"I've gotten you all booked into the Millennium Hotel." Rachel said, "Lucy has it all arranged. Your gear is all in the car ready for you to leave." She handed the keys to the car to Steve. "I hope that you find wherever this Chaos has taken Doctor Banner quickly. She's already had him for three weeks now."
"Don't worry." Natasha said, "Tony's leading us in the search."
"Activate this when you find them." Rachel said while handing over a small tracking beacon to Natasha, "Bring both Rona and Chaos back alive. We need to know what they know in order to stop whatever is going on and whatever that fairy tale Stark is following has foretold is going to happen."
"We'll leave it at the entrance to where they are." Steve said, "Wherever they've gone it's caused the tracker on Rona to lose signal."
"Either that or she's found it and destroyed it." Clint said before heading off to the second car. Tony remained silent as he sat in the back of the car. Natasha had banned him from driving in such a mood -that and the speed limit in the UK was 70 mph if you were lucky.
He had been brooding for some time now. The more that he looked into Chaos and her past the more moody he got. He didn't like her -or her record for that matter. He was worried about Bruce and what Chaos could have taken him for. He knew from the Brotherhood records that Chaos had been part of a movement that had swept through Scotland in the 1600s before suddenly disappearing before the movement was defeated. The movement Chaos had been part of was made up of some very evil characters with some very dark pasts and long records. Many had been hunted down and killed after the movement started to fall apart and Tony had read every single trail report in the hopes of discovering more information on Chaos or who was running the movement but he found nothing.
The car started moving causing Tony to turn and look at Natasha as she sat in the back with him while Steve drove and Clint sat in the passenger seat. Natasha gave him a small smile while Steve and Clint talked about the trip to Glasgow -Steve having visited Glasgow before with Thor.
"We'll find them Tony." Natasha said, "We'll bring Bruce back."
"Charlie!" You shouted as Charlie grabbed a hold of her sixth banana, "Dear God! You're going to make yourself sick!"
"No she won't." Rona said while rolling her eyes at Charlie, "Cast iron stomach, that one." Bruce looked up at Charlie as she chocked on her bite of banana while you laughed with a glass of non-alcoholic pomelo and watermelon nectar in your hand. Bruce sat next to you with a smile on his face.
"'Ow disgusting!" Rosemarie said grimacing, "Like a porc!"
"A pig?" Edouard said shocked, "Charlie? Never! Just because she has a big appetite does not make her a pig!"
"You lot are cruel!" Charlie snapped after finishing her mouthful, "First I have a cast iron stomach and then I'm a pig!"
"Put it this way Charlie," You said, "It could always be worse!"
"Oh really?" Charlie asked, "How?"
"You could be going to the Arcane University Catacombs." Rona said causing Charlie to shiver.
"I'd rather be a pig." She said while taking a swig of non-alcoholic nectar. You smiled as you looked the fairy over as she sat back in her chair. She was dressed in a Parisian white and black contrast lace neck bodysuit that beautifully hugged her torso beautifully while a pair of black leather-look high waisted leggings showed off the curves of her hips and showed her legs off just as well as the curves of her torso. While a pair of black contrast stretch panel wedge boots were upon her feet.
"The Arcane University Catacombs aren't that bad." You said causing Rona to laugh and Charlie to grimace.
"They're alright if you're something with thick skin or have something that's frost repellent." Rona said while standing up and brushing herself down. She was dressed in a white short sleeve letters print loose t-shirt that said 'Be weird. Become a witch. Stay crazy. Don't give a fuck!' causing you to raise an eye brow at the top. She also wore a pair of blue slim pockets elastic denim pants and black flower embroidered pointed pumps. She started to pull up her hair into a messy bun while looking out of the window.
"Should I take a jacket or not?" She asked causing everyone except yourself to look out the windows to the garden.
"Well, the Arch-Mage seems to be in a good mood today." Edouard said, "It's been sunny since that incident in Inverness." Rona and Charlie froze and looked at each other before looking at you as you sat staring at Cybille as she read the morning's newspaper. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary yet but something told you that the Arch-Mage's mood was soon to turn sour.
