of these uniquely gifted individuals to agree to help him. In exchange, he offered to each of the group some form of aid with their problem.

Though it was possible some of the group had shared the contents of these conversations with each other, no one but Strange knew what he had promised each in exchange for their help. Nor could anyone be certain that all members of the group had agreed to help Strange, but no one seemed to have left the lamasery.

Perhaps some merely stayed because of the storm.  Though much reduced in the demons’ absence, the howling blizzard had not ceased, and it was still an inhospitable situation for air travel, while the magical forces in flux around the lamasery continued to make long distance teleportation a potentially fatal endeavor. So each of the travelers knew they would have to make their way on foot, or by a similar mundane and relatively slow means of travel, back to the village in which they had met, and depart from there. No one seemed eager to make that journey alone.

On the morning after the third night, the group was surprised when Dr. Strange gathered them in the main entry hall, the same room where they had battled Erlik Khan and the other demons. They had even taken meals separately during their stay, and so this was the only time they had all been gathered since that first day of violence.

Not for the first time, Doom's mind turned to the invitation in the envelope hidden on his person, that had come to him shortly before he'd left for Tibet. It was an invitation to an event to be held in the city of New York, in the United States. It extended a request for the honor of Doom's presence at an auction, held at the Manhattan mansion of the Hellfire Club.

The Hellfire Club-- a centuries-old ‘social club’ comprised of the supposed ‘most powerful people on Earth’, a concept Doom found laughable-- had invited Doom to every major event they had held since his ascension to the throne. A wise move, on their part. Their New York location, though not the first, had emerged in recent decades as the head of the larger organization, led by the billionaire industrialist and Sentinel-manufacturer Sebastian Shaw.

Normally, the Hellfire Club's invitations were politely declined by underlings who saw to matters of protocol. The Hellfire Club were children, Doom thought, playing at world domination. Never before had they been worth more of his time than what little it took to find out who they were. But they had somehow obtained some very opportune partners for this upcoming venture. This particular invitation had rightly been brought to the Lord of Latveria's attention.

The auction described in the missive was claimed to be one of powerful artifacts, mostly of an occult nature, all up for sale. None were listed by name, but finding out the inventory was a trifle for Doom. Most were trinkets, hoaxes and the like. There were others, however, of dire power and importance. Artifacts that would be misused in the hands of lesser men, Doom had no doubt.

There was a broken gem that might have been a piece of the Serpent Crown. A page of occult text a European businessman claimed had come from the Darkhold. An American claimed to have obtained one of the Mandarin’s rings; though Doom believed this to be a lie, and that it was more likely an old ring from somewhere in East Asia bearing a lower-level enchantment. Regardless, if somehow the claim were true, it would be a major find.

Then there was the most important item, an artifact of legendary power, power which Doom had recently seen for himself. His eyes lingered on Nico. Though the version of the time-travelling girl native to this timeline was but a child, her parents, Robert and Tina Minoru, were known in certain very secret occult circles to be in their prime in this era, as two of the world's most powerful practitioners of black magic. What little was whispered of them was often connected to one very powerful item, an item which would be on auction in New York within the next few days.

Doom had put this matter on a list of other priorities he had thought to discuss with Strange, one of the few occultists on Earth worthy of advising the Lord of Latveria. But, now it seemed the Sorcerer Supreme would be indisposed during the event. And even now, Strange appeared distant, distracted, and though there were obvious reasons for that, Doom wondered if there was not more to it than the archmage had revealed.

Looking at Nico again, it occurred to Doom that perhaps his present company offered a different opportunity. Could the girl's connection be leveraged? And could the others be of use as well...? Obviously, Doom could bring as many guests as he wished. The thought of the time-travelling barbarian in formalwear was amusing. He would have to think on these things.

Doom’s contemplations were interrupted when Strange finally spoke... and surprised the group by telling them all they had to go.

“You must leave,” Strange declared wearily. “Forgive me. I am grateful for all of your aid, and I will seek you out soon, but first, there is something I must do. I did not see it before, but having encountered these demons here, I now see there is a working I must perform here, in this place, with neither distraction nor interruption, and I fear most of you would not survive it if you were present. I will require seven days of unbroken solitude to perform this series of spells.

“But I hope, and request, that you will remain together, in a group, to help me secure the borders of our universe from the threats beyond. Perhaps it might not be inappropriate to think of you as a new group of heroic protectors for our world, like mine and Interloper’s team, which was recently shattered. A group of New Defenders, if you will…”

Strange looked to Interloper, to see if the Eternal who had left their former comrades behind in Limbo would object to the repurposing of the name. But before Interloper could give more than a look, Strange called to Doom.

