2019-03-13 - Lessons at Kamar-Taj



Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Mar 13 13:57:58 2019
Location: Sanctum Sanctorum

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Morning in Greenwich Village begins as so often it does: someone up far too early. Sleeping in after several years on the run and equally many in the tutelage of an ancient, millennia-old sorceress has been thoroughly beaten out of Wanda. The only time she sleeps in is when she's next to dead.

She sits cross-legged in meditation on the landing of the Sanctum. The windows on the world are keyed to wherever the good Doctor last set them. Whether war zones or peaceful cloud rainforests, it won't much matter to her. Unsurprisingly, she wears black. For all the options in New York, all the designers and the fact she can shift her own attire at a molecular level, she wears the same general uniform. Black leggings, black tunic, black corset, the burgundy leather coat the only variation. Black boots tuck against black fabric in lotus position. Before her is an unimpressive, sorry little plant in a pot that probably needed more watering in the past week. It does nothing but bask in the reflected sunlight through one of the enchanted windows. Nothing else stands out as magical other than the fact the Witch is, per usual, floating in space.

Spindly green leaves mirror whichever window is focused on daytime. It's a happy plant.

Stephen had kept true to his word: When Wanda awoke, she would find a sleeping Sorcerer Supreme beside her. But that is neither here or there. Despite his viscious tendency to be a night owl, Stephen had…slept in much later than Wanda. The weariness of his mind needed to be restored, else his effectiveness would be dulled, like that of a knife's tip when stapped into hard wood one too many times.

Alas though, he awakens, and with a thought, his classic blue robes appear onto his body, the Cloak of Levitation eagerly wraps itself around it's master's collar, and rests idly. Perhaps even tugging here or there.

Yet as he descends those steps, he spots Wanda deep in meditation, and also….

The plant.

Why is he wary about the plant? It seems happy. It's biological processes are sound, and it's vascular tissue appears to be quite happy to soak up the affection of the sun. He briefly ponders if this is a plant secretly from a specific dimension in which everything was a plant….yet nothing made it happier than feasting on the flesh of creatures unlucky enough to pass into it. But he waves it off.

So instead, he eventually speaks. "Good morning, Wanda."

No doubt it helps to have someone who sleeps with a knife under her pillow, in a boot, beside her corset, and all the rest lurking around. Anyone fool enough to physically somehow violate the Sanctum's protections has to deal with a paranoid light sleeper with a penchant for throwing the knife first, asking questions of the ghost or corpse. She plays sentry as is her duty, watching for trouble. The attunement that Stephen has to affairs mystic is far, far greater than her own without ritualized ties, but the inevitable change of the seasons will leave her tenure as the high priestess to Gaia on the ascendant. Even in her antithetical season, she can still tap into that with effort. So it goes. She hums with the vibration of power in a spell, this the mystic and not the innate reality warping side of affairs. Her hands still rest upon her knees now and then. No evidence of a yawn on those lips, either.

But the ruffle of the Cloak earns a shift of attention. Conspiring to throw him into bed with a semi-sentient magical object? Best believe it. She's in cahoots with the thing. "You look better rested. Tea is waiting." Her eyes blink and the film over them is pure, a holy tincture of violet-shifted red. Better than scarlet, and ultimately superior to the amethyst-black of her father's influence. No one wants that.

The plant perks up. Little by little. The soil is watered, a plant-food spike rammed into one side. The fertilizer can activate a flood of phosphates through water-soluble means. It tries to squeeze its withered roots into new places. Like having toes in the sand, it looks less troubled.

"Good morning, doctor." The accent is heavier; she's preoccupied with extracting her awareness from who knows where.

The good Doctor has no idea what Wanda might be conspiring, especially with his cloak. If she intends to take him captive, best to approach from downwind (strike in the direction the wind is blowing). But, he seems to actually smile. Wanda has always been hard at work, and is the perfect counterbalance for him, and he her.

The Balance.

"Thank you." with a gesture, a cup of tea floats itself over to him like it wanted to be drank, and the Doctor complies, sipping the tea delicately.

There is no one alive that can make tea like Wanda Maximoff.

"Your plant appears happy. Have you seen Wong today? I meant to speak to him about something, but I fear he might've gone to Kamar-Taj already to help teach there."

"Wong? No. Maybe he has gone out for one of those awful dogs?" Hot dog, thou shalt be despised by Wanda Maximoff. She has no presence or patience for that kind of thing. Not at all. There is only the worst presumption of interdimensional horrors that ranks higher on the threat scale than a hot dog. She shrugs her shoulders and slowly breaks position. Knees pop and she rubs at her thigh muscle, landing lightly upon the ground. The world steadies as she finds her footing through the thick soles of her boots. A little rocking and once more she asserts her connection to the earth, rather like someone getting their land legs back after being on a boat for a while.

