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Brimstone & Whetstone [IC]

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22nd May 2011

Siobhan sat on her couch one lazy Sunday afternoon, a book in one hand, and a cigarette dangling out of her mouth. Her hair was still pinned up from her meeting with the school this morning, but she'd ditched the blouse and slacks for a loose pair of shorts and a FC Rayguns jersey.

Which made it all the more surprising that when the door crashed open, she was able to quickly and easily bring herself to a standing position, legs planted firmly and right hand pointed towards the door, and the thin blond man struggling against a seemingly invisible wall.

"Threshold, Simon," sighed Siobhan, lowering her hand, and walking over to the door. "You can't get in until I say so, and I'm not going to. You're too demonic now to just waltz in. Tell me what you want, and then go."

Simon Kerr, the man calling himself Keter, looked into her eyes and grinned. "Good news, my dear Siobhan." He giggled. "I don't need you anymore. I've found someone else who will be much more useful to my cause." He reached out with one hand, but only succeeded in banging his fingers off the invisible barrier.

"That all? Get thee gone, and if I find you doing anything illegal or immoral, I'll stop you. Anything else?" sighed Siobhan wearily. Simon was powerful, sure, but he wasn't at all threatening when he couldn't even get into her apartment.

"I will return for revenge when all works out, my dear," Simon chided. "You'd do well to show some respect." The last word came out a bestial hiss. "You'll gain a swift death."

Siobhan merely raised her head high, and laughed. "Simon, your plans always fail," she said primly. "Now, you cur, begone from my dwelling, or I will smite you so hard not even ash is left. Target innocents, and I will encase thee in earth. And more importantly, come to my abode again, and I will make you cry like a child. Sound fun?"

Without a second thought, she reached out with her will and slammed the door in the warlock's face.

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In the West End, Erik Espadas pushed a rumbling lawn mover back and forth across the lawn of his family's home, trimming the grass back to a manageable height after the recent warm weather had seen it spurt skyward. His mother watched idly from the porch before turning back to her book. The sound of neighbourhood children playing sounded faintly in the slightly humid air, pausing only for the occasional passing car. Rounding another row down the width of the property, Eric wheeled the mover back on it's rear wheels as he reoriented it and continued with his mundane work, a brief respite from his hectic life.

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As Erik turned the mower around, a man clad in ragged clothing stepped out of mid-air in a bright red flash, the smell of sulphur and brimstone filling the afternoon air. He had his head bowed, but not so much that his pale blond hair and lean face were not clearly visible.

Yet when he looked up, his eyes sparkled clearly, and his grin was wide, white and visibly unhinged. "Ah, metamagus. I have been looking for you..." he purred softly. "Although I didn't expect one of your prowess to be doing such... menial, pathetic tasks. How about you come with me, and I show you how to become so much more?"

His grin widened, the madman's eyes clearly swimming in and out of focus.

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Erik didn't even bother to feign ignorance as the suddenly appearing man addressed him, the grating, sulfur reek of hellfire crawling across the energy manipulator's skin like a nest of spiders. Stopping the lawnmower, he gave the unsettling blond a thin smile. "Well, nothing wrong with a well cared for lawn, amirite?" He made a show of mulling over the offer, not wanting to overcompensate and seem too eager. "You've got my attention, anyway. I'll listen to your sales pitch," he lied winningly, his true distaste completely unreadable. "Just give me a minute to get a couple of things together, deal?"

Leaving the mower where it was, he quickly moved back to the house, grabbing his mother's wheelchair and bringing her inside without asking. "Friend of yours?" Gina asked quietly.

"Not even a little bit," her son replied under his breath. "I need you to stay inside, out of sight, alright?"

Though it clearly went against her nature, the ex-police officer nodded curtly. "Shall I call in the cavalry?"

"Not yet," Erik told her, quickly retrieving a familiar royal blue bandanna mask and greatcoat. "This guys knew right where to find me and what I am. I want to find out what his game is first."

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If Jack looked out the window, he could see the man standing patiently, tapping one foot and whistling. He knelt down, grinning like a Cheshire cat. Apparently some stray dog had wandered up to him.

Then abruptly, fled at high speed, yelping like it had been kicked, leaving the madman laughing manically.

Siobhan sighed as she finished drawing the Star of Solomon around the small stool holding her crystal ball. In one hand she held a pack of normal playing cards, and in the other hand Tarot cards.