“Victor von Doom, I must ask the greatest favor of you,” Strange said. “You understand what is at stake as well or better than anyone. You are also the only one, besides myself, with the resources to host this diverse assemblage comfortably. You say you seek to turn over a new leaf, and necessity compels me to put that to the test. So, tell me: Will you host this group in your home for a time? Would you be willing to invite these others as the honored guests of Doom, in your royal castle in Latveria?”

All eyes flitted between Strange, Interloper, and Doom, with no one sure what would be said next.

[OOC: Anyone can speak here, but obviously, the main question lies with Doom. Are you willing to take in the whole group for a time, quartering them at your castle at Doomstadt? And whether you do that or not, will you tell the others about the invitation?

Also (for ease of description in future posts as much as the story), Strange has offered up “the New Defenders” as an informal name, which may or may not see much future use. Anyone have any thoughts on this? In-character or out-of-character, Interloper especially?

As far as this transition scene goes, we have prepared more content for after Doom makes his decision. But if anyone wants to post in anything they did or said during the three days at the Lamasery, that can be done as flashback, with all of us having not only GM authority and a free hand in writing our own characters, but writing for Strange as well during his absence.

Otherwise, it seems like everyone is anxious to finally get us out of the Himalayas and onto other things.]

 GM, 123 posts
Fri 6 Dec 2013
at 02:19
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
Out-of-character, I like the idea of us working towards a group identity in this next act.  We deliberately created a diverse collection of characters with individual reasons for seeking out Strange, but without Strange forming the core, it would be very easy for these characters to disperse and go their separate ways without something to hold them together.  So I'm all for adopting a team name, or anything else that will give us some group identity to help us hold the characters together.  Whether that name is New Defenders or something else doesn't matter to me.

In-character, Interloper surely has no objection to the New Defenders name; to be fair, he was barely a member himself.  He had only briefly met them before he convinced half the team to "drink the cool-aid" in an attempt to defeat his own personal nemesis, so from one point of view he's successfully finished off more Defenders than most  of their foes...  ;-)  Just kidding...

However, I'm not going to interrupt Doom's answer, so my in-character post will just be: 

Interloper simply nodded his head in response to Doctor Strange's short, questioning pause after suggesting the use of the New Defenders name.  But when the Sorcerer Supreme continued with his bold question for the ruler of Latveria, Interloper's piercing gaze shifted to watch Doctor Doom's response.
 GM, 99 posts
Wed 11 Dec 2013
at 22:28
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
At first Doom stiffens as if offended... shall he be dismissed like some fragile child!?  But those are old impulses and quickly quelled.  Not only does he grow weary of this hole in the snowy mountains, but he still feels he owes Strange a debit.  Nico and Magik are young and in need of guidance... especially the guidance of Dr Doom.  Plus he promised Magik aid in finding her brother.  What to do with the Eternal and the Barbarian.  Still, Doom can be a gracious host.

His body quickly relaxing "Certainly Dr. Strange." turning to the others "I would be happy to show you the hospitality of Latveria.  Doom can assure you it will be more comfortable than here and provide a place for us to gather information on what to do next."

Turning to Magik "I can take some time too look for clues to your brother's fate."

And to Conan and Nico "Perhaps help the two of you find your way back to your own time."

Finally to the Interloper "Doom has not had a chance to speak to an eternal in some time.  Your cosmic powers would be quite useful indeed."

"Please accept my hospitality and stay in my castle for a time."
Nico Minoru
 GM, 131 posts
 When blood is shed...
 Trauma: P: -; M: -; E: -;
Sat 14 Dec 2013
at 06:13
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
Doom's castle or going outside in the middle of a Tibetan snow storm...This might actually take a bit of debate. "I'm in," she said with a sigh, the staff entering inside her body. Even if Strange trusted Doom, she wasn't ready to, but a bed in a Latverian castle sounded better than living in an igloo until Strange could help her...if her could help her. It wasn't ideal, by far, but Nico couldn't exactly going to refuse.
Conan the Accuser
 GM, 150 posts
Tue 17 Dec 2013
at 06:37
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
The barbarian's demeanor was relaxed, but his voice was stern. "Conan is not some idle guest or postulant apprentice, to be shuffled back and forth between the households of sorcerers, stranded though I may be in this lunatic age," the Cimmerian spoke, his English nuanced but rough in intonation. "Nevertheless, Strange, I owe you a debt, and I suppose I owe one as well to the one called Doom, for his assistance with this accursed blade which still will not leave my hand. If you require my aid, I will wait to be returned to my own time, if such is possible. I have profited and thrived in this era before, and I may yet do so again.

