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Waking Up
(2013-03-18 - 2013-03-19)
In the house of the Twilight Detective Agency, Avira waits dreaming.
Avira Manhattan was RESTORED. Hooray!

There had been celebrations and even a bank robbery shortly after the world was brought back from the darkness. Spirits were high! People were happy! Though there was one, small tiny problem still persisting, if it could be considered that.

Over a day later, Avira still hadn't woken up. Shortly after Sora had pulled her from the newly recreated World Heart of Manhattan, she had become limp and nonresponsive in his arms. For now, she has been placed in a room in Cloud Nine with people to watch over her.

She doesn't respond to any attempts to rouse her. A medical examination revealed that her body was still in a perfectly functional condition. Will took a look at her and found that all of her strings of fate were still there, but that overwhelming light that made "people like her" hard to look at...

...was gone. It's easy to start to suspect that this was more than just mere exhaustion. Something was missing.
Isaac Hanlon Isaac has had his hands full since Manhattan was restored. Just before it, he had a bunch of things to do to make sure that all the simulacrum spells laid on the volunteers running around during the final confrontations were stable and long-lasting (or, in plainer terms, he was properly outfitting the Clonevira Squad). This alone was exhausting. When it came back together and everything was finally returned to normal, he disappeared into the city, reestablishing wards he'd been quietly putting down and checking on contacts to see who he lost and who he hadn't. He earned a lot of extra favors that way, making sure everyone who survived was alright. It'll pay off in the future.

Now, though... the Avira thing.

If Will says he doesn't see the bright light, then it probably isn't a thing revolving around her fate. He isn't sure if she lost it, or if she's got some fairy tale curse that'll keep her asleep till Mercade comes down here. Except that already happened once, and redundancy is not something that he thinks the supernatural powers of these worlds appreciates. So, Isaac has a few /other/ ideas.

Isaac comes up to where Avira's been laid out and quietly sets up some equipment. He does it more out of respect than worry that he'll wake her -- that's kind of the idea, after all. A couple minutes later, he's got a flood lamp duct taped to a geiger counter in-hand, hooked up to a few pieces of computing equipment he has on a desk nearby. He picks up a round piece of what seems to be flawed glass, and mutters a few things.

Then, he turns the lamp on and points it at Avira. Ideally, it'll make her aura visible, which should tell him if there's anything wonky with it. Like, say, a possession, or a malignant spell.

Or if, say, her soul fell out.

It would not be the first time.
Avira Clonevira had been properly successful too. Or at least that's what everyone surmised when they didn't get rushed by gobs of Shadow Lords at each step in their journey towards restoration. Surely this support would not be forgotten (but it might get abused later by people playing Avira-based pranks).

But as for Avira, the "smooching" solution had already been attempted. It didn't work. This clearly wasn't a god-bound contract with true love as its only weakness. No, this was something else entirely keeping the scarred woman from rousing. Such a dilemma would require the curious to unravel.

Her breathing is steady and her eyes remain shut all throughout the duration of Isaac setting up his gear. There isn't a twitch or sneeze from the girl. She doesn't snore in the first place so there's none of that to indicate if this was just sleep or a flat-out coma.

The lamp shines upon Avira and right away her aura, which has a strange silvery color and makes the air around her thick like heavy heat would, is visible. This should actually be a familiar sight to Isaac since the same effects would occasionally happen around Avira while in combat. Of course, at those points the signs are much, much stronger than now. In fact, right now it seems pretty weak.

There is also a giant gaping hole in it, dead center at her chest. The aura almost seems to be leaking around that hole, drifting off to somewhere else in a long, thin wisp.

There are no malignant spells upon her. She definitely is not possessed. This is 100 percent pure Avira before him, though decidedly /less/ than before.
Isaac Hanlon Isaac basically gave Avira the once-over with his basic first aid knowledge when he came in, and then decided she wasn't in a mundane sort of coma. Not that he'd know, really; he doesn't like to admit it, but human biology is not one of his strong suits. It's the main reason he can't do any healing magic, despite the abundance of it in the World of Ruin.

The color around her is, Isaac assumes, something like her own brand of gathered mana. It looks light-aspected, something he doesn't see terribly often but is positive that he's seen a bunch of times, well, /before/. He can't put his finger on it. Maybe it's something else, but whatever it is, it's incomplete, and that's...