Reaching out with her will, she threw both decks into the circle, then threw her will into the crystal ball. Immediately, it began swirling with bright white light, the cards spinning and twisting around it inside the Star.

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The blond man was felt waiting for a few minutes, just long enough for him to begin to wonder if something was amiss before a royal blue and silver form rocketed over the suburb's rooftops, a grappling line and finely honed muscles defying gravity as a crackling blade of sparking electricity drove toward him. "Pro tip, Candy-In-The-Van Man," Jack of all Blades all but shouted, his mocking tone overlain with barely controlled rage, "you wanna come off sweetness and light, buy some deodorant for the hellfire reek!" The rapier of thrumming energy flashed with the utmost precision, but any questions the swordsman had about whether his opponent was human or not were answered by the way he easily weathered the assault. "You made a big mistake coming here, creep!"

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"Apparently so," drawled Keter, barely budging from the sword swipes. He reached up and touched his cheek, pulling his hand away to reveal that the only mark made was a small red gash on his cheek. "I was expecting someone of real power, not a boy who can barely scratch me." Casual contempt filled his tone, and a sneer replaced his manic grin. His eyes began to glint red...

Then he suddenly lunged forward, hellfire erupting from every visible surface of the man's body, blazing with the power of hell and reeking of hellfire and brimstone. While he clearly had power, he also clearly lacked melee skill comparable to Jack's.

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"Lesson the second," Jack smirked as he gracefully slid back a step out of the hellfire's reach and held his sword to one side. With the barest of thoughts, it extended its length, giving the fencer the distinct range advantage over the demonically powered brawler. "If you can scratch somebody, you can scratch them again. And again!" Launching forward, the master fighter was suddenly everywhere at once, moving far to quickly for the eye to properly follow, his sparking blade making brutal slashes from every angle. Thin lines of red appeared across Keter's entire face as long tears appeared on his clothing. "And those scratches add up!" Coming an abrupt halt, Jack delivered a final, devastating blow that sent his opponent tumbling backward off of his feet and across the street's pavement.

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Keter roared in agony, barely human sounds coming from his mouth as the multiple sword swipes sent him reeling to fall upon his back, coughing and spluttering, his fire extinguished. "AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA," he crowed triumphantly. Then he whistled, a high-pitched shrieking noise.

At either end of the road, two packs of dogs appeared. Man-sized dogs, with no fur and blood-hued skin, and fangs like machetes gaping from their hanging jaws. The cement beneath them sizzled and melted, as acidic saliva gushed forth from their jaws. In unison, both packs roared, a terrifying noise that shook the guttering on the houses on the street.

"New order, dogs," snarled Keter, the fires in his eyes blazing. "Every time he hits me, go kill someone. Young, old, innocent, criminal, hell, even if they can't fight back... kill them while the swordsman wastes his time on me."

Then the blond man laughed again.

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Jack looked between the two packs of ravenous beasts and their master, eyes narrowing as he let out an annoyed grunt. "Just so you know, I'm still going to find you, and it's only gonna go worse for you after this," the fencer promised the manically laughing summoner before sprinting off at the first of the two groups of hellhounds. Somersaulting into the air, he struck only ten blows, each with startling precision and ruthless efficiency. When he landed again of the street, he left only a collapsed pile of raw skinned behemoths in his wake. Straightening from his crouch, he turned to glance over his shoulder at the remaining beasts down the street. "Get along, little doggies."

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At Jack's words, and upon seeing their compatriots go down to several practiced sword swings, the hell beasts began charging, the two biggest of the pack rushing head long, and the others circling no less slowly, but more tactically, until they'd circle around the swordsman. Apart from two stragglers, too smart to rush into certain death, who began bounding up Jack's lawn towards his door.

Then, en masse, they descended upon him in a mass of acid spitting, tooth gnashing rage and anger, masking their master as he faded away in a burst of hellfire, sulphur and red light, leaving only an echo of maniacal laughter.

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The hellhounds attacked with the coordinated precision of true pack hunters, cutting off the fencer's avenues of retreat and herding him toward the true threat. Barely managing to pull out of the acid dripping jaws before they snapped shut, he found himself surrounded. Surprisingly, his immediate thought was that it seemed too easy; a quick glance revealed the pair of hounds headed for his front door.

Ignoring the pack surrounding him as a whole, he spun his blade in a crisscrossing slash to make a hole to sprint through, charging across the half-cut lawn to intercept the hellhounds. There was no hesitation in his movements as ripped through them, leaving him standing with one acid splattered boot atop a canine head, greatcoat faintly sizzling from the corrosive liquid as he turned to face the remaining beasts with a grimace. "Bad dogs. Play dead."