Charlie said something that you missed causing you to turn your attention back to her.
"Sorry?" You asked.
"How are you getting to the University?" She asked again.
"I'm taking Clyde out on an order run to The Auld Lion." Edouard suggested, "It's walking distance from the University anyway. Hotspot for the Journeymen and Envokers studying there anyway. Also the odd Magician and Warlock."
"I remember the way from there." You said while nodding, "I was both a Journeymen and Envoker at the University once upon a time. Took me a couple of years mind."
"Same here." Rona said, "I got to Envoker before I joined SHIELD. I should really start studying again."
"I would give you my old books from back when I was a student but I fear they'll be rather out of date by now." You said with a smile before getting up and collecting the empty plates from the table. Bruce watched as you left for the kitchen. The two of you had spent most of the night together in the music room talking and cleaning up the exploded light bulb.
"Confused?" Rona asked him causing him to smile.
"I kind of got lost at Journeymen and Envokers." He said.
"Okay, a Journeyman is a student level at the University." Rona said, "It's like Undergraduates, Graduates and all that fun stuff Humans have."
"Don't distance yourself!" You shouted through from the kitchen, "Don't forget that you still need to work with them when this is done!" This caused Rona to smile while Charlie and Rosemarie laughed.
"Anyway," Rona said, "The Arcane University doesn't work off of how many years you've done on one subject -it works on all subjects for the first four years."
"Four years?" Bruce asked while Edouard and Rosemarie looked at Rona shocked. Rona nodded.
"I spent most of my childhood learning the basics of magic as an Associate to become an Apprentice." Rona said, "(F/N) made me jump through hoops to get to that level."
"No, you jumped through hoops of your own doing." You said while coming back through to the dining room causing all at the table to watch you. You were dressed in a white open shoulder strappy cami top with faded bootcut jeans and black mid heel chelsea boots and you had a black coat in your hand as you walked back over to your seat. "I told you that once I was satisfied that you were familiar with the basics then I would teach you how to take your magic further not 'set your bed on fire in an attempt to impress me' or 'make your brother's nose hair grow by a foot long, have hair sprouting out of his ears then turn all the hair on his head purple.'" This caused Charlie to look at Rona shocked.
"You never told me any of this." She said while Rona smiled and gave her a cheeky wink.
"As Rona was saying," You said, "Every witch and wizard starts as an Associate to learn the basics of magic before moving on to a higher level of magic while being an Apprentice. Rona was my Apprentice before she left the Isle and joined the University where she became a Journeyman. Now Journeymen learn the next stages of magic before they choose their specialised subjects as Envokers."
"So it's like a grading?" Bruce said, "Or ranks even."
"Yes." You said before sensing the next question to come, "I left the University as a Wizard."
"What!?" All around the table -except Bruce and yourself- said sounding a bit shocked.
"What? I was only a Wizard by the University's standards." You said, "I don't see what there is to be so shocked by."
"But you got your wings!" Rona said, "God I have to get back into studying! I was trained by a Wizard!"
"I've had many years to progress, Rona." You said, "I have learnt a lot from my many centuries on the Isle. Solitude does wonders for the mind willing to learn more magic but I trained under two Master-Wizards right up to and during my year as a Journeyman. I could have gone further if- if not for..." You pressed your lips together into a fine line as you tried to suppress the memories.
"Sorry (F/N)." Rona said.
"Don't worry about it." You said in a hushed voice.
"I'll go and get Clyde." Edouard said before getting up.
"I'll go and get my jacket for you." Charlie said to Rona before the two got up and left the dining room followed by Rosemarie who was rubbing at her swollen stomach as her baby started to kick her once again -she had been up half the night with the kicking.
"So," Bruce said once the others left and you had downed the rest of your drink, "You are a Wizard in the eyes of the University?"
"Not anymore." You said while wishing you could drink the remainder of the alcoholic nectar left in the bottle on the table but you needed to keep your head for when you were out in the city centre and the University -especially when you had Bruce with you.
"Because you've been away from society for so long?" He asked.
"Yeah," You said, "You can say that." You then got up and left the dining room leaving a stunned and confused Bruce behind.