"I will accompany you to this one's castle, for surely a monarch's palace will be of greater warmth and comfrot than this benighted place. If we are all agreed, let us be on our way now, and get as far as we can before sundown."

 GM, 125 posts
Wed 18 Dec 2013
at 20:59
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
Interloper's piercing gaze rests on the metal mask of Doom for a moment, then he nods abruptly.  "I accept your hospitality, Victor Von Doom.  And I agree with my Cimmerian comrade, travel in these mountains under such conditions will be difficult enough by daylight and night will come swiftly.  If we leave quickly, I know of a place we can shelter tonight, and we should be able to reach the borders of this unnatural storm by the end of the day tomorrow."
 GM, 133 posts
Thu 19 Dec 2013
at 00:17
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
Illyana needed little convincing, remembering her friend Kitty’s kind words about her time in Doom’s care. Instead of answering verbally, she simply nodded and turned to gather her things. The last of their group in agreement, the others followed suit shortly thereafter.

The return trip to the village was a much more pleasant one, for a number of reasons. Paramount among them was the presence of two natural mountaineers in the party. Conan and the Interloper seemed to move as comfortably in this wilderness as if they were traveling a paved road. They led the others ably, always a step ahead of any obstacle, whether by the Eternal’s enhanced senses or the barbarian’s preternatural intuition and grace.

Though the storm still whipped at them, it had died down a bit. More importantly, the taint of dark magic had lessened, which meant that though teleportation across great distances was still too dangerous, the travelers’ otherworldly abilities were back in play. There was always warmth and light, due to the combined power of Doom’s technology, the spells and incantations of the sorcerers among them, and Nico’s seemingly endless cleverness in using her staff.

The Interloper delivered on his promise of shelter, leading his comrades to a deeply wooded thicket as the sun began to dip beneath the horizon. After a few minutes of searching, he located a specific boulder set against a hillside. Moving the massive rock aside as if it were a pebble, he revealed a cavern cut a few dozen feet into the hill itself, wide enough for two to lay side-by-side. It was unknown whether he had made this burrow himself some years ago, or if he had just found it in his travels. The others didn’t bother to ask, instead eagerly ducking out of the cold.

As the group began to make sleeping preparations, Doom called Illyana to him. For some time, they looked over a projected image of the countryside that Doom had prepared, based on the path they had taken from the village to the lamasery earlier in the week. The next morning, the others discovered the purpose of their conference. Though the storm prevented long-range teleportation, Magik (with Doom’s instruction) was able to use her stepping discs to cut several legs out of their journey on the second day.

They reached their destination earlier than expected, setting foot in the village shortly after midday. Though no one looked forward to the task, it was decided that the townspeople should be told of Jigme’s passing. Conan, having stayed in the inn for some time, took it upon himself. After officially tendering his resignation, and gathering what meager belongings he had left in the room he slept in, he took the innkeeper aside and told him the dire news. He knew that any attempt to explain the actual events of the guide’s fate would be folly, and so he simply told the innkeeper, in as plain language as possible, that Old Jigme had died an honorable warrior’s death.

And so it came to be that the mismatched quintet, under the watchful and concerned eyes of the gathered townspeople, did step aboard Doom’s waiting aircraft. The villagers covered their ears against the roar of the engines, and watched as the craft disappeared into the gray sky.

This message was last edited by the GM at 01:55, Thu 19 Dec 2013.

Watcher (Conan)
Thu 19 Dec 2013
at 03:55
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
At the window identical to that which decorated his home in Greenwich, Stephen Strange stared, watching, as his companions departed.

He was alone now, with his burdens. But not for long.

"How long have you been watching?" Strange asked, just after those he had recruited to aid him disappeared through the narrow pass. "You may as well show yourself."

The most powerful living black magician on Earth appeared behind Strange, neither smirking nor frowning as he stared out the same window, watching his own reflection shimmer from the shadows. "Not long," the archmage Kaluu said calmly, his voice betraying no disappointment that he had been detection. "Just enough to ensure your guests were gone. You're cannier than your mentor was, Stephen. That shroud let me get the better of him more than once."

