|Problems at the Market at Wall|
|What: Heroes are called forth and summoned into the Market at Wall. A dark omen appears.|
The summoning spell is a powerful one. It can reach through the boundaries between worlds, whenever and wherever it must, and the Dreaming connects to quite a few places...almost everywhere really. Whilst sleeping, since all those summoned must sleep, in their dreams, a door opens. They are encouraged, but not compelled, to open it.
Upon doing so, our heroes find themselves in a vibrant market place. There are solid ringing bells in the distance somewhere, but mainly it is a series of shacks, tents and stalls that can be closed made of wicker or impossible stone. A large red and white stone while runs almost as to the horizon on the green rolling hills afar. Creatures of all kinds and descriptions move in and out of the still majority human occupancy, with monsters, nightmares, fairies, and creatures of legend among them as well.
Kilroy himself is drawn forth, and strangely lucid, but still, confused. He looks about and sees Eddie and Billy. He hasn't met either though he can sense the power from both. His own dream was a nightmare of vague and ominous portent, shadows of a trillion dollar coin and logos going nuts and plaguing the realms of men.
Standing before the three...technically five though two are still vague shapes in the corner of the eye, not yet formed. The figure before you is a bear with insectoid eyes with a mute raven on his shoulder. The raven speaks, "You don't know me, but I know you. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm 'That Guy'....Can't tell you my real name, but I'm quite 'in' with the boss around here. We have a problem. We need heroes and you guys come highly recommended. But I can send you back if youz want."
Billy Kaplan was in an odd dream when he was summoned, a dream both new and familier to him at the same time, but an odd one just the same. When he appears he is, different than would appear in real life. In the dream he was older, maybe twice his real age, with a scruffy beard that should have been shaved a few days ago and a touch of Grey in his hair. His eyes are covered by a strip of red cloth tied around his head covering his eyes with just the barest hint of a scar from something that crossed them both might be visible. His normal clothes are replaced by simple blue pants, a black and blue tunic with just a hint of a star pattern that seems to move on its own visible, and a large red cape with an impossible to keep standing high collar held closed and on his shoulders by an amulet that looks like a closed eye. In one of his hands is a large wooden staff covered with Hebrew letters that glow with a light from within. It seems someone has dreams about being Sorcerer Supreme.
"What happened to the Nameless?" He asks in a deeper older voice before he starts to change. Slowly the age dreams from him leaving him a teen that he should be. "Wait, that was..." He starts in confusion as he reaches up to remove the cloth from his eyes. "Where are we?" There is wonder in Billy's voice as he looks around before focusing on That Guy. "What kind of problem?"
Eddie had been having one of his usual non-nightmare dreams. You know, those ones where he's teaming up with big time heroes like the Avengers and Justice League to defeat villains alongside his friends and then wins the dashingly handsome guy at the end. He's looking a little different than his RL self as well, his costume looking more body-armor and sleeker. The staff clipped to the back is also glowing faintly. Oddly enough he's still got that gold bracer with the blue gem on his right arm. He blinks a few times when he sees where he's ended up and then again when he sees Billy. "Wow...that's an even better costume than...." yes, he doesn't stutter in his dreams.
Of course he ends up returning to his usual age around the same time Billy does. "The N-n-nameless?" he asks. He frowns slightly at That Guy but nods to Billy. "Y-y-yeah. What problem?"
Kilroy oddly seems to look like himself. And as he looks around, he frowns. He can tell something is...off...here.
The bird extends a wing and looks at Kilroy,"Yeah, you can sense it too, can't you? The Market is...kind of a balancing factor for the dreaming. Sometimes the meta dreams, think of them as the deep pools from which some of the more common dreams, need to adjust to modern times and new ideas..they come here, but something is tampering with the market place. Someone is stealing memories right in broad daylight...and I can't find it. Can't even guess. It's driving me bonkers and if I don't succeed in fixing it, HE might pay attention and I'd really rather avoid disappointing HIM."