"The Witch Upon the Devil's Cross." Markus' voice said clearly from darkness behind Tony's closed eyelids as he sat in the back of the car. The journey had already taken about an hour already -an hour too long for him but at least he was in the right city now.
"Why is The Witch Upon the Devil's Cross something that (F/N) fears?" He asked while opening his eyes to find the car stuck in city traffic waiting for the lights to change. Natasha frowned at him as he turned to look at her. "Why would she get up and run at the mention of it?" He had remembered seeing you getting up and leaving the table at the ball.
"What's The Witch Upon the Devil's Cross?" Clint asked from the front passenger seat while turning to look at Tony.
"It's the story that Bruce and I were following together before he was taken." Tony said irritably while waving a hand to show that it wasn’t something he wanted to explain any further, "But why would someone run from the mention of the story?"
"I don't know." Clint said honestly as the car started moving again, "Maybe she knew about the prediction in the story and worried about it becoming true."
"Then she must have known what was going on." Natasha said, "I mean no-one in the public knows what really happened so she must have looked deeper. That must have been the reason for her being there, she was looking into the same things as Bruce was."
"But how could she?" Steve asked as they stopped at another set of traffic lights, "SHEILD never released any of the information they had or research that Bruce was doing so how did she know?" The car was silent for a moment as the group thought about the question.
"How did Chaos manage to be there at the time of the explosion?" Clint asked, "That was one hell of a coincidence that she and the guy who caused the explosion would be there, at the same time."
"Oh my god." Tony whispered quietly before saying it louder, "Oh my god!"
"What?" Natasha asked before gasping as Tony opened up the car door and got out, "Tony!" She got out after him as he made his way out of the now moving traffic and onto the pavement while talking away to JARVIS on his phone.
"JARVIS, change your search parameters for the search for (F/N) (L/N)." He said.
"May I ask why Sir?" JARVIS asked as Natasha shouted after Tony while following him through the crowded street.
"Just do it JARVIS!" Tony shouted, "Change the time search parameters so that it includes 1600-1700s only."
"Tony!" Natasha shouted as her hand clasped Tony's shoulder, "What's gotten into you! What's so shocking that it caused you to get out of the car in busy traffic?"
"I know why (F/N) ran and why Chaos was there at the same time as the crazy guy." Tony said causing Natasha to frown, "They're one of the same! (F/N) is Chaos and Chaos is (F/N)!"
"Can you prove it?" Natasha asked.
"What!?" Tony asked shocked.
"Can you prove that Chaos and (F/N) are the same person?" Tony just stared at her as if she had grown a second head, "Tony! Can you prove it?"
"I'm trying." He said weakly, "I'm 100% certain that it's her though! How else can you explain it?"
"I don't know Tony!" Natasha said, "But before we start pointing fingers we're better proving that they are -in fact- the same person. Once you've proved it then we can do something about it but our hands are tied until then." The two heard a car horn and turned to find Steve driving towards them. "Come on, we're not far from the hotel now."
"Not long now you two!" Edouard said causing Bruce to look up from his book to find you fast asleep as the two of you sat in the back of Edouard's delivery wagon. He smiled as he seen you so peaceful and not closed off like you were earlier after the talk about the ranks of the University.
He now -thanks to Rona- understood where you stood in the ranks as a Wizard. He understood that an Associate was the lowest rank and meant that someone was understanding the very basics of magic before they became an Apprentice where they would have built upon the basics of magic before they would join the University as a Journeyman. The Journeyman rank was the lowest of the ranks at the University and you would re-visit the basics of magic on both an Associate and Apprentice level before taking the steps to become an Evoker who would build upon their magic even further. After an Evoker was a Conjured who would aim to find their specialised field in magic before gaining their 'wings' as a Magician.
The studies would continue through the ranks of Warlock and Wizard before completing your studies as a Master-Wizard which would land you a place upon the High Council after ten years of even further study as a Master-Wizard and a position as a Professor after five years of further study but the highest rank that anyone could get was Arch-Mage. The Arch-Mage was the one in charge of the University and the one who the one in charge of the entire Undercity as well -which is why their council consisted of a large number of Master-Wizards and representatives of each race in the Undercity.
