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Bob Harras (writer), Mike Deodato Jr (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker & colorist), Bill Oakley (letterer), Matt Idelson (assistant editor), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)
Quicksilver and Crystal arrive in Wundagore to visit the ailing Bova. They are greeted by Bova’s carer, the man called Fydor, who takes them to her cottage. Bova is pleased to see them, and gives Crystal some advice about her estrangement from Quicksilver. Crystal finds Quicksilver outside in the cold, and asks him not to shut her out. Quicksilver is crying, worried about Bova, who cared for him when he was young. Quicksilver wishes that there was something he could do, and Fydor explains that Bova dreams of once more meeting the man who created her - the High Evolutionary. Quicksilver knows that is not possible, as the Evolutionary left Wundagore long ago, but Fydor motions up the mountain, showing that lights flicker atop the mountain. Quicksilver vows to find the High Evolutionary. Quicksilver races to the top of the mountain with Crystal, and they are greeted by the former Acolyte called Neophyte who shows them a shrine to Magneto. Neophyte talks about Exodus and the Acolytes, and explains that none of them come here since the Evolutionary returned. Quicksilver suggests to Neophyte that he make contact with Charles Xavier, before Neophyte warns him that he shouldn’t be on the mountain, before vanishing as two Animutants - New Men - arrive. Quicksilver engages the behemoths in battle, before the High Evolutionary shows himself. The storm grows stronger, and Bova worries about Quicksilver and Crystal, however a smirking Fydor lies to her and assures her that they are fine. In New York, Hercules is on the phone to Taylor Madison, who tells him that she can’t see him anymore. The doorbell rings and Augustine Jones is waiting for Taylor, as she has answered the add to be her roommate. Augustine intends to make herself at home. Captain America is having a training session in the gym, but finds his body failing him. He worries about what is happening to him, and is unaware that the Black Widow saw him having troubles. She worries about him, while the Vision assures her that Captain America will tell them what is wrong when he feels the time is right, but the Black Widow worries that it will be very bad news. Marilla is searching for her charge, Luna, and finds her in Crystal’s quarters, thinking she is just missing her mother, but unaware that Luna could see her “uncle”, the Black Knight, in a mirror. Marilla leaves the room before the Black Knight appears in the mirror again, revealing that he needs help.
Eastern Europe, specifically the troubled Balkans - more specifically still, the lower slopes of the place called Wundagore - the haunted mountain. The evening wind carries with it more than a hint of the coming winter. Son, there will be a storm. An old man sits under a tree and watches out over his flock. Smoke rises from the chimney of a small house nearby. He lights his pipe, and he can hear the storm coming in the distance. His sheep look at him in fear, they hear the sound - like the howling of the wind. The old man smiles, as the wind becomes a hurricane that roars into the little valley. The old man is knocked aside, then he smiles, thinking ‘He has arrived’.
The “he” is Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. the Avenger called Quicksilver, a mutant blessed with the gift of speed. In his arms, is his wife, the Inhuman princess called Crystal, also a member of the Avengers, she is an elemental with limited control of earth, air, water and fire. After a long, long way, they have finally reached their journey’s end. ‘F-finally’ Pietro utters as he keels over, exhausted. Wearing her white and black costume with the Avengers’ jacket, Crystal rushes over to her estranged husband, who assures her that he will be all right, that he is just winded. ‘I don’t think so. You’re pushing yourself too hard. You still haven’t fully recovered from Exodus’s attack’ Crystal declares. ‘So it would appear’ Quicksilver agrees, while the man who was sitting under the trees suddenly rushes over, ‘Master Maximoff!’ he exclaims. ‘Are you all right, Sir?’ he asks.
‘Of course, Fydor! But tell me - how is she?’ Pietro replies, sweat pouring down his face. He and Crystal follow Fydor to the small cottage, as Fydor replies ‘Not much better, I’m afraid…but she is eagerly awaiting your visit’, before announcing that there may not be much time. Inside the cottage it is dark and still, and Pietro remembers the first time he came to the humble cottage. He had been on a desperate quest, and here on the slopes of the mountain on which he was born, he found refuge, and something quite unlooked for - a friend. ‘Pietro…!’ a weak voice calls up from the bed. ‘Oh, you shouldn’t have come, child! You needn’t have bothered!’ Bova the human-cow calls out.