"Not good," Isaac mutters. He starts to lower the lamp, and then spots the trailing bit. He slightly lifts it, watching the 'leak' go off somewhere else. He blinks a couple of times. "Did -- augh, not another one." Isaac looks around. He grabs a chair, and pulls it up between Avira's bed and the table he's covered with equipment. He starts to page through his own documented rituals and spells. He adapted one from the clairvoyance one he packs all the time for something like this -- he's used it to track the currents of magic back to their sources, though he got a killer headache when he cut the wrong wire on the bomb, so to speak.

Isaac sighs a little. He sits back, murmuring the repetitive incantation and letting himself fall into something like a trance. He's prepared for the discomfiting out-of-body experience, but he doesn't know where it'll go. He gradually eases his consciousness towards the hole and the leak of whatever the light is, and reaches out --

Basically he grabs onto the back of the train speeding down the tracks. At the very least, it should show him where she went in his mind's eye. If it's more serious than his best possible guess -- which is pretty much definitely is -- he'll probably get to play MAGE GHOST for a little while instead.

At least he'll be Christmas Present.
Avira Vitals check out fine. Fortunately for Isaac, someone probably called in Celina or an expert in to do a physical examination of Avira. Medically speaking, she was fine. Her physical state suggested she was sleeping, brainwaves, should they have checked, hovering in the REM stages of sleep.

That aura, mana-it could be mist, specifically, if Isaac knew anything about Ivalician magic. Mist was the vehicle that magic worked through in that particular corner of the World of Ruin and thus the brand that Avira was able to master through study. But even then, it wasn't precisely the origin of this aura.

The leak twists upwards like smoke and disappears into the ceiling. There are no marks on the ceiling where it touches.

As Isaac's consciousness moves towards the hole, right away he is hit with an overwhelming feeling of emptiness. It is crushing-depressing, even. There is the distinct notion that something was lost. Edges of the hole seem to be doing the leaking, forming the stream drifting off into space. It seems like a slowly bleeding wound that, like most wounds, does show signs of slowing and healing.

But healing with this big hole left behind...?

Isaac's consciousness zips along the drifting aura. Right away he finds himself exiting this plane completely. He can notice this because everything suddenly just stops existing around him-that is, everything except for the aura trail laid out before him.

It is ridiculously easy to follow the trail. At the end of it, he'll see a faintly flickering, tiny ball of white light.

"It ne'er surprises me wha darkness humans can create te hurt one another. Ah'm sorry te see such a thing happen te ye."

The voice decidedly does not belong to Avira, but the tiny ball of light appears to move towards it.
Isaac Hanlon Isaac didn't think about the mist thing. It'll come to him on the way down the line, but a bit too late to really test it. Functionally, he thinks they're all the same thing -- he's been working on and off on a Grand Unified Magical Theory, it's all in there -- but... well, another time

Sorta-Ghost-Isaac rushes down the line. The crushing despair hits him like a sack full of hammers. He hardly slows, barely hesitates. The feeling is uncomfortably familiar, a kind of state of mind that he is all too accustomed to, and one that he is equally accustomed to ignoring until there's a proper time for it. He is not a man whom sadness has left untouched.

It's a hint, though. Something happened that locked her into this state, and it isn't a spell, or a curse. He has to get to the heart of the matter, as bad as it sounds, and has to do it as fast as possible. Something is yanking her along this path. He passes into the next plane, his mind automatically filling in the nothingness as featureless blackness. He's trained it well.

That voice. Nobody he knows, and definitely not Avira's. Is it a memory? Is it a third party, drawing her away in a moment of weakness? He begins to gather his will, turning thought into words. He tries to reach out for the ball of light, to put his hand on its metaphysical shoulder. A gesture of comfort. A reassurance that it is not alone.

"Who are you," the mage demands, voice echoing as if in a cavernous space rather than the space between space, "and what are you doing to Avira?"
Avira Avira DID promise Isaac to show her the Ivalician ice magic she knew at one point, didn't she? Maybe if this whole venture actually works out, Isaac could have that demonstration soon enough.

It's unfortunate that nobody has made a full report of Manhattan's restoration to the rest of the TDA yet. No doubt that could also provide some hints as to what happened that left Avira in this particular state. The message seems to be loud and clear though: something dear was missing and that hole in Avira's aura definitely isn't metaphorical.