"Basically all the ranks do is show how powerful and how long you have been studying at the University." Rona had said, "It's also a jab at the what the Humans think of us seen as there are two kinds of Warlock -the rank at the University and the real ones, Night Walkers." The thought of thinking up ranks according to what humans thought about magic users and how to have a laugh about it made Bruce smile. He hadn't heard of anything like it before but Rona had assured him that the rank system had been used on a video game of sorts so it may have been that he had -in fact- heard it all before but just couldn't remember.
"Are either of you alive back there?" Edouard's voice asked after a while of getting no reply.
"Yes." Bruce said while moving so that he could climb into the front of the wagon, "(F/N)'s fast asleep in the back." This caused Edouard to chuckle.
"She needs all the sleep she can get with all those nightmares." Edouard said causing Bruce to look at him, "I've never seen someone wake up screaming every night."
"She did that when you were with her?" Bruce asked.
"As a teenager, yeah." Edouard said, "She taught me everything I needed to know -how to garden, how to use and control my magic, how stitch and sow and even taught me the history on my own people and my family bloodline. The things she did for us during the war was incredible."
"How many of you were there?" Bruce asked.
"Oh about fourteen, fifteen." Edouard said, "I can never remember everyone. Half of them were all from magic families or were the first in their families to have magic. The other half were human. They were nice people thought but I suppose that they would have been when staying with a stranger stuck on an Isle in the middle of nowhere with Fergus coming over the water from time to time with the mail or Father Malcolm."
"You wouldn't know him. Poor man's been dead for years. He was really nice though, always had a bag of sweets and the latest Captain America comics with him every time he came. (F/N) use to always make him a cup of tea and cook him some lunch or dinner before he left -depending on when he came."
"She must have liked him."
"Oh yeah! She had only had him stay with her 30 or so years before. He was six when he went to her at the end of the first war. I've never seen a man so happy to tell us about (F/N) and his time on the Isle. She was like a mother to him as he lost his just before he went to the Isle."
"She seems to affect a lot of people's lives in that way."
"The Madam loves taking in children and raising them, believes that she's saving them from something -most of the time I think she's talking about the old work houses. Though, in saying that I don't think she can have children of her own."
"She's old and if I'm honest, she's very old. She never talks about how old she really is or what she dreams about or even about her own family -never a topic she talks about, not even if you bring it up. Her past is her past -it's up to her who she shares it with- but you can see it in her face -the pain, the suffering, regret, sadness and the hate, all before she closes off to the world and pretends you never mentioned it. You start to wonder what happened to her to make her that way and why she's out lived so many like herself."
"What do you mean?"
"The typical lifespan of a human is 50-90 years, depending upon when they were born, how they live, their habits and fate." Your voice said suddenly from inside the wagon, "The lifespan of a witch or wizard is double that of a human's -amounting to 100-180 years- depending on when they were born, how they live, their habits and fate." It was silent as you made your way over to them. "Before you ask, yes I heard everything after the mention of Father Malcolm -I do miss James. Such a nice young man, shame that a car accident took his life."
"Sad day that day." Edouard said before adding, "Here we are! The Auld Lion!" Clyde came to a stop in front of a large medieval styled grey stone building with grey slated roofs and dark mahogany wooden windows and door while an old looking sign with a faded golden lion and the words 'The Auld Lion' on it hung from a black metal hanging basket bracket.
"Still looks the same as it did all those years ago when I was a young lass." You commented absentmindedly as you too took in the pub, "Still the best watering hole in the entire Undercity." You frowned as you saw a sign in the window.
'DINNAE FIGHT AND GET FREE DRINKS AT THE END OF THE NIGHT!'
"People brawling again?" You asked as Edouard and Bruce got down off of the wagon and you soon followed.
"Aye, over the football no less." He said as Bruce helped you get down off the wagon, "Scotland never get into the World Cup but after Germany won against Brazil there were fights over money."
