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The Arena: Brimstone & Fire

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(Continued from here.)

As he had flown across the Atlantic ocean from North Africa, Jos Terhune felt something tugging at him from the waters below, just a mile off Freedom City's coast. He still felt it in the back of his mind while in the city, but was unable to investigate as he went about setting up shop. Fortunately the sensation, while never-ending, was not intense enough to distract him if he was focusing his attention on something, but it was always there as he drifted off to sleep, and first thing in the morning.

Now he had time.

A great demonic shape soared through the night sky towards the derelict and abandoned oil rig, and touched down where a boat would have moored. The sensation grew more intense, not distractingly so but definitely more insistent. Whoever or whatever it is I'm sensing probably knows I'm coming, so I may as well let 'em know.

The demon bellowed and roared.

"That's quite enough of that, Mr. Ter- sorry, Belphegor," said a French-accented voice from a few dozen feet away, on the rig itself. Looking up, Belphegor could see the source: a pale man appearing in his mid-40s with a narrow mustache and a few streaks of grey in his wavy black hair. His clothing was opulent, a modified form of 17th Century French nobleman's wear: trousers and a broad-collared jackets of dark, richly embroidered velvet, with lace cuffs, a ruffled cravat, and leather belt and boots. Over this was a black mantle lined with red silk, held across his shoulders by two brooches linked by a golden chain. A gold-headed rosewood cane and rings on his middle and ring fingers sparkled in the lights on the rig. As Belphegor cautiously approached, he could see the cane's head was in the shape of a dragon, and belt, mantle, brooches, cane, and rings all bore mystic characters.

"So," he said as he looked the man over, "who the Devil are you supposed to be?"

"I could ask you the same thing, but I already know. You may call me Legend, and I am the, shall we say, majordomo of this Arena. I did not set it up, but I do look after it, and its guests. And now that you are here," he tucked his cane into the crook of his arm, then twisted one of the rings on his left hand 180 degrees, "I can deactivate this."

The odd sensation was completely gone. "What, you lured me here to-"

"To make sure you were aware of this place, nothing more, nothing less," Legend said as he put the cane back in his hand. "My associates established the Arena to be neutral territory for all of an... extralegal and antisocial inclination, a place for all to meet and greet, to circulate news and rumors, to plan jobs, to test and work and train in secret, or just work off some steam in a place that would not attract undue attention from the local constabulary."

"Interesting," Belphegor said, stroking his chin. Shame this form can't grow a goatee. "But how do I know you're telling the truth? That this isn't some elaborate trap?"

"Ask around, talk to folks, do some research. It shouldn't be that difficult for someone of your skill and educational background."


"Oh, look," he said, turning to see another visitor, "another one's come. Excuse me."

And with that, he vanished.

[[ OOC: I'm assuming Legend has some ability to know about the villains and to appear in a form which would impress them (while also looking somewhat sinister). So to Belphegor, he appeared as a French Satanist; to Ember Paw, he may appear as an elder Druid whose hands are stained with blood. ]]

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Ember shut down the engines of the boat he had ‘borrowed’ to get to this strange place. He had felt the strange tugging ever since he had gotten of the plane that very morning.

Sneezing as he tied the boat up to a mooring ramp Ember frowned, he had been sneezing like this for the past month and it was driving him mad! Thankfully it was only his Fox form, which seemed to have this problem… for now.

As Ember reached the top of the ladder a man wearing white robes greeted him. Green etched in gold filament adorned the stark white robes; Ember recognized the robes to be the same his Druidic ancestor’s wore during some of their ceremonies.

“Welcome to the Arena…Foxfire†The man, said, his face hidden under a large think hood.

Ember’s eyes went wide, nobody but his family knew the true name of the fox. “Who are you? How do you know that name?†Ember growled, instinctive taking a step back.

“I am Legend, the caretaker of the Arena.†His hands moved towards a ramp behind him that led deeper into the mass of the oilrig. “All your questions will be answered inside†Legend says, as he fiddle’s with a ring.