The trail left behind by the light is not unlike the slime left by a slug as it passes through. In this void of nothingness, it winds through space and seems to be the only thing that gives it direction. The distal end of the trail, where Isaac came from, is faded and apparently decomposing into the void.

That voice right there had a very thick scottish accent. It was also very female, so MacBeth is ruled out.

" know. I don't regret know, knowing people. There is sadness when the time ends, but...through everything the time I spend with people always gives me such good memories. I have met so many people in my life...and I have made that time apart of me. I know...weird huh?"

Isaac knows that one. It's definitely Will.

The tiny ball of light stops moving when Isaac reaches out and 'touches' it. There is the distinct sense of being startled, followed by words. It's Avira's voice now, "Isaac...?" she seems confused. She didn't remember him saying that.
Isaac Hanlon Elemental magic, also a weakness he doesn't like to admit to aloud. Avira can help him fix that one once she's up and at 'em.

Isaac mentally checks someone off the list of suspects. He listens, frowning slightly. Will's voice. Is she drifting in memories? Is this what that is? Maybe they aren't actually anywhere particularly crazy -- maybe she /is/ asleep, deeply asleep, and this is something closer to the dreams keeping her mind anchored while her spirit wanders.

If Isaac had an actual body, he would shiver. He just got a chill, and a little sense of deja vu. This seems familiar to him, somehow.

"Yeah. It's me. Are you alright? I think something's really wrong, and I think you might be... dreaming, or something."

He does not have a lot to go on. He has an idea, but maybe she'll pick up on it immediately instead of going for the lines of thought that he assumes she will: either one of crushing despair, or immediate dismissal.
Avira Avira will be absolutely -floored- when she learns that Isaac doesn't know anything about elemental magic. She swore she saw him cast fira once! (Though she hadn't been paying enough attention to notice that it totally was not a fira spell at all.)

The featureless void of nothingness provides zero clues as to the location, aside from the nothingness itself. There were some places in the World of Ruin that spoke of a dimension where nothing existed called Mu-but clearly that was just an old legend, right?

"I'm lost..." Avira's voice sounds sad. Emotional. "Am I dreaming? Is that what this is? I have no body so I thought I might be dead."

A stretch of time passes before she emotes, "I don't want to be dead."
Isaac Hanlon She can't even tell. She's sad, and can't even tell where she is or how to get back. There's these voices, but... nothing else. It's -- annoying, if anything.

The thing about featureless voids is that they tend to represent both nothingness and possibility at the same time. Some say that the Conceptual, the result of the collective consciousness of mankind that Isaac taps to create his own spells and rituals, is just the same. That human will is all that fills it, and fill it it does, with Heaven and Hell, with idealized men and women from myth and legend, with monsters and magic and anything you -- or anyone else -- can imagine. All it takes to change it is knowing how, and exercising a properly-trained will.

Featureless voids are lame, Isaac suddenly decides.

The nothingness is replaced by walls. Walls, floor, ceiling, doors. It's a tastefully-decorated entry hall, with red carpets edged with green plants set in the ground in the middle of little stone-lined pools. The carpet leads down to two restrooms on either side, and to a row of elevators in the wall. The opposite direction leads to front doors with fogged glass. There are little letters on them, backwards but legible, if one took the time to look.

On either side of the carpeted entry hall are double doors. On the left from the doors outside, the doors are open, revealing what looks like a conference room-slash-office with brightly-colored couches and chairs around a big table. A secretary's desk is tucked in the corner, and bookshelves line the far wall, apparently in a minor state of disarray. There's a pillow on top of the shelf, inexplicably. The other double doors are, however, closed tightly.

Isaac asserts himself in this space and takes a breath. It smells of fresh coffee with a whiff of spring. The rug feels almost springy under his feet. Senses are important, he reminds himself. He takes hold of the ball of light, and he works his will again, a silent assumption of shape laid upon it. It's the same spell he made to cloak other people in Avira's appearance, but... repurposed, slightly, to give her something besides a ball of light to experience things through.

"I'm not going to let you die," Isaac says, speaking slowly and deliberately. "I'm here to help."
Avira The state of this particular plane is clearly the source of Avira's anxieties right now. There'd been a good deal of panicking before when she realized she had no body. Only the sounds of her memories had calmed her and gave her something to focus to. If she just followed the voices, then she'd find her way out, right? But where was out?