Pietro tells Bova to hush, assuring her that nothing this side of Hades could have stopped him. Pietro kneels down beside the bed and takes Bova’s hand, telling her that they came as soon as they received Fydor’s message. ‘You should have told us, Bova. I should be quite angry with you - but, as usual, I find that utterly impossible’ Quicksilver exclaims, before asking Bova how she is. Bova tells Pietro to wipe the sad look of his handsome face, as she will have none of it. She admits that she is not feeling her best, knowing that there is no need to hide that from him, but resigned to the fact that if her end is near, she is content, as she has had a good life. She strokes Pietro’s face as he utters ‘B-but -’, however Bova interrupts him, telling him ‘No “buts” allowed’, before asking if they brought Luna, as she would love to see the little one again.
Crystal explains to Bova that Luna has a touch of the flu, and assures her they will bring her next time. ‘Yes. Next time’ Quicksilver agrees. ‘Of course you will’ Bova replies, adding that it is enough to see the two of them, before asking them to tell her everything, as gossip will be the best tonic. Crystal sits at Bova’s side, ‘So Wanda has cut off all her lovely hair? Tsk tsk’ Bova exclaims, before admitting that Wanda has been lost since the tragedy with the Vision. ‘I worry about her so’ Bova announces, while Fydor brings some soup over to her and tells Bova that is enough talk, as she will tire herself out. Bova looks at Crystal and explains that Fydor watches over her like a nursemaid, that she is lucky to have met him.
‘Yes…to have found that someone special is…wonderful’ Crystal agrees. ‘I know you and Pietro have had difficult times, me dear. But he does love you. You have to break through his walls. He’s too wounded to reach out - all he needs is a little help’ Bova explains. Crystal frowns and tells Bova that it has been so hard for them. ‘Hmmph. Just try being an evolved cow!’ Bova retorts. ‘Life is hard, child. What counts is how hard we fight against it’ she tells Crystal, who smiles, as Bova asks her to go to Quicksilver, because life is as fleeting as it is difficult.
Crystal goes outside, where Quicksilver is standing on a ridge by the cottage, looking out into the night. ‘Pietro? You’ve been out here a long time’ Crystal calls out. Crystal remarks that it is getting really cold, but still gets no response. She calls out to him, and stands behind him: ‘Don’t do this. Don’t shut me out - please - not again’ Crystal asks. Pietro turns to Crystal, tears rolling down his face, ‘She’s dying, Crystal…and I don’t want her to die’ Pietro utters. He wipes the tears from his eyes and tells Crystal that she is sorry, that she shouldn’t have to see him this way. ‘For pity’s sake, why not? You love Bova and you don’t want to lose her. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in that. Sweet Agon, it should be celebrated!’ Crystal exclaims.
Quicksilver points out that Bova is one of the few good things from his childhood, she was there when he and Wanda were born, and cared for them more than most humans. ‘To see her in such pain now is almost too much. If only there were something I could do -’ Quicksilver utters. Nearby, Fydor lights up his pipe again and calls out ‘Perhaps there is, young master’. Crystal asks him what he means, to which Fydor reveals that Bova dreams of once more meeting the scientist who created her. ‘Her god, if you will. The High Evolutionary’. Quicksilver points out that that is impossible, as the High Evolutionary and the Knights of Wundagore quit this place long ago. ‘Perhaps, perhaps not…for the lights flicker on the summit as they did of old. Look now!’ Fydor replies, motioning upwards.
‘Pietro? He’s right! The mountaintop is…glowing!’ Crystal exclaims in surprise. ‘As if touched by St Elmo’s fire’ Quicksilver remarks. Fydor reveals that the people whisper great work has once more begun there in the high place. Holding his hand out, Quicksilver declares that if that is true, then the Evolutionary has returned, and Bova may be saved. Quicksilver promises to Fydor that on this night he will knock on the doors of Wundagore itself, and if the High Evolutionary does not answer, he shall tear them down himself.
