The warehouse was in a much different state upon Illyana’s return. As her stepping disc faded into nothingness, she found that the candles and their many holders that made up the former ritual space were in pieces around the room, as well as beautifully drawn circles and symbols that had once taken up the majority of the floor had now been smudged, leaving the floor looking like a Jackson Pollock painting. You’d think it was a bloodbath if you didn’t know it was fortunately just red paint.
The focal point of the room now, floating above precedings, was a luminous polyhedron, that seemed to spin slowly in place. Its edges glowed a rich orange, with its triangular sides translucent enough to just tease a hulking mound within. It took Illyana a few seconds to realise it was a figure within, giving a slight jump as whatever it was slammed a scaly black hand against the walls of its prison.
The slam didn’t go unnoticed, with it also catching the attention of the warehouse’s other inhabitants. They shrieked in terror from against the wall where they stood cowering, before being quickly silenced by the man who stood before them.
"This is not a toy.
” Doctor Strange drifted effortlessly through the air above them all, his cloak billowing behind for dramatic effect. He was dressed in his oh-so-familiar blue robes, with his usually finely swept-back hair now a mess atop his head. He certainly didn’t look happy.
Gripped firmly in his left hand, and pointed accusingly at the college students before him, was what appeared to be a leather-bound tome. Its brown cover was embellished in gold, yet even from here, Illyana could see that the book had a sickly aura to it. She’d seen many books like this in her time. From both Strange’s library, as well as her previous master’s.
"If a single crack opens between here and hell again, this thing will come right back.
” He didn’t even need to raise his voice. From the authority and anger that he held as he spoke, even Illyana was slightly worried. “And that time it'll have your scent.
“But… But we tried to free them?”
Evidently, some of them were braver than she had expected. Strange however was unfazed by the comment, merely shaking his head as he crossed his hands behind his back.
"Yes, tried and failed.
” Her mentor stated in frustration. “And they are not kind to those that fail them.
As if to prove his point, the polyhedron behind him racketed from side to side, as the beast within seemingly dived forwards into the glowing panels, as if ravenously trying to lunge for its prey. The shining construct lurched forwards as if it would break apart, before finally returning back to its place as if nothing had happened.
Shouts and cries once again erupted from the small group, with even the outspoken one from before backing down and joining in. Illyana however could only attempt to stifle a chuckle, her eyes fixated on the hand motions that Strange was doing behind his back, his fingers fizzling with the same orange of the prison momentarily. Like all magicians, the man had his party tricks.
Satisfied that the group were scared enough, his hands moved back into view, before he pointed at the wall behind them. Instantly the brick wall they were cowering against began to shift, with the bricks quickly rearranging themselves to create a doorway into the cool air outside.
” Steven boomed. “I don’t want to see you again.
They didn’t need to be told twice, and within only a couple of moments, they had scarpered to safety out through the hole, the stampeding of their legs growing quieter and quieter.
As the bricks began to put themselves back into place, Illyana finally decided to step out from the shadows and into view, her hands giving a slow clap to her mentor, who at this point was looking extremely smug with himself.
“Vell done. I don’t think the ginger one vill be sleeping for a week.
Strange smiled in response, turning towards her.
“Thank you. Thank you.
” He made a mock bow towards her. “That acting class I was dragged along to in college finally paid off.
She smirked, turning to face the demon in the glass shell before them.
“It’s not true vhen?
" She asked, tilting her head slightly to get a better look at the creature. She recalled that it looked remarkably similar to the one she had just fought herself.
"Oh not at all
” He confirmed, taking a step towards the construct, waggling his hands in preparation. “But figured a magical Scared Straight might do wonders for that crowd.
She nodded, failing to understand the reference he was making. He continued, not noticing.
“No, once you do that incantation we practised last week, they’ll go right back where they came from with no memory of their time here. Simple
Yet as simple as it sounded, Illyana’s face quickly paled at his words, as the realisation hit her.
“The encantation worked on the other one right?
” He asked, his back now to her as orange lines of energy began to encircle his outstretched arms.
Her mind returned to the sight of carnage after the train carriage hit the beast. How she’d seen the scraps of fabric from its cloak. The chunks of flesh. And then her leaving, believing he was done. How wrong she had been.
” If there was one benefit of her time in Limbo, it had made her into a decent liar.
“I know what I saw Parker. I’m not crazy.”
The two subway workers moved down the tunnel in unison, their flashlights engulfing it in light ahead of them. John King, the man who had just spoken up, stood to the rear of the two, shuffling nervously.
“Bullshit John.” His cousin scoffed loudly as he took the lead, marching on forwards. “I swear to god if I skipped out on seeing Sara for nothing I’ll..-”
“Relax man” John juggled momentarily to catch up. “That thing is definitely still down here, and if we find it, we’re fucking rich!”
Parker let a smile move over his face as he turned back to John.
“Then we never have to work down here again!” He proclaimed, slapping his arm around him.
Their conrobbery was interrupted as a low roar echoed around them from ahead.
The two moved frantically. John aimed his flashlight around wildly, searching, whilst Parker’s hands moved to the back of his jeans.
“Why the fuck did you bring a piece, Parker?” John cried, pointing towards the weapon in his hands.
Parker merely brushed him off, stepping forwards, the firearm raised. His steps were steady. His breathing was quiet.
Then he saw something ahead of him on the ground, slumped on top of the tracks. It took him a moment to realise it was literally more than a heap of cloth. He crept forwards to inspect it, his eyes continuing to dart around the tunnel before him as he did so. It was only once he was upon it that he finally looked down upon what he had come across.
He was indeed right in that it was a piece of cloth, however, upon deeper inspection, the blood-red fabric seemed to be neatly woven into some sort of cloak.
“What the hell is this?” Parker Robbins asked aloud, his hands running over the cloak’s scarlet hood.