Isaac will find himself exerting quite a bit of that properly-trained will to pull things from nothingness. It almost seems impossible, but once he's got his four walls up, containing that space, everything seems to follow much faster and much easier. Plants and carpet? No problem. Smells? Definitely want that. Touch? Also very important.

Isaac adds a simulacrum of himself in this shaped space. Without the backdrop of infinite nothingness around it, the tiny ball of light that is that missing piece of Avira is a lot harder to see. She's like a dimly-glowing firefly here.

The silvery aura is still there, matching perfectly the one Isaac observed earlier when he shined the light upon Avira. This ball seemed much smaller than the hole currently existing upon her in the real world.

With some effort, the light is overlaid with the false Avira shape. For a few moments, it looks blankly ahead, unmoving, until Isaac speaks. Slowly, she turns to look at him, then she looks around at the newly created space in wonder. "You're going to take me home then, right?" she says, her voice still filled with emotion. "I want to go back. That place, whatever it is, is lonely." shakily, like a puppet run by an inexperienced puppeteer, she reaches out to grasp onto him, "You're not a memory, you came here. How?"
Isaac Hanlon The hardest part is creating a bounded space in a space that knows no bounds. You have to either rewrite the nature of wherever you are or tell it to shut up and sit down. Isaac did the latter. There are few contests of will he can say he has ever lost, and none of them were with anything within several magnitudes of power of him. Garland would be hard-pressed to beat him out in sheer willpower.

Of course, the fact that the universe acknowledges him as a Sorcerer of clear and growing power, and thus gives him the ability to quite literally change reality at his whim, probably has something to do with /this/ part at least. Not that /he/ knows it.

Isaac steps forward. He takes her by the hands. He's solid, at least to her. They're not, not really, but here, all you have to do is believe it to experience it. Even still, he's a metaphysical anchor, giving her context to hold onto while he works his magic to build up a way to take them home. "I don't know what this place is, so I replaced it with a place I remember. I'd've picked a place we're both familiar with, but it was kind of spur of the moment -- sorry," he says, sounding honestly apologetic.

Avira can see everything perfectly clearly all around her. She sees it as he remembers it. There's a picture on the desk of a brown-haired young man wearing goggles on his forehead and a confident smile, with his arm around a light-haired woman wearing dark-rimmed glasses. There's a coffee-stained mug with the words 'RINGSIDE ARRANGEMENTS' stamped on the side lying empty on the conference table, holding down a pile of what looks like English homework. Next to that is a set of headphones, high-quality, with the number '0' on the back of the left earpiece. The letters on the smoked glass, backwards though they are, are even easy to read when you actually try and look.

'TWILIGHT DETECTIVE AGENCY' kind of stands out if you've seen it before, after all.

"I did some magic. We were worried about you, and I was afraid something was seriously wrong. I checked your aura, and I found a hole filled with despair, and a trail leading here, to you." He looks down at her, frowning. "I'm working on taking us back, now, but... is something wrong? I don't know what happened, not really."
Avira Isaac will quickly learn that in this dimension he'll have to keep that willpower of his going. He can feel the weight of the place immediatly pressing down on him, as if the dimension was offended that there was something existing so vibrantly in this space. If he starts to lose that willpower battle, he'll find this wonderfully reconstructed TDA office starting to dissolve.

Speaking of the office-Avira recognizes it. She's visited the Manhattan version of the TDA office before. The paraphenila contained within was familiar. As she looks around, she starts to wonder if her memories were becoming stronger now or if Isaac really was here doing this.

She can feel him though. She hasn't felt anything in a while now. "I'm not sure what it is either. Maybe purgatory?" she seems to be thinking now, or trying to reason through what was going on.

Isaac mentions the hole. "That..." she looks immensely sad, "We restored Manhattan's heart...but it needed a lot of light to be rebooted. We started it with the light from my heart...the world's heart is there but my light was taken. I don't think there's anything left."
Isaac Hanlon Holding it up is a constant pressure. It is not unlike trying to concentrate on keeping his spells real, except it's like doing a dozen of them at a time. He can average three or four, sure, but a dozen is a stretch at the best of times. It's a gnawing sensation, gradually building, a silent, insistent pressure at the back of his head. Right now, he's shaking it off, but in a few minutes more...

"Purgatory wouldn't be here -- I don't think this is the..." He trails off, shaking his head. "Nevermind. It's some other dimension, maybe the place between the seperate worlds. There isn't much of anything, so I put some things in." He just hopes it's helping.