"Yet the Ancient One proved wiser than you, in the end, did he not?" Strange answered. "Even in his boyhood he learned not to trust you. Perhaps now he would call me a fool."

"You have no choice, not with the demons-- and worse-- that now threaten Earth. You must become my disciple if we are to defeat them together."

"The Sorcerer Supreme is no man's disciple, Kaluu. But you are correct in that I have no choice but to call on your knowledge of black magic. Too much is at stake. I am agreed: We shall join forces to combat the threat to Earth."

"Just so. And you, my disciple, will learn what is needed to combat black magic," Kaluu said, neither he nor Strange taking their eyes from the window.

Strange sighed, expecting this insolence. Kaluu knew more of the demons and the Old Ones than any man alive. He was prideful enough to believe he could outwit them. For the sake of humanity, he hoped the black magician was right. The Sorcerer Supreme called to mind the man's history, remembering exactly why the Ancient One's former rival was a man to be feared...

Strange gave no outward voice to his misgivings. He merely asked a question.

"And what of our other... 'ally'? Have you brought him as well?"

At that, Kaluu finally smiled. "He waits beyond. He will not enter without your direct invitation. Nor can he hear us."

Of course, Strange thought. Nothing had changed. The old formality, the false regard. And perhaps, fear of his old rival, or more likely, this place and its legacy. For was this not the very place where the man had fallen from grace? "You believe he will cooperate?" Strange asked.

"To a point, yes. I believe he will. Whatever darkness dwells in our souls or animates or deeds, neither of us wishes to see the world become what the Old Ones would make it, any more than your friends do. Speaking of your friends, I notice you did not tell them about the auction."

"Doom will tell them. It has been on his mind since he received the invitation. I need no spell to tell me that. As for others, it is better neither they nor their new host know what is actually at stake. Keeping the secret from Interloper and Doom took a great deal of effort, but the Hellfire Club leaders and others have the resources to steal the the truth from their minds. The fewer who know of the artifact's real import, the better."

"If they fail, what we do here will be pointless."

"If they fail, or succeed, it must be without our direct intervention. And you know why. I must trust them all to know what to do when the threat presents itself to them. And it will."

"It is a dangerous game you play. Worthy of a black magician..." Kaluu gave a short laugh, though Strange was not amused. "Speaking of which, shall we invite our 'ally', as you call him, to join us now?"

"Perhaps, but first, we must both agree. He too must know as little as possible."

"You shall receive no argument from me. Far too ambitious, this one."

"Then let us begin," Stephen said. He waves his hands, and the window opened on unseen hinges, letting in the wind and storm. When Strange spoke again, his voice echoed with power, bearing the weight and heightened intonation of ancient ritual. "Watcher at the threshold, hear these words. The gate is open. For the agreed upon time, you are welcome in this sanctum, so says the Sorcerer Supreme. Hear these words, and come forth!"

Strange turned away from the window, feeling the portal open in the room behind him. With the smoke and brimstone of a literary devil, the third sorcerer appeared in the room beside them, already looking far too at home in this familiar place. A man accustomed to theatricality, the newly arrived black magician bowed with exaggerated politeness.

"I return with pleasure," Baron Mordo said, locking eyes with the Sorcerer Supreme. "Karl Amadeus Mordo, at your service."

This message had punctuation tweaked by the GM at 06:25, Thu 19 Dec 2013.

 GM, 136 posts
Thu 26 Dec 2013
at 19:42
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)

The sound was familiar to the citizens of Latveria’s capital; a distant hum at first, that became a crackle, then a roar as the ship grew closer. There were times when the aircraft would take off and arrive multiple times in a day, but there were also occasions like this one, when their great leader would be gone for days at a time. At these times, his return was cause for celebration. They did not question where he had gone, they knew that any undertaking of Victor Von Doom must be in their best interest. He was, after all, their protector as well as their king.

As was the custom when Doom came back from a long journey, the citizens had dropped what they were doing, closed their shops, even paused in the middle of meals if necessary, to take to the streets when the tell-tale sound began. And so, as the craft slowed and descended to its resting place atop one of the many towers of Castle Doom, a cheer issued forth from the a crowd, thousands strong, gathered around the gates of the castle to welcome their benevolent monarch.