Meanwhile, in New York City, where the Prince of Power, the Avenger called Hercules, finds himself ignoring monitor duty for a matter, to him, far more important. ‘I tell thee, Taylor Madison - although I have respected thy wishes and not seen thee in weeks, my thoughts - and yea, my very heart - are with thee’ Hercules exclaims as he speaks with Taylor over the telephone. ‘Hercules, I - I know. I feel the same way’ Taylor replies form her apartment, telling Hercules that she can’t get involved now, as it wouldn’t be fair to him. ‘Please try and understand’ Taylor asks. Suddenly, her doorbell rings. ‘Please’ she tells Hercules, before hanging the phone up.
‘You must be the woman who answered my ad - Augustine Jones?’ Taylor asks. The sleek Augustine replies ‘That’s right. A very tired woman looking for a decent place to live in New York’. Taylor replies that that is perfect, because she is a woman looking for a roommate to help with the rent. She asks her to come in, ‘Please excuse the mess’ she adds. Suddenly, the phone rings, and Taylor turns to it, excusing herself from Augustine, she tells her new roommate to make herself at home. Removing her shades, Augustine replies ‘Oh, I intend to, Taylor. I intend to’, however Taylor doesn’t see Augustine’s eyes glow, and her wicked smile.
Back at Wundagore, with Crystal in his arms, Quicksilver speeds up the side of the mountain, telling her that he wished she didn’t insist on coming, as they know very little about the Evolutionary, so there is no telling what could happen at the summit. ‘Which is precisely why I’m here, Pietro. Believe it or not, you may need my help’ Crystal replies. ‘I know - and I thank you’ Quicksilver tells Crystal, as he comes to a halt atop the mountain, where a large shrine has been erected. ‘Sweet heaven - what is this place?’ Quicksilver asks, confused.
Suddenly, clad in purple and red, the young mutant called Neophyte emerges from behind some rocks, ‘It’s a shrine, Magnusson - to the place where your mother, Magda, was last seen alive. It’s a sacred spot’ he explains. Quicksilver recognizes the uniform and exclaims ‘You’re an Acolyte!’, to which Neophyte explains that he was, but he doubted the ways of his peers, and for that heresy, he was cast out of Avalon. Neophyte reveals that he had begun to believe that Magneto’s way was perhaps not the only path for mutants. ‘You said this was a sacred place. Were those candles left by other Acolytes?’ Crystal enquires. Neophyte confirms that they were, explaining that this is an important place in Magnus’s life, where wife and children were both lost to him.
Neophyte reveals that none of the Acolytes come here anymore, not since the Evolutionary returned, for he suffers no one on his mountain. ‘Then Exodus fears something. Interesting’ Quicksilver remarks, before telling Neophyte that he knows of him, from Charles Xavier. ‘If you need a home, you’ll find one with him. After we are done here, my wife and I can take you there’ Quicksilver offers. ‘Perhaps one day. But I am not ready for that just yet’ the young mutant replies. Neophyte then warns Quicksilver that he should not be on this mountain, as it is a dangerous place for people such as they - people connected to Magneto. ‘Why, boy? Why?’ Pietro asks. Suddenly, there is a flash of energy. Crystal calls out to Pietro, who soon realizes that Neophyte has vanished.
‘He was wise, intruder’ a voice calls out. Crystal and Quicksilver spin around, ‘Sweet Agon!’ Crystal gasps, as two brutish beings loom over them. ‘None may stand upon our mountain!’ a greyish-green behemoth with claws snarls. ‘New Men!’ Quicksilver exclaims as he sees the Animutants. He tells them that he means no harm. ‘We only seek audience with the Evolutionary to save the life of a friend - one of the first of his creations’ Quicksilver announces. The other pig-like being tells Quicksilver that they know him, and warns him that if he takes one step further, then they will kill him and Crystal.
At Avengers Mansion, Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America, the Sentinel of Liberty, leaps from rings attached to the ceiling of the gymnasium. Once, he was one of the finest athletes on Earth, a superb physical specimen. Once. He suddenly loses his grip, and falls to the ground, landing hard on his back. Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. the Black Widow didn’t mean to see this happen. She was on her way to the gym for her own exercise session, and as she approaches the doors, she pulls back, pretending to have seen nothing, as Steve gets to his feet, sweat dripping down his face. ‘Good work out, Steve?’ Natasha enquires. Cap is a little surprised to see her, and replies that it was a great one, but just left him a little winded. ‘Must be getting old’ he jokes. ‘You? Never’ Natasha replies.