They did it, she says. They restored the heart, but at the cost of hers. Is that really right? Could that really be the cost of bringing a world back to life? The sacrifice of an innocent's light? The death of one, in the name of the many? Intellectually speaking, Isaac understands that. There's always a cost to do something so monumental. People die so that others may live. It's the way of the world.

But he's never let that stop him.

"Avira," he says. His voice is hushed and gentle, as if speaking to a child while you were putting them to bed. "I'm going to tell you a story. You have to listen very carefully. It's something I've never told anyone else, but I want you to know that not a word of it is falsely said. This is not a tale that your memories are fabricating to fill in the gaps, and not a fever-dream while you lie suffering in bed. Okay?" He waits only a second, and then begins.

"Once upon a time," he says, beginning a story as all should begin, "there was a man named Jack Crow."

"Jack was from a world much like the Manhattan you know, full of wonders of science made by the hands of men. He lived in a city at the center of it all, where everything strange seemed to go. He was no different. He was a wonder-worker of a special sort, a man born with a heart full of light and the power to do great things in this world full of secrets and shadows. He found himself drawn to others with powers born and learned, great and small -- another wonder-worker, a man with the heart of beasts, an unknowning angel, a vessel of ignorance and infinity, and a magus who knew too much."

"They did many great things," he says, "and changed the lives of many people. Violence was last thought on their minds despite the powers they could wield and the allies they could call to bear. They saved innumerable innocents, and, in time, drew others to their cause -- for theirs was the greatest of all, a fight against the end of all things. They stood together at the end, in the face of oblivion, and their light burned away the darkness as it closed in upon them."

"And, one by one," Isaac whispers, "they fell. Except for Jack."

"Jack clung to the darkness. He let it into his heart, willingly snuffing out the light he held within him and embracing the crushing despair and the unstoppable urge to cling to life. He shattered the world as he knew it and sent himself through the darkness, only to arrive at the beginning. It was like the clock had turned back, back before he met his closest friends, before he saw them fall one by one into the blackness. He knew what was coming, and ran to them, finding them as he did before. He waited for some time, and then told them what he knew, and what had happened to them."

"They were not deterred. They spoke out against this ending, and though frightened, knew they could not surrender to inevitability. The magus declared that it would all change, that they would be ready this time. Jack believed. He lived his life once more, seeing things change ever so slightly, familiar and yet strange all the same. And then, together, more resolute than they ever had been, they faced the end once again... and once again, they fell, one by one."

"Jack awoke in a cold place in this city at the center of it all. It felt like a nightmare. He knew what was happening, and he knew he had to stop it -- but he gave in to despair, to the darkness that now festered in his heart, and all he could do was suffer. He decided that he could not stop the end, but knew that things would change if he kept going, so he set himself to do the unthinkable: he would save his closest friends the grief and the suffering he knew they would feel by delivering their ends with his own hands, far before the curtains closed on this world, his home."

"But..." Isaac tilts his head slightly. It's an expression practically screaming, 'I know a secret and I've been waiting to tell you.' "...there was yet another wonder-worker amongst them, with light still dancing in her heart. She saw what Jack had done to himself, what he had done to pervert his own light to save himself, and she felt nothing but sorrow in his place. She knew she had to do something -- not to save their lives, but to save him from himself, before he walked down a path from which he could not return."

"The other wonder-worker looked, and looked, and looked. Her companion, the vessel no longer ignorant, knew what to do. He told her of a man who could help, though she did not say for what she needed aid. She went to this man, a man wearing a brilliant smile and holding nothing but love for all of humankind in his heart. He wore the face of a man, though, he said, he was not counted among them. He could change everything, could change anything, but not without consummate cost. Without hesitation or fear, she agreed."

"Jack Crow awoke the next day as he was at the beginning. None knew of the darkness he had held in his heart; to them, he was always this way. He lived and loved and laughed with the men and women he had always fought alongside, a wonder-worker once more, no longer a servant to darkness and oblivion. But the girl, the other wonder-worker, had changed. She held his darkness now, a gnawing, all-consuming thing that threatened to destroy her and all she knew. She heard the siren's song of power, the power to hold the world in her hands and change what she saw fit, if only she were to take that emptiness and hold it tight --!!"

He stops. He looks down, hanging his head. A moment later, he looks back up, eyes shining.