He looks at Kilroy, "I need YOU to...do that voodoo that you do so well. You know...fix the market. But I need you two..." he looks at Eddie and Billy, "To find out who is doing it...and you know...stop them. I don't care how. Reason. Violence. Whatever. You'll be rewarded, but I know youz guys don't operate like that. Let me just say bad things will happen if we don't fix it. Bad mystic balance. Bad all around. But be careful, this place is not like the flea market back home. They have to tell you the truth but that doesn't mean much. Almost nothing is as it seems here. I'd stick to the detective work if I were you, but I can't stop you from trading."
Billy Kaplan shakes his head a little while looking around before noticing the staff in his hand. With a little frown he stares at it a second before it changes, becoming less Gandolf with a big knob on the end to more sleek and Robin Hood Quarterstaff shaped. "Right, lucid dreaming techniques at least work..." He mutters to himself before the Raven starts to speak. "HE who?" Billy asks almost without thinking when it is mentioned that someone might take an interest before something almost visable clicks in place inside his head. "Wait, no, I can guess."
Billy nods as he listens to the rest of what the Raven has to say, nodding a little here and there. "Stealing from...that is...wow stupid. OK, find out who is doing it and stop them. Can't be any harder than trying to find a sword made to kill God eating undead Valkyrie right? Any clues on where to start, or where the last bit of theft happened?"
Eddie hasn't even noticed his costume but his usual staff has replaced that glowing one. "Lucid what n-now?" he asks Billy once he sees the staff change in his friend's hand. He frowns at the question Billy asks and then again when he says to nevermind it. He leans over to whisper to his friend. "He who? I know a lot of HEs," he says, glancing at the raven.
The power booster stays quiet as Billy and the raven speak, just listening. His smile returns though and he bounces on his heels a little. "We'll f-f-figure it out, don't worry!" he chimes, that unending hope and faith shining through once more.
"My boss's boss is your boss but you ain't in the same league, no offense though you are of course, in a league that is just." He caws at his own joke. "Right, thanks, all you'ze guys." He apparently just assumes Kilroy is going to say yes...."Right. Where to start? Oh yeah. So I'm PRETTY sure, that the guy to start with is No Pants...he's from the nightmares but he hates his job. Constantly trying for 'bigger and better things'...you know...he's a guy with no pants. But no face either cause he has to be everyone who is afraid they left their pants that last day of school or what not. If he isn't doing it, he likely knows who is. Last time I saw him, he was where Dishwater Sal used to sell stuff before she got splattered. Buzz Bear can show youz the way."
Kilroy nods to the other two and says, "Er...nice to meet you. I'm The Economy by the way. I ...guess I'll stay here and 'do voodoo'." He knows what he needs to do, but it's...frankly boring compared to finding a nightmare. But he's a cosmic janitor and there are lots of messes.
Billy Kaplan nods at the Raven making mental notes and makes a small face when he hears who they should start with. "Man, Mom says that one tends to be about feeling a distinct lack of control but...always hated having that dream." Especially when it was the times he had it since he became a hero. Facing down Supervilians sans pants just is not a fun way to spend a night. Billy offers a small smile to Kilroy and nods. "I'm B...Wiccan." They may be in a dream, and dealing with people on hte side of Good, but keeping too hero IDs is still a good idea.
Wiccan looks over at Eddie and nods waiting to make sure his friend is ready before holding out his left hand and consentrating a bit. "Right, Find No Pants." In dreams his magic always works the first time, or never at all. He holds to the idea of this beign a good dream and not a nightmare, so the tracking spell should work and make a glowing arrow pointing to where he wants to go.
Eddie just looks lost at the joke. "Uhh..." he looks to Billy and Kilroy a moment and rubs the back of his neck. "You mean you work for someone that w-w-works for the Presence too? Okay I guess..." he trails off, more confused than much else. He blinks when Billy talks aboyt that dream. "I n-never actually had that dream," Eddie admits quietly and casually. When Billy and Kilroy introduce themselves, Axiom perks up. "H-hey! You were in Michigan!" he grins as that odd little 'do I know him' feeling finally gives way to recognition. "I'm Axiom," he chimes in. "And I'm glad you're d-doing better," he adds.
Clearing his throat, Axiom nods to his friend and waits. He isn't boosting Billy right now but he's got absolute confidence in his friend and his magic.
The arrow moves far into a maze of impossible complexity. This is not a place of straight up left or right or north or south, though the two of you are able to navigate intuitively with no problems whatsoever.
"Happiness! Happiness for sale!"