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The hellhounds remaining snarled, and went to pursue their foe... only to see him slice up yet another of their pack mates. Hesitantly, they stopped en masse, pawing at the ground, their growls noticeably subdued.

A couple at the back had even began to back away, when their leader half-heartedly snarled at them to fall in line.

Then, in a flash of blinding white light, a woman appeared in the centre of Jack's lawn, clad in a Rayguns jersey and shorts, nothing on her feet but argyle socks. In one hand she held a wand, and in the other a silver pentacle amulet. Her eyes blazed with white fire, and her expression showed nothing but rage and contempt. "Simon..." she hissed menacingly.

At Jack's feet tumbled a playing card. The Knave of Swords.

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Jack's adrenaline was pumping enough from the fight and the gamut of emotions that came with it literally reaching his front door that he barely reacted to the woman's sudden arrival, instead kicking off from the pile of hellhound remains and over the playing card with an incongruous, "Hey, Noxie." Rushing past the witch to the cowed beasts, the fencer kept enough presence of mind to make his work quick- so quick, in fact, that it was almost impossible to follow with traditional senses. With a flash of royal blue and a crackle electrical power, the last of the demonic canines went down.

Cracking his neck and rolling his shoulder, Jack let out a long breath as he forced himself to calm down. Heading back toward his family's house, he looked to the new arrival. "I'm assuming you've got an explanation for this?" The swashbuckler's melodic voice was tight and lower than usual, but he kept his tone as breezy as possible.

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"I can make an educated guess," nodded Siobhan, grimacing as her feet trampled on the goo left by some acid-corroded soil. She reached up and pulled her pentacle down around her neck, her usual costume flaring up around her quickly as she did so.

"Earlier today I got visited by an old enemy, telling me he was planning on using someone's powers for his ends. Simon Kerr, calls himself Keter. It's Hebrew for crown, which shows what he thinks of himself." Equinox's face looked grim. "I used to be able to utterly destroy him. Now he seems to be able to bind demons en masse and hurl hellfire around. Which indicates he's pitched his lot in with the Ones Below. Which is how I found you, but apparently not quickly enough."

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Jack rubbed the bridge of his nose and muttered something impolite under his breath but continued to the compact two storey home's front door. "Well, now I feel all popular," he drawled more loudly, letting the crackling rapier in his hand dissipate into the air even as his sword hand clenched and unclenched involuntarily, betraying his agitation. As he reached the porch, the door unlocked and opened from within, revealing a fit older woman in a wheelchair. "You're alright?" Jack asked quietly.

"Fine," Gina confirmed. "Better once you find that weasel and kick his teeth in."

"Gotta say, I like that plan," the fencer confirmed, turning back to Equinox. "If you found me, you can find him, yeah?"

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Equinox nodded curtly to the older woman, before answering Jack's question. "Yes, although we're going to have to go back to my apartment. On the fly divination is complicated, and I'll need to look into my crystal ball." She shrugged. "Sometimes the stereotyping is true."

"What actually happened here, though? I only caught the end of proceedings, and Simon clearly isn't here any more." A thought crossed her mind, remembering back to that day in the mall. "Skies above, has anyone died?"

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"You can tell how ticked off I am about this because I'm not making a joke about going back to your place," Jack muttered practically to himself as he absently kicked at the sizzling remains of one of the hellhounds that had tried to reach the house. "Blond guy showed up out of nowhere and made some half-baked speech about phenomenal, cosmic power so I stabbed him until called his pets to keep me busy while he ran away," the metamagi explained in brief, indicating the spot Keter had materialized upon and the sizable heaps on acid dripping demonic beasts. "Maybe a dozen, little more? Took them out before they had a chance to hurt anyone, though." For all he'd protected the street's occupants, he didn't sound particularly pleased.

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"Yeah," nodded Equinox. "Definitely Simon. He ran from you, he ran from Arrowhawk and I, he ran from Adrian Eldrich and the demon he couldn't hope to control. He talks a big talk, but he's a coward." She grimaced suddenly. "Pity that he's a very powerful, ruthless one. But I'm not sure why he'd want you for power, he's usually only interested in strong mages. No offence." She clapped her hands together.

"Right, I'm going to need to teleport you," she said, flicking her wand up and over in her hand. "It'll take me a little while to hunt him down, so we better hurry." She paused for a second, pondering the metaphysics. "Hand around my waist, please."