"...but she never gave in. She never gave up. Her light, though muted, though merely a candle to the sun that she once held, never left her. Not truly. She traded power for another's life, not for her own, and never, ever gave in. There was barely a spark of what let her live left inside her, and she clung to it, nurturing it, not once allowing the despair and the darkness that whispered in her ears to sway her."

"And Jack Crow lived on because of her, a man with a life renewed, all because of her sacrifice -- but never because of her sorrow."

Isaac looks right at Avira. He looks her in the eyes, at the flickering orb that is what's left of her, holding on desperately here. He holds her hands tightly. "Avira, every word I have told you is absolute truth. I am Isaac Hanlon, called the Unfettered by the Magi and the ghosts of His greatest archangels, called Zero by the voices who cry out in the night for a scrap of knowledge or an ounce of hope. I swear it on my name and my power. If you hold onto anything I have said, anything at all, let it be this:"

"You hold in you a great, shining beacon of light, and nothing you do to share that light -- nothing so selfless as risking your own life and light to save the life of one man, or the lives of many more -- can ever, /ever/ take that away from you. So long as you hold hope in your heart and truly believe, /nothing/ can darken that brilliance."

"So believe."
Avira There was one small concession to the struggle Isaac was currently undergoing to maintain these shapes in this void. The pressure was constant. The feeling of the void trying to devour the magic and in turn, Isaac himself, was even and did not increase with passing time. Even then-a person could only hold his hand up in the air for so long before growing tired. How much longer could the magus keep this complex and detailed existence up?

"You don't think this is the what?" she presses, sounding urgent. "Oh. I see. That's...amazing. This place is hard to be. It's hard to stay...conscious." Or stay a conscious, one of the two-or maybe even BOTH.

When she speaks of her repurposed light, though she sounds tremendously sad, she sounds very sure of herself either. There was no regret over what she had done, if her tone was anything to go by. Can there be sadness without regret to begin with? "I don't know if there was another way, but I know we succeeded."

Isaac calls her by name and she falls silent, looking up at him with those distant brown eyes of hers. A story, he promises. The provided vessel falls still, not even daring to blink, and for a few moments it is like staring at a doll. Only Isaac can easily see beyond the shell to the tiny light lurking within.

As he weaves the tale of Jack Crow, Isaac can easily feel the interest radiating off the essence of Avira. Her proxy body follows suit, showing curiosity, then sadness as he confides in her that, one by one, the friends that Jack Crow held so dear died. Isaac will feel despair following when he describes the second cycle that, despite their preparation and desire to change things for the better, they still failed to save themselves.

Despair turns to sorrow as she tries to comprehend a man so far steeped in despair darkness that he would turn to killing his closest friends to "spare them the pain." It's almost unfathomable to Avira, who has never killed before, and never hopes to despite what Angantyr says.

Then, the girl. Her sacrifice is illustrated, but her sorrow remains. The shell of Avira looks to Isaac with a grimace on her face: 'There was barely a spark of what let her live left inside her, and she clung to it...'

About to lower her head, Isaac makes eye contact with her and once again, he can see through the shell to the tiny flickering light within. He speaks directly to her now-to that tiny light, the remnants of her heart lost drifting in her void, surviving by the chains of memories alone. The Avira shell begins to tear up. "I...Isaac.." she sniffles, her hands squeezing his. He'll see that small light inside her grow just a little bit brighter, the words taken to heart.

Literally, taken to the heart.

Avira looks up at him, an almost fierce look on her face now, "Take me back."
Isaac Hanlon Avira presses for more. Where /aren't/ they? He doesn't want to say. He's already saying too much. Isaac is letting himself open up, even a little, to someone else. It's a hard thing to do, for him -- part of him wants to curl up and cry, but he knows he can't. People are counting on him. Avira is counting on him. If he failed, and if she stayed here, fading away, would Mercade ever forgive him?

Would he ever forgive himself?

She looks like a puppet, he thinks, his voice keeping this place full of sound. He tells a story and she seems to only stare at first, vacant and vulnerable. The sight fills him with a quietly-building dread, the depression and sorrow he felt entering this void threatening to build up. He keeps up a brave front, speaking steadily and strongly. He doesn't let his cadence falter or stumble or stutter. He's telling a story, and this one has to be told perfectly, or else...

