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Thread Contributor: Luthien VogelerQuest Day One: Paying a visit
Emberverse-Main

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#1
Luthien was always restless the day after a fight. Staying in the room she was sharing with Queth and Belle was stifling, she needed to move, to talk to someone-well, what she needed was to get laid, to be totally honest. Laid or drunk or both, and that likely wasn't happening, given that Arjay was recovering from a serious wound.

Unless.....

Almost without meaning too, what had been intended as the start of a walk around the outside of the building took her to Steve's door, and once she was there, it seemed natural to knock on it.

Maybe he was awake and would want to talk.
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Marvel-MCU

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#2
After the fight in the van, Steve had needed time to process it. He still had nightmares about the ice, about how cold the water of the atlantic had been, how that sort of seep of ice and water had pulled out all of the warmth in his body until it hurt, leaving him unable to even gasp for air anymore. Pain was something that Steve was familiar with, but he rarely let it bother him.

Being on fire, though, that was a new experience for the super soldier, and not one he would ever like to repeat. It was easy to say it had been all in his head, but the truth of it was that saying something was easy, believing it, understanding it, and accepting it was an entirely different creature. That took time, and it took taking a luke-warm shower and not hurting, running his hands over his arms and feeling no pain, no scars or healing burns.

The knock on his door was unexpected, but Steve simply stood and crossed the small room to open it, dressed in a new tee shirt and jeans, his hair still damp from the shower. “Luthien, hello,” Steve took a step back to let her in with a smile, “Is everything alright?” He worried about Arjay; that shoulder wound had looked bad, but he hadn’t had a chance to check in with his elven friend. Yet.
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Emberverse-Main

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#3
Luthien smiled at Steve as she stepped inside. She could tell from the look in his eyes that he was still processing the fight, and what had happened to him during it. She understood it a little, she'd known other people who had suffered from similar attacks by the same Power that had controlled the men in the van.

"Everything is well." she said, and then snorted "Not well, but as well as can be expected, after a fight like that. Arjay's wound has been dressed and cleaned, and he says he has some small magics that should have him up and around in a two or three days. I don't like losing the time, but I don't think we have any choice. Not with the blow Dean took to the head on top of it. I was just restless, and couldn't stay in my room any longer, so I went for a walk. How are you?" she asked, studying the man. He'd been magnificent in the fight, but now, he seemed shaken.
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#4
“Language!”

While he wouldn’t say that he was really fine, Steve was recovering from his ordeal during the fight. The serum made him bounce back from injury far more quickly than most people could, but his reliance on it had been made clear as he’d considered more and more of the possiblities of this world, and all of the others that existed.

There had to be worlds where the serum would simply not work. Where he would shrink and find himself small and vulnerable and weak again. Where he would be a liability to his team. He’d gotten lucky here; he was still strong and fit, tall and healthy. But what if this world had taken that away from him? He would work hard to keep up, but would he be able to when he was surrounded by magic and supernatural abilities? He wasn’t sure he would make that cut. Being used to being one of the strongest, most capable in a room for years now hadn’t made Steve forget how it was to be the smallest, most frail, but it had become a memory. Now, that memory loomed in his mind, and it was unsettling.

Add to that the polar opposite of his worst nightmare, which had been a nightmare in its own right, and Steve was still processing and figuring out how to cope with it.

But Luthien’s appearance had him pushing it to the back burner; he could deal with it later.

There were an awful lot of things that he was planning on dealing with ‘later’, but that couldn’t be helped just now. He was on a quest, he had a mission, and that took priority. Arjay was healing, he had some magic left, which was good. Dean’s head… A concussion, most likely, not that they could afford to stop and seek medical care really, but Steve had seen plenty worse on the battlefield; Dean seemed strong, he’d be alright. They just needed time, as Luthien had said. “I know it can be frustrating to lose the time, but it can’t be helped. Better to take it now than regret not taking it later when we need Arjay and Dean in fighting form.”

How was he? “I’m fine.” he shrugged, “Not great, but I’m not hurt. Took me a little bit to come to terms with that, but I have.” Magic? Something. That man had done something to him, which was disturbing on its own. The pain had been terrible, but it was nothing that Steve couldn’t deal with. The idea that the man could have done something more than just made him feel so much pain though, that was a problem. “Can they do anything else, do you know? Than just make you feel like you’re on fire? Or is it just that single thing?” He frowned, then shook his head, “I’m sorry, you didn’t come to talk about that. I’m just… Processing. Worrying.” he chuckled humorlessly, “You're not the only one feeling restless."