Suddenly the tugging sensation stopped, and Ember felt like himself again. Sniffing the air, Ember slowly stepped forward. His nose tingling with all the smells, and the desirer to sneeze again, but other than that Ember could not smell any malcontent on behalf of the Legend man. Slowly Ember entered the Arena.

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"Well, well, what's this?" a growling but resonant bass voice said, "a little pup? I didn't know this city had a kitsune running about!"

Looking up, the Ember Paw saw the terrible source of the voice: some sort of Christian demon! It was massive, looked to be at least half a foot taller then him. It had a scaled, dark red hide, batlike wings, and a long, heavy tail. Smoldering orange eyes looked out at him from between short curving horns on its forehead and a fanged muzzle, and its flexing hands bore wicked talons. The only clothing it wore were scarlet trunks, which obviously with a hole in the back for his tail.

"I'm guessing the same call which brought me here also brought you. Interesting... well, c'mon up, then, show us what you've got!"

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Instinctively Ember jumped back, jumping a good ten feet in the air and another ten feet away from the hulking demon. The small Fox for the most part appeared as an ordinary English red fox, albeit with a humanoid body. The other things that were strange about this particular Fox were the head of long black hair. And the strange fur paten covering his chest that rapped over his shoulders and appeared to go down his back as well.

A pare of black long shorts that went down to his knees. A large bushy red tail tipped in black fur with a white outline flared out, in a defensive posturing.

Looking at the large demon Ember seemed to smell the air for a second before sneezing. His blue eyes scanning the demon, “What’s a Kitsune?†Ember ask’s his voice quite but a hint of a grown could be heard.

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The demon let out a roaring laugh, "ha! Oh, this is rich -- I'm called out to the middle of nowhere, the first being I see is some annoyingly informed steward, the second some pup who doesn't know what he is!"

The demon looked at the fox, as if sizing him up. He then spoke again, this time not as loud, "hunh, maybe you're not kitsune, just a run-of-the-mill werefox." He took a few steps closer, still flexing his claws, "so, what are ya, boy? Thief? Spy? Or maybe just some thug who got himself cursed when robbing the wrong person?"

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Ember instinctively took a step back as the demon took a step towards him. “I…I am me?†Ember says tilting his head to slightly to the side before sneezing again. Ember frowned at himself; he really needed to see a mystic about that.

“I’m no thug or werefox neither.†Ember says his gums lifting slightly to reveal a row of very sharp and remarkably clean teeth for a fox.

Ember’s paws seem to light up, faint flames could be seen dancing around his paws, but the fox’s mannerisms were anything but hostile.

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The demon smirked when the fox's paws ignited, "cute, but things with fur really shouldn't play with lighters. So, you're not a thug, you're not a werefox -- what are ya? Why did Mister Know-It-All Legend call you out here?"

A few more steps closer, "if what he said is true, then I know exactly why he called me -- I'm a Bad Guy. I've murdered, I've destroyed, I've stolen, I've deceived, and I'll continue doing so." Sirius suddenly had a flash of memory, of all the bullies who'd taunted and picked on him in school, and how this demon seemed not very unlike them. "But what about you? What have you done that would make others label you a villain?"

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Again with each step the demon stepped towards him, Ember took a step back. His fox like nature overriding his human side.

Thinking for a second as demon taunts him he finally responds to the demons question. “I’m cute and furry.†Ember says standing fully upright and poking his tongue out at the demon.

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Icarus steps out from behind some of the rubble leftover from some battle in the past. The cesium's been safely stored away, and right now, he needs a place where he can let his figurative hair down. The rig doesn't usually have too many people there, and that's fine by him. Surprisingly, though, when he arrives, he can hear voices in conversation.

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"'Cute and... furry'?," the demon repeats. He stares for a moment at the fox-man...

... and then laughs, but this was a knee-slapping laugh of true entertainment. "You are a funny one!"

"That being said," he stops laughing and suddenly his entire body is ablaze in dark fire, "you've still not answered any of my questions, and that just annoys m-- what the?" His focus changes to the shifting rubble, and the armored man behind it. "Another one to the party?"