"Potions! Magic potions. Potions to make you young, old, smart, strong. Potions!"
"Magic! I sell magic from the shores of Midkemia, the Storm Lands, Inglemia, the Shire, and even the Shard!"
"Mirrors! Mirrors of truth, mirrors of desire, enchantment..."
"Twinkies! Straight from earth. Swear to god! Last of the originals! Wine! Fine Wine I have fine wine with..." On and on and on it goes. Indeed, if there is a hidden desire to purchase something a stall will appear selling just that. Tis the nature of the place. A few nod as they walk past, as if they somehow know who the two of you are, or perhaps met you in a dream. They seem vaguely familiar. Perpahs they have.
The arrow tends to be moving faster but isn't in any hurry.
Wiccan does his best not to get too distracted by the things up for sale. One should never trust fully anything sold in a magical market, but the mention of the Shire does catch his attention for a bit. He can't help it, the boy is a huge fan of Tolkeen after all. "This place...it is more than a little amazing isn't it?" Wiccan asks casting a lok at Axiom with a small smile. "Better than the Goblin Market....and less likely to spill over into our world."
Axiom's mostly just smiling at the sellars and their wares. The Twinkie merchant gets a quick frown since Axiom as he's reminded of Godrunn the Golden but he reminds himself they have a job to do. That doesn't stop him from being distracted by someone selling a lot of superhero fanboy gear for a moment. He nods quickly to Wiccan though. "Wh-what's this place called anyway?" he asks curiously as they walk along.
The stalls that sell the Shire items and the stalls that sell the super hero fan boy gear happen to be right next to each other. The arrow pauses, waiting patiently. It lives to serve.
"This would be the Market at Wall young chap." The propertiess of the super hero gear store is exceedingly attractive and young. "This would be the market at Wall lad. Right now we're in the dreaming. The Goblin Market though, that's four stalls left and two right. Almost anywhere is somewhere near here if you know how to get. I notice your eye on the fine memorabelia here. Did you want a thread or two of Superman's spaceship blanket? Or Batman's third batarang? We have all kinds of collection and memorabelia."
From the Shire there is lots of pastries, though there is an interesting looking dagger and some pipes. There is not, alas, a ring. There is,however a hand written journal.
Wiccan nods at Axiom and prepairs to step in, just in case he gets too distracted by the fanboy merchandise that is calling Billy's name as much as it is Eddie's. Just as he is about to answer the Superhero Memorabelia seller speaks up. There is a nod as Wiccan realizes he is right. The Market of Dreams, where anything and everything ever drempt of can be found. The Shire merchandise gets a second look, and Wiccan is glad there is no ring. As much as his friend makes a great Samwise he is not sure he can take being Frodo. "Thank you." He says to the seller for the information and makes sure to lead Axiom on to where they can find No Pants. For some reason he is sure that they need to get this mission done before they start to wake up.
Wiccan finds himself softly whistling 'Portabello Road' from Bedknobs and Broomsticks as he walks along.
"The Dreaming? Oh," Axiom nods a bit. As tempted as he is by the offered items, one thing occurs to Eddie. He glances to Billy before giving the sellar a serious look. "If those are r-real, you should probably give them back to Batman and Superman," he says simply. "Oh, thanks b-but we have to go. Have a g-g-good uh...night," he offers as he follows quickly after Billy. Without even realizing the song, he starts humming along with Wiccan's whistling.
The arrow lives to serve...literally and bleeks with delight as the search for No Pants is resumed. With this, the tone of the market goes from whimsical to dark. The stalls become closer together, the people in it more desperate. There are some quite obviously 'harness' to wagons or shacks with some kind of silver cord. Dragons, unicorns, demons, even an angel without wings (<--------Hidden guest appearance of Providence but that is another tale...) wander about the place, until finally you see a large nine foot tall purple guy with no pants. He has a shirt that shifts every time you look at it, sometimes a tshirt or a dress shirt or a polo shirt but No Pants. The arrow glows green. No Pants is sitting in a pile between stalls, cackling and counting...something. Little snow globes?