...he won't worry about that. Isaac banishes the fears and the apprehension, locking them behind a wall of will like unbending iron. He tells her what he has to tell her, speaking honestly and earnestly, almost pleading for her to understand and cling to that little bit that's left. Kindle the light, he's saying, let it grow, don't give in!

The feel of her hands tightening, the tears, and the fierce look on Avira's face banishes his gnawing terrors. He smiles very slightly, a calm and assured sort of smile, and nods, but once. He holds her hand and turns to the front door, walking her towards the smoked glass. The sounds of the sleeping city are replaced by their muffled footfalls. He reaches out with one hand, throwing open the doors.

On the other side, a path. A trail through the darkness, but the dark of night, with stars glimmering overhead like points of light. At the end, a light, the point he came from. He knows how to take her from here. He feels it in his bones, in his soul.

Isaac steps through, drawing the light that is Avira's heart with him. They've spent enough time in this place. Home awaits.
Avira The pressure of the void continues and Isaac can easily feel it eating away at the room and illusion around them. There is a minute at most of this remaining-it may be better to cut and run soon or getting back out may become a serious problem.

Her questions convey a strong sense of curiosity, clearly something tied closely to this woman's heart. But in the face of the sorrow that follows, it seems to disappear or hide from him. It's depressing storytime!

It is fortunate he doesn't give in to the sorrow. His steady conviction and cadence as he speaks holds her attention entirely, but given the nature of the tale itself its inevitable that she becomes sad.

But it is a story of sacrifice and hope, and perhaps the exact story she needs to hear right now.

Her grip upon his hand is tight and when he smiles, she smiles back at him in spite of her tears. His sheer calmness comforts her-an important thing at this point as the void threatens to close in around them. Soon it becomes difficult to keep the shell of Avira around the glimmer of light. Even if the shell disappears, he'll easily sense her with him. She was not going to stay here and wallow in sorrow with only the ghosts of memories to accompany her.

The trail leads back to the physical plane-or realm of light as some would call it. Breaking out is far easier than anticipated for Isaac. Of course there is the trail to follow, but at the same time he might get the sense of being ejected like a splinter. It's almost as if he managed to offend the whole plane, but surely that is silly. A void of nothingness has no feelings at all.

Back in the room in the Traverse Town office of the Twilight Detective Agency, Avira begins to stir on her bed. As Isaac returns to his body and rouses, he'll notice that there are fresh tears on Avira's face.

Those definitely weren't there before. Slowly, she sits up and rubs her eyes.
Isaac Hanlon Isaac has spit in the face of gods and angels, monsters and men, the inevitable and the ineffable. Offending a whole plane of reality, though... that's a new high point for him.

The feeling of being ejected is strong. He lets their illusory shells fade, and gradually watches the Twilight Detective Agency he remembers fade away. Lights dim, shutting down in sequence, from the furthest ones near the elevators up to the front door. Everything disappears into darkness as the illusion gradually fades away. He feels a dull sense of sorrow as he watches it go.

Isaac pulls Avira along with him. He holds onto that orb of light, staying true to the path and letting this place cast the two of them back into the twilight realm that holds Traverse Town. They go from the middle of the void back to their own reality in the span of too-long seconds, catapulted out faster than he ever approached. Everything gets blindingly bright, and there's a ringing in his ears as everything fades to brightness --

Isaac sits up from his chair next to Avira's bed with a start. He sucks in a breath, a gasping, desperate thing, like a drowning man coming up for air. He jerks forward, hands clutching the arms of the chair in a white-knuckled grip.

He sees Avira stir. He blinks, and feels spits of wetness fall on his face. Startled, he lifts an arm and wipes his sleeve across his eyes, clearing his throat quietly and composing himself. The last thing she probably wants to see when she comes to is a broken-up wizard. He should've kept a tighter rein on his own reactions to that... but then, the body does as the body does.

"Hey," Isaac says, smiling from her bedside. "Welcome back to the land of the living."
Avira Isaac can feel free to add 'offended a plane' to the ol' magus resume.

"Isaac...?" she says softly, not yet having made eye contact with the TDA's resident wizard. In fact, she spoke his name before he even made his little welcome. Clearly she already knows that he's there.

Her hands fall away from her face to rest in her lap and she turns to face the man, covers and legs shifting with her. That same smile is on her face that he saw moments ago. Moments maybe, but in reality, since he made that journey into the other plane, it appears hours have passed-maybe even a whole day.