Several aboard the ship were astonished to see this outpouring of adoration for a man who, as Nico had put it only a week before, was something akin to “the most wanted terrorist in the world”. But as impressed as one could be by this show of love, they kept their wits about them as well. It was common knowledge that many of history’s most monstrous dictators had been beloved, at one time or another, by their subjects.

Any such misgivings aside, Doom quickly proved himself a world-class host. Each guest was given a room, more a personal apartment actually, staffed by their own personal servant. The general staff was similarly instructed to cater to their every desire or whim, within reason, second only to Doom himself.

Doom, if you have any proclamations or requests to make of your guests, feel free to throw them in. Otherwise, as planned, here is the time for any scenes or conversations that anyone might want to occur at Doomstadt. I will wait a few days, then we will have the presentation of the invitation, and the planning of our next chapter.
 GM, 137 posts
Wed 1 Jan 2014
at 01:57
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)

The travelers spent three days in luxury, attended to by Doom’s gracious serving staff. Each night they gathered for a feast, the only time most of them saw any other member of the group except in passing. Their other meals were brought to them in their rooms, and the cooking staff’s abilities were seemingly limitless. On the second day, Illyana was feeling mischievous and requested a meal that she had read of in a book, intricately prepared and containing several hard-to-obtain ingredients. Expecting her handmaiden to return with a muttered apology, she was instead surprised some 45 minutes later when her chamber door opened to three servers holding trays. The meal was perfectly prepared, down to the last literary detail. Her prank had backfired, the only embarrassment was hers as she finished only a small plate, before telling the staff to take the rest away.

The facilities were enormous and opulently appointed. Doom was glad to be back with access to his many laboratories and halls of mystic study. The others were free to spend their time as they wished, with full access to athletic training grounds, a media hall with large-screen televisions showing news and entertainment from every country across the world, and perhaps the most impressive section of Castle Doom: a massive, multi-story library, which contained among its inventory hundreds of books, papers, and tomes that could not be found anywhere else on Earth.

Conan came into the castle only to sleep and eat. The rest of his time was spent roaming the many wooded acres of Doomstadt. He hunted, he explored, but mostly he trained. The time he had spent under the sword’s control, and deadening himself with alcohol to avoid its constantly humming voice, had left him rusty. Now that it had achieved its primary goal, its presence became a boon instead of a burden.

On the fourth day, the adventurers were all called into the dining hall where they usually ate dinner. It was not yet noon, so clearly this was related to something other than a friendly meal. As they all found seats around the huge central table, Doom entered, clutching a bound scroll…

I realized that there was no way to write the planning scene itself without putting words into everyone’s mouths, so instead we will let this scene play out as it will. Whether Doom wants to tell everyone what’s happening, or just pass around the invite, is up to him. Here are the facts of the event:

On the invitation itself, it says that this is an auction being held by the New York arm of the Hellfire Club, two nights from now, at their Manhattan mansion. It is an invite-only event, to be kept from outsiders, and shall involve items “of great mystical power and worth”. The event is formal-dress only, and this will be strictly enforced (obviously Doom’s royal robes meet that requirement, so he can wear what he usually does).

Not listed on the invitation are the other attendees, or the actual items up for sale. So you all don’t have to scroll up, these aforementioned details are: “a broken gem that might have been a piece of the Serpent Crown”, “A page of occult text a European businessman claimed had come from the Darkhold”, something that an unnamed American attendee dubiously claims to be one of the Mandarin’s rings; and the Staff of One, assumedly accompanied by its current owners, Robert and Tina Minoru (AKA Nico’s parents).

Nico Minoru
 GM, 134 posts
 When blood is shed...
 Trauma: P: -; M: -; E: -;
Sat 4 Jan 2014
at 05:06
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
Luxury was...different. Well...not entirely different, but certainly not something familiar any longer. Nico had resisted for a while, but sometimes, nothing beat an easy night off from worry. The Runaways grew up in their parents manors in LA, Miami, and every resort city in the country. They had all been raised rich kids and then ended up hiding out in secret bases while Chase worked a 9-5 job to buy them food. A full meal, warm bed, and a night to herself made her a lot more receptive, even if she still didn't trust doom as far as she could throw his metal armor.