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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Emberverse-Main

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#5
"You're right." Luthien said with a little noise of annoyance "I know that. Sometimes you have to stop and rest. I know all of that, but its still...I want to be doing something. Right now, waiting makes me feel so helpless, especially now that we know that we have enemies out there. I know that the Quest is the most important thing, but at the moment I want to find them and hunt them down and stop them. Even knowing that doing so is dangerous. That it endangers the Quest, and that it could endanger everything that comes after. I know that, and yet...." she banged a fist against the wall in frustration.

"I understand, as much as I can without experiencing it." Luthien replied "I never had one of them touch me like that, but I saw it happen. If its like in the History that I read about the War Against Cut-and I do think that these men may have been Cutters, or like what I saw myself in the War of the Jaguar, their power is in illusion. In making you see and feel things that are not true, are not real. Its horrible, but it doesn't seem to taint the soul, or make people so touched vulnerable to later attacks. Even if it did, we have the Sword with us. The Sword can cut through their evil and their control, in times of greatest need."
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#6
“Language!”

While it was nice to hear Luthien say she knew he was right, that she agreed with his statement, he understood that it was one thing to know when something was right, and another thing entirely to follow through and do that right thing. Luthien’s struggle was a very real one that Steve understood better than people might believe. There had been so many times in the field, both during the War and since waking up from the ice, that Steve knew what he believed was the right course of action, but wanted so badly to do otherwise.

He had known that it had been right to crash the plane into the arctic, but that hadn’t made it easy. At least he’d been alone in the plane, making the decision he had with someone else, with Peggy, sitting next to him would have been infinitely harder. Maybe too hard. He had known that he should tell Tony about his parents, but he hadn’t wanted to put his friend through even more pain, drudging up old, healed over wounds and ripping the scabs off. He’d failed in that. He had known that Ultron had been a bad idea, but he hadn’t had the ability to act on it until he’d found out, which was after the damage had been done. He had known that focusing solely on Bucky, that turning his back on the Avengers, on his friends, fighting against them, had been wrong, but he had fallen into a pit of desperation and he had had to save Bucky, having failed him once before already. And in the process, he had failed Tony, he had failed all of the Avengers, his family.

Reaching out, he put a gentle hand on Luthien’s shoulder for just a moment, trying to provide comfort, “I know.” He smiled a small smile, “Every leader faces that moment, Luthien. Anger is part of being human, we all feel it. We all have that desire to chase down those who would hurt us, our friends, our teammates, and make sure they can’t. And in a smaller way, doing that might save some people. But in the bigger picture,” he arched a brow, “Is the quest going to save more?” He wasn’t saying it would, or that it was more important; this was Luthien’s quest, she was the leader here, in this party, and Steve would follow her wherever she led. He might offer her counsel, if she wished it, but at the end of the day, the decision was hers to make. “If you say that we need to follow them, that we need to hunt them down, then that’s what we’ll do. This burden was put on you, we’re just here to support you. And that’s a hell of a burden, I know.”

As much as she could without experiencing it. He grimaced, then shook his head, “I hope you never have to feel that. Illusion makes sense, but it doesn’t feel any less real for it. I still keep expecting to see burns and scars when I look at my skin.” It didn’t hurt anymore, but that wasn’t really the worst of it. It was the expectation, that everything should hurt, that he should feel weak but didn’t. It was confusing, not on a conscious level, but unconsciously, it was deeply unsettling. Still, Steve would manage it. He was managing. He didn’t move gingerly, he didn’t flinch from touching things or being touched. “It’s good to know we have something that can deal with it. It wasn’t a good experience, but it wasn’t life threatening. Not for me, anyway - the problem was that it took me out of the fight until Queth forced him to break contact.” And that was another thing… “They have to keep in contact for it to work. The moment he let go, everything stopped. Takes a moment for the mind to catch up with that, but… We just need to watch each other, and if one of them reaches out at us, we just need to try to break contact ASAP.” He shook his head; it added another layer of depth to any combat with them. “They really want to stop us, though.”

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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Emberverse-Main

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#7
Luthien listened to Steve's words, and considered them carefully "That depends on what you mean by 'save more people'." she said, quietly "The world that this world would grow into, if the Change never happens is a nightmare. Worse than a nightmare, from the Visions that Artros and his Companions saw. But the Change will kill this world, and the Fifth Age will be born from the ashes. To step away from the Quest would be to risk everything that comes from the Change, and i know we can't step way from it. But doing the smart thing isn't always easy, is it?" she snorted a laugh, thinking of all of the truly stupid risks she'd taken in the War of the Jaguar, when the situation had called for it.