Wiccan elbows Axiom a little when he spots No Pants to make sure that the other teen spots him and is ready. They have a choice, they can be sneaky, or they can be bold and up front. Sneaky...is not thier strong suit though, which is why Wiccan thanks the little arrow since it is shown a lot more life than most of his spells before releasing any hold he had on it and stalking forwards still in the impressive Sorcerer Supreme outfit. Mind focused on the job at hand, and acting like the kind of person that should be picked for this kind of save all reality mission Wiccan shifts a little and ends up looking like the older self he was dreaming he was before being summoned again.
Voice a bit deeper and with a thread of steel and confidence Wiccan only has when fully in hero mode he finds himself speaking to No Pants. "And what kinds of wares do we have for sale here?" He starts just to see what will be said. He prepares for a quick spell to try and catch No Pants if he spooks at all and tries to run.
Axiom gives a little squeak when Wiccan elbows him. He can do sneaky but he favors the upfront approach. Especially if it's the one Wiccan thinks is best. He jumps a little as his friend changes, looking him over quickly. He's going to remember the image to tell a certain mutual friend about it later. He jumps again and quickly scurries after Wiccan. No change in appearance for Axiom, he just holds himself with a bit more confidence. The power booster lets Wiccan do the talking, keeping a careful watch on No-Pants. If he runs, he's getting chased as well as whatever spell Wiccan has planned.
No Pants looks up. He looks at Billy and he looks at Edward. He's pure dreamstuff and it'll take more than a costume to fool HIM. But Billy would be harder to read...if he wasn't who he was which shouts out like a neon sign to him. A lesser nightmare would be cowed, terrified. And if he was smarter then he would be...but he's not.
He says, "Well, I'll tell you what we don't sell here...we sell NO PANTS."
Wiccan can't help but look, even if he really had the will to resist the feeling like he might be pantless would draw his eyes down. The good thing is, he knows he is in a dream. The worst part of the naked in public dream is not realizing it is a dream, knowing it is means at worst the only person that will see him pantless is going to be Axiom.
As he looks down Wiccan's eyes glow as he reaches for his magic, "Good thing I have a Kilt." He says as rolls of plaid fabric come from nowhere in an attempt to capture No Pants and to make things stay closer to the PG13 side of the ratings board.
And the urge to look down and check is tremendous. Wiccan is easily overwhelmed, and it's an even struggle for Eddie, like the biggest itch he ever had. Theoretically resistible...but...to just check quick what could it hurt....just to make sure the pants are still there.
Axiom frowns deeply as he feels that temptation to look down. It's a strong one but a few things are tugging on his mind right now. Like the fact that he has to watch No Pants to make sure he doesn't run or attack them. And something he says before he can stop himself. "It w-wouldn't make sense for a guy named No Pants to sell pants," he says. As he's about to look down, Axiom gets distracted by Wiccan's words and looks over at his friend. "A kilt?" he asks, head tilting to the side again.
No Pants is visibly annoyed but nods, "Aye. We sell no pants here. Pants are bad. Kilts are Ok." He hates Kilts. HATES that trick.
He looks up and points behind the two of them, "Why, whatever in the world could THAT be?" Bit of a one trick pony is No Pants.
Wiccan's eyes cut to Axiom for a second. "Faith Axiom, tis no pants but still covers wha shouldna be left flappen in the breezes." If the accent is on account of the fact that Wiccan is now dressed like a Gaelic wizzard instead of his older self as Sorcerer Supream, some resonince with the dreaming, or him just screwing around a bit is probably best left unquestioned. The anwser would probably drive men mad, or at lest annoy a bit.
When No Pants trys another distraction there is just a lift of Wiccan's left eyebrow. "Laddy, if ya think that one is gonna werk yeh ha nere faced a real Superhero. Were ere cause someone is stealen fra one who shouldna be stolen from, and if ya keep trying those tricks I may ha to summon up a real nightmare to dangle ya in fronta. I ha some truely dark ones after sharing head space wi a demon God, and they was always hungery...I bet I could find them easy enough here..." They are not a nice thing to use, but threats can be surprisingly effective...even when convayed in silly accents.
"Why do you sound like th-that? And why did you change clothes again?" best left unquestioned? Naw, this is Eddie. Axiom's still smiling but looking lost. Her perks up when Wiccan uses that f-word...not the four letter one...since it's kind of what he does.