But after a few days in the castle, their independence was finally interrupted and Nico dressed herself (making some modifications to the clothing given to her by Doom to more fit her style - though the dress was halfway to being a gothic fashion statement as it was). Staff of One inside of her body and pocket knife easily reachable, Nico went to the dinner to see what Doom had to say. They'd been cooped up long enough anyway. It was time to actually start fixing their problems.
 GM, 103 posts
Mon 6 Jan 2014
at 06:06
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
In addition to the nightly feasts, Doom has made sure there were diversions for the others.  Conan clearly preferred the wilds but he was also given direction to some rowdy bars that might be to his liking and a map showing where the royal hunting preserves could be found.  The Interloper was a quandary so Doom made sure he had access to the libraries and the staff was instructed to help him find any other diversion.  Illyana and Nico while certainly not being typical teenagers he did insure they knew where the younger people liked to congregate and 'party'.... plus there was the university.  He also made it known that both were welcome to assist with his sorcerous investigations.

On the fourth day, Doom arrives at dinner and awaits everyone to be seated before placing a scroll on the table and speaking.  "Doom hopes the past few days have allowed you all to recover from the physical and mental trials in Nepal.  We have not made any headway toward solving the mystical problems plaguing earth" then with a nod to Illyana "Nor have I been able to find any word about your brother my child, but I have agents and other beings dedicated to finding any scrap of information."

Motioning toward the scroll "But I do have something that may be of interest.  Every year I'm invited to a gala held by The Hellfire Club.  Most of the time there is nothing they can interest me with.  But this year they might have something worthy of Doom.  A few mystic artifacts, most likely false, and amusingly enough The Staff of One."  the last said with a look to Nico.

"I have taken the liberty to have appropriate attire made for you all, it will be in your rooms.  We can head to Manhattan and stay at my humble apartments in the city for those of you who are interested."
 GM, 129 posts
Mon 6 Jan 2014
at 06:38
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
I'm assuming Interloper has kept fairly close tabs on events in the modern world, despite his hermit-ish nature, but the inner circle of the Hellfire Club is pretty secretive.   The public side of the club has been around for a long time, but mostly only relevant to wealthy/socialite humans, and that wouldn't really be of interest to him, so...

Interloper frowns slightly and asks "What is this Hellfire Club, Von Doom, and what artifacts do they claim to possess besides the Staff?"
 GM, 141 posts
Mon 6 Jan 2014
at 08:19
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
Illyana, having twisted her face into a scowl at first mention of the Club's name, interjected.

"I'll tell you who the Hellfire Club is," she growled. "They're murderers. Elitist, manipulative aristocrats who treat every other person on Earth like toys."

A few present were surprised by her outburst, which made her all the more dedicated to proving her point.

"They're mutants, but their leader makes his money building sentinels, so he's a traitor to his own people." She took a quick look around the table, making sure everyone seemed to know what a sentinel was. "They've tried to kill my friends, my family, more than once."

She leaned back in her chair, arms crossed. "If we're going to their mansion, we'd better be going to burn it to the ground."
Conan the Accuser
 GM, 151 posts
Mon 6 Jan 2014
at 09:31
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
(OOC: This bit has been edited to fix the continuity error I made.)

Conan had seen little of the girl Illyana, but he'd seen enough to be more wary of her than any of the others, even the tyrant Doom. So he did not raise his voice as he spoke to her, but he was firm.

"I know nothing of this club. Clearly you owe them a vengeance, girl, and no doubt it is well-deserved," Conan said. "Yet your rage is not mine. My loyalty is to Strange in this, and I would not see his purpose fail. If we must kill these Hellfire men, fine, I am not one to shrink from such. But what would Strange have us do? His first thought would be the disposition of these artifacts, would it not? Surely we must see them taken from infernal hands before we slake the thirst of our blades. This occasion calls for clever thieves, not vengeful ones. Of course, we must know if their trinkets are true treasures or mere forgeries."

Before Illyana could object, Conan was reaching for a second piece of paper, far less ornate, that had been sitting on the table before Doom had unfurled the scroll. The writing was simpler, and Conan found it easier to read. The barbarian had a knack for languages, but was still better at speaking these modern tongues than writing them.

"Is this--?" Conan began to ask, looking at Doom. But the tyrant remained silent, his face hidden behind the dark metal of his mask. "I assume this is a list of what relics of devilry this society of Hellfire will have on offer. It says they are indeed auctioning the Staff of One, as Doom said, as well as a ring from someone called the Mandarin, a page from a necromancer's grimoire known as the Darkhold, and a broken gem from-- is that flowery letter an 'S'...? A broken gem from the... Serpent Crown..."