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"None taken," Jack snorted briefly, the ghost of a smirk playing across his face despite the foul mood threatening to sour his disposition. "I'm what you might call focused. What can I say? I set a goal for myself, I just gotta see it through." There was a faint note of innuendo in his voice, the mere presence of which seemed to bolster his spirits slightly as his carefully maintained mask of carefree humour fell back into place. His other option after the battle on his front lawn wouldn't do him any good, after all. Sauntering briskly over to Equinox, he gave her a broad grin of sparkling teeth amidst rakish stubble, as he placed his arm around her waist in a suitable gentlemanly fashion. "Why, Noxie, all you had to do was ask."

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Equinox gave a look of profound lack of amusement, then rapped her wand off of Jack's head. "Spiti, James," she said dryly. Then they both burst into white light, the glare fading to reveal only a small whirling of dust where they once were.

They exploded back into being in the middle of a filthy living room, a battered looking sofa surrounded by ashtrays, stacks of books and papers. One wall was just bookcases, crammed from titles ranging from The Dresden Files to The Complete Works of Shakespeare to Dragons And Their Habitats. The rug had been casually tossed off to the side, blocking off the small doorway to a kitchen alcove, and a crystal ball sat on a battered, chipped wooden stool in the centre of a six pointed Star of Solomon. Their arrival stirred up a choking cloud of chalk dust, and sent a small stack of cheap airport paperbacks toppling to the floor, upending an ashtray onto what looked like a stuffed and mounted squirrel. Only the squirrel had four arms and was covered in green scales.

"Sorry about the mess," shrugged Equinox apologetically, reaching down with one arm to remove Jack's from her waist.

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Jack took a smooth step back as soon as he had his bearings, raising his hands in vaguely amused surrender and exiting the witch's personal space. He might have cultivated a reputation as a shameless flirt, but he never put his hands where they weren't wanted. Well, outside of punching people in the face, anyway. Looking around the room, he coughed once into the back of his greatcoat's sleeve as he blinked away the dust. "Hey, no, it's... y'know, homey. Lived in." One eye squinted slightly closed in a muted wince as he regarded the unusual example of taxidermy. "Possibly died in..."

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"Only if you don't listen to the maxim of Tolkien. Subtle, quick to anger," said Equinox, clicking her fingers. Her outfit immediately faded away along with the glow in her eyes, returning her to her jersey and shorts. "Right, before I start, would you like a drink?" She grabbed a pack of cigarettes from a small table, and lit it with another flick of her fingers. "This'll take a little while, so if you want to grab a book or something, and take a seat, we can get moving."

She absent mindedly shoved a stack of books off to the side with one foot. "I got tea, coffee or wine?"

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"I'm not big on the subtle, but I'll bet you're gorgeous when you're angry," Jack quipped as his habitual grin spread easily across his face. The line was so over the top that it was clearly the fencer's version on friendly banter more than anything. "Just water works, if there's a tap in here somewhere," he replied to her offer, clearing off enough space to sit down, careful not to disturb the scattered books too much. "Hey, listen, I'm getting that this guy is your big bad, so... thanks for bringing me in on this. He put my people in the firing line," Jack noted flatly, his mirthful expression slipping away into a serious frown that threatened to devolve into a grimace. "Nobody gets to do that."

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"I'm not big on the subtle, but I'll bet you're gorgeous when you're angry," Jack quipped as his habitual grin spread easily across his face. The line was so over the top that it was clearly the fencer's version on friendly banter more than anything.

"Only when I'm angry?" smirked the witch, stepping over stacks of book with a casual stride obviously derived from habit. "Jack..." She shook her head as she moved into the kitchen, and commenced doing something with the taps that involved whacking them with her wand.

"Just water works, if there's a tap in here somewhere," he replied to her offer, clearing off enough space to sit down, careful not to disturb the scattered books too much. "Hey, listen, I'm getting that this guy is your big bad, so... thanks for bringing me in on this. He put my people in the firing line," Jack noted flatly, his mirthful expression slipping away into a serious frown that threatened to devolve into a grimace. "Nobody gets to do that."

Coming back through with a glass of water, she shook her head. "I don't hold grudges like that. He's a vicious maniac and needs to get taken down. It doesn't matter if we've got history, if that means someone else does it, then someone else does it."

Kneeling down to redraw her chalk markings, she gave a small smile. "And, like I said. He can kick my ass now."

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