The attempted trick just gets Axiom sighing a little. He frowns a little at the mention of that demon god but catches onto Billy's idea. "We c-could probably find something worse than a nightmare too."
Thing is...that while No Pants might BE a one trick pony...his one trick? It's pretty good. Stalking Man, distant cousin to the Slender Man, the one who is always behind you, almost impossible to see as it is, but doubly so when the two heroes have their attention focused on No Pants grabs behind their necks and if he succeeds, grabs with an iron grip.
No Pants takes out a giant cleaver, "Well....let's see if we can help you find something worse laddies!" He's about to cut the two heroes with ASTONISHING speed between blinks but just then....all of the little snow globes...just...vanish...like someone somewhere destroyed them. No Pants twirls around himself. "Wha...How? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" He's quite upset.
That feeling one gets when the hairs on the back of your neck all stand up and you know someone is behind you, Wiccan gets that just before he is grabbed. He could curse that he let himself fall for the second oldest trick in the book, the oldest being the look behind you trick when there is no one there, but that won't help him escape. Good thing he has other tricks up his sleeves, like the whole electricity thing. There is a spark of electricity from his eyes as his whole body becomes electrified, and little bolts of lightning climb up his staff like a Vandergraff Generator.
If his shocking attempt at escape works Wiccan will simply stay floating where he was behing held up when the Stalking Man lets go. "Forget your wares, there are more dangerous things to worry about." Wiccan says reaching into the folds of his jacket and picturing in his mind the dream catcher his little brother made last year in summer camp for him and trying to pull it out to throw at No Pants expecting Axiom will deal with the Stalking Man.
Axiom gets that same feeling but the squeak that would usually come from him is cut off by the tight grip around his neck. He doesn't have Wiccan's electricity but he has something else. Axiom reaches out with his powers to boost Wiccan, lighting up with hope and faith that tends to be harmful to creatures of evil and fear. He's hoping it gets him let go. But just to help ensure it, he grabs his staff off his belt and with a quick twist it extends back towards the Stalking Man.
If he's able to escape, Axiom will fall right onto his backside. He won't stay there long though, kicking up to his feet and trying to trip the Stalking Man off his feet with his staff.
If No Pants had attacked then, then either Axiom or Wiccan would be in trouble. But he is still furious about the loss of the globes.
Stalking Man is HUGE, like eighteen feet tall made of almost pipe cleaner slenderness with spooky black eyes and a bloody knife in his third hand. But the electricity makes him jiggle and dance a rather amusing little dance (well...if electrocuting bad guys amuses you...which it totally shouldn't)
As Axiom BOOSTS the shock he stops dancing and goes stiff. Little X's appear on his eyes and he goes stiff and lets go.
No Pants finally gets wise and begins running away. FAST, insanely, astonishingly fast.
Wiccan is glad that his mother is a psychiatrist some days. After terrible things happened in the past she taught him lucid dreaming techniques for when he had the nightmares, and those are just the sort of thing that is going to come in handy right now. Almost as if triggered by No Pants taking off Wiccan is suddenly dressed in red and black ninja pajamas with a mask over his face, and throwing that dream catcher that is now attached to his wrist via a super long chain. Moving at the speed of thought he keeps the dream catcher moving inside his mind around people to try and catch No Pants. If he does, then the chain is getting pulled as he calls out, "Get Over Here!"
Axiom keeps boosting Wiccan, increasing all his friend's abilities. There's a pause as he sees the size of the Stalking Man but of course he has no idea who the guy is. The Xs don't stop him from swinging his staff to trip the towering enemy. Better safe than sorry after all. Wiccan's Ninja-attire just makes Axiom stare a second. "H-how does he keep doing that?" he asks no one in particular, keeping watch to make sure nothing else tries to ambush or attack them.
The chain is not that effective. But Wiccan isn't using a chain. He's using a DREAM Catcher! The good news is that it works. It streaks out of his arm and tangles No Pants but Good! No Pants shrieks in fear and moves around and around and around in the circle.
The BAD news is that....the formerly bustling market just stops. Everyone is quiet. They're all, like...as far as you can see, hundreds of people, just staring at Wiccan. It's kind of uncomfortable. The silence keeps being...you know. Silent.