As the words escaped his lips, the Cimmerian froze in place. He looked up from the paper, a darkness in his eyes. "That artifact, the Crown... That is one I have encountered before, when I was not yet 22 winters old. Beneath the ophidian tombs of darkest Stygia, seeking treasure, I ran afoul of the schism between two sects of Serpentmen, one worshippers of Set, the other devoted to Chthon. I saw many horrors by their hands, the foulness of... Yet it matters not. In the end, I defeated them only by allying with two mysterious warriors, beings as unkillable as demigods though they seemed to bear mortal form. One was B'ilga-Mes, called the Forgotten One, and the other..."

All at once, the recognition dawned in Conan's eyes, as he turned and looked at Interloper. The familiar sight of this strange man had been familiar to Conan from the start, though he had not been able to place him. He recognized the man he had fought beside so long before. Had this Interloper-- whom Conan had known by a different name-- been transported to this time by similar means to Conan? Or was there some other madness at work?

"Yet perhaps I have said enough," Conan finished, stepping away from the table. He recognized Interloper now, knowing they had been compatriots against the Serpentmen some tens of thousands of years before. But the question was, did this enigmatic figure recognize Conan as well? Had the one now called Interloper recognized the Cimmerian all along?

This message was last edited by the GM at 10:21, Mon 06 Jan 2014.

Nico Minoru
 GM, 135 posts
 When blood is shed...
 Trauma: P: -; M: -; E: -;
Mon 6 Jan 2014
at 16:04
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
The only name recognized was the Staff of One, but that was certainly a big one. Of course, Magik's outburst was distraction enough, as she wondered if she'd ended up on the right side of this fight - then again, her parents were evil, and as Conan listed to auction items, she came back to her senses. "Shouldn't my parents have the Staff of One right now? I mean, my great grandmother had it when I went back 100 years." Then again, her mother had wielded the staff even while it was inside her. Magic was sometimes strange like that.

Then again, whether they went in with Magik's sword striking, Conan hiding like a thief, or Doom's fortune burning a hole in his pocket, it didn't answer what their action should be. "Do we go in an get everything they have or what? How do we even know this stuff is real?"
Conan the Accuser
 GM, 154 posts
Mon 6 Jan 2014
at 17:00
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
Conan continued to stare at Interloper, seeking some reaction. Would the bearded man acknowledge him,  say something, or did he not recall events from so long ago? Eyes still on the mysterious being he had once fought beside, Conan responded to Nico.

"To my experience, sorcerers are never direct in their plots. It is always secrets within secrets. Perhaps the Staff of One is not truly on offer, or it is there only to draw some enemy out. In any case, it only makes it a better plan not to rush in with blades and staves drawn. "

This message was last edited by the GM at 17:03, Mon 06 Jan 2014.

 GM, 130 posts
Wed 8 Jan 2014
at 04:48
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
OOC:  Interloper uses some telepathy here just to validate Conan's claims of fighting alongside the Forgotten One and himself.  Based on the timeline you posted in the other thread, I'm going to assume our meeting in Stygia was around the time of your days on the Black Coast, since the age is about right and it seems to be the first time he was that far south.  Feel free to edit my post if that doesn't fit what you planned.

Interloper impassively listened to the discussion.  He didn't blink at the fiery exclamations of the young mutant, or as the warrior read off the list of artifacts, but his eyes may have narrowed slightly when Conan reminisced about his past encounters with the Serpent Crown, and the Forgotten One.

Although his expression betrayed nothing, he barely heard the subsequent questions about the Staff of One as his thoughts focused inwards, hunting through his memories of countless centuries and of dozens of encounters with the worshipers of the various serpent cults.  Yes, he and the Forgotten One had fought alongside a young, dark haired human warrior in that chaotic epoch that followed the coming of the Second Host and the cataclysm that destroyed Lemuria and Atlantis.  Shifting his cosmic perceptions to focus on the man across the table, he quickly confirmed that the events he recalled matched those in the warrior's own memory.  Satisfied, the Eternal once more brought his attention to the present and mentally replayed the conversation that had proceeded while he reminisced.

Turning first to Conan, he said "I have not heard the name B'ilga-Mes in many ages of the world...  Stephen Strange mentioned you were a man out of time, but circumstances were pressing and I did not pursue it further.  Well met, Amra, Lion of the Black Coast."