"I'm glad that you're uninjured." Luthien said "And at least we know that they don't have any more power than they did after the Change. That is something. And yes, you are correct. Breaking contact works, the evil magic that lets the Enemy enter into someone's mind takes years to wield." she nodded in agreement with his statement "Of course they want to stop us. The Change stopped their first attempt, and the fact that I bear the Sword of the Lady shows that their second attempt must be doomed as well."
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#8
“Language!”

The world, without this change, was a nightmare. Steve took a deep breath, considering what Luthien was explaining to him. The world she came from was not an easy place. From what he understood, survival there was hard won. but it was a good world, life there worthwhile. And he knew that the nightmares of some people could be beloved daydreams of others. It was all relative. But taking into account that this world was Luthien's world, and it was (supposedly, at least) meant to go through this change…

Once again, steve reminded himself that he wasn't the one in charge here. On this Quest. And for that. he was thankful. The decision Luthien had to make was a difficult one. "No. The smart thing isn't always easy. And the right things even more rarely are.”

Quietly steve considered the enemies they had run into. "You called them Cutters. Who are they, do you know? What attempt does the Change stop? what are they trying to do?” He was curious, but more than that, the more they knew about their enemy, the better they could fight against them. The higher their chances of victory. So he asked.

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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Emberverse-Main

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#9
"The Cutters are or were or will be the tools of the Power that wants the Quest to fail, this Quest, and the Quest for the Sword that " she shook her head "Just thinking about the grammar is making my mind wobble a bit. Everyone had thought that at this time, before the Change, that the Church Universal and Triumphant was just another, what are they called? Survivor? Survivalist? Anyway, just another one of those groups, one that did a bit better after the Change than most of that lot did. It was thought that they'd started serving the Enemies of Man later, after the Change, but perhaps that picture is too limited. Who knows, maybe we killed enough of their Seekers just now to slow them down for a generation. I can hope, anyway."

"As for what they're trying to do-well, the Cutters were trying to create the same nightmare world that the Change was meant to stop, using cruder means. The things they did in furtherance of that-we still don't know all of what they did-but it was a black horror, the worst of it. Probably more or less what I saw in the War." some of that had been-well, there were times when the nighmares were bad, and she was glad for drink "My best guess is that they're simply trying to stop the Change from happening."
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#10
The Cutters, as Luthien's called them, were yes, tools. Not people. People didn't take blunt force trauma to the chest tike he'd seen them take and keep ongoing like it was nothing. "You mean like Doomsday Preppers?" Clint had made him watch that show. Steve had come away with the knowledge that people hadn't really changed all that much, they were still as scared as ever, just of new and worse things. He considered what she said before nodding, "We can definitely hope."

So this change had definitely helped people, and the world as a whole. Good. That meant it wasn't all for nothing. "Well, they will find that out group is not so easily defeated, Luthien. And they will ultimately lose. We will see this quest through, all the way to the end."
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Emberverse-Main

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#11
Luthien considered her answer carefully. She knew one of the words, and could work out the meaning of the other one, but wasn't entirely certain what the phrase meant "Perhaps." she replied "People who thought that some great calamity was coming, and who stockpiled food and weapons against it. Most of them didn't do well after the Change, since so many of them were suspicious of their neighbors, and in times of hardship folk needed to band together. And they usually stockpiled guns, or bows that they could not make or repair on their own." Luthien's disapproval was clear, but she spoke of it like someone talking about events far in the past. Which, to her, they were.

"Thank you." she said, smiling at him "Its good to know that I have brave Companions to aid me in this Quest. Thank you."
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#12
“Language!”

Luthien’s response was met with the same level if quiet respect and consideration that Steve always showed every member of their little party. He worked hard not to project any early assumptions or judgements of his own onto any of them, and had come to find that they were a decent bunch of people. He liked all of them to at least some extent, some reminding him of certain Avengers, even. Avengers that Steve sorely missed, even as he chose to stay away from his home universe. You didn’t stop missing your family just because you decided to move away from them. ”They sound like the same things to me. I don’t know a whole lot about them - my friend, Clint, he watched a television program about them. I sometimes kept him company while he watched, it’s the only reason I know anything of them.” Okay, so Clint had sort of forced him to watch the show a few times, but it was just a nicer way of saying the same thing, no harm in that.

Steve smiled at Luthien’s thanks before shaking his head, ”Of course you do, Luthien. As difficult as things get, we’re all in this together. And that’s how we’ll see this through.”

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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