It began in the realm of Nightmare, which is frightening enough as it is. Not “nightmare” as in the subconscious, but the realm of a man called Nightmare, a real place, a pocket dimension where those who prowl your sleep stir. It started weeks ago, but of course time, like matter and energy, have very different meanings in the Splinter Realms that lie outside of Earth, as we know it.
At the time of moonset, the stars stopped weeping blood and nocturnal demons were making their way into the mists. It was then that the scream came. It came from the depths of Nightmare’s castle, shaking the shivering stones. At the gatehouse, the guards recognized the scream and made warding signs as they knew the most unheard of things had happened – their lord, Nightmare, master of troubled sleeps and distressed minds, had himself just been woken from a nightmare. Nightmare dresses himself and with a degree of fear in his voice he tells himself that it was just a dream, and wonders how it could have startled him so. He drinks what appears to be wine and feeling calmer he reveals that it was simply a “thing” – a nameless darkness from behind the stars. Suddenly, a green mist appears in Nightmare's room, and dropping his glass, Nightmare screams.
At approximately the same time, in New York, reality is suddenly blemished for a moment, while in an isolated alleyway, the surface tension of creation ruptures apart and from it, crawls a grotesque demon. The demon prepares to scurry away into the Manhattan night, until a blinding flash of light stops it in its tracks. A beautiful young woman wearing a silver eldritch costume and carrying the powerful Soulsword appears.
She is known by many names, most people would know her as Amanda Sefton, a powerful sorceress, longtime all of the Uncanny X-Men and member of two splinter X-teams. To a select few she is known by her true name, Jimaine Szardos, though only her mother, the Sorceress Supreme now calls her by that. To the citizens of Europe, they know her as Daytripper, the woman who was an immense asset of Excalibur during many times of need. Now though, she is called Magik.
The glare of Amanda’s inter-dimensional stepping disk fades out as she launches into reality proper, ready to deliver the demon its ultimatum. Amanda calls out to the demon, telling it that it does not belong in this world, and that it should surrender or suffer the consequences. If the demon understood Magik, it makes no response and lumbers away. Amanda smiles slightly and almost mockingly, she calls out to the demon that its kind always runs away, thinking it knows best, when in fact it is always wrong.
Magik strikes the asphalt with her Soulsword and a wall of flame races from its tip to the demon, where it encircles it in a ring of fire. Amanda has its undivided attention now and she casts a spell, carving trails of glitter into the air, runes and sigils. Blowing on them as a lover would blow a kiss, the runes drift off Amanda’s hand like gossamer…and destroy the parked vehicles on the street like a magickal hammer, falling like an avalanche onto the demon.
Amanda tells it that if it is still alive it best submit, though if it is dead, then she wouldn't be surprised, or distressed for that matter. Beneath the rubble of Amanda’s strike, something stirs, for after realizing it could not turn and escape, the demon has chosen to fight. In order to fight, it had to transform into its true state, gaining wings, multiple arms and increasing heavily in size. Amanda suspected as much and decides she was right in making this demon her primary target this night.
The Soulsword cuts a new Stepping Disk around Amanda and she disappears, leaving behind a hesitant and confused demon. This was a trick she learned from someone very dear to her, a man called Kurt Wagner, who calls it “repositioning”, and Amanda appears instantly behind the demon, calling to it. The demon turns around to Amanda far quicker than something of its size and bulk should have been able too. It’s inner eyes throbbing with ghastly power, it unleashes a blast. Amanda manages only to dodge it thanks to her speed.
However the backlash of the blast has dazed Magik and as she gathers herself, the demon draws in closer, managing to pin her arms back, its foul breath sickening her. Worse than its breath is its tongue, which the demon uses to lick Amanda’s face. Amanda uses her intuition and shows the demon that the horns she wears as a headpiece are not just for decoration, and after being stabbed by the horns, the demon stumbles backwards.
Magik draws the Soulsword and delivers the final blow, striking the demon hard and fast. She wipes its blood from her face, annoyed that some of it went in her mouth, so she had to taste it, and it tastes as bad as it looks. Sirens of emergency services sound and attend to the fire-stricken area, tending to the destruction Amanda caused to stop the demon. While this goes on, Amanda slips out of the way, leaving behind no trace she was present.
Amanda Sefton has to make other visits this night, first stop, a decaying residential hotel called “Bradbury Americana”. Walking down one of its corridors, her footsteps echo throughout the endless hallways. Magik passes a room with an open door and inside the room is a man watching “Jerry Springer”, this episode is about a woman who realizes her baby-sitter was a cross-dressing serial killer… Amanda stares into the room and the man notices her, turning to her, he has some kind of growth on his face and angrily asks Amanda what she is looking at. ‘Nothing’ she replies before moving on. Amanda should know by now that it is just best to ignore the residents here, no matter what you see through open doors….