Next, he turned to Nico Minoru and said "If we can examine the artifacts, I believe collectively we can determine whether they are legitimate or not.  I can certainly identify a page of the Darkhold or a gem of the Serpent Crown, for I have long experience with both."  His gaze flicked briefly towards Conan as he mentioned the Crown.  "I have never encountered the Mandarin, but I have walked throughout many eastern lands in recent years and heard some tales of him, and his power is said to be based on alien science as much as earthly mysticism; Von Doom can surely assist there."  He nodded his head towards their host, then returned to Nico.  "And it sounds like you are intimately familiar with this Staff of One."

"And if they truly have any of these relics, then yes, we must acquire them.  The walls between the worlds are vulnerable, and even a fragment of the dread Darkhold or Serpent Crown could sway the outcome.  It would be folly to leave them in the hands of such men as Illyana Rasputin has described."
 GM, 143 posts
Wed 8 Jan 2014
at 05:30
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
As the others spoke, Illyana's expression twisted from a scowl to a look of puzzlement.

"Wait," she said to Nico, "What's this about your parents? Your parents have one of the artifacts? And isn't the One Staff, or whatever, isn't that the staff you've been carrying around?"

She looked around the table to see if anyone had an answer. It was true, Nico realized. Illyana had never asked her anything about her past in the few conversations they'd had, nor had Nico offered it.

"How can they have it in New York, if you have it here?"
Nico Minoru
 GM, 138 posts
 When blood is shed...
 Trauma: P: -; M: -; E: -;
Wed 8 Jan 2014
at 15:57
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
"That's what happens when you time travel I guess. Things get weird. I inherited the Staff of One. When I was in 1907, my great-grandmother still had the staff...though, so did I" she said. She concluded once more with a non-chalant, "Time travel gets weird."
 GM, 105 posts
Wed 8 Jan 2014
at 17:21
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
"Doom believes that many of the artifacts are false as the Hellfire club is like a bunch of children playing with magic.  But it would make sense for Nico's parents to have the Staff of One and seems odd for such an auction to be held when earths occult defenses have been shattered."

Doom stops to take a drink of wine and surveys his guests.

"And as Interloper said we should be able to ascertain their legitimacy where my agents could not.   Should they prove true, they could help on many fronts from Earth's defense to our time lost allies." he looks over at Magik. "Illyana their power could help find and bring back your brother, so Doom asks you to stay your hand at vengeance... for now."
Conan the Accuser
 GM, 155 posts
Wed 8 Jan 2014
at 18:33
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
"Well said, Lord Doom," Conan affirmed with a nod. There was more to be said with the one they called an Eternal, of that Conan was certain. But it could wait. "I would have words with you,  Interloper," Conan said. "When the moment is meet."

He looked at the others. "Your time is strange, not least because other times seem so easily available to it. Is there any one among you who has not traveled through the ages? We must see past these complications. Items of great power are in the hands of evil men, and we must recover them. If to do so, I must dress in your time's foppish finery, and drink the liquor of treacherous hosts, so be it. I will return to my room, and fetch this formal attire Doom has provided us. I expect a white suit of leisure, and the hat and shoes to match, along with a fine walking stick and perhaps a panther to walk on a leash, and worry not, for I have worn such before. I know your time and it's fashions well!"

It took a moment for most of the others to process what Conan had just said. Had he really worn such an outfit at some point during his previous outing to this time? The incongruity of that image made it hard to suppress a laugh.

OOC: If you've never seen any of the shots of Conan dressed like a pimp from his appearance in What If, you owe it to yourself to Google them up. It's very worth it.
 GM, 146 posts
Thu 9 Jan 2014
at 00:02
Re: What If?: Act 1, Scene 3 (Transition Scene)
Conan seemed to have no idea of the oddness of what he had just proclaimed as he spun on his heels and walked his usual proud walk out of the room. There was an awkward silence in the room for a bit. When conversation returned, it was clear that there wasn't much more to discuss. The group seemed to be in general agreement, and even Magik's desire for vengeance appeared to have been put on a backburner for the time being.

Doom collected his papers and excused the others, then moved to return to his private wing in the opposite direction of the guests' quarters. A few pleasantries were exchanged as the others stood to go back and inspect the clothes Doom's servants had prepared for them. Just before they reached the large archway that served as the exit of the dining hall, Illyana spoke up in the same curious tone that she had spoken to Nico in a few minutes before.

"Did the barbarian say something about a panther on a leash?" she asked. A few chuckles, held in until now, echoed through the large room. This only seemed to exasperate her further. She was more insistent as she followed the others out. "Why are you laughing? I'm honestly asking. Why would he want that? Why would he want a panther on a leash??"