The tea has a distinct flavour of lavender shot through the black background, a stiff cup as far as caffeine goes, and indicative clearly of no adulteration. She takes hers with far more honey than is wise, her principal food group being apparently whatever she can find from a comb. Her own cup gets more than a drizzle, and she stirs up so at least some of the liquid dissolves the sugary treacle of sorts. Not far, though, given she will be in there with a spoon at the end.

"Is all well there?"

He never did understand her vile hatred of the dreaded Dog of Heat.

But, he continues to sip his tea, even as he hears the news. A sigh touches his features. "I don't know. Which is why I wanted to speak with him about it. I fear one of the students has been reading text they are unprepared for….as you well know, no knowledge is forbidden….merely restricted until one reaches the level where such is possible."

He shakes his head lightly. He perhaps worries to much.

….in a profession where his job is to worry. and watch. and fight. and keep order.

"But…nevermind about me. How are you? Are you well?" as if he's probing her for anything that might come.

The dog of processed, not real meat infused by horrible salts. Why would anyone care for such a thing? This is beyond confusing, it is a special kind of torture. A wrinkle of her nose banishes the notion as she breathes in the heavier lavender fragrance of the tea infused by honey. A mouthful and a swallow gives her that essential hit that will set off her hummingbird metabolism any moment. Just wait for the dilation of her pupils to know the right hour approaches. Wanda licks her lips. "Students reading what they should not? Sounds like no one we know." Her cup covers her mouth. It swallows up the intimacies fo a smirk or smile, though the raised brows are answer enough.

Keep watch, keep order. Break the rules by bending them, forge a new loophole. When she is a universal loophole, it's rather a moot point.

"You slept and do not come covered in scratches. No tentacles in sight. I am well, all said."

"I know, and it surprises me." He need not see the smile to know it is there. Wanda's facial tells are as informing as they are beautiful. Another sip of tea, even as he draws closer to the one woman he trusts above all.

"Despite all that I have been through, I would be remiss to allow tentacles or cephalopod monsters to take me away from you. Though, speaking of which…I would like to take you out to dinner tonight."

"It surprises you to know I am well?" Her head tilts slightly and she stares back to a section of wall as though it isn't there. Wanda presses her lips together. "There remains the matter of the seaside. Where the United Nations was, it will attract trouble after too long. Have you seen anything there in time recently?" English, how it eludes her.

But the cup is put down and she pours more tea with a steady hand. Strange she fixes with that honey-green gaze. All power has drained away from it, nothing out of the ordinary. "Bring me next time. I am not good to sit here idle. What good if taught to hunt and never using the skills? They will grow old." Her shoulders lift lightly. "But I will let you take me to dinner, if you remember." It's a sly rejoinder.

"No, I'm very glad that you are well. I am surprised that there is no one st all but this one student who…oh never mind." He just seems to chuckle about the sarcasm that flew way over her head. "Truthfully, I'm glad you're doing so well."

"I have not seen anything…which is curious to me. I would like to investigate, and yes I will take you with me." he scoffs then "Of course I will remember. Photographic Memory." a wink.

"You do not have one of those phones? Something you put these pieces of information into? I think your calendar is somewhere." Preferably not a ghost dog somewhere. That would be a heartbreak in and of itself. Wanda runs her tongue over her lips, for a lush finish replacing her usual gloss. "Is this now when we go out to see this student of yours, and find out if they are a problem?" The question hangs there, since she trusts he understands how to make a reservation or clear out a restaurant with a sweep of his hand, a phone call, whatever it counts.

"I own a phone, I just find that as time increases, I find that I have no need of it." A smile touches the Doctor's lips. No, he does not have a ghost dog help him keep track of things.

"I suppose we can certainly go and examine the situation to discover if it's truly s problem. Young mages are the most vulnerable to extraordinary and corruptive power." He offers her his left hand, scarred and shaking. "Shall we?"

Thank you, no dead beagles here. Weep for the beag.

Not that Wanda weeps for much. If anything, for that matter. Her breath is blown out and she takes his hand in her own. Strange is taller than her, though not by much. Amazing what a proper diet will do for a girl. "Young mages are explosive. Then let us go see. They may need to be frightened into better behaviour. You treat them better than I was ever allowed. It would not hurt if they have to drag water a mile."

Squeezing her hand, Strange turns and extends his other, making a circular motion with it…and it appears as though the ring that forms in reality is one that clearly leads to Kamar Taj. Into the library in fact, where this poor child is likely in for a scolding. "Indeed. Though, honestly, If you want to be the one to do the frightening…" because she was the one who has an Elder God influence.