"Why does that not surprise me?" You asked as he chuckled, "Anyway, we're off up there." You pointed further up the street causing Bruce to turn and look only to find the beautiful large structure of the Arcane University stood at the end of the street behind a large bridge. "We'll get a cab back, Edouard. See you later!"
"Aye! I'll see you soon!" He shouted back as you and Bruce made your way down the street to the University.
Never had such a grand building looked so impressive to Bruce and even more impressive with every step you both took towards it. It's tall and large white circular wall just seemed to grow higher and higher and appeared to be much thicker than he had originally thought it to be. Two perfectly white towers stood proudly on either side of a large set of open cast iron gates -which when closed would have had an eye in the middle of a circle with seven points coming off of it- while the elegantly curved beams making up the eggshell-shaped mesh dome stood impressively on their own from the towers before connecting to the largest tower -the one in the very centre of the University. The centre tower stood behind the open gates proudly on its own and pure white just like the others without a hint of age upon it -which seemed impossible when its height and how they kept it so clean came into question. Upon reaching midway across the bridge Bruce noticed large crystals lining the outer rim of the beams of the eggshell-shaped mesh dome.
"(F/N), what is that on the beams?" Bruce asked causing you to look up at the beams before passing through the gates of the University.
"Enchanted Crystals used for protection for if the Undercity ever came under attack." You said, "They were used a lot back when the University was above ground but once the University sunk below ground level there's not been any real use of them." You looked over to your right where Bruce had been walking next to you only to find that he had stopped upon entering the University causing you to stop and look at him.
You remembered how you had been the same all those years ago at the age of 14. You were rather young and the professors were reluctant to teach you but with words of confidence in you from the Arch-Mage at the time had settled them down enough to allow you to show them what you could do. You had confidence in your abilities but so did the rest of your classmates who had only been a year or two older than yourself at the most meaning you had to work harder than the others to prove yourself capable of both the rank you were on and the rank you were working towards but nothing had stopped you in your tracks except the sheer impressiveness of the University itself.
"Bruce!" You called causing him to look at you as you stood not too far away from him further down the stone path leading towards a sort of well like creation that the path curved around before continuing onwards towards the tallest tower. On each side of the path was a small ankle high line of bricks that separated the path from what appeared to be garden areas of some sort. "Bruce!" You waved him over as you stood with a knowing smile upon your face -he had been over whelmed by the University inside of the walls.
Inside of the walls of the University was a living and breathing community of people walking about the grounds and heading in and out of buildings that couldn't be seen from the outside. The building rested against the curved wall and followed it round. There was signs hanging off of black metal brackets next to doors just like the shop signs back out in the city itself. Boarding houses, lecture halls, study halls, a black smith, a library and a medical wing were among the few buildings that Bruce could read the signs of. There even appeared to be a small market place that had a large wooden billboard with the words 'Last Minute Market' written in gold at the top and pieces of paper pinned under it that told of the selling of different items and the day's special deals -one piece of paper told students about the sale of second hand books for the new semester and late acceptance students.
"This is amazing." Bruce said in near childish wonder and joy as he stopped next to you and looked around while you smiled at him, "I've never seen anything like this!"
"And you probably won't find anything like this anywhere else in Europe." You said, "In a America you'll probably find that The University of Arcane Studies in New Orleans is very similar considering that it was built with the Arcane University in mind -or so my Study of Magical History professor lead my classmates and I to believe."
"Does it have a city like the Undercity there as well?" He asked while looking down into the well like creation in front of him to find light blue glowing water sitting peacefully still in the bottom of the shallow well creation.
"Not in New Orleans." You said causing him to look up at you, "The city of New Orleans already accommodates well enough for the magical population living there so there is no need for a fully magical based population there -that is if I am remembering my studies correctly and if times haven't changed. The only major city that I know of in the United States that compares to the Undercity is The Troll Market under the Brooklyn Bridge."
"The Troll Market?" Bruce asked with a laugh.
"The Troll Market." You confirmed before taking a hold of his hand and leading him away from the well and towards the centre tower which had been a lot bigger in width than Bruce had expected it to be. You pulled him up to a large set of white stone doors in cased with silver brackets and designs of swirls and curls. On each side of the set of doors stood two very tall and very largely built figures dressed in identical white armour and helmets with a long light blue plume on the crest of the helmet running right down the middle of it like a mohican. You took no notice of them or their spears and just pushed the stone door open as if it weighed nothing and lead Bruce inside of the tower.