Wiccan has a lot of experience being stared at, some of it good like when he is fighting bad guys saving the day and some of it not so good like when a prank outed him to his entire school Freshman year. This is oddly more uncomfortable than the outing, but not as scary. Sliding into his normal costume as Wiccan the teen floats himself over to where he has trapped No Pants. "That is enough of that, now you're going to tell me what I came here to find out or...actually no or. You Are going to talk."
All the silence and staring makes Axiom frown and slump his shoulders a little. He's not as used to being stared at and it makes him uncomfortable. Swallowing, Axiom collapses his staff down to it's more compact size. "It's okay, everyone. Y-y-you can go back to your shopping and stuff. There's n-nothing to see here," he calls out, also feeling a bit bad about disrupting the market. He follows along with Wiccan once more and nods. "Yeah. N-no more tricks, no more attacks. Just t-tell us what we want to know, please."
No Pants frowns, "I ain't saying NOTHING!" This is for about three days. Of course, subjectively, being inside of a dream catcher is like...a year for every second in the dreaming. By the time his words are comprehensible, he begins to blabber, "OK! OK! He's back! He's totally back!" Anticipating their questions he just says,"The Dead Master! The one who came here before. The one who gave me what I needed to take...rather than trade."
There is a double silence now as everyone is looking at the THIEF. There is a sound of knives being drawn and sharpened. NOW, there is more than silence as EVERYONE begins to pack up shop as quickly as possible.
The market is closed.
The raven begins to fly towards you in the distance.
Wiccan takes a little time to realize that the Dream Catcher is having an effect more than just holding No Pants there. The fact that there could be a bit of time dilation had never occurred to him. Once he learns something about what is going on he casts a quick spell or three that hopefully should hold No Pants before grabbing and removing the dream catcher. That at least should make things easier. "The Dead Master? Who is that? How do we find them?"
Axiom catches onto the time dilation a bit quicker, shooting Wiccan a concerned look. He keeps the boost going so those spells are more effective. He recognizes that familiar sound of blades being drawn and sharpened even quicker. Live with the Goddess of War as long as he did and you learn that sound. He clears his throat and looks around at the market, giving a silent warning that they'll have to get past him if they try attacking No Pants right now. Sure he's not very intimidating but that doesn't stop him from trying. "And where d-did what you stole go? It should be returned to the people you stole it from."
Creatures of Dream are not the same as the realm of the living, but No Pants is intensely grateful to be freed, "He who is the second. He who was dead and shall live again. He who is in the realm of thy allies distant kin. He who has played the game and taken the ferryman's coin. He who shall shake the world...and destroy it to save it." Apparently "John Smallberries at 952 Lane" is not the way things operate here.
At the removal of the dream catcher, an audible sound of relief is heard from those nearby...as they continue to flee for their lives.
The Raven arrives. "Good work you two. And I heard that last question. The memories were returned, courtesy of your friend back there. I've already sent him back. Any specific requests before you wakes up?"
Wiccan nods and does his best to remember everything being said. Whatever is behind it at least sounds like the kind of thing that needs to be fought. When the Raven arrives he nods to it, "I guess that makes you the legal authorities we should leave him with?" He asks nodding to No Pants. "Any chance I can catch the last part of my dream? The bad guys were nearly defeated and that usually means I...." He coughs a little and blushes. "The older version of my boyfriend is hot..." Yeah, he was looking forwards to the big romantic saved the day kiss in that dream.
Axiom nods as well, quietly repeating it under his breath to help memorize it. "Does he have an actual n-name?" Axiom asks simply. He clips his staff back to his belt and glances around as if expecting to see more Ravens appearing but in little cop-uniforms. Wiccan's cough and blush makes Eddie blink and he ends up blushing as well. "Y-you too?" he asks quietly. "C-c-c-can I catch the end of my dream too?"
The Raven cocks his head, "Yeah. His name is Ascot. Nice to meet you folks. End of dreams? No problem! We live to serve." There is a door and in the dreams resume, more vivid and more awesome than before. In the morning, when the sun rises, Billy has a hand written copy of "The Hobbit"...probably not THE original. Probably. And Eddie has a small fedora that is labeled inside as once belonging to the "Gray Grenadier" a hero he heard of as an obscure pulp hero of the 1930's and early 40's.