But, with Wanda in tow, Dr. Strange enters the portal through and through, the flaming creation fading into brilliant embers that fade into a room filled with carefully crafted stone and wonderful mahogany wood.

The student knows who Doctor Strange is…and he can likely feel the power in the aura of Wanda.

Wait till she gets upset kid.

"M-M-Master Stra-"

"Doctor." Strange sternly interjects.

"D-doctor…sorry. What uh…what brings you here?" he is horrible at being sneaky, and seemingly tries to hide the high-skill level magecraft books behind him.

Forget elder gods. Forget the shadows of a demonic entity on her soul. Forget all that: Wanda has the simple fact she put up with Agatha Harkness for two decades on her side. Add atop that who her father is — Erik Lensherr is not a nice man. Put those two things together and the amber-eyed woman can deliver a scowl fit to peel paint off the walls and send former Soviet spies digging for their fake papers to get the hell out of Dodge right now, first train headed east.

They appear in a revolving web of fading embers. The sparks of a marigold brightness explode around them and collapse. Her own transition into the new space is easy; the magical cost isn't on her, and neither is there a draw yanking her to the Witch Road. Not here, anyway. Kamar-Taj is not so far from the Tibetan fastness where she and her brother dwelled partially out of time, animation suspended by the will of a pre-Atlantean sorceress. So it goes, her breath adjusting to the higher altitude air, the rarefied environment so different from her own.

Her thumb strokes his wrist before separating her hand from his. She stands a step behind him, the exquisite beauty of the room totally lost on the Witch. Not when she has her attention focused elsewhere, staring at any perforations separating the hidden world from the known. Her energy slips out in a tendril as the Sight opens wider than its normal state, and that touch tests to see anything awry. No hidden demons? No blown out wards? No angry spirit hovering ready to eat them? Things that are nice to know.

"Cleaning," she says. It's in Tibetan. Might as well put the kid through his paces.

The boy seems utterly terrified. She has…uh…quite a look. Both in beauty and utter terrifying presence.

Strange is fully aware of Wanda's trials and tribulations in her life. In fact, he's one of the few who actually treats her like a person, and not as a monster to be chained or being to fear or pet to keep by his side. She's her own woman. She's strong. and she's impossibly smart.

Strange seems impressed by her knowledge of the Tibetan tongue, but he releases her hand just as she released his own, maintaining a visage of professionalism and authority.

He then proceeds to walk up to the student, his eyes looking into his. "What are you researching, young man." Strange says in pure english, something the boy knows by heart, even though he seems to understand Wanda's Tibetan. Her pronunciation is astounding.

The boy starts sweating…and eventually moves out of the way.

The Book?

A study into the Dark Dimension. the Domain of Dormammu.

The release of breath hardly causes any disturbances. With the power of Kamar-Taj and, you know, the whole Sorcerer Supreme bit, Wanda is scrupulous about opening up her sixth sense — and several more — to the input. Staring into the sun is no more fun than being blinded by a wash of power off any of the assembled magical items, the wards, and who knows what else.

She likes not being temporarily blinded. Thus while the Doctor talks, her eyes narrow to control just how much of the cacophonous inputs strike her. She shuts that door carefully as it were. Pipsqueak better consider his answers carefully but she, at least, isn't adding to the trouble.

Dr. Strange visibly appears deadpan. But Wanda knows better than anyone that his eyes are filled with righteous anger. He already lost more than a few friends to this madness, but a student? Not if he can do anything about it. "Choose your answers very wisely young man. What do you seek to gain with this knowledge. Have I not told you all that no knowledge in Kamar-Taj is forbidden, only certain practices?"

"Y-yes doctor, but…I wanted to see if rumors of eternal life was true…to draw power from that dimension would give me exactly tha-" Strange snaps his fingers and the book AND his notes are gone. "You are not to continue this practice. Am I understood?"

The Boy looks completely distraut. "But But, that's not fair! you can't just ta-" "DO. YOU. UNDERSTAND." as Strange raised his voice, the walls seemed to creak and crack, as if hard material could be blasted away and cut down like wheat in a field.

The student looks, perhaps, absolutely horrified. But, he simply falls into silence with a simple 'yes sir' mumbled from his lips. He turns away, and basically is crying.

"Greed will be the death of us all." Strange lets out a sigh, everything returning back to normal as he calms.

Eternal life. The lidded look from Wanda marks the student, no more, no less. She still has half her senses catapulted into a higher level of perception, one focused on the twinkling glow of moving life force, auras painted in vibrant to weak shades. Maybe she even perceives the ghostly apparitions of old, tattered spells or magical objects through the walls. Walls suddenly shaking in anger.