Past another room, where what appears to be a horse with its head inside a refrigerator, though moving back out of the fridge, one can see that the horse has an upper body and head of a man. The centaur apparently knows Amanda and greets her, asking her how she is doing, before informing her he is about make a snack he asks her if she would like some. Amanda thanks Phil before moving on. She knocks on another door, and when the short man inside the room asks her who it is, she calls him Nugent and asks him to let her in.
Inside the room, Amanda informs Nugent that she was just stopping by to see how his work was coming along. Nugent beckons Amanda to follow him into the bathroom where he will show her. Amanda stares at the device Nugent has been working on and he informs her that he started building it in the lounge but bought it in here as the bathtub could drain the secretions away. He tells her that it is codifying and cataloging data he punched in earlier this night. He tells Amanda that the work is painstaking, but another couple of weeks and they should have a solid database of arcane lore.
Amanda adds that they will also have a powerful weapon in her ongoing war. This research engine will be untainted by the background auras of magic that permeate in the splinter rounds because it will be kept here on Earth. Amanda turns and gets ready to leave, but Nugent asks her if she will stay, as he was about to transcribe the book of Eibon into the database. Amanda replies that she is tempted, but cannot, as she has one other visit to make this night.
A church now, where the X-Man known as Kurt Wagner or “Nightcrawler” is currently on duty. He sits in a darkened confession box and someone in the box next to him asks if anyone is in there. Kurt apologizes and proclaims that he was just gathering his thoughts. He asks if they need his help, and the answer is ‘You tell me, Fuzzy Elf’! Kurt’s eyes go wide as he recognizes the voice of Amanda, and stepping outside of the boxes, the two embrace. Amanda informs him that she was in town on business and thought she would come and see him.
Kurt asks Amanda how Limbo is doing under her guardianship, and Amanda replies that tending to its needs is not easy, as the denizens of Splinter Realms beyond Limbo are always clawing at the gates of Limbo trying to break free into Earth. Amanda adds that she spends most of her time acting as a crossing guard, chasing down the illegal immigrant demons that find their way to Earth. Kurt jokes by saying everyone can sleep easy knowing that Magik watches the borders of reality. Suddenly, Amanda keels over, clutching at her stomach, Amanda informs Kurt that she is being summoned back to Limbo, and she tells him to let go of her before – her voice is cut off, and through a whirlpool in reality, Amanda Sefton and Nightcrawler are taken from the church, into Limbo!
Back in Limbo, Nightcrawler finds himself in this wretched place he despises so much. Knowing how much her foster brother hates Limbo, Amanda apologizes and tells him that she will teleport him back at once. Kurt asks her to give him a moment to clear his senses before he has to go through that again. A large wolfen-like being appears behind the children of the Sorceress Supreme and Magik informs Kurt that it is one of her chief military aides, Vitchen. She asks Vitchen why he summoned her and as the commander points outward to Limbo he alerts Amanda to the Great Wall, which is under attack.
Nightcrawler and Amanda look to the Great Wall, and Kurt’s mind begins to reel. This wall is so massive that it makes the Great Wall of China seem like a picket fence, for this wall marks the boundary of Limbo. Beyond it lies the horrors of the Splinter Realms, lesser Hells and Demon dimensions. Kurt and Amanda watch as the legions of Limbo struggle to repel the massive onslaught from the outer regions.
Kurt proclaims that he has never seen such a thing as Amanda informs him Vitchen will send him home. Disappearing through a glistening Stepping Disk, the only light in this dark place, Amanda tells Kurt that it is not his fight. Turning to his sister Kurt asks her to wait, but she is already gone. Kurt asks Vitchen if he has a blade or two to spare, and as the commander hands Kurt two swords, the X-Man bamfs and catches up with Amanda, who is striding out to join the battle with her Soulsword.
Kurt asks Amanda if she didn’t think he would to stay and watch her back. Amanda replies that she didn’t presume, but is glad for the help. Nightcrawler thinks that the opposing army draws to the Great Wall with more of a terror than a rage, but he and Amanda stand together, outnumbered, as Amanda calls out battle orders to those on her side. Kurt engages in combat as fires begin to rage, and Amanda joins him.
No one knows how long the battle rages, but suddenly the tide turns and the enemy is routed and those from Limbo begin chanting Magik’s name in triumph. Amanda tells Kurt that her scouts told her the demons they just fought were from the realm of Nightmare and that their terrorized flight was triggered by a magickal aftershock of Nightmare himself suffering a nightmare.
Amanda informs Kurt that a great threat is gathering on the edges of the Splinter Realms and that she needs to get him back to Earth. Kurt states that he is not going to leave her alone, as Vitchen announces Amanda has a visitor who has crossed the realms and now demands an audience with her. Magik is surprised that someone would be so bold to demand an audience – she cuts her words short when she sees whom her visitor is…the Dread Dormammu!