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Ember was about to make a run for it when the sound of the stranger arrived. His ears picking up and focusing on the location of the footsteps and the breathing. Ember growled silently to himself…. Armor.

Ember had never liked armored people; he’d never really liked heroes or villains who used technology for power. In Ember’s eyes Technology was a crutch for magic.

Looking back at the demon Ember wasn’t sure what to make of him. Ember doubted he would win in a fight against the massive demon, not to say the demon would be able to hit Ember, but Ember doubted any of abilities would harm the demon.

Hopefully with this new arrival some of the demon’s anger would be deflected but just to make sure Ember decided to answer some of his questions. “I’m a Hunter.†Ember said, hoping it was enough to appeases the demon for now, as for it’s other question, Ember didn’t know what made him a villain at least not compared to this demon.

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Icarus shakes his head. "Newbies," he thinks to himself.

"I didn't come to spar today," he says to the both of them. "I just needed a place I could wear my armor and relax." Looking them over, he suspects that he'd be able to hold the one easily, but the second one might take some effort. Unfortunately, that's also the more belligerent one. He hopes that his words would be respected.

"I'm Icarus," he says as an afterthought. He sounds like that should be enough - not arrogance, so much as knowing that he's been around the city for a while. What he fails to remember is that he hasn't gone by that name for very long.

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"Hrmph, apparently I'm the only one who did come here to spar..." the demon grumbles. "Wait- Icarus? As in, the son of Daedalus, killed when he flew too close to the sun?"

He took a few steps closer to the armored man (seemingly forgetting all about the fox-boy), looking him up and down. "Oh, wait, wait, let me guess -- you were burned and horribly disfigured in some industrial accident, blame rampant technology for your condition, and seek to tear it all down, taking the name of one of the first people killed by the reckless mis-use of technology as your moniker and as a jab at Daedalus, one of the most technologically proficient guys around?"

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Icarus looks confused. The muscular man looks like he could bench-press both of them at once, but the rapid-fire theorizing has left him in an awkward place. He looks down at himself. He is wearing his battle armor, cobalt blue in color and apparently around an inch thick. It looks more like plate armor than mail, and he's clearly comfortable enough with his real physique to avoid sculpting fake muscles into it. It vaguely reminds the two villains of Daedalus' armor, but there are really only so many designs you can have of a set of armor without looking ridiculous.

The helm keeps his face from being seen, and black glass fills the space where a Greek helm would leave air. Finally, he speaks. It's probably underwhelming to Belphagor, at least at first.

"No, I just thought Icarus was a good name," he says. "It's my name." The last part would seem trite, but it comes out in ancient Greek.

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Are these two really what passes for villains in Freedom City? If so, the reports I've heard are grossly exaggerated. Though this Icarus guy could be packing some serious firepower in that suit.

"Thought it was a good name, eh? Shame, I could've offered to fix any disfigurements." He held out his right taloned hand and the dark fiery aura 'flowed' into his hand and formed a roughly baseball-sized image of a badly burned and scarred face. He passed his left hand over it, and the face became healed and unblemished. After a moment, he closed his hand into a fist, snuffing out the flame-image. "Well, what's in a name anyway, right? That which we call a baby by any other name would taste as sweet," he says, licking his lips and fangs with a forked tongue.

"As for myself," he drew himself up, spread his wings wide, and re-ignited the aura of dark flames, "I am Belphegor, the Dark Muse, Artisan of Hell!" He lowered his wings back down so they wrapped about him like a cloak, but his dark (hell?)fire aura stayed. "As I told the pup over there," he pointed to Ember Paw with a thumb, "I readily owe up to being a Bad Guy. So what about you? I'm guessing that armor's got some power in it: what do you do with it?"

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Ember lowered himself to the ground until his hands were touching the ground. This was much more interesting than when the demons questions were aimed at him. Despite appearing to be relaxed, Ember still kept his body tight and ready to spring away at any second. Ember than sneezed…

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"I do whatever I need to do," he says. "I'm not a villain for its own sake."