‘Would that were true, Tasha’ Cap calls out as he walks away from her, announcing that he is going to have a shower, he tells his friend that he will see her at dinner. As Cap leaves, the Vision floats up through the floor. Observing Natasha, the synthetic Avenger tells her that she seems disturbed. The Black Widow asks the Vision if he has noticed anything wrong with Cap lately. The Vision replies that he has, and assures the Black Widow that he will tell them what it is when he feels the time is right. Natasha frowns and agrees that Cap will, but she is afraid it is going to be very, very bad news.
Back on Wundagore Mountain, ‘I tell you, mutant - if you don’t go back down the mo9untain - I shall crush your thin skull like this!’ the greenish behemoth booms as he slams his powerful fist into a large rock, shattering it, while Quicksilver and Crystal leap to safety. Crystal then turns to the other Animutant, ‘You attack without provocation, creature? I assure you, we are not without defenses’ the elemental exclaims, and as she casts some energy towards him, he retaliates by throwing his spiked mace at her, which strikes her and she falls backwards. ‘CRYSTAL!’ Quicksilver screams, before warning the brute that he will kill him. Quicksilver slams a fist into the brute, knocking him back. ‘You’ve hurt my clan mate!’ the greenish thug calls out as he runs towards Quicksilver, threatening to tear him apart.
The brute lunges at Quicksilver, ‘Oh, shut up!’ Pietro exclaims, grabbing the brute and tossing him overhead with ease. At super speed, Quicksilver begins to punch the brute, ‘I came here seeking help, creature - to save a life!’, and exclaims ‘If Crystal is seriously injured, I swear, by all I hold - holy!’ Pietro gasps as he looks up and sees someone looming over him. ‘What do you hold holy, Magnusson?’ a voice calls out, before Quicksilver is struck down with a burst of energy. Quicksilver falls back and looks up in horror, as the High Evolutionary stands over him, energy crackling around him, the High Evolutionary exclaims that is something he would truly like to know, before he passes sentence upon Quicksilver for his trespass on his mountainIn the valley far below the mountain, the townspeople look up and mutter “the mountain is angry tonight”. And fearfully, they draw their shutters right, praying for the dawn. At the cottage, Bova steps out into the night, asking Fydor if everything is all right, and where Crystal and Pietro have gone. Fydor claims that they have gone to the village on a minor errand, assuring Bova that they will be back soon. With his back turned away from Bova, Fydor smirks and calms her: ‘Don’t worry. Everything’s fine. Perfectly fine’.
Back at Avengers Mansion, the Inhuman nanny called Marilla searches for her charge, Crystal and Quicksilver’s daughter, Luna. ‘Where are ye, me sweet one?’ Marilla calls out. Entering Crystal’s room, Marilla finds Luna looking into a large mirror. ‘Here ye are, in ye mother’s room! Ye missing her t’be sure!’ Marilla exclaims, telling Luna to fear not, as she will be back soon enough. Luna is smiling in front of the mirror and utters ‘Unca! Unca!’, but Marilla picks her up and takes her away, stating that it is time for a nap. ‘Unca? ‘rilla, Unca!’ Luna utters. And, in the darkened room, the image of Dane Whitman the Black Knight flickers in the mirror, desperate, he calls out ‘Crystal? Can you hear me? Anybody? We need help! We need -’, but his voice cuts out, his image fades, and the mirror goes dark….
Black Widow, Captain America, Crystal, Hercules, Quicksilver, Vision (all Avengers)Black Knight IV (former member of the Avengers)
“Augustine Jones” / Hera
High EvolutionaryVarious New Men / Animutants
Quicksilver and Exodus fought in Avengers (1st series) #369.
Neophyte was cast out of Avalon in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #315, not #316 as the footnote in this issue states.
The Black Knight, and Sersi, vanished into another dimension, the Ultraverse, in Avengers (1st series) #375.