It would behoove her to at least raise a hand to protect herself. She does nothing of the sort. Cuba might look really quite beautiful right about now; gloriously so. Is three a crowd? Nothing like diving out through a portal to take up on a beach. She has to keep her sunny colouration up some how. Alas, none of these are strategies she can seriously undertake.

Never argue in front of the children. Ever. So silent she is, acknowledging authority invested by the Vishanti. If one of those happens to be someone she prays to regularly enough, a sisterhood of sacred forces regularly appointed with a greeting in bundled, sweet herbs burnt in their name, so be it. She tries to remember that scent while Strange sends the apprentice flying in flapping robes.

"What would a child like that know about eternal life? They die. His friends, his family. All of them age, and he will not. Will he give them that gift? What will he do when his town vanishes? His country is not familiar?"

Once Stephen has fully calmed himself does he truly look to listen to Wanda, his hand resting on the table that the troublesome student had worked on. Turning to look upon her, he gives her a gentle nod. "I do not know. There are about 80 different ways for one to attain eternal life, if not be born with it. But to take this path…is to sacrifice your very soul. All things must end. All things limited to the physical and metaphysical will die."

He shakes his head. "Immortality is a lonely existence…as it was for me before I met you. In many ways, I would not wish this upon anyone."

He shakes his head.

"But that is neither here or there. The problem has been handled…and I believe resting at home or taking you to dinner is a welcome development."

The meddling creature is not there. "Eternal life is not a sentence one seeks. Humans are not made for it. We do not think in the terms of immortal beings, and those who learn loss suffer." Her shoulders lift and tug beneath the burgundy kiss of her coat, accepting the brutality of the truth. It is simply given. "There is a curse to be the last person to see the stars go out."

This spoken from her with flat tones. She shakes her head in kind. "It is a curse for the dying to want another day of life, free of pain and darkness. It will cause terrible things. It is important to learn." The life plunging through her continuously is the kind of thing that keeps her functionally ageless.


"Indeed. I know a few people who might just live to see such a tragedy. But, alas…" he just shakes his head. "The innocence of a child's mind is easy to corrupt. It's how Dormammu attains his followers. He pursues the young and the broken. I wonder briefly if he suffered in his youth, or maybe the knowledge was intended to corrupt an innocent mind." Regardless, Strange just shakes his head, before he just approaches her. "Thank you for coming with me. It was pleasant having you here…and I believe you aided me with your stare…I saw the goosebumps touch his flesh."

Thankfulness, gratitude, these virtues belong to the divine powers of a brighter aspect than fallen horrors. Wanda blows out a breath through her lips. "They think they will be left behind, maybe? That there is not enough to use all this power they get? Why have a spell to clean your boots? You can use it to nudge favor to you. Then they think riches, power?" The links are unnecessary to name; Dormammu's clarion is exactly the same as the one vibrating on the quantum level inside her genetics, past the reaches of recognition in that terribly lithe body. Temptation is a sin, and worse still, it has a pretty face. 21st century ideals stay mostly the same. "You would have handled him fine without me. I am happy to be here. The air is cleaner." Away from the city, natural elements sing louder, enfolding her in their embrace. Even if she still has to tread lightly in the sacred heart of the Mystic Arts.

"Do you want to find Wong?" she asks. "Or do we eat in the streets of Kuala Lumpur? Guangzhou?"

Stephen just shrugs his shoulders. "A million and one things it could possibly be. All it takes is someone to want something, then many simply need to find the will to make it a reality."

"Well, I doubt I have to anymore. The matter is handled, and Wong will return to the Sanctum when his duty here is finished. To that end…perhaps Guangzhou? I haven't been in some time."

"A million and one possibilities. We must live without always calculating risks." This from the woman with the Cambridge degree in statistics, take it with a grain of salt roughly large as the Jovian magnetosphere. Come to think, never let Erik anywhere near that. He'd wreak havoc if the radiation didn't kill him first.

"I do not need to say watch him. The boy will learn the foolishness. Or he will try and see there are harsh penalties to try. That is an essential lesson to learn. Maturity is hard up here." No harder than dealing with the violence of a mutant revealed, or the starving scraping by in the slums of Caracas or Mumbai. She draws in a long, deep breath. To that end. Strange receives a smile for his choice. "Guangzhou. Then you can check on the Sanctum in Hong Kong." A mere thought, lifted as a question. Her hands strike a circle and sweep open a gaping wound in the world, the neat incision awash in sparks same as his if a little redder. No need to simply overlap folds in reality and winnow through when you can open doors that look like Hobbit holes.

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