Though Icarus remains motionless, he's spending the time to look over the other villain in the room. His radar lets him look dead on at Ember Paw while still facing the self-proclaimed "dark muse". There's no need to insult him any further. Still, if he truly is a demon, rather than an unfortunately aspected metahuman, he'll bear further watching. Icarus has fought demons before, and he's no fan of them.

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Ah, what you need, or what you want? Just what are you hiding, Tin-Man?

"Oh, it's a rare person indeed who truly considers himself a villain -- rationalization is something you mortals are so very good at."

"And you, pup?," he asks, stepping a bit to the side so he can see both Icarus and the fox-boy. His tail swished back and forth behind him, like a slightly agitated serpent. "You said you're a hunter -- well, what do you hunt? People? Riches? Power?"

Perhaps it would be best not to attack these two -- no point in ruining perfectly serviceable agents. Besides, I know other places I can vent my fury.

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Ember looked at the demon and shrugged, “People, Items, Artifacts. What ever pay’s well.†Ember says his tail swinging back and forth on the floor behind were he crouched. For a split second it looked like Ember was going to sneeze again but he managed to suppress it.

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The demon's grin turned very wide, and his forked tongue snaked out again over his lips. "Reeeally? How very, very interesting. I like you, pup, yes indeed. I've a feeling we'll be meeting again. Many, many times. As for tonight, though...."

The demon again spread his mighty wings and began to flap them, rising into the night air. Oddly, the winds blowing off them smelled not just of brimstone (i.e., sulfur), but also faintly of... excrement?

"... I hear someone at a crossroads, calling out! And who am I to refuse such a summons?" The demon's booming laugh echoed as he flew off towards the city, his form swiftly swallowed up by the city's lights.

Damnit! I never did learn that pup's name!

(Continues here.)

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Icarus nods to the young villain, "Even through the mask, I can smell it. Next time I see him, I'll bring one of those car air fresheners, one of the ones shaped like a pine tree."

He exhales and sighs, then looks over to him, "Did I get your name? Sorry, you were trying to fade away there while the dark sage or whatever he was was talking."

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Ember looked at the metal man, hesitant to move toward him. “Most people call me Ember.†Ember says, with a faint smile at Icarus’s air freshener comment. “I’m glad you showed up, I was pretty sure he was getting ready to bench press me… well once he was able to get hold of me that is.â€Â

Looking around suddenly, “You wouldn’t happen to have to time do you? I have an appointment I need to be at launch?â€Â

(I’d assume it’s sometime early morning, around 2-5am, from what the demon been getting up to at riverside)

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The armored villain shakes his head.

"I've been traveling all night, and my sense of time is all out of whack. I had to take the long way back here to avoid the radar installations. There has to be an easier way around them, but I haven't found it yet," he says. Icarus takes a step back and looks through a hole in the structure. Clouds cover the stars, but there's enough light outside to tell him what he needs to know. "Looks like sunrise is still a couple hours away. You should have more than enough time to make it to your meeting."

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Ember nods in understanding. “I know what you mean, getting around can be a pain, I had to ‘borrow’ a boat to get out here. And even getting around a city can be tough without a mode of transport.†Ember says, his tail flicking in a more relaxed manner, although its movements still indicated Ember was alert.

Sighing Ember looked around briefly. “I should probably head back, I have some stu….†Suddenly Ember sneezed, wiping his nose on the back of his paw he continued, “excuse me, I’ve been sneezing all month and I have no clue why… Anyway I have some stuff I need to do before the meeting.†Holding his freshly slimed paw at Icarus, “It was nice meeting you, maybe well run into each other again?†Ember says, oblivious to anything wrong with taking a snot covered paw.

Than in a flash Ember run’s off, leaping of the edge and of a few walkways closer to the water Ember lands in a nearby boat, starting it’s engine Ember waves back for a second before heading off to the distant coast and Freedom City…

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