Though she does see him rubbing his sleeve across his eyes, she pretends she didn't. She waits a few moments before moving towards him to hug him. "...thanks." she murmurs, burying her face in his shoulder.
Isaac Hanlon It's funny. You start to think you're running out of things to add to the list...

Isaac feels the fatigue of keeping everything up that long slowly catching up to him. He doesn't know what time it is. Was it daylight when he started this? Is it even daylight /now/? Her saying something before he can is a good sign, he thinks; means that she's not a vegetable, or some hostile thing borrowing a body. He has to clear his throat again.

He's pretty sure that she saw him tearing up. He doesn't say a word about it, and is glad that she doesn't either. His pride is intact. Maybe one more of his innumerable secrets remains safe.

Avira moves to hug him. He embraces her without a single word for a long moment. He just holds her, improbably relieved by the solidity of it, the warmth of another person. After spending what felt like minutes in that other place, the presence of another is an immense comfort.

"...any time," he finally says. "Are you okay?"
Avira Avira's more recent experiences have taught her a thing or two about preserving pride. This is probably why she, politely, does not comment on Isaac's man tears. After all, she senses that he shared something very close to her back in that void. Every word he had told her would not be soon forgotten.

Isaac will find the shoulder of his shirt growing slightly damp beneath Avira's face. Her back doesn't heave and tremble like someone engaging in full-out sobbing would. The tears sort of just happen and not even Avira sees fit to question why.

"Yes." she says after a long stretch of silence, pulling away to look him in the eyes. "I mean...well, I feel kind of..." she waggles her hand, "...weak..ish. But I'm alive and in one piece. That's all the start I need."
Isaac Hanlon MAN TEARS are serious business; just ask Tom!

(Slightly more seriously, Isaac does kind of have a problem with showing that kind of vulnerability. It damages one's reputation as the magical toolbox of solutions and general amazement.)

He doesn't ask. He thinks he knows why. He just lets her take her own time. The entire time, he fights to maintain his own composure, against the dull throb of a headache that arises and against the surge of emotion from revisiting something so painful in a place where all you have to rely on is your own will and memory.

Finally, she pulls away. He looks down, bright eyes on hers. He looks haggard, and relieved. "You've been out cold for a few days. That's only natural." His smile widens a fraction. "We should probably get some food in you. And you might want to let everyone know you're all right -- Will's been torn up ever since you passed out."

There's a brief pause. "Mercade knew you'd come around," he adds, apparently offhandedly. "I just thought I'd, you know... make sure."
Avira The scarred woman looks up at Isaac, managing to appear nearly as vulnerable as she did not too long ago when he told her the story of Jack Crow. It is as he says, she's been out for days with nothing to eat or drink. It's fair to assume she was in a weakened state right now and that is to say nothing about what's become of her heart.

There's a small look of guilt on her face when she hears about, "-Will? Really? Here I thought Mercade would be the one worrying. Well..."

She squirms and starts to push herself out of bed, "Better tell them. I-" she pauses, then turns to look Isaac in the eye. There's a haunted look on her face for a few seconds.

"I'm glad you did." she says very quietly.
Isaac Hanlon Isaac was in that void for what might've been a span of hours. Avira was there for what could have been days. With the maddening blankness and the crushing despair he felt merely going in... well, he doesn't want to think about how bad it could have been. He's just going to accept that she's back, and she'll be okay.

"Yeah, I think after he heard about the Boss..." His expression shifts minutely. There's a little bit of anger there, for just a second. It's hard to notice. "...he was pretty vulnerable. He figured he was dead, but we talked him down. I think he just needs some time to adjust to everything and realize it isn't all bad anymore."

Isaac pauses. He looks back at Avira for a moment. Then, he nods his head fractionally. He'd do it again, that's clear enough.

Isaac stands up. "I should get out of your hair for a while. Stretch your legs, get some food in you. You'll be right as rain in no time."
Avira "The Boss...?" Avira murmurs, mostly to herself. She didn't have the pleasure of encountering this gentleman in the underworld like the others did. She was kind of a prisoner back then! She dangles her feet off the side of her bed. "Alrighty then, Isaac, I'll do just that."

She still manages to sound tired somehow, but after seeing where she had been, can Isaac really blame her?

This scene contained 25 poses. The players who were present were: Avira, Isaac Hanlon