Once inside Bruce could see that the ground floor of the tower was -in fact- a rather large hall in which a class was having a lecture about something that he couldn't hear. To his left and his right there were two sets of stairs -one set going up and the other going down. You lead him over to the left hand stairs and completely ignored the set going up and followed the stairs going down and around a corner where you both found a very tall, thin and pale looking being with long white hair and light blue eyes dressed in grey robes.
"The Madam I presume." The being said while bowing its head to you as you and Bruce stopped in front of the being. By the voice of the being you both could tell that it was male but it was very softly spoken and almost like a whisper.
"Yes, I am the Madam." You said while bowing your head to the being in return before gesturing for Bruce to do the same, "This is my companion, Doctor Bruce Banner." The being bowed its head to Bruce in return before turning its light blue eyes upon you once again. "And may I ask what we shall call you, Brother?"
"I am Brother Tolbert." He said, "I have been requested to lead you down to the Oracle and his scribe. They have been waiting for you to visit them both since your arrival yesterday. Please, follow me." Brother Tolbert turned around and led you both further down the stairs to another large stone door that was pushed open as if it weighed nothing. You gasped after you had pasted through the doorway -the temperature of the air had suddenly plummeted and you could hear Bruce's own gasp of surprise and shock as he too passed through the doorway. Your breath hung in the air for a moment before finally disappearing as you slowly adjusted to the cold air around you while the door swung closed behind you and Bruce.
"This way please." Brother Tolbert said while standing further down the corridor in front of you both while looking over his right shoulder back at you both. You took a deep breath and turned to look at Bruce as you released it again. He had a jacket on but it was only a thin suit like jacket meaning that he would be cold and you knew it.
"Here." You said while reaching up to the thistle which was pinned in place on his jacket. He frowned at you as you gently clasped your hands around the flower and took a deep breath. Your hair grew thicker, skin turned blue and your eyes took on the dark blue that made up the magical form Bruce was so fascinated with before a golden glow came from within your clasped hands as you focused on them and your spell. "Blàth." Once the word left your lips and your breath hung in the air once again the golden glow from your clasped hands disappeared causing you to remove your hands. "That should keep you warm while you're down here."
"Thank you." He said as he felt warmth slowly coming from the thistle. You smiled at him before taking his hand as Brother Tolbert turned to look at you both fully with a blank and uncaring expression upon his sharp features. "(F/N), what is Brother Tolbert?" His voice was quiet this time as he did not want to seem rude to Brother Tolbert as you both walked up to him.
"An Angel." You said just as quietly in return before following Brother Tolbert down the long grey stone corridor that you were in. The corridor had numerous archways that lead onto more corridors and so even lead to cavernous rooms with other tall beings with long white hair dressed in grey robes walking around or sitting on stone chairs or benches while stone light torches held gently crackling flames.
"An Angel?" He asked you causing you to nod and some of your thick black hair to fall forward over your face, "(F/N), why haven't you changed back?"
"Because I'm using this form to repel the cold, though some may not like the sight of me like this." You said while looking into the eyes of an Angel that had stopped dead in an archway upon laying eyes on you -even Bruce didn’t fail to see the disgust in his eyes while his face remained like stone, "Also, why are you so shocked to hear that there are Angels in the University? Most people here believe that the Oracle was once an Angel."
"They do?" Bruce asked.
"Yes." You replied before answering his next question before he even had the chance to ask it, "People believe that the Oracle was one of God's Angels that came down to Earth and helped create it in the beginning. It is also believed that he helped humans gain the ability to use and control magic -hence why he is so symbolic to the magical community. Anyway, creating humans with magical powers wasn't enough for him as he wanted to teach them more and more so he went off to further expand his own knowledge of magic and ended up so powerful and so far gone to his abilities that he lost his physical form as an Angel and became -well- a mass of pure magical energy which couldn't be moved from place to place so the magical community built the University around him. Unfortunately -as I said- the Oracle lost his own memories and could only see that of which may happen, may not happen, what will happen, what happens currently and all that has happened."
"And that's the reason behind why his predictions are out of time -because he has no concept of time." Bruce said.
"Correct." You said with a smile, "The Angels here tend to the Oracle, the Hall of Prophesies -in which every single word the Oracle has ever spoken has been written down and stored- and the Heavenly Vaults."
"The Heavenly Vaults." Bruce said, "What's that?"
"The single most protected and secure vaults in history and the entirety of creation." You said as the three of you began to walk down a curved staircase, "No-one has even gone inside -except the Angelic Brothers who tend to the vaults and their possessions."
"Meaning no-one knows what's in there." Bruce said more than asked before losing his balance slightly on a thin sheet of ice causing you to stop and help him regain his composure as Brother Tolbert opened up a large wooden door with black brackets which had a thin layer of frost on them and the black metal door handle.
"Careful of the ice Doctor Banner." You said with a smile, "You are right in a sense though -only the Angelic Brotherhood and the Brotherhood that Markus is part of knows what is down there."
"How come the Brotherhood knows?" He asked as you both turned to follow Brother Tolbert who stood only a few steps away from you both in a new corridor that was rather icy and the further down the corridor Bruce looked, the more ice he seemed to be able to see. It was growing up the walls and over the floor and ceiling, it clung to the wooden torches -that had long since gone out- that lined the corridor walls and a light white fog that came off of the ice crept closer to you as the three of you walked on.
“Welcome to the catacombs, Doctor Banner.” You said as you carefully placed your feet before stepping onwards into a large room with four doorways -two on the upper level upon which you stood and two more on the lower level which you could access with the steps not too far from where you stood. "Oh! And as for your question, it is because the Brotherhood is the human counterpart to the Angelic Brotherhood."
"I thought you said that the Brotherhood couldn't enter the Undercity." He said while following both you and Brother Tolbert. Bruce could hear water flowing -like a waterfall- causing him to turn and look towards the sound which was coming from one of the lower doorways.
"And I did.” You said -dragging him out of his thoughts of the doorway and back to you and Brother Tolbert who had walked straight ahead and through the doorway there. “The Brotherhood aren't allowed to enter the Undercity and meddle with its laws and rules because the Angelic Brotherhood takes care of the affairs down here while the Brotherhood takes care of up there. Think of them as sister organisations but only in the male context. He followed you both down a narrow stone corridor, around the corner and into another room at the end. “Careful, we're coming up to a stairway and it's covered in ice."
You weren't kidding. The corridor lead to a large cavern like room with a large pillar at the edge of the platform that you were stood on -just before the steps. A very thick layer of ice covered the stone walls, ceiling and the staircase while the thickest and whitest snow that Bruce had ever seen lay untouched on the floor below you. He carefully followed you and Brother Tolbert down the stairs and onto the layer of snow heading for another archway on the left hand side of the room which lead onto a cave like area -which was luckily not covered with snow or ice but unluckily with cobwebs.
“I’m not sure which I prefer,” Bruce said, “The cobwebs or the ice and snow.” You laughed causing Brother Tolbert to turn and look at you as your laugh echoed around the area.
“So sorry.” You said quietly while bowing your head slightly to him as you all continued. You went even further underground as you all went down yet another set of stairs and into a cavern with a large looking circular platform with candles all around the edges of it. “Don’t touch anything.” You took Bruce’s hand once again having let it go when he had slipped and pulled him through the room and past the platform quicker.
“(F/N), what was that?” He asked.
“The Heavenly Vaults.” Brother Tolbert spoke before you even hand the chance, “Don’t pay it much attention Human, Witch, as neither of you shall enter them or know what they possess.”
“I do not think the vaults require my attention.” You said before hearing Brother Tolbert chuckle while opening a metal gate into another room like the first room of the catacombs, “What, Brother Tolbert, makes an Angel laugh so?”
“The knowledge that one possess, is great.” He said, “But the knowledge that thou possesses is that of a child.”
“A child I shall be, I believe, as your duty to the Oracle and God himself is by far longer than my term upon the Earth.” You said as the three of you travelled up at set of stairs and through the only doorway up there to the right of them.
“But a cursed being lives a longer term than that of the righteous.” He said while leading you through yet another corridor -Bruce was beginning to believe he was in a maze.
“Unless the cursed repent.” You said.
“Would thou be a Dweller or a Walker?” Brother Tolbert asked while stopping and turning to look at you. His sudden stop caused you too to stop and Bruce to walk into you. He went to say sorry only to find you and Brother Tolbert sizing the other up.
“I be a Dweller, Angel.” You said as venom filled your words, “Be thou Righteous or Fallen?” Brother Tolbert’s eyes flashed with anger. “Ah! Thou be a Tyrant with no kingdom to rule but old age and a high rank. We are creatures of different birth rights but are on the same side so do not quarrel with me, Cecidit Angelus.” With that you stepped around him and led Bruce down the corridor.
“I know my way.” You shouted, “You can go back to your Brothers and not see me again.” You wrenched the wooden door at the end of the corridor open before passing through the doorway. You took no notice of the sudden drop in temperature of the air around you or of Bruce calling your name as your blood boiled and pounded in your ears -Brother Tolbert's words were racing around your head.
"(F/N)!" Bruce shouted while pulling on your hand sharply as he stopped causing you to turn and face him. He looked you over while taking a small step back from you having seen your anger in your eyes and also the hurt. "(F/N), what happened back there?"
"Brother Tolbert decided to have a little display of both his righteousness and his years, that's all." You said after taking a calming breath. Bruce raised an eye brow at you that told you he knew that there was more. "Someone had to put him in his place. He may be old -older than most- but he was arrogant and highly self-righteous, someone was going to have to put him in his place-"
"And you were the one to do it?" He asked, cutting you off quickly. He seemed to be questioning more than just your display with Brother Tolbert.
"Sooner rather than later." You said quietly, "Now, please let us continue. I don't exactly like the lower catacombs and would much rather be in The Auld Lion drinking a pint or some wine or likewise."
"Sorry." He said before slowly letting go of your hand before following you down a small set of stairs before turning left to follow the pathway.
"Careful, we're coming up to a hanging walkway and it's covered in ice." You said while looking over your shoulder at him. The pathway lead to a large cavern like cave with a hanging walkway that was more like a bridge -an incredibly icy bridge. A very thick layer of ice covered the stone walls, ceiling and the bridge while the thickest and largest icicles that Bruce had ever seen hung down from the bridge and headed straight down to what Bruce guessed was the flowing river of the Undercity that had been teeming with life only the day before -only an oddly shaped wooden piece of debris blackened with mould and moss and some sort of slime floated eerily upon the surface of the water.
"Just one foot at a time Bruce." You said suddenly causing Bruce to snap out of his thoughts before looking up at you frowning slightly -he had been sure he had seen a ghostly grey eye blink up at him from the mouldy and moss covered slimy piece of debris a second before. You watched him carefully while holding out your hand to him which he blinked at for a moment before finally taking hold of it. You gently pulled him across the bridge where you both walked up a narrow split in the ice covered wall into another cavern only this one had a large set of black wooden doors set into a castle like designed stone wall.
"Wow!" Bruce commented as he was lost for words at the sheer sight of the doors and the wall that they were set into, "So this is where the Oracle is." He said it more than asked but you still nodded.
"The Hall of Prophecies." You said while looking up at the doors yourself and now feeling the full gravity of the situation -it felt like the entire world had been thrust onto your shoulders and you couldn't get it off.
Then with a deafening clunk which was soon followed by a thunk the doors swung inward to show nothing but pitch black darkness.
"Sir," JARVIS said while the screen of Tony's phone lit up, "Sir, are you there?" There was the sound of running water being stopped before the door to the bathroom was quickly opened as Tony -who's only clothing or coverage was a bath towel- came almost sprinting out of the bathroom as best as he could.
"JARVIS!" He said while picking up the phone, "JARVIS, what is it? Did you find anything?"
"As a matter of fact, I